Thursday, February 27

Pow Wow

A discussion takes place around Madeleine's 5AM swim practise - it's either Friday morning or Sunday, which she dreads.  So Sonnet will take her since I am on a plane to Dublin for the day. Our gal now practises the trumpet putting the dog on alert.

Eric the turtle finally leaves the earth (Dad's note: Madeleine's pet died three weeks ago). His body 12 inches deep, under a stone-of-remembrance. Somber proceedings. The good news : Nelson's life expectancy another 30 years.

Me: "Say something about your turtle."
Madeleine: "Huh?"
Me: "Say something, anything."
Madeleine: "I don't know. He's a turtle dad."
Me: "That's all you've got?"
Madeleine: "He can swim."
Me: "Is he cuddly?"
Madeleine: "He's a turtle. Turtles aren't cuddly."
Me: "Fair enough."

Wednesday, February 26

More Weirdness

At the Courdault

I return from two nights in Berlin for the Super Return conference - the largest private equity gathering in the world with over 1,100 delegates including the good and the great. The highlight returning from dinner one night, 11PM, and finding Todd in the hotel lobby, in from Boston. We stay up late catching up.

Me: "Come on Rusty, you wanker."
Eitan: "Dad!"
Me: "What? What did I say?"
Eitan: "Do you know what 'wanker' means?"
Me: "Yeah, it's like what they used to call the guy who mixed the household butter. He was usually pretty low in the family hierarchy, so it's kind of a derogatory word."
Eitan: "Well that's not how it's used now."
Me: "Oh?"
Eitan: "It means 'mastrabation."
Me: "No, way. I am shocked."
Eitan: "Yeah, it's like, 'you're a wanker.'"
Me: "Boy it's a good thing you told me."

Monday, February 24

Cb Hounslow Blues

The Sheen Lions are back in action in their first game since December.  The wettest January on record, which has cancelled games left and right, has set the season back six or seven weeks.

Were it another week.  The Lions go down 4 nothing, opting to play against the wind in the first half (3-nil at half). The 30mph gusts wreak havoc on the defense and the boys only start playing as a team towards the end of the game, which brings them tantalisingly close, 4-3, as the whistle blows. Etian scores a PK and hits the bar on another, which proves to be the difference.  And that's football.

Kids back to school, Sonnet interviews with The Guardian, and I to Berlin for a conference. And so it goes.

Sunday, February 23


Sunrise, Mars (NASA)

When I was 10, 11 or 12 I remember pondering, "what will it be like when the year turns 2000? " And now : who will be the first to make it to another planet ?  Somebody must do it given the planet's dire flight path.

This morning I listen to  Elizabeth Kolbert interviewed by Terry Gross. Kolbert writes for the New Yorker and recently published 'The Sixth Extinction.' The amphibians (who btw survived the dinosaur wipe out) are being hit hard. Equally bad or worse: the oceans are acidifying which will roll back the barrier reefs where the aquatic food chain begins. And so on and so forth.

I'm with Shai who has been investing in green-energy since 2006 for Richard Branson. In short, he says, nobody cares.

"We are effectively undoing the beauty and the variety and the richness of the world which has taken tens of millions of years to reach ... We're sort of unraveling that. ... We're doing, it's often said, a massive experiment on the planet, and we really don't know what the end point is going to be."
--Elizabeth Kolbert

Saturday, February 22

SuperDry Is Super Fly

Madeleine discovered brands last year but really she prefers one: SuperDry, which is like so now and Japanese. All the groovy cats have the SuperDry jacket, maybe a SuperDry sweatshirt and a SuperDry book bag.

In my day, which would by 1982-85, the outfit was an alligator shirt (collar up), canvas Sperry topsiders, Levi's 501s (shrunk-to-fit) and (for the real players) a Derby jacket. Of course I am working my way through these items again, age 46.

The kids have been on a one-week half-term break and Madeleine at school all week, all day, for theatre. She wasn't too happy when it looked like she would have two lines in "London Calling" ("one of them, like, two words") but now she's been assigned a monologue of some sort.  Eitan is invisible until 11 or 11:30AM when he stumbles downstairs for food.  I double-check that there is an air-hole as he is otherwise covered by his blanket.

Tuesday, February 18

The Meeting Place

Paul Day's sculpture, The Meeting Place, greets me and everyone from Paris at St Pancras Station, London. It is 9 metres tall surrounded by a frieze. I hate it.

Firstly, there's nothing unique or interesting about the couple - he's bald and wearing baggy trousers. As if. She looks like an investment banker.  What's to love here? Where are the idiosyncrasies that make the individuals rise above themselves creating something special even memorable? Not here.

Coming from Paris where the city drips with serious art, one would think one's introduction to London would give us more.

Monday, February 17

Living Large

California -> London -> Paris

Texting with Madeleine:
Me: "How was your day sweetheart?"
Madeleine: "Pretty good."
Me: "Who did you have lunch with?"
Madeleine: "Jack and Aiden."
Me: "The crew. Were you rehearsing all day?"
Madeleine: "Yep."
Me: "What's the name of the play?"
Madeleine: "London Calling."
Me: "Calling what?"
Madeleine: "I have no idea."

Saturday, February 15

Bay Bridge Moonrise


The new Bay Bridge, connecting Oakland to Yerba Buena or "Treasure" Island, finally completed in 2013 after ten years construction and $6.5b of investment. It is the the world's widest bridge, says the Guinness World Records.

The old bridge, to the right, was completed in 1936 and runs parallel to the new bridge. Not anchored in bedrock on the Oakland side, the bridge collapsed in the '89 earthquake - an image beamed around the world and now forgotten to many greater calamities.  Seeing the old thing gives me a shiver.  It is being disassembled, no easy task.

