Monday, February 29, 2016

Turning negative into positive

On a daily basis, we all get bombarded with tons of negativity either through the images we see, the situations we witness, the abuse we endure, the things we hear or the material we read. If we take it all in, it's often painful, hurtful and it gives us a feeling of emptiness and unhappiness.

So we wonder next if there's a way to turn all of this negative garbage into some form of positive resource. It's obviously not easy because we're dealing there with highly emotional issues, it makes it very hard to think clearly and follow a rational approach. 
  • My proposed method for transforming negative vibes into positive feelings follows pretty much this path: 
  • Stay calm, breath deeply, don't rush into any knee-jerk reaction. 
  • Replay first, in our mind, the image, sound or impression just receive and filter it so we are sure that it's is indeed negative and that we're not just receiving this way because we're emotionally disturbed. 
  • Ask ourselves in which manner we could respond positively or just turn around this bad energy into a good one. This could be as simple as “what do I learn out this situation?” to answering what we might perceive as an “attack” into a good deed, a heartfelt encouragement or a sincere compliment. 
  • Be generous. State our good intention. Remain calm and natural. Float above the fray. 
We'll feel better and another bad situation will pass...

Sunday, February 28, 2016

We want change !

This is a profound truth: We all want to change the elements we don't like about our lives, whether we control them or not, but there is a corollary that is very much as true; we also don't want to change!

I saw that quote on Facebook and found it so true that it got me thinking. We wish life would change around us, but we are generally reluctant to pitch in, by taking an “the others but not me” or “not in my backyard” point-of-view.

So the result is obviously predictable: We fight back, we scream loud enough, we get petitions signed, we demonstrate and in the end nothing that we dislike ever changes. We probably should turn the proposition into: “We all want change, why don't YOU start!”

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The (evolving) art of ski video

Even though I began shooting ski videos in the late 80s. I started making ski clips in earnest since 2010, when I got my first helmet-mounted GoPro camera. Since that time, I have learned a lot and keep on learning each time I edit my work.

Because it's not so much when I shoot that I realize my mistakes, but when I try to piece together whatever good footage I have into a ski movie. I have mentioned before the shaking that comes with the helmet-mounted cam and a hard, bumpy ski terrain.

Now, when I look at my options, I will consider more angles, different perspectives, small details to insert at editing, and try to I realize that the best way to create a good film is to be extremely patient and super well equipped.

Patient, because it demands multiple takes and repetition, well equipped or organized because image stability becomes a priority, especially if zooming is needed.

This sounds complicated, but it's still fun. I'll begin working on it, tomorrow!

Friday, February 26, 2016

The 10th Republican Debate

Last night debate was most entertaining. Instead, o f sharing my deepest thoughts about each entertainer, I will assign “best and highest use” for each candidate:
  • Mr. Carson: Master pupetteer (works well with his hands) 
  • Mr. Kasich: City council member in any Midwest small town (looks perfectly the part) 
  • Mr. Rubio: Scout Master (might inspire some small kids) 
  • Mr. Cruz: Count Dracula in low-bugdet horror movies 
  • Mr. Trump: Timeshare salesman 
...Enough said!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Ski talk...

Yesterday, I was skiing with my daughter and we both had a wonderful day. We skied a lot and mostly in the trees where we managed to still find quite a bit of fresh powder.

At some point, she said: “It's incredible that you'll be 80 in just 12 years!” I noded and instantly reflected where I was and what I was doing a dozen years ago.

I was still working for East West Resorts in Vail, didn't wear a helmet yet, was already on the snow a lot, enjoying it very much, and most importantly, probably not skiing as well as I do today.

So I took a deep breath and thought to myself that the next twelve years – If I get there of course - are likely to be cool too!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Fifty years ago today: The “percent”

It happened just 50 years ago today and it was just a French high school celebration which took place one hundred days before the end of the school year and what was the baccalaureate. “Perecent” was the phonetic writing for “Père 100” or “Father 100”.

On this occasion, my buddies students kind of dressed up and paraded through the streets of Cluses, my High School. We then boarded a bus and went to Thonon, on Geneva Lake's south shore, to enjoy a copious lunch with more wine than we could handle and most of us were all blasted by the end of the afternoon.

