Saturday, October 31, 2015

“The Matinee” debate...

Last night, we finally got around to watching the “matinee” debate involving the four GOP candidates that were trailing the polls, and were relegated to a time and setting very few watched.

The debate was civil, interesting and – in my view - dominated by Lindsey Graham, whom apart from being a warmonger, made a few interesting comments. The foursome didn't get mad at the panel of journalists and, most importantly got more than 20 minutes each of face time, versus about 8 minutes for their 10 evening counterparts.
This scarcity of face-time is probably what got Cruz and Christie unhinged and angry at the CNBC moderators. Had the GOP been smart (!!!) they would have divided their field of candidates into two equal groups of seven giving them more time, space, visibility and opportunity to make their point.

Instead, their unimaginative tactics made the Party's best hopes look awful, while their four laggards shone in matinee...

Friday, October 30, 2015

Capitalism, growth and population

If there's one message the change from one to two-children policy in China is sending, it's that growth is incompatible with population control and limiting it doesn't work too well with good old capitalism!

All nations demand growth, their politicians are promising it and yet, to feed the “monster” you need more consumers, more participants, hence more people. The advent of market economies, or capitalism, lit up a fire on population. Its growth has been astounding; from about 500 million in 1700, it now stands at 7.3 billions and is expected to push forward, particularly in Africa where it should quadruple by the end of this century!

Obviously, continued physical growth is impossible on a finite planet, so the question is no longer whether we should stop human growth, but when and how. Based on what we hear about the subject, few want to entertain this thought because they're clueless as to its consequences for our future.

So, if we can't count on our so-called world leaders, we'll need to take the matter into our own hands, unless we're totally convinced that we're so bright, that we can extricate ourselves out of that mess through more technology or by colonizing some nearby planet!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Patrick Vallençant rediscovered...

Last night, I decided – for the first time ever - to watch some of the films Patrick produced when he was famous. While I was impressed with the sheer audacity his descents required, I was less impressed with his pure, mechanical skiing abilities. He wasn't that good of skier after all!

For me, skiing is a smooth and pure operation in perfect harmony with the mountain natural beauty. Sure, he was able to step down a steep and lethal couloir, staring below without blinking, but his overriding quality was his total absence of fear. This trait is found in most people who accomplish extreme stunts.

Somehow, somewhere, their innate survival instinct normally signaled by fear is absent, blocked, or totally neutralized so they can go about their highly dangerous activities. From a skiing standpoint, once fear is removed, getting down an extreme slope is a matter of doing it one turn at a time (linking curves is not even a lasting option), clearing the top cornice (almost always a tricky proposition), taking the time to prepare a solid platform (uphill ski and pole), lifting the tails of the skis high enough to clear the uphill slope and absorbing the ensuing acceleration so the skis land perfectly across the fall line.

Then, after taking a deep breath, repeat all of that. Then further down the line, always be brave and prepared to cross a crevice here and there and wiggle your way between seracs... It took of course blind faith and overcoming primal fear to open those forbidding routes, but today, it seems that most every good skiers seem capable to skiing them down.

As always, evolution has crept up!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

All encounters are worth it!

Recently, my niece posted on her Facebook page a very interesting text about the people we meet through our lives.

It went a bit like this:

“Never regret having known a certain person in your life, because all good folks will bring you happiness, bad ones will give you experience and real mean individual will give you a lesson. In all cases, you'll gain something. You can never lose, because in life, as long as you learn, you gain something. What's important is to recognize the good folks who deserve to be part of your life...”

This is so true and yet something I never thought about in these terms, so now it's time for me to keep in mind “wonderful, bad or really mean people, welcome into my life!”

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Who invented the (ski) tuck position?

In doing some research to prepare Alain Lazard's obit for “International Ski History Association” I was reminded that old grudges don't die fast.

For instance, one of the last assignment Alain conducted with the help of my good friend Gérard Bouvier, was an interview of Jean Vuarnet, the 1960 French Olympic Downhill Champ, in which the later was taking about the tuck position, downhillers use, and which invention is widely attributed to him.

