Sunday, January 31, 2016

Skis: There's length and... width!

In my piece about ski lengths, I forgot to mention excess width. Having a ski too wide delay edge change and make the ski less maneuverable. It also makes that subtle “cheating” that we all do when circumstances require it, much more tricky.
Too wide, the ski becomes a plank that reacts as swiftly as a large aircraft carrier would. My personal experience tells me that 85 mm does the job well. My new skis and their 88 waist feel a bit slow indeed and make little adjustments a tad more difficult...

Saturday, January 30, 2016


Today, the New York Times endorsed Hillary Clinton and I spent most of my morning reading the comments, some of which not favorable.

Clearly, Americans are sick and tired of the Clinton dynasty. Her biggest problem though, is that she's not trustworthy and clearly represents the political status quo when the rest of the world is clamoring for change in that stinky department.

Will Democrats vouch for Bernie Sanders instead? More and more likely...

This possibility, alone, combined with Donald Trump's inevitable nomination will make for an incredible election cycle.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Are my skis too long?

Last spring, I purchased a brand new pair of Rossignol Experience 88, in a 188 cm length. I had demoed the ski prior to purchasing it and I liked it a lot. That pair of boards joined a stable of a few other pairs of 186 cm and one pair of 180 cm skis.
I've been skiing on these new skis for a week and I must say that in challenging terrain (mostly trees) they requires much more work and attention to my technique. I've been skiing a lot on my 180 Salomons and became a bit too complacent if not just lazy...

Well, I think I'll adjust to these long boards, that on the flip side are fast, stable and quite pleasant; then, when I'm over 70 years of age, I'll probably start getting into the 170 range. Always a question of numbers!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Is Janet Yellen any good?

I may be the only one to think that way, but I'm not at all impressed with her decisions or lack thereof. She's been saying “Let's watch inflation!”. I've been watching it too, in fact, I follow it every month and there's no reason to worry about this, with a CPI increase of 0.7% over this past year.

Based on this observation alone (which was easily anticipated) there was no good reason to raise interest rates, back in December. I'd be more concerned about deflation (Japanese-style) than inflation. This form of “stag-deflation” is the by-product of global oversupply and seems totally ignored by world government and politicians alike.

Faced with this, the only three steps the Fed appears able to take is change interest rates, tinker with money supply and make vague statements about an uncertain future. 
When such statements are made public by Mrs. Yellen and her six other governors, they generally send the stock market tumbling down, so this is more like a chronic nuisance created by a bunch of bureaucrats officiating at a purely ceremonial job, unless of course we had a competent and more pragmatic person in charge.

This said, who could this magician be? Bernanke and Greenspan seemed like a bunch of talking heads too. Was Paul Volker any better? I'm not even sure; if you have the answer, please chime in...

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Learn something new everyday!

I'm amazed by all the new things we can learn each day. It's a never-ending process that I thoroughly enjoy.

The problem is that we take it for granted, don't even value it and fail to seize it when it comes our way. By adding that knowledge on a daily basis, our lives become richer and we become much wiser. If we focus a little more on this constantly flowing resource, we won't miss any of it and build on every tidbits of free education.
Yesterday, just as an example, I finally understood how my GoPro video cam worked (after about five years trying to use it) and I'm looking forward to learning something extra this very day. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Skier-Car Comparison

In yesterday's blog, I was attempting to explain what a skier's “engine” was; namely a blend of two elements: Muscle strength and gravity.

The comparison could be extended to other automobile functions. For instance, I have mentioned for quite sometime that the skis could be equated to the tires, the ski boots (and their binding linkage to the ski), the transmission, the ankles, knees and hips to the suspension hinges and the leg and abdominal muscles to their shock absorbers.

So now, where's the steering? The feet, mostly, along with the pole plant for rhythm and balance as well with the upper body anticipation and some modicum of speed. Where's the accelerator? The manner in which skis point to the downhill direction, are held flat on the snow or pressurized in a pure carving position; I almost forget the aerodynamic enhancers like the tuck position but you could equate this to a low Cd or drag coefficient on a car.

