Wednesday, July 31

La Veta

From the Minnis ranch.

Photo by Marcus as I blog from . . office . I mean WTH ?  I will be leaving soon to watch Law & Order and drink some red wine.  Not so bad I guess.

The Globe

Jasper in Prague

1993, when the rest of us still stunned, post college, Jasper went to Prague and co founded The Globe, which now celebrates its 20th anniversary. This was a bad ass thing to do.

The Globe modelled after Moe's and Cody's Books and other similar Berkeley institutions, thx to Jasper, and became the meeting point for ex pats and Czechs alike who, during communism and the early 1990s, could not browse nor sit and read in a bookstore as books were shelved behind a counter. The Globe changed all that, offering coffee to boot.

In the early days, The Globe attracted readings from Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, Alan Levy, Ivan Klíma, Zdeněk Urbánek, Amy Tam, Richard Ford, P.J. O'Roarke, Arnošt Lustig, Jáchym Topol and Allen Ginsberg.  I recall President Clinton cancelling a visit last-minute when in Prague, 1994.

It is unclear if Aneta knows about The Globe but her generation lives on the net.

Tuesday, July 30

Out West

Martine & Bill's horse ranch, La Veta, CO

Harvard Yard

Steps, Memorial Church

Harvard has the honour of rejecting me twice. As if.

Still, I enjoy walking about campus and watching the summer students mingle with the tourists snapping photos of the Law Library or the John Harvard statue or the squirrels and pigeons (always the Japanese). Eric and I observe at least four family units : middle age slightly fat and maybe balding Dad, perfectly quaffed hair mom, and tall athletic children. Boy, girl every time.

Harvard founded in 1636 and the oldest college in the United States, followed by William & Mary 60 years later (Madeleine and Eitan's schools founded in 1594 and 1557, says I, gleefully). The endowment over $30bn, which is a lot of dough in one place.  It is the most aspirational place I know.

Charles River

From the Boston Univ bridge

Eric and I stroll across Boston to visit Simona and receive a tour of Boston's Children Hospital where Simona works. Field trip, dude !

In 2012, for the 23rd year in a row, U.S. News & World Report rated Boston Children's one of the nation's top hospitals specializing in pediatric care. Children's ranked in the top three of all paediatric specialty categories and number one in heart & heart surgery, neurology & neurosurgery, urology, nephrology and orthopedics.

Simona owns the place, too, greeting staff and candy-stripers with cheerful 'hello's'; pointing out the surgical and recovery and play rooms .. describing all the time her work and the research she is doing. The hospital and children lucky to have her.

Monday, July 29

A Day At The Office

Working emacs

Eric: "I write code. I write math books."

Eric has a physics degree from Cornell, which he received with the lowest GPA possible, only outdone by Chas, who did worse and failed to graduate.  Post college, Eric found substitute teaching in Houston unacceptable therefore he (and Chas) drove to California to find their fortune. Following a night sleeping in a ditch surrounded by beehives, they returned to the Eastern Seaboard. Shortly, Eric was encouraged to apply for a grading job at Harvard maths.  Within a couple days, he was teaching two sections of Quantitative Reasoning 10.  The rest, they say, is history.

Sunday, July 28

Some DNA

The Shakespeares find a blush of boys (and girls) and we periodically see them running across the reception grounds, top speed, in hot pursuit of each other.  Eventually they cool off in front of a movie before it starts all over again.  Here I capture their attention for 30 seconds to take a photograph. And then they are gone.  

I half wonder if Eitan and Madeleine will try booze at the reception - every kid about this age has some wedding or bar mitzvah story where they get intentionally or accidentally plastered - but Eitan aghast when I suggest a small glass of Champagne.  

This morning Sonnet and I separate at Logan Airport where she is on to Colorado with the kids and me to London, via a welcome extension with Eric and Simona.

Rana Ties The Knot

Sedgwick House, Stockbridge, MA

On a glorious afternoon, in a charming western Massachusetts town, Rana and John say their vows and share their joy in to the late evening hour.

John from an old New England family dating back to the 17th Century.  He is a journalist and writer, whose office now the third floor of their Park Slope townhouse overlooking the treeline and one block from Prospect Park.

Rana's story, "Is Your City Next? Lessons from Detroit's Fight to Survive" covers Time Magazine this week.

I dance with a wonderful assortment of financiers, writers, economists, teachers, poets and stargazers, as well it should be.

Saturday, July 27

Red Trousers

A pose

Madeleine: "I don't understand the Royal Family. Does it go to the King or the Queen or someone else?"
Sonnet: "After Queen Elizabeth II, the next in line is Prince Charles. Then William and now George."
Madeleine: "What about Harry?"
Sonnet: "Harry is the second child and so stepped over."
Madeleine: "That is so unfair. .."
Me: "It's probably a good thing."
Madeleine: "Dad, even a Prince should be allowed to party."


