Thursday, June 30, 2016

Between the rocks and the hard place

Last week, I splurged on 5 tons of pebbles, ranging from 2 to 5 inches in size, as I wanted to play landscaper and fix a number of areas around my house that I felt had been poorly addressed by the pro hired to do the job two years ago.

So, last week, a big dump truck came to the house and dropped my mineral purchase next to the driveway. Since then, I've been handling rocks almost everyday.

At this point, I must have spread half of the pile around my house and my wife remains confident that we can find some good use for the entire delivery. I would agree with her assessment, but now begin to question the size of the task as it relates to my aging body.

Still I enjoy doing that job and remain confident that I will see the pile wither away. Not much thinking is required for that job, just a tiny bit of patience and some basic puzzle skills (you don't just dump the bucket and walk away, you must make sure these little pebbles dovetail nicely). Don't forget a never-ending stamina to push the wheelbarrow or carry the heavy buckets of stone.

Oh, by the way, I sleep soundly at night!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Be careful what you wish for...

Now that Brexit is a done-deal, it seems that a majority of Britons are experiencing buyer's remorse. Well, if there's something impossible to achieve, it's to be “half-pregnant” and this is the profound lesson that the recent referendum in the U.K. taught the citizens of the United Kingdom. 
In fact, their leaders could never resign themselves at becoming full-fledged participants into the European Union and that sent an unambiguous message to their constituents while polarizing the rest of Europe against them. Without commitment, nothing feels good and nothing lasts...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Women's ski boots...

A few days ago, as I was leaving the Park City underground parking, I caught a glance of a bumper sticker I created some 33 years ago. I had totally forgotten about it and it was - I guess - my lasting legacy with Lange ski boots.

Back in those days, Lange boots had a narrow last combined with a cardboard thin “flow” liner that were notoriously uncomfortable with anyone unfortunate to have a wider foot, and that anatomical specificity was true of most women skiers.

In 1983, a book in vogue was “Real Men don't eat Quiche” and since we didn't sell tons of women ski boots because of their (almost) legendary lack of comfort, I decided – as a still young marketer – to paraphrase that best-seller and at the same time, inject some testosterone into our advertising offering, touting the image of aggressive and expert women skiers.

Did it work? You bet! I got promoted from marketing manager to vice-president of sales and marketing within the next 12 month and never, ever looked back...

Monday, June 27, 2016

Who should be Hillary's VP?

Today, the New York Times came up with an interesting challenge: “Articulate in 150 words or less whom Hillary should choose for VP if you were part of Mrs. Clinton’s inner circle?”

Interesting, right?

So here is a preview of my take on the vice-presidential pick:

“Mrs. Secretary of State, your only solid choice is to pick Bernie Sanders and convince him to become your running mate. He will complement you perfectly and bring the formidable boost of energy that will make your campaign a guaranteed winner and your election a landslide victory.

Picking Mr. Sanders will also greatly influence the make up of both Chambers of Congress and will give you the support you need to lead the country and implement your agenda. Bernie will bring you the youth that you're so sorely lacking and will also guarantee that his supporter won't shift their allegiance for the Vermont Senator to Trump, or simply choose not to vote.

Bernie Sanders' age will also make you look appear much younger and his presence will add to the credibility and trust you are sorely lacking. A joint Hillary-Bernie ticket will simply be irresistible!”

Sunday, June 26, 2016

French bashing?

Last night we watch a good documentary about the love-hate relationship that prevails between the French people and both the Americans and the Brits.

I certainly can relate to that movie since I chose to move to America four decades ago. For one thing, I made sure to make no wave, swallow my pride, subdue my worst French traits and go with the flow.

People I worked and came in contact with generally gave me the benefit of the doubt once I had proven my mettle, but some choose to hate me as I could have expected. I had to come up with a constant barrage of questions regarding my accent, my opinions and my origins.

This said, what I had to do to succeed was work at least twice as much and two times better as my American counterparts. Less would have given me a mediocre place in life if it wouldn't have secure my return trip to France.

On top of that, it wasn't just me, it was also my wife who was French and had to endure the same ordeal. Today, we both will admit that thriving in America was very, very hard work!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The most populated ski town in the world

To my knowledge, there is no larger ski town in the world, from the standpoint of total year-round residents than Park City, Utah.

Next in line would be Davos Switzerland with 11,500 inhabitants, then Whistler, Canada, at about 10,000 and both Chamonix, France and Kitzbühel, Austria with around 8,500 people each.