The brakes, we know them well, can range to the useful snowplow to the venerable hockey-stop with a lot of edging in between. Then there is the windshield and the vision factor, which of course is through our (clean) goggles, a good light and general visibility (so important!) and other elements like “distracted skiing” with loud music piped into one ears!

You also have the usual safety features, like the release bindings and today, the airbag, as it's used in racing. I could add to this the GoPro mounted on a helmet as compared to a dash camera, but this just an accessory, right? Finally, we could talk about the fuel as we all know too well how much a lot of skiing can work a strong appetite in any of us.

Of course what's is probably still missing is probably the “skiing license”, but we know it already; we're all very good skiers!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Ski like a feather on snow...

I watched the men's slalom yesterday at Kitzbühel; under extremely icy conditions, the winner, Henrik Kristoffersen was skiing lighter than anyone else and won the contest.

That says a lot about skiing with minimizing one's efforts; it does two important things: It minimizes the energy expended and it gets you down faster.

A skier's motor is made of two elements: Muscular strength and gravity. If a skier is to maximize gravity, he'll move much faster and be far less tense because his muscular power will solely be used to direct the skis, not so much to pressurize them and resist the chaos of the run.

If you don't believe this essential principle, just try it – you'll need to focus on it – for one runs of two. Just think and believe you're a feather on snow. It works and pays high dividends!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The stress of work

For at least ten years, we've been volunteering for the early morning shifts at the Park City Library Film Series' concession, during the Sundance Film Festival, from 7 am through 10 am. For the first time in so many years, the job felt like real, exhausting work.

We had to show up on time, re-learn the cash register, familiarize ourselves with the new items and the changed prices. Are we getting old or just getting out of the habit of working?
I vouch for the latter, believe strongly that work means stress and the best thing that happened to me over more than a decade, when I retired, was to get that poison out of my life and this had done me a lot of good ever since.

Are we going to volunteer again next year? We aren't sure yet. We may physically recover between now and next year and this may affect our answer!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Bully-style leadership

Donald Trump reminds of a lot of people I've ran into over the years and no later than yesterday, when my wife and I were volunteering at the Sundance Film Festival.

Folks that are bold, daring and don't want to discuss anything. They make statements of fact, good or bad, and leave no room for even discussing or questioning what they claim to be their reality. That clearly is a form of bullying their way into power and renounce any form of compromise unless their opponent force them to do so.

Surprisingly, in most cases, that tactic works and it's also true that after some time has gone by, “victims” of that form of bullying feel somehow cheated and have a cloudy impression about the individual usurping their rights in that fashion. Accepting this behavior is akin of submissiveness or naivete.

When some individuals have the nerves to impose that style leadership, always respond and put them in their right place!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Another fake tree specie

Just like Christmas trees, some pine trees can be fake and found in some unusual spots that bear little relation to the Holidays.

This season, I spotted such tree on top of the Iron Mountain chairlift, in Park City (ex-Canyons). I kind of noticed something bizarre about that tree and after starring at it a little bit longer, the trunk was a bit too geometric and when I rose my glance, I noticed antennas sticking on top of it.

Good job for hiding a cell tower in the midst of nature! I didn't know this kind of camouflage even existed...

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The joy of clearing snow

I enjoy when snow falls, not just because it means good skiing down the road, but also and almost as importantly, because it gives me a chance to clear the snow around the house. Snow removal at home is something I've always liked and in fact, seem to enjoy more and more as time goes on.

Yesterday was one of these days when it snowed all day and I had to keep on keeping snow out of the way, and boy, did I just got a kick out of it! That job is my form of compulsive-obsessive disorder and I love to be very systematic in the way I clear snow. Up to two inches is shovel work only. Above that, it's a combination of shovel and snowblower.

There's a system to my madness that got perfected over the years and from house to house. I love to do the job myself; it's a real treat. When it's done, I get a wonderful sense of accomplishment and I wouldn't want anyone else to do it for me!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Why do Mormons have so many kids?

Even though I've lived in Utah for more than 30 year, I'm still at loss to explain why Mormon families still have so many kids in an overpopulated planet that is brought to the brink of destruction because it's simply overcrowded.

