Thursday, September 29


Cal steals the photograph.

I join Rob and Sloan for rosh hashanah which, my Dad must tell me, is the Jewish New Year equalled only by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  I have many things in my life and religion not one of them.  Dinner joined by two neat families with kids about same as Sophie , gives me a big hug, and Jaimes and ours; afterwards we catch each other up : Sloan's exec advisory business jamming and Rob's trade finance business in vogue as returns consistent during troubled times.  We sit outside drinking in the warm evening , white wine, admiring the view.  California, baby.

Wednesday, September 28

San Francisco Is For Lovers

I am at a fancy cocktail for Industry Ventures and, before, I walk along a pier to look at the scenery and find these fellows enjoying themselves. That's my shadow in the forefront.

The Lawyer

Moe explains the legal battle for gay lesbian marriage which is, presently, working its way up the US Federal system with California playing a very major role. Moe tells me the legislative battle began with the California Court where San Francisco judges ignored the existing California State Law banning gay lesbian marriages. The case went to the District Court of Appeals, and then the California Supreme Court, who sided with the activists. The Court, we think, found the California legislative inactive unconstitutional , violating the California constitutional right to privacy. In response, the gay lesbian opponents put a constitutional amendment on the California ballot, and the people of Calif voted to amend the California constitution to ban gay lesbian marriages. This was Prop 8.

The opponents of Prop 8 then filed a suit in Federal Court in San Francisco claiming the law a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. The Federal Court judge agreed. The proponent of Prop 8 then filed an appeal with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. A question existed at that point as to whether they had "standing" to pursue the action in as much as the California Governor (Schwarzenegger) and the California Attorney General (Jerry Brown) agreed with the Federal Court Decision and refused to join in the appeal.

The 9th Circuit Court of appeals then sent the case to the California Supreme Court to determine if, under California law, the proponents of Prop 8 have standing to pursue the appeal. The decision has not yet issued but, in oral argument, the justices seem to suggest that the proponents have such standing. If the Calif Supreme Court rules in this manner, the case will go back to the Federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. This court will, then, decide the issue of equal protection under the law on the merits.

It is likely that, whatever the 9th Circuit decides, the United States Supreme Court will hear the case on a request for appeal. If the US Supreme Court decides that the California Prop 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution, all state bans on marriage between gays and lesbians will cease.

Moe thinks the case will reach the Supreme Court by 2013, if not earlier.


I see Sam at Peet's or "OP" as my father now likes to say: "Original Peet's", of course. 

 Last time I was with Sam my wedding so we have grown older and wiser, one hopes, and yet, he says, "I have yet to become an adult." Of course I wonder : Am I an adult myself ? Whatever does this mean in our late-blooming GenX (or Y ) era ? Kids, mortgage, job? I guess I am a triple-check so maybe I do qualify. Must file that. So , as now as High School, Sam a BMOC and , back then, a sprint freestyler who pulled a 21.04 in the 50-yards at the Northcoast Swimming Championships in '81.All this before the Biondi era as Matt from nearby Moraga then to Cal and the Olympics. 

Sam and I spent a lot of time together in our yuf then again when I returned to San Francisco for two years, pre-business school, and all that. Now he and his girlfriend Maria, who dated in High School, live in the North Berkeley Hills with their daughter Rosa, pictured.

Tuesday, September 27

Maggie To The Rescue

My mom flies to San Diego to pick up new family member "Maggie", a rescue dog she will use in her child-therapy sessions.  Maggie a mix between a bichon frise and a poodle , is super friendly and, unlike Rusty, gentle and well trained (NB Sonnet makes the appointment with the Vets : next week, our Rusty will be less of a man-dog). Even "Sweetie Pie" gets in on the love.  Here we are at Cordinices park.

Monday, September 26

All Aboard

When Madeleine mentions to me the other day that she does not want to be an astronaut, I know how she feels. The sheer weirdness of getting into a metal tube weighing  912,000 lb and holding 63,705 gallons of fuel at take-off .. with 300 other people .. well , madness, really. And, following ten hours, here I am on the other side of the planet. As I , and all travellers, take for granted : the odds of dying on this flight 1 in 9.2 million (vs.being murdered in your lifetime 1 in 140 or being struck by  lighting 1 in 10,456 or dying in a car crash 1 in 70). Once air-travel was pretty cool, like, hey - somebody will  pay for me to go to Cleveland! Now I miss stuff, like Eitan's cup match against Wangas Youth, or hanging about with Madeleine and Sonnet.

Still, on the other side of my journey is Berkeley and my parents+childhood friends, a few timeless running trails and, there in the distance, seen from the bay windows of the house I grew up in, is that defining construction: The Golden Gate Bridge; just beyond her, the Pacific Ocean and the setting sun.