We also carried with us a symbolic casket meant to hold the corpse of “Father 100” that we threw into the lake and watched it float away in the sunset before returning to the dreary Cluses boarding school...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Beware of most movies...

I recently produced a couple of videos in which I made appear reality a tad better than it truly was. Folks noticed, believed what I was trying to portrait and told me.

I had then to let a few of them know (the ones I knew or cared for well enough for this) that what they were seeing and understanding wasn't necessary reflective of reality. It was just a... movie, after all!
When a film or video is produced, the soundtrack, the editing and the dialog or narration will influence it a great deal, far beyond reality if this is what the producer wants to achieve.

Few clips are just “cinéma réalité” and this is the real fact, so next time you watch a motion picture, always keep that “behind-the-scenes” reality in mind!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Evangelicals and Republicans Primaries

These days, we hear a lot about evangelical protestants, this transdenominational movement that focuses on the essence of the gospel and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ's atonement.
It's also sometimes characterized by its literal interpretation of the bible, its reliance on casual miracles and its pretty fanatical slant.
This religious group has been cultivated with great success by Messrs Trump, Cruz and Rubio, who are the most controversial and weirdest candidates in this year's whole campaign.

Evidently, they all have a great appeal on this group of religious zealots, even if their claims, their representations and promises may appear totally far-fetched and fabricated.

 The reason: In order for them to accept their special breed of faith, these evangelical folks are by nature extremely gullible and believe everything they want to hear, which happens to be what our political trio delivers to perfection...

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Slowing down a bit...

I've always been attracted by speed like a firefly is attracted by light. When I began to ride my big sister's bike, I fell many times because

I was constantly pushing the envelope on it. Then, I got my driver's license and began my career as a speed-demon, taking my Citroën 2cv as fast as could into curves and into descents (it wasn't as fast going up) and then I came to America with its speed limits and radar traps which weren't as stringent in France, back in the 70s.

It took me about three decades to slow down, through near-misses and a shower of speeding tickets. Now, the only place I feel safe going at a decent clip is on snow and I still get my kicks out of it!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Learning through fun...

This afternoon, I'll be taking my grandson skiing and we'll go through trees, bumps and humps and we'll both have a great time.

All these obstacles will teach him what he needs to go through them and, in the end, he'll pick up many more skills than I – or anyone – could teach him by just explaining or even showing.

For all of us to retain knowledge and skills, learning must be fun!

Friday, February 19, 2016

If it doesn't kill you...

It has to make you stronger. I have already written on that subject, but I remain convinced that adversity, whether it is physical, mental or emotional, if it doesn't break you, it beefs you up, make you much tougher and gives you that highly valuable gift that is to accept all those things you can't absolutely change.

Once you get that virtue nested inside your mind, you can go the distance...

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Taking the lead on skis...

When I ski on my own, I pick the place and dictate both path and pace. When I ski with other aggressive skiers, and if – God forbid – I must follow them, I become much more defensive, I tense-up and generally end up skiing under my real potential.
When I'm on my own, I have very little stress and no pressure at all; my whole energy, albeit limited by age, goes entirely to fuel my skiing. So, here you have it; my skiing can't afford any competitive pressure, especially if it appears to be clearly above my current means!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

And God created the moguls...

A few days ago, as I was riding the chairlift, I overheard the conversation between a husband and a wife about how moguls are created. I listened to the answer given by the husband, smiled at what I heard and remained silent.

I've been around moguls for years, so I know that moguls are not created equal. On ski slopes, natural moguls appear through the repeated passage of skiers following the same trajectory, over the snow. When the snow is fresh, or soft enough, some snow gets pushed to the side of the turn, away from the skis.

This creates a curvaceous mound of snow that grows after each skier passage. At the same time the skis cut a groove into the snow in a similar arc that also gets deeper as skiers follow each others. Mogul creation is thus a continuing story about accumulation and erosion of snow.

There is a point where the mounds of snow created on either side of the tracks turn into a large, rounded bump and the groove into a deep, rounded hollow. As the snow builds up higher, more people ski around the higher snow and thus push even more snow onto it. So you have it: repeated skiing following the same path create moguls and the if you have enough users skiing lines that are parallel to each other, you'll soon get a complete, beautiful mogul field like the one on the picture.

