Monday, October 31, 2016

Lucky to have made it so far!

When I was born, both my parents wanted me and needed me like another hole in their head. They had one girl and one boy, nine and seven years earlier, the Second World War was finally over and as a result they felt much tired and older after all the stress they had to endure, and could certainly have done much better without me.

So, my saving grace was the lack of effective birth-control products and methods, a tight-knit rural society with a strong religious oversight. Without any of that, I might not have made it to this world. I've always realized how lucky I was to “dodge” the proverbial bullet.

This is probably a huge reason why I love life so much and cherish every moment of it. This is also why, considering how lucky I was to make it here, I want to have as much control over my pathway and destiny as possible.

That's right, I fully appreciate my extraordinary luck and all the wonders life has brought to me. I can only hope it will last as long as possible under the best imaginable circumstances.

Today, making it last and enhancing every living moment is what my life is all about...

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Another lousy write-up for Park City

My wife told me there was an article about Park City in the current November issue of Ski magazine. So I jumped on it, and discovered that the article written by Samantha Berman wasn't as bad as the comments made by Jeremy Pugh in the previous issue, but still was clearly a mixed bag of positive and negative, suggesting that the place was big, confusing and hard for skiers to navigate.
Of course, Jeremy Pugh's brilliant intellect chimed in, suggesting that “you needed to spend some time at the kitchen table with the trail map”. I assume Mrs Berman and her family were put up free of charge by Park City so she could write her piece and that Mr. Pugh gets a comp season pass...

Unless the Park City General Manager doesn't raise hell with this article when he reads it, he should get his paycheck from his employer's competitors, unless he is capable of turning a negative into a positive and follow the advice I offered him to propose a one-day "Discovery Tour" of his giant resort under the guidance of his ski school staff, so new guests can familiarize themselves with the resort as they get into town...

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Ranked Choice Voting

A new electoral method is beginning to appear under the name of “ranked-choice voting” or instant-runoff voting (it's been used in Australia since 1918 for its parliamentary elections).

It consist of offering electors faced with a choice of at least three candidates to vote for them in order of preference. It's very useful when no candidate receives the majority of the votes in a traditional election, and it saves the cost and time of a run-off.

Another advantage of that system is that it could lead to a more civil tone during campaigns, as candidates might be less likely to use attack ads and bash their opponents. This could also be seen as a more democratic process, as the winner is more likely to have been supported by most of the electorate.

The system's downsides is that voting machines must be programmed accordingly or changed, which obviously could be a major expense. Another disadvantage is that it adds confusion to the whole process, as voting for the same position requires three choices, and requires to compute votes on election night.

Early November, Maine voters will decide whether or not to adopt the Ranked Choice Voting system. If it's adopted state-wide, we'll soon be able to measure how good it is...

Friday, October 28, 2016

Four decades of U.S. Presidents

We have almost lived in America for 40 years and during that time, have lived under six American Presidents, so yesterday, as we were talking politics as usual, we decided to grade each one of them, including of course, the two candidates currently battling for the job. Here are the results:

Jimmy Carter: We were not to impressed with him; first, the man couldn't articulate and his southern accent made it impossible to be understood. I guess, he fell into the job by accident and epitomized the aphorism: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” We gave him 3 out of 10.

Ronald Reagan: The consummate Hollywood type, actor and used-car salesman. We kind-of fell under his charm but were not dupe when he got in trouble with the arm-for-hostages scandal. He talked his way through becoming a legend for the American Right and the 5 out of 10 we gave him is definitely overrated.

George Herbert Walker Bush: We though he was a decent man. He was quick and efficient in prosecuting the invasion of Kuwait and did not attempt to open a can of worms by going after Saddam Hussein. We gave him 6 out 10.

Bill Clinton: This was the first president we were offered as a choice when we became U.S. Citizens, but we preferred Ross Perot twice over him. We couldn't trust the guy, we thought he was a phony and just like Carter, were not fan of the southern drawl. We gave him 4 out of 10.

George W. Bush: At first, he looked like a deer caught in a car headlights, but very soon become a crazy warmonger, fueled by his born-again-Christian beliefs. He earned his war-criminal status with about 150,000 deaths on his conscience. We gave him 2 out of 10.

