Monday, July 31, 2017

American mountain towns' future

If 2017 was another evidence - so far - our mountain climate is warming up. In fact it's been a long time since we've seen that warming trend coming.

I was talking about it in this blog more than 10 years ago and the situation has kept on deteriorating at a sinister pace. Okay, we now agree that winters will be warmer, shorter and that snow will become a much more precious commodity.

Yet, during future summers, sea level temperatures will keep on climbing and getting away to the Rocky Mountains will spell some sure relief, even if that new one is not nearly as cool as it would have been half-a-century before.
This said, in the meanwhile, mountain resorts will have beefed-up their recreational offering and spring, summer and fall will be fun-filled seasons, perhaps beating winter as we currently know it.

So, enjoy our traditional winters while they last and get ready for an exciting off-season that will bring year-round recreation, all over the mountain!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Appreciating mountain-biking

This year, I don't ride my mountain bike as often as I used to.

This is my 12th consecutive season straddling this heavier bike and it's undeniable that I've become lazy, seek to keep my body from hurting and let's be frank, I don't have the stamina that still possessed me a decade ago.

This said, I love as much as ever being on a single track, either struggling uphill or zipping down the mountain, especially now, that the opportunities have become few and far between.

There's just nothing like it and I hope that even if it has to be in small doses, I'll be able to savor that very unique pleasure for many years to come.

I can't wait for my next outing!

Saturday, July 29, 2017


That's what my parents used to say about anything that was not necessary for survival or for making money. Sport, leisure or just idleness were all useless. Not mentioned, but implied, was recovery after a (work-related) accident or a sickness.

Anything that was done to fortify the body or the mind (except going to church) fell into that “useless”, thus undesirable and wasted category.

In all fairness to my parents, they had been on “survival-mode” since the day of the birth and only useful acts and thoughts were essential to their salvation.

There was no room for futile pursuits during their entire lifetime. If upon my passing my parents ever end up being right about their beliefs, and after all is said and done, I will have spent a lot of time and efforts “uselessly” for my entire life...

Friday, July 28, 2017

Tired of being young?

Something I often see on Facebook is this quote from some unknown source: “Do not regret growing older, it's a privilege denied to many.”

When I read it, I always nod in agreement and the next day I forget it all together. This truth, I guess, probably doesn't sink-in until we're ready, mature or old enough to really appreciate it as we should.

This long, enduring state of denial is probably what prompted me, as I was riding my bike this morning, to think that “We begin to grow old when we become tired of being young.” This quote is from me, I swear. Keep it in a safe place.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Construction and local governments

If you are contemplating building, remodeling, improving a home or any kind of construction, expect more and more demands from your local government in terms of demanding regulations and following the arduous procedures imposed upon you by bureaucrats that are multiplying in numbers but alas not in expertise.

For the past five years, I've been involved with several projects and have experienced how bad the situation can be and how costly it ends up being.

Building is no longer a pleasant or an affordable adventure. It's more like the road to hell paved with seemingly good intentions but in reality peppered with booby traps and too many bandits on the lookout to shaking you up.

So much for my “constructive” tone!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The school of “unlearning”

My schooling days were marked by a wonderful time at a boys-only, seven-grades piled together, primary school, in a small room and shepherded by a wonderful teacher, Monsieur Losserand. I learned a lot, given the circumstances and my future looked promising as I embarked to Middle-School.

This time, I was bused to St Jean d'Aulps, 3.5 mile down valley, had lunch at the cafeteria and shuttled between classes like in I had never done it before. Not only that, our new “college” as they called it, was under construction and we had to literally walk miles to another hamlet for most of our courses.

One of our teacher, Mademoiselle Krac, was supposed to make us conversant in English, but the only thing I learned from her was her opening remarks (in French) “sit down and shut up!” Needless to say that instead of picking up new scholastic skills I “unlearn” everything Monsieur Losserand had painstakingly drilled into my head.

Year after year my grades were going down fast, until after three years of that kind of hell, I decided to change schools so I would not forget essential elements like my own name.

