Tuesday, November 11, 2008
In the Mid '70s, when I was still a kid, my parents took me to the zoo. We lived in Abidjan, Ivory Coast (West Africa) and the thing I remember the most about that visit is the baby lion that roamed freely in the zoo restaurant and elected residence under our table to nibble at my father's leather boots.
I am not talking about a robot, a stuffed animal, a 3D image or even a leashed animal. I am talking about a living and totally free baby lion.
Imagine the same thing today, in North America. So un-Disney-esque! I mean, what about the risks, the insurances, ... What if a customer was to step on a baby lion poop with Prada shoes or if that wild animal was to attack and maim a small child. Oh my God! Lawsuits forever. Bankrupcy, prison and a life of misery.
Yet, it's funny how back in the days, nothing terrible happened. It was a time of biking without helmets, riding in the cabs of pickup trucks and children sleeping on the back seat of the car without seatbelts or padded toddler seats. And yet, we're here fine and healthy.
By wanting desperately to play safe, we delude ourselves. The only security comes from within. From our alertness and skillset. By leveling downwards to make the World a safer place for all the idiots and Darwin-Award candidates, we both fail at the task (If you make something idiot-proof, they will come up with better idiots.), but we also help creating a very dull and boring world.
Our lives have become so safe and boring that some of us need to test themselves in extreme sports, exotic travels or drug and alcohol abuse. The rest are becoming duller every day.
Personnaly, I prefer baby lions.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
I've learned early on in life that the 2 most important skills you need are:
1. The ability to evaluate people accurately (as fast as possible)
2. The ability to influence them (using what you learned with skill No 1)
The reason is simple: 95% of your success - and problems - in life are directly linked to the people you surround yourself with. In fact, you need only one really negative person (what Mike Lipkin calls a "one person recession") around to ruin your life.
Learn to identify and flush all the downers and losers as fast as possible.
Refuse to spend valuable time with average people.
Look out for brilliant, fun and inspiring people. And be sure to add value to their life.
Moreover, no matter what you need, want or can dream of, someone else already has. It is simply a matter of bringing them to give it to you (with money, charm, wit, friendship, etc.).
You can be the greatest genius of all time, if you can't get along with other people, you are doomed to fail.
However, if you can only master these 2 skills, the rest is icing on your cake.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
How strange that we never heard about him in Canada? Listen to what this guy has to say, it is well worth it. (BTW, he often refers to inflation as a tax and how we should abolish the Fed. For those interested, read this earlier post.)
For more of Ron Paul views:
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Can't wait to see it in Montreal, if it opens here someday. Gee, it's funny how people love bad news when they are not for them and try to hide from them when they touch their lives.
Official Movie Site
Sunday, August 24, 2008
I love to drive and so far, I've embarked on a fair number of road trips. I drove to 3 of the 4 corners of North America (I have yet to see the North end of the road, but we'll fix that very soon.)
I once drove 11,000 km (6,875 miles) with my father, from Montreal to California and back in 11 days.
But my craziest roadtrip was with my buddy Sylvain, when we drove 5,500 km (3,450 miles) from Montreal to New Orleans and back in a 4 day week end. We drove 27 hours straight to get there and another 26 to get back in time to be at the office on Tuesday morning. (And we partied 2 days on Bourbon Street.)
I often had to sleep in my car. It's not that comfortable, but you get used to it and can endure for a few days.
I couldn't imagine it was a way of life for some people. I was very surprised to learn that some people who lost their jobs are living in their cars across the US. A growing number of cities even have designated parkings where they can park and sleep.
One of them is Barbara Harvey, a 57 year old mom from Santa Barbara who sleeps in her Honda CRV with her 2 golden retreivers.
We're not talking about gipsies in some remote corner of the Balkans or the Third World, it is hapening right now in California, the richest state of the richest country in the World.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
French adventurer Patrice Franceschi is almost unknow in the English speaking world - mostly, I suspect, due to a language barrier. In fact, as far as I know, none of his numerous books and movies are available in English. And yet, he probably is the greatest adventurer alive.
Unlike media magnets like Richard Branson, Steve Fossett and Mike Horn, to name just a few, Franceschi's exploits are less athletic feats and closer to the old spirit of adventure where exploration, discoveries, the quest for knowledge and sometimes a desire to change the World were the prime motivators for risking your life. The hardships where an unwanted necessity.
Franceschi's interrest lies more on that old fashioned side and less on the superlative record breaking artificial side required by sponsors and media; and that may also explain why he his not as widely known as I think he should be, considering his accomplishments.
He was first to circumnavigate the globe on a tiny ultralight plane. It took him 2 1/2 years.
Risking his life, he sneaked into Nagaland (east India) to film a documentary on the Naga headhunters.
He succeeded in the latest sailing expedition of his ship " La Boudeuse " between 1999 and 2001 in the Indo-Malaysian archipelago.
More recently, after the wreck of his first ship, he mounted a new expedition around the World with his second ship La Boudeuse, taking along adventurers and scientists.
Who knows where he'll end next. One thing's for sure, he will pursue his quest to bring back the spirit of adventure into this overly bored World. It sounds better in french: "Transformer le quotidien en romanesque."