Dana in Black

On a perfect evening we join Rana and John and their families and friends for the rehearsal dinner in Gr Barrington, MA.

The kids stuff their face with breakfast donuts at the hotel. Me: "Is that really what you are having for breakfast?"
Madeleine: "Oh, it is sooo good. The breakfast here is so much better than the last place."
Me:  "Why do you guys like donuts so much?"
Eitan: "Sugar."
Me: "Doesn't it make you sluggish?"
Eitan: "Yeah, so?"
Me: "Are you addicted to sugar?"
Eitan: "Yes."
Me: "How about you Madeleine?"
Madeleine: "Yeah. Every kid is."
Madeleine: "There's no life without sugar."

Friday, July 26

Smith College

Class of '90

We stroll about charming Northampton which hasn't changed since Sonnet a student (she tells me).  Here is where she studied for her art history exams. .. there is the bar where she drank, legally, on her 21st birthday. This is where she lived with Catherine and Halley.

We visit the Smith Art Museum, which has a useful collection of American and European masters (I have the Shakespeares draw their favorite); I am treated to an exhibition on Psychedelics from San Francisco's Summer Of Love, 1967.  The art created for Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane concerts but also references Ken Casey, Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, Golden Gate Park, Janis Joplin, the Haight Ashbury, Flower Power and the hippie movement.  Too bad it all had to end, 1970.

Madeleine: "What would happen if you skive class?"

Young Love

Cambridge, MA
Since the wedding things have gone from joy to joyous.

Simona continues her work at Boston Children's hospital, where she is conducting a quality improvement project assessing the use of mental health services by patients and families on inpatient medical and surgical floors (the hospital website tells me). She is the acting site principal investigator for Dr. Eva Szigethy's randomized treatment study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, targeting the reduction of depressive symptoms in children and adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease and depression by using cognitive behavioral and supportive non directive therapies.

Wednesday, July 24


Kresge Oval

The Kresge Auditorium designed by noted architect Eero Saarinen and built in 1953; the building named for its principal funder, Sebastian Kresge, who founded SS Kresge Stores which became Kmart.

A remarkable thing about MIT : it is open to the public, who mingle in the Great Dome, Mass Ave, as students race to afternoon classes.


Eric picks me up at Logan following a kerfuffle caused by torential storms and a two-hour delayed arrival time.  Today we walk from Cambridge to Harvard Sq then MIT and over the Smoot Bridge to the Back Bay, Newbury Street followed by the commons (pictured), Beacon Hill, the Charles River and home.

Eric is writing code for a cool education focused website funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  Here is what he does all day :

$.fn.summarize = function (mainOptions) {
   var $summarizingNode = this,
   options = $.extend(true, { }, { log: false }, mainOptions);
   $summarizingNode.find('.' + $.constants.misc.summaryControlClass)
     .each(function () {
       var $control = $(this),
       localOpts = $.extend(true, { }, { log: options.log }, $$.keys.summaryControlOptions)),
       handlerName = localOpts.handler,

And so on and so forth.

Monday, July 22

Ravens Wood

When I worked in Sonoma, for that wonderful two years with Help The World See, I would jog along the valley's edge and, sometimes, into the Ravens Wood vineyard.  It is my always selection at the super market.

Me: "You know, your noggen is as hard as wood."
Madeleine: "Gee, thanks dad."
Me: "No, seriously, if you are ever in a fight, a good headbutt will end things right there."
Madeleine: "Really?"
Me: "Look at Zidane, he headbutted someone in the 2006 World Cup Final."
Madeleine: "I cannot believe he would do that."
Me: "Well, imagine you are in a game and the other player says your brother is an ape or something."
Madeleine: "I wouldn't do anything. I would agree with him."
Me: "Me, well imagine it was someone else then."
Eitan: "You would never get that far in football anway."
Madeleine: "Says you."

Farewell, Rusty


Madeleine joins me to drop off the dog at the  kennel in Surrey.  Rusty knows something is up and pees everywhere.  Three weeks, Rusty free.

After the dog drop, Madeleine and I have breakfast in Richmond. She tells me she does not miss school and enjoying vacation and sleeping in.  Usual stuff. She craves an ipad or macbook but, for now, it is all about real books (Madeleine: "I promise to read every day if you get me a computer." Me: "That is exactly why I don't want you to have one.")

Sunday, July 21

Summer Hours

Eitan contemplates chores

Madeleine: "Can we play the 'comparison game?'"
Me: "Sure."
Madeleine: "Would you rather fall in a pit full of spikes and rattlesnakes or get run over by a go-cart with electric things and stuff that would burn you?"
Me: "Would I die in both cases?"
Madeleine: "Let's say 'yes.'"
Me: "Go-cart.  Would you rather jump from the Empire State Building on to a bed of shattered glass or be eaten alive by a centipede?"
Madeleine: "Jump from the Empire State Building, if I didn't have a choice. Plus I would probably be dead before I hit the ground."
Me: "Good point, you are always two steps ahead of me."
Madeleine: "Yep."