Sunday, September 25

5 A Side

The Sheen Mount squad finishes second of 20 teams at the five-a-side competition in Hampton.  From top left : Jack, Sam, Harry and Alex; bottom left: Eitan, Tryggvi, Oscar and Stanley.  Eitan says : "the pitches were amazing and we won every game accept one that we tied."  Collis wins on goal points.  A proud day for the state primary. Photo from Cliff.

Me: "This darn  pooch. He never listens - Heal, Rusty!"
Madeleine: "Dad, he's having a pee. That is so mean."
Me: "The dog has to listen."
Madeleine: "That would be, like, if there was a free house that you really wanted and your dad did not let you buy it."
Me: "But if it's free, I don't have to buy it. ."
Madeleine: "Whatever. You know what I am saying."

Madeleine: "What would happen if we put Tommy in a rocket ship?"
Me: "He would be one freaked out hamster."
Madeleine: "Yeah. Do you think it would be fun to be in outer space?"
Me: "I don't know. It might be kind of scary."
Madeleine: "I would definately not want to be an astronaut."
Me: "Well, what do you want to be?"
Madeleine: "I don't know."
Me: "Well, what are some things you  like doing. You know, things that don't feel like a chore."
Madeleine: "Legos?"
Me: "Maybe you could be an architect? You know, build buildings and stuff."
Madeleine: "Maybe.  I like lizards."
Me: "A vetrinarian. You love saving animals."
Madeleine: "Do they get to play with lizards?"
Me: "The only problem with a vet is that you would have to put your hand up a cow's ass."
Madeleine: "To take an elephant's temperature, they put the thermomemeter in the elephant's butt."
Me: "Just make sure you don't have to put your hand in a cow's ass."
Madeleine: "Maybe. Thanks, Dad."

Saturday, September 24


Sonnet and Celia.


Ossie and Celia in Notting Hill in the early '70s.

My Friday afternoon : Dash across Surrey to retrieve Rusty from the kennel (traffic); dash home to pick up Madeleine and Zara for swimming (traffic); dash to South Kensington to see Sonnet interview Celia Birtwell at the V A (traffic!); then across town to Simon and Diana's new house on The Mall, in Chiswick, overlooking the Thames, for dinner which , BTW, interrupted so Diana can take a call from Barack Obama, which she puts on speaker phone.

Rusty in the coop as we finish the kitchen floors in the never-ending interior design project. The dog likely more comfortable than us.

Celia Birtwell, a CBE, meanwhile, has been in our house since the Ossie Clark exhibition in '03; she was Ossie's partner - he doing the style and she the textiles, which are known for their distinctive bold, romantic and feminine designs, which draw influences from Picasso, Matisse and from the classical world, she tells Sonnet and us.  Celia particularly famous in the '60s and '70s for prints which epitomised the glamour of the hippie era. She has been described as 'the face that launched a thousand prints' and 'the most important textile designer of her generation'. After a period away from the limelight, in the 21st century she has returned to fashion , partnering with UK retailer Top Shop in '06 and opening a new shop on Westbourne Park Rd.

Sonnet's interview praises Celia's work , and complements the museum, which owns a large collection of her designs. The audience, sold-out on a Friday evening, young and cool : one dude in orange wingtips, red trousers, orange blouse and orange beenie; another, a Jap , in black turtleneck and clunky glasses. Loves it. There are platform shoes galore and big hair styles; the afterwards q&a covers David Hockney to internships; one lady asks if women over 50 can wear her designs? Yes! says Celia. We are all beautiful. And we are.

Eitan: "Can't you just get Rusty now?"
Me: "What do I do during the day?"
Eitan: "I dunno. Work?"
Me: "Yep."
Eitan: "Well you can still do it."
Me: "What do you think I do - faff about and read books?"
Eitan: "Is that a real question?"
Me: "And money grows on trees. Do you believe that, too?"

Friday, September 23

Notes from Nepal

Marcus reports from Kathmandu :
Had an earthquake last night. I was cooking southern baked beans from scratch after we discovered a smoked ham hoc for sale by a Russian couple at an organic Sunday market up the way. The pressure cooker had just started to hiss when the room started rockin. We live on the 4th, 5th, and 6th floors of a concrete apartment building with another family below. We could hear them yelling to get out. My friend Michelle in one swift motion swiped up her 3-year old, Alice, and started bolting down the stairs – which were shaking noticeably. Our Oklahoma 25 year-old volunteer paused and ran back to turn off the gas on the beans. She was braver than I was because I was right behind Michelle. We all spilled into the street with everyone else and watched the lamp posts dance for about another 30 seconds. Took about five minutes for everyone to calm down and start back up the stairs. Reports were that a much larger earthquake in India at around 6.9 sent waves down a shared fault line. Rough estimates are that by the time it hit the city it was at about 4.5. An already crumbling wall at the British embassy collapse and reports are that it killed 11.
Photo from the web.

