Thursday, October 31
Madeleine comes in from Halloween with a score, which she spreads on the carpet and we examine together. Her favourite this year: "Gummy Brains". Me: Why do you like them? Madeleine: Because they are gummy. Fair enough. Eitan on Richmond Hill trick 'o treating with ten teenagers. Curfew, 10PM.
Eitan: "Suffocating is the worse way to die."
Me: "Boiling in oil."
Madeleine: "So you are saying, Eitan, you would rather boil to death than suffocate?"
Me: "I'd want a bullet. One shot then I'm dead."
Eitan: "Suffocating would take two minutes."
Me: "When they boiled that guy in Shogun it was 24 hours."
Madeleine: "24 hours, Eitan."
Eitan: "It wouldn''t be worse than suffocating."
Me: "How about poking your brains out. Through your eyeballs?"
Madeleine: "At least that would be quick."
Aneta: "It time to go to swimming now."
"90% of all the world's data created in the last two years."
This, above all other sound bytes, makes me pause: information is available the question is how we will use it to save the planet and ourselves.
How we will use Big Data is only at the beginning of our imaginations.
Wednesday, October 30
Since Eitan without his gadgets after taking his gadgets to Greece when told not to take his gadgets to Greece, he sneaks around looking for his gadgets, hidden by Sonnet in a place I know not where (Me: "Where's the God damn tv remote?"). I am informed he finds them. Otherwise they read.
Madeleine: "Did you see our pumpkins, Dad?"
Me: "Yes. And I knew straight-away which one was yours - the smaller one with the gruesome carving"
Me: "It looks like Eitan is going to a party so it's just you and me for Halloween."
Madeleine: "I'm going with Zara and Molly."
Me: "Cool. Can I go too?"
Me: "I'm going as Rocky. Boxing trunks, no shirt."
Madeleine: "Um Dad.. .."
Me: "Adrian! Adrian!"
Madeleine: "OK, dad, whatever."
Tuesday, October 29
So Lou Reed is dead, a man I never quite got nor particularly sought out. His songs 'Walk On The Wild Side' and 'Pefect Day' cut through the clutter but I can't think of any others. People compare him to Dylan but I think, no way. Reed's association with the over rated Andy Warhol makes him all the more suspect. Still, his influence on New Wave and punk is behind much of the music I listen to and enjoy today. He was out there so full credit.
"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out."
Friday, October 25
We visit the Hermitage in Amsterdam which is the Amsterdam branch of the Hermitage in St Petersburg which owns an enormous collection of everything. Today's special exhibition displays Gauguin, Bonnard and Denis, French painters from the 1890s. The Russians, of course, fascinated by Parisian culture from this epoch and the most sophisticated Russians owned apartments on the Left Bank where they would invest in the scene, taking it back to Moscow.
Me, I find an empty gallery and eagerly ask Sonnet to take photos before we are found out.
Sonnet: "Shall we go to the ballet?" (Editor's note: we walk by the Amsterdam Opera House)
Me: "Sure, I would love to go."
Sonnet to the box office attendee: "We will have two centre seats please."
Me: "What time does it start? What time does it end?"
Box office attendee: "It starts at 8:15 and ends at 11:30PM."
Me: "Um, maybe we should think about this a minute."
Sonnet to box office attendee: "We will go for a walk and think about it."
Box office attendee: "I'll be here."
Thursday, October 24
Sonnet and I in Amsterdam taking advantage of the kids final days of swimming camp. Funny how we feel five years younger.
We stroll along canals to the Van Gogh museum but it is really too nice an afternoon to be indoors so we sit at an outside cafe and people-watch. The cyclists are mad - no helmets - and it is unclear who has priority. Cars also drive too fast for the narrow roads and the sidewalks barely accommodate a single person. Oh, well - it is charming and beautiful and we enjoy the moment.
In 2003 Mayor Ken Livingstone banned feeding the Trafalgar Sq pigeons and, in 2007, levied a £500 fine on the bird loving nutjobs who often brought 20 kg or more of seed, flaunting the rules. Birds of prey were introduced in to eliminate the plague and now not a pigeon in sight. Good riddance, I say.