This point was picked up by no one else but Jean-Claude Killy who objected by saying that his other famous Val d'Isère neighbor, Henri Oreiller, had long used this aerodynamic stance as some photos from 1948 would attest.
So with that in mind, be careful, always remember, that for anything you might ever invent, there's always some prior art that lay, dormant, somewhere ready to pounce at you!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Alain Lazard, 1942 – 2015

I was shocked when I heard that Alain, after having successfully battled cancer a few years ago, fell prey to pneumonia this past Saturday morning. Even though it seemed that I knew of my countryman ever since I came to America, it's only for the last 15 years that I had come to know and appreciate him. Alain was smart, intense, exacting with his own styled sense of humor.

He had the intellectual qualities that regrettably don't abound in ski industry, where everyone is too infatuated with skiing for always thinking clearly. Over the years, the French native who originally came in the late sixties to America to coach skiing, built a career for himself into ski racing and later in ski areas resources and equipment.

When he finally retired a few years ago, he kept on working on his beautiful property on the Sierra foothills and immersed himself in writing his piece of modern ski history. Among other works, he researched and re-opened the discussion about the sacking of the French ski team in the mid seventies. He also published several unique pieces about French vs. American ski resorts and ski racing programs compared strategies around the world.

His work was from the 30,000 feet view point, was very well written, researched. documented and always hit the nail on the head with eye-opening facts. Alain, you left us too early; we'll miss you a lot!

Obit written for the International Ski History Association:
Alain Lazard passed away from pneumonia on Saturday, October 24, 2015. He was 73 years old. Born in Aix-en-Provence, Southern France, Alain studied Chemistry in Marseilles before becoming a certified ski instructor. In 1969, Alain came to the United States, and from New York, crossed the continent aboard his Citroën 2CV to the West Coast, where he coached and instructed at Bear Valley's Club Med, among other places.

Back in France, he attended the University of Grenoble, where he met Georges Joubert and graduated with a degree in coaching and management. Joubert offered him a coaching job with the French Team through 1974. The following year, he managed the La Clusaz ski racing team, a resort near Annecy, before settling in Squaw Valley in 1976, where he headed the Far West Ski Association. 

In the early eighties, he became Tour Director of the Peugeot Far West Pro Tour until moving on as the representative of the French consortium “France Neige International” where he served as the official liaison between French resort equipment suppliers such as Poma lifts, and more than 400 U.S. ski resorts.
In 2005, Lazard retired, was still busy working on his properties in the Sierra Foothills, and immersed himself in writing about modern ski history. Among other publications, he researched and re-opened the discussion about the firing of the French ski team by Joubert and Vuarnet in the mid seventies. 

He also published several unique essays comparing French to American ski resorts as well as international ski racing programs strategies and their respective outcomes. His work, written from the 30,000 feet level perspective was well researched, thoroughly documented and always drove his point with eye-opening facts.

In recent years, Alain Lazard had made Penn Valley, California his home, and is survived by his wife Sarah and step-daughter Lillie.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Shiffrin and Ligety...

If there are two trees that hide the forest in the alpine US Ski Team, it sure is Mikaela Shiffrin and Ted Ligety. You might add Lindsey Vonn if she ever gets over her current physical challenges, but frankly beside these top athletes, there's no one showing up on the horizon.
This said, where's the forest ? I don't even see it. So, not to be remiss, here I come with my recommendation to the U.S. Ski Team, buy the women's Italian Team and the men's French team!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Will my (high) cholesterol kill me?

My doc thinks I'm borderline with my cholesterol level and has been pestering me for years to take statins. Quite intuitively, I've stubbornly resisted his advice and the more I read or see information about these elements, the more I get set against them. I don't know if you're aware of it, but cholesterol is a natural product found in the body and made by the liver.

It's vital to cell function and is the parent molecule for such major hormones as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. It is essential to the immune system and the brain. Next, there's no proven link between dietary cholesterol and coronary heart disease.

