Saturday, June 30

Will somebody make this bad weather go away? Who would have thought in April we worried about a draught after the driest winter/ spring in 200 years. Now the Midlands are flooded and Sheffield's river Sheaf over-flows. The city unprepared, of course, for the rising - people evacuated by helicopter and boat. In London it comes and goes but grey and overcast since April, it seems. Today the kids beg off football but I take them anyway. Madeleine scores a hat-trick (three goals) and is the Player Of The Day. From there we do various indoor activities as Sonnet is at her Choda conference. When Eitan attends a birthday party I take Madeleine for ice cream and we amuse ourselves making rock candy.

Friday, June 29

Poolside Olympians

Here are the kids after today's swimming lesson. Both now are part of the "Long Lane Club" which I made up on the fly and is self explanatory. Buy your T-shirt now. Following the pool we return home for dinner and a movie- our Friday evening tradition (tonight's showing: "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"). Over dinner Eitan and Madeleine discuss who is smarter: Tony Blair or Santa Clause. I think it's a draw but I can't be sure.

“I swam my brains out.”
Mark Spitz


Returning from Paris, I pick up Eitan and Madeleine this afternoon as Sonnet chairs the CHODA Conference at the Courdault Institute of Art. On the walk home I ask Madeleine if she has had any Big Thoughts like where the universe ends? She instead describes seeing an elephant swim with its nose above water (she then draws a picture for me when home). I sing during the walk, which raises Eitan's ire. When I ask if girls are looking for smootches I go too far and he sulks. Last night a car bomb in front of Mayfair's Tiger-Tiger club was foiled - the police estimate over 1,700 could have been killed.

Thursday, June 28

Quai Branly

The Musée du quai Branly, nicknamed MQB, is in Paris seventh arrondisement and where I have a lemon cake and take this picture. Jacques Chirac was an influential proponent of the project which cost $236 million and opened in June 2006. As with Chirac, some French hate it. I also take a photo of the nearby Eiffel Tower for Madeleine. When I ask Mathieu, who is from Paris, what the French think of Americans he shrugs and says "boof." What he means to say is that the French feel culturally superior but cowed by US wealth and influence where they know deep-down that they will never compete. It is a love-hate thing.

"You may be sure that the Americans will commit all the stupidities they can think of, plus some that are beyond imagination.”

“For glory gives herself only to those who have always dreamed of her.”

Both qoutes from Charles de Gaulle

Tuesday, June 26


I start today with a run along the Gulf of Finland by the Baltic Sea. Afterwards, I learn that Helsinki's early settlement in 1550 survived plagues, wars and poverty while overshadowed by its Baltic trading neighbors. It was not until Russia defeated Sweden in the 1809 Finnish War annexing Finland that the city began to prosper. Russia's influence remained strong and the city was eventually controlled by the Red Guard following the 1918 Civil War (German troops helped expel them). In WWII, aerial bombings of the Winter War (1939-40) and the Continuation War (1941-44) brought the Soviets who, at their worst in 1944, dropped some 16,000 bombs in and around the city. This trip I stay at the Hotel Kamp in the center of town.

Monday, June 25


Madeleine and I end our afternoon together. Today I am off to Helsinki for work, returning tomorrow. Yesterday Gordon Brown became leader of the Labour Party and will succeed Tony Blair as Prime Minister on Wednesday following a wait of ten years. There is speculation that he will hold a national election within twelve months to secure his base which has steadily declined following Iraq and the various scandals dogging Tony. Wimbledon begins today - it rains (of course).


I take this photo at the Aquarium. Did you know that a jelly fish is 98% water and can be found in every ocean of the world? This little fellow's sting would kill you.

Sunday, June 24

It rains today and I leave the house early to lift weights. The rest of the morning is spent doing a small computer chore which ends up taking all day. In the middle, Madeleine and I visit the London Aquarium catching the train to Waterloo- half the fun. She is enthralled by the sharks and rays and loves the "petting tank" where the fish come right up for a feel. Madeleine has her face painted and has no problem approaching strangers to discuss her condition. We return home and the kids compare their afternoons.

I ask Madeleine: "what time is it when Big Ben strikes six times?"
Madeleine: Five?

Me to Madeleine: "Do you know what month it is?"
Her: "One month until we go on holiday."

Playing twenty questions:
Madeleine: "Is it a boy?"
Me: No.
She: Is it girl?
Me: Yes.
She: Does she have straight hair?
She: Does she have curly hair?
She: Is her hair short?

She: Does she wear it in a bobbin?
She: Does she give me treats?
She: Is it Auntie Katie?
Me: Yes.

