Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Have any of these people actually been to Dubai? While it's not even close to being a liberal democracy, it's a massive improvement on most of the Moslem world. It has an outward looking leadership that realises that the oil will eventually run out and that it better invest those petrodollars in modern institutions, building the rule of law, promoting international engagement and building real businesses that can carve out a lasting spot for Dubai in the world economy. Yes most of the locals follow a fairly traditional culture, but it's very much a live and let live place. 75% of the population is foreign and is free to drink alcohol, dress as they please, watch western movies and so on. If we can be friends with the Saudi's we ought to be in love with the UAE.
So what message should we send them? "Welcome partners" or "&*$# off (but why do you hate us)?"
Monday, February 27, 2006
Day 48 of my 2005-06 season was a quick hit with our friend Leonie - basically a trip to the top of the mountain and back down again. I threw in an additional high speed circuit on the Christie Chair and Sitz / See Me while waiting for our ride.
Leonie was kind enough to treat us to dinner tonight at the 8th Street Steakhouse. The food was excellent, but I don't buy into the whole cook your own steak deal. Which part of "I don't feel like cooking tonight, let's eat out" do these guys not understand?
Sunday, February 26, 2006
He also said, "I ain't giving them hell, I'm telling it like it is. They just think it's hell." Seems an appropriate response to this blow up by the CEO of Mesa Airlines, which operates United Express commuter flights into our local airport - Hayden / Steamboat Springs (HDN) - under contract to United. He's not happy that our community has dared to complain to United head office about the poor performance of the United Express service.
Here's a classic example of statistical manipulation. He quotes on-time performance excluding weather-related cancellations. But a big part of the problem is that Mesa is canceling due to weather when all the other airlines are managing to fly in. So that's like saying "except when I'm screwing up, I'm doing a great job."
United are not blameless either. They've contracted Mesa to provide the flights and Skywest to provide the ground services. Talk about a recipe for buck passing and finger pointing.
To give you an idea how clueless Mesa are, when they cancel flights they organise buses to bring the passengers to Steamboat. Except they drive them 25 miles past Steamboat to the airport and drop them there in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere!
And he's missed the main point. Putting aside all the current service problems, the main point of our respresentations to United is that we'd like to see the Dash-8 turboprops replaced with a regional jet service.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Since it hasn't snowed since Monday it was definitely a day for cruising. The snow is softening nicely in the sun making it easly to carve long, smooth curves.
I started out with Leonie in a big line at the Gondola and then on to Rudi's and Blizzard to the Storm Peak Express, Cowboy Coffee down to the Morningside Chair, Crowtrack, Buddy's and Tornado Lane to the BC Chair and finally Tower, Heavenly Daze, Jess's Cutoff and Vogue back to the base where Leonie called it a day.
Back on to the Gondola for a quick run down upper Vagbond and some bumps on Surprise before taking the Storm Peak Express to hook up with Aussies Amy and her dad Bill for some cruising in Wally World and a trip through the trees between Flintlock and Quickdraw. On the way home we took Westside - which was as crowded as I've ever seen it- to the Elkhead Chair then a high speed run down Valley View to avoid the Heavenly Daze crowds with a Lower Valley View chaser.
Friday, February 24, 2006
Here's Marie on the right and Leonie on the left.
We spent some time breaking our heads over ticket prices trying to figure out the best deal before realising that Leonie is old enough for the Super Senior deal at $28 per day which made it easy.
Today was an easy introduction to the mountain with plenty of cruising in Wally World, but we did over 10,000 vertical feet - I hope I'm up to that on my first day of the season when I'm in my 70's!
As I mentioned last Sunday, I didn't ski this week, but not because I was away. I had a rerun of the same $%&*# chest infection I had a few weeks ago so I had to cancel my trip.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Walgreens is proposing to build a new store here. It's bad enough that they have to jump through numerous hoops to satisfy additional planning requirements imposed by our left-leaning community on "big box" retailers. Apart from satisfying the City Council's self-appointed and self-important arbiters of architectural taste by modifying the external look of the proposed building and landscaping, the developer has gone so far as to offer to provide affordable housing as well. In fact, The City has been jerking the developer's chain for over a year now and has moved the goalposts several times, but the developer has been nothing but the picture of co-operation.