Thursday, September 22

The Pasty Company

The West Cornwall Pasty Company, here at Waterloo station, is a fast food chain selling "pasties" : A butter pastry case filled with beef, sliced or diced potato, yellow turnip and onion, seasoned with salt and pepper, and baked. It is the food most associated with Cornwall, regarded as its national dish, and accounts for 6% of the Cornish food economy.

I usually come across a pasty at a train station, pictured, or roadside pullover like "Welcome Break" or "Moto" on the outside of he M25.  The kiosks always plunked next to a Costa Coffee or Burger King and host maybe twenty items under a heat-lamp looking like they have been there for a month.  The chain founded in '98 by Ken Cockings and there are over 50 shops in the UK, including 18 in London; somehow Cockings sold the company to its management for £40 million in 2006.

"Enjoy a piping hot pasty."
--The West Cornwall Pasty Co.

V A : Postmodernism

Susan and I join Sonnet for the opening party for the Postmodernism exhibition. The main entrance, beneath the Chihuly, transformed into a Champagne bar and Annie Lennox, of the Eurythmics, performs a medley of recognisable, nostalgic, songs (NB: I ask Kamila if she likes Annie Lennox? and I get a blank stair).  Here is the description from the V & A :

EXHIBITION: This is the first in-depth survey of art, design and architecture of the 1970s and 1980s, examining one of the most controversial phenomena in recent art and design history: postmodernism. It shows how postmodernism evolved from a provocative architectural movement in the early 1970s and rapidly went on to influence all areas of popular culture including design, art, music, film, performance and fashion. By the 1980s consumerism and excess were the trademarks of the postmodern.

The exhibition explores the radical ideas that challenged Modernism; overthrowing purity and simplicity in favour of exuberant colour, bold patterns, artificial looking surfaces, historical quotation, parody and wit and above all, a newfound freedom in design. See over 250 objects across all areas of art and design and revisit a time when style was not just a ‘look’ but became an attitude.

“I mean, I'm 48 years old and I've been through a lot in my life - you know, loss, whether it be death, illness, separation. I mean, the failed expectations... We all have dreams.”
--Annie Lennox, 2001


I am with fabulous Susan , another Northern Californian, this time from Orinda. Susan's husband also a transplant: Anthony at Berkeley in the' 70s and we share a love for the Telegraph Ave. of old times, Fat Freddy and the Freak Brothers, People's Park and Blondie's pizza (Anthony now an i banker and much more).  When I met Susan in '99, she was chief commerce and marketing officer at News International Digital Printing, which she built to 120 people, and before that, Barnes and Noble responsible for the online business.  From there, ten years ago, Susan founded the Boster Group, which advises large corps including American Express and Ernst & Young on their arts programs.  She is known by London's cultural institutions , where her efforts have impacted money flows to worthwhile exhibitions that otherwise might not see the light of day. She is unique. Photo in South Kensington.

Tuesday, September 20

Lizard Skins

Here is what a pair of €12,000 shoes looks like, thank you Hermès . The matching belt €1,925.

I am up for my 7AM run across Concorde, through Touilerise then along the Seine until Île de la Cité and around Notre dame; then back along the Right Bank , under the Louvre and then the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel , and finally the US Embassy and Le Crillon then my hotel. All this inside four miles. Unfortunately my achilles wrecked from my 2009 marathons and I no longer enjoy pain free running. Without the bounce, each step "flat" and by the end I feel, well, 44 years old.

As the Hermès Parisian store across the street on rue du faubourg saint-honoré, I am tempted to buy my favorite beauty artifact: an Hermès tie. The company's designers spend years creating new print patterns, individually screen-printed with vegetable dye. Each added color dries for a month before the next color is applied. Designers chose from over 200,000 different colors. Every man knows when the other wearing one.

Me: "Do you want to see a pair of $20,000 shoes?"
Eitan: "No way!"
Madeleine: "And they aren't even matching."
Eitan: "They're made of lizard skin?"
Madeleine: "Cruel!"
Eitan: "Killing a lizard to make shoes..."
Madeleine: "Tell me about it."

Sunday, September 18

McDonald's Corp

I'm awake, 4AM, and read Eric Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation" (published 2001):
In 1968, McDonald's operated about one-thousand restaurants. Today it has about thirty-thousand restaurants world wide and opens almost two-thousand new ones each year.  An estimated one out of every eight workers in the United States has at some point been employed by McDonald's.  The company annually hires about one million people, more than any other American organization, public or private.  McDonald's is the nation's largest purchase of beef, pork and potatoes - and the second largest purchaser of chicken.  The McDonald's Corporation is the larger owner of retail property in the world. Indeed, the company earns the majority of its profits not from selling food but from collecting rent.  McDonald's spends more money on advertising and marketing than any other brand.  As a result it has replaced Coco-Cola as the world's most famous brand.  McDonald's operates more playgrounds than any other private entity in the United States. It is one of the nation's largest distributors of toys. A survey of American school children found that 96% could identify Ronald McDonald.  The only fictional character with a higher degree of recognition was Santa Claus. The impact of McDonald's on the way we live today is hard to overstate. The Golden Arches are now more widely recognized than the Christian Cross. (Photo from the web)

Holy catfish.