All England

Eitan and Madeleine yesterday, post-football. When I ask Eitan what he is thinking says he: "I was cranky because you are taking my picture." Madeleine scores a thumping goal that morning and is disappointed to learn that I did not see the action. She drags me across the pitch to her coach, to validate the score. "See, Dad! I did it!" (Madeleine has been known to create a goal or two).

Last night we have dinner with Scott and Cindy. Scott turned 60 in May and with my birthday we make up a Centaurian. A magnum of champagne is in order which I supply. Friday night we dine with Natalie and Justin beginning with a drink at Dukes. They too have something to celebrate: Justin's company (he is CEO) was sold last month to Allianz for €773MM. Cracking.

Friday, June 22


This photo of Stonehenge taken from the side opposite the A303 highway, which is a travesty. The prehistoric monument is in the county of Wiltshire about 8 miles from Salisbury (famous for the Canterbury Tales). Archaeologists believe the standing stones were erected around 3200 BC and the surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. The site and its surroundings were added to the UNESCO'S list of World Heritage Sites in 1986. Every year freaks, hippies and tourists gather at the rocks to celebrate the summer solstice and the weirdness of being alive. Sonnet and I visited for the first time in 1998 with Mike and Gretchen Bransford.


Eitan scores a Coca Cola at our new favorite bratwurst house Steinz. The restaurant is located on the River Thames in Richmond and presents a nice walk before a meal. On this particular day, the boy and I do some CD shopping and he picks out the new Gorillaz album while I choose something by Blur, Wilco and Feist. From Steinz we stroll to Richmond Square and sit in the sun for a while then ice cream and home.

Thursday, June 21


Sonnet organises a Happy 4-0 where I celebrate my new life at a five star hotel and concert. She and I take Wednesday and today for ourselves, leaving London for room service and spa therapy easing my anxiety: can I really be this old? Normally I don't care about my age but somehow a new decade seems like, well, a milestone. When I visit Silicon Valley, one is assumed over-the-hill by 28. In London the hedge fund managers are in their early 20s. Happily, I think the most entertaining are ahead and certainly Eitan and Madeleine add to this fun.

Eitan has a play-date with school chum Harriet who says: "Lets do sums!" Eitan replies enthusiastically: "Mom! Mom! we want to do sums! May we have some paper please?" The rest of the afternoon is spent filling the white sheets with additions and subtractions.


Paul and Lorena join us in Cardiff to see the Arctic Monkeys thanks to Christian Wright, who supplies us tickets God Bless Him to the sold-out concert. The Monkeys are a Sheffield phenom whose second album recently put 17 tracks in the Billboard Top 100 - the Beatles did not do that. The performance arena feels like a high school gym and is jammed with young people milling about drinking beer and smoking fags. The lads have perfectly mussed hair and stripy shirts while the girls are tarty- average age must be 22 or same as the band. The music is loud, fast and thumping and there is a crush towards the center stage when it starts. Sonnet and I dance wildly, looking at our youth.

Monday, June 18

Sunday, June 17

Bonus photo

Eitan loves the slide and with his pals makes um-teen runs down the shoot gleeful and vocal all the way.

Little Dancers

Our Fair earns about £16,000 ($32,000) which goes straight to the school. The community turns out in force and everybody seems to have a good time. At one point, I lead a parade of cowpokes and Indians on a rousing victory lap around the school grounds (oh, pied-piper I) then tell an on-the-fly story of Kit Kat Cowboy and Jesse James indoors as the rain falls. We have the fancy dress competition which goes to two well costumed and wide-eyed five year olds. Personally I am exhausted by day's end and glad it is done with so that I may now concentrate my time on .... work!


Sonnet and the kids arrive at the fair and go straight for the junk food. They also pick up some junk including a bike, green stuffed turtle, hand-held pinball, tea cups (which Madeleine hides under her bed), and other various treasures. Overall and despite the weather we have a great turnout and good spirit- when the torrential rains arrive nobody bails (sorry). There is a scramble to the indoors school hall and me shutting down the sounding and electrics ordering the surprised kids to drop their electric guitars and other accoustics. Of all British stereotypes this one true: summer fair - England - June - RAIN.


Worker bees arrive at 0700 yesterday morning to set up for the fair. On offer is one large bouncy castle, space-ball, cotton candy, shoot-the-goalie, jousting, 15 stalls, make-up, open bar, tambolee, BBQ, prizes, cakes, candies, good humour, various activities and this here two story giant octopus slide - pictured. Hanging over us are enormous grey clouds floating across the sky. We discuss the weather and everyone positive "no rain". The fate is opened at 12noon by Angie Best, who tells me she spent the better part of her life in Malibu. She speaks. It rains.