But that's not enough for this budding Commissar:
This guy wants the government to decide which stores can come to town and which can't and to pass judgement on what ought to be sold and what should not. He goes on to try to justify it in terms of what the market is looking for:
The Today [our local paper] asserts that Walgreens should be approved for the simple fact that the developers have successfully negotiated the "big-box" ordinance review and done as the Steamboat Springs City Council asked. In short, the Today is arguing that because the developer correctly checked off the boxes of the planning process, thus empowering the City Council to have it built "our way," then it should get the thumbs up.
...My question is this: Why Walgreens? What can a person get at Walgreens that you cannot already get in town? ...I am not against development, but big business can be managed only at a local level, and it is up to us and our council members to do this. Just because it is getting "built on our terms" does not mean that it is a good idea. I'm simply not convinced that Walgreens is the best idea.
Well here's an idea. If he's so sure nobody wants to shop there, why doesn't he just wait for them to fold, or better yet, put up his own money to create the type of retailing establishment he's so self-righteously convinced that everyone would prefer. Or better yet, he could move to an actual People's Republic like North Korea. They don't have any Walgreens there.
We are a community built on tourism. People come here for a unique experience and glimpse of a unique lifestyle, Western and terrain park. In my opinion, these businesses such as Walgreens fall into one category: Generica. Nobody travels across the country to visit a place that is down the street in their hometown. How does this enhance the guest experience? How does this perpetuate this "local flavor" that has come to attract so many people?
One of the fundamental principles of all political systems which seek to avoid military dictatorship is that the military power should be subject to control of the civilian authority, and history tells us that such control must be absolute - no matter how grave the military might consider the threat, no matter how unwise they might consider the politicians, they don't get to decide when, why or against whom we go to war or what is and isn't acceptable behaviour in the prosecution of war once declared.
The US Constitution deliberately establishes a system of government in which the President administers the laws enacted by Congress. It seems the "absolute powers Commander-in-Chief" groupies believe that the President is not constrained by that Constitutional system. If it looks like a dictatorship, and sounds like a dictatorship, and acts like a dictatorship, chances are it's a dictatorship.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Firstly, the deal is being widely misrepresented as DP World taking over or buying US ports. What they are acquiring is a terminal operator - a business that loads and unloads containers from ships - which operates within ports which are and will continue to be US owned, typically by local or state governments. These government authorities that own the ports will continue to have overall responsibility for port security under the regulatory eye of various agencies of the Department of Homeland Security.
As Ronald Reagan said, "trust but verify". But we'd rather take the easy way out. "Oh P&O are British so we don't have to worry about it." That kind of lazy thinking is absolutely asking for trouble.
It never ceases to amaze me how much energy gets devoted by our political class to issues that don't actually matter. Instead of worrying about who owns the company loading and unloading the containers they ought to be worrying about how they can make meaningful improvements in our ability to verify the who, what, when, where and why of the end-to-end supply chain. But that would take hard work, clear thought and real resources.
Update: The One Handed Economist said it to so much more elequently:
Dear Racist Half-Wits In Congress,
Please stop mucking about with this Dubai Port World deal. If you'd actually pay any attention to anything other than the fact that the United Arab Emirates is in the Middle East and has "Arab" in it's name you'd note that it's exactly the sort of moderate place we'd like other Middle Eastern nations to emulate. You'd also note that it's a foreign company being bought by another foreign company, and thusly you idiots have nothing to say on the matter. Further, DPW will only control 50% of the administration (and 0% of the security) of the port in question.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
The best run of the day was definitely Closet/Shadows/Lights Out which I also did on Friday, but there's a thousand different lines between the trees so this was quite different. I skied that with Amy from Sydney who I was showing around the mountain, although I think she was still adjusting the altitude, so I hope I didn't push her too hard.