Barack Obama: We fell for his intellect, but soon realized that he was parachuted into a job for which he was lacking some critical skills. He tried hard, but tried alone, and was blocked every which way because of the color of his skin. He did a terrible job with Syria and let Putin take over. Because of the latter, we can only him a 6 out 10.

As for the following two characters, these are mere projections:

Hillary Clinton: We never liked her and wouldn't have voted for her if the Trump monster didn't exist. She has experience though, but is untrustworthy and by having her – if she wins – we'll stand still. We gave her 5 out of 10.

Donald Trump: Was fun to watch when he bashed his opponents during the primaries, but quickly turned into a monster and a dangerous agitator. He has all the ingredients to become a new Putin and for this alone we give him the minimum, 1 out of 10.
Now, you know everything about the dismal state of leadership in American politics. We certainly can do much better!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Too old to govern?

I believe that Clinton and Trump are too old to be presidential candidates.

Not so much because they only have 15 year of average life expectancy, but because energy dwindles fast past 65 (that's why we retire at 66).

Of course, there's no room at the Parties' top for young, bright, forward-thinking, energetic folks, because the old guard generally controls the inner working of each party and leaves no room there for the some new blood.

My sense is that the more time will pass, the more we'll have to put up with aging dinosaurs in leadership positions. It terrible, it's sad and it's another proof that we only get the candidates we deserve.

Time for everyone of us to get more involved!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Freedom from religion

When I was a kid and even a youngster, I strongly felt that religion was shackling me. I resented its dogma, its demands and I hated all the guilt and the negative experience it brought me.

It had poisoned the well of my early existence and it took years for me to separate its influence from my life.

Today, when I ask myself “who am I?”, my definition is not being an agnostic or an atheist, but a Humanist. That life philosophy embraces human reason, ethics, social justice, and philosophical naturalism while rejecting religious dogma, supernaturalism, pseudoscience and superstition as the bases of morality and decision making.

In other words I believe I can be ethical and moral without religion or believing in deities. From where I came from, this feels quite liberating and helps me see the world clearly and find a comfortable place within nature and the human community.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

We're our lifetime of experience

We often wax nostalgic about “the good old days” and forget many bad moments we had to confront and process; yet, both good and bad experiences we went through along the way are the bricks that have build ourselves.

They are the sum of wonderful moments and tough adversities that have formed us and we ought to embrace them all, because we've become what we are through them and if anything, we should fully appreciate the way we are.

If we're not quite pleased with our stand in life and the current picture, it's still time to use the remainder of our time to add more good and pleasant things on the positive side of our life ledger.

The end result is that there are no more “good old days” than there should be “dreadful ones”. They all dovetail together in creating the mosaic of who we are and should make us appreciate every single moment since we were born.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Pinturault sets the tone for the season

I saw a few sample runs of this ski season's first race in Sölden, Austria, and can attest that the contest is shifting in favor of younger skiers coming of age as well as the best (Hirscher and Pinturault) taking much risk and getting closer to wiping out.

There's so much you can do with adherence on injected snow before too much angulation gets you in trouble.

Ligety's comeback was marked by a controlled run that wasn't enough to hoist him upon the podium. Will he be able to shine again? That's the question of the day that comes assorted with an uncertain answer...

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Do you know what a “shotski contest” is?

Yesterday, the Wasatch Brewery was celebrating its 30th Anniversary in Park City. To mark the occasion, the local brewer had organized a record-breaking “shotski” event. For those who don't know, we're talking about a ski with shot glasses glued to it in which the participants need to tilt and drink simultaneously.

The origin of that practice is up for discussion; some say that the Park City miners invented it some 100 years ago, while others attribute its origin to Ernest Hemingway and his friends at the Sun Valley lodge. I've also heard it could be traced to Austria (Schnappski). Even some French claim the practice as their own product from the Alps (which I doubt very much, as I never heard of it until I came to America)

At any rate, the length of ski upon which the contest was held evolved quite fast; a 223 cm downhill ski proved soon to be too limited. Breckenridge, Colorado is notorious for pushing the envelope in the category. In 2013, 192 adults lined on 313 feet of Main Street held 64 bolted-together skis and drank from the shot glasses attached on them, a first world's record. In the ensuing years, a record of 881 drinkers improved upon that performance.

