One more photo and Halloween a wrap. Kids back to school tomorrow following half-term break. Sonnet's monthly departmental meeting early Monday and I have to send my %^&*$ computer to Sony for repairs. Oh, and the boiler still not fixed so no heat. Rusty just took an enormous shit on the kitchen floor. But, on the bright side, the kids count their loot and the party a success. We are going to watch a family movie, Tom Hank's "Big," and we have an extra hour thanks to day-light savings. Life is good.
Sunday, October 31
The Empire State Building, all 102 floors of her, taken from Katie's office floor. This baby stood as the world's tallest building for more than 40 years, from its completion in 1931 until construction of the World Trade Center's North Tower in 1972. In 2001, she became New York's tallest building again.
Orenstein has received a Peabody-Gardner Fellowship, Tinker Grant and a Cordier Essay Prize (from Columbia University), and was a finalist for the 2004 Prize for Promise, designed “to identify young women, aged 21-35,of great promise and vision who could... become world leaders in their respective fields.” She is a fellow with The Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, and a fellow of the Echoing Green Foundation, which selected The OpEd Project as one of 19 of the most innovative social enterprises worldwide, out of a pool of 1500 applicants.
Here is Katie's fabulous Operations Director Danielle, pictured. Danielle also runs the Mentor-Editor Program, which includes 17 Pulitzer Prize recipients. In addition to her role at The OpEd Project, she is the treasurer of One Village Planet---a non-profit organization which focuses on sustainable development and agriculture in Haiti and Ghana--and is the founder and President of The One Village Planet-Women's Development Initiative---a non-profit dedicated to ensuring safe working conditions for women in the Tamale region of Ghana, West Africa--who are involved in the shea industry as both harvesters and processors---and empowering them to attain sustainable economic autonomy. Danielle received her MFA in Poetry from Hunter College, in New York City, where she also teaches creative writing and composition to undergraduates (from the Op-Ed website). She is also totally cool as only one can be in New Yawk City.
Saturday, October 30
The Giants are in the World Series, vs. the TX Rangers, for the first time since 2002 when they played the the Anaheim Angels. Back then, the Giants split the first two games in Anaheim and took two of three at Pac Bell Park. With the Giants leading the series three games to two following a 16–4 blowout win in Game 5, the series shifted back to Anaheim and the momentum with with it. With the Giants leading 5–0 (5 to nil!) in the bottom of the 7th of Game 6, Manager Dusty Baker removed starter Russ Ortiz and handed him the "game" ball as he left the mound. Moments later, Scott Spiezio hit a three-run home run for the Angels off reliever Felix Rodriguez, who then went on to win the game 6–5. The following night, Anaheim won Game 7, 4–1 to claim the Series. We are still smarting from that one. Dusty now Manager of the Cincinnati Reds.
Before Game 1, Christian and I walk to Pac Bell ballpark to check out the vibe. Giants fans dress in orange and black with wigs to support opening pitcher Tim Lincecum, known as "the Freak," or black beards for Brian Wilson ("Fear the beard). Christian spots SF mayor Gavin Newsome in civilian fatigues and gets a shout out; the day before he recognised Giant's manager Bruce Bochy, incognito, as we jog by the crowded Ferry Building. I don't know how Christian does it - these guys just don't stand out for me. The evening before I am at a cocktail party for Industry Ventures then Christian and I meet at the Great American Music Hall to hear new band "Best Coast" which we both like. The lead singer a California convert: she sings about mountains and oceans and love. All that. We are six feet from the band. Afterwards we go to excellent restaurant Flour+Water on Harrison Street. The next night I rally for two more bands including Eux Autres. I meet lead singer Heather Larimer who is from Nebraska and, at 18, "got the first bus outta there." Eux Autres channel 60s French pop and I dig it. Heather tells me she will be in London in February.
