Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Thoughts about “The Hunting Ground” movie.

“The Hunting Ground” is 2015 documentary film about the incidence of sexual assault on college campuses in the United States, and what its creators say is a failure of college administrations to deal with it adequately.

I saw the movie for the first time, last night. My sense is that with the systemic defense put up by Universities, the best way to go forward and make progress, is to leverage the right media. A solution would be to get a prominent and credible publishing company to produce a ranking that focuses solely on Campus Safety, detailing the number of incidents and assaults of all nature, including rape, of course, during the course of a year.

 This Safety Ranking would grade each institution on the basis of the quality of its campus police, its ease of reporting, its ability to listen compassionately, its follow through as well as any immunity (or lack thereof) offered to star-athletes, etc. In effect, this ranking would counterbalance and complement any purely scholastic quality, best-value or best experience rankings.

The caliber of the media outlet shepherding these ranking is of course paramount and would be instrumental in giving them both flawless credibility and high visibility. Just my two-cent...

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Women mountain-bikers

I love mountain-biking and the only elements I fear are falling, going over the handlebar and colliding on single track. To alleviate that later risk, I have a bell that I use liberally before any blind corner, yet, that doesn't prevent shock-encounters and I've had my share of those, some more brutal than others.

Of course, there's that key rule for single track riding; The cyclists traveling downhill should yield to the ones headed uphill. With very few exceptions, men generally get that rule, but most women don't. Is it because female are spatially challenged and can't tell uphill from downhill, or is it that they expect men to always yield to them, no matter their right to it? I don't know, but their attitude ticks me off.
Yesterday, as I was riding my mountain bike uphill, I came across two girls yakking as they were barreling down the trail. At first they didn't appear willing to slow down, but they eventually stopped when they saw that I was neither stopping nor yielding to them. I thought to myself, “hey, we're making progress!”

Then two miles down the trail, in a notorious blind area, I met that girl that was going like a bat out of hell; she didn't even try to stop and I'm the one who violently hit the brakes in a last-ditch effort of self-preservation. I came to a full stop while she blasted through, I continued and soon realized that as a result of my pulling on my rear brake lever, the hydraulic disk brake was stuck and was jamming the wheel.

I was forced to walk the bike home and this gave me a perfectly good reason for blaming that particular girl and all the other women mountain-bikers, the world over, for my ordeal!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Are Americans more gullible than Europeans?

They are traits that Americans have that can't be found in Europeans and vice-versa.

Europeans tend to be more cynical, less optimistic and less creative and their American counterparts just the opposite on these very points.

With this, Americans are also much more gullible; they'll take on a new philosophy, a bizarre religion or a radical diet just on a whim. It may not last, but they'll try the new thing.

Why? Is it because they're more flexible in their thoughts, more malleable, also more religious as a whole and self-critical than the typical, heathen, European?

Your turn to tell me what you think and why!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Visualizing today's world...

I came across this sketch on Facebook and for me, it tells the whole story and provides the perfect visual overview of the interaction (should I say the clash) between democracy and religion.

As democracy has developed over time, religion has always been prowling to erode it with the hope of weakening it and eventually taking it away.

In today's world, when politicians are draping themselves in the shroud of spirituality to sell their story and when extremist Islam wants to take over the world, better start sticking a finger or two inside the crack of that dam of secularism before the irrationality of religion bursts out and floods our world.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Janet Yellen and Wall Street

This past week, the Federal Reserve Board has played tap dancing, again, while enjoying its annual junket-meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

While the US economy is mostly on a deflationary mode (i.e. last month's CPI numbers) the Fed continues to scare the bejesus out of investors.

I vacillate between thinking the entire board of governors, including Janet Yellen, are a bunch of morons, or they simply are in cahoots with Wall Street to promote a perpetual trading and churning environment.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Thirty-one year in Park City!

The end of August always brings crisp morning air, perfect weather and spots of leave change all over the mountain.