Wednesday, October 23
And, so, today, the Royal Baptism gets front and center. The seven godparents receive full page coverage (celebrities!), the Queen's very footsteps followed (BBC: "And now, Her Majesty the Queen, will lead a small family gathering to a separate chamber for the official photographs.. . " The Queen hobbles along) and Will and Kate looking marvellous (of course), making it all seem so damn easy. Man, I must have been inadequate when Eitan and Madeleine that age.
In other news, an infestation of venomous spiders closes a school. Usual stuff.
Tuesday, October 22
We return home 11:30PM - late for a weeknight - and I do recall Manhattan when it was impossible to retire before 1AM.
Monday, October 21
Sunday, October 20
I do some chores around the house including re painting the conservatory. The smell of mineral spirits always takes me back to the summers of 1987 and 1988 in Barrington and Providence, Rhode Island - a time of adventure and exhilaration even if stressful and very often overwhelming. My memories shared with a number of friends relived whenever together. My parents knew maybe 5% of of it and now I must accept : Eitan and Madeleine on their own path and I am a passenger to their journey.
There is a scramble at the door then Sonnet and the kids off for the airport. Eitan and Madeleine in Greece for one week of training. The little dudes will see four hours of pool time, one hour of land training and further stretching and aerobics a day. Somewhere in there should be some fun but Madeleine seriously doubts it. Following a solo visit with Stan over the summer they are prepared and no drama. 16 swimmers plus Coach make the trip, no electronics allowed.
The Internets (source: Google)
1998 - 3.6 million Google searches and 26 million web pages
1999 - Jeff founds eZoka.com
2008 - 637bn searchs and 1tr web pages
2013 - 1.9tn searches and 60tn web pages
Eitan: "See you in a week."
Thursday, October 17
Me: "I would say it's your body and go for it. Mom might have a different view, mind you."
Me: "They numb your ear then put a needle through the lobe. I bet it hurts."
Madeleine: "Not really."
Me: "And how would you know?"
Me: "Are you thinking about doing it?"
Madeleine: "Maybe. Did you have one?"
Me: "Yeah, in high school. My left ear."
Madeleine: "That is so cool. Can you still put an ear ring in it?"
Me: "I suppose, but it has been a long time."
Madeleine shows me a stud in her left her. Me: "You did it! That is so great."
Madeleine: "Do you think so?"
Me: "Where did you go?"
Madeleine: "In Putney, at a place. I was with my friends."
Me: "Did you feel pressured to do it? That's the only thing that would make me concerned."
Madeleine: "I decided to do it."
Me: "Do you want me to tell your mother or you?"
Madeleine: "You can tell her."
Dad's note: It turns out Madeleine has a magnet that looks like an ear stud. No piercing.
Me: "You so totally set me up!"
Madeleine, grinning: "Yeah."
Aneta walks into the TV room. Madeleine: "What would you say if I got my ears pierced?"
Eitan: "I have to do homework."
Me: "You're not excused, we would wish your company."
Eitan: "Homework is more important."
Me: "Give us two minutes. You can put a watch on it."
Madeleine: "I'll do it."
Me: "So tell me something interesting."
Madeleine: "Ready, set, go!"
Me: "Ok, I'll ask you a question to get things going."
Madeleine: "15 seconds."
Me: "I'm feeling the pressure. Ok, what did you do in maths class? No, no. Who are you hanging out with these days?"
Me: "Anybody else?"
Me: "Anybody outside of East Sheen?"
Madeleine: "60 seconds!"
Me: "Who's he?"
Eitan: "A boy."
Me: "Is he a good friend?"
Eitan: "I'm leaving."
Madeleine: "And he as thirty seconds left."
Wednesday, October 16
Me: "What are you up to today?"
Sonnet: "I am meeting a fashion film maker to review his proposal for my show. He's Canadian, residing in Paris."
Me: "That's cool, what's he going to do?"
Sonnet: "He's filming close ups of the V and A garments and is going to do a slow motion edit. I wanted something different from the usual catwalk footage."
Me: "Why don't you just put up "Godzilla Versus King Kong"? Now that would be different."
Sonnet cracks up.
Tuesday, October 15
Madeleine: "What do you mean?"
Me: "Do you approve of her behaviour? At the MTV awards?"
Madeleine: "I guess so."
Me: "When she was twerking."