Saturday, July 20


Mayfair, 9:40AM

Madeleine stumbles back to her bedroom, half asleep, 7AM
Me: "Want a hug?"
Madeleine pauses and turns in to me.
Me: "Sometimes a hug just feels good, doesn't it."
Me: "For you and me both, kid."

Friday, July 19

Heat Wave

War 'on'

Madeleine and Nathaniel suffer the heat in their own way.  Nathaniel going to Latymer School next year which is, Sonnet notes, "a school for smart, sophisticated, urban kids".  We hope Nathaniel stops cussing like a sailor.

In other news, Detroit files for bankruptcy.  I have visited the Motor City once, maybe ten years ago, on an investment boondoggle. It was autumn and the foliage fluxed in colour - beautiful. The GM HQ an entire downtown block, impressive. My other recollection : jogging, 6AM, nobody minding red lights nor stop signs. Weird.


Museum Natural History via Katie

Sometimes we all feel like the dude behind Madeleine.

Thursday, July 18

West Side, Manhattan

July is still a pretty busy month in some parts of Europe while August a complete shut-down.

I am with Ivor and Alison in the 16e the other night as they visit Paris for their 20th wedding anniversary - they spent their honeymoon here.  Ivor and I go back to at least 7 th grade; we both went to Brown and, on that fateful day, August 30, 1985, (or thereabouts) we were on the same dawn flight to the East Coast setting off for a new life. Only Ivor missed the plane. On the plus side, he had another 24 hours with Alison.

The UK goes gay, notable as it is so un notable here. Andrew Sullivan points out that there are 362 million more people who live in countries with marriage equality than one year ago. The total population now living in countries with marriage for all is 641 million.

Sunday, July 14

August '96

Polk St, San Francisco

That is Moe's 544 behind us which, by the way, got a flat on the Bay Bridge, post wedding.  Happily Moe and Ken together and their combined JD, MD, MBA and Rhodes Scholar able to solve the predicament.

Ray Bans

Portobello Rd

Eitan thinking about his look. Fun to watch.

Madeleine: "Look at those bugs."
Sonnet: "The little blood suckers."
Madeleine: "Wack 'em, Dad."
Me: "All creatures great and small."
Madeleine: "Accept for mosquitoes. And leeches. "
Me: "How about locusts?"
Madeleine: "No, they're too much like crickets and I like crickets."
Me: "How about their, like, eating an entire crop and killing some village in Africa?"
Madeleine: "OK, locusts too, Dad."
Me: "What about blood sucking newts?"
Madeleine: "Definitely not."

Madeleine: "Good night, Dad."
Me: "Madeleine, you are everything I could ever want."
Madeleine: "Cheesy."
Me: "But true."
[I get a direct look and a smile]

Friday, July 12

Summer Blues

English, Book 1

We make it to Friday so I hi-five Molly, over for the afternoon with Madeleine (I almost write 'play date' and, boy, Madeleine would not go for that). Both kids flushed after an hour on the trampoline. (Neighbour Helen: "The kids are welcome on the trampoline any time this summer as long as Martin is not sleeping on it." Dad's note: Martin is in his late 70s)

Eitan, never to be out excercised, joins Zak for a 5K run in Richmond Park then an afternoon of tennis with Shaheen followed by football training in Palewell Park. Sonnet and I watch five or six of them stroll home, not a care in the world, as it should be, this time of year.

Me (at football practise): "So should your mother and I walk 20 paces behind you so you can pretend we're not your parents?"
Me: "Or do you need 30 ?"

Thursday, July 11

Talk To The Hand

I once paid the Shakespeares for a photo with a small coin or gum drop.  They outgrew that bribe pretty fast and are now resigned to the camera - most of the time.  I do hope they, as I, shall look back on the continuity of this blog and value it (as much as I do now).  Already I cannot believe we are nearing their adolescence.

Wednesday, July 10

More Fun


Over lunch we create a new game requiring sixty-seconds of non-stop talking, no 'ums' nor pauses, using a word offered by us, the panel.  Madeleine goes first, bravely, and makes it 20 seconds before cracking like a walnut.  Eitan has success ("McDonalds") and Aneta nails it ("dog").  Me, I tackle 'glasses' by telling my life story. The kids blank face me.

Bowie Expo

South Kensington

We, the family+Aneta, to the VA and the David Bowie exhibition which is, by far, the most popular exhibition in museum history.  Bowie employs radio linked digital display combining music and voice over  bringing London's most eccentric and iconic '70s and '80s pop artist to centre front in a fusion of style, (bi)sexuality, platforms and psychedelic colour.  Wonderful stuff.