Elm Grove, Game 1

Eitan's first game with Elm Grove a success: 3-2 vs. Kings Park Royals, who were No. 2 in the Premiere Elite last season.

Eitan plays "striker" then "defensive back" , both unusual positions for him , requiring a new feel for the action. The boy plays his heart out. Unfortunately Eitan called for a hand-ball as the game's final moments and Kings Park scores on the penalty as the whistle blows. He could not have avoided it and his coach and team mates console him. Eitan shares "Man of the Match ".

Says he: "I was anxious and excited before the game, and so a bit shaky during the first bit , but then got more confident by the end."

So Rocha

Sonnet takes Madeleine to see the John Rocha catwalk at Somerset House - Fashion Week, dude. John Rocha , a CBE for his contributions to the UK's fashion industry, born in 1953 in Hong Kong of Chinese and Portuguese descent ; he is now based in Ireland after being educated at the Crodyon School of Art in London (Kate from Croydon). Rocha tells Sonnet his spring/ summer inspirations 2012 "Seaweed, sculpture and handcrafting". Madeleine scandalised by the model's , you know, breasts visible through the chimerics of Rocha's design.
Photo from promo site.

Saturday, September 17

Rough House

Madeleine and my rough-housing goes too far and she grabs my glasses, angry. I warn her that if she doesn't give them back NOW I am going to pin her to the ground and spit on her forehead. She throws the glasses, pictured, and I pin her down and spit on her forehead. I also tickle her mercilessly.  She is upset for at least the afternoon but that is how it goes in the Big Top.

Madeleine: "I know what we can do about the Christmas tree."
Me: "The Christmas tree?"
Sonnet: "You said you never wanted to see another Christmas tree in the house. Because it makes a mess."
Me: "I did?"
Madeleine: "We can get a fake one! Then there will be no leaves."
Me: "A fake Christmas tree?"
Madeleine: "Yeah! And we can use it over and over again."
Me: "Good plan."
Madeleine: "Thanks, Dad."
Me: "And why don't we put it on the roof of the house during the rest of the year?"
Madeleine: "Can we?!"
Sonnet: "Your Dad is just joking, Madeleine. Jeff now stop that."
Me: "Who said I was joking?"

Madeleine: "Do you think a fast dog or a slow car is faster?"

Friday, September 16

Chump Change

Madeleine and Tallie, who is about six months now, and otherwise belongs to Sonnet's cousin Maire and Turk (photo taken in Denver last month).

Really, these banks : a "rogue" trader in "Delta One" blows $2 B from the UBS balance sheet. This is a shitload of money for one guy even with the billions and trillions sloshing around to save our banks and i bankers. Since you asked BTW : Delta One creates securities that allow retail clients to instantly trade indices or other underlying assets like gold or shares, as closely as possible, which is not easy to do for the average punter. The banks responsible for hedging these exposures (hence , balance sheet exposure). The profit is made from the hedges and margins or fees from clients.  If the trade goes wrong, or the hedge not applied, the bank can lose a lot of money. The only good news from the UBS debacle is, once again, it suggests that i banks should be separated from commercial banks.

Three years ago Lehman went under. Three other banks failed, too : Citibank, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS. Without government intervention, our economy would have stopped, ie, we would not have had an economy.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Wednesday, September 14


CYD, a 1962 Jaguar E-Type, with David since '97 and recently spruced up and glowing. The two-seater a proper touring auto with enough room in the boot for two leather week-enders and perfectly matched for the British countryside or the summer Alps.

Me, I had a vintage '73 BMW 2002 in college, purchased from a Brown prof with my own money in '87 , and only 25K miles. Unfortunately I was no mechanic and the machine spent some considerable time in the shop : like the time a water hose burst and melted the engine rods on the fist-day of classes with me caught at a cross-walk between the Sci Li and the engineering center. Not only embarrassing but costly : repairs about what I paid for the thing. Still, behind the wheel, I felt like a million bucks : young entrepreneur, in college , cool car. Life, ahead.

The Jaguar E-Type manufactured by in Britain between 1961 and 1975. Its combination of good looks, high performance, and competitive pricing established the marque as an icon of 1960s motoring. A great success for Jaguar, more than 70,000 E-Types were sold during its lifespan.

In March 2008, the Jaguar E-Type ranked first in the Daily Telegraph's list of the "100 most beautiful cars" of all time. In 2004, Sports Car International magazine placed the E-Type at number one on their list of  Top Sports Cars of the 1960s.