Me: "And rubbing her bottom in Robin Thicke's mid section."
Madeleine: "Ok, Dad."
Sonnet: "Your Dad is just winding you up, Madeleine. He's still 16 years old."
Me: "And her video, 'Wrecking Ball. "
Me: "Where she sails around naked on a wrecking ball."
Me: "And licks a hammer."
Madeleine: "She licks a hammer?"
Madeleine: "I do not approve of that."
Saturday, October 12
Me: "I would pay them of course. Don't you know anybody who wants to make some extra money?"
Madeleine under her breathe: "Don't do it Dad."
Eitan: "It would make us look lazy or something."
Me: "What's the big deal? I will be working with them."
Eitan: "It's just weird. Other families don't ask for help."
Me: "So I have to do all the outside chores by myself?"
Madeleine: "We kids have lots of other things to be doing other than chores."
Eitan: "Can we talk about something else?"
Friday, October 11
Sonnet is speaking at Columbia and arrives in Manhattan yesterday. She is with Katie, who she joins at work (Katie gets a grant from the Ford Foundation, woo hoo!). I speak to Sonnet 4AM NY time. She tells me it's dark and everybody asleep, my least favorite time of day. Blue meanies.
Thursday, October 10
Madeleine's netball team takes on Wimbledon and the gals crush their opponents, 15-1. It's a real confidence booster.
Me: "The thing about getting older, is at some point you stop caring about what other people think."
Madeleine: "Where's this going Dad?"
Me: "The funny thing is, you spend your whole life being embarrassed or uncomfortable and just as you think it's behind you.. . "
Me: "I have you guys on my case."
Madeleine: "Like the cow suit."
Madeleine: "Or singing whenever my friends are around."
Madeleine: "Or that time you were dancing when Billy came over."
Me: "Ok, I get it."
Tuesday, October 8
And here is what I learn about the Middle East from Jose Fernandez, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic, Energy and Business Affairs for THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (this is how his business card reads. No, really) : the 15-29 year age bracket accounts for ca. 30% of the population. Youth unemployment is around 40% and unemployment for those with a university degree is twice as high as those without. This means higher education preparing young people for jobs that do not exist. It is not surprising to learn that, when polled, 80% want to work in the public sector. Already it is around 60%.
Thibault from Astorg and I wade through a number of meetings, lectures, coffee sessions and general riff raffery at the Super Return conference. It must be done.
Monday, October 7
Eitan and Madeleine run a 2K road race to qualify for the borough championships only I forget to give them their race day bar code so the effort for not. Stabbing sensation in .. heart . .. Eitan wins his age group, fourth overall; Madeleine in the top 30. Both would have qualified for Team Richmond.
Saturday, October 5
I am looking forward to visiting Abu Dhabi and Dubai and checking out the Burj Khalifa but this hardly compensates for missing tomorrow's 2k road race where Eitan and Madeleine aim to qualify for the borough cross country championships.
This evening the kids are at their club swimming championships where Madeleine competes the 200m breast, 100 freestyle and 200 IM. For Eitan, the 200 fly, 200 IM and 100 free. Sonnet and I take the dog for a long walk and now watch junk television, her choice.
Friday, October 4
Tomorrow I return to London followed by Sunday to the UAE.
The partners each make a brief remark on what they would wish to accomplish during the offsite. Me: "Je suis ici pour apprendre le français."
Thursday, October 3
Wednesday, October 2
Tuesday, October 1
Madeleine and I hit Westfield London which opened in '08 and offers 150,000m² of retail space or the equivalent of about 30 football pitches - the thing is God damn big. I ask myself : how many styles of trainer can one look at ?
In my day, the closest mall was Hilltop in Richmond, California, which opened in 1976 and built on land previously occupied by the Chevron Oil Corporation tank farm. There was parking for miles. Christmas lights went up in October and, in 7th grade, I shopped for a gold medallion to go with my feathered hair. Now, when I consider Hilltop, I think of Dawn Of The Dead where a group of refugees hole up in a shopping complex to escape zombies.
England, as Napoleon famously said, is a nation of shopkeepers. Until Westfield, London's only mall was Queensway which turned-over clothing boutiques catering to mustachioed men and frizzy haired women. No Prada, no Gucci, no Banana Republic but there is a M&S.