This Junior High named “College Henri Corbet” almost was the end of myself. Glad I escaped that dreary place!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Cinco de Momo!

Yesterday was the 170th Pioneer Day Celebration in Utah. This state holiday takes place on July 24 to commemorates the entry of Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley back in 1847.

We, in Park City, love to call it derisively “Cinco de Momo” (Momo as in Mormon) as a play on words on “Cinco de Mayo” the Mexican annual fiesta held on May 5 by our local Latino community to observe the Mexican Army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

Park City doesn't observe that Mormon festival that is marked, in the rest of the state, by parades, fireworks, rodeos, and other festivities...

Monday, July 24, 2017

When I was nine-years old...

That sounds like a very long time ago, yet when I compare what I knew, my experiences and my insights about the world and those of my nine-year old grandson, the difference is huge.

I knew so little and he already knows so much; it's not even close and the comparison gives me so much hope about the future and my grandson's life!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Learning the hard way!

For the past few days, I've been doing a lot of architectural simulations by using Sketchup, a wonderful 3D drawing program, all about a business project that has been several years in the making.

The space is relatively small and each inch literally counts a lot and I have been doing iteration upon iterations.

Often, my countless “redo's” have been frustrating, because they were traceable to my own mistakes and I've learn so much much in the process that, once more, I was reminded every-time that repeated failure is our best life teacher...

Saturday, July 22, 2017

How good is Trump?

Let's not beat around the bush. If you were a good investor/businessman, would you hire the man? His résumé may speak volumes, but his behavior, management style and inability to get things done are disqualifying the individual after just six month in office.

The man should have never been elected president, the people who voted for him are idiots and the Republican Party that keeps on supporting him is an accomplice engaged in destroying the United States.

Trump, you're fired!

Friday, July 21, 2017

So hard to be consistent...

Sometimes we think we are a certain way and we keep on repeating ourselves that our way is the right one, the best.

That is, until we realize that we're contradicting ourselves. Our actions are straying from the path that we claim to be ours. When we think or when we talk, it's hard to have an eye at all time on what should be our “true north”.

Of course, we first need to define what our true north is before we even conceive of deviating from it.

Truth is, we seldom take the time or afford the honesty to understand the very values we call our own...

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Missing the good old days?

On Sunday a former colleague and friend of mine found a special memento while cleaning his liquor cabinet. It was an unopened 1988 beer bottle dubbed "Park City Silver Reserve" commemorating Park City Ski Area's 25th Anniversary.

It happened as this person was moving out of Park City and returning to his native Idaho to begin a new life adventure. Over the years, many Parkites have done the same, growing sick of what their town has become and moved out, saying they missed “the good old days”, when they skied faster, had tons of fun and were younger looking, I guess.

To them I say, life is filled with change and Park City is no different. From its miner days on to Western Airlines becoming Delta, the Olympics, years of Sundance Film Fest, shorter winter vacations stays making a close-by airport a must, everything has contributed to Park City's dizzying rate of change.

Not much different by the way to what's been happening to Chamonix, St. Anton or Whistler. Whether we like it or not, and through some overzealous marketing efforts, we've all engineered the changes we see today in ski towns, all over the world. Can we still live with them? Some of us won't and will try to settle in some other places, in an effort to start over, some will and keep on enjoying what they have.

I, for my part, still love it, still believe that this place is the very best of all locales I've ever lived in, and almost can't wait to see how, in ten years from now, change will continue to transform Park City for the better...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Lindsey Vonn and the boys

The American ski champion would like to race the men on the easy, Lake Louise downhill course in order to add one more feather to her Red Bull cap.

To me, this is pretty silly. I've also felt that the “battle of the sexes” is totally meaningless from a basic bio-mechanical standpoint. If she had the backbone to say “Kitzbühel” or “Bormio”, she'd get more of my attention, but Lake Louise? Give me a break!

