Monday, January 31

Sunday, January 30

Eyes Of Laura Mars

My third "R" rated movie (after "Saturday Night Fever" and Clint Eastwood's "The Gauntlet") was "The Eyes Of Laura Mars," which I watched with Grace and Katie in '78, age 11. The film about Laura Mars (Faye Dunaway) a fashion photographer who specializes in stylized violence. In her luxurious Manhattan apartment (so 70s!), Laura has a nightmare that her sexy model friend Doris is viciously murdered with an ice pick, her eyeballs stabbed. Laura wakes up and looks through a soon-to-be-published coffee table book of her photos, titled The Eyes of Mars, which Doris had edited. In it, there is a picture of Doris...identical to an image she had in the dream. Later Doris found murdered, eyes gauged out.

As a premise for a horror movie Laura works - this was John Carpenter's first major studio film, after all. It also had its intended consequences : I walked from the first violent scene and have had periodic nightmares ever since.

I watched Laura several years ago on late night tele and the film stands up, mostly, 30 years later and, surprise!, the violence barely mentionable against today's video gore. I still find the picture-poster terrifying and remain as fascinated by it now as then.

Rusty sick - again - after eating Hamster food - again.
Madeleine: "Why does he do that? He's not even allowed upstairs."
Me: "Unfortunately the one time he was upstairs he found the hamster food."
Madeleine: "So why does he do it again and again?"
Me: "Well, imagine I put a Snickers Bar on the top of third floor stairs. And let's say you went up there and found it."
Madeleine: "Yeah, so what?"
Me: "Would you go up there the next day looking for a Snickers Bar?"
Madeleine: "Yes."
Me: "And the day after?"
Madeleine: "Probably."
Me: "Well there you go."
Madeleine: "Can I have a Snickers Bar when we get home?"

Me: "I have a theory. Since I ask you over and over to do anything I think you have become dependent on my asking you to do things."
Eitan: "Well that is an idea."
Me: "If we took away traffic lights, for instance, I bet people would become better drivers."
Eitan: "That would wreak havoc upon us all."

Richmond Ramble

Sonnet and I have several hours to ourselves and go for a walk - The White Lodge, pictured, is the backdrop. I am tempted to get in the face of a driver who brazenly swipes our parking space but since she is a she I desist. Given the Keys and Gray dismissal - am I sexist?

Eitan and I pick up Madeleine at Nicki's birthday party.
Me: "What are five good things in your life?"
Eitan: "Football, school and swimming."
Me: "Anything else?"
Eitan: "Cooking and my friends."
Me: "How about five bad things?"
Eitan: "Parsnips."
Me: "That's it?"
Eitan: "I can't think of any others."
Me: "Parsnips. Ok. That is pretty good."
Eitan: "And war."
Me: "Do you think about that?"
Eitan: "Yes, but I don't really understand it."
Me: "Most adults don't either."

On the walk home from Nicki's:
Madeleine: "What's for dinner?"
Me: "Your Mom's making fish."
Eitan: "I'm not eating it."
Madeleine: "Why not?"
Eitan: "Because I feel sorry for the fish. And because of over-fishing."
Madeleine: "Not fish fingers?"
Eitan: "No."
Madeleine: "Not fish 'n chips?"
Eitan: "Well, maybe."

Madeleine: "Look! Look at that!"
Me: "What?"
Madeleine: "It's a prisoner's gate. On that door."
Eitan: "Is that house a prison?"
Me: "I imagine not."
Madeleine: "It might have been. In the olden times."

Eitan's class continues to study Ireland.
Me: "What bodies of water surround Ireland?"
Eitan: "I don't know."
Me: "The Atlantic Ocean is one. Any others?"
Eitan: "The Pacific?"
Me: "Are you mad?"
Eitan: "Well, it could be sandwiched between the Atlantic and the Pacific."
Me: "Atlas, mister, when we get home. First thing."

Over dinner.
Eitan: "I'm not eating fish."
Sonnet: "Not fish fingers?"
Eitan: "No."
Sonnet: "Not fish and chips?"
Eitan: "No."
Eitan, looking at his plate: "Poor little fishes."

That Dog

Our trusty pooch. Rusty has maybe doubled in size but still very much a puppy in nature. He jumps and yelps at other dogs and their walkers who are sometimes cool about this, sometimes not. He gets three bowls of food a day, devoured in under 30 seconds, and two or three walks of about thirty minutes. Aneta with him while the Shakespeares at school and Sonnet and I work. I sometimes find him lying on Madeleine herself horizontal on the couch. The dog knows how to sit, heal and wait for 40 seconds for our command. Not bad but could be better. He pees outside. He hasn't killed Tommy. Sonnet puts up with him. Overall so far a success.

Vs AC Fulham

I watch 'Transformers' last night after the kids to bed and Sonnet and Nita at their Smith dinner on Sloane St, the posh part of town. I am like three years late to the movie and Megan Fox who is, indeed, worth all the fuss. The film about a bunch of giant fighting robots and Megan's breasts which are often jammed together making .. cleavage .. oiled and slick as she flees the machines. This film meant for under 20s and the jokes, which make it bearable, are for them : my favorite when teenager Sam's parents think he is hiding in his room because he is mastrabating then Megan Fox appears and Sam's dad gives him the Obama rock. So why am I spending any time here, anyway? It is because the yuf culture marches onward. Without a personal investment in the bracket it is easy to lose track where the vast majority of our cultural resources deployed : teenagers. Last year, young Americans spent $170 billion at the mall - double the amount ten years earlier, according to ABC's 20/20. This a consumer-spender that demands respect. And of course there is our ever ongoing fascination with beauty and all that. As Oscar Wilde said, "youth this the only thing worth having." I do not entirely agree but I do enjoy Megan Fox - such pretty eye candy.