A recent Pew Research Center study found that the average number of children ever born to Mormons is 3.4 in the United States. By comparison, the average number of children born to members of historically black Protestant churches is 2.5 followed by Catholics and evangelicals at 2.3.

While the Christian share of the U.S. population is dropping as the number of mainline Protestants and Catholics keeps on declining. Yet, that same study found that Mormons held steady. Their share of the rising U.S. population was 1.6 percent in 2014.

This still doesn't answer my question, though.

For one thing, I believe that the goal of large families is simply increasing the constituency and Mormon make it an unspoken commandment; historically, having so many kids has been an easy alternative to conversion or recruitment. Further, kids are so easy to brain-wash that they make faithfuls for life (probably a strong form of child abuse too...)

Then, there's that belief that families are eternal, and when people believe this, they tend to want more of it. Also, since they marry young, Mormons are quite fertile. Along the same lines, the Mormon Church proscribes it members from using birth control to reduce the size of their families, but this guideline doesn't seem to be followed too strictly as most LDS families stop at the “magic” number of 5 kids...

Finally, when it comes to feeding their large number of kids, Mormon have a large percentage of their members relying on a convenient state and federal assistance.

If you have additional answers, please, share them with us.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The last Democratic Debate and me

I always like what Sanders has to say, even though (and perhaps because) it never changes from speech to speech and while his program may sounds like a very hard pill to swallow to some, I don't like the angry tone in which it is delivered. I'm not sure I like as much Bernie Sanders checkered stand on gun control, but I still give him a 8 out of 10.
I've never like the Clintons but I must say that Hillary has become a much better debater after one full campaign against Barack Obama and she seems more towards the center and more likely to appeal to more Americans and win the final contest. This say, I don't trust her and believe that with her, it still will be politics as usual. I give her a 7 out of 10.

I also think both are too old to be effective commander-in-chief. Trump and the rest of the republican field come far, far behind...

Monday, January 18, 2016

Back to the medieval era?

According to Oxfam, the combined wealth of the richest 1 percent will overtake that of the other 99 percent of people by the end of this year unless the current trend of rising inequality is curbed.

Well, this is pretty scary as it suggests that tensions between the Haves and the Have-nots are likely to reach an explosive point and that we're likely to see major disruptions if not widespread revolts sprouting all over the world.

Is it already too late to reverse the trend? I hope not, but try to tell this to our right wing legislative majority? What is sadly true is that we've done a 180 degree turn back to feudal times...

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Back to a desktop

My weekend has been centered around replacing all my files on a brand new, but good old desktop computer. Not quite plug-and-play, like an all-in-one, a laptop or a tablet, but still fairly easy.

It's a lot of work, a lot of steps to take and hoops to pass, but I'm still able to do it pretty well, so in a few day, I'll be back running a machine that is much sturdier, has all I need to create, which for me is the priority number one.How long with this honeymoon last? Time will tell, but so far, I'm stoked!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Experiencing the new Park City gondola

The new gondola that connects Park City to Canyons is sleek, large and spacious. It can accommodate 8 passengers, but most of the time there are far less people inside the panoramic cabin.

Yesterday, I barged upon a group of four young kids and they were a bit put off to have me with them. They immediately asked me if I would mind if they smoke pot. I said fine, as long as you keep one window slightly open. They did, and then we had a nice conversation. They offered me a smoke and I graciously passed on their offer.

Then, I decided to ski the steep Park City side of that new gondola which I had not done before. I hiked to access the gate and pretty soon, I was skiing some excellent pow, on the wide-open steep slope that sits right under the upper part of the gondola. 
I was the only one having fun there and soon understood why:When I got to the bottom of the bowl I had to walk with my skis on, for over one mile, over a service road that fortunately had been groomed, as the bottom part of the run, far too forested, couldn't be skied down safely. This morning my legs were still sore after all that unforeseen staking and pushing.

Well, live and learn!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Another Republican debate...

Last night the debate was all about Obama and Hillary (Clinton) and very little about substantive proposals. 
In other words, the candidates were denigrating the majority that elected the current president and had nothing to propose for cutting the Federal debt or replacing Obamacare.