The biggest hoax in scientific studies is the so-called “Seven Countries Study” from 1953, by Dr. Ancel Keys, in which statistics that did not quite agree with the result he wanted were removed. He had started with 22 countries but only kept the 7 that supported his views, discounting the rest. Incredibly, the whole cholesterol scam is based on his paper.

The Framington Study shows in fact that those who actually lived the longest had the highest cholesterol. Finally the biggest poison of all isn't the cholesterol, but the statin drugs that are supposed to lower it. Research has shown no difference in death rates between patients who take statins and those who don’t. In fact, statin medication is behind a host of negative side effects, such as loss of memory, loss of libido, muscle pain, fatigue and many more that I won't list on this blog...

So, with all this, next time I see him, I'll tell both my doctor and big pharma: “Take your statin and shove it!”

Friday, October 23, 2015

Why I believe "One Wasatch" is cool...

First, “One Wasatch” stands for the six-resort interconnect project for the Wasatch mountains of Utah. I've been looking for a Utah's ski interconnect ever since I moved to Park City, more than 30 years ago, because I've witnessed the birth of one, in the Alps, and can attest to the joy and fun it gave me, my friends, its users and the entire communities involved into building it and roaming through its endless space.

At the time, I was a ski instructor and loved to take my clients discover the “other sides” of the mountains and, believe me, with an interconnect, there are a multitude of them! This rich, “layered view” of never-ending mountains that never stops changing as you travel within them, offers yet a totally different vista as skiers retrace their way back to their point of origin..

During my instructing days, as my students explored and discovered the once hidden treasures, the experience always brought big smiles to their faces and to my own too. This satisfaction alone would have been enough to have kept me at that job forever if I didn't suffer from the wanderlust that took me to America. Today, most of my friends and former colleagues continue to take their clients to explore and enjoy “Les Portes du Soleil”, that web of more than 200 ski lifts that span between the mountains of France and Switzerland...

We're all curious, we love to explore, seek new adventures and marvel at unforeseen discoveries. That's what a network of ski resorts linked together brings to the picture. An ever-changing, surprise-filled, mountain experience. Who would be selfish enough to deny it to the 55 year old nurse from Florida, the 10 year old kid from Boston or the 62 year old teacher from Chicago?Just a few privileged outdoors people that just are lucky enough to live in the mountain and believe that all turns should be “earned”?

I don't personally think so. Being from the mountains, born and raised in them, I appreciate their beauty and believe that – when possible, they should be opened up to all, and shared with an open, generous heart. In the Wasatch, it would take a minimal effort to open the doors to that rich experience. Just 3 or 4 lifts, at the very most, would allow this transformation.

The ecological impact would be minimal, if at all, as it could in fact cut down on skier-driven miles from one distant canyon to the other. Practical experience at interconnected resort shows actually that visitors will rarely take advantage of the full array of roaming options that are open to them during their week-long stay, but they'll still feel very gratified because they know that these choices are within their reach, if they really wanted them. In the end, the local population will be the one taking the fullest advantage of the run network over the course of successive winter seasons...

So should we deny ourselves this trove of recreational experience? The Wasatch Front is after all the only place where such a linked skiing experience can be easily created in North America... Those who oppose “One Wasatch” sound to be more like an elitist group of people who want to close the gate behind them and savor the experience only to themselves.

Not everyone is an adept of back-country and has the skills to evolve on any kind of snow and slope. Not everyone has the time to learn how to use skins and the depth of knowledge that comes with safe, back-country navigation. Not everyone is physically equipped to “earn” their own turns and the opposition to 3 or 4 extra lifts allowing free passage of skiers, sounds more like a selfish reaction than a selfless act to protect nature, as it portends to be.

Back in the Alps, more than 40 years after interconnects happened, this bickering between back-country adepts and skiers has no currency and never had any. On the contrary, it has just made skiing more fun and more inclusive for everyone, and particularly for locals who have seasons to explore and discover its hidden treasures.

It has also fostered healthy emulation among resorts, it has united distant mountain communities, optimized ski resorts investment by bringing more folks from destination resorts into what used to be struggling, weekend-only areas and it has exposed more folks to the joy of back-country by enhancing its access. Which individual who loves adventure, exploration, and has a healthy dose of natural curiosity wouldn’t want this?