Eitan's KPR plays the most interesting and hard-fought game of the season against AC Fulham which ends nil-nil. While neither side can draw blood there were plenty of near misses including a shot by Jean-Luca which clanged off the top goal bar earning a groan from the sidelines. Will saved the day by putting his head between the ball and a sure goal for Fulham (cheers!) and Fred missed a clean shot from Eitan two feet from the keeper (groans). The boys exhausted by match-end but, given the last time's 6-1 thrashing by the same club, KPR happy with the draw.

Saturday, January 29

Midlife Crisis

Paul, pictured, spends a good amount of his time in Asia and around the world so we see less of him these days. His company, ShipServ, which Paul started from nothing, doing $3 billion of business a year on its exchange and Lars has joined the board. If this a midlife crisis I want to have one.

Midlife crisis BTW is a term coined in 1965 by Elliott Jaques to describe a period of dramatic self-doubt that is felt by men in the "middle years" or middle age of life, as a result of sensing the passing of their own youth and the imminence of their old age. Sometimes, a crisis can be triggered by transitions experienced in these years, such as extramarital affairs, andropause ormenopause, the death of parents or other causes of grief, unemployment or underemployment, realizing that a job or career is hated but not knowing how else to earn an equivalent living, or children leaving home. The result may be a desire to make significant changes in core aspects of day-to-day life or situation, such as in career, work-life balance, marriage, romantic relationships, big-ticket expenditures, or physical appearance. Academic research since the 1980s rejects the notion of midlife crisis as a phase that most adults go through. In one study, fewer than 10% of people in the United States had psychological crises due to their age or aging.
Source: Elliott Jaques. "Death and the Midlife Crisis," International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 1966

Madeleine: "Oh my God. Rusty just climbed on the table and ate the pizza!"
The dog apparently feeling better.

Eitan and Madeleine watch "Alvin & The Chipmunks, The Squeakquel."
Me: "You like this movie?"
Eitan: "Yeah, it's Ok.
Eitan: You hate it don't you?"
Me: "A few words come to mind."
Madeleine: "Like dumb? Horrible or boring?"
Me: "Pretty close."

Blues And The Story Of Monty

I ask Madeleine's mood and get a "thumbs middle," even though Saturday. A blue vibe has caught our family - lots of home work, freezing temperatures and a white, low-ceilinged sky which drags for days. I recover from food poisoning. Even Rusty gets in on the scene - the pooch eats hamster food and sick all morning giving me forlorn looks whenever our eyes meet. Sometimes you just have to work through the days and hope for the better.

The Life and Adventures Of Monty. By Madeleine (for her tutor)

When we got Monty she was very small. We took her home and made her cage. Then we named her "Monty"!

She was brown, black and creamy white. She had beedy black eyes and razer sharp teeth.

Monty smelt freedom every where! She loved to try and break out of her cage. She gnawed all night. I have to say ... it was much quieter without her!

One morning I went to check if Monty was OK. Her cage was open. We searched everywhere. After one week we though she died because she went in our boiler but really she was under my bedroom floor scratching at my carpet. Two weeks had past. I woke up on a Friday and Dad came in my room and said: "You are the first to know." "What?" I said. "It is Friday" then he ran off and came back with ... Monty.

Five weeks later I was holding Monty when she sank her teeth in to my thumb. I yelled and tried to pull her off but she would not budge. At last I flung her off. Blood splattered the wall. There is still blood on my wall because the cleaner cannot get it off.

We went away to Bath for two days leaving Monty on her own. When we got back her cage was open. After we looked all over the house I wanted to watch TV. When I turned it on, only the sound came out. I walked in to the living room and I saw the TV cable was chewed. I went back in to the kitchen. Mom turned on the oven and then suddenly there was a loud squeak and out came Monty with burnt whiskers.

The day before Monty died she could not move. We took her to the vet and the vet gave her medicine. The next day she died.

Friday, January 28

Life Is Cotton Candy

Madeleine from the summer of '05 reminding me these kids are growing up.

I have an interesting Friday beginning at 4:45AM when the alarm goes off resoundingly. I do up my tie knot in darkness and Sonnet drives me to the train station - in pajamas - and not a soul around. The train hosts a few day labourers and weirdo insomniacs. I am on my way to Paris and the trip takes a turn when, happily seated, I realise: bad oyster. I make it to Gare du Nord then Astorg's offices (they are none aware of my predicament) then back to the terminus then London, an underground, train and taxi home where I am now, gratefully, happily in bed, listening to Radio 4 under the covers with the chills. I had the afternoon pegged for a museum and jog along the Seine; instead, I am grateful for the 1513 departure instead of two hours later.

Madeleine informs us matter-of-factly that she is going to have her hair-cut like a boy. I suggest to Sonnet that we cannot allow Eitan to grow his hair like some kind of animal and not allow Madeleine to do herself the same harm.

I call a family assembly: "After you use the toilet, put the lid down and flush. I am tired having to repeat myself!"
Eitan: "You always say not to flush so we don't waste water."
Madeleine: "Yeah, Dad. What about that? Should we flush or not flush?"
Me: "That's a good point. I will consider it."
Eitan: "Same as it always is."

Thursday, January 27

Video Killed The Radio Star

Eitan bakes a cake and I play us music on YouTube including favorite "Video Killed The Radio Star" by The Buggles. The Song released in '79, was the 444th number one in the UK charts, spending one week at the top and shooting The Buggles to fame. I've never heard of them since. At the time of the single’s release, The Buggles did not have an album’s worth of material so they wrote most of the other tracks for their debut record The Age of Plastic (1980) while travelling around Europe promoting their hit. We also listen to Human Leagues' "Don't You Want Me Baby," Devo's "Whip It" and Madness' "My Girl." Like all parents before me I cannot stand the stuff Eitan listens to on Capital Radio. At least the '80s was original.

