Tuesday, October 31


Natalie and I see Christian Lacroix at the V&A, definately a sexy affair. Sonnet has been working hard on this installment of Fashion In Motion, which takes place in the Raphael cartoon gallery at the museum. There are five shows today, culminating in a party for the French embassy and various members of the society enchanté.

Natalie and I met in 1997, when she was the Director of Strategy at Excite.com, her first job after Harvard Business School. Since, she has had a number of Managing Director roles in media companies including Discovery, Fox Kids and most recently Freemantle, where she oversaw the investment progam. When not in the board room or Executive Suite, Natalie can be found with her three children in St John's Wood, the youngest we met several weeks ago at his bris. Today she darts off early to host a Hallowe'en party for twenty trick-or-treaters. I stick around to look at Sixties Fashion, which is on display to February 2007.

Blustery Halloween

It is a blustery fall day in London and just perfect for Hallowe'en. Last night I tell the kids a genuinely scary account of the haunted "Miller's Farm", which has on occassion before entered my bedtime storyline. The gist is two boys who walk across an empty field to explore a deserted wood house on the top of a hill. They see a candle faintly buring inside and then the house comes forward to take them, never to be seen again. Eitan is bug eyed, while Madeleine wales that she won't be able to sleep. Tough going for them!

This morning while walking to school and surrounded by other kids, Eitan (from corner of mouth) tells me to "stop singing dad!"

Monday, October 30


I have the kids today, Sunday, as Sonnet prepares for the Lacroix Fashion-In-Motion at the V&A. Eitan has a mid-day birthday party in Putney, so I take them early to the Putney piers where the rowing squads launch into the river. We find that the "tide is out" and Eitan and Madeleine collect smooth glass bits while avoiding the swans and geese who harass them for a snack. The Thames is clean and tidal, and smells of salt. Other treasures found by Madeleine include tiny shells and water snails and other creatures captured for the moment in puddles. We spend some time talking about the why and the how of the river's tides, but really this is lost against the excitement of exploring the bank side. Here they race towards me as the sun sets across London. The day drifts by slowly thanks to the warm weather and extra hour from day-light savings.


Madeleine and I go to McDonald's in Putney while Eitan attends Elliot's birthday party at Eddie Katz. It's a warm October day, and plenty of people are about this Sunday. We don't often have one-on-one time like this, and I receive lots of approving stairs from curious strangers (wish I had this prop in college). I see that Madeleine lives her life from one treat to the next and we move down the high street from chicken nuggets to chocolate croissants, to lolly pops... each time she demands equal treatment to Eitan's party. Finally, I explode: "give it a rest!" I say. She: "Ok dad -- after I have a treat."

This game continues until I give in - again. "You can just call me a sucker" I tell her. It's pretty clear she has learned today's lesson.

Sunday, October 29


Mickey Carroll, a small-time petty criminal of Norwich, East Anglia, won £9 million in the 2002 lottery. Doing what comes naturally, he bought a mansion in the genteel town of Swaffham, built a racing track in the grounds, and invited all his friends round for a non-stop, drug-fuelled orgy. "I would buy a kilo of coke, 500 ecstasy tabs, 200 LSD tabs and a pound of cannabis," he told the Independent. "This would last us five days." Not surprisingly, the neighbours loathed him. "The reason me and one neighbour fell out was, I was on my field with my mates this black 4X4 drove towards us. I grabbed a bat. My brother-in-law a blade. By the time I could see who it was, I was shouting: 'It's the neighbor! It's the neighbor!' bit it was too late. Someone had already punched him in the head." Things got worse when he set fire to a pile of cars and a mobile home and, as Mikey lovingly recalls, "and we had £10,000 of fireworks - the kind that are like, you know, mortars." The locals prayers were answered when he was jailed this year for terrorising a Christian disco.

Yesterday Eitan and I spent the day with Shai and Ada Weiss, and their children Yuval and Ynon. We visited the Natural History Museum to see the Giant Blue Whale and other acquatics, and learn that "whales have blubber and eat plankton." From there we all go to Carluccio's in South Kensington for lunch. Sonnet has Madeleine to herself, and the girls do some shopping errands and then lunch at The Victoria.

