Tuesday, August 21, 2018

One more for the bucket list

Somewhere in my bucket list, one item has been outstanding a long time: To publish a novel that I had started writing in 2006. It started as science fiction and a test of whether I could write a novel almost 100% dialogue. It was fun in the beginning, dreaming of the future and imagining a conversation with my grandchildren. Alas, finding an end proved to take years and almost became a challenge beyond my patience. Then, one day, it came to me and I finally wrote "The End".

Finishing a draft of a short story and publishing it are universes apart I discovered. Editing is harder than writing, proofreading is mindlessly hard. Even when you are done with months of all of that, how do you publish an ebook? I ran aground again. Then on my birthday, I decided it had to be done no matter if less than perfect. As Facebook admonishes its staff "done beats perfect", and so it was.
Amazon was the first channel for the Kindle version of The Yoda Machine. It was easier than I had imagined, quick, and free.  You can find it here. Soon I discovered that despite the supposed popularity of Kindle, none of my friends had it. Kindle Reader is available free for every possible mobile device and OS, but getting family and friends to install it appeared to be too heavy lifting.
Draft2Digital was the next platform I tried for the Epub version of The Yoda Machine. Not nearly as automatic as Amazon to format correctly, but still quick and easy and free. It automatically submits your ebook to a multitude of publishers (Kobo, Scribd, B&N and more), it collects royalties and it generates ebooks in various formats (epub, mobi, pdf) that you can download in finished form for whatever purpose you wish.

So, one more is off the bucket list. Now back to writing software a clearly more appreciated endeavor.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Beware easy answers and political dynasties

I am tired of the litany of insults. I am not uneducated (MBA), not a misogynist (women friends will attest to it), not retarded (can prove somewhat above 100), nor violent (I am for guns controls and have none). Still, holding my nose and with all my fingers crossed, I will vote for Trump as the lesser of two evils. Here is why:
1. I trust the American political system enough to keep a buffoon from doing much damage. The Congress shackled Obama for eight years to do little, and only one party was at it. With two parties in opposition, President Trump will do little other than talking big and delivering less. The Founding Father designed the system to do just that. ANd based on current count of friends, few cronies and lobbyists should be able to come to the through to collect.
2. Conversely, the election of another Clinton who believes that the law does not apply to them is the beginning of a political dynasty.
2. I firmly believe that ANY political dynasty is a recipe for disaster. A lesson we should have learned with the Bushes' gifts of the Neocons and Iraq.
But just in case we need education from the experience of the rest of the world, here it goes:  In all cases (after WWII) where spouses followed spouses in a similar position of power (may not be the same title), corruption reigned supreme. But the issue is not the wives, there are even more examples in the more general sense of a close relative following a close relative. In ALL cases, to the best of my memory and research, they resulted from, or advanced, corruption of their respective political systems. In many cases the results were catastrophic, as n GW Bush. One can easily conclude that dynasties corrupt political systems either because a ruling class fosters cronism or because the cronies of the first leader elect the second to retain and advance their position.
Look at the world. Exceptional as America may be, it would be hard to escape the pattern:
a  Juan and Isabel Peron in Argentina in the 70’s (husband and wife)
b  Kirchners in Argentina in 2000’s (husband and wife)
c  The Aquinos in the Philippines (husband would have been president if not assassinated, Corazon, the wife, became President, her son became President too)
d  Nehru and Gandhi in India (Mother Indira Gandhi followed her father (Nehru) and son Sanjay virtually ran the country under her administration)
e  GHW Bush and GW Bush in the US (father and son) already mentioned for thegift of the Neocons and Iraq
f  Mandelas in South Africa (husband and wife controlled the ANC gorvernment) raised corruption to a science
g  Imelda Marcos Provincial Governor while husband Ferdinand was President
h  and in 2016, the ultimate, Nicaragua's Ortega is running for a third term with his wife on the ticket (Bill Clinton might have called it "two for the price of two")