Madeleine greets me sprawled out on the hallway stairs.
Me: "Hi Madeleine and how was your day?"
Madeleine: "Fine Dad. Aren't you going to ask me?"
Me: "Ask you what?"
Madeleine: "You know."
Me: "What did you have for lunch?"
Madeleine: "No."
Me: "How is your arm?"
Madeleine: "Nope."
Me: "Is it your birthday?"
Madeleine: "Dad!"
Me: "I give up. What?"
Madeleine: "If I need glasses."
Madeleine: "They aren't sure if if I do so I am going back."
Me: "Did you lie to them about the letters?"
Madeleine: "It would be so cool if I had to wear glasses."

Me: "Madeleine it's dinner. Get off the floor!"
Madeleine: "But I'm picking up a needle. You know it could hurt if somebody stepped on it."
Me: "Stepped on it with their eyeball?"
Eitan: "Remember when you stuck a needle in Madeleine's knee?"
Me: "I did?"
Eitan: "Yeah. She had a wart or something."
Me: "That one must have hurt."
Madeleine: "You don't even know Dad."

Me to Rusty: "We'll love you even when you are old and stinky."
Eitan: "Dad!"
Me: "And hopefully that is how you will feel about me and your mother when we are old and stinky."
Eitan, thoughtfully: "How do you know you aren't already?"

My girl's mad at me
I didn't wanna see the film tonight
I found it hard to say
She thought I'd had enough of her
Why can't she see
She's lovely to me?
But I like to stay in
And watch t.v. on my own
Every now and then
--"My Girl", Madness

Tuesday, January 25

Clare Shillard

Since I have meetings in town and no office in town, I find myself at the National Portrait Gallery to see the “Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2010” with 60 portraits on display from nearly 6,000 submissions entered by 2,401 photographers from around the world. Law firm Taylor Wessing sponsors the competition for the third year. Photograph by Clare Shillard, which is my favorite - she has shot for Marni, Hardy Amies, Warner Music, Lyle & Scott and H&M, and her photographs have been published in i-D, Italian Rolling Stone, GQ Style and Teen Vogue amongst others.

Eitan: "What kind of vegetable should you not let on a boat?"
Me: "Yes?"
Eitan: "A leek."
Me: "That was pretty good. Got any others?"
Eitan: "I just want to watch the football."
Me: "Here's your chance to shine."
Eitan: "What's a cats' favorite TV program?"
Me: "What?"
Eitan: "The evening mews."

Monday, January 24

Grace And Moe

Grace and Moe in Berkeley- I am guessing 1983 or '84?

Eitan and Madeleine have no idea of time - I ask Madeleine what it must be like to be Aneta's age (Aneta 20) and she shrugs her shoulders: "How should I know Dad?" and she is absolutely right. Around the corner incomprehensible to our dear. Eitan, for his part, spent a couple of years trying to sort out where space ends but gave up. Madeleine sees no need to be drawn into something equally stupid. She'll know soon enough already.

Throw Down

Sonnet will kill me for this photo taken at Justin's 40th last summer. I post since we are with Justin and his family for some non-competitive Sunday evening family bowling at All Star Lanes in Bayswater. Last year's practice pays dividends as The Kid here bowls five-strikes including three in a row - a "turkey" for us in-the-know - which gets respect from Madeleine who gives me the 'Obama Rock'. Our team crushes the opponents and we celebrate over a Victory Cheeseburger.

Soooo since I am curious .. In 1930, British anthropologist Sir Flinders Petris discovered primitive bowling balls and bowling pins in the grave of an Egyptian boy dating to 3200 BC shortly before the reign of Narmer, one of the very first Egyptian pharaohs. Their discovery represents the earliest known historical trace of bowling. Others claim that bowling originated in Germany in AD 300. A site in Southampton, England claims to be the oldest lawn bowling site still in operation, with records showing the game has been played on the green there since 1299. The first written reference to bowling dates to 1366, when King Edward III of England banned his troops from playing the game so that they would not be distracted from their archery practice. It is believed that King Henry VIII bowled using cannon balls. Henry VIII also famously banned bowling for all but the upper classes, because so many working men and soldiers were neglecting their trades. (sources: and Hunsinger, Earl. "Bowling – The Sport of Kings and Working Men." Article at

"Smokey, this is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules."
--The Big Lebowski

Sunday, January 23


Joe's Dad John is one of KPR's two coaches and from Scotland ("hit the bloody thing!" he once bellowed in a game. Today he called me "daft" when I offered to pay for a white coffee). Joe plays left-wing and whenever he gets a touch there is never a doubt. He and Eitan feed each other opportunities as often Eitan plays right-wing or center/ striker. The better kids can drop a floating ball to the pitch with the adroit placement of the boot, advancing quickly around the defending player, moving the ball up-field. The best players, including Joe, see the play unfold two or three ticks before the action and work towards some idea in their head. The set-up, after all, being equal to the strike.

Dog Fight - Fire Brigade

KPR back to its winning ways defeating the Twickenham Tigers 4-2 in an away game. The Tigers score first but KPR answers with four goals (Eitan sets up two and takes KPR's second goal himself). James, the tall fellow pictured, a taxi driver and fireman who tells me that the London's Fire Brigade installed 500,000 fire alarms across London last year. Mostly, he says, for elderly people or poorer neighborhoods. Government knows, from our property insurance, who is protected and a state goal to make it everybody. Alarms last ten years (tested and installed for free upon request) while a database delivers an auto-letter when a replacement due.

The London Fire Brigade is the world's fourth-largest (after the Tokyo Fire Department, the New York City Fire Department and the Paris Fire Brigade) with nearly 7,000 staff, of which 5,800 are operational firefighters and officers. In 2008/09 the LFB received 229,308 999-calls, mobilising to 138,385, including 29,215 fires (13,841 of a serious nature), making it one of the busiest fire brigades in the world. In 2008/09, it received 6,022 hoax calls, highest in the United Kingdom, but only mobilised to 2,653 of them. As well as firefighting, the LFB responds to serious traffic collisions, floods, 'shut in lift' releases, other various rescue operations and hazardous materials incidents; it conducts emergency planning and performs fire safety inspections and education. It does not provide an ambulance service as this function is performed by the London Ambulance Service as an independent NHS trust, however all firefighters are trained in first aid and all fire engines - or 'appliances' as they are known - carry first aid equipment including basic resuscitators. (souce: London Fire Brigade websites)

James tells me he has never rescued a cat from a tree.