She should instead focus her attention on both Lara Gut and Sofia Goggia, with the latter beating her up fair and square on the PyeongChang course last season.

If she doesn't, she might be side-slipping into the ski sunset like Bode Miller just did, by only boasting and not delivering...

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

How to lose a 40-year customer?

Insurance companies, like a lot of establishments that rely on repeat business, should think twice before become overly greedy.

I had been a client of State Farm Insurance for forty years when my agent decided to make more money off of me, trying to sell me a service that was borderline ethical, that would have made him lots of money, and lied to me in the process.

This is often the situation companies get themselves into when they're intent on “milking” their current customers. Simple, horrible greed.

What also tipped my decision is that State Farm is a member and on the Board of Director of ALEC, an right-wing organization that spearheaded union-busting laws in Wisconsin and Ohio, voter-suppression laws in Maine and New Hampshire, and Florida's "Shoot First" laws.

Finally, I even saved a non-negligible amount of money in switching. Morale of the story: If you want to keep your long-time clients, don't oversell them and stay away from joining controversial organizations!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Tour de France's impressions

We don't watch as much of the Tour de France as we used to in previous year. Blame the drugs for this, I guess.

What we enjoyed most though, when we were watching more intensely, were the incredibly picturesque overhead helicopter shots of towns and village all along the course.

What were most stunning were – from a distance – the order and the cleanliness of the communities the helicopter flew over.

If there were a similar Tour of the U.S.A. TV wouldn't show us Camden, NJ or the South Bronx, of course, but we'd see plenty of poor and run-down rural areas with car wrecks spread all around the houses.

By this measure, France stands as a better measure of societal success...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Getting elected vs. governing

Certain politicians have a knack of getting elected against all odds. Look at Trump or Macron (in France)!

Obama was no different and the list could go on and on. The problem, as I see it, is that getting elected is one thing, governing a country, quite another. Generally, folks who have mastered the secret and the skills of winning elections are super salespeople, but don't necessarily have the skills commensurate with governing.

Even though Obama was systematically obstructed by the Republicans, he lacked some basic decisive skills that will keep on dogging his legacy. My point is that someone good at governing must be a master at making decisions and more often than not, making them very, very fast; in fact, literally on the fly!

Good CEOs excel at this. Trump should be able to do that, but he's totally blinded and driven by his hypertrophied ego and the results of his efforts are so self-centered that they can't work for the leadership position he was elected to.

Macron is yet an unknown entity, but there are plenty of signs indicating that he's all fluff and little substance. Making good decisions is the result of making many, many decision.

That's right, showing some “high-mileage” in the decision-making department. This also means that when decisions are a way of daily life, some decisions will be good and some (let's hope few of them) will be terrible; yet, the strong leader will be able to live with the bad ones, learn from them and start a virtuous cycle of sound decision-making.

So, why are most politicians bad at governing? Simply because they don't trust themselves to make good decisions or are too preoccupied by their own reelection. Then, why don't we have politicians like Elon Musk or Steve Jobs? Simply because they see the job too demeaning, don't respect the political profession, its constant lying and its immoral mode of operations.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A trumpised Macron or a macronised Trump?

Probably both! I watched the press conference on the eve of Bastille Day between the American and the French Heads of State and I thought to myself what an odd couple these two characters made and whatever inspired Macron to invite Trump over?

This duet have so little in common except for their propensity at massacring their own language. Donald by getting away with using a the very same minimum number of basic words and Emmanuel by launching into pedantic, complicated sentences almost impossible to follow and comprehend by an average Frenchman like me.

At one point, Macron jumped on the chance to flatter Trump by finishing his sentences from him and showing off his command of English for whole world to see. Most of the time, Donald look out of place and bored, until he began rambling about his “good boy, nice person” when talking about Donald Jr.
This might help French tourism and I bet that after the two couples dined at Tour Eiffel, they're now at least Facebook friend. This joint performance was held together by some cheap duct-tape and looked almost pathetic; well I should say, “sad, sad, sad...”