After her great speech performance of the last few days, may we expect Michelle Obama to take a cut at it? But if Hillary gets it, my money is on "Chelsea for 2020", by then, maybe, with her husband)

Beware political dynasties was good advice for ancient Rome and for the Founding Fathers, and still is today. Of course, there is the risk of passing up on a very qualified leader along the way, but history would show it to be well justified to avoid the risk of walking into dynastic politics which have never been dislodged without a violent upheaval.
Beware the easy answer.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Exorcising a ski run

This story is an attempt at an exorcism of sorts. I'm writing it with the hope of getting out of my mind the experience I had skiing with some friends yesterday at Park City/Canyons.
Two days before Darlene, Linda and I had skied Grande, a double black rated run off the Tombstone Chairlift. The snow had been great, not untracked, but nice and soft. The run is challenging because it requires skiing in tight trees to reach an open bowl that is quite steep but easily manageable. Above the bowl is a is rocky face un-skiable by anyone with a working brain. Last Friday, the rock face was roped off and with a yellow sign with an arrow pointing to skier's-left to avoid the rocks. With deep snow, it is a great run.
Yesterday at the end of a great ski day with Darlene and Linda, we decided to ski Grande again as our closing run. We entered the run too far at skier's-right without noticing that the rope above the rocks was missing. As we started traversing to the left looking for more familiar terrain I found myself on the rock face with Linda closely behind. I barely managed to bushwhack my way above and out of that mess, back to safer terrain. There, I noticed that we were well below the familiar yellow arrow-sign above the rock face and that the orange out-of-bounds rope had been pulled and thrown behind a tree by some irresponsible fool. Linda, instead, was still stuck on the frozen rocks with her skis tangled in barbed-wire-like low bushes of scrub oak. In the hope of freeing herself from the bad spot,

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Memories From A Tech Startup (back in the stone age)

My story, below, was prompted by reading that an Atari video game cartridges from a 1980's landfill sold for $37,000.  The past rushed back at me as I re-lived an earlier very dramatic time of my life. Brace yourself.

If your first video game console was a Nintendo, this story might as well be about dinosaurs or the Roman Empire or The Middle Ages.  If you are older than that you might find some memories and may notice that little has changed since those times except the absolute speed of change (the relative speed of change has not and more of that later). In hindsight, the risks of high-tech startups do not seem to have changed much and the planning to deal with it requires the same considerations today as it did then. The roman-candle story of RomLabs Inc. may give us a glimpse into it.

The business environment

It's 1983, the first "video games bubble" has been running since 1980-81 and it was a classic "bubble" unbeknownst to all industry participants.  The key players of the second generation of video games devices included video game console (VGC) makers Atari, Intellivision, Coleco (also Commodore, Radioshack, Texas Instruments) and third party developers (game software only) Imagic, Activision and Electronic Arts and a host of other minor participants.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ryan Scobby - Musician

We had waited a long time for our son Ryan to find time and means to come and visit us in Park City.
 Finally, hurrah! he came. It was to be a visit of learning and discovery.

Let's start with the learning part: shortly after his arrival I jokingly asked Ry if he had already found a hook up in town using Tinder.
[Side bar: That was my opening to tell him what I had read about Tinder in a post on Vanity Fair,
which presumably would make me look current and well informed. I had read the story describing the users of Tinder and the fast hook up culture in NYC, which, shared with my late middle-age women friends at a recent party, had generated great surprise, curiosity, laughs and, for some, horror]

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Can we learn to die purposefully?

Read this article.  "Slipping Away" It is a terrifying life log of a young man with an incurable disease. See yourself in one of the two main roles of the story. Take a very long breath. Hope that your life will not make you live either role, then read my thoughts born out of imagining that nightmare.