It's still snowing so it's looking like a powder day tomorrow. I'm on a morning flight so I'll miss that which is disappointing, but I've slightly strained my left quad and need to rest it anyway, which I know I wouldn't have the discipline to do it I was here!
Friday, February 17, 2006
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Day 43 of my 2005-06 season (and powder day 16!) started at 8.30 am on the Thunderhead Express with a run down Concentration, then a second run through the trees to the skiers' right of Concentration. Then I met a long time local on the chair who showed me a new run down the old Arrowhead lift line which took us eventually to first tracks on Mother Nature.
I then moved over to the Storm Peak Express for a run down the Bar-UE lift line and the trees to the skiers right followed by Drop Out to the Pony Express where I did several circuits and found plenty of fresh, deep powder lines. Then over to my favourite combo of Shadows/Lights Out before some lovely powder covered bumps on BC Liftline. By then my legs were giving out and I also needed to be home for a meeting at 11 am so it was back down via Valley View and See Ya. That's over 16,000 vertical feet in a little over two hours. Wow!
And to make it even better, I made a significant improvement in my powder skiing technique today simply by adjusting the position of my inside hand a few inches. It's amazing how quite subtle changes can make such a big difference.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
The gold went to adopted Aussie Dale Begg-Smith. A dual Australian-Canadian citizen, but Canadian by birth and upbringing, it seems the Canadian team didn't really see his potential. Tired of waiting on the development squad, he decided to ski for Australia (perhaps the Canadians had never heard of a guy called Marc Giradelli.*)
Even more inspiring is the story of Toby Dawson who took bronze. Korean by birth and abandoned as a baby, he was adopted by husband and wife ski instructors from Vail. I have the best parents you could ask for, but if I had to be adopted ski instructors from Vail would have been at the top of my list!
Update: Australia Post has already put Dale Begg-Smith on a postage stamp. He's all ours and no, Canada you can't have him back!
* Giradelli was an Austrian who wanted to continue to be coached by his father which the Austrian team wouldn't allow, so he decided to ski instead for Luxembourg where one of his parents was from. He became one of the greatest all round skiers winning an unequalled five overall World Cup titles. While Slalom and GS were his strongest events he wasn't as dominant in them as either Stenmark or Tomba in their time, but he was much more competitive than either of them in the Super G and Downhill, making him in my view a stronger all round skier. But maybe I'm biased - he's been one of my skiing idols since the mid-80's.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
In those 21 years we've managed to spend every special occasion (Valentine's Day, Christmas, New Year, our anniversary and our birthdays) together. The lowlight was definitely Christmas 1990 which we both spent in a hospital a long way from home after being involved in a serious motor vehicle accident.
Every day together since then has been a bonus and the highlights are many including in recent times skiing on our birthdays, but most special are probably our tenth anniversary celebrated at the Sayan Four Seasons resort in Bali, Marie's 40th birthday spent in Paris, and our anniversary in 2004 celebrated in the French Quarter of New Orleans which we are so glad to have visited before the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
I was seriously depressed when I spilled my cappucino on my laptop earlier today and it stopped working for several hours. Fortunately it was OK once it dried out. What a relief.
Almost all of my work data is stored on servers managed by people whose actual paid job it is to worry about boring stuff like backups, and my personal data is regularly backed up to my local server, but it would still have taken me days to get a new computer and reinstall all of my software (I am to software what Imelda Marcos was to shoes).
Further note to self. Tommorrow revisit the backup strategy for software and system configurations.
We got to chatting about the normal things you do in Steamboat - how long have you been here, where did you move from, what did you do before? I thought it interesting enough that M.J. was an aircraft tech for Delta (which gave me a high degree of confidence in his ability to fix a thermostat) but then I asked him what his wife was doing.
"She sells Pokemon cards on e-Bay," he replied.
"Excuse me," I said astounded. "But I thought you said she sells Pokemon cards on e-Bay!"
"She does," M.J. replied calmly. "She turns over $10,000 a month. $16,000 in December."
I've talked before about being a virtual worker, but I'm still struggling to get my head around this one.