Grace and Moe, alive and vibrant. Grace is the operations director of the Link To Children (TLC), a non-profit she founded in 1996 with Katrina Ross and a few others; I recall Katrina from the Montessori School Grace started in the basement of an Oakland church and ran with Katrina in the 1970s and early 1980s (Grace and I went to the church earlier this year and memories from 35 years ago true). TLC's mission statement: to support the healthy emotional development of children 0-5 years of age within a culturally relevant context so that young children will be able to learn to their full potential, even in difficult times and under difficult circumstances by providing early intervention mental health services at child care centers in Alameda County. TLC's two-year multi-lingual, multi-cultural training internship provides post-masters mental health interns with a specialization in culturally competent early childhood mental health.
Today, TLC interns provide up to 3400 hours a year of early intervention services to the families of eleven centers. They collaborate with parents, preschool teachers, administrators, and community agencies in support of the healthy emotional development of young children. TLC has a Clinical Supervision Team who supervise the mental health interns. TLC is one of four agencies funded by Every Child Counts First Five to partner in the development of mental health services for all children five and under in Alameda County. In addition, through the Early Opportunities Learning Act TLC is partnering with Safe Passages of Oakland to provide services to two South Alameda County child development centers. Also, TLC has just opened a new play therapy office at the Alameda County Family Justice Center in Oakland, a one-stop service center for victims of domestic violence and their children.
Grace receives donor support from Kaiser Permanente, The Saperstein Family Fund, the California Endowment, and Target, Inc. along with 25 other foundations, public funding sources and corporate contributions.
I am behind on my weblog following a week in California. Bare with me. My photo of the Bay Area taken from Panaramic Rd in the North Berkeley Hills behind Memorial football stadium. The Golden Gate visible to the immediate left of the tree. I arrive SFO Monday afternoon and up the following morning 4AM. Rather then lay in bed and fight my demons, I pinch my dad's tri-pod and quietly let myself out the front door. This the dead-zone: the only movement a lone, empty bus (the No. 65 which used to be the No. 7 in my day) which cruises up Euclid Avenue. I pass the Cal dorms, Top Dog (a Berkeley fixture since '66), a sciences building and the business school - all locked down. I brought Sonnet to Panaramic during our early courtship and she recalls the night - like now, it was unusually warm and the view unchanged. I make my phone calls and consider the strangeness of looking at this while talking to Helsinki or London. Not possible fifteen years ago.
We have a proper family re-union dinner as Katie in Palo Alto where she signs a partnership with Stanford University. They will provide editorial training for women and minorities.
Sunday, October 24
While "Rusty" not a pure-breed, his parents are pure-breeds (we have no plans to stud "Rusty" so no need to own papers which otherwise make him more expensive). "Rusty's" dad, pictured, is a pure-breed and won a series of local Powys competitions this year, selected "Best Pedigree," "Best Gun Dog," "Best Sporting Dog," and "Best Conditioned Dog," 2010. He also won "Best In Show" and since this his first competition the locals pretty pissed off. We are told this by Steve and Kati who are very proud of their pets. The drive to Wales adds to the story - a Welsh Springer Spaniel from .. Wales.
The Anglo-Saxon word for 'foreign' or 'foreigner' was Waelisc and a 'foreign(er's) land' was called Wēalas. The modern English forms of these words with respect to the modern country are Welsh (the people) and Wales (the land). Historically in Britain the words were not restricted to modern Wales or to the Welsh but were used indiscriminately to refer to anything that the Anglo-Saxons associated with Celtic Britons, including other foreign lands (like Cornwall), places once associated with Celtic Britons (Walworth in County Durham and Walton in West Yorkshire), the surnames of people (Walsh and Wallace) and various other things that were once new and foreign to the Anglo-Saxons (ergo,"the walnut"). None of these historic usages is necessarily connected to Wales or the Welsh. The Anglo-Saxon words derived from the same Germanic root (singular Walh, plural Walha) that has provided modern names for Continental lands (e.g., Wallonia and Wallachia) and peoples (e.g., the Vlachs via a borrowing into Old Church Slavonic), none of which have any connection to Wales or the Welsh. Source: Wiki.
