Saturday, March 29

Centraal Station Rotterdam

Having visited Rotterdam's Central Station on many occasions thinking to myself 'what a dump' I am surprised by a new building which opened March 13, pictured. Pretty damn cool, too.

I have lunch, and talk some business, with Stichting Pensioenfonds Nederlands also known as Unilever also known as « Progress » (the cool name for the investment business). From there it is The Hague then Schiphol.  Been here, done that.

Eitan in the final day of the Surrey county swimming champs, attended by Stan, and it is all relays. The boy has qualified for a bunch of regional events which will take place later this year at the Olympics pool. He has a ways to go to qualify for nationals but it will come.

Hard At Work

Madeleine Skypes

Madeleine scores an 82% on a math's test, which makes her happy - one of the top scores in the class.  

There are two types of people really : those comfortable with maths and the rest of us. Generally the former end up at investment banks or hedge funds.

Stan arrives from Colorado. He is with us for the week and Sonnet's opening.

The photo above Madeleine mine btw. It is wall graffiti in Shoreditch, London.

Tuesday, March 25

The Carefree Lifestyle

Me, in the car: "So how are we feeling these days?"
Eitan: "OK, I guess."
Me: "Anything you want to be doing?"
Eitan: "Not really. I don't want to be, like, 30 and having missed something in the 'carefree lifestyle.' "
Me: "The 'carefree lifestyle' ? Like not having any responsibility ?"
Eitan: "Well, it's not like that. .. ."
Me: "So what exactly is this 'carefree lifestyle'? "
Eitan: "It's like in your 20s. And before you have a family and stuff."
Me: "So your 20s are carefree? That's news to me. I was working my ass off."
Eitan: "But you always talk about it like it was fun."
Me: "I was trying to eat. I had to pay for all that macaroni and cheese somehow."
Eitan: "Yeah."
Me: "So who do you know who has the 'carefree lifestyle'? "
Eitan: "Katie does."
Me: "Oh?"
Eitan: "She gets up when she wants, and she works with her friends. And she's not bossy. And she's really cool."
Me: "She'll like knowing that."

Me: "So your mother sent Clara an email about joining our family after Aneta leaves" [Dad's note: our fabulous Aneta is leaving in May; Clara, also from The Czech, will join us]
Me: "Do you think you will be able to ignore her?"
Eitan: "Huh?"
Me: "Ignore her. Maybe we should invite her over so you and your sister can ignore her for a couple of hours. If it works out, then we'll hire her."
Eitan: "Whatever, Dad."

Sonnet Gets Glossy

Harper's Bazaar

Our gal in the midst of installations - less than one week (but who is counting ?)

Sunday, March 23

Dad Daughter Friend

Eitan has a busy sports weekend : Hampton defeats Glyn School 4-nil then I whisk the boy to the pool for the Surrey County Championships, where he goes 1:02.82 in the 100m freestyle (PB).  Today, Eitans home team, the Sheen Lions, have a double-header against Staines - our side takes both, winning 3-0 and 3-1. Eitan puts a 30m free kick over the keeper's finger tips, a hell of a shot, that decides the second match.

Aneta home, 7:30AM, following a rave in Shoreditch and me, I've been asleep 8 hours.

Me: "Do you think Phil is a good dad?" [Dad's note: Phil is the father in CBS comedy 'Modern Family']
Madeleine: "He's more a friend than a dad."
Me: "Oh? Which one am I ? "
Madeleine: "Definitely 'dad'"
Me: "How about Sonnet?"
Madeleine: "I don't know."
Me: "Can you tell her anything?"
Madeleine: "Yes."
Me: "Friend. Do you lie to her ?"
Madeleine: "No."
Me: "Friend. Who takes you out to sushi all the time?"
Madeleine: "Mom."
Me: "Best friend."

Madeleine: "What would happen if your skin wasn't water proof?"
Me: "It's a good question."

Tuesday, March 18

Red Pepper

Katie and I join David at the River Cafe. David's firm, Macro Advisory Partners, advises clients on geopolitical risk, macro intelligence and investment strategy and is going great guns. Mona Sutphen, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff, recently joined as a partner.

Sonnet working on the installation for The Italians.  Her book is now on Amazon.

Battle Of The Brains

Katie with us since Sunday after leading a seminar at Cambridge U.  We take Monday afternoon to watch Eitan's Hampton U13s play St Paul's in the geeks versus the geeks.  Our geeks win, 4-1.  On my way to work same morning I bump into Syrus (at St Paul's playing for the B team) buying a couple packs of cherry-flavoured bubble gum at the local newsagents.