Friday, June 15

Fair Tomorrow

The Summer Fair which I am organising, is nigh and tomorrow represents three months hard-work by the school community. The mums, and some dads, are out in full force today setting up and installing their stalls, shows, dances, parades, games, stages and other activities. Angie Best will open the grounds at 12 noon Saturday and then it's a free-for-all. Today, in preparation, is a strangely named "Muftie" which is an English thing where the children don't have to wear their school kit. Instead, the kids arrive in cowboy and cowgirl outfits (some Indians too). Madeleine shows off her pink cowboy boots and pink western shirt from Colorado (all the mums coo over the boots) and wears her red bandanna train-robber style - I tell her she looks like Jesse James which she does not like (He's a BOY, dad!). Eitan sports his red cowboy hat and we all look fab. The program cover pictured selected from a school competition.

Thursday, June 14

The Duck

Today I listen to a program on BBC Radio 4 about ducks. I learn that the fowl is considered the most amusing in Britain. Of all animals, mind you. Supporting the BBC is a scientific survey of 46,000 because this is Britain, after all. We love, for instance, Donald and Daffy while Jamima Puddle Duck has been a bed-time companion for many generations including Eitan and Madeleine. The favoritism, apparently, stems from the word: "duck" or "quack." When said, one is forced to smile. Try it. The sounds are forceful and resounding and quite silly and so suited for comedy the experts say. No other culture BTW values a duck.


Here's Madeleine at Yoga Bugs, which she enjoys several early mornings a week before school. The class is led by local mum Peggy and attracts some dedicated yoga die hards - who bring along their kids. For the most part it is easy fun and requires Madeleine to concentrate for 45 minutes on herself, which I like. Usually I or Sonnet sit on the side-line reading a book or whispering to the other parents.

Wednesday, June 13

The Hague

I have dinner in Rijswijk (about 20km from Rotterdam) with Jos van Gisbergen who in 2000 founded MN Services which administers the pensions of more than a million people in the Netherlands with assets of €33 billion as at now. Jos and MN are some of the largest private equity investors in Europe. We share notes on the market and people and discuss how things have changed these last ten years (more money!). We also compare funds and talk about US venture and why it does not seem to work in Europe. An enjoyable evening spent.

Summer Fair

I am responsible for the school's summer fair, which is the largest money raiser of the year (in 2006 it netted $25,000). Our theme is Wild Wild West and the kids will celebrate with a Western-style dance, parade and costume competition while us dads drink Pimms at the bar (fully licensed, thank you). The Class Reps and volunteers have come out in full force and have done a marvelous job collecting prizes, selling raffle tickets and finding sponsorship from the high street. Angie Best, wife of now deceased football legend George Best, will open the fairgrounds. The neighborhood now anxiously watches the weather forecast as there is no Plan B.

Tuesday, June 12


My friend Barney Pell invites me to screen-test his company Powerset, which provides internet search using natural language algorithms. Barney is a former NASA scientist and entrepreneur who I know from London though he now lives in SV. If anybody were to take on Google, he's your guy. Barney recently raised $12.5MM from Esther Dyson and the founders of Paypal and other investors.


Today Mathieu and I model a life sciences portfolio that we may bid for Friday. The value of the thing is around €30MM give-or-take and we are trying to get it on the cheap - but value is in the eye of the owner. Biotech has been a terrible place to be an investor the last seven years and Europe can count on two hands its successful IPOs. M&A, while also limited, has been more robust. Nobody doubts Europe has its share of brains. What it lacks is a vibrant entrepreneurial attitude and one big public market like NASDAQ providing liquidity. The two of course go together: it is much easier to start a company if the road is riches.

Tomorrow I fly to Amsterdam to see several pension fund investors in The Hague.

Monday, June 11


Mike is an American in London as long as us - 1997 a.d. We met at the Columbia business school and our families began at around same time: his oldest is seven. Mike will leave London 16 June for Minneapolis-St. Paul where a house with front porch and oak tree awaits on a quiet neighborly street nearby family. In other words, an easy transition. Photo before Kensington Palace just off Kensington High Street.

Sunday, June 10


I walk the neighborhood with Eitan and Madeleine selling raffle tickets for the school fair. The kids get their pitch down and avoid the temptation to bolt after the hard-sell. Tickets are 50p and prizes include a weekend at Glenn Eagles home of the last European summit, theatre, bikes and other enticements. Most people buy one or two, digging deeep into their pockets for the change. Still, it is a good lesson for the kids I think.