This basic theory would unfortunately be too simple and like anywhere else there are variables that cause vast variations in the appearance of a mogul field. That's right, bumps pattern, shape and size will vary with the following components. The height, weight and speed of the skier will definitely play a role in shaping moguls, so does skiing ability, skis length, snow quality (hard or soft) as well as the grade of the slope.

Snowboarders will also shape moguls differently and create specific patterns. So the more homogeneous our skier population will be, the more geometric and regular the mogul field may look like! Of course, reality is much different; the first bump is never created in an orderly phenomenon. The ski goes a certain way and not necessarily in the direction wanted by the skier.

Now, you can appreciate, that the process is totally uncertain and is in fact quite chaotic. But should we expect perfection in patterns created by imperfect humans?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

We lost a Judge

I'm sorry by the passing of Justice Scalia for his family and friend and especially for not passing at his home. I must say that I am not sorry for the Nation.
Scalia, whose health wasn't so good, probably took one too many junkets paid for by his friends looking to influence him. In that ultimate case, it was J B Poindexter & Co Inc of Houston, Texas.
I guess some form of corruption works fine in all branches of government.

Unlike what the Conservatives are wishing for, he should be replaced as soon as possible. We can't have the third branch of government idle or disfunctional for more than a year.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Debt is the problem, deflation the outcome

Even though no presidential candidate want to address that sore point, most of us understand the seriousness of our debt problem. In round numbers, the U.S. total credit market debt is $40 trillion and government debt is $17 trillion, leaving private debt at approximately $23 trillion.

Some say that the government debt will rise towards the $30 trillion level while the private debt will drop towards the $20 trillion level, but that will still remain too high. This debt scenario is bad enough, but if we take into consideration our future liabilities like social security, medicare and medicaid, we might add another $80 trillion to today's $40 trillion of total credit market debt.

By the time we, the baby boomers all retire, the 40 million seniors will balloon to 72 million. If these numbers don't scare our kids and grand-kids I wonder what does... The main reason for the Fed's quantitative easing (QE) or exercise in money printing was to prop up the economy. Clearly, this isn't working, corporations keep on hoarding cash and individuals are afraid as well. What must happen to stimulate the economy is "velocity" a measure of the rate at which money flows to purchase goods and services.

This measure is computed by dividing the nation's GDP by the total money supply. Velocity of money also slows when interest rates are low; people hold on to their cash even tighter, instead of investing. This situation is exactly where Japan has been stuck into since 1989. Will it be the same scenario for us? With a little bit of luck, we might be able to weather the announced slowdown and patch-up our household finances so we can emerge out of this mess sooner than later...

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Is Donald Trump a bully?

In my opinion he behaves like one but gets away with it because, his primary opponents simply don't have the gumption to confront him. What does this says about these guys ability to confront a bully like Putin or anyone else for that matter, should they be one day in the Oval Office? Nothing positive or reassuring.
These candidates behave as if they had no backbone and let Trump run wild over them. If Donald makes it to the Republican nomination, how will Hillary or Bernie respond to him? This will be an interesting issue to watch unfold. I would venture to predict that our bully will have a harder time with the old man than the smart lady. Well, time will tell and anyway, we aren't there yet!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The latest in Presidential politics...

I was disappointed by this week's Democratic debate. Sanders wasn't in control, he lost his composure and wasn't really prepared to tackle questions about foreign affairs. On the other hand, Clinton was strategic and tactical without believing much of what she was saying.

Bernie is where he is because his message is super-simple (like Trump's) and because a large portion of the electorate hates Hillary. He's also too old in my view and I question many of his abilities to govern. Can he even delegate? I'm not so sure. Clinton's main mission is to get elected; if she gets there, she'll have time to figure how to get re-elected for a second term.
Would I vote for Hillary if she makes it to the November ticket? I may (pinching my nose), if I consider Trump to be worse than she is, which still will warrant some reflection; definitly, if Trump fails to get the investiture.

Friday, February 12, 2016

More ski resort measurements...