Monday, March 17

Eitan Takes A Bronze

200m butterfly, county champs

I buy a pair of Bass flat-panel penny-loafers which I had in high school and my parents wore in the '50s. To break them in, I wear wool calf-hi socks and walk around the house otherwise in shorts since a nice day in London - Aneta cracks up, which makes me realise: usually I know when I'm being a dork but now , maybe not so much.

Me: "So what's your favourite band these days?"
Madeleine: "I don't know. I like a lot of music."
Me: "How about if I tell you mine?"
Madeleine: "Oh, right, from the 1960s."
Me: "The 1980s."
Me: "So I made you laugh. That's a good thing, right?"

Saturday, March 15

Disco Party II


Madeleine has her own disco party tonight at the Broomwood Methodist Church Hall in Clapham.  Our gal meets several friends to put on make up, do their hair and get ready.  She then has a sleep-over with the disco host. Madeleine wears a dress.

I give Eitan some (expensive) English cologne.
Me: "You may want to try it out first. Don't douse yourself in it" (Dad's note: Eitan has been wearing 'Lynx', which is an older lad's perfume known for it's "sex panther" scent. Eitan's year laps it up)
Two weeks later, Madeleine: "OMG. Eitan was wearing this new smell in the car to swim practise. You could smell it in the pool."
Madeleine: "Poor Georgia. She was in the back seat."
Me: "There goes that relationship."
Madeleine: "I'll say."

Me: "Come on, Eitan, do the dishes. That is a request."
Eitan: "But it's not an order."
Me: "Is that your objective - to get out of every chore asked of you ?"
Eitan: "It's every kid's objective."
Eitan: "it's just the way it is."

Friday, March 14

Good Day, Sunshine

6:14AM sunrise

Earlier this week I am in Abu Dhabi which is like a giant 5 star shopping mall (Rolls Royce's newest car, the 'Wraith", advertised in the airport and on the streets : this is its natural habitat, after all). My hotel (54th floor) offers views of the Persian Gulf and .. the desert. Strangely , several towers block my vista.

From A D to Dubai, which is more of the same. Then Kuwait City which I like. Despite Kuwait's vast wealth it is still Third World and the airport a complete shambles. Visitors require a visa so I queue in three lines before my passport stamped then another line for passport control.  It is 10PM and the airport heaving. And hot. And it smells. Getting a taxi not a problem but exiting the airport like threading a needle through the traffic. I'm at the nicest hotel in town, a Sheraton, which is designed for Westerners so gauche brown marble, gold and 14th century French decoration. A trio serenades us with pop songs at the hotel Italian. No Alcohol, of course.

Despite the crumbling eye level, Kuwait has some of the world's tallest and sleekest skyscrapers in the world. They shoot up like sprouts through mold.

Saturday, March 8

Self Portrait XXXVI

Eitan goes to Luke's disco party with Joe and Shaheen; Joe shows up at our house first.
Me: "What's up?"
Joe: "Nothing."
Eitan, Joe:
Me: "Well this is awkward."
Eitan: "Yeah."

16 Candles

Hampton 5, Sutton 1

Sonnet, Madeleine and I watch the late John Hughes' film "Sixteen Candles" with Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall - excellent. Madeleine seems about the right age to appreciate Samantha's world, surrounded by awkwardness and embarrassments of family, school and being a teenager.  The movie from '84 or 30 years old - the equivalent of looking back to 1954 when I first saw it.  It doesn't seem to have dated but then what do I know ?  

I reference a poster of Cheryl Tiegs and music from Spandau Ballet, The Specials, Oingo Boingo. Samantha uses a phone to .. talk, something neither Eitan nor Madeliene have ever done with their friends.  Floppy disks, also something the kids have never heard of, noted 'kind of expensive' by the geek. All in, not a bad decade.

Madeleine absorbs it all.

Grandpa Fred: "Hey Howard, there's your Chinaman."

Friday, March 7



Friday night.  Madeleine faints in hockey practise and Rusty comes down with a bad vibe - the pooch is bedridden and looks at me mournfully.  Serves him right for spreading the kitchen garbage across the hardwood floor.