Tabitha, Johny and AC work on the cake mix - I think this one Sonnet's gingerbread cake. Sonnet also prepares a pork roast with apples and onions, parsnips, carrots and mashed potatoes. Fab-u-lous. Afterwards we put the kiddies to bed and sit around the fire talking about middle aged stuff: house design, real estate values, fx rates and the movies. A bit of "Mad Men" and "Brothers and Sisters" which Sonnet and I will check out after "The Wire" as we are about to begin Season 4. Really these things are all consuming and I have not read a book in some while. Dave and Tabitha have remodelled their home - every room flows and light floods through windows that look across cherry and apple groves, poplar and other trees which are changing colour in a most brilliant fashion. Beyond are open fields and the rolling hills of England. Below us, Bath. Tomorrow, dog.
Saturday, October 23
From Heathrow I catch the Paddington Express to meet Dave then off to Bath for the week end where Sonnet, Tabitha and Sam are seeing the ballet while the men prepare dinner (risotto, venison) and watch the kids (TV, chocolate cake). Sam and John are a neat couple - for the last 18 years John has been the key photographer for the Brits which is Britain's oscars. He has an wonderful inventory of popular images and I hope to choose one or two for our living room or somewhere. The kids race to my open arms as we have not seen each other since Monday. Sonnet does the same. Madeleine especially enthusiastic while Eitan has a bit of his cool on. He is pre-occupied by Wayne Rooney who announced he was leaving Manchester United but I am delighted to bring him the immediate news that Rooney has signed a five-year contract with ManU. I feel like Father Christmas.
I have an evening in Zurich and go for a jog along the lake. Since autumnal and the light changing with the afternoon and clouds, I bring along my camera and take a few shots – pictured. My first visit to Zurich in 1984 for a swimming meet. It looks no different today, really, despite a few new buildings and roadworks around the train station. Clean and charming. White. I dodge the trams to get across the street. From here it is Gutenberg, Sweden - a new city! -and Helsinki.
Tuesday, October 19
I jog this morning, 7AM, and disoriented by the activity on the Champs-Élysées - did my alarm go off at the wrong time? The avenue well lit, naturally, but there are people concluding their evening while street workers scrub down the road. Traffic honks away. It feels like midnight not the beginning of the day. My run takes me down the Champs to Place de la Concorde which is like playing "frogger" to cross. The Parisiennes have no qualms about striking a jogger at this hour. From there it is Toulerise then the Louvre; I cross a bridge to the Left Bank regarding Île de la Cité from point-on and finally Notre Dame with a single statue of Mary drawing my attention. By the time I return to my hotel the sun glancing the golden rooftops from the Grand Palais to the Arc de Triomphe, pictured. This is the Western World.
What I don't get about the strikes, as I sit here in Paris across the street from the presidential palace, is why young people are involved (at now, ten of 12 oil refineries have have shut down or are in the process of closing while half the flights from CDG cancelled. Could be me tomorrow). Afterall, the protests about moving the retirement age from 60 (the lowest in Europe) to 62 and reforming the pension scheme which is much needed for its survival. For the yuf, this is a lifetime away - what twenty-year-old thinks beyond next week? Students should be fighting to ensure they get a piece of the pie, ie, pro-reform, instead of a possible insolvency. But I suppose this does not work when the state viewed as the secure long-term career track. By contrast, my free market taxi driver is énervé by the lack of fuel which means he may not work tomorrow. So I hope for Sarkozy's success. Of course the disruptions occur as I am with foreign investors who may committ tens of millions of euros to France. But at least yesterday it was a lovely fall afternoon with the foliage turning orange and the light bouncing from the Seine so, really, where else compares?
Despite it all, France has a powerful economy, which is the fifth largest in the world in nominal terms at $2.1 trillion, behind the United States, China, Japan and Germany and the eighth largest by purchasing power parity. It is the second largest economy in Europe behind Germany and fourth largest behind Germany, United Kingdom and Russia by PPP (World Bank figures). Unemployment at 10% keeps people nervous and the taxes are high no doubt (with UK catching up) but the health care and transportation networks are, arguably, the best in the world for what they provide.