This is exactly what prompted Wasatch Beers to challenge the feat yesterday when they lined up 1,191 people on Main Street to raise one long 1,961-feet ski with glasses filled with Wasatch's Premium Ale. Cheers!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The first French Primary debate

A few days ago, we watched a replay of the center-right presidential primary debate in France (compared to the USA, we're talking about a "mild" Democratic party).

We were struck by the civility of the participants and their general acumen compared to the 17 “deplorable” we had to put up with earlier this year on the Republican side.

A true breath of Fresh air! Based on what we saw and heard, and keeping in mind that we are rather disconnected from French culture and current affairs, we liked Francois Fillon best, followed by Alain Juppé and Bruno Lemaire a close third.
We were not that impressed by Jean-François Copé and Jean-Frédéric Poisson; as for Nicolas Sarkozy, he appeared to be struggling pathetically while Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet had not much to bring to the party, except that she was the only woman competing.

If, as the polls suggest, Juppé makes it through, I think France will have a solid candidate, with just one caveat: He's even older than Clinton or Trump!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Trump's verbal abuse strategy

During this year's presidential campaign, Donald Trump as used verbal abuse as a very potent way to earn his way to the top.

At first, his sixteen primary opponents were so ill-prepared to his strategy and not smart enough, that they couldn't react appropriately and, in the process, disqualify the bully.

Hillary Clinton saw the danger looming ahead of time, prepared for it and was quite successful at neutralizing its effects on her and her campaign.

Swearing, yelling, insulting, threatening, ridiculing, demeaning, and criticizing (the tools primarily used by Trump on his opponents) can be as harmful as physical abuse, said a report report published in the April 2007 issue of the Harvard Mental Health Letter.

In that study, the researchers found that verbal abuse had as great an effect as physical mistreatment. Verbal aggression can exacerbate depression, anger and other grave mental disorders on its victims.

It is strange indeed that the media forgot to frame Trump's behavior in that manner.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Trump's last (?) stand

Last night, during the last 2016 Presidential Debate, Mr. Trump looked like he had picked up some bad sushi off a nondescript food truck standing on the Las Vegas strip.

Sure, debates are not an egomaniac's cup of tea, because there is an implicit need to share and transact back and forth. He was nasty and incoherent as usual and became more so as the evening wore on; at that point, he resorted to his trademark, usual verbal abuse towards his opponent.

I'm not even mentioning the fact that he's not sure he'll accept the outcome of the election, which is another topic altogether that clearly demonstrates that losing is out of the question for a “winner” like him. The net result is that he was so consistently bad that he made Hillary look great, smart and presidential.

The more he opened up his foul mouth, the better she looked... I was right all along, it must have been some foul sushi.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Baby-boomers last hurrah?

As a baby-boomer, I've always been partial to my generation and strongly believed that we couldn't do anything wrong.

We were the essence of change, the social revolution and would remain the bright future of society until death would get us out of the way. In America, the category includes individuals born between the years 1946 and 1964, which means people like me, aged between 52 and 70 today.

Our generation has been known for rejecting or redefining traditional values. In Europe and North America, however, we've been lucky to grow up at a time of widespread government subsidies, good education, full-employment and general affluence.

As a group, we also felt they we were the very best on the account of smarts, wealth or fitness, and strongly believed that the world would keep on improving with us and with time. Again, we thought of ourselves as a special generation, very different and much better from those that had come before.

On the flip side, we're often accused of the increased and excessive consumption that the world accounts for, including a humongous carbon foot-print.

Today, as the standard bearers of our generation happen to be both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, it's time to look at ourselves in the mirror, take a deep breath, observe the caricature we've become, look back and try to understand where we must have gone wrong along the way.

Thank God, the Gen Xers and the Millennium generation are now taking over!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The power of salesmanship

Last week, I got that call from my insurer's assistant, summoning me to come to their office for a “review”.