Today is also the 31st year we made it as a family to little, run down, not much of a town Park City in 1985. It was pretty much barren, no trees and very quiet. Real estate was down on its knees, the ski industry was developing, but still a far cry from what was going on in Vail or Aspen.
The road leading to town still was a two-lane highway crossing a dairy farm. Today, our little mountain is in full bloom while we are declining a bit, but still in good enough shape to enjoy the result of one of our best life choices ever.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


If you are over 50, chances is are that your doctor is telling you to have a colonoscopy. If someone in your family has had colorectal cancer, this might be a wise recommendation, but the procedure is a real pain somewhere (no pun intended).

However, if you and your family are cancer-free, you might do a FIT test instead (this is a fecal immunochemical testing) on a yearly basis as some studies show that it saves more lives and cost the least of any colorectal cancer screening method, including colonoscopy.

I'm referring to a 2010 study by Dr. Steven J. Heitman,of the University of Calgary in Alberta, and this what he and his team found: If no one was screened at all, there would be 4,857 cases of colon or rectal cancer and 1,782 deaths over the lifetime of every 100,000 people in North America. Annual testing with FIT reduced cases of colorectal cancer to 1,393 and deaths to 457. 
Colonoscopy done every ten years, with follow-up exams every 3 to 5 years when polyps were found, would reduce cases to 1,825 and deaths to 624. While FIT was more effective than colonoscopy, it needed to be done every year, while colonoscopy screening is recommended every ten years.

Besides, even though it might seem counter-intuitive that screening with FIT is even more effective than colonoscopy, this is simply due to the more frequent screening interval with FIT.

If the inconvenience of colonoscopy screening are a concern, choosing FIT might be a good option as long as you have no family or personal risks, you conduct the test properly, do it yearly, you follow up with colonoscopy if the test test is positive.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Treasure Mountain is back!

In the mid 80s, Pat Sweeney who owns 120 acres around the current Park City Town Lift got approval to develop his land. This was back in 1986.

Today, he is returning before the city with an amended proposal that would represent 1 million square feet in new development 200 hotel rooms, 100 condominiums and a conference space. While what approved 30 years ago might have been half the size of what is requested today, even though this is far from clear.
Defacing the beauty of Old Town Park City, creating traffic nightmares should be enough to make the locals think twice, and this is precisely what has emerged at the recent hearings. Too bad no one is able to draw a good comparison between what was promised in 1986 and what the developer now wants. To be continued...

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Summer concerts last hurrah...

This past Friday was special as we attended a private concert by the artist Lipbone Redding at a secluded Park City home.
The one-man-band-singer was awesome, the setting fabulous, the pot-luck food pretty good and a cool, late summer night fell onto us before we had time to put on a warm jacket and slip under a blanket.

A season of outdoor concerts is coming to a close...

Monday, August 22, 2016

Olympic economics

Another Olympic is gone and a lot of money has been spent by a city and a country that would have loved escaping such a burden. At a projected $11.5 billion, that's a lot of money, and this is just a “projection”. Of course it pales in comparison with $51 billion spent in Sochi and $44 billion spent in Beijing!

This made me think that a better to run the Olympics would be for the various nations and sport federations involved to take control of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and pick up the bill for the cost of infrastructure and operations to build and run an Olympic venue based on the number of athletes and officials each national federation sends to the games.

At the same time the new consortium would get all the sponsorship money the IOC pockets and would pool them into the overall budget. If the Games make any money, the federations would partake into the surplus.

The reverse wouldn't be palatable to anyone and this would guarantee that the Games would no longer lose money, that former venues get “recycled” regularly, the IOC doesn't go the way Fifa went and that the Games spend within their means and stop the escalation of spending and other excesses that we've witnessed in recent decades.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The “hovershoes”

Last night, I had that dream about sliding while standing up on a very slight incline and moving down very fast as if I were on a very slippery slope, a little like I used to do it on snow, in my cowboy boots, some 45 years ago.