Sunday, October 17
The Alton Estate, pictured, is a large council in Roehampton not too far from Sheen. It's made up of Alton East and the slightly later Alton West, each with several separate neighbourhoods. There are 13,000 residents making it one of the UK's largest. The architecture is mainly split between brutalist architecture and its Scandinavian-inspired counterpart. The area comprising a crossroads which links Roehampton Lane, Roehampton Village and the estate is undergoing planning to be redeveloped by Wandsworth Council.
Alton West was considered by many British architects to be the crowning glory of post World War Two social housing at tits completion in 1958. What made Alton West so special was its response to its setting: Built on a large expanse of parkland on the edge of Richmond Park, Alton West was a direct translation of Le Corbusiers’ idea of the Ville Radieuse or park city; sets of "point" and "slab" blocks being surrounded by the beauty of Richmond Park below. On this natural landscape at Alton West stood a number of different housing configurations; 12-storey "point" blocks with 4 flats per floor, terraces of low-rise maisonettes and cottages and perhaps most famously, five 11-storey "slab" blocks, heavily influenced by the recently completed Unité d'Habitation by Le Corbusier. Source: Wandsworth Council and Wiki
We have several families over for Sunday lunch including Dariaush who is from Iran. We talk about Iran's nuclear program and I learn that Iran's problem water. Specifically non-salienated "sweet" water which is used to extract oil. Consequently Iran depleting its water tables rapidly. Further, Iran's oil refined outside of the country by foreign companies. Consequently, Dariaush informs me, Iran must import oil from the global spot markets and it is not always cheap. See 2007. This is the reason for Iran's nuclear plans - despite being one of the world's largest owner of oil and gas they have to import energy and nuclear power cheaper+less water intensive. Their bomb making ambitions make no sense: Why spend billions building a nuclear weapon when one can be purchased for a couple hundred million on the black market? See Pakistan or North Korea. As for secrecy, Iran has likely acquired its technology from unsavory or surprising sources which it does not wish to share. Maybe Russia? Maybe America? As for Ahmadinejad it is any one's guess as to how he remains in power - nobody likes him including Mir-Hossein Mousavi Khameneh who is the powerful leader of the opposition party. Khameneh's nephew Seyed Ali Mousavi was killed by Ahmadinejad's security forces during the Iranian election protests and now his son accused of corruption. Ahmadinejad poking the hornet's nest. Dariaush thinks Big Business keeps Ahmadinejad in power since global companies benefit from oil sales contracts with Iran. Ahmadinejad a foil, propaganda, on scale with Iran's war with Iraq in the 1980s which united a country against a common cause, Iraq, while individuals lost their freedom after the Shah's removal (consider: USA WMD). This time though it might not work for Ahmadinejad but who knows?
Sonnet meets the European Editor for Wired Magazine who refuses to sign up for Facebook. He is a gadget guy, he tells her. There is a new media element to the scene which is not surprising since Emily's husband James once at Yahoo and then part of the founding management of Skype and now responsible for Condé Nast's digital strategy. Condé publishes 85 magazines (including Wired). James sits on the main board with S.I. Newhouse Jr and is the youngest guy by ten years. Our mutual friend Nick Denton, founder of blog empire Gawker Media, profiled in this week's New Yorker magazine.
Saturday, October 16
Showing the world Europe can still do something with its hands and following 14 years of drilling, Switzerland builds the world’s longest rail tunnel - pictured. The Swiss tunnel's 34 miles cuts straight through the Alps. It is about 2.5 miles longer than the previous record tunnel in Japan. Unfortunately for those around and nearby, today's completion only the first stage of the project which includes more .. tunnels. And is not expected to be completed for maybe, like, 7 years. Designed primarily for large freight traffic, the tunnel will reduce travel time across the mountains and speed up commerce and trade. The trip from Zurich to Milan, for instance, now one hour faster. The project employed 2,500 diggers moving enough dirt and rock to build five of the Egyptian Pyramids.