I told her that I wasn't interested in coming to that office, especially in view of the fact that after living 31 years in Park City as a State Farm's client for 40 years, I had never, never, never met my agent in person. I had only met his predecessor, very briefly when I moved to town, just before he passed away.

So my next question was to wonder if my agent even existed? I suggested that rather than going to HIS office, he'd be awfully nice if saw me at MY home, just to see how I looked like. Well, my insurance agent held me to my word and showed up at my house the next day.

This good Mormon was extremely amiable, just flattering enough and such a good salesman that he pivoted from the uncaring man I thought he was, to someone that was able to show me and prep me to consider one of his extra products.

I must say that I'm a sucker for good salesmanship and we'll see in a few days if he is able to turn a cynic into an eager buyer!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Vail's Empire

In its latest issue Skiing History Magazine has a wonderful article written by Seth Masia, that brings a comprehensive beam of light over the recent purchase of Whistler/Blackcomb by Vail Resorts.

This announcement that followed the purchase of Park City and Perisher Valley in Australia, made the entire company the second-largest in the world by acreage and the largest in the world in terms of revenue and the largest ski resort operation in North America in terms of size and revenue. Seventy-five percent of Whistler was purchased for $1 billion (the rest being still owned by Nippon Cable), making it the most expensive ski resort purchase ever.

It is also the only mountain resort in North America that is profitable all summer and that is extremely easy to access from anywhere in Asia. Vail's expansion began in 1980 with Beaver Creek and today the company controls 13 resorts, covering about 45,000 acres (18,000 ha) in three countries—the United States, Canada and Australia.

In terms of sheer size, this makes it only second only to Compagnie des Alpes which manages 11 ski resorts in France covering more than 125,000 acres (50,000 ha). Today, Vail Resorts is on track to post more than $1.65 billion in revenue for the next ski season, on more than 10.6 million skier-days. It’s about 15 percent of all skier-days in North America.

Revenue is another story all together, since it's twice Compagnie des Alpes' (695.6 million euros, or $785 million) on 13.6 million skier-days. True, the European behemoth gets only lift-ticket revenues, while Vail Resorts can count on food service, ski school plus both retail and rental operations. 
Where Vail was savvier than its competition though, was how it pushed the same-day ticket-window purchases steadily higher to make its universal season pass more attractive. When a day pass costs $175, it's easy to get skiers to buy its $809 season pass instead.

 In 2015-2016, Vail sold 500,000 season passes, valid at each one of its resorts which represent 40% of all season passes sold in North America. These season pass sales also represent 40% of the company’s ticket sales, and 15 percent its revenue!

The idea is simple: lock-in the market share and keep the Epic Pass skiers within the resorts that it owns forcing competitors to scramble for multiple-resort deals of their own...

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Staying in touch against all odds...

Without tooting my horn, I feel I'm a great communicator and that 95% of my friends or relative are just terrible at it. The reasons are many.

First, I'm keeping a low profile, I'm not a socialite either and I'm no longer involved with a regular profession.

Then, I'm living far away from my European family and friends from 40 years ago. All this makes for a perfect storm in which I could be totally forgotten if it were not for my diligent efforts of staying in touch and for actively participating in social media like Facebook.

Isn't it a huge paradox to remain out of touch when the means of communication have never been so quick, ubiquitous and affordable! For years, I have made countless effort in reaching out to my old friends and family, and I've got virtually nothing in return.

Sure, I didn't do it for the reciprocity, but would have appreciated to see that I wasn't the sole protagonist.

This said, I'm clearly convinced that most folks get so absorbed by their day-to-day life that they'd need 36 hours in a day, also that many of my contemporaries are slowing down so much that they get mentally paralyzed and are practicing for dementia.

With everything conveniently blamed on time-poverty, my situation is far from being unique and I should get used to it. As for you, how clear and busy are your communication lines?

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The champion, the hunter and his fans

Luc Alphand is a former World Cup alpine ski racer from France; he specialized in speed events like Downhill and Super G and later became a very successful race car driver. He has a great following in France and because of his wonderful talents and widespread popularity, he's been able to attract sponsors and made a great life for himself.