Friday, October 27

Summer re-visited

Yoga, anyone? Sonnet introduced me to meditation and yoga in San Francisco circa 1993 when I would do about anything for her love. Sonnet's favorite remains Bikram Yoga, known as the "hot" yoga and founded in Southern California by a sadist. The idea is to sweat your ass off in an over-heated room filled with mostly naked women (ok, this can be good) covered with industrial carpeting to best capture the smell of sweat and feet. We struggle with our bodies, and mental state for 90 minutes, especially the beginners who sometimes must leave to vomit and/or recover. Afterwards, one's skin feels like rubber and there is a natural "high" similar, I imagine, to an opium coma. I sleep well. My problem is, and always has been my flexibility which is below average. While Sonnet can hit the most challenging poses like the "downward dog" and the "camel," I struggle to keep my balance. Here I can be seen practising the "Triangle Pose" (I think) while in the Sierras.


This is a painting by Eitan. The kids are into their arts and I will post something soon by Madeleine. Last night I return to a wild household, with Eitann and Madeleine dressed in their Hallowe'en costumes, purchased at Woolworths thank you. Madeleine has a grey-green wig and purple and very pointy hat. And of course a broom. Eitan's outfit is a bit more difficult. It is a rubber face mask complete with nose-warts, stringy hair and sagging skin. He wears his pj's so perhaps the full effect is a tad lost. Next Tuesday at dusk I will chaperone the kids around the neighborhood with their pillow cases to hand, and their eyes filled with greed. Eitan already hordes his valuable candy, and is well aware of the pay-day from next week.

Meanwhile and with the exception of some needed rain, we have had an unusually warm autumn with temperatures stuck in the 60s. More to season, the leaves are falling and we have lost sunlight due to our high latitude. Now all I need is (American) football, and Cal to the Rose Bowl.

Thursday, October 26


Madeleine, it is fair to say, is a determined girl (some might argue stubborn). Sonnet and I marvel at this quality on the fooball pitch where she is one of a handfull of her sex, tree-climbing and her household chores (sometimes they get done, sometimmes they don't). Today I watch her set her sights on the jungle-rings, where an older child easily snakes her feet around the bar. Madeleine sets out to do the same, but this is a deceptively easy task. She must pull her weight up, while positioning her head down, to crook her legs in the right position. She makes at least 20 sorties, then takes a break. Looking at me nearby, she growls: "Don't help me dad!" Of course she is also frustrated, and to be sure this is hard work. After the umpteempth effort, she finally figures out the trick and pulls herself up and over to victory. My heart fills with pride, and all of us can relax, mission accomplished.

Wednesday, October 25


Madeleine this morning is in a good mood after having an extra hour of sleep (this week is half-term, so no school). Aggie arrives, and Madeleine chatters away while Aggie and Sonnet plan the day. I sit in the living room with Eitan listening. He: "Those girls sure do talk a lot, dad." Unfortunately for the gang, it continues to rain and Madeleine's beloved Yoga-bugs is cancelled (yoga for kids) presenting an occupational hazard for our nanny. Adding to the bummer is our hard-worked rose petal perfume. Last night we strained the scented water (the petals had been soaking for several days), which I boil to form a concentrate (I explain this to Madeleine and Eitan as I go along: "what is happening when water boils?" I ask. The kids reply rapid fire: Gravity! photosynthesis! Energy! until finally arriving at evaporation.). So how does my perfume turn out in the end? Madeleine: "it smells like cheese pizza dad."

Sunday, October 22


Our day starts at Kew Gardens, where we go to see the pumpkins and other autumnal fair. Eitan and Madeleine collect rose petals, to be turned into perfume (it continues to rain, so anything occupying is good). Katie and I once did this at the Berkeley Rose Garden. A highlight is King George the III's Kew palace, which has undergone a full refurbishment and is now open to the public. It is a dramatic red. We learn that King George, who was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 1760 to 1801, sired 14 children, but enjoyed only one grand child. His wife loved him. Of course, he suffered from the blood disorder porphyria, which was mis-diagnosed as madness and so he became a recluse the later half of his life spending much of his remaining time at the Kew house. During this period, Britain lost many of its colonies including the one across the Atlantic.