Madeleine at dinner asks very seriously: "do people hurt penguins mum?" When Sonnet says perhaps and asks ways how, Madeleine says: "kill them!" Eitan weighs in: "they chop of their beaks and head!" and finally Madeleine: "make them into coats." (photo from US govt antarctic library)

I ask Madeleine for a favorite hobby and she says the "flower store" (she loves choosing). When asked why she replies "because they don't have to work."

Saturday, June 9


Here's Sonnet in 2003 during Eitan's infamous Hollywood try-out. Sonnet tells me just now that she does not like this photo: "I look tired" she says. I tell her she was tired - the kids were one and two.

This morning begins with wild parrots who perch in a nearby aspen . Eitan and I consider this from his bed while thinking about our day beginning with football. Both kids play hard and during a game Eitan makes a terrific cross-pitch pass to team mate Harry who thumps in a goal. Bravo! us dads cheer. Madeleine's side fairs less well: 1-5 against us. Oh well. Everybody in good spirits and we celebrate with Cokes and crisps.

From football the kids help me with yard-work then Sonnet takes Madeleine for some chores while the boy and I go to the dump to recycle our earthens and wash the car. Finding ourselves with time to spare, we go to the neighborhood common to practice football. I must admit my frailty: after an hour in the muggy heat my shirt is soaked and I am easy prey.

Friday, June 8


Adding to the absurdity of the London 2012 brand, The Times reports that the logo may cause epileptic seizures. My complaint is that it is miserable. This brain lateral cross section taken from In approximation, the more dense a material is, the whiter a volume of it will appear on the scan (just as in the more familiar "flat" X-rays). CT scans are primarily used for evaluating swelling from tissue damage in the brain and in assessment of ventricle size. Modern CT scanning can provide reasonably good images in a matter of minutes, like this one.

“The price of your hat isn't the measure of your brain.”
African-American proverb

Selfish Gene

Emily Kasriel invites me to the BBC World Services Book Club at Bush House to hear Richard Dawkins speak about his evolutionary theory: "all life evolves by the differential survival of replicating entities" most famously put forward in The Selfish Gene" in 1971. I happily agree as Arthur Garrison and I read the book in 2003 which we discussed on one of our many London walks. The show will broadcast 29 July and to reach 60 million; I ask a question: "how does the selfish gene reconcile non-propagating traits like homosexuality." Woo-hoo! Following Dawkins, I jump a taxi and tell the driver I have seen the world-famous writer. His reply: "He can't be fuck'n famous, mate, cuz I've never heard of 'im". We then have a rousing conversation about England football, project houses and the troubles with Britain. At the end he shakes my hand as I receive my change which is something quite extraordinary, really.

After Dawkins, Sonnet and I say goodbye to Mike and Gretchen Bransford, who have a going away party in South Kensington Mike is a friend from business school and the Bransfords are our longest-held American friends in London. It is sad for us to see them go.

Thursday, June 7


Katie and grace in front of tombs in new Orleans' St Louis #1 cemetery. In the background is the tombof Marie Laveaux, the famous voodoo queen. According to Katie, "you make an offering to the queen of one penny and three marks on her tomb. In return, Laveaux might do some black magic and grant your wish. The tomb is covered in marks."

Madeleine contemplates Santa Clause this morning, noting that St Nick "doesn't know everything." I ask Madeleine if Claus knows whether she has shouted, cried or pouted and she replies: "of course dad, that's his job." I push a little further to see what happens if there is a fire in the fireplace? "Well" says Madeleine, "first he would try another chimney and then he would knock on the front door. Or go through an open window." And there, I might add, you have it.

Wednesday, June 6


Katie crashes her rental bike in a trolley track and has to go to the emergency room. They glue her chin back together, instead of stitches. Research in the UK, based on hospital based samples, finds that 72% of cyclist accidents involved no other vehicle at all, and that 7% were claimed to be caused by motor vehicles. This contrasts with another analysis which found that between 60% and 85% of serious cyclist injuries are the result of negligence by a motor driver. A study conducted in 2000 by the Institute for Road Safety Research in the Netherlands found that single bicycle accidents accounted for 47% of all bicycle accidents, collisions with obstacles and animals accounted for 12%, and collisions with other road users accounted for 40% (with the remaining 1% having unknown or unclassified cause).