I've blogged before about how our credit rating agencies provide credit ratings that don't actually reflect your actual creditworthiness. Now it seems they issue security certificates that don't actually provide any security.
Why exactly do these guys deserve to stay in business?
* It also tells you that the communication between your computer and the server is encrypted to protect the data from being intercepted in transit.
Monday, February 13, 2006
Update: About 30 minutes after I posted this the sun came out and my afternoon conference call was rescheduled to another day, so I did go skiing. It was much the same as yesterday - lots of bumps (Three O'Clock, Drop Out, Surprise plus multiple circuits on Norther) and one tree run (Closet) with a few groomers thrown in.
This is day 42 of my 2005-06 season which equals my total for last season with nearly two months still to go!
Then along comes the news of Dick Cheney's hunting accident for some light relief.
Maybe this was the VP's attempted contribution to reducing the exploding Medicare bill - kill off some old geysers.
Seriously, I do feel for the guy he shot in the face. I only wish the injuries Cheney and his cabal are inflicting on our liberties were as superficial.
Update: For an incredibly funny take, check out this segment from Jon Stewart's Daily Show. It's merciless, which is more mercy than Cheney deserves. Remember, he's the pinup boy for an administration that says, "Don't worry about the Bill of Rights because you can trust us. We don't make mistakes (except shooting our friends in the face of course)."
Sunday, February 12, 2006
I skied a lot of bumps today (Norther, BC Liftline, Rolex, Priest Creek Liftline, Storm Peak), along with a tree run (namely Twilight which I am really taking a liking to) and of course some groomers.
I was all done after 2 1/2 hours. I'm finding that as I ski more and my conditioning improves, I simply ski harder, so I'm just as tired after two or three hours as I was at the beginning of the season. Of course I've done a lot more.
In addition to the normal trail map, I'm adding a new pespective today. I've marked the runs I skied on a photo of the mountain taken from my study window. Of course it's only the runs you can see from here (you'll need to click the photo to enlarge it).
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Yes it looks like a beautiful sunny day but don't be deceived. The temperature overnight was -11 F and about 0 F when these photos were taken.
Friday, February 10, 2006
It was sunny when we went out this morning, but quite a bit colder than yesterday. By midday though the clouds started to gather and the temperature dropped even further as the sun disappeared, which was our cue to call it a day.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
This one I took a couple of weeks ago. The fence is completely covered now.
This one I took earlier today. The band of cloud sitting behind the mountain caught my attention. And check out the accumulation of snow on the roof at the bottom right of the picture. We're so far ahead of our normal snowfall that many buildings now need to have the snow removed to avoid the danger of collapse.
"The network builders are spending a fortune constructing and maintaining the networks that Google intends to ride on with nothing but cheap servers... It is enjoying a free lunch that should, by any rational account, be the lunch of the facilities providers."Except that I've already paid my internet service provider for the capacity to bring whatever damn content I want to my home. So Thorne's argument is equivalent to Subaru accusing my local supermarket of freeloading because I carry my groceries home in my car without Subaru getting a cut.
This guy either believes this crap he's spouting, in which case he's a complete and utter idiot, or he doesn't, in which case he's little more than a shake-down artist.
This is so typical of the traditional phone companies. Instead of actually getting on with the task of providing the value added services that might let them capture some of the new revenue streams they go pleading to government for special deals. My own internet provider, Comcast, is a classic example. I've been using an internet based phone service for nearly 18 months and Comcast are still only talking about making their competing product - which costs nearly twice as much anyway - available in my area.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
I like Pittsburgh by 10. But if I'm wrong, remember I'm an Aussie. What do I know about American Football?
Quite a bit it seems. Actually I found putting a prediction out there for the world to see gave me an emotional stake in the game that greatly increased my enjoyment of it, even if I didn't understand the finer points.
Update: I thought the best play of the day was the Steelers pass by a guy that isn't even the quarterback. I love it in any sport when a team really pulls a rabbit out of the hat like that.