Just Another Day At The Sex Palace

Jihad? Nuclear Iran? Kate wedding dress? All brushed aside for reports that Silvio hosting "bunga bunga" parties at his 145-room, 16th century Villa outside Rome. Milan prosecutors are into an investigation, begun in May, of prostitution and orgy parties preceded by pole dancing, strip tease and "lesbian displays" at the PM's house. The case began when Karima "Ruby" El Mahroug arrested on suspicion of theft - Berlusconi telephoned the police asking to free her, claiming she was the niece of Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt and a bold faced lie. 100,000 leaked wire taps and text-messages include Ruby who, when shagging the PM for bracelets and cash, was inconveniently 17. Consent in Italy is 14 and the legal age for being a whore 18. Berlusconi denies the orgies took place and that, anyhow, he thought Ruby older than 17. He said this in the same breath. Most Italians, based on an Istitutio Piepoli poll in January, think Berlusconi will fight on - this his style -or, if government dissolved for an early election, his Freedom Party will remain in control somehow (today it has a three-vote majority in parliament). Umberto Bossi, head of the Northern League, and Berlusconi's biggest ally, jokes: "Silvio should go and rest somewhere, we'll handle things." And Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes. More ominously this month, Italy's Constitutional Court struck down key parts of a law that would protect Berlusconi from prosecution.

"When [Berlusconi] wants to, he calls; when he doesn't want to, he doesn't call. For the love of God, he's building us a career but then you need to see if that career leads somewhere. What if it doesn't lead anywhere?"
--Barbara Guerra, pictured

Lars Anna Sophia

The last we saw Lars at his book launch on the Strand and here he is yesterday with the twins. Lars and Puk bought a house not far from us after many years in Bayswater and Notting Hill and now they are in the cool part of London. Not. Lars sits on five boards, including a publicly traded company, and engaged in various interesting activities like triathlons. He follows a 26-week "Iron Man" schedule which, he tells me sheepishly, accelerates rapidly to three-hour runs and five hours of biking at a go. Edwin an inspiration. Me, following 2009, I am glad to do some push-ups and the occasional jog usually while waiting for Eitan to finish football practice. It seems to be enough yet Eitan gleefully points out to Shai and Ada the other night: "Dad has has a beer belly." His contribution to the adult conversation, the little rat.

Saturday, January 22

To Wit

We spend Friday cedar with Shai and Ada in their new home in Chelsea, which they have redone from top to bottom. Shai told me a year ago that from the basement he could see the blue sky. Now, it is a wonderfully designed modern house in a smart part of town. Shai raising his next clean energy fund with Richard Branson. He has a big IPO in ten days and soon he will be the Chairman of a publicly traded company. That doesn't happen every day.

Sonnet up early to jog Richmond Park and I follow her with my trusty companion, Rusty, who is always good company. I take his lead off and he immediately runs for a herd of deer, me chasing after him pointlessly. Same old. I find it amazing how friendly dog-walkers are - these Brits who otherwise don't give the time of day take delight watching Rusty sniff their dog's ass, smiling approvingly. I take the opportunity to comment on the day's weather or how nice it is to be alive. It's like watching the circus : different sizes, shapes, colors .. young and old .. some grumpy others exuberant. And you should see the dogs. Ar ar.

Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.

Wednesday, January 19


Since I am interviewing kids for Brown U, I do my annual posting of college factoids sent to me by Dean of Admission Jim Miller, '73 - below. Probably most interesting for us parents is the cost - over $50K per year. That is the Science Library behind me, affectionately known as the "SciLi" where Roger and I studied usually on the top 13th floor. During exams, the carols filled and so I would walk down floors to find a free desk space. There was a student lounge half a floor up from the reception entrance which was claustrophobic and popular. A rumor when I was at Brown that the SciLi sinking a couple inches into the ground every year and maybe tilting. (photo from Flickr)

Founded in 1764, Brown University is America's seventh oldest college, and a member of the
Ivy League. To this day, Brown remains committed to the words of its charter, which called
for the education of individuals "duly qualified for discharging the offices of life with
usefulness and reputation."
• "Ivy League" was first a general reference to the older, and therefore "ivy covered," schools
in the Northeast. Part of the Ivy League athletic association since1954, this group of
academically rigorous institutions now comprises eight schools: Brown, Columbia, Cornell,
Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania.
• Brown's 238 buildings, nearly 100 of which were built before 1900, occupy a 143 acre
campus in Providence, the capital of Rhode Island.

• Brown currently enrolls approximately 5900 undergraduates from all 50 states and more than
90 countries.
• Gender breakdown of undergraduates in the Class of 2014: 52% female, 48% male.
• Brown's Graduate School enrolls approximately 1700 students, and its School of Medicine
approximately 300.
• About one-third of undergraduates are people of color.
• An additional 10% hail from abroad.
• About 93 countries are represented in the Classes of 2011-2014.

• The College employs 679 full-time faculty members, and 133 adjunct and visiting professors.
• Brown's student to faculty ratio is 8:1.
• 100% of Brown faculty members teach undergraduates.
• The graduation rate in 6 years is 95%.