Tuesday, September 13


David, Eitan, Johny and I out the door to the Saturday farmer's market for a bracing cup of coffee and a bacon butty, which would be a bacon on two slabs of white, buttered, bread+HP Sauce, optional. The butty can also be sausage or, my favorite, a chip butty , to be read with The Sun and a black coffee , or beer, in a white van on the way to work somewhere, without seatbelts , middle passenger asleep over the gear stick and probably hungover.

Eitan realises mom not around so begs for a chocolate chip cookie, and I relent, followed later by lollies. Kids and sugar. I read an article that sugar is toxic which is not surprising as US sugar consumption increased from 30 pounds a year in 1980 to 84 in 2009, in line with obesity and diabetes. 16% of an American's daily caloric intake now comes from sugar additives, up from 11% in '77. Teens (ages 14 to 18) consume 129 lbs a year. Think about this at the grocery store as you handle a pound of it. A Dairy Queen Health Blizzard BTW has 24 added teaspoons of sugar; 20 oz Pepsi: 17. M&M's have 7 and one oreo: 3.5 (Sources: US Dept of Ag, Company websites)

"A chip sandwich, chip barm, chip cob, chip butty, chip muffin, piece-n-chips (Scottish), or hot chip sandwich (Australian) is a sandwich made with bread or bread roll (usually white and buttered) and hot chips (i.e. French fries), often with some sort of sauce such as ketchup or brown sauce. It was originally considered a working-class meal and was served in pubs. The word butty is a contraction of 'bread and butter', that came from northern England, perhaps Yorkshire or Liverpool. Variants include chip bap or barm, using a floury bap or barm cake instead of white sliced."

Monday, September 12


'Netta, who has given up Hanna Montana (Sooo yesterday) and now into Harry Potter and building forts bonds with Madeleine over Harry Potter and .. building a fort.  The latter made from sticks, straw and grass and leaves, behind a hedgerow, that provides further cover. Actually, Madeleine corrects me : "It is a camouflage, Dad". Eitan, excluded, tries to do harm and yours, truly, charged with yelps of rage from the gals. Yep, seems about right.

AC And The Microscope

We spend the weekend with Dave and Tabitha  - here, AC checks out a Corn Flake @ 40X.

Friday, September 9

Larry Lieberman

My uncle Larry, the husband of my Dad's sister, Joy, has passed. Larry's life blessed with family and friends as well as interesting work and causes. He made a difference, and will be missed by us all.
The St. Louis Today obituary by Michael Sorkin, below.

"When Larry Lieberman, who died this week, and his wife tried to get a loan in 1962 to build an addition to their University City home, they were turned down because "the neighborhood was changing."
That was the beginning of what became known as "block busting."
As African-Americans started to move into nearby homes, real estate agents offered nervous white residents low prices to move out. The agents then sold the homes to black families at higher prices and high interest rates.
"All the white families other than mine moved away," recalled a daughter, Denise Lieberman of St. Louis.
Larry Lieberman was appointed to the City Council in 1965 and was elected the following year. He served for a total of 29 years, with a 10-year break in the middle. He fought block busting and championed fair housing laws in University City, which became one of the first municipalities in the state to adopt an open-housing ordinance.
Lawrence Lieberman died Wednesday (Sept. 7, 2011) at Barnes-Jewish extended care facility in Clayton. He was 85 and was diagnosed in February with congestive heart failure, his family said Thursday.
Mr. Lieberman was the only son of two Russian immigrants who opened a corner grocery on the south side of Chicago during the Depression. They gave credit to so many hungry neighbors that they nearly went broke.
They were the only Jewish family in the neighborhood. Young Larry was short and carried a violin and often had to run home to avoid being beaten by neighborhood bullies.
At 18, Mr. Lieberman left college to serve as a radioman on the Indianapolis and other ships in World War II.
He returned to the University of Illinois, where he noticed Joy Orenstein on her first day on campus. He immediately asked for a date, proposed a month later and they married a year later.
They moved to her hometown, University City. He became a civil engineer at McDonnell Douglas and worked on the space and defense programs.
On the City Council, Mr. Lieberman cast the tiebreaking vote to give Joe Edwards the liquor license that enabled him to open Blueberry Hill in 1972.
"Larry was one of the few who thought that Delmar would come back," Edwards recalled. "He supported me then and over all these years."
Mr. Lieberman also supported the business district on the Olive Street corridor, now known for its many Asian shops and restaurants.
On race relations, Mr. Lieberman was always at the forefront of fighting for equality, recalled Paul Schoomer, a former book store owner who served on the City Council with Mr. Lieberman.
"In municipal politics, individuals don't do things," Schoomer added. "Decisions are collective. But he was brilliant at helping to form coalitions and consensuses."
Former state senator Wayne Goode recalled Mr. Lieberman's "caring nature about people. He always tried to do things well, do things right."
Mr. Lieberman was president of the Missouri Municipal League, president of the St. Louis County Municipal League and served on the governor's Council on Aging.
He was a founding member of the African-American/Jewish Dialogue Task Force, sponsored by the Urban League and the Jewish Community Relations Council, who have met monthly for 20 years to explore conflicts.
His wife, Joy Lieberman, served 24 years on the University City School Board.
Mr. Lieberman retired from the City Council in 2004. He continued to publish his popular "U City News" newsletter, which frequently described events in a sentence or two.
"He just got right to the point," Edwards said.