Yesterday, I introduced Mr. Schrahe, from Montenius Consult, and explained that this patient man had measured all the large ski resorts, the world over. What I forgot to mention is that you can buy his report for about $115.00, something I didn't have the desire to do. Inside the complete study, you won't just find the ranking by total ski trails length, but also by the total area – now, that's interesting – and by vertical drop.

So, before I forget, here is the ranking by skiable area. The number one is Sella Ronda, in the Italian Dolomite, near Val Gardena with 27,675 acres (112 km2) followed closely by France's Trois Vallées, around Courchevel, with 25,130 acres (101,7 km2) and Paradiski, also in France with 16,062 acres (65 km2). By contrast, the sum of Deer Valley and Park City is just 9,326 acres (37.7 km2), while a six Wasatch Resort interconnect would amount to a respectable 20,000 acres (81 km2).

Finally, in terms of vertical drop, two French resorts Les 2 Alpes leads the pack with 7,358 ft (2.243 m) followed by l'Alpe d'Huez at 7,217 ft (2,200 m). In North America, Whistler-Blackcomb only offers a vertical of 5,134 ft (1,565 m) and in the United States, Jackson Hole leads with just 4,140 ft (1,262 m)...

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Mine are longer than yours!

Christoph Schrahe, from Montenius Consult, is a German who's has made some money for the past three years, publishing the state of ski runs the world over by measuring how long they are for every major ski resort.

Besides compiling a hit-parade in that odd category, he also complains that French and Swiss ski resorts tend to exagerate the total mileage of their respective ski runs. America doesn't measure the size in trail length, but rather is area, which in my view makes much more sense.

Number 1 in his placemet is the Three Valleys interconnect (8 resorts including Courchevel, Meribel, Val Thorens ...) with a total of 337 miles (542 km) of trails, followed by the Paradiski interconnect (Les Arcs and La Plagne ) a 250 miles (402 km), both in the French Alps.

Number 3 is the sum of Park City and Deer Valley, my recent Utah hometown, with 224 miles (360 km). This sounds quite flatering except that Deer Valley is not (yet) connected to Park City, so Mr. Schrahe should take notice!

According to the study, my previous hometown, Les Portes du Soleil, is lying through its teeth by claiming 373 miles (600 km) of ski trails (it used to claim 404!) while in reality, according to Christoph Schrahe's tape measurer, it can only get a measly 270 km, less than Deer Valley and Park City combined. This guy makes me feel really good!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Why are Sanders and Trump doing so well?

This answer to this question has been known for quite some time if anyone has paid attention by the two leading candidates of both parties. It's because both are denouncing the high level of corruption that is plaguing Congress, the rest of the government and the so called “establishment politics”.

Even Mrs. Clinton doesn't even seem to have a clue about what corruption is when she answered “That's what they offered” when she was asked this week, why her speaking fees to financial institutions or trade associations that are generally lobbying Congress.
Our “establishment politics” are rotten to the core and smart voters are sick and tired of it and this is why their last resort is to support odd-ball characters like Sanders and Trump.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

If I were a Primary candidate...

I would be pro-choice, social-liberal, but at the same time fiscal conservative, non-interventionist and environmentalist. Which party would most welcome me?

The more I think about it, the less I see which one would be flexible enough to accept that. This shows a long way that our politics and not in synch with the American people and why both Sanders and Trump are running away with the votes this election season.

Monday, February 8, 2016

How to “last” on skis

When years start piling up, there's always a point when it feels like skiing is more work and that it might all be going downhill from there.
It doesn't have to be that way.

Just like you do for your smart phone, begin to set your body on “energy-saving” mode:
  • Ski light, by this I mean mentally; in other words, you must act and feel “light” on snow. 
  • Use speed wisely and as much as you can to execute your turns; slow-mo costs energy! 
  • Ski less hours during the day, but ski more often (at your age, no one should expect you to be at work, right?) 
  • Shorten the length of your skis and you'll turn with less efforts. 
  • Keep your boards in tip-top shape. 
  • Occasionally, ski some challenging stuff to augment and maintain your skills. 
  • More importantly get rid of any nefarious thoughts like “you're too old” or “you can't do it!” 
Good luck and have more fun much longer!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The odd couple: Donald and Bernie

I you expect change from any presidential candidate at the primaries, you are just kidding yourself. Except perhaps for Trump and Sanders.