Our community of Park City has fuzzy boundaries, though. First, there is the incorporated City of Park City where I live with its 8,500 population that manage to sit in the middle of a developing sprawl, also using a Park City address.

So here you have it: The small, original city of Park City with its 8,500 people and its 84060 zip-code, surrounded by cluster of neighborhoods that are borrowing our Park City name for recognition and for boosting real-estate values, just with a slightly different zip-code, 84098.

Park City is also the name of the school district that serves the entire community. This surrounding area adds more than 17,000 people to our City population and when all is tallied, people who claim to be "Parkites" are about 26,000 strong.

Together, we're all part of Summit County, Utah. Our population represents two-third of the entire County that is around 40,000 year-round residents.

This is relatively underpopulated when I compare the 1,882 square miles of the country with the 1,695 square miles of Haute-Savoie, the French Department I was born in, and its 800,000 population!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit: Surprising, yet logical

I'll start with the riddle: What's the difference between involvement and commitment? It's just like eggs and bacon; the chicken was involved but the pig was committed.

So was the relationship of the UK within the European Community: Some involvement but certainly no commitment. No commitment on the Euro, no commitment either on taking the full burden of membership, the feeling of being so “special” as if the United Kingdom was entitled to special treatment...

This lack of commitment spoke louder than the Brits' paper membership into the EC. It spoke volume to the electorate too, that got the message loud and clear and was tired of this double-talk from their own politicians.

Will Brexit it break the EC's back? Not at all; they were simply an impossible partner to live with; life will go on very well without them. One positive side effect is that it will be a warning for the Brussels's bureaucrats and other EU MPs to get off their asses and start working seriously for the good of their constituents, if they're are to keep their plush jobs.

Will it free the UK from an undue burden? Probably not, it will just make everyone's lives more miserable, especially the British “expats” living the good life in Spain, France and Italy, having their cake and eating it too; the gravy train will be coming to a screeching halt for them!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Living the Dream

Today as we were bicycling we were passed by a friend of hours and chatted for a while pedaling.

As we were chatting about his fun life and our fun life too, we concluded that we were all “living the dream”.

This expression is much used and often misconstrued or used sarcastically, but to me it means that we were living the life that most people dream of living or that we were living the life we had always dreamed of.

That statement felt one hundred percent genuine and it made my day. Yeah, I sure am living the dream!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

View of the World from Park City

Around 1986, just after we moved to Park City, Saul Steinberg created a replica of his famous work for the New Yorker magazine (View of the World from 9th Avenue) and applied it to our little town.

Steinberg was born in Romania, studied philosophy for a year at the University of Bucharest before enrolling at the Politecnico di Milano, studying architecture. During his years in Milan he was actively involved in the satirical magazine Bertoldo.

After graduating in 1940, Steinberg left Italy to flee Mussolini's Fascist government and sailed to America. There, he worked mostly with the New Yorker magazine and had a lifelong relationship with the publication.

Steinberg died in 1999 after creating created 87 covers, 33 cartoons for the magazine and leaving 71 portfolios containing 469 drawings and several hundred other works amounting to more than 1,200 drawings, including Park City's own view on the world!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Brexit and the French Alpine Colonies

This coming Thursday is Brexit day and I'm wondering if the Brits will bail out and revert to being insular, special and very independent.

I doubt they will have the guts to do it but would love them to exit the EU, at the very least to teach them a lesson (just kidding!)

First, these guys want just the advantages and none of the constraints the Union brings forth; they spat on the Euro, invaded the French ski resorts and have priced locals out of owning real estate unless their family still has some left. 
With very exceptions, these guys won't mix, speak French and share their lives of the indigenous population. They also live in perfect self-sufficiency, bring their plumber from London, their ski instructors from Scotland and abuse the French Social benefits.

They are the perfect parasite and manage to survive because some local businesses are still making hay out of them, but this shallow profiteering is counted. Fellows from the U.K. Why don't you make a last bow and exit the French Alps?

Monday, June 20, 2016

The heat is on!

Today is summer and we marked the solstice with a solid 88 degree in the shade. June can be a hot month and this year is just a case in point. I've been keeping record of the Park City weather since 2007.

Usually, it's July that break all records and August is much cooler except in 2012 when we registered a record heat both an 88 on July 10 on August 12. This week will be scorcher and I pray that we don't do beyond the 91 degree mark, record set in Park City on July 15, 2007.