Survivors in addition to his wife and daughter include another daughter, Sharon Cohn of Tucson, Ariz.; three sons, David Lieberman of Portland, Ore., Mark Lieberman of Denver and Daniel Lieberman of Normandy; and nine grandchildren."

Thursday, September 8

Slow Burn

Here is something I did which Sonnet didn't like too much, pictured. That would be  the "Rapidfire Chimney Starter"(TM) for the BBQ coals which I flame up on our stove-top.

Here are some further, astounding, stats from Uncle Sam  :
-America's entitlements (SS, Medicare and Medicaid) in 2010 equaled  India's GDP, the 9th largest economy in the world

-US interest payments would be 188% higher at historical rates (30 yr average) of 6%, which would add an $290 B to the 2010 budget (and $370 B to 2009)

-57% of US tax-dollars go to entitlements, 20% defense, 16% "other" and the remainder, 6%, to Interest

-America spent $97 B on education in 2010 and $724 B on healthcare or 7.5X more on healthcare

Is this the right way to spend our money?
Young people had better wake up and , at the very least, vote.

Self Portrait XX

Every day , until September 11, the BBC gives 30 minutes of prime morning time to 9-11, allowing ten artists, writers and poets to reflect upon the moment.  There are also interviews of survivors, their families, fire fighters and New Yorkers who remember the day.  Despite being an American tragedy, 9-11 owned by Britain and much of the world.

Madeleine and I walk the dog in Richmond Park.
Madeleine: "Can we talk about geckos?"
Me: "Sure. Aren't you going to get a Leapard gecko?"
Madeleine: "I like them but I would have to feed them a baby mouse. Every month."
Me: "Really?"
Madeleine: "Yes. They would be frozen."
Me: "That doesn't sound too bad. I bet they are like a gummy bear. You eat those, don't you?"
Madeleine: "A gummy bear dead mouse? Right, Dad."
Me: "I'm just suggesting. ."
Madeleine: "It would still be a dead mouse. And I couldn't do that."
Me: "You love animals, don't you?"
Madeleine: "Yeah."

Wednesday, September 7

Counter Terrorism

Members of China's armed police demonstrate a rapid deployment during an anti-terrorist drill held in Jinan, capital of east China's Shandong Province July 2, 2008, roughly one month ahead of the Beijing Olympics.(Xinhua/Fan Changguo Photo)

US counter-terrorism spend since 9/11: $1 trillion (The Economist; estimate, true figures top secret and unknown). There is little to no oversight, either. Hi-tech equipment, often developed for Iraq or war, now used by contractors on US citizens outside the law and without a warrant, as reported by the Washington Post. The largest US anti-terrorist facility located next to the Baltimore airport and a massive complex housing communications, equipment and people and multiple programs outsourced by the Government often without Congressional approval. "Wastage" could be greater than 60% of expenditures.

"[After 9/11] The government said, 'We're facing an enemy we don't understand, we don't have the tools to deal with it, here's billions ... of dollars and a blank check after that for anybody with a good idea to go and pursue it,' Not only does the government find it difficult to get its arms around itself, [but now] it doesn't know what's inside, it doesn't know what works, it doesn't know what doesn't work. And nobody still, 10 years later, is really in charge of those questions."
--Dana Priest, co-author "Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State" and Washington Post reporter

Cord - Healthcare - A quote

After intense deliberation, anxiety and back-tracking : we choose an interior colour for 45, pictured. It goes on today.

Here are the bullets on American healthcare you should know (source, USA Inc.) :
- More Americans on government healthcare programs than ever : 1 in 50 received Medicaid in 1965. 1 in 6 in 2009

- Medicaid enrollment up 12X and benefits have increased 4X since 1966

-Enrollment has grown faster than the population over 40 years (12X vs 1.6X)

-Healthcare costs rising: 1.2% to 8.2% of GDP from 1960 to 2008, respectively (or 7X increase)

-We outspend other nations in healthcare:  US healthcare spending equals all 34 OECD countries (our Western World peer group) combined

-Yet this investment not paying off:  the US ranks #1 in MRIs, #30 in obesity and #22 in heart attack

And it won't get better somehow : Aging population+declining work support. Case study #1: Japan. Case study #2: Greece

Sonnet attends traffic school for various driving violations : Quote from her course leader, Angie, who says, in all seriousness with an East End accent, "You may think you're going out for a drive to admire the bluebells, but it's really the Killing Fields out there".