Sonnet works away at her book, making last moment corrections before the plates go to print.

Kew Gardens photo from the web.


Yesterday we check out the Battersea Power Station, which is open to the public for the "China Power" exhibition thru 5 Nov.

The BPS was completed in 1939 and the first in a series of very large coal-fired electrical generating facilities set up in England as part of the National Grid power distribution system. This sparked off protests from Londoners who felt the building was too large and and ugly, and from those who were worried about the pollution. When it first opened, the station had a 105 MW steam turbine, the largest in Europe, and expanded to 500 MW after WW II.

The turbines stopped turning in 1981 at around the time the BPS became a Grade 2 listed heritage site so saving it from the wrecking ball. In 1997, Parkside International purchased the BPS and its 38 acre lot to build a shopping mall and condo playground in around the building. So far, design delays and inadequate transportation links have prevented construction, but £1.1B has been ear-marked.

My photo BTW is taken from the southside of the BPS, facing North or towards the Thames and Pimlico on the other side of the river. To the left is the railway heading to Clapham Junction and outward South. Famously the BPS was photographed with a giant pig-shaped balloon floating gently above the smoke stacks for the cover of Pink Floyd's rock album "Animals".

Saturday, October 21


We visit the Battersea Zoo, immediately across the river from Chelsea. Sightings include monkies, lemurs, a goat, some otters, a Vietnamese pot bellied pig (remarkably clean despite the mud), an ecu (the fastest bird on the planet) and my personal favorite the African Giant Snail. To touch the snail, one must wet his hand so as not to make it uncomfortable. Hell, I was concerned about the thing going after my kids. After the zoo, we find a nearby park where Madeleine climbs a tree. We entertain ourselves with tackle-and-tickle as Eitan and Madeleine race between "homie", or two trees 50 meters apart. Eitan takes risks I have never seen when promised one pound for a successful crossing. He succeeds btw, to my surprise, applying new "moves". I will adjust of course, but hey that kid runs fast. We check out the Battersea Power Station then Tobias's birthday party. Sonnet finishes her book and all of us are glad to see her when she returns to us this evening.

Rainy day museum

On a wet Saturday morning reminding me of the Cat In The Hat, the kids scatter their junk, er toys, in the living room to create a museum (which I call "the Museum of Modern Junk"). First, the infrastructure is created with couch and other pillows, a blanket floor and of course the gates - 10 water bottles placed at the entrence. My two curators explain the items: scissors, spider man figure, six marbles, magic ink pen for drawing things, Action Man, a bread knife, a football, one slipper, the TV remote (damn- that's where it has been!), a tennis ball, one side of a walkie-talkie, some tape and other things. Eitan and Madeleine then get down to the busy work of labeling each item. Arts, you see, run in the family.

Friday, October 20


Arthur is my first friend in London, whom I met and formed a warm friendship with around running until age and injury prevented this shared pastime. Then, Arthur was the project engineer at TRW (now Northrop Grumman) overseeing a joint venture with O2 to provide a closed wireless network to Britain's police force and ensuring 99% availability (consumer mobile is way less). Arthur today remains my go-to pal on anything geeky, and we often discuss the abstract on a good British ramble which we used to do quite regularly pre-kids (our last walk several years ago started at Waterloo station at 8PM, ending well after midnight. More recently we biked to Oxford). Arthur bikes everywhere on his 20 year-old trusty ten speed (geer shifts on bike frame), and has spent the past three years re-wiring his penthouse near Regent's Park, NW1. Recently I asked Arthur to describe electricity for Eitan, and his response:

"Two parts to the answer

Energy is a thing that makes things HAPPEN, MOVE OR CHANGE. Examples: toaster, when you run, growing plants, driving a car, heating the kettle, burning a candle, even light from a light bulb is energy, light from the sun.