The difference was that the ground felt like sand and that I had the impression of having an air mattress between it and my feet, just like a hovercraft.
As I barely came out of my slumber, I thought that my shoes were engineered to create that slippery interface by somehow “massaging” the air molecules, breaking them down and allowing them to roll on top of each others, just like ball bearings.

At that point, I thought it would be cool to make this dream happen in reality. Now, I've got my work cut out for me!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Portillo 1966

Fifty years ago, the world ski championships were held in a small Chilean resort, high up in the Andes, from August 4 to August 14, and were dominated by a surprising French ski team that managed to win 16 medals out of 24.

To this day, it's still the only alpine world championship contested in the southern hemisphere.

During that summer of 1966, I lived in the French Alps and was waiting tables at the family's restaurant, following each day the amazing results of my home team on the local newspaper, as I don't think we even get them on the radio.

The weather in the Alps was terrible with rain everyday, and while I was toiling, I was also dreaming that I would, some day, ski Portillo.

As of today, my wish has yet to be fulfilled...

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Syrian crisis and the West

The G7 in particular and the West in general has done nothing to stop Assad from exterminating his people, and while Obama choose not to follow his own “red-line”, his colleagues from the G7 have done diddly–squat too, waiting for the US to take the lead and bear the brunt of the effort.

It would seem to me that our political leaders are much better in their celebrity roles than in accomplishing unpopular and challenging missions that normally are part and parcel of true leadership.

By doing nothing or just dragging its feet, the West shows that the G7 is a total waste of time and only good to enables despots like Assad and Putin while assuring them that they can get away with the most barbaric deeds without fear of retribution...

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sealed and... waterproofed!

For the past two years, I've been thinking of “sealing” the pavers that we placed on the entrance to our new home and garage.
I finally got this chore done last week, during another sunny, warm and super dry day. 
By this I mean something like 10% humidity, as the precious and precisely measured liquid I applied dried just before my eyes as I rolled it on the stones.  
All along, I fretted and spread the liquid as fast as I could and equally as humanly possible; while I was toiling, I kept on having plenty of doubts about the results of this hard work. 

For the past two days, I've been looking to the heavens for a promised rain storm that never materialize that would enable me to check the outcome. 

Yesterday, I just threw some water on a few pavers and the miracle happened: The water pearled on all of them, as promised on the documentation I read and by the technicians I talked t

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Under “reconstruction”

Cosmetic surgery is extremely popular in the developed world, particularly where disposable income allows for a routine $25 to $50,000 “face job.”

The only problem that we've witnessed is that, over time, and I mean a couple of decades later, the result just look simply disastrous. Rebuilt faces appear to be under permanent tension and mommy-like, just like the late Michael Jackson and Joan Rivers' faces to name a pair of stunning examples.

Last night, as we attended a wonderful party in our neighborhood attended by a rather “senior” crowd, a friend of ours just whispered into my wife's ear that “most women at the party have had their faces redone and all very poorly, it seemed...”

I don't think plastic surgeons are foolish enough to guarantee their work for more than a couple of years!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ligety Split

It made sense for Ted Ligety to give his name to one of Park City ski runs, but the way the run was named was very clever.

“Ligety Split” is the moniker for that trail and is an obvious play on word with “lickety-split” which, in English American language, means to leave at full speed, as fast as one's leg can carry one or like a bat out of hell...

The perfect name for a challenging little run in honor of someone who hates to waste time on skis!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Getting the adrenaline rush

When I was a young man, the only way I could get a sizeable surge of adrenaline was in driving my small french car very fast. It had no power, so that was always on the downhill side of a mountain road. I took lots of risks, had a few close calls and got unfairly lucky most of the time.
My dream car was a Matra Djet, an under-powered, mid engine sport car, but it was obviously ways beyond my means. So the aspiration went by, I got jobs that came with company cars, had a family, a home mortgage and the fast car fantasy vaporized.

In recent year, I kind of rediscovered that dream under the form of mountain biking with its generous rush of speed, near-misses, spectacular and bloody accidents and a constant overdose of adrenaline.

I guess I don't need to invest in a Porsche.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Utah's Exceptionalism

America makes a big deal about its exceptionalism, but so should my home state of Utah.