Sonnet: "So what's your plan for Sunday?"
Madeleine: "Jack and Williby are coming over."
Me: "You're having a play date?"
Sonnet: "Dad's just teasing."
Madeleine: "No he's not."
Me: "Actually I wasn't."
Madeleine: "See?"
Me: "So where are you going?"
Madeleine: "Hammersmith. And then Westfields." [Dad's note: Westfields is the largest shopping mall in Europe, located in Shepherds Bush, London]
Sonnet: "You are not going to Hammersmith." [Dad's note: Hammersmith is urban]
Madeleine: "You let Eitan go by himself."
Sonnet: "Your brother is a year older than you. A year and a half, actually."
Me: "Plus you might be tempted to do some busking."
Madeleine: "So how about Kingston?" [Dad's note: Kingston is shopping mall outside of London]
Me: "Why don't you just go to our High Street? You could go to Boots and Party Palace. And there's a wonderful WH Smith."
Madeleine rolls her eyes.
Sonnet: "You're not going to Kingston Either. It's too far away."
Madeleine: "But it's on the train. It's only four stops from Richmond." [Dad's note: Richmond equals shopping]
Me: "She's got a point. It's a safe area."
Sonnet: "I will think about it."

Wednesday, March 5

Close Shave

Kashgar, Xinjiang, China, 1997

Me: "How was your race today?" (Dad's note: Madeleine runs a 3K race)
Madeleine: "It was so hard. I had asthma."
Me: "Were you OK?"
Madeleine: "Well I finished the race, didn't I?"
Me: "Asthma can be dangerous. And frightening - there was an adult there to help you ?"
Madeleine: "Yes, I finished and somebody got me my inhaler."
Me: "That's good to know."
Madeleine: "There was a stream and we had to jump over it and I almost fell in."
Me: "Woa."
Madeleine: "And I almost fell into a bramble bush."
Me: "Yep. Sounds like cross country."
Madeleine: "And I got to the finish and fell to the ground."
Me: "Quite an experience." (Dad's note: Madeleine in the top 5 finishers)

Tuesday, March 4

Barnes Railway Bridge

Facing West, from the Barnes embankment

The original bridge at this location was built in 1849 to a design by Josephe Locke followed by a replacement bridge, designed by Edward Andrews in 1895 for the London & South Western Railway. The original Locke span still stands unused on the upstream side. The bridge is still in use by the London overground rail and I pass it twice during a running loop from my office.


Madeleine is chosen goalkeeper for Emanuel's A squad.  She rolls with it.

Our gal takes a few minutes to kit up as the girls play the Harrodian School in Barnes which looks like a Ralph Lauren set, nestled between the river and the Barnes village (the grounds once a private estate until acquired, in the 1990s, by a local philanthropist opened an alternative school that concentrates on languages - Russian, anyone ?).

Madeleine is good in the box, too - she blocks six shots including a sequence of four which has us parents ooo-ing and ahh-ing from the sidelines. The end result: 2-2.

Grace nails six-for-six at my parents' Oscar party in Berkeley.

An interesting experiment: The world's 1,645 billionaires are worth $6.4 trillion at 2013 year-end, up from $5.4T in 2012.

Sunday, March 2


Glass cutter, SW London

Eitan's favorite bands (in no particular order) :
The Kooks
London Grammar
Arctic Monkeys
The Vaccines
Passion Pit
Cold Play
The American Authors
The Gorrillaz

Me: "How about Justin Bieber?"
Me: "Do you listen to a lot of music?"
Eitan: "Yeah, quite a lot."
Me: "And how do you share music with your friends?"
Eitan: "We don't really share music. Most people like pop music, anyway, but I don't like the electronics and stuff.  I don't like the 'crappy pop music' as you might say."
Me: "I'm glad some of my training is sinking in."
Eitan: "It's not training Dad."


Why can't I have a cat?

Madeleine and I walk the dog then go for sushi. Over lunch we discuss pets (Dad's note: at Madeleine's age, I was somehow allowed a snake, a tarantula and three iguanas who each died an early death). Madeleine wants a cat and, momentarily, it was considered until Madeleine hit a wall: Sonnet. Plus Rusty would probably grab the thing by the throat and shake it to death, blood and fur everywhere. Ok maybe not.

Eitan in swimming action at the Univ. of Surrey for the Surrey County Championships, which are spread across five weeks. This weekend he swims the distance races : 1500 and 400 meter freestyles and the 400 IM in 19:42, 4:45 and 5:46, respectively.  Showing he is a multi-talented guy, Eitan now prepares tortilla de patatas.

Sonnet's exhibition gears up : today a five page story in the Financial Times Sunday insert.

Eitan on the tortilla de patatas: "I'm not really sure how this is going to work out." 

"Sprezzatura. It means nonchalance. It's the way in which clothes are worn - a mood, an attitude.  If you go to the financial centre of Rome on any given morning, you can watch this senses of easy elegance in action. Its a fashion parade."
--Sonnet, 'Moda Operandi' in the Sunday FT