Friday, July 14, 2017

Treasure Mountain, Park City

A couple of days ago, I mentioned this big project and included a video showing how it would deface Park City.

Here is some more interesting background: In 1986, the City Council approved the Sweeney Properties Master Plan (aka Treasure Hill), a concept creating a dense and compact extension of Old Town Park City on over 100 acres.

It appears that back in these days, that approval was for 415,000 square feet of new construction. Over the years, the project has been kicked around and each time, the applicant asked for more constructed area, reaching just over one million square feet, ignoring evidently the original deal.

A few years ago, the family that owned the land sold its interests for about $25 million to an investor but has kept on representing the project. A couple of years ago, the City of Park City offered $45 million for the land, but the investor refused to sell.

Today, the tug of war between the stubborn development company and our City is likely to end into a costly and protracted law suit that may drag on for years...

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Fighting the heatwave, mountain style...

Today, I will bore to death you with some interesting weather-related information. Our house in Park City sit at an altitude of 6,745' that stands 2,519' higher than Salt Lake City International Airport.

During a typical summer heatwave, like the one we've experienced for most of July, our daily top temperatures in Park City average around 84 degree Fahrenheit while Salt Lake's equivalent temperatures are more like 97. The difference between the two places is about 13 degree.

Night is a totally different story. We live in a high desert and extremely dry climate, so nights in higher elevation and minimal pollution (ozone, etc.) get much colder if the skies stay clear.

This in fact is the main reason why mountain living is so wonderful up in the mountains, during that same heatwave as savvy homeowners can aerate interior at nights to feel a very cool temperature in the morning and keep their house comfortable most of the day.

Early morning, when the temperature is the lowest, it's only 55 degree in Park City while it's still a balmy 75 in Salt Lake; that's a huge 20 degree difference!
Compare this with the normal decrease in temperature as one gains elevation on the table and you'll see why smart folks will move higher and higher up in the mountains as global warming takes hold on the planet!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A face-lift for Park City?

There's a huge real-estate project that's been hounding Old Town Park City since the mid 80s, called “Treasure Hill”, consisting of three-quarter of a million square feet of residential and commercial development just above town, as an idyllic, dreamlike, ski-in and out location.

For years there have been heated disagreements on its size (the developer would like to push it to 1 million square feet), road access (highly problematic) and looks as that massive build up may deface Park City's character.

Tonight, there will be another discussion of that controversial project at City Hall and among other topics, the owner will explain how he plans to use explosive to create the big hole needed, on the flank of the mountain, to cradle his baby.

The public hearing is going to be standing room only and something to be remembered. In the meantime a video of the how the project will fit into our little town has just been released and I absolutely didn't like what I saw.

Instead of the ugly high-rises showed on the clip, the buildings should hug the hill and blend with the existing colored mosaic of small miners homes, or at the very least, render the optical illusion of that continuum. I guess I probably will have to attend and voice my disapproval...

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Park City stereotypes

Back in the early 1990s, Salt Lake City had just become a Delta hub following the company's merger with Western Airlines. Around that time, about 500 pilot/flight attendant households suddenly moved to Park City to make it their home.

This massive “invasion” would have long lasting effects and significantly changed the complexion of our small mountain-town.

Today, there might not be as many pilots and their families left since many have since found that shoveling snow from November to April wasn't that fun and much preferred the balmy ocean shores of the southeastern United States, but still many of our neighbors are either still flying or have joined the ranks of pilot retirees. 
Without wrapping them all into one single stereotype, these pilots often come across as having big egos as one would develop when in charge of a large and powerful plane.

Many folks also find them cheap, which could be traced to their lower-paid military career or the per diem they receive while on the road, forcing them into some complex accounting.

Another often cited trait is that they're quite competitive and that's were sports, like skiing, or tennis are wonderful outlets for this.

Finally some also say that they tend to be insensitive, because they are so pragmatic and so high-wired that their emotional quotient takes a huge back-seat on all the rest.

What do I think about all this? I don't know; I'll need to do some research...