This said, with 50 degree overnight and 10% humidity, it's a scorcher that I enjoy thoroughly for the very few days we're fortunate to have it!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The hard way to mountain bike

Today, I had a little time to spare, so I decided to change my mountain bike routine and return home via lah-di-dah, a trail that is all but smooth and that should be a “road to hell paved with bad intentions”.

It has huge, malicious rocks surging from all places and a thick brush of vegetation, some of it made of stiff gamble oaks. A true torture for a short mile! What's amazing is that until 2014, I would often ride that trail and, worse yet, take my wife on it. In a sane world, this would probably count towards spousal abuse.

After a few harsh brushes with the surrounding trees, I survived, got home and promised myself “No more lah-di-dah on a bike!”

Saturday, June 18, 2016

What's a witch's broom?

Until today, I knew what it was, but didn't have a name for it. There's a white pine that doesn't look too healthy in my garden and that's suffering from this ailment.

The problem is caused by a fungus that produces a deformity in which the natural structure of the plant is altered. A dense mass of shoots grows from a single point, with the resulting structure resembling a bird's nest.
The one we're seeing is composed of healthy needles hiding a bunch of pine cones. The branch that holds looks like a skeleton, totally devoid of pine needles.

What concerns me is the durability of that seemingly weak branch. How long will it swings in the wind before it ruptures?

Friday, June 17, 2016

A self-driving nightmare

Like many of my contemporaries I can't wait to see self-driving automobiles hit the market, at least in time for the dreaded day when I can no longer get my driver's license renewed.

This said, last night I had my first nightmare on the topic. I was driving a rented SUV when, for some strange reasons, I forgot to get behind the wheel and the vehicle left without me.

Somehow, a car offered me a ride in the foolish hope that I could rejoin my runaway SUV, but we just couldn't catch up with it. After miles of pursuit, the driver-less auto hit a shoulder and started rolling over into the drop, below.

This sure woke me up; it was about 2 am. I was wondering how I would handle this with the rental car company; at the moment, I was still half-asleep and couldn't quite make sense of what had happened and it's only in the morning, as a woke up again, that I questioned why in hell I had the terrible idea of renting a self-driving auto?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

An exercise in forecasting

Predicting the future, forecasting, listening to my “guts”, are some of my favorite hobbies. It's not that I'm an expert at it, but I love it and found that if I practice a lot, I get much better at it.

So, here you have it. Starting in the next few days I will begin making my predictions on subjects that interest me and for one, two and three years respectively. My forecast will deal with my little town of Park City, my country, the United States, and of course, the World.
No, I won't do the universe, because I have no clue how it works!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Are we running out of snow?

A recent University of Utah study has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, and models the year-to-year variability in precipitation and temperature in Utah's Wasatch Mountains where Park City is located.

Jason Scalzitti, a graduate student in atmospheric sciences, and professors Court Strong and Adam Kochanski found that above 6500 feet elevation, the spring snow-pack is more dependent on the amount of precipitation in a year than the temperature.

In other words, it's more important to get a wet winter season than just a cold one. This said, under that particular elevation temperature has a larger impact. This of course, is caused by global warming.

Interestingly the scientist don't mention that more particulates created by almost 7.5 billion humans are making our spring snow dirty (as well as our glaciers and polar ice caps) and are accelerating snow melt; well, I must be the only one noticing this...

By the end of the century, according to the study, that critical level will climb by around 800 feet in Park City as well as the Wasatch, to about 7300 feet and even more in the Sierra Nevada, Cascades and other parts of the Rocky Mountains.

I guess that when I am 150, and I am done with skiing for the day, I'll leave my boards mid mountain, then hike or ride the chair down back to my car, unless they move the base up. Well, we'll see!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Peak performance ?

At an elevation of 9,998 feet, Jupiter Peak dominates Park City and can be an easy hike if you park your car 2.2 miles away, at Empire Pass, 1,145 feet below.

The path to the summit follows the ridge-line and gets you there in about one hour and returning takes about 40 minutes. My daughter and I climbed it yesterday and got caught in a mixture of thunderstorm and hailstorm.
The weather was unsettled when we left home and suddenly turned to the worst as we reached the peak. For a while we were about certain to be struck by lighting, but we dodged the fireballs but just got pummeled by half-inch sized hails!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Mind-power, prayer and results

There's always a debate as to whether we are what we think, and how the way we think can influence our lives and those of others. I do believe that a healthy self-image that make us believe in ourselves has proven itself over time as a potent recipe for reaching our goals.