• On-campus housing is guaranteed for all 4 years.
• Students are required to live on campus for their first 6 semesters.
• Freshmen students live in doubles in freshmen dorms.
• 85% of all undergraduates live in residence halls.
• About 10% of students belong to fraternities or sororities; there are 10 fraternities, and 3

• There are more than 250 student organizations at Brown.
• The largest student organization is Brown Community Outreach, within the Swearer Center
for Public Service. In excess of 150,000 hours of community service work is rendered each
year by Brown undergraduates.
• 2010- 2011 tuition and fees: $40,820
• 2010- 2011 room and board: $10,540
• 2010- 2011 average amount for books and personal expenses: $3,010

• Average financial aid package for scholarship recipients in the Class of 2014 in
2010-2011: $36,000. This year, the average is made up of average need-based scholarship of
$31,950 work of $2550 and average loan of $1,500.
• Average need based scholarship in 2010-2011: $31,950
• Brown awarded approximately $76 million in undergraduate scholarships in 2009-2010 and
is budgeted for $81.5 million in 2010-2011
• 43% of undergraduates receive financial aid packages that include University scholarship
• 45% of the Class of 2014 receives need-based financial aid.
• Brown meets 100% of a student's demonstrated financial need.
• Each year, over 3,300 undergraduates receive over $85 million in financial assistance from a
variety of University and outside resources.

• There are more than 6 million items in Brown's 6 libraries; the John D. Rockefeller Library,
the Sciences Library, the John Hay Library, the Orwig Music Library, the Annmary Brown
Memorial Library, and the John Carter Brown Library.

• 300 members (20.8%) of the Class of 2009 completed double (or triple) concentrations.
• Brown offers 57 study abroad programs in 14 countries, including Cuba. An additional 150
programs are pre-approved programs run by other US universities. Over 1000 other
programs may be approved after a student submits a petition to request approval.
Approximately 40% of students take advantage of these programs during their time at
• 35 varsity athletic teams compete in the Ivy League at the NCAA Division I level;
additionally, there are 15 club sports and 8 intramural teams.

Employment and Graduate/Professional School:
• 83 % of students responding by April 2010 reported they were either employed or
pursuing graduate/professional studies full time--27% in graduate professional studies,
56% in employment
Medical and Law School
• Brown students and alumni earn admission to medical school at a rate significantly
higher than the national average. Admission rates for Fall 2009 (most recent data
available): Brown graduate 81% vs. national average 46%
• Brown students and alumni earn admission to law school at a rate significantly higher
than the national average. Admission rates for Fall 2009 (most recent data available:
Brown graduates 86% vs. national average 67%
• Brown was #1 in the Ivy League for earning Fulbright Scholarships in 2009, with 23
seniors and 30 total Brown students and alumni earning Fulbrights
• A Brown senior once again won a Rhodes Scholarship, the fourth in the past four year

La Rue De Paris

Just any old storefront on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré - pictured. This one happens to be across the street from Sarkozy's office. Difficult not to love this city.

The rue is one of the world's most fashionable thanks to the presence of virtually every major global fashion house from Lanvin to Cartier to Hermes. Like nearby Avenue Montaigne, the street is dedicated, throughout its length, to haute-couture and other exclusive establishments. The rue Saint-Honoré ( of which the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré is an extension) began as a road extending west from the northern edge of the Louvre property. Saint Honoré is the popular French saint, Honorius of Amiens. At the other end is Madeleine. 55 is the Élysée Palace evidenced by the abudance of gendarmes. Other notables:

No. 22: The flagship boutique of Lanvin
No. 24: The historic flagship boutique of Hermès, a Parisian luxury-goods company
No. 29: The registered office of Lancôme, a prestige cosmetic brand established in 1935
No. 31: An annex of the Embassy of Japan
No. 33: Hôtel Perrinet et de Jars, the headquarters of the Cercle de l'Union interalliée
No. 35: The embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
No. 41: The Hôtel de Pontalba, originally designed by Louis Visconti, now the residence of theUnited States Ambassador to France
No. 56: The offices of the Paris edition of Vogue magazine in the Publications Condé Nast Building
No. 71: Former address of Galerie J. Le Chapelin, 1950s (now closed)
No. 96: The Ministry of the Interior (on the Place Beauvau.)
No. 101: The prestigious flagship shop and tea room of Dalloyau, a Parisian luxury gastronomic brandname
No. 112: Hôtel Le Bristol, a luxury hotel
No. 135: The residence of the Canadian Ambassador to France
The perfume manufacturer, Jean-François Houbigant, set up his shop, "À la Corbeille de Fleurs" ("at the sign of the basket of flowers"), on this street in 1775


Eric sends me a conchoid, pictured, as a fine example of his Mac's built in graphing-calculator capabilities.

For those of us not teaching maths at Harvard or writing Calculus books (and pinched from the Internets), a conchoid is a curve derived from a fixed point O, another curve, and a length d. For every line through O that intersects the given curve at A the two points on the line which are d from A are on the conchoid. The conchoid is, therefore, the cissoid of a circle with center O and the given curve. They are called conchoids because the shape of their outer branches resembles conch shells.

The simplest expression uses polar coordinates with O at the origin. Ifr = α(θ) expresses the given curve then expresses the conchoid. Parametrically, it can be expressed

asx = a + cos(t) and y = atan(t) + sin(t)

All conchoids are cissoids with a circle centered on O as one of the curves.

The prototype of this class is the conchoid of Nicomedes in which the given curve is a line.

A limaçon is a conchoid with a circle as the given curve.

The often-so-called conchoid of de Sluze and conchoid of Dürer do not fit this definition; the former is a strict cissoid and the latter a construction more general yet.

Vallejo, Ho

Vallejo filed for bankruptcy two years ago. It ain't pretty either : the police 50% staffed; the fire department closed; public teaching posts unfilled, vacant houses and pot holes everywhere (three guys to fill them). Untidy lots, garbage uncollected and general malaise. Citizens abandoning ship - at least, those who can. A sad state of affairs for a once proud blue coller community on the northern edge of the San Francisco Bay Area where HW 80 and 780 connect. 