Every now and then, point out examples of energy in action as you go through the day


Energy is conserved: it moves around between objects and changes type, but it never disappears. Examples:
a. The toaster turns electricity into heat
b. When you run, you turn energy in your food into movement AND HEAT (which is why you feel hot when you exercise)
c. Growing plants take light from the sun and make it into plant stuff (and we get the energy back when we run and "burn off" the plants we ate the day before
d. Motion of car comes from energy in gasoline
e. The kettle makes heat out of electricity
f. Candle makes light and heat out of the energy in the wax (which came from the bees which ate plants which got the energy from the sun)
g. A light bulb makes heat and light from electricity



First, rub two balloons with a piece of wool cloth and show that the balloons repel each other. Explain that there are tiny things called electrons that repel (very similar to little magnets) and that we've just put electrons on the balloons from the wool cloth.

Wires are full of electrons. There's a power plant where they have machines that push on electrons and because the electrons push on each other, a push at the power station appears as a push on the end of the wires in your house (demonstrate pushing electrons by putting Sonnet, Madeleine and Eitan side by side (not front to back) in a line pushing pushing against each other's hands. Then you as the power plant push at one end of the line. Your push should propagate through the line and appear at the other end).

Show wires by examining the plug and cords going to all the electrical devices in the house (including lamps in the ceiling)

So electricity is just pushing electrons. So a push at the power station is a push in your house. All your appliances turn the push into some other kind of energy that is useful. Heat from a kettle, the turning of an electric drill (or if you don't have one, show the motor in the vacuum cleaner turning)

Eitan may not get it all on the first pass, but the concepts of energy and electrons are worth getting used to from early on


Wednesday, October 18

Kick the dog when he's down

This cartoon was sent to me by Sonnet's mom Silver, and seeing how today I mailed my vote to the Montrose County Clerk & Recorder for the November 7 mid-term elections, I feel pretty good about this. Heck, if general incompentency and vacent policy can't get voters riled up, a nice scandel does the trick. No surprise here, I vote my party. And no, I do not wish the state to change its consitution to block same-sax marriage. And yes, soliders and ex-combatents should have special rights for access to housing. Furthermore, the minimum wage should go up a bit, and schools should be required to spend 65% of their budget on teaching. Aren't these things basics for a healthy-like society?

Sonnet jogs into work this morning, so the kids and I mess about before the school run. I make up a story on the fly about a talking owl named Sam, and how he meets the Queen. Eitan tells me I'm old, and when I ask him how he knows - he states: "you are losing your hair." Kick the dog when he's down, I say.

Tuesday, October 17

Celia and Ozzie

Ozzie Clark the designer has been in our house it seems like forever - at least since Sonnet curated an exhibition of his work in July '03. Ozzie dressed the rock stars, actors and celebs of the '70s, and his clothes are instantly recognizable to that era and more generally. Celia Bertwell, his wife and design partner, introduced the fabrics that made Ossie's work so distinguishable. Ozzie was gay and his life ended tragically with drugs and a knife in the stomach in '96; he was destitute. This painting which I saw yesterday, and perhaps David Hockney's most recognised, is on display with other works at the National Portrait Gallery in London until May '07. It shows Celia standing, with Ossie and their cat Percy - normally the woman is in the chair. Also the painting captures the separation between the couple, and indeed they split only weeks after Hockney's portrait of them completed.

Sunday, October 15

Sonnet to Tate

Sonnet at the Tate Modern, which used to be the Bankside Power Station and was deceased in 1981, may she rip. The turbine hall, where Sonnet stands, once housed the electricity generators of the old power station, and is seven storeys tall with 3,400 square metres of floorspace. Now and thanks to Unilever, the Tate displays specially-commissioned work by contemporary artists and will continue to do so until 2008. A boat may take one from the Tate Britain, Britain's national museum, to the Tate Modern which we have done before and do again yesterday.

The fashion in London this season and the past is jeans tucked into knee-high boots. This look seems to be everywhere with the young people we see, and the museum is a magnet for the cool, bored and uncombed, as well as us older folks like us with kids (children, you see, can run around with impunity).

Centrifugal force

The Flying Steamroller: we stumble on this strange art-work, owned by a private collector and family in Switzerland. Designed by Chris Burden, the steamroller is a huge sculpture of a twelve ton steamroller that is attached to apivoting arm with a counterbalance weight. The streamroller is driven in a circle until its maximum speed is reached or about 15 mph. At the same time, a hydraulic piston is activated and pushes up the beam from which the steamroller is suspended, causing the steamroller to lift off the ground. Because of the combined weight of the steamroller and the counter-balance, which is approximately 48 tons, the steamroller, once lifted off the ground, contineus to spin, or "fly". On this evening Chris Burden "drives" the thing, and we chat with him afterwards. Neat.

