Friday, February 18, 2005

God, Man, and Nature

In harmonious co-existence.

Sound nice? Now imagine it all administered under the benevolent rule of Howard Dean.

No, it's not a crazy vision of an alternate universe; it's called Vermont. That is, all except the Dean part, since he has moved on. (Dot org.)

And Fausto won't be posting for a few days, cuz he and family are going up there to pay their annual homage to that weird experiment in collectivist capitalism known as Mad River Glen, the only major ski resort in the country that's also a nonprofit co-op owned by the customers. (If you think your average UU interest group's e-mail listserv can get overbearing, you've never seen MRG's the week after the base lodge cafeteria runs out of vegetarian chili.) For $1500, you can buy a share in the co-op, which entitles you to the privilege of donating $200 a year to the operating fund, which in turn entitles you to receive $200 face value of scrip (called "Mad Money") redeemable only on the mountain. Oh, and shareholders' kids get free seasons' passes up to age 12, if you remember to apply for them before October 15. If you're not a shareholder, you can still visit; they accept real money too. But if you are a shareholder, forget about capital gains; the only permissible buyer for used shares is the co-op, and they won't pay a penny more than $1500. Maybe less, if you're behind in your dues.

They've got dozens of long twisting trails through protected forests, a higher proportion of expert terrain than most other ski resorts, and remarkably uncrowded slopes -- because they've never gotten around to replacing the pokey single chair that was built over 50 years ago and still serves over half the mountain. No high-speed quads here. Yeah, they even have a trail appropriately named "Paradise", but to fend off banality they've also got "Quacky" and, for balance, "Quacky II". And if you don't like the service, or the food, or the lines, or the grooming, there's hundreds of other owners on the listserv just waiting -- nay, chomping at the bit -- to hear about it and discuss it for the next month. The costliest capital improvement in the budget last year was the new set of urinals in the men's room. (Complete with warning sign: "No Diving".) It's a freakin' UU reverie up there.

They've also had three feet of new snow in the last week. Later, dude.


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