The more we'll positively focus on reaching our most valuable goals, the easier we'll get there. Can this strategy also be likened to a form of prayer? I would say so and add that it's probably the only form of prayer that has proven its worth.

Next, can we influence others by creating the propitious conditions that may help them act in ways that could be good for them and while we're at it, good for us too? Perhaps, but this time, a positive outcome becomes a longer shot as we can't ever claim to control that third party, whose active participation is so vital in the success we wish for them or from them. Let's call this a highly uncertain probability.
Now what happens with the way we look and think at issues that are totally out of our control? Could we say that we could pray for good weather or good fortune if we don't control their particular levers? The answer to what is considered the core of traditional prayer is pretty clear to me: Not a fat chance!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Vail's trademark circus

Vail Resorts' stupid idea of trademarking the name Park City has rocked the community and has revived the anti-Vail sentiments that have hovered over town ever since the mega-resort finally acquired Park City in 2014. In fact the fight has just intensified in recent days.

Bill Rock, the new general manager of Park City Mountain didn't know the can of worms he would open when he followed its corporate marching orders and dared to float this trademark fiasco.

Of course, I believe that the move was totally egregious and plain dumb for the Colorado company to try to gain control over the name of its brand-new host community, but doing so when a large number of Parkites had not yet gotten over the fact that Vail prevailed (no pun intended) in the epic battle (ditto) between Cumming and Talisker, was simply unforgivable.

Not to mention the fact that it was foder for local politicians (like former mayor Dana Williams) to usurp the situation and get some exposure out of it. There is still a large portion of Parkites that are still incensed about Vail's taking control of their ski areas and won't forgive the giant resort for its sin of reducing two resorts (Canyons and Park City) into one larger one by interconnecting them.

Mr. Rock should have known that change alone was far too progressive for most Parkites and that their previous pains required at least a decade to fully get healed. Maybe Vail should have trademarked Utah instead?

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The dream mountain bike trail

One day, perhaps, we might have single-track mountain bike trails that are nice and comfortable to ride on. They might still be steep in places, but they'd be free of rocks, gravel, stumps and other stuff that make the sport so hazardous and that lurk at the bottom of the trail to throw anyone out of their mount.

This would be nice, but from the ground up, the sport of mountain biking wasn't designed for meek riders. It was driven to be consumed by the adrenaline-charged 18 to 35 years old crowd. Who are we, riders that are North of that age group to be expecting “civilized” paths these days?

Cutting a single-track trail easily costs from $5 to $15 per linear foot, that is $25,000 to $80,000 per mile, depending on the terrain, its composition and the number of turns per mile. Quite an expensive proposition, that unless older and less adventurous folks fight for, will never happen.

So, dream on, smooth riders!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Where was my mentor?

When I look back at my life, I now realize that I could have – along the way – used plenty of mentoring. In fact, I almost got none; in thinking about it, I can recall even one single instance. Admonitions, yes, I got plenty of these, but good, old, solid mentoring, nope.
Sometime I wonder why it is that we must learn everything the hard way, when good knowledge is available, but so hard to find, so difficult to ask for and so awkward to dispense.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The deeper you search...

The more you discover and the more you learn or come away with something totally new (or very old, if you're an archaeologist or a historian!)

All this means that it pays to be patient, and before making any decision, to take the time – when it's possible and affordable – to turn a problem on its head and in direction before taking what should be a good decision.

Like time cuts entire glacial valley, it brings ideas, reflection and remains the choice fertilizer for the best possible decision. There's no mistake about using it and the only ones we discover is after we just didn't spend enough time on something...

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

When exercise means less pressure

If you are competitive by nature, chances are that it will translate in the way you handle your exercise routine, whether it's biking, running, or skiing.

This is true for a very long while, as long as your body remains a willing and capable participant. As one reach their peak, the pace suddenly slows down and the whole thing becomes less how fast and strongly you can do it, but how much pleasure and fun you get out of your favorite sport.

So, as we age, the competitiveness is eclipsed by the sheer enjoyment of whatever keeps you active. Shouldn't it have been that way all along?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

It's the project that counts!