Today we meet Mike & Gretchen Bransford with their kids William (3 mos.), Rose and Henry. After lunch, we go to their closed garden in Kensington where the boys make a "potion factory and a dirt factory" from water, dirt, sticks, rocks, leaves and berries. When asked what for: "you poor it on the badies - it will kill them" (duh).

That river

Madeleine and us find a stairway to the Thames embankment by the Shakespeare Globe Theatre and Bear Wharf.

From the web: the river's name appears always to have been pronounced with a simple "t" at the beginning; the Middle English spelling was typically Temese. The "th" lends an air of Greek to the name and was added during the Renaissance, possibly to reflect or support a belief that the name was derived from River Thyamis in the Epirus region of, whence early Celtic tribes are thought to have migrated. However, most scholars now believe Temese and Tamesis come from Celtic Tamesa , possibly meaning 'the dark one'.The name Isis is given to the part of the river running through Oxford, may have come from the Egypti an goddess of that name but is believed to be a contraction of Tamesis, the Latin (or pre-Roman Celtic) name. Richard Coates has recently suggested that the river was called the Thames upriver, where it was narrower and Plowonida down river, where it was too wide to ford. This gave the name to a settlement on its banks, which became known as Londinium from the original root Plowonida (derived from pre-celtic Old European 'plew' and 'nejd,' meaning something like the flowing river or the wide flowing unfordable river).

Saturday, October 14


"Voluptuous panic upon an otherwise lucid mind" this quote by French writer Roger Caillois perhaps best sums up Carsten Höllers seven story slide at the Tate Modern. There are four of them, and impressive sculptures in their own right. To date Höller has installed six smaller slides in other galleries and museums, but the cavernous space of the Turbine Hall offers a unique setting for his idea. Already there is talk of making this a permanent fixure, similar ot the London Eye. The line is murder and anyway, when asked if he wants to go down the thing Eitan replies "No-o-o way, dad!" Madeleine is a bit more open to the idea, but even she hesitates: "will I die?" she asks.


Today we went to the Tate Modern to see the Carsten Höller five-story slides, which have received a fair amount of attention since the opening this week. Following a foggy football morning, we drive to Chelsea and take the Tate-to-Tate boat, or aproximately 12 minutes East on the Thames. Favorite sightings are the London Eye, Big Ben (of course) and Parliament, Westminster Bridge and barges passed along the way. This photo taken in the turbine hall at the museum, while I chase the kids around while they dart between tourist and other visitors.

Friday, October 13

Art Yard

Madeleine, not to be out-done by Eitan below, shows us her best impressionism in a missive for Sonnet. Madeleine attends Art Yard once a week, where the kids make paper mache monsters, pictures from glue and sand, and finger paints and colourful drawings. Some time ago I introduced the kids to 'ooblix' - a home-made corn starch and water mixture which has the nifty property of being gooey and solid depending on hand pressure (Sonnet has put a ban on this, by the way). It's fun to watch the kids take in their surroundings and produce stuff that means something to them (and us).

Eric Connally, who lives in Somerville and teaches math at the Harvard extension school, has been writing a book for some many years (he is also a member of a group of authors of a series of math books
used in high schools across the country). We have known each other from college, when we painted houses in Providence. Back to the story: Eric's book agent called today praising his work. Knowing Eric, a space will be made in our minds next to Pynchon and Vonnegut and others of same edgy and dogged style.

Thursday, October 12


I spend the day in Rotterdam, at this weird 30 story building which has wi-fi, with Hans and Mike who are partners at Industry Ventures. We meet with Robeco, one of three AAA rated, non-goverment banks in the world, to see if they wish to invest some money in Industry's fund. The presentation goes well, and I spend the afternoon at the Rotterdam airport to catch a late-afternoon delayed flight to Heathrow.