Among other personal observations:
  • Carlson was pathetic 
  • Bush was acting like the loser he had become 
  • Kasich was rambling hopelessly 
  • Christie was nice but appeared lost 
  • Rubio was losing ground big time 
  • Cruz was in top form but couldn't get through Trump 
  • Trump defended his positions, made no mistake, managed to win the evening (in my opinion) and is still on track to win the nomination. 
My two-cent opinion.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Nest? No quite there yet!

I'm a sucker for everything cool, high-tech and avant-garde (except for Apple products, that should tell you something, right?), so it's no surprise that I jump all over the Nest thermostats when we built our new home, just two years ago. It looked sleek and sci-fi alright and would be going to enhance my already spoiled life.

That was until last night when the main floor unit went on the fritz which lead me to panic, almost get a heart attack, plug the wrong terminal into the recharging port of the unit, and all this because the folks at Nest just performed a software update that screwed-up everything.

After much angst and trepidation, all is back to work this morning, but I have now deep second thoughts (call it buyer's remorse) about that sleek, magical device. Early adopters of all stripes, beware!

To be continued...

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Obama's State of the Union

We watched the entire speech last night and were not disappointed. As he knows how to raise to big occasions and deliver perfectly well on stage, President Obama performed to perfection. He was very gracious and frankly, if I were in his shoes, I would not have been so nice. I would have also said:

“I don't know if it's just me, but from the first day I became the leader of this country, I felt that the Republican Party would obstruct every good thing I attempted to achieve. I tried to be nice to them, go the extra mile and include them in many of my projects, but they wouldn't have any of it. They seemed just out to get me and any proposal or constructive action I was championing.

Was this racism? I hope not, but in many ways in felt that way. I know that under the surface, racism is still going strong in our nation and that if someone had to be targeted it would be me. This said, I remained gracious, in control and never met my opponents at their lowest levels. If anything, my ignoring their permanent barrage of attacks made me stronger.

Today, these opponents have the nerve to lament that their discourse is going to the dogs through the voice of the leading republican candidate. They can't complain, their actions created that monster. In closing, I know that many Americans felt the way I did, and they're probably right.“

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Shopping for computers...

Around New Year's eve, my All-in-One (AIO) computer died on me. The second to quit that way in five years. I spoke to the technician who retrieved the data out of the machine and he said that it happened often with these new, AIO machines.

Too much stuff cramped too tight inside a flat case and a tendency to overheat. As a result, the morale of the story is no more AIO and no more Hewlett-Packard! So I went shopping and even crossed the threshold of the Apple store where I saw some sleek devices, but generally priced between 50% and 100% over normal Windows computers.
I also went to a local place that builds you the exact machine you want for 3 times the cost you'd pay in a big box store. I choose to return to a good old desktop with plenty of power, strong ventilation, enough space for a technician to work on it and with a 3 year warranty, it should easily take me to the next, logical, technological upgrade!

Monday, January 11, 2016

In search for glory...

Glory and money are the main drivers in today's sick society. The former was evidenced when we learned that El Chapo Guzmán fell in the glory-trap when he got thinking of selling his life story to Hollywood and met Sean Penn for a Rolling Stones interview.
In the latter, both the actor and the publication were guilty of the same sin of vanity, not to mention knowingly entertaining relationships with a criminal who had caused deaths by the thousand.

Perhaps this is the going price tag for some dubious glory...

Sunday, January 10, 2016

El Chapo Guzmán

Now that the drug lord has been captured, he should be kept under control and ideally, brought into the United States for incarceration.

But since the man is not one who like to be in prison, I'd get him to do some community service work and get going what he does best, beside dealing drugs: Digging tunnels.

I can think of a couple of them, right here in Northern Utah to enclose our future mass transit system in and out of our mountain resorts. I'm sure that while El Chapo is a small man, he sure can think big in the tunnel department!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Another great powder day

Today was supposed to be work; I was planning to conduct an interview with the head of Wasatch Freestlyle, a ski team that trains all winter long in Deer Valley and shoot some photos of the kids.