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Best healthcare system in the world?

In America, we often hear - mostly from our politicians - that we have the “best healthcare in the world”. This sounds good but doesn't check when we look at life expectancy comparison by countries. Japan remains clearly in the lead, with a bunch of tiny nations and principalities, followed by most European Nations.

The good old USA settles for 35th place, just below the 80 years average mark. The rest of the ranking is fairly obvious. I arbitrarily listed the countries I was most interested in (the data is from a 2015 United Nation compilation). So why is it that the country touting its horn the most is not number one? Where is the so much praised “American exceptionalism?”

Well it comes mostly from two reasons. Social inequalities are higher in the US than in other developed nations, creating a difficult access to healthcare and a fairly high rate of infant mortality. Add to that America's terrible eating habits as well as our questionable food regulations, and you have the keys to our dismal performance.

Both reasons, in many ways, are the result of unbridled capitalism and profit or greed at any cost. The quality of some of our hospitals can world-class, but it's not enough yet to pull our entire nation towards better health; we still need to work hard on these two factors first!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Broken US Immigration? Here's the fix!

Last night, I watched Frontline, one of my favorite TV shows about immigration. I was totally disappointed with its structure, its approaches, its lack of constructive ideas and conclusion. What follows is my reaction:

First of all, “Illegals” have broken the law. As a result, they should be sanctioned, not empathized with. Before we do anything though, we should first “fix” the leak. Visitors with tourist or work visas should be tracked down if they fail to exit on time; We have computers for that, right?

If we catch them, they become unable to ever re-enter the USA. “Fresh” illegals (less than 6 month in the country) are deported sine die and never allowed to re-enter the country. Other illegals are screened. Anyone with documented criminal activity gets deported on the spot. 
All others can apply for permanent status provided they pay a fine of say, $10,000 per person or more, for every individual, including all family members currently in the country. If they are “only” 11 million illegals, that would bring $110 billion to the Fed coffers. We could do a wonderful overhaul of our crumbling infrastructure with that money!

These individuals might have to take loans, work extra, but they would have to “earn their way” into legal status. The fee would be waived for in-demand folks like engineers, health care workers, educators, researchers or job creators, and these people would be fast-tracked into permanent residence.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot. For anyone entering the USA, English becomes the official language and the social customs of North America must be adhered to.

Low-skill workers would still be granted seasonal or time-defined work visas based on domestic demand. Finally, only children born from permanent resident or citizens would earn US Citizenship.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A ski “binding”...

Recently, as I was watching some videos featuring early extreme skiers Anselme Baud and Patrick Patrick Vallençant , I noticed their “release-proof” ski binding set-up that, interestingly enough, were similar to the one I used for a few seasons, in the late sixties and early seventies.
The system consisted in a Look Nevada toe unit paired up with a Look Competition Turntable, and without any piece of plastic or Teflon pad under the ball of the foot. Friction was king in that system and the single pivot toe unit was certainly not meant to work well with the crude heel piece.

Retention was guaranteed with little hope for “release” which is certainly what Baud and Vallençant were looking for! A Look Nevada double pivot toe with notches on the front of the boot sole should have been used instead. But who am I to say this when I skied injury free for three or four seasons with a similar set up!

Serge Cachat-Rosset, another “extreme” skier was using the more modern and releasable Look Nevada II and Grand Prix set with Teflon inserts, but never attained the fame of his two main competitors in spite of claiming a few daring descent firsts, too.

What's ironical, though, is that Serge was hired by Look at about the same time I joined the company and was – at long last – instructed on the proper way to pair bindings up!

Monday, October 19, 2015

How extreme?

Extreme sports have been in the spotlight for quite sometime now. From extreme skiing (Patrick Vallençant and Co.) to extreme biking, base-jumping or climbing, the bar keeps being pushed higher and higher.

There isn't a month when some “extreme” athlete of some category doesn't die, victim of the increasingly narrow margin of safety that's left by the impressive levels reached in these extreme activities.
Last weekend was the Red Bull event in St. George, Utah, that provided us with some great footage and some spectacular falls of mountain bikers with extra temerity.