Sonnet and I drop the kids off at school. Madeleine is having hard time of it in the mornings - getting dressed, breakfast, putting on shoes - all these things are met with protests and tears. I recall that Eitan went through the same adjustment to kindergarten, so we cut Madeleine some slack.

Rana and Kambiz welcome their second - Alexander (Iskander) Foroohar, who is delivered at St Mary's and weighs in at 3.83 KG (8.4 lbs). Congratulations!

Sunday, October 8

Sponge Bob

Sunday morning and the kids settle in front of the TV for one hour of cartoons. This after waffles, which they help prepare with Sonnet. Favorite programs are Spider Man and Ninja Turtles for Eitan, and Sponge Bob Square Pants for Madeleine. This morning, Eitan in our bedroom early and when he fails to convince me and Sonnet from bed, says: "What, are you going to just hibernate?" School comes with its good, and its bad.

I leave this afternoon for Paris to rejoin Industry Ventures.

Saturday, October 7

Cool cats

Madeleine's binoculars a present from my trip to Dublin (Eitan got a walkie-talkie). There was a scramble of course around who could use the binocs when we arrive at the wetlands, but quickly I allow Madeleine to make the decision to share. Responding in her self-interest of course, she spends some time spotting a rock, a pigeon and some pond algae. Gone missing are the 160 bird species. Most of the ducks, geese, swans, warblers, kestrels and falcons are free to come and go. Only 20 to 30 rare birds have been brought in specially. Before becoming a bird sanctuary, the land hosted the Barnes-Elms reservoir, which ceased in 1989. Through the miracle of Sir Peter Scott, urban build was checked and the wetlands development cost of £26 million was covered by selling a bit of of the land. The wetlands opened to the public in 2000, and in 2002 was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Tonight Sonnet and I dress hip and have dinner at the Barnes Grill with Dana and Nathan to celebrate his 34th.

Susana Hong and Marco Rodzynek have their first baby 30/9 - Sophie Hong. Congratulations!

London Wetlands

We have a busy day, beginning at 0700 when the kids are up and active. 

After breakfast, Sonnet runs to the V and A to do some work while I take the kids to soccer. Eitan and Madeleine are in different groups at different times, so each finds an hour of free-time for themselves. Afterwards and lunch, we head to the London Wetland Centre in Barnes - 40 hectares (105 acres) of created wetland in the center of London supporting "nationally important" numbers of Gadwell and Shoveler duck. 

Yes, here the true British eccentrics (wackos?) turn out in their hi-tech bird-watching gear including various camouflage, army-spec observation equipment, tri-pods and cameras. For us, the centre offers a beautiful setting to run around and spot fowl, huge dragonflies, frogs and other creatures. There are inter-active spots where the kids can feed the animals, or scoop pond water to observe life in action. 

 Contentment occurs on the way out, when we share lollies and ice cream on the way to the car.

Wednesday, October 4

Der Fußball

This photograph of Allianz Stadium is taken with my mobile phone camera and from a taxi as we wisk by on the Autobahn towards Munich's center city. Home to professional football clubs FC Bayen and 1860 Munich, the arena holds 69,901 fans and hosted a number of this year's World Cup games, but not the final between Italy and France which was in Berlin. Depending on the time of year, or celebration, the arena changes color from red to blue to white - it makes me think of a weird cocoon. My driver reminds me that Octoberfest ended yesterday - a national holiday. 17 days of drinking from 1100 to late-night: "by then, the girls dance on picnic tables taking off their bras." He informs me that it is not unusual to drink ten liters a day. The Germans, you see, like their beer.

I am here with Industry Ventures who is raising ther fourth fund.

Monday, October 2

Rocket man

Eitan and I have been discussing the solar system and gravity this past year. To explain gravity in action, we watch the Thames, a tidal river, and discuss how the moon "pulls" the water in and out - gravity. This Sunday drawing pictured brings together Eitan's understanding of the planets around our sun, which is also now being discussed in school.

Yesterday afternoon we attend
Dakota's first birthday party. Dana and Nathan have lots of friends over for the celebration, and there is an abundance of cakes and warm cheer. The kids play with Dareya and children they meet at the party. We, too, make some interesting new friends but refrain from playing hide-and-go-seek, and wolf-wolf-pig.