Naturally, genetically we are programmed to live, almost at any cost. We spend all our life even before day one practicing staying alive. In most culture the "will to live against all odds" is glorified. If one said "life is overrated" one would probably be judged either suicidal or mentally unbalanced. But, perhaps, could we learn to be less attached to our own life to be better people, better siblings, parents, children to our counterparts in those relationships? If we could learn to value our lives less for ourselves and more for them?

It is lost in the darkness of history and of the history of phylosophy, forgotten in our modern cultural make up, but this is not a new idea. The Stoics beginning in the 3rd century CE elaborated a concept of a "virtuous life" where self sacrifice is ethically appropriate under specific, objectively definable circumstances.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I feel like a total idiot

I am here at my laptop reading the usual daily dose of posts on science, technology, medicine genetics, food science, etc. that make me the eternal optimist that I am. Earlier I finished my daily reading of geopolitics, global economics, Grexit, Iran, ISIS, Middle East, oil shortages, famines, US Presidential Elections, etc. that sorely test my belief in optimistic outcomes.

Along the way, with whatever I read, I code posts for subject, interest, and whatever keywords may help me find the post at some later date. I've done it for years. Unable to remember correctly all details I encounter, I resort to coding all I read for retrieval to recall and quote correctly. Some friends think I have a great memory - I wish. I just have a retrieval system designed to support my curiosity of virtually anything that the internet provides. That's a lot. But, I just found a simple system that helps my mediocre memory look smart to those that do not look behind the curtain.

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Simple View of Greece and Grexit

This was originally written for my grandchildren to explain the messy world we live in, It's a terribly simplified view, but why not see what the world thinks.

Who pays for Greece's past follies? To greater or lesser degrees we all will. The farther we are from Greece the smaller the impact. Just as waves that hit us coming from a pebble dropped in a pond. In the US, we are far from the pebble, in Europe the waves will be bigger. To the citizens of Greece they will be monstrous, crushing and their personal pain will be long lasting. But INFLATION is the ultimate solver of tragic imbalances between countries and the world and it will handle this one too. How?

We live in a global financial world that could be finite, but is not. It could be finite if all governments stopped printing currencies. Inflation would be 0 but we'd have difficulties to adjust to trade imbalances and making economic adjustments because "the pie" is getting bigger. We need tiny inflation for slack and room to grow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Janus and Vision

Janus was the Roman god with two faces: one faced forward to see the future and one faced backwards to see the past. Seeing was clearly a big focus of Janus'. I always found the image of Janus intriguing, perhaps because vision has been a big part of my life. Vision, the kind that describes imagination has been a big motivation for much that I have tried to do, but here I am looking at Vision, the kind that lets us physically see things.
The former moves us to imagine and pursue whatever we imagine - one former US President called it "the vision thing" and everyone knew instantly what he was talking about. The latter, the ability to see our surroundings is considered the most complex and most important development in the history of animal evolution.

Most people do not give vision much thought unless they lose it to some degree or completely. Throughout my life however I have repeatedly dealt with serious vision issues and have stayed ahead of disaster only thanks to a few wizards and the just-in-time evolution of technology. So here is my chronology of dodging the bullet and my reason for wanting to spread rose petals in front of my eye surgeons.

 Troubles started in my teens needing eye glasses like many other kids. By the time I was 19 and finished three years in the Italian Navy, my condition, keratoconus (in both eyes) had deteriorated enough that I could no longer be in the military since vision correction could be done only with special contact lenses. In 1970 I moved to the US and was rejected for the then compulsory draft for the same condition, A young optometrist at Indiana University, Barry Gridley, took my case as a mission and became a wiz at hand grinding my hard contacts to custom fit. Without him I probably would have never finished my MBA and started my career. That was the time when I started being a "special case" that students would come and look at to see the "real thing" described in their textbooks.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Great Ski Season (despite the snow)

For all the years I can remember skiing in Park City the 2014-15 season has to be the worst. We seemed to live through an eternal Spring that sent little natural snow and temperatures high enough that our snow-making-wizards at Canyons were seriously limited in performing their magic. Despite all this, we are closing as planned on April 12. So a few closing thoughts