Monday, July 10, 2017

Loyal to Casio

Over my entire life, I've been a pretty loyal Casio customer when it came to watches.

Only twice, did I wear a time-piece other than Casio's. When I was about 12, and from my Communion, I got a cheap “Lov” french watch from my Godfather and Godmother and 10 years later, I bought myself a nice Seiko Chronometer watch.

After that, I've always been a steadfast Casio follower, owning a series of their trademark calculator-watches and more recently a G-Shock Solar model bought in 2011 for about $34.

Today that watch looks bad (the silver that used to adorn the case is gone, showing the cheap plastic material) but it works just perfectly.

Should I replace it? What a quandary...

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A German fly on the wall...

I am a German fly and I was on the wall when Putin met with Trump.
At first, Trump asked Tillerson and Lavrov to walk over to the large bay window and watch the demonstration while they had a more intimate conversation...

Trump: “As I said it's an honor to meet with you Vlad. I just wanted to thank you again for getting me elected...”

Putin: “Don't mention it; simple professional courtesy between tyrants.”

Trump: “Sure, but your FSB guys did a terrific hacking job”

Putin: “Right, I trained them well when I was at the KGB, but let's talk TV for now. Do you still want me to transform your CNN into RT?”

Trump: “Yeah, that'd be so good if we could turn this already fake media into a 'real' fake one...”

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Casual mountain living vs. vanities

When we first arrived in Park City, more than a generation ago, it was a casual mountain lifestyle for all.

We couldn't tell who was rich or poor as we all got around in Jeep Cherokee or small Subarus, and lived in similar houses. No one was pretending too much. We were just enjoying the simplicity and the casualness of mountain living and appearances took a back-seat to our true selves.

Since these happy days, times have changed and while the Aspen's saying “Billionaires have displaced millionaires” is now starting to ring true in Park City, human vanities are all around us for anyone to see, from fancy cars to luxury watches, “Mac Mansions” or exotic trips.

We do our best to remain unfazed and carry on with our 32 years old way of life...

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Gift of thinking critically

This past Wednesday, there was no garbage pick-up because the previous day was the 4th of July, an American Holiday.

Yet, all my neighbors, as perfect “sheep”, put their garbage cans out. I know there wouldn't be any pickup out of sheer logic, but still consulted the Refuse Company's calendar to confirm my suspicion.

This example is just to illustrate that most people follow others and seldom take the time, or better yet, make a habit, of thinking critically. In our household, we abide by this rule as much as possible, and over decades, it has paid huge dividends.

Before following anyone blindly, we just ask ourselves one very simple question: Does it make sense?

Thursday, July 6, 2017

What happened to diminishing returns?

Donald Trump believes he can grow the economy by 3 percent a year during his presidency. This is almost twice the rate of growth seen during the closing years of the Obama Administration.

Is this possible? Most economists say no and I agree with them, but maybe not for the same reasons.

At the beginning of this country's history when next to nothing existed, and later on as the industrial revolution followed by the age of the automobile set in and more recent advances like computing and the internet made their marks, massive growth numbers were common, albeit progressively dwindling, following a well-known economical law called “diminishing returns”.

Today as the whole world competes equally, as almost every human being owns a fridge or, better yet, a smart-phone, we've entered a massive slow-down where we repair and replace more single units than we buy them in huge quantities, hence the slower rate of growth.

From now on, growth will have to come from something qualitative and not quantitative, but this sounds as if I were repeating myself!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

America's 241st birthday

Birthday come and go and yesterday was another number for America.

We moved to this country the year after it celebrated its 200th birthday and while we didn't quite grasp the significance then, and we're still confused at times today by our new host country.

Today, the Nation seems rudderless, with a deranged individual at the helm and with expectations that are no longer in sync with common sense, keen observation and our modern times.

Take growth, for one thing. America enjoyed a tremendous growth based in part on free land and free labor and today that no one wants to be colonized anymore, we must compete without the unfair advantage of exploitation and in an overcrowded world competing for dwindling opportunities, space and resources.