Short bio (French only)
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Screaming Heads is a surprising mix between Easter Island and Scary Movie. It is located in a field in Burks Fall, Ontario, not far from North Bay and roughly 3 hours north of Toronto.
Peter Camani, the artist behind this surrealistic scenery is an art teacher. An eclectic by nature, his interests have included marathon running, martial arts, farming and aviculture in addition to painting and sculpture.
For more info, visit The artist's Website
All pictures courtesy of Dick Deschênes
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Something funny happened to me this morning as I was preparing breakfast. I cracked an egg with 2 yolks. Hmm... How come?
I went online to check but the egg was perfectly edible. Turns out you have one chance in 100 to get such a double yolked egg. They are generally produced by younger hens. It is supposed to mean luck. Great then!
Being curious, I got diverted and accidentally learned that there are hundreds of chicken species. Hundreds!
For me, a chicken what just that: a chicken. White and feathery, with a little red crest. That's it. White meat and eggs. Well, just in France, they have close to 50 chicken species.
The same applies to beef, pork and lamb.
And they all taste differently.
Funny that most people have no idea of all this. They buy their eggs and their steaks and that's it.
My guess is that our profit hungry economy as spawned huge mega farms where only the fastest growing (and thus more profitable animals) are raised.
Some people are actually working hard to save some of these species from extinction, like Pierre Oteiza who is raising black Basque hogs in France's Pyrénées Mountains.
Maybe we should ask ourselves: Is a chicken really just a chicken? Have some people deliberately narrowed my choices in the meat department? What's the overall impact of reduced biodiversity on the Planet? Aren't we losing something really interresting here?
Chicken Species: http://www.avianweb.com/chickenspecies.html
Saturday, July 26, 2008
The Night of the Gun, by David Carr is yet another junkie memoir in the likes of Jimm Carroll's The Basketball Diaries (Great movie with Leonardo Di Caprio) and James Frey's A Million Little Pieces.
What's interresting is that it was written by a NY Times Colunist. The story is worth telling and the writing is great. That's all I needed to put it on my reading list.
Also, I must admit that the author's words grabbed me:
Here is what I deserved: hepatitis C, federal prison time, H.I.V., a cold park bench, an early, addled death.
Here is what I got: the smart, pretty wife, the three lovely children, the job that impresses.
Here is what I remember about how That Guy became This Guy: not much. But my version of events is worth knowing, if for no other reason than I was there.
The book's Website is great: www.nightofthegun.com
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
It is statistically evidentthat the more advancedt he living standard,the lower the birth rate.It is essential that anyone reading this book know at the outset that the author is apolitical. I was convinced in 1927 that humanity's most fundamental survival problems could never be solved by politics. Nineteen twenty seven was the year when a human first flew alone across an ocean in one day.(In 1944, the DC-4 started flying secret war-ferryings across both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. In 1961, jet airliners put the ocean passenger ships out of business. In 1981, the world-around airlines flew over a billion and a half scheduled passenger miles and carried hundreds of millions of ton-miles of freight.)
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I just started reading a fascinating book by Timothy Ferris titled The 4-Hour Workweek (Wall Street Journal Bestseller).
Although there are some shortcuts and assumptions in the book, it is so far (50 pages out of 300) refreshing both by the concepts exposed and by the style of the author. I can't garantee my workweek will be shrinked by 60 hours when I finish reading it, but I will have learned a few things.
Here's and except about the irrelevance of planning for retirement that somehow relates to one of my older posts (You can't pack a lifetime into a retirement):
Retirement as a goal or final redemption is flawed for at least three solid reasons:
a. It is predicated on the assumption that you dislike what you are doing the most physically capable years of your life. This is a nonstarter - nothing can justify that sacrifice.
b. Most people will never be able to retire and maintain even a hotdog-for-dinner standard of living. Even one million is chump change in a world where traditional retirement could span 30 years and inflation lowers your purchasing power 2-4% per ear. The Math doesn't work. The golden years become a lower-middle-class life revisited. That's a bittersweet ending.
c. If the math does work, it means that you are one ambitious, hardworking machine. If that's the case, guess what? One week into retirement, you'll be so damn bored that you'll want to stick bicycle spokes in your eyes. You'll probably opt to look for a new job or start another company. Kinda defeats the purpose of waiting, doesn't it?
Monday, February 25, 2008
Anyone who brings raw ground beef into his or her kitchen today must regard it as a potential biohazard, one that may carry an extremely dangerous microbe, infectious at an extremely low dose. The current high levels of ground beef contamination, combined with the even higher levels of poultry contamination, have led to some bizarre findings. A series of tests conducted by Charles Gerba, a microbiologist at the University of Arizona, discovered far more fecal bacteria in the average American kitchen sink than on the average American toilet seat. - Eric Schlosser, Fast Food Nation
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Once again, my inspiration of the day comes from Fast Company.
To get even better mileage and power, Goodwin perfected a technique developed by Uli Kruger, a German who has spent decades in Australia exploring techniques for mixing fuels that normally don't mix.
One of Kruger's system induces hydrogen into the air intake of a diesel engine, producing a cascade of emission-reducing and mileage boosting effects.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Ebay marketplaces (including StubHub, Rent.com, and local classifieds): $4.3 billion