Tuesday, September 6

School, Day 1

We now have a fifth- and a sixth-grader in the house. Go figure. This morning the usual school-work day scramble as both kids up late having become a bit too comfortable sleeping in until whenever. Jackets lost, new shoes - misplaced! - bags filled. Of course : rain.  Sonnet madly blow dries her hair. Cereal! Toast! Juice! Bowls clatter, the counter covers w/ detritus. Madeleine debates walking to school by herself but we agree to wait a few weeks. The clock ticks to 0830h, which puts Eitan on edge: "We have to go!" I don't help things much by insisting on a photo, pictured.  Lee, who is painting our inside house "caramel" - drinks his coffee, in a protected corner, as the activity moves by him.  Rusty gets into the action, bouncing about with some rubber thing, then chews my back pack refusing to give it back.  Finally, all sorted, and everyone : Eitan, Madeleine, Sonnet, Kamila, Rusty gone.

Monday, September 5


Laurance in town for the day between Croatia and California so Lars and I visit him for lunch in South Kensington.  Laurance's career continues at hedge fund Passport Capital, which made a mint shorting the sub-prime market, while Laurance manages $700 M of energy stocks - specifically, horizontal drilling , which reminds me of my first valuation at First Boston, Burlington Resources, who introduced this concept increasing their proven and probable reserves but some factor.  That was 1989. Laurance up 60% this year and similar performance in 2010. Nice going.

I have known Laurance since the Internet go-go years when he started a company that made it out of block but failed to cross the finish line, like many of us early Internet jockies. From London he moved to San Francisco and investing, married in Carmel Valley, and bought a chunk of land off Lucas Valley Road which looks over rolling hills to the bay.  I had no idea you could still do this sort of thing.  Laurance designing, and building, a house so he and his wife take an architecture class. Now that, we can all agree, the way to go about it.

Me: "Are you ready to go back to school?"
Madeleine: "Yeah, I'm really excited about it."
Me: "Great, what are you looking forward to most?"
Madeleine: "Art class on Thursday. Every Thursday, at lunch, I think: Art class is next and I am really happy."
Me: "It's nice to have things like that."
Madeleine: "Yeah. But sometimes I don't  like Sundays though."
Me: "Me, too. I used to get really anxious. All that work ahead."
Madeleine: "Do you still have that?"
Me: "Not as much but sometimes. Monday is my second favorite day of the week. B/c I can get stuff done."
Madeleine: "What's your first?"
Me: "Friday."
Madeleine: "Me , too."

Sunday, September 4

4 and 44

Eitan in Elm Grove kit. He is given number "4", same as Cesc Fabregas of Barcelona.

And a reality check : here are the things I like about 44 :
Not worrying about what I will become.  For most of my 20s all I wanted was out of what I was doing. My 30s : more of whatever it was. Now : it is what it is. A Chinese proverb, or so I was told 20-years ago by a Chinaman: "At 45 you know your destiny"

Loneliness: gone with Eitan
Financial security : some years good, others close. Badda-bing, badda-boom. Same as it ever was

Interesting, fabulous, friends in lots of cool places
Local state primary school
Being the oldest at a concert and not caring.  Going to a concert
Health : wife and kids. Mine, too
Making a perfect martini or Dukes
Having exactly the dog I have always wanted
Reading Gravity's Rainbow with 40 pages to go. Not caring ten years later

Comprehensive health care insurance. That didn't happen until, like, too recently
The world's important museums inside walking distance along the Thames
Lake Alpine, Big Trees and the Rockies' Western Slope
Going from 20-strokes for a 25 yd swimming lap to 12.
Five perfect photos from 1000s
The Globe theatre, Claridges and Richmond Park
Summer solstice
Not living in Ohio
The New Yorker

And things I don't:
Cal football: 53-years, no Rose Bowl
Running : tendinitis , both Achilles
London's cost of living. Most drivers
The Underground
Winter sunrise, 9AM
Not being near the Pacific Ocean
Failing to break 3-hours in the marathon
Anything beyond the M25
The Republican Tea Party
Pining for the California of my yuf
"Every age has its charms"

Saturday, September 3


Eitan, for these past several months, begs me to watch Jaws. And last night I relent. It is as good a time as any as Sonnet and Madeleine to Chichester to see the Diego Rivera and Frieda Kahla exhibition (Sonnet notes the gallery mainly Kahla's self-portraits from a collection in Mexico "and it is amazing that this little museum in Chichester can negotiate a loan of this size from a place like that.").  In 1975, when Jaws in the theaters, I, too, begged my parents to see Jaws but got a donut; said Grace: "No way." Instead we waited for "The Eyes of Laura Mars".