Vallejo across the Cartinez Bridge and Katie and I competed at the neighboring Benicia Blue Dolphins Aquatics Center - I recall hot summers, green grass lawns, a beautiful outdoor 50-meter pool, healthy kids and families - all seemed Ok. Vallejo today follows a dwindling property tax base from a decline in industrial activity+the after-math of decades of generous pay and pension deals for city workers - many allowed, for instance, to retire in their 50s with 90% of their salaries. 

Vallejo should have seen it coming, too, with the '95 closure of the naval base but somehow never got around to adjusting itself. Marc Levinson, Vallejo's banruptcy lawyer, notes that "Vallejo is just the first, the [union] contracts were the most outrageous and the resources got exhausted first." A friend recently pointed an accusatory finger at me : "California is a mess."

Californians tried to change with the "recall" in 2003 that made Arnold "Girlie-Girl" Schwarzenegger Governor with his central pledge to reduce California's indebtedness. During his seven years, the state's debt trippled. So let us remember that, As of July 1, 2003, California had a total of $27.6 billion in general obligation bonds and a total of $23.2 billion in authorized but unissued bonds.

Today, it is $77.8 billion in outstanding general obligation bonds and an additional $42.8 in authorized but unissued bonds according to state Treasurer Bill Lockyer. General obligation bonds are paid from revenues coming from the state's general fund, meaning that debt payments reduce funds available for other services. In fact, along with its overall debt burden, California's debt payments have tripled, from $1.8 billion paid in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2004, to $5.5 billion in the current fiscal year ending June 30, 2011. In June 2009, Schwarzenegger, facing state insolvency, called for $24 billion of budget cuts or one-fourth the state's budget. Moonbeam to the rescue.

Sacramento's inability to raise taxes (Prop 13 comes home to roost) or cut spending or just plain govern has left the Golden State on its knees. The political parties refuse to meet in the middle somehow and bonds roll things over .. again .. and again. The first cracks occur in small towns like Vallejo but eventually we may see the state's credit rating harmed (currently A1 and A- by Moody's and S&P) making borrowing more dear. And so downward, ho.

One day I hope to fight the battle for the state I love dearly but that may prove to be another life.

"Our wallet is empty, our bank is closed and our credit is dried up."
--Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger

Monday, January 17

Chatter Birds

I pick the kids up from their weekly tutor class. Walking to the car,
Me: "We are not getting a bird. That's final."
Madeleine: "You didn't even hear me ask for one!"
Me: "Ok, what do you want then?"
Madeleine: "A bird."
Eitan: "And I am going to save my money for a hamster."
Me: "We have a hamster. And a fish and a dog."
Eitan: "Well, Stanley has nine pets."
Me: "Nine pets? It must be a zoo at his place."
Eitan: "He has four cats, three hamsters and two guinea pigs."
Madeleine: "He could have 32 cats if they all got preggers."
Me: "You can save all the money you want but we are not getting a bird. We have plenty of pets."
Madeleine: "I am going to keep the bird in my room. And take care of it."
Me: "What about Rusty? Are you bored with the dog already?"
Madeleine: "No!"
Eitan: "Well, you never walk the dog in the morning."
Madeleine: "Yes I do!"
Eitan: "Did you go this morning? Nooo."
Me: "Okay, that. Is. Enough . . !

Me, over dinner (Sonnet works late): "What book are you reading?"
Madeleine: "Mr Gum."
Me: "What's it about?"
Madeleine: "Mr Gum."
Me: "A little more please?"
Eitan: "Actually it is more about Polly."
Me: "What do you like about it?"
Madeleine: "I like the characters. And the story."
Eitan: "It doesn't really have a plot. It's about parrots and rainbows and stuff."
Madeleine: "A book doesn't have to follow the rules, Eitan."
Me: "Excellent point, well said."

Madeleine to Aneta: "Do you know any names for a little red bird?"

Eitan: "I wish everybody would stop telling me what to read."
Me: "Do they?"
Eitan: "Yeah. Like you're always buying me books."
Me: "I think of them as gifts. You don't have to read them."
Me: "Why do you think people give you books to read any way?"
Eitan: "To bother me?"
Me: "Well, I want you to enjoy them. And discuss them with you. What happens when you read a book?"
Madeleine: "You become a part of the story."
Me: "Excellent, you are two for two. And what then?"
Eitan, Madeleine:
Me: "You know that expression, 'you are what you eat?'
Madeleine: "Pasta pesto?"
Me: "Some people also say 'you are what you read.'"
Madeleine: "Good one, Dad. Do you really think we're pasta pesto though?"

Madeleine: "Once, when I was with Auntie Katie in New York, we went into a pet store and there was a talking bird."
Me: "You mean a parrot?"
Madeleine: "Yeah. And guess how much he was?"
Me: "I don't know - two hundred bucks?"
Madeleine: "Six hundred dollars!"
Me: "It could be six dollars for all I care. No bird."
Madeleine: "I can still think about it can't I?"

Me: "Madeleine! What are you doing down here? It's bed time."
Madeleine: "Where do you keep the duck tape?"
Me: "Go upstairs. To bed.
Madeleine: "Do you have any fishing wire?"
Me: "Fishing wire?"
Madeleine: "Do you have anything that claws can grab on to?"
Madeleine: "Okay, okay - I am going. You don't have to look at me like that."

Me: "Oh, gross. Rusty threw up in the back of the car."
Eitan: "That's like the tenth time. Why does he do it?"
Me: "I think he gets car sick. Or maybe he's anxious."
Eitan: "That's like Stanley - Stanley threw up twice on the first day of school."
Eitan: "The teacher had to clean it up."

Photo from the web.

Sunday, January 16

Speed Demon

We meet newborn Alexander, the son of Effie and Edwin, pictured, at the World Duathalon Championships in Concord, NC, where he is 5th in the over-40s. No doubt Alexander will be a chip off the old block. Today he is mostly asleep and angelic. Eitan and Madeleine equally fascinated by the baby and Nason, the family dog which, in fairness, is also pretty darn cute. I end the happy weekend watching the NFL playoffs.