...For me, it's not necessarily the size or the potential return of a project that makes it attractive. It's first and foremost its challenge, its attractive complexity and the opportunity to tackle it, that make it a path worth pursuing. At least, this is the way I see it.
Of course, everything is always a matter of priorities. The urgency of the moment will need to be addressed and the project may take second place behind it, but it will remain the guiding focus point until it is successfully dealt with.

Now, on with it!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Better than a guaranteed basic income

This last weekend's (failed) referendum in Switzerland about paying inactive people for doing nothing, made me think a bit further. Once more it reminded me that unemployment is a terrible scourge that will have to be addressed by states that are typically incapable or unwilling to do anything about it.

We all know that unemployment is evil, leads to despair, crime and a cortege of social problems. I also believe that in our days, work has become a human right as well.

Now, if modern society, high productivity and automation are generating more unemployment, the State has a moral duty to offer jobs in its public sector, for useful and needed purposes, like taking care of its youth (childcare and education), its elderly, its handicapped and to create useful infrastructures while maintaining the existing ones and replacing the failing ones.
By funding these efforts with taxpayers' money, the state would offer those jobs to its able unemployed work force that, in turn, would have the option of taking them and earning a decent living, or refusing them, but die on the vine because the social “safety net” would have been removed.

Taxpayers would find value for their contributions, active people would find self-respect, be eventually able to gain skills from this temporary fix and move into more lucrative private positions. Everyone would be put to work including the lazy, that would have no other choice if they really want to survive...

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Where's my guaranteed basic income?

If I had lived in Switzerland, I might be disappointed that the guaranteed basic income referendum failed to pass.

With it, I would have received $2,555 (sf 2500) a month for doing strictly nothing and if I still young kids there would have been another $610 (sf 625) for each one of them.

In reality, I probably would have voted against the idea, unless the monthly paycheck had come with 40 hours of compulsory public service for all.

That's the way I feel. Even in Switzerland where everything seems almost perfect, there's plenty more that can and should be done, so why not put everyone to work.

This public service would be payed according to the individuals experience and qualifications, when possible folks could opt for the jobs that there are most inclined to do.
There's so much to do, from infrastructure work, to all kinds of social services, all the way to health care. Right, taxpayers would foot the bill, but at least they might get their money worth!

This is the only way such a great social program could make any sense and get the support of all!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Traveling through life...

From the time we're born and are begin to understand life, we have basically three options.

The first one is to go with the flow and let life, our surroundings, family, friend and foes decide for us. We'll eventually get to the finish line, but we won't have any control at all and the whole journey might not always be that fun.

Another way to handle our voyage through life is to make choices as we reach one fork 0n the road after the other. Some choices will be better than others and if we learn anything about the process, we might train ourselves in making better choices as we go on and get more practice. This path is likely to be more rewarding and may also give us a greater sense of control and accomplishment.
The third way to travel through our existence is to seek what we want to do, what we prefer most, where we want to go, how we want to live, never be afraid to try something new and try to resist settling for second-best. This is the most adventurous and most exciting way to complete the course.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Positive or constructive?

We often hear “think positively” and the like, but somehow, I am taking a more semantic approach and wondering if the term “constructive” isn't preferable to “positive”, in the context of these little things we do and think on a daily basis and that create the textures of our lives.

“Positive” is both too general and theoretical, whereas “constructive” hold in itself the practicality and the grounding that should mark whatever passes through our most desirable attitudes and thoughts...

Thursday, June 2, 2016

First day out on mountain-bike

Just like skiing these days, my first day out on mountain-bike was something I was a bit apprehensive about.

Fear of struggling in climbing or just taking a bad spill? I don't know, but I felt tons of uneasiness nonetheless. The outing took me a little bit more time than usual, but was quite pleasant.
How long will I be able to pursue that “rough and tumble” exercise into the future? I don't know, but I'll try to do my very best this season!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

What's in a name (continued...)?

Vail Resorts would like to trademark the words “Park City” as they apply to the name of a mountain resort.

To me, this is pretty audacious and this brings back to memory the 88/89 ad campaign from the Park City Chamber of Commerce that ran under the “Park City, Colorado” headline... How ironical!

Of course, if someone should seek to trademark “Park City” it should be our own city itself, certainly not Vail Resort. What's our City Council waiting for?

If Vail Resorts is so paranoid about its intellectual property rights, it should rename “Park City Mountain” to “Vail West” or even perhaps “Über Vail” to keep up with the original resort's fake Austrian theme and recognize that the new Utah resort is now better than its original creation!