New Orleans

The Orensteins in New Orleans doing construction work, painting and other like-related repair projects and to see again the city. Grace says: "We are on our way to a great restaurant, Matt and Naddie's, then to hear a jazz protoge' of Ellis Marsellas." Dad says: "great Creole food, hard work, lots of fun." Katie: "one of the rotary guys has nick named dad "mo-town."


From Wolfram's MathWorld, a bubble is a minimal-energy surface of the type that is formed by soap film. The simplest bubble is a single sphere, illustrated above by J. M. Sullivan. More complicated forms occur when multiple bubbles are joined together. The simplest example is the double bubble, and beautiful configurations can occur when three or more bubbles are conjoined. An outstanding problem involving a bubble is the determination of the arrangements of bubbles with the smallest surface which enclose and separate n given volumes in space.

While on the subject, a one-bed flat is being marketed in Central London for £3 million or about $6 million. Guests presumably would sleep on a fold-out futon.


This piece of shit is the Olympic brand for our 2012 games after £400,000 invested and 12 months of PR work. Unveiled yesterday by Olympian and Olympic custodian Seb Coe, the design has been called a "broken swastika", a "scribbled joke" and even a "toiletting monkey" by Fleet Street. When asked, London's communist mayor Ken Livingstone says he is not going to "get into a sub-orgasmic state over it." Amen. Already an online petition protesting the logo has attracted 10,000 signatures in 24 hours. Our original logo during the candidacy phase was brilliant:The ribbon of course represents the Thames and the downward loop the Isle of Dogs.

Tuesday, June 5

April 2003

Here's Madeleine on 21 April 2003, or when she was 14 months. Doggie of course is ever present. For those keeping score as at today, Eitan weighs 26.4kg and and is 132cm (58 lbs and 4 feet, 4 inches) and Madeleine is 22.5kg and 120cm (49.4 lbs and 3 feet 11 inches). This is a 3-4% increase across the board since January.


Here are Katie and Katya, a friend from Capoeira in New York and Berkeley. The two are in New Orleans and have finished painting one of the school rooms of Warren Eastern High School on Canal St, which was flooded by Katrina.

Sunday, June 3

Richmond Park

We goof around in Richmond Park which is all fun and games until Eitan disobeys Sonnet and plays on a compost pile. That's it! - no ice cream. The rest of the afternoon we listen to winging, whining and even begging which desists only after Madeleine has finished her choice. At some point, both kids explore while Sonnet and I read the newspapers on our orange picnic blanket. Madeleine races up to announce: "rattle snakes!" When I ask where, she replies breathelessly "everywhere dad! They are guarding the forest!" Eitan tells me it is just like Terabithia.

Madeleine has a new mood ring and I ask her about the colours: Sad? "definitely blue." Happy? "that's a yellow one." How about excited? "well, when I'm excited its brown and all the colours mixed together!"

Saturday, June 2

Rock Star

Madeleine has an imagination. When I tell her this photo will go on my blog she is momentarily silenced by the idea that anybody can see her. "Will I be famous?" she asks.

Diana playground

This photo by Madeleine. Today I take the kids to the Princess Diana playground in Hyde Park. After a few hours in the sand we go to the Iranian to have lamb shwarmas and carrot juice (the kids resist). I eat too many chilis and suffer for it now. In the park, we bump into neighbors Karen and Andrew and there three children including school chum Jackson. From Di we set up a make-shift football match with goal being two trees on the lawns next to Kensington Palace. Eitan choses to be Rinaldo "the best football player in the world" and I Steven Gerard who plays for England and Liverpool. Madeleine is Sam Robinson in goal. We end the day at the Richmond pool for some paddle time before home.

Blood moon

In Paris yesterday I jump into a taxi and hear a rip - of course my trousers torn up the back-side. Running late for meetings and with my summer intern, I make the rounds and a joke out of the circumstances. I'm not so worried about people seeing my boxer shorts - its the pink flesh of the leg that is rather unprofessional.

From Paris to Waterloo to the V&A where Sonnet meets me with a change of clothes. We head for Regent's Park where we visit Todd and Christine Fisher for an evening picnic and MacBeth at the out-door theatre. Todd is a partner at the buy-out firm KKR and his wife Christine is involved with Women-For-Women, which sponsors women survivors of war-torn regions. The Fishers have four kids at various stages of maturity from 12 years to 24 months and we are impressed by their organisation. Our warm evening is suited for the dramatic play, which is as bloody and bleak as I recall from a high school reading. With Othello, I have seen my share of gore this week and appropriately the moon is blood red, hanging over the horizon for our drive home.

"Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." Macbeth Quote (Act V, Scene V).