Eitan's Kew Park Rangers take on Division Leader Target Sports in a thrilling game which sees the Blues lose 2-1. Both sides play to their limit and Target's goalie impenetrable - he is also the biggest kid on the pitch. Eitan scores KPR's goal after a cross field break-away that confuses the goalie, who races forward to snatch the ball only Eitan squirts by him then hooks a left foot on the ball for an impossibly difficult angled shot that skips into the lower corner of the net. He tells me later that he did not know if it went in since his momentum carried him beyond the goal post. Afterwards the boys sprawled out on the grass and receive kudos from the coaches. It should have been a draw but that's the way it goes. Nobody complaining about the team's comportment.

Aggie stops by this afternoon - last I saw her, she was on a 30 hour bus ride to Poland for the Xmas which turns out to be the quick-route given Heathrow closed for five days due to snow. Aggie starts her new job tomorrow at Deloittes, an offer she receives during the holidays.

Me: "Look at all that mess. Good thing I've got you to clean it up."
Eitan: "No. One, mom is using that mess. And two, I am doing my homework."
Me: "You should be a lawyer."
Eitan: "Why?"
Me: "Because you know how to make a good argument."
Eitan: "I never want to be a lawyer."
Me: "And why is that?"
Eitan: "Number one, you always say that I should do what makes me happy. Number two, I want to be a footballer. Number three, I want to be a chef. And number four, I want to be an author."

Eitan: "You know, you are not a very good singer."
Me: "I will have you know that I once gave Michael Jackson lessons on singing."
Eitan: "Ha ha ha. Let me see your 'moon walk' then."
Eitan watches me 'moon walk': "What?! Even Gracie could do a better 'moon walk' than that!"

Play Date

Marcus joins Madeleine for a play-date and spends the night. At Madeleine's request, I buy an 'Aero Bar', some Starburst 'Fruit Chews' ("It's a juicy contradiction" the wrapper tells me) and a pack of 'Skittles' ("An endless color stream of bite-sized content") along with a fifth of Ben & Jerry's 'Chunk Monkey' ice cream which is mostly gone by the time I get to it. Sonnet makes popcorn which is devoured before 'Toy Story 3' while I multi-task shining shoes. Later I find the kids sprawled out on their beds talking into the late hours. Madeleine's pulled ligament, confirmed at the hospital, heals up slowly.

Me: "What were you guys talking about so late last night?"
Madeleine: "Dogs."
Me: "And what was so interesting?"
Madeleine: "Well, dogs love HP sauce."
Me: "They do?"
Madeleine: "Yes, it's a fact Dad. Marcus's dog 'Otis' eats it all the time."
Marcus: "It's true."
Madeleine to Marcus: "He just doesn't know anything about dogs."

Me: "Madeleine, come down here right now and tidy your mess."
Madeleine: "But Dad, Marcus is here."
Me: "Now."
Madeleine: "Marcus!"
Me: "Now!"
Madeleine: "You always know how to take the fun out of everything."

Me: "Marcus, does your mom make you do the dishes?"
Marcus: "Yeah, sometimes."
Me: "Does she make you do your homework before you watch TV?"
Madeleine to Marcus: "Say 'no.'"
Marcus: "No."
Madeleine: "See, Dad - I'm the only one who can never watch TV."

Friday, January 14

Zona Rosa

I return from Amsterdam yesterday (my Polish driver gives me a sly look) with a few meetings here and there including lunch at one of Rotterdam's best restaurants. I take my running gear but forget my shorts so run in my PJ bottoms - a few people stare but so what? 43 has its privileges. Back to the hotel, I put my feet up and read Steig Larson which has me totally hooked though I mistakenly read book three before two which I am finishing now. I like Lisbeth Salander who kicks ass and maces villains. Yesterday it was Don Draper and before that Tony Soprano. I find these strong characters useful - might they be heroes? Each flawed and yet .. formidable .. capable of directing their surroundings .. with intrigue or violence. All played out on the living room sofa. I like to think some of it goes with me into business situations.

As for the Red Light District, a 2007 crack-down forced the sale of one-third of the brothels and the window displays more of an oddity for loud tourists and their cameras. British males, the kind I don't like, are in the plenty.

Me: "I have a funny picture of Eitan strangling you."
Madeleine: "You mean at the Tate Modern?"
Me: "No."
Madeleine: "Or at school that time?"
Madeleine: "Or when we were at Cafe Nero?"
Me: "No. It was at the old house."
Madeleine: "Oh, yeah. That time."

Madeleine: "You spend more time on your blog than with me and Eitan."
Me: "Not true."
Madeleine watches me write our conversation: "See what I mean? Instead of spending time with me you are getting off on your computer."
Me: "Well said."

Sonnet: "Madeleine - trumpet."
Madeleine: "But the Simpsons!"
Sonnet: "Practice comes first."
Madeleine: "But it's a cliff hanger!"

Wednesday, January 12

A Sprain

I arrive home to find Madeleine on the coach instead of band and swimming practice: "sprained arm, Dad" she tells me without looking away from the TV. "It might be broken." She and Billy rough-housing at school and, Aneta informs me, no tears until Sonnet on the mobile then some considerable drama. I feel Madeleine's arm and get a few good yelps so I don't doubt that Billy gave her a twist. When I query, gravely, whether a trip to the doctor in order she replies "Maybe after 'Nemo.' Mom is taking me to the emergency tomorrow morning if it does not get better." Later, over dinner, we discuss bedtime. I tell Madeleine she cannot possibly sleep in her bed since it might cause harm to the injury. Instead, we agree, the bathtub. Sonnet unsure if I am joking as Madeleine takes her blanket, and Doggie, into the tub.

