Sunday, June 25

Hiking Days

Me and the little g. We are on the clock for the JMT.

We join Ben and his family for Ben's bar mitzvah in St John's Wood, which the boy delivers without breaking a sweat, Torah and all. Ben's grandfather, who is seated a few seats from me, is a Founder of Israel. It is an important day.

In the evening there is a party with speeches and dancing with many close friends (A few jokes come in suggesting that I shouln't overdue it given that I am now 50. Jokes not lovingly received).  I am seated at a young table, across from Sonnet, and similar to Bath last weekend, I get to observe my beautiful wife.

Madeleine and I go to a Shepperton to do some open air lake swimming. It is Madeleine's first time.
Me to the agent: "Two adults to swim please."
Agent: "How old is she?"
Me: "15."
Agent: "She can't swim. It is for 16 and older."
Me: "She turns 16 tomorrow ."
Agent: "So come back tomorrow."
Madeleine: "Nice one Dad."
Me: "Well, I tried kid."
Madeleine: "You should just say 16 all the time."
Me: "True dat."
Madeleine: "Oh my God."

Saturday, June 24

Viva La Suisse

I am in Zurich and ask the hotel concierge for swimming pool recommendation to swim some laps. He suggrests I swim in the nearby lake and so I think: why not? I don't have my trainers so I exit the hotel in the white hotel slippers and a towel slung over my shoulder, goggles on my head, and cross the busy road alongside lake Zurich and, for lack of an obvious gateway into the water, I dump my stuff on a bench and go for it. At 50, I am allowed a little eccentricity.

Madeleine, at my request, waters the front yard plants.
Me: "Why such a dour look ? Is it really that bad?"
Madeleine: "Then why don't you do it then?"
Me: "You're going to be working all your life kid. Better start getting used to it."
Madeleine: "Gee, Dad, is that supposed to make me feel better?"
Me: "If you love your work then it isn't work is it?"
Me: "You'll be like living in some appartment with your friends or a guy and maybe, if you're lucky, one day you will have a job that you enjoy."
Madeleine: "Yeah, so?"
Me: "And you will be like, "Dad, you can stop paying my allowance now."
Madeleine: "It's not that funny Dad."

Tuesday, June 20


Sonnet and I drive to the South Downs so I can swim in the sea (about 18 degrees - nothing like the Bay at 13). Before the swim, we hike the downs. It's a good practise run for the JMT with steep hills; my backpacks contains c.30 lbs of canned beans and peanut butter to mimic the load.

The South Downs are a range of chalk hills that extends for about 260 square miles across the south-eastern England, characterised by rolling chalk downland with close-cropped turf and dry valleys. They are recognised as one of the most important chalk landscapes in England, and is one of the four main areas of chalk downland in Southern England.

The dog eats half of Eitan's chocolate birthday cake.

A Brave New World

Self portrait XXXXXIII
And in a wink I am 50.

So, I am asked, how does it feel?

It has not been an easy ride to get here - a bunch of crummy years working at an investment bank, a hard adjustment to London, a start-up tech company that did not make a billion nor a million bucks and no sub-three hour marathon. Cal has not been to a Rose Bowl in my lifetime.

But here I am now, with a couple of healthy teenagers, a loving wife who I love and work that sustains me.  An extended family and friends that I cherish, and an ability to see them every now and then. A few good stories that are re-told on a good evening. My demons, for the time being, at bay.

Life is interesting. I am happy.

@Madeleine: I am not getting a tattoo.

Sunday, June 18

The Hope Ball

A beautiful smile
Sonnet and I are in Bath for The Hope Ball, a fundraising event to build a state-of-the-art Cancer Center in Bath, arranged by our friend Tabitha.

The Champagne black-tie affair is held under an open tent on the lawn of the Royal Crescent, overlooking the city, on a beautiful warm summer's evening. It reminds me of Campus Dance at Brown, held each year in late May around the college graduation.

Friends And More Friends

Madeleine Saturday morning
Me: "How are you doing these days kid?"
Madeleine: "Three more weeks of school."
Me: "But you love school, right ?"
Madeleine: "It's school Dad."
Me: "What would you do if not school?"
Me: "Get up in the morning. Come downstairs. Have breakfast. Watch an episode of Friends. And another episode of Friends. And another episode of Friends and. . "
Madeline: "Alright I get it Dad."
Me: "And another episode of Friends. And another episode of Friends. .."
Me: "And another episode of Friends. And another episode of Friends . .."
Madeleine: "Having fun, are we Dad ?"
Me: "Always."