As we all know, reaching celebrity status has an impact on one's private life and freedom of movement; it also creates certain obligations. Among others, there's is a certain degree of “political correctness” expected from public figures that will restrict taking radical positions or actions that might displease a certain portion of the individual's supporters.

Sure, there are high-level actions such as charitable drives, environmental positions that are considered noble and worthwhile, but anything like supporting tyrants (Killy supporting Putin), favoring controversial causes or being pro highly “radio-active” issues should be altogether avoided. At the very least, such actions, if they are taken, should remain totally private.

Now, let me bring today's subject in full light. Mr. Alphand goes hunting in the Kamtchatka region of Russia with a guided outfit (Ovini Expeditions) to kill bears, mountain sheep and other wildlife. In the process, he finds nothing better than posting photos parading his trophies on Facebook.

I'm not a hunter, I'm not against hunting and I eat mean every now and then, but I have little respect for someone who needs to go away from his natural stomping grounds, spend a lot of money for it, in order to shoot wildlife in a place where rules are few and far between. This sounds a bit degenerate to me.

Of course, this kind of reckless personal promotion should not come as a surprise in this age of selfies and narcissist indulgence, but Luc Alphand should have been smarter in staying away from the limelight under these circumstances. He's now pissed off half of his fans, must feel pretty bad and can't put the toothpaste back inside the tube.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Things we learn on Google...

Today, as I was daydreming, I thought about Dennis Harrington a former colleague of mine at Look, between 1979 and 1981.

I hadn't not heard from him from a long time, didn't have his contact information, googled him and randomly landed on his obituary. I was shocked to learn that he had passed away 3 years ago at the age of 70.

Dennis was recruited away from Olin skis and came from an ultra-corporate environment to land in a small company, poorly funded and badly organized. He was placed at my hierarchical level (I did general management and marketing while he was in charge of national sales) and the Look higher-ups' idea was to see which one of us would take over.

Dennis had a long commute from Connecticut that made his family life miserable. Further, his expertise was more in advertising (one of my assignments) than sales. Because of it he was neither successful at staffing his sales force effectively and didn't quite understand how to work our dealer network; he lasted less than two years on the job.

After that, he stayed in the sporting goods business as a rep. With him, I learned one other definition of world “ albatross” that he loved to use all the time: “something that causes persistent deep concern or something that greatly hinders accomplishment...”
The photo that illustrates this blog reminds me of the Beatles; of the four guys pictured, only two survive today. Steve Doe and I...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Way to go Bob!

I've always loved Bob Dylan, ever since I was a teenager in France and couldn't quite understand what he was singing, but somehow recognizing that he had something important to say. saw him perform in Park West in the late 80s.

Interestingly, I didn't know that Dylan was performing in Park City that night, but a few days before that, I was sitting next to his mom, Mrs. Zimmerman, in a flight between Minneapolis and Denver; she told me that she on her way to see him play in Colorado Springs, and that the next night, he'd be in Utah!

I was nicely surprised and delighted when I heard this morning that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize. His songs have touched me greatly and, most importantly, they touched millions of folks like us, including the entire intellectual and poetic world. It's good to see that the Swedish Academy is not a stiff monolith that can't see literature beyond the printed word.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Those who support Trump...

Supporting a cause or an individual always comes with a strong conviction, either backed up by some hard facts and observations, or by sheer belief into what that person tells.

Donald Trump is excellent at coming up with predigested concepts and ideas that are, in most cases not backed up by strong evidence. His luck is that he his very smart and skilled enough to reduce his philosophy into very short, simple, understandable and attention-grabbing messages that he delivers flawlessly.

Of course, it takes people with little critical sense, education or intelligence to accept what they are told and feel so elated by their leader. Generally, most of these folks have been prepped by deep religiosity, including early and intense brain-washing, and have always been told never to question dogma.

This is in my view why Trump has been able to garner almost 40% of the intentions of vote from a large group of fanatics, and this paint a rather dismal picture of America and its far-right, super-religious electorate.

So come hell or high water, this part of the population is too radicalized to change its mind and will follow its leader off the cliff or take arms for him if nothing develops as planned...

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The United States of Hypocrisy

As usual, an election season is a good opportunity to be reminded that if we are good at entrepreneurship or innovation, we're also excel at hypocrisy.