Me: "Madeleine, I've discussed it with your mother, and we think you should sleep in your bed."
Madeleine: "That will definitely be difficult. On my arm."
Me: "If you are going to the emergency tomorrow, I want you to be rested."
Madeleine: "Yeah. It's not very comfortable in here either."
Me: "You're a very tough girl to suffer all this pain."
Madeleine: "Do you think so?"
Me: "I know so."

Monday, January 10

Charlie And The Tree

Charlie, pictured, his dad, his brother (in the tree at the end of the rope) and a childhood friend go to work on the Scot Pine. Recall, Dear Reader, that a large part of our 300 year old dear fell to earth leaving the remainder unbalanced and a danger to us and our neighbors. We took quotes from three arborists who priced the fix from £600 to £10,000. Each said we should remove the tree but, after consulting my Advisor, we aim to keep the old girl.

Charlie's grandfather began the family business and, Charlie notes with a heavy Lancaster accent, "we can't be complain'n." He laments the demise of many neighborhood trees which are often felled despite being perfectly healthy ("pur-fectlee 'elthy") and, presumably, impacts his long term prospects. Charlie tells me that a wood-chipper goes for £62 Grand. Charlie's dad now re-opens the pricing, noting that the initial agreement underestimated the necessary work "to keep the tree safe." When I offer that the minimum assumption safety I receive a blank stare. In the end, the arborists cut down maybe three-tons of branch wood, opening the upper canopy, allowing wind to pass safely through the top foliage. They do a good job. The wood will be mulched and recycled as pulp.

Madeleine: "Whenever I see a women in the movies giving a kiss she always leans her head back. Why do they do that?"

Eitan: "Why did the squirrel swim on his back?"
Eitan: "To keep his nuts dry."
Madeleine: "Does it really say that?"

Sunday, January 9

Busty Mary

Chilean fashion designer Ricardo Oyarzun under fire from the Catholic Church for dressing "busty" models as the Virgin Mary, pictured.

Madeleine: "I wish Christmas was twice a year."
Me: "That would be nice."
Madeleine: "But it's not possible. Then Jesus would have to be born twice."
Me: "Well, Jesus was born to the Virgin Mary so anything could happen."
Madeleine: "What's that mean?"
Me: "Mary did not have sex yet somehow gave birth to Jesus ."
Madeleine: "That's what happened in the Fantastic Mr. Fox."
Madeleine: "They had baby foxes but did not do the thingy."
Me: "The 'thingy'?"
Madeleine: "This conversation is disgusting, dad. Can we talk about something else?"
Me: "Please."

"There is no pornography here, there's no sex, there are no virgins menstruating or feeling each other up. This is artistic expression."
--Ricardo Oyarzun

Lazy Sunday

At my suggestion, Madeleine adds NaCOH3, wine vinegar, detergent and blue dye. We are off to buy some Menthos and two-liter bottles of Diet Coke.

Eitan sits the Hampton School entrance exam yesterday morning, 9AM sharp. I drop him off and recall my SATs in '84 - I had taken the exam at the American School in Geneve and my scores weren't getting me into any school I was going to. So I studied up and took it again. Only I was sick exam-day and it was pouring rain. I mumbled about taking the test another day but Grace ordered me in the car, which broke down two blocks from the house. Grace commanded: "sit!" and raced up the block to get Moe's Volvo (impossible to drive unless you are Moe) and somehow got me to the test center as the doors closing.

For his part, Eitan pretty relaxed - at least, he wants to get rid of me quickly given the other boys .. and me, the only parent with a camera. After the drop-off I take the dog to Hampton Palace to walk the path along the Thames and consider the kids growing up with their own lives. I call Sonnet and tell her we are lost and Eitan missed his test.

Saturday night: Madeleine over-nights with Dana and Nathan, who buy her cupcakes and spoil her mad. Sonnet and I have dinner in Chelsea with Arnaud (from France) and his fiancee Julia (from Lebanon) and their friends Lanna (Lebanon) and Mathew (England) who met at Oxford studying English and French literature; they are professors. Eitan watches TV with Anetta (Czech Republic). Rusty (Welsh) pees on the kitchen floor.

Me: "What's your homework?"
Eitan: "I have to write ten things about Ireland and I don't know any."
Me: "That can't be too hard."
Eitan: "The first letter of Ireland is 'i'."
Eitan: "The second letter is 'r' and the third is 'e'."
Me: "You're not seriously writing that down are you?"

Wednesday, January 5

Staying Focused

I am shooting these days with a Canon 50mm f/1.4 prime lens which is good for portraits and some landscapes. I am working up to 70-200mm IS f/2.8L but this will set me back a couple grand. The price says ouch but this is the lens my DSLR made for. The quality coatings and design of combined with a hood means less light bouncing around and diffusing inside the lens, and that means sharper, better contrast photos. I'm also contemplating a wide angle - maybe 20mm f/1.8.

Any ways, I am with the Shakespeares and we start our day at Richmond Park, pictured, where Madeleine finds a fort made of fallen branches. Eitan brings a football and I drag Rusty, who makes some friends and sniffs some ass. From there we go for more football at the common, then haircuts at the Turks (I hold back Madeleine recalling Sonnet's wrath when I took Madeleine, age three, to Jeff the Barber .. Jeff thought Madeleine a boy and so for the next two years many thought she a he). After the Turks we select olives, cheese and salamis at Valentinos which is the best shop on our High Street and have a picnic at home. Now the kids fight as I blog (excuse me, Dear Reader .. "KNOCK IF OFF. AND I MEAN NOW!" Eitan: "But she's not letting me pet Rusty!" Madeleine: "I'm holding Rusty!" .. and so it goes). I plan to wash the pooch and do some household DIY. Adding to our family scene The Archers on Radio 4. School begins tomorrow, 8:45AM sharp.

"A good photograph is knowing where to stand."
--Ansel Adams