The rest of the field is chock-full of business-as-usual and has never been trained to think creatively. They'll give us four or eight more years of what we already hate. Gobbledygook, budget deficit and Congress gridlock.

Instead, Trump and Bernie are not just iconoclasts, they share a lot of common-sense ideas that could be used in many areas, to name just a few: Stop the tsunami of money and corruption into politics, work towards creating a functional health system, changing international trade rules and standing up to crazy bullies the world over.
Enough said, I'd support a Trump-Sanders ticket. If only...

Saturday, February 6, 2016

What Hillary should have done

In her last feisty debate with Mr. Sanders, Mrs. Clinton has had an impossible time extricating herself from the accusations that she profited from the financial industry by accepting hefty fees from banks and other investment houses.
The best way for her to cut short to these accusations would have been to immediately return these monies and come out clean as a whistle. Had she replied in that fashion, she would have won the exchange.

Her problem, of course, is that she and her husband are far too greedy to think on their feet intelligently and have come anywhere close that debate-saving inspiration.

Bernie Sanders is probably right; her judgment might, after all, be not that great, at least not quite “presidential...”

Friday, February 5, 2016

Courchevel skis Park City

You know the story about “sister-cities”. The relationship generally begins with lots of excitement and goes through periods of idleness until someone decides to rekindle the fire within.

Park City in Utah, and Courchevel in France, began their sisterhood in 1984. Over the years, both towns shared an active student exchange program that became a fun experience for high school students, their families, and their teachers.

In 2014, Courchevel extended Park City an invitation to rekindle the bonds, and Park City sent a delegation made of the local government members and resort representatives. Yesterday, was Courchevel's turn to pay us a visit and I had the priviledge to ski with its mayor, Philippe Mugnier along with his key people.

All were excellent skiers and down into the Deer Valley trees they went! They thought that our resort had snow a cut above the regular Alpine fare, were amazed at the small number of skiers on the hill, loved the varied terrain and soaked in the beautiful views...

When you hear this, you realize that we're fortunate to have it all, here in town!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Stein Eriksen's Celebration of Life

Today was Stein's celebration of life and both the setting and the weather were picked fittingly to reminisce the legendary champion right in the center of two freestyle venues, at the current World Cup events,  that his persona and unmatched ski talents helped create.

His family was present and so were a few ski personalities, including our own Ted Ligety and Billy Kid plus many more that accompanied him along the way.

A skier performed Stein famous forward flip with 210 cm skis, sporting sweater, stretch pants and no hat - please - then during the entire moment, the magic was back!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Trump's faith

I was quite amused when I saw the picture of Donald Trump behind what looked like a bible in mint condition that, he said, his mom gave him half a century ago.

Obviously, either Mr. Trump has taken extremely good care of the volume or hasn't used it much. I'd lean towards the later, but for the moment, let's give our carpetbagger in chief the benefit of the doubt...

Even me, a heathen, still own a catholic missal that looks totally beat-up and yet, hasn't been used much in the past 50 years; go figure!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Should God be allowed in school?

I saw that one on Facebook the other day. It came from some born again Christian FB's page. The suggestion is daring and as you might imagine, the idea was endorsed by most. I guess the naysayers were edited out.

I was wondering, how should I respond to this and here was my comment:

“School is for educating young minds by teaching them common sense and proven, rational knowledge, not superstition, esoteric beliefs or principles that are all but substantiated. Let youngster consider religion when they've reach the age to vote, drink and smoke. Before that, trying to contaminate their mind with irrational beliefs is a form of mental abuse.”

Monday, February 1, 2016

Another Sundance Festival has come and gone!

While we contributed our three-day volunteering part, we almost ignored the thousands of movie-goers and industry people that invaded our town for the past ten days. We hunkered down at home, walked the neighborhood or went skiing.
We also saw fewer movies, all documentaries. One was awful, one so-so and the other just okay. The big challenge is about running to the venue, standing in line and repeating the process.

"Hurry up and wait..." Such a big demand on our limited time. I feel too "mature" for that!