So me and the boy and Jaws. Inconveniently England plays Bulgaria in a Euro 2012 qualifier when we wish to watch the film and I tell Eitan: "Now or never" so we go with the shark. I am pretty sure he can handle it, BTW, save the first seen where the women gets munched in horrific fashion ("It hurts! Oh, God, it hurts!") but Eitan more concerned by any nudity.  By the time Quint chomped in two (blood spurting from mouth, mouth making funny sounds like "Arrgghh!" and "Glurgleglurgle!") we are familiar with severed legs, eyeball-less skulls and a 12-year old going under.

Afterwards I ask Eitan about the experience and he shrugs. No nightmares, either. This morning he is at a five-a-side football tourney representing his primary school. They end up second out of 25. How strange it will be, one day, when he and Madeleine off to college or where ever they go ?

Friday, September 2

Madeleine Bakes

Me: "What's your favorite food."
Madeleine : "Chinese food."
Me: "Any particular dish?"
Madeleine: "Dim sum."
Me: "Anything else?"
Madeleine: "I like pasta pesto."
Me: "Coolio."
Madeleine: "Dad, do you know if we have sea salt? We have to put it in."
Me: "Put it in what?"
Madeleine: "In here." [points to her Tomato pesso]
Me: "What's the difference between sea salt and any other salt?"
Madeleine: "I don't know."
Me: "Does one taste more like the sea?"
Madeleine: "Yeah, I guess."
Kamila: "This one says 'from Atlantic.'"
Me: "Do you want to be left to your work?"
Madeleine: "Yes, please."

Eitan Cooks

We're back to our routine which means : Eitan cooks.  Here, the boy bakes a chocolate cream pie including the hard bit : the crust.  Says Eitan: "All you do, is, um, um, you crush the rich tea biscuits until they resemble fine crumbs. Then you mix it with soft butter. Then you bake it for eight minutes." Madeleine works on a Tomato pappa, using the last of the summer tomatoes which, by the way, have grown to my height and produce, so far, many tens of fruit. The secret, Aneta told me, to pick the small stalks from between the large branches then, once fully grown, strips the plants of their leaves.  Any way, it worked.

Me: "Anything you want to say for the blog?"
Eitan: "Poo!"
Madeleine: "First of all, I am getting a Gecko.  Also: Dad's hair is really messy at the moment."
Eitan: "Here's one: I don't know the difference between Tesco eggs and Able & Cole eggs."
Me: "Nice thoughts for the cosmos .. ."
Madeleine: "Thank you."

Thursday, September 1


I'm back to work, sort of, and in Town for meetings &c. I sit in Green Park, pictured, answering emails and making calls - it is a glorious late summer's day and good to be alive.

Green Park in London's Mayfair  : beautiful people in expensive clothes. Everyone and everything on display : Range Rovers! Models! Ferraris! Mini-skirts! Toned physiques! At Cecconi's, where I breakfast, I recognise at least four investor heavyweights who munch on toast and drink coffee : Back to the salt mines, dude. England snaps to : the final summer bank holiday ushers in autumn, new school and old industry.

Europe's cycle differs from America which pretty much works all year round with a mere two-weeks vacation, on average, and Mom and Dad both holding jobs. Britain, by contrast, shuts for August along with France, Germany and Italy while the Scandis gone for July. The Greeks and Spaniards : well, they never work at all.  London's streets become navigable as traffic down maybe 15%; I get a seat on the train. Tourists pop up everywhere. The citizens chillax.

Taking advantage of summer's end , Eitan at Cyrus's over-night b-day party (probably doing maths tables) and Madeleine invites Marcus for an overnight : as Marcus has two older brothers, this like heaven for each. They watch a movie stuffing their faces with butterscotch "popcorn."


I take Eitan to the Orthodontist.  This offers a nice reason to hang around the boy mid-week, mid-morning (In anticipation, Eitan brushes his teeth for six minutes ensuring unintentionally, Dear Reader, his gums bleeding for our visit).  Every six months or so since '08 we see the same dentist and have yet to be charged - a substantial investment for the Doc yet, given Eitan's boulders, I understand the bet: his an English smile.  But today yields hope - X-Rays show adult molars and encisors moving in perfectly repositioning teeth that otherwise go every-which-way.  Ortho rubs chin : "We still may need braces in a year or two. Definitely."

Eitan, for his part, all for braces or, at least, not concerned by the dentist who does work for the Chelsea squad and friends with Frank Lampard, Drogba and Stevie "G" (Of Liverpool).  Eitan thinks this is cool.  I think it means Expensive.

Aftewards we walk along Parsons Green in Fulham to a cafe for hot chocolate, pictured.  Eitan a delight and all sorts of curious in the innocent way a (soon to be) 11-year old can be. He refuses to discuss girls or puberty and I probably force too much on him but, as I tell Eitan, I would rather he be embarrassed now than ignorant later.