It's a wonderful and very special spot, not just from a picturesque standpoint going from Red Rock to Alpine country, but culturally it's also the Mormon's promised land and the playground of heathens that are increasingly tipping the population balance away from this bizarre set of beliefs. 
That's not all; Utah, and particularly Park City, also enjoys a wonderful climate with 250 sunny days compared with 250 rainy or snowy days in Chamonix, France. As for the humidity, we're dryer than the Sahara desert with an average yearly humidity of 35% compared to 70% in Chamonix.

This sets the stage for the “Greatest Snow on Earth”. Still, we're scarcely populated with only 14 people per square kilometer compared to about 86 in the USA or 150 in Europe, so there's plenty of free space to recreate.

But enough talked about this; in fact, Utah is so cool that I feel the urge to go out and ride my bike!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Setting the focus on happiness

Everyday as I wake up, I think, plan, and act as if I wanted to be happy with my reality of the moment.

Happiness is my driver and this is probably why, my life is so good to me.

Don't start your day in “Reverse”.

Place the lever on “Drive” from the time you wake up!

Friday, August 12, 2016

The $130 (new) printer

My six-year old printer just died on me. I only paid $150 for the machine, so it's cost ended up being a measly $25 per year, not counting, of course, the expensive ink-jet cartridges it had gobbled up in the meantime.

I immediately bought a replacement one, still made by HP, with even more bells and whistles for even less, just $130, but it took me a total of six hours to make it work between the time I tried to figure out by myself how to set the wireless up and print some ordinary envelopes.

Between my time, that of the retailer service tech and the HP support person, I bet that we burned through $350 to $400 on brain power that could have been totally avoided if the printer had been engineered and documented the right way in the first place!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

From Road to Mountain-bike

Yesterday was my first ride on fat tires after familiarizing myself – again – with a road bike, and, as always, I enjoyed thoroughly the outing.

After a few days on my new road bike, I felt strong and ready to climb, yet at the same time, I had not lost any of my special mountain biking skills and savored its fun factor.

Even though the two activities have very little in common, except for the use of bicycle, they seem very compatible and even complementary. I can and plan to live with both!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A good night sleep

Three month ago, we decided to give up late evening TV watching and substituted it for reading.

This was a very good move as we had learned before making that change that watching TV or reading a tablet just before bed was not good for the quality of our sleep.

There were lots of scientific sounding reasons for that and I don't care to remember them, but the bottom line is that we now sleep like angels.

I guess, before that change, we must have slept like... devils?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Let's make America Metric!

While the Olympics are forcing America into metricity for a couple of weeks with weird numbers like 100 or 200 meters, "Letting America be Metric" could be a bearable spin-off on Trump's campaign slogan.

As an overdue item on changing America for the best, I'd love to see us revisiting everything metric. With Burma and Liberia, we're the three stragglers on earth still clinging to a medieval measurement system that I had to learn and still don't master after about four decade of American life.
The cost of not going metric is estimated to some 1.5 trillion per year, but no one seems to care as everyone is focused on the cost of switching that would be a tiny fraction of this, not mentioning the fact that most industries are already using a dual system.

Even NASA broke the mold in 2007 and went metric after losing a probe as a result of getting mixed up with its units! I wonder what each campaign (Clinton and Trump) are thinking about this issue, and if they're yet alone aware of our backward stance in that domain?

Monday, August 8, 2016

After Park City, Whistler... What's next?

Today, Vail Resorts continued its shopping spree and threw Whistler-Blackcomb, the largest ski hill in North America, into the cart. At the register the item rang a paltry $1.1 billion, but as said Rob Katz, the CEO, “it's well worth it”. I'm sure these guys have plenty of money left so the question now has become which resort will be next. I'd say Deer Valley, but here again, I'm a tad biased...

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Ascending speed or rate of climb

A few days ago, I was talking to a friend about mountaineering and hiking, when he brought up the concept of doing 280 or 300 meter per hour or something in this order, while ascending a French summit near Chamonix.