I wonder if these daredevils think about their family (parents, significant others or kids) before they let it all go? What a concept this might be for a change!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

This American presidential election...

…won't be so much about who gets the top job in America, but how this person, in charge of the executive branch of government, may end up shaping up the judicial branch, that is, the Supreme Court.

In a possible consecutive presidential two-terms, there will be plenty of opportunities for changes within the nine seats that compose the court and since these appointments are long-term, this is by far the biggest deal of all, that's at stake in this 2016 election.

At least that's how I see it...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Our first (and last) condo...

Just forty years ago, we purchased our first condo in a very old building in Nevers, France. The one-bedroom apartment was located on the 3rd floor and came with an attic.

It was smack downtown, next to the St Arigle covered market (marché Saint-Arigle) and we had to park in the street. We would hoist our bikes up to our floor. We were just three co-owners and we had a major roof leak that we had to fix while we lived there.

The place was old, but my wife arranged it with much taste and we lived in this tight quarters for about one year. The area was noisy and the neighbors across the street very... nosy!

We sold it a year later for about $25,000, at a tiny profit, and never again lived in a city condominium...

Friday, October 16, 2015

Feng shui follow up...

Just a few days ago I held great hopes for this Chinese art form. I have since read as much as I could about it, watched videos and came to the conclusion that even if the technique sounded good, and even if someone I trusted spoke so highly of it, I couldn't espouse its general principles.

A few of them are okay and may work for me, but the rest belongs to the realm of unproven superstition. My life is far too precious and much too short for me to invest in any technique based on a leap of faith of any kind.

Until someone can convince him to the contrary, without a shadow of a doubt, I'll stick to common sense. It's much simpler and besides, I got it as standard equipment when I was born!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

All about windows!

Since I'm retired, I must be on the target list of all that creeps that pray on gullible elders, and I constantly get all kind of calls. Most of the time, I let them go on voice mail, but today I picked one up.

On the other end, the accented voice said: “I'm calling because you have a problem with your registration of Windows (the operating system)”; the typical ploy to get my personal information. I asked: “Are you really talking about windows?”
The man replied “Yes”. I said: “Please, do me a favor, walk to your office window and jump out!” The smart-Alec replies: “It's only at ground level”. Before hanging up, I simply suggest: “Pretend it's on the 10th floor; that will get your adrenaline going, bring some excitement into your life, and a wonderful reason to leave me alone!”

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Hooked on technology

I just got a new smart phone and as luck would have it, there were problems when I slid my old micro SD card into the device. For a while, I thought it was my new device's fault, but after tinkering a few days with the issue, I discovered that the card was bad.

So, I changed it and it made all the difference. They were also other issues, some caused by my ignorance, some due to adapting to something new and a bit better. So here it goes; technology keeps on evolving and it forces us to learn a bit more everyday.

While I pester against it, I must in fact love it, because it keeps me alert, forces me adapt, understand, discover and in the end, keep on learning. One good addiction of mine!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Time for some serious Feng Shui?

We know a house painter that has lived for about 35 years in Park City. He came to town from Scotland as a ski bum, stuck around, worked very hard and has done quite well from himself.

Yesterday, as we were taking an afternoon stroll, we ran into him, chatted about nothing and everything and finally got into the subject of Feng Shui, a traditional Chinese concept designed for living in harmony with our surroundings.

He said that even though he was a skeptic at first, he had experienced many times the virtues of that technique when he had to sell or purchase a home (real estate is his main investment strategy) and he would never hesitate to invest in the advice of a Fung Shui consultant to be on the good side of any such transaction (the man is Scottish and loves his money).

His conviction made us think and seriously consider that we too, ought to start taking that strange science a bit more seriously!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Meru, with an “M” as in...

… Made for Movies!

"Meru" is the new documentary we saw last night, made about the successful climb of the NW face of Meru at 20,702 feet (6310 meters) called the “Shark's Finn” in India's Garhwal Himalaya by the American alpinists Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk on October 2, 2011.