When my date didn't show up, my assignment suddenly turned into play and I skied my heart's content in all the new snow we got yesterday. The menu was heavy from 9 am through 2:30 pm and lunch had to be on the chairlift, but when there's some serious work to accomplish, you must do what you have to do.

All the skiing was deep powder and most of it in the trees. I logged 43,000 vertical and was ready to collapse as I drove back home.

Sometimes, unpleasant events have a silver lining...

Friday, January 8, 2016

Snowy weather skier

For some very obvious reasons, most ski town residents are known as being “fair weather skiers”, meaning that they generally won't go out and ski if the snow isn't perfect, the ski absolutly blue and the temperature quite comfortable.

This is something I both understand and support, but I must admit that my preferred ski conditions are when the weather is snowy and the light still good as the sun is all but a short distance from the cloud and can filter abundant light over the slopes below.
Are these ideal conditions hard to spot? Not really; it simply demands both a good sense of observation, a willingness to step into what might look as “bad weather” and take a chance. Try it!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

New Year's Funk

After all the excitement surrounding the Holidays has faded out, life hits us with all of its gruesome reality.

Daily annoyances, unforeseen problems, recurring challenges, sinking stock market and all the rest. Just a simple reminder that we need to keep smiling, focus on the full half of the glass and carry on confidently towards another year filled with challenges and surprises!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Smart advice!

I noticed this electronic road sign a few days ago, as I was driving to the Salt Lake City airport.

Some very good advice that most drivers can use and that will keep the roads much safer.

 There's always plenty of time to make that not-so-important phone call!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Post-Christmas tree tale

We've had natural and artificial trees over the years and have returned to the natural kind for the past two. So, yesterday, when my daughter helped me carry our tree to the official Park City Christmas tree cemetery, I was stunned by the quantity of trees already there.
There must have been at least 3 to 400 trees deposited for eventual recycling. This, of course, brought up the question, is that at all ecological and the answer isn't that clear cut, as I have read that it takes between 5 to 10 years to make up for all the chemical harm an artificial tree manufactured in Asia create vs. the ecological impact of a natural tree grown in the USA.

Of course, I'm not factoring-in the inconveniences of carrying the tree back and forth on my car rooftop, cleaning up the fallen needles and watering the plant daily. But of course, there's the fragrance, ah ! The fragrance...

Monday, January 4, 2016

Forty years ago today : Back to the ENSA !

I had been working with Look bindings in France for only 16 month and was allowed to take a four week break to complete my French ski instructor certification, at the brand new National School of Skiing and Alpinism in Chamonix.

The company was generous enough to keep paying me during that leave of absence that could have been assimilated to a form of “continuing education”. I remember that, for the occasion, I mounted a pair of Duret skis with a new LK5 plate binding from Look, which was a bizarre, heavy, clunky product, that jammed up stuck after just a few days of hard skiing, but somehow managed to handle all my perquisite courses without failing me.

This would be the beginning of the end in my career as a ski instructor...

Sunday, January 3, 2016

A skier's app

With the Epic Mix, Vail Resorts has created a nice app that finally gives me my vertical when I ski Park City without having to do much about it.

There's a reader at each lift that pings my pass when I ride it and at the end of the day, I get it all without missing a... foot !

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A fading Jupiter

Only ten years ago, Jupiter Peak used to be my favorite skiing playground at Park City. Not anymore, it seems. I went there yesterday for the first time this year and wasn't so impressed. 
Beside being almost the sole human on “planet Jupiter”, there were few good enough runs to make it worth enduring the long, cold ascent and justify all the time spent there in less than optimum conditions.

Thank God, there still is Thaynes that's as good as it ever was, but time sure are a-changin'!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Don't let time eat us alive!

This has been going on forever and we weren't paying attention. The more time goes, the less we have left and as we age, the least equipped we become to using it.

So, has 2016 begins and no matter what our stage in life is, our fortune stands or our health might be, I simply hope that we never forget to treat time as the sacred commodity it is.

That we quit giving up, that we becomes more loving, more daring, more adventurous and that we challenge fear on a daily basis. Happy new year!