After beginning around 10.15 am with a run down Vagabond and Surprise I jumped on the Storm Peak Express to see what I could find on Big Meadow. Unfortunately it was cold, very foggy and windy at the top and the fresh powder wasn't nearly deep enough to make it worthwhile.
The I remembered that the place to go the day after a powder day is what the locals call 'Wally World', the area serviced by the Sunshine Chair which is all lower intermediate terrain. On a powder day the focus is on skiing harder runs elsewhere on the mountain while the lower intermediates on Wally World tend to stay away from the powder and out of the trees, meaning the day after there's still plenty of nice stashes to be found. I found some great lines in the trees between Tomahawk and Quickdraw and between Sunshine Lift Line and Flintlock.
Then I hooked up with Matt from Huntsville, Alabama and we decided to try some more of the same followed by High Noon/Two O'Clock/Daybreak and then Closet which was the best run of the day.
By then Matt needed to head down to meet his wife and my hunger overcame my desire to keep skiing so it was a quick run down Vagabond to the Christie Chair and Sitz/See Ya to the 1.02 pm Green Line bus which I timed perfectly.
Now I'm going to sit down and watch the Super Bowl. I like Pittsburgh by 10. But if I'm wrong, remember I'm an Aussie. What do I know about American Football?
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Once again my lovely wife dropped me at the Thunderhead Express so I could avoid the line at the Gondola. I started with a quick run down Rudi's and Blizzard and then waited for the Four Points Chair to open. From there it was first tracks once again on Tornado and then over to the Pony Express and another wait. In the meantime the Gondola opened late, so the normal hordes had not yet arrived.
On Pioneer Ridge I got first tracks on Middle Rib/Outlaw/Lariet and then a fresh line on the skiers' left of Diamond Hitch and also through the trees of Nash Junction.
After that I decided to take the Storm Peak Express and Morningside Chair to the peak, but couldn't resist the fresh lines still available on Alarm Clock, even though the bottom part of Morningside Park is annoyingly flat when the snow is deep. From there is was Chute 1 (if you want steep the chutes are the place to go on this mountain) and Big Meadow, through the aspens to the skiers' right of Buddy's above the Bar-UE Chair and then down Drop Out where the bumps were nice and soft.
From the top of the Storm Peak Express again I realised I hadn't skied Closet since very early in the season, so I headed down there, although I ended up veering across to Shadows followed by Lights Out (as I've said before, this combo is definitely my favourite run).
Since it is forecast to snow again tonight, I fully intended to avoid last week's mistake of skiing too hard on Saturday and not having much in the tank for another powder day on Sunday, so I jumped on the Elkhead Chair to head home. However the powder lines between the trees on the skier's left of Sunnyside were calling to me and I answered. Then it was home via Tower, the gentle bumps of Norther and Vagabond to the 11.32 am Green Line bus.
I had a couple of face plants today. It's tricky when there are deep drifts of heavy snow hidden beneath fresh, light snow. When you hit that your skis tend to stop and thanks to Newton's first law your body tends to keep going. It doesn't hurt anything other than the ego to fall in all that powder although it can be tough to stand up.
Here is today's map. Note that I have decided from now on to show first tracks in magnificent magenta rather than yellow.
The Morningside map is missing because Blogger's image upload is not currently working properly. I'll try to add it later.
Update: I've got the image upload working again so here is the Morningside map. Also, to update my 2005-06 season count, this is day 36 and powder day 15.
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
It's been relatively warm so the six inches we've had in the last 48 hours is a little wet and heavy. Fortunately a significant storm is forecast for tonight with lower temperatures so the prospects of a true powder day tomorrow are good.
I saw Billy Kidd with a big group of admirers on Heavenly Daze as I rode the gondola. As a former downhill world champion and Olympic medallist he's fortunate that he's a good enough skier to get away with that silly cowboy hat. Yes he's been in Steamboat for 25 years but give me a break, the guy is from Vermont!
It was quite foggy on the upper part of the mountain so I stayed close to the trees as you can see from today's map. Triangle 3 in particular had some nice soft stuff and some really interesting wind blown contours.