Look at tax “avoidance” as a prime example of our efforts to try to pay as little tax as possible in order to skirt our fair share of participation into programs that are intended for the good of society.

Then, there's charity. If giving was not tax-deductible, you would see philanthropy as a whole take a huge dive!

Next, there's racism that was supposedly eliminated; for the past 8 years, Obama has been obstructed every which way by a congress that couldn't quite live with his skin color and cops have continued their lethal “shoot to kill” tactics, not counting on the ubiquitous cell phone videos.

Democracy? Well in our mercantile society, it's just pay to play and big money has never been so prevalent over the people's voice.

Of course, there is religion, with our national act of face “In God We Trust” printed on banknotes (I've always wondered why the US Treasury did not demand the same slogan on my Visa or American Express card?)

I won't even go into the unceasing contradictions exposed by our Presidential candidates; I've already covered that subject ad nauseam.

Finally, there is freedom that used to be an elastic value when the CIA was propping up the Shah or ousting Allende in exchange for Pinochet. We also hold another bad record in that department with the highest prison population in the civilized world...

If Hypocrisy was an Olympic sport, we'd beat everyone else by a long shot. By the way, if you're not American, how is hypocrisy doing in your country?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Adolf Trump

Trump is demonstrating that bullying, name calling, interrupting and general misbehavior works in trampling over members of a civil society that doesn't play by the same rules.

To use a much fashionable qualifier, he's a “disruptor”. This said, what a disgusting example he sets for our youth!

Usually bullies sprout during teenage years and remain in someone's thirties. With Donald, it spans into the seventies.

He's already trampled his 16 primary opponents in that way and still seems to believe that his method will also work in annihilating Hillary Clinton.

It's time to call him for what he is: an out of control bully, a big, filthy mouth, an utterly rude person and someone who belong alone, on a deserted island or, God forbid, a totalitarian leader in some banana republic without any checks and balances.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Old, greedy and bitter

The above description pretty much encapsulates Donald Trump's persona and is a far cry from the “winning image” he would like to project or say is part of his make up. Sure, the true philosophy he relishes is “win-lose” and nothing approaching “win-win”.
Since I'm almost his age, I can relate to him from a geriatric standpoint, but still can't understand his unfathomable ambition and his sad or grimacing face. I do what I can to appreciate and enjoy my everyday's life and get satisfied with whatever I still can get out of it. I'm filled with hope and positive expectations.

If this doesn't sound like much to many folks, it's plenty for me and I'm content with it.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Bully's short lifespan

Being an effective bully is closely linked to proper timing. Just like sushi, bullying doesn't suffer extended periods of exposition and Trump's problem is that the American electoral cycle is too long for his bullying strategy.

When Donald Trump bowed out of 2012 US presidential election race on May 2011, he had learned enough to prepare himself for “Round Two” in 2015, yet he underestimated that the race would be a real marathon, not just a half race.

Had the total campaign, included the primary, lasted eight month he could have won the presidency, but reality is that bullying is like a booster rocket, its effects can only last so long before it peters out.

At least one valuable take-away the political class who supported him so unexpectedly will have learned at its own expense...

Friday, October 7, 2016

A Tesla road trip?

We recently took a long road trip from Park City to Banff, in Canada, that was mostly improvised on a daily basis and I recently wondered how that loosely planned escape would have been possible if we had driven an all-electric Tesla automobile instead of our gasoline powered car.
I guess that my need to find places to recharge my vehicle would have defined my itinerary as well as my travel time, and that I would seen a much different scenery if had been behind the wheel of an electric car.

First, the Tesla Supercharger Stations are few and far between between Utah, Idaho and Montana and there was just one around Banff, in Alberta. Of course there are a fairly large number of regular charging stations, but they take time to “fill up” the battery and one must be always cognizant of issues like maximum speed on freeways, charging time not to mention heater use.

While the regular S model is given a 200 mile range by the EPA. It takes about 40 minutes to get it fully charged at a Tesla Supercharger Station while you can count on 7 hours to do the same inside your garage as long as you have a 240V outlet. If you must rely on a public charger station, as you travel, count on a rate of 22 miles per hours.