This movie received the audience award at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival in Park City. The ascension was made in 11 days after a failed attempt, by the same team in 2008.

The pictures are stunning, the story is expertly pieced together and – in my view – glorifies extreme risk taking for the sake of a the project sponsors and the end, a stunning documentary film, which, all along, was probably the ultimate prize these men had in focus...

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Another Ski Mag ranking...

This year's ski resort ranking by Ski Magazine was different and more confusing than ever before.

The surprise wasn't that Canada's Whistler Blackcomb made, once again number 1, rather it was that Sun Valley got second on (seemingly) the sole account of its 80th season, Vail only making it to seventh and Park City ended up in eleventh position.

Sure, Deer Valley hung on to number three, but this showed that this big deal ranking by a dying ski magazine is really bogus, and has been for years.

When it comes to “official rankings”, please, do yourself a favor, make sure to do it yourself and don't let ignorants tell you otherwise...

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Some good reading?

Yesterday, as we went for our annual flu shot (and second ever), I picked up a booklet called “Senior BlueBook”. I thought just like the Kelley Blue Book for automobiles it would get me to compute my residual value based on my year, my mileage and my overall condition.

I quickly thumbed through the book and that it was all about tricks for improving memory, tips on Medicare, nursing services, retirement homes and cremation while you wait. Nowhere could I find an easy formula to figure out what my residual value was.

Dejected, I threw the book away. I was both angry and disappointed, because when it comes to my own value, I still think it's much more than the wreck I see every morning in the mirror!

Friday, October 9, 2015

My view of an “Open Planet”

I've said many times that with no border visible from space, humans should be able to go and settle wherever they might wish on the planet.

This bold and brave concept however, would come with a few caveats. First, migrants would need to ask for permission, and get it, before entering a space, a nation or a culture. They should also not expect any form of hand out; the move would entirely be at their expense.

Each community will be free to appreciate if anyone should be let it. This could be done on the basis of being refugee or having skills or character that are very desirable or in high demand within that community.

Then, if they are let in, migrants would have to agree and promise to conform to the customs, the language and rules of that community, commit to fully integrating into that social profile and endeavor to add value to their new place of residence.

If migrants enter without having been invited (that means illegally), they'd be liable to be kicked out or suffer other sanctions. Finally if they don't want to conform to their host society fabric and traditions, they too would place their resettlement in jeopardy.

The idea is to add value to the host society, not hurt it or tear it apart. Pretty simple.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Dull foliage season

Usually, Utah foliage season is a glorious one with a full pallet of colors in sight, beginning when our mountain oaks turn red.

This year has been a totally different story and yesterday, we finally went for our fall foliage drive, up around Guardsman Pass and while our expectations were low, based on what what visible on the Park City side, we were a bit disappointed.

According to weather and tree experts, our unusually wet spring weather has teamed up with two fungal leaf diseases that are seen as the culprits for dulling our fall festival of colors this year.

 Most aspen and cottonwood trees are suffering from diseases that cause spotting and dark splotches on their leaves, noticeably less vibrant colors and early-season leaf loss, according to a these same experts.

The two primary fungi are marssonina, the most common leaf disease among aspens and cottonwoods, and septoria, which is mostly hitting cottonwoods in our area. I have no clue if these scientific alibi are true or not, but the results speak for themselves.

Well, there's always next year!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Peru trip – Photographic nightmare

The curse of digital photography is that we end-up taking far too many pictures. Then after a trip, an event or a celebration, we're stuck with a pile of shots that we don't know what to do about. First, we need to sort them out.
A long, painful process that calls on the most brain, energy-intensive operation called “decision”. Then, if we have the chance (or the curse) to use a photo editing software, we need to clean up each photograph, re-frame it, light it up or make it more contrasted, and continue the sorting process as we discover more shots that don't deserve to be kept, as we go along.

I've been working on our Peru pictures since we left Lima and haven't finished the work yet, more than two weeks later. Of course, I haven't begun looking at my Peru videos. Now I need a vacation!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Another weird, ski dream

Last night, I dreamed that I had been skiing somewhere in the California Sierras with my friend Jean-Louis Villiot. When the skiing was all done, I suddenly couldn't figure where I had left my ski boots, my after ski boots and boot bag.