The bridge is white and modern and makes me think of Apple - good design. Plenty of room and well lit all the way.

Madeleine, reading, from the back of the car: "Do astronauts have to know how to kill each other?"
Me: "It's a good question."

One Day In The Bay Area

 The Educator

Brad's start up is funding operating costs for charter schools. He began factoring (advancing receivables) for the same clients several years ago and his book now $600m.

The CFO and the VC

Tim the CFO of Yingli Energy, the world's largest solar panel manufacturer, and Josh a Managing Partner at Matrix, one of the most successful venture firms in the valley.

The Architect

Doug responsible for US and global design at Adobe.

The Saxophonist

Dave's 'State of Mind', produced by legendary record producer Orrin Keepnews, was number one on the Jazz billboards for months.

The Technologist

Roger heads the bizdev team and an early guy at Box.

Tuesday, February 11

Misty Morning

Rob and Slon in Mill Valley

I'm up well before the crack of dawn and join my father as he prepares for the gym. It's not yet 4AM. Rather than lie in bed on London time, worrying about emails and other things I should be doing GMT, I drive myself to Inspiration Point, my mind's peaceful place, to do some running. Only it's pitch black other than the twinkling stars that break thru the fog. Not really safe give the fire trail's ancient tarmac filled with cracks but off I go. I am treated with sounds : frogs so loud that I think electric cable, an owl hooting, a coyote howling. Dream.


Facing southward

I'm with Kitty and Tim yesterday and their rambunctious kids, ages 2 and 4 - Tim the CFO of a listed solar company.  He tells me the U.S. generates more sun electricity than anywhere else, driven by govt tax incentives "that are working" and will be unnecessary inside three years.  California, for instances, requires its utilities to get 33% of electricity from renewables by 2020.

In the twelve months through October 2013, utility scale solar power generated 8.9 million megawatt-hours, 0.22 % of total US electricity. A long ways to go yet.

Sunday, February 9

Sunday In The East Bay

Driving from SFO to Berkeley, the radio plays Peaches And Herb, Chic - Le Freak, and Blondie. Where else this wonderful collection of music from my childhood ?

The good news is rain, as California in the throws of a three-year drought where the Sierra-Nevada snowpack is at 15% the normal level.

So I walk down Vine Lane (rain) to Peet's which opens 6AM on a Sunday.  The usual intellects and freaks there, making me feel pretty good about the place.

Saturday, February 8

High School Standard

No rubber suit here

Katie Ledecky, who we saw win gold in London, set the American high school record yesterday in the 500 yard freestyle in the trials of the D.C. Metro high school swimming championships. Her time of 4:28.71 under her year-old national high school record of 4:31.38 and also lower's Katie Hoff's American record of 4:30.47 from 2007. Ledecky is 16 years old.

Ledecky's splits:
26.47 (51.15)
26.96 (53.82, 1:44.97)
27.37 (54.50, 2:39.47)
27.51 (54.81, 3:34.28)
26.56 (54.43, 4:28.71)

Katie's pal Susan now the CEO of Youtube. 

Off to California in 30.

Wednesday, February 5

Doppler Effect

Madeleine turns 12 tomorrow. I have every day of her life in my mind's eye and can move forward and backwards since her birth. When I look at her, I see all these years combined in her eyes and smile. It is something unique to us and that I treasure.

Sonnet arrives home a fabulous mess - tube strike and rain.  She has a photo shoot for Harper's Bazaar complete with makeup and hair stylist and wardrobe adviser - she chooses Armani (darling).  She is photographed before her mannequins, inside the museum, to hit the newsstands for the April issue. Madeleine: "Wow. Mom needs to come with me to listen to my trumpet."

Me: "You know, Sonnet was a ballerina." [Dad's note: dinner table, Sonnet working late]
Aneta: "Oh? what is that?"
Me: "It is someone who does ballet. Dancing on tip toes"
Madeleine: "Yeah. She did it until she was 12."
Eitan: "Why did she stop ?"
Madeleine: "Mom said it was because her feet grew."
Me: "That's not the only thing that grew."
Madeleine: "What do you mean?"
Me: "Let's just say she lost her balance."
Eitan: "Ha ha!"

Tuesday, February 4


Uspenski Cathedral

Helsinki to Göteborg to Stockholm in 24 hours, meeting with a few pension funds and other investors. Usual stuff.

I like the Nordics - there is a winter sensibility here missing from London or the Continent. First off, the city gets on with snow. Taxi drivers hit excessive speeds, the airports don't shut down and the roads are clear. People dress sensibly before stylishly (unlike Eitan who refuses to wear his winter jacket most winter days because, you know, the other boys don't wear a winter jacket).  But mostly I like the people who are friendly and a bit different.

Me (on phone): "How was your day?"
Eitan: "Ok I guess."
Me: "Anything interesting happen?"
Eitan: "Not really. We had a test. In sex ed."
Me: "That sounds awkward."
Eitan: "It wasn't very difficult."
Me: "Did you cheat and touch your willy?"
Eitan: "Ha ha!"
Me: "Well whatever you don't learn in the classroom you'll pick up by trial and error."
Me: "That was a joke. Sort of."

Sunday, February 2

Outta Here

The rush and tumble of daily life (as Sonnet says). Madeleine bolts for stage school where every Saturday she has an hour session each of drama, music and dance. Each term there is an end-of-term performance where the little darlings put their skills on display. Madeleine's ambition to be an actress. Like Serpico.

And in other late-breaking news, I am off to Finland in an hour.