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Skiing comes in many forms

My mother was fast in the GS on the Italian Olympic Team in 1938



I am slow but l can dance






Thursday, January 22, 2015

Skiing - A continuing Quest

My passion for skiing has been documented in prior posts. It is stoked by the fact that after 60 years, I am still learning in the quest of better technique.
Over the years PSIA has helped me improve with its requirements for Instructor Certification (now Level 2), and the theory it publishes in its Technical Manuals . The Canyons Ski School (Park City UT), where I teach, provided me great training opportunities. So, to share the gifts I received, here is my Summary of Technical Skiing and the graphic below that shows what happens when the activities in the Summary are performed correctly.
Do you have questions or need to know how to read it? Book a lesson at Canyons (877-472-6306) and let's go play together.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The 2014-15 Ski Season Is Almost Here

News from Park City:

Deer Valley announced purchase of SolitudeThe resorts will operate separately this year, so there is no shared lift ticket or integration of lift systems or terrain.  Deer Vally reports no current plans for integration even next year.

Vail bought Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR)
Vail already operates The Canyons resort (since last winter season), so by joining the two reorts it is now one of the largest in the US. Tickets are interoperable and a shuttle service will join the resorts making for a great ski vacation. Next year a new lift will integrate the properties making it truly a huge  resort.

Looking for a great vacation? Canyons/PCMR is the place. At an altitude of 7000 feet visitors from sea-level will easily tolerate the environment with no loss of skiing days to acclimatize, At 2000 feet lower altitude than most Colorado resorts, ambient temperatures will be nearly 10 degrees higher and the snow is still Utah's pride: "the greatest snow on earth".  The skiable terrain is huge and with a guide or instructor (moi?) you'll have an epic vacation whether a beginner or an advanced back country skier. Call me to learn more 602-677-1306 or book me at Canyons Ski School - I teach in English, Spanish, Italian, French with over 40 years experience and 60 years of worldwide skiing adventures to tell.

Memories from the 2013-14 Seaon
If you are one of my students last year, look for your photo. I hope to see you again this year.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A new author joined our team

Editor's Note 1 - Anyone can see that I have been remiss posting on this blog. To remedy this matter I decided to hire a freelance writer, my grand daughter Mandy Hansen (age 7) to contribute her stories.

She is also an artist so I bought ($4.50) the worldwide copyright to one of her paintings for publication here.


Fishing with Grandpa

And here is Mandy Hansen's debut as a freelancer. Her newest story was purchased at the rate of cents 1 per word.

A Day with Granpa (7/13/2014)

One morning I siad to my grampa how bout we go plases like Smith's and gite ickereem and walmart so we went smisth and got iscrim and then we wentto walmartand on the way bake (back) I fel of my bijicl bot it was only a little scrach so we still went to the pserve (the Swaners' Nature Preserve in Park City UT) and we did not no that we were going on varee long grass so we went home and grama was sleeping so I plaid the peeanow and grapa went on the computer.

The end.

Editor's Note 2: Since the writing quality is definitely college freshman level the original was published as written by the author.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Why I am afraid


The Single Best Overview of What the Surveillance State Does With Our Private Data

Oct 9 2013, 6:00 AM ET theatlantic.com

Even though the people being spied on are often totally innocent, the government stores their information for a very long time.

The U.S. surveillance debate is constantly distorted by the fact that national-security officials hide, obscure, and distort so much of what they do. Occasionally a journalist is able to expand the store of publicly available information, most recently thanks to Edward Snowden's indispensable NSA leaks. But even public information about government surveillance and data retention is difficult to convey to a mass audience. It involves multiple federal agencies with overlapping roles. The relevant laws and rules are complicated, jargon is ubiquitous, and surveillance advocates often don't play fair: They use words in ways that bear little relation to their generally accepted meaning, make technically accurate statements that are highly misleading, and even outright lie, as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper did before Congress.