I was all alone (Jean-Louis was long gone), I looked everywhere, to absolutely no avail. I went to see and ask the other people that hadn't left yet and they were quite nasty to me. Some snickered that – for someone who had worked in the ski business – that was pretty unbecoming to be so callous about one's own equipment.

Then I began to rationalize and said to myself that after all, my boots were old and so were my after ski boots. I suddenly realized that I had my custom Superfeet custom insole inside my boots and that mere realization made me cringe. Cringe so much, in fact, that this very thought woke me up...

Monday, October 5, 2015

Smoother conflict resolutions

With age and experience, handling all kinds of conflicts can get a lot better if one pays attention on the goal and less on the circumstances. In other words, we're too often solely focused on what or who is right, and not enough on what's a good and desirable outcome.

Age and experience give older folks a better chance to do just that, deal much more calmly with the issue at hand and far less passionately about the form, the nastiness or the passions surrounding the conflict instead of resolving the issue at hand in a calm, objective and pragmatic manner.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Looking at my utility bills...

This weekend, the summer, balmy summer weather that we had in Park City, came to abrupt end, ushering the real Fall season. This morning, our heating system kicked on and we all were turned towards a less carefree weather pattern.

I was thinking about all this and looking with astonishment at our low heating bill for the year, in our new, energy efficient home. We're now spending an equal amount to keep us warm and keep the light on than we spend on telecoms (internet, phones, not counting the purchase cost of smart phones or tablets).

What's more astonishing though, is that most of our utility money goes into water and water treatment, even though we use that precious commodity quite sparingly, which given the rarity of water in the West makes a lot of sense nowadays.

I compared these numbers with some of those we had in our New York suburban home in 1981. Heating oil was by far the biggest expense, adjusted for inflation, electricity was three times what we paid today, but water was dirt-cheap in those days! Feel free to use the illustrating table and plug-in your current numbers. I'd love to see a comparison!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Getting an electoral education...

Yesterday was our a chance to see the six candidates vying for the upcoming Park City Council election, jousting in a public forum the first time.

Six men and women for filling up three vacant seats. The event was organized by three business-related groups (the realtors, the Historic Alliance and the Chamber of Commerce) and the debate revolved around growth in Park City, affordable housing and transportation.

The debate ran from 11:45 am till about 1:30 pm, was moderated by a former City Councilman, and while his questions were rather convoluted and gave candidates many opportunities to stray off subject, we left the room with a crystal clear idea about the three candidates that would receive our votes early November. A rather painless and straight forward way to make another decision in our lives!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Meet Putin, the cowboy!

I believe Putin is a bully and he knows it. He also knows that he is unstoppable at the moment. At least, no word leader has shown the audacity to call on his bullying tactics or maneuver him into some form of reasonable behavior.

Too bad Obama doesn't show the appetite to handle the wild Russian as he should be capable of (people massaging has never been our current president's forte...)

As a result, he is playing the cowboy he always dreamed to be and is currently making sure that he can save Bashar al-Assad and his strategic bases on the Mediterranean. Beware of that cowboy, he's armed, reckless and extremely dangerous!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Lunch at the Avoriaz ski school

Last night, I dreamed that I was having lunch at the Avoriaz ski school. Even though we never had a lunch room there per se, here I was, having a bit in my sandwich and listening to some American clients boring their French instructor with their arcane ski technicalities. 
Then, I got bumped out of my table as I wasn't supposed to sit there and tried several other spots and each time, I got kicked out. I certainly didn't belong there anymore, in spite of the fact that I was wearing the official, red “Montand” sweater with my French instructor pin smack in the middle of it.

I felt a bit embarrassed because instead of ski pants I wore what seemed to be long johns or perhaps sweat pants. I retreaded to yet another table where a lone ski instructor was too, munching on a sandwich. She looked resigned and just said to me: “Thing have changed a lot, they're not the same anymore...” I nodded in agreement and woke up.