So when you look at it, recharging a Tesla is not yet that easy or that worry-free; I'll wait a little more before I order mine...

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Marks of a sophisticated mountain-town

Recently, as we were traveling up north, I noticed several elements that always seem to be missing in a prosperous mountain town: the auto part store (people are affluent enough to bring their car to a service shop), barber shops (those are called beauty salons) and mortuary places (no one seems to die in paradise!)
Have I missed anything along these lines?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The bimbo, the salesman and the mortician

Last night was the turn of the candidates for Vice-President to show their talents and try to sway the still undecided voters.

The moderator was a young, perfect looking CBS anchorwoman who could barely read her questions to the two opponents, and was woefully unable to keep them from interrupting each other and staying within their allotted time, not to mention answering the questions they were supposed to respond.
Tim Kaine was the typical used-car salesman who was loud, interrupting, but could put an understandable argument together, while Mike Pence looked stern, stiff, used much more than the time he was given and made me think of a mortician.

If I had to have a beer with anyone of the threesome, I'd pick Kaine without hesitation!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Responding to vicious emails...

We all get emails that are manipulated and under the guise of common sense say things that are politically or socially extremist. We can ignore them or as happened to me yesterday (see text inside the illustration), respond to set the record straight.

Which is what I did:

"I feel sorry for the man who wrote this and for all of those who identify with everything listed in that text. To me, it sounds like an admission that change is unbearable and that the good old days were a much better time. 

Refusing to change might be a reason for the demise of the Neanderthals some 30 thousand years ago, and I get more inspired by the stories of people who have flourished with change. Folks like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and today, Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg. 

Most of us [like the man sending me the message] who have been in sales can identify with pushing the envelope, making huge progress, occasionally losing perhaps, but always standing back up, dusting ourselves off and trying even harder. I wouldn't be surprised if the author of that piece stood front and center around Woodstock in 1969 and has since just given up, ready to fall for the Donald Trumps of the world who propose to go back to the 1950s. This is not for me; I'm still too curious, remain eager to participate and can't wait to move forward!"

Monday, October 3, 2016

The danger of charisma

Last night, we watched “Holy Hell” a 2016 Sundance documentary that told the real life of cult guru and its followers between 1985 and 2007.

It was all about the destructive power of spiritual or religious belief, the magnetic charisma of its leader and most importantly, the tenacious attachment of its followers to the “truths” they had been told in spite of the ordeal they had experienced.

This made me think that organized religions, political beliefs and movements of all kinds aren't that much different from these destructive cults and when people have been perfectly brainwashed on a weird idea, it's very difficult to make them execute to a total 180 degree turn.

I'm thinking about Nazis, ex-USSR Communists, Evangelists of all kinds, Trump followers or ex-Catholics just like me. The trip out of an entrenched set of belief proves always very arduous if not impossible.

Until now, I thought that religion or any other form of mental contamination was simply a “poison”, but it also a “prison”.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Not paying taxes makes Donald smart!

At least this is what the Bully-in-Chief quipped at Hillary during their first debate when she suggested that he might have not paid a red-cent in taxes.
Since this mere suspicion is now becoming an established fact, what makes Donald so smart, just make 320 million fools out of all of us, including the patented imbeciles that support him

No wonder then, that with zero effort on Trump and his tax-avoider brethren, we aren't building airports that are up to par with his regal tastes and that the United States is going to the dogs.

Time for Donald Trump to get his exit visa and move in with Putin at the Kremlin. This is where he belongs.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The improvised road trip

Early September, before the autumn equinox, we decided to jump in our car and head north while the light was still good, the weather pleasant and the tourists long gone – we were a bit wrong on that assumption...

We had no particular plan. We wanted to drive somewhere north, up in Canada. We did it one day at a time. Each evening we chose where the following day would take us, booked that particular night, got behind the wheel and soaked up the scenery.

Just like when we ski or bike, we were lost in the moment and forgot everything; who we were, what we did and whatever bothered us. We saw some spectacular vistas, met some interesting people, gathered a few good stories and didn't see the days and miles go by.

We can't wait till the next road trip!