Since I didn't know what he was talking about, I asked what he meant by it and he explained the widespread practice of measuring climbing speed, when climbing hills or mountains in the Alps.

After we hung up the phone, I did some quick research and found that the rate of climb, expressed in meters per hour, is the product of one's Critical Power by the VO2max divided by the Energy Cost.

In that formula, the Critical Power is the highest intensity of effort that can be sustained for a long period of time, the VO2max is the maximum flow of oxygen that can be processed by the individual and the Energy Cost is the amount of energy expended.

When I understood the significance of the method of measurement, I looked up at some of my hikes. Back in 2002 my wife and I climbed Mt. Timpanogos at a rate of 400 meters per hour and just last summer, I covered the 4,385' vertical course (1,335 meters), along with my daughter at about 383 meters per hour...

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Olympic Game$

As we were worrying of missing some great surprise, we “tried” to watch the Olympic Ceremonies, last night. Well, this was another exercise in one-upmanship that was delivered to us in short doses between generous ad segments.

We couldn't quite get into the spirit and just saw one third of the parade of nations before we turned of the TV. With the Russian doping settlement and the growing amount of monies flooding the games to buy all kind of favors, the IOC is on the exact same path as Fifa in becoming part of the same sport mafia!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Don't ever put up with bullies!

If this election cycle has told us a valuable lesson it is that we should never put with bullies, but instead, confront them and put them back, right in the lowly place they deserve.
Had at least one the sixteen GOP primary candidates stood up to Donald Trump early on, the New York bully would have been brought down to the ground and never have become the nominee, but unfortunately for the Republican Party, the group of sixteen had no backbone and weren't even as “good” as Trump.

Whether the bully is a politician, a bureaucrat, a boss, a co-worker, a neighbor or even a family member, don't ever let them manipulate you into submission.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Having fun doing windows

To me, doing windows used to be a dreadful chore. Not anymore; you see some of our windows are hard to reach and require reaching out from a long ladder and I find it rather fun.

Should I also mention that getting a clear pane without a streak isn't easy either? I guess that recently, I've become and adept at turning lemon into lemonade.

If there's some kind of a challenge inside the worst possible chore that can turn it into a record to be broken or a new skill to learn, I'm game.

If you're still allergic to unpleasant project, try this magic approach!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

From mountain to road bike...

For a while, my son and my wife have been suggesting that I look seriously at road biking and start easing-off from my fat-tire addiction. So this morning, I tried a beautiful state-of-the-art road bike and took if for a spin.
While I began riding this light, little speed demon, I wasn't too sure of myself and it's only at the end of half-an-hour that I began to get the hang of it. I had not ridden a road bike for 40 years and today's machines are a world away from their ancestors.

They're super-light, nimble, climb walls and might become quite addictive. I'll let you know, because before the day was over I became the proud owner of one of them...

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Concert at the Park: Barking applause

For a change both in venue and style, we went last night to the Beethoven Festival at the Park City park. This event is Utah’s oldest summer classical music festival, as it's celebrating its 33rd season this year, presenting great chamber music played by half a dozen of some of the country’s best musicians.
We don't regularly attend chamber music concerts, but it was a quiet, relaxing and very pleasant atmosphere. In addition to the great music we heard that evening, each time the attendance broke into an applause, a dog seemingly very much appreciative of the performance, barked in perfect unison!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Feeding deer and birds...

This is the 9th summer season that we have tended to a veggie garden, and until this year we had no complaints about wildlife checking on it, until recently.

Sure in our new home there is no protecting fencing so deer, moose, rabbits and even dogs can roam in at their leisure. We've tried dog and deer repellents but these product don't seem effective at all. This year the deer have sampled the salads but didn't find them quite to their taste.

So far, the rabbits have abstained and the moose just amble by. But the American Robbins have been very, very naughty. They have binged on our ample harvest of strawberries, eating them while they were still white.

I installed a net and setup certain sanctions that have proven to be extremely dissuasive!