Monday, January 31
Sunday, January 30
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.
Saturday, January 29
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
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.
Friday, January 28
Thursday, January 27
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.
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
Tuesday, January 25
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.
Monday, January 24
Grace and Moe in Berkeley- I am guessing 1983 or '84?
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: Bowlingmuseum.com and Hunsinger, Earl. "Bowling – The Sport of Kings and Working Men." Article at www.buzzle.com)
"Smokey, this is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules."
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.
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)
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.
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
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.
Wednesday, January 19
No. 22: The flagship boutique of Lanvin
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.
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.
Monday, January 17
Sunday, January 16
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.
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.
Friday, January 14
Sonnet: "Madeleine - trumpet."
Madeleine: "But the Simpsons!"
Sonnet: "Practice comes first."
Madeleine: "But it's a cliff hanger!"
Wednesday, January 12
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.
Monday, January 10
Sunday, January 9
"There is no pornography here, there's no sex, there are no virgins menstruating or feeling each other up. This is artistic expression."
Wednesday, January 5
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.