On to the A Levels
Eitan finishes his last GCSE exam - physics - and just like that the GCSEs are done. Results will be posted in August.

Eitan has some friends over and spends the rest of the weekend sleeping.

Sonnet and I could not be more proud of his comportment throughout the exam period and, of course, his hard work.

Sunday, June 11

Braids In Her Hair

Me and Madeleine at her favourite, Pickle And Rye
My week ends up in Phillie following Boston and Baltimore. Nice weather follows me along.

Me to Nathaniel (Madeleine's guest): "How much would you expect to be paid for the garden work?"
Nathaniel: "Huh?"
Madeleine whispers: "You don't have to do it. Don't say anything."
Me: "Rake leaves. Bag them. Tidy up."
Nathanial: "Just the back ?"
Me: "Front and back."
Nathanial: "By the hour ?"
Madeleine flashes 10 fingers.
Me: "By the job. Madeleine just poisoned the waters."
Madeleine, facing the refrigerator: "How long do I have to stand here? You can stop staring at me."
Nathaniel: "I'd say 30 pounds."
Madeleine: "Yesss."

Knee's Out

Special care
Eitan throws out his ACL playing a scratch game of football following one of his GCSE exams. It scuppers two soccer camps and the John Muir Trail but in the grand scheme of things it is small beer.

Eitan has two remaining GCSEs - physics and chemistry. No letting up until the very end.

Emmanuel Macron pulls off a majority for his party from a stand-still one year ago: 440 of 577 seats in the national assembly. He crushes the other parties - raising the question around the opposition. Marion Le Pen's party, the right-wing populist National Front, despite Le Pen winning 40 pc of popular vote in the recent election, will have 4 seats.

Teresa May brings back Michael Gove. Recall the Brexiteer back-stabbed Boris to get into No. 10 and May fired him.

We live in interesting times (I once viewed this comment with an orientation towards optimism).


The past is back to say 'hello'
So this is Sarah, who I did not recognise on the 85th Street subway platform. Katie does.

Sarah my first girlfriend in the 7th grade made so by a faithful one-sentence telephone call: "Will you go with me?" She agreed and I hung up. In fact, I did not have much else to say for the six weeks we were 'together' until the inevitable 'Lets just be friends' letter arrived in my locker.

The thing about being 12, no boy has anything interesting to say to a girl. The only thing on his mind is football or his comic book collection and the after-school candy bar selection.

Sarah was developed in every way, well ahead of the rest of the crowd. She never got a B in junior high or high school nor college (Williams). She was head of the Columbia University literature department until promoted Dean of Humanities. What the hell was I going to add to that ?

Sarah and I agree to have a drink next time I am in Manhattan. There is 38 years to catch up and all of 7th grade.

Taipei - London - New York

Sonnet shows off the VA
Sonnet with Hyunju, who we meet for a coffee before Hyunju visits the Pink Floyd exhibition. Hyunji's family offices control one-third of Taiwan including owning the largest insurance company and the country's mobile network.

In New York, Katie and I go to Barney Greengrass "The Sturgeon King" on the Upper West side for some Jewish comfort food. Roger and I once went here when we lived on 85th and Columbus in an apartment that reflected our stage of life. No money but long on youth.

From matzo ball soup, we go for Korean massages and a pedicure followed by Smith & Wollensky's for a steak dinner.  It's kinda Soprano's style. Katie returns from Providence where she has signed Brown University as a new client.

“I can definitely say the president is not a liar. I think it’s frankly insulting that that question would be asked.”
--The White House

KKR's Offices

It's like flying
I'm on the Eastern Seaboard last week for meetings. It feels like I am following Donald Trump around the globe.

Of course former FBI guy James Comey testifies before Congress and flat out calls the President a God damn liar, which Trump denies and calls Comey a God damn liar and says he will say so under oath. As if, Mr President.

Who could have thought the Republicans could cough up a hair ball worse than George Bush Junior ?

My opinion aside, 40% of Americans think Trump is doing a swell job, sticking it to The Man, feeling their rage. Too bad these same people will lose their health care, get fleeced by Wall Street and special interests (so long, Dodd Frank), see their food stamps and benefits shrivel to the size of their scrotum, the poor bastards. Why should I care, really ?

But let's not forget the UK's hubris : Theresa May gets walloped by Jeremy Corbyn who is looking, well, rather attractive though he is the Leftist wolf breathing on the country's front door. All May had to do was keep her mouth shut, govern and negotiate Brexit which kicks off, like, Now.

My bet is that Boris will take over the conservative party followed by a 2nd general election in 2017. Labour wins it.