We still could do okay if our Politic Class had the spine to tell it to us the way it is and honestly reset our expectations, but no, it keeps on lying and on painting unrealistic promises and fictitious schemes.

Without buying into the “Make America Great Again” utopia, I wish America can last at least another 241 years, but this far from certain and it will come at a cost of plain truth, lowered expectations and heighten sacrifices.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Sibling relationship

In re-editing some old family videos from the 80s, I ran into one in which my two kids (son and daughter) were getting into an argument.

You've all heard about the reasons for sibling rivalry as they generally range from the way kids were raised by their family, their education, their culture and a host of psychological and even psychiatric considerations.

I must say that I have serious doubt about all of these “scientific” reasons. I tend to think that if parents get twelve children, they'll discover twelve different personalities and behaviors altogether.

This further mean that, as sibling, you never get to chose your sister or brother. Siblings are placed into your environment, much like other tenants in a rental apartment, occupants of a condominium, neighbors in a subdivision, members of the military or just kids in school.

Some of the people you may be asked to live next to, or with, will never click with you. Some will become your very best friends while others won't stand you or you simply won't stand them.

Just like romantic relationships; pure chemistry is what it's all about, nothing more, nothing less and distributed compliments of randomness. This my simple, but perfectly logical take on sibling love and rivalry.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Meet Relive...

My son recently introduced to Relive, a Dutch startup that uses data to turn outdoor activities into 3D animated videos. It takes data garnered from Strava, another activity app, and creates 3D animated videos.

The app has already been used by professional cyclists and, as of May, the startup is said to have seen half a million users sign up, that are apparently creating 100,000 videos daily.

What I like about it is that it goes beyond statistics, health and performance-based metrics by focusing on the fun aspect of the outdoor experience.

While it's only available for cycling and running at the moment, I can't wait until I can use it for skiing too!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

America the Wasteful...

In Park City, each resident is provided with a recycling can for papers, plastics and the like as well as a regular garbage can.

The recycling can that is picked up every 14 days has a capacity of 95 gallons, while the smaller garbage can that is picked up weekly just holds 65 gallons.

Both offer sufficient storage for a family of four or even six, and since we compost, we could do with one fourth of that volume. If however these two cans won't suffice, it's possible to order more – as many as one wishes – and pay for the extra cost associated with regular pick-up.
Few households opt for this, except perhaps for one or two extra cans maximum in some very rare cases. So, the other day as we were walking in our neighborhood we were stunned to see 5 cans lined up for pickup in front of a residence (yep, 385 gallons!)

I knew that Americans were the biggest consumers in the world and that our GDP was made up of 70% worth of consumption, but I had not realized that we could also be the more wasteful nation on the entire planet!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

A dream plugged into skiing

I only post some of my most bizarre and noteworthy dreams and only, of course, if I can remember them well. Right, nothing's made up!

Last night, I had an appointment with our new physician, a guy in his mid 70s that seemed a bit bizarre, if not totally deranged. I was waiting for my appointment in what looked like a vacated industrial site, with a few people sitting here and there, some having conversations, others gazing aimlessly.

Suddenly, a guy whom I thought I knew, hollered at me, calling me by my name, saying “how are you?” I said “fine, but not as well as I used to”. The man, who bore a strange resemblance to Bob Dylan, with a pencil thin mustache, walked over towards me and soon, we were deep into a conversation.

“We sure don't ski like we used to,” he said “...Today no more helicopters and spread eagles...” I agreed and since I couldn't remember the man's name, I overcome my embarrassment and mustered the courage to ask. The man responded: “Spider Sabich”.

Of course, I thought to myself. I meant to ask him how his French girlfriend was doing, but I didn't quite dare, because in the back of my mind I knew something weird might have happened to their relationship.

That's when it downed on me that Spider was shot dead by Claudine Longet on March 21, 1976 in Aspen, and it made no sense for him to be talking to me. That's when I woke up.