Friday, October 15
Tuesday, October 12
Katie brings back wonderful memories of commuting to work in the Big Apple with her photo she sends me. My first year in New York I caught the "F" train from Greenwich Village up 6th Avenue to the 50th and Park Avenue station and the Mighty First Boston (Park Avenue Plaza - 55 East 52nd Street). Sometimes I got a seat but usually standing room only. Funny how I recall my very first day of work with Erik who "moood" like a cattle as we shuffled along the platform towards the exit - nobody paid him no mind. That would have been August 1989 after our 10-week "training" program meant to turn us into Financial Analysts or Investment Bankers or whatever we were meant to be. Underpaid whipping boys, mostly. But I guess it got us somewhere.
“When it's three o'clock in New York, it's still 1938 in London.”
Monday, October 11
Eitan and I check out the Tiffen School in Kingston - chemistry lab pictured (do note the flames originating from the boy's hands). Tiffen the best grammar school in our area and, indeed, one of the country's very best schools: the Head Teacher tells us Tiffen "inside Britain's Top-5 state schools" based on test scores while sending a fifth of its kids to "Oxbridge." Tiffen is also free, making it very dear: 1,400 applications chase 140 spots. We enjoy our grounds tour led by a confident 8th grader named "Kush" whose parents immigrated from some obscure part of India. Kush's dream is to read maths at Oxford or Cambridge and Eitan mortified when I ask Kush if he knows 8 x 7. Just testing. I notice that there are plenty of Indian students while all the kids delightfully awkward and goofy with bad skin, untucked shirts and unpolished shoes (I tell Eitan that if he goes to Tiffen he doesn't have to comb his hair). This nothing like St Paul's or the Hampton School where those boys blue blood and polished. Eitan and I discuss the differences between public and state schools and I note that while the publics might have better facilities and teacher-student ratios, they may fail to offer a fair cross section of society and could miss the most interesting people. This my experience at Berkeley High School anyway - my friends from then generally more interesting than the Ivy League. To hand, the "Head Boy" who addresses the auditorium remarkable - poised, confident, white and a strong jawline. We are all relieved I am sure.
Madeleine insists everything under control as she leaves for an after-school play date with Molly even though I do not know Molly's address or the pick-up coordination. Once sorted, we have a good chuckle together over this photo as we walk off the school playground.
Sunday, October 10
My London friends don't quite 'get' the American cheerleader. I can understand this - cheerleaders are so, well, in your face and all. So not British. No other sport - or country - presents the supporting staff in a similar, patronising, sexist fashion. Love it. Cheer leading began, dear reader, in 1898 when Johnny Campbell convinced a crowd at the University of Minnesota to chant "Rah, Rah, Rah! Ski-u-mah, Hoo-Rah! Hoo-Rah! Varsity! Varsity! Varsity, Minn-e-So-Tah!” Today, All-Star Cheer Leading attracts 1.5 million participants a year. Outside the USA, ESPN International started broadcasting cheer leading from 1997 and the 2000 film "Bring It On" increased the sport's exposure further yet. Today, Newsweek reports, there are 100,000 cheerleaders scattered around world in places like Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand and, yes, even the United Kingdom.
Saturday, October 9
Madeleine: "Did you know that dogs only see in black and white?"
I wake up - Saturday! - with my mile-long to-do list from taking Eitan to football to replacing the key-hole on the front door. In between I replace an electrical socket, untangle a shower hose, hang the kitchen clock, rake some leaves and sand down the bottom of a door which was scratching the hallway floor. I like doing this stuff, all by 3PM, when Marcus comes over to join Madeleine for some homework on the Tudors. We are off to the Richmond Museum, which is a couple of rooms above the local library. I learn a lot about the area including Richmond Palace which is no longer with us.
Madeleine: "Can we pop into the Party Palace?"