"This is a very pleasing end of year report of which Madeleine should be extremely proud."
--Mr R A L, Form Tutor, Year Six Full Report

"Madeleine thinks imaginatively. .. this can be seen in her idea for her animal puppet which is half ant-eater and half jaguar."
--Ms S, Art Teacher, Year Six Full Report

The Changing Faces Of Eitan

Hasta la vista, baby 

Arnold Schwarzenegger had 16 lines in The Terminator :

Nice night for a walk.
Nothing clean, right.
Your clothes, give them to me.

The 12 gauge auto-loader.
The 45 long slide with laser sighting.
Phase plasma rifle in 40-watt range.
The Uzi 9mm.

Sarah Connor.

I'm a friend of Sarah Connor. I was told that she's here.
Can I see her please? Where is she?
I'll be back.

Fuck you, asshole.

Give me your address there.
Get out.

Monday, July 8

Dog Days

Rusty takes a break from Wimbledon

It is hot, hot hot in London and the temps to last for ten days. A miracle of sunshine and the Brits fry like lobster, God bless their merry chubby cheeks and sunburned scalps, made all the jollier with Andy Murray's Wimbledon victory - first Brit in 77 years to take top honours and so what if he is Scottish ?

Eitan has the inconvenient swim practice of Sunday, 2 to 3:30PM and yesterday he is wiped out from A) Saturday morning Delta Force paint ball; followed by B) Elm Grove Awards ceremony; followed by C) Overnight birthday party at Luke's resulting in D) six hours of sleep.

Good thing he and Madeleine on summer break starting now.

Saturday, July 6


Eitan and Marc

Eitan and I at the Elm Grove home pitch for the final wrap on their wonderful, magical, season.  Today, a hot day, is filled with team spirit, BBQ and beer; the women bring all sorts of foods and dips and we sit under canopies and re live games and goals covering two years.  It is a good crew, a group I will miss next season and beyond as Eitan no longer with the Allstars as Marc stepping back as coach.

Eitan selected the 'Player's Player 'and the 'Parent's Player' of the season, unusually taking the two most coveted awards, and Coach unable to chose a Manager's player as every lad deserves it.  There are smiles and hi fives all around as Eitan's teammates and everybody clap him on the back and congratulate his and their success.

I am filled with pride at Eitan's comportment - he allows himself a bashful smile - then off the stage as quickly as possible. This has been his style always.

Summer Shakedown

Rusty unwinds

DC and I have a ramble which begins at Cliveden House (surrounded by 400 acres of National Trust gardens), along the Thames Path, ending in Bray and Heston Blumenthal's pub, The Hinds Head - Blumenthal's next door "Fat Duck" has three Michelin stars and a perfect score of 10/10 every year since 2007 in the Good Food Guide.

David back from Lake Como, where he and Tab spent a few days after a drive from Geneva through the Alps; they and family are off to Martha's Vineyard next week for the summer.  He builds his consulting business, full steam ahead.

The best part: Summer has arrived in the UK - glorious sunshine and all day sunsets. Wimbledon finals and a holiday spirit, August yet to come.

And It Was

Friday, July 5

Guy Sap

Here is Guy, backbone of the Northern California liberal establishment, former legal defender of the Black Panthers, ex President of the Sierra Club, part owner of the Oakland A's, on the Board of the Oregon Shakespeare festival, friends with Lew Wolff, Alice Waters and Jerry Brown, Governor of the Great State of California.

Guy's survival given less than 5% following multiple organ failure during a routine operation several years ago. Last week we walk the Huckleberry Trail in the Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve in the East Bay.

Me: "Hey, Madeleine, I've got a big surprise for you."
Madeleine races into the kitchen, breahless: "What is it?"
Me: "You are going to love it. We can get started on it right now."
Madeleine: "Is it a mini iPad? Is it?"
Me: "Books. Maths. English and history."
Madeleine: "Thanks, Dad. Won't be reading those."
Me: "Now that it's summer vacation, let's get going today."
Madeleine races up the stairs.
Me: "I am serious, you know . .!"

Thursday, July 4

So Far Ago

Matt Dillon is old now

Nothing makes one feel, well, old, than seeing a film cherished from  way back when. In this case, Madeleine and I watch "My Bodyguard" about a bully who gets his comeuppance - in short, something an 11 year old can get into, as I did in 1980 and Madeleine does now. 

I saw "My Bodyguard" with Katie and Maggie and a bunch of Barracudas on a summer week night, no school, but morning swim practice nonetheless. We exited the Oaks Theatre (long gone) on a warm night ,  all the world good.  The film a hodgepodge of future talent: Matt Dillon, Jennifer Beals (Flashdance), Joan Cusack . .  kids reading this blog now have no idea who these people are but for me it was our yuf.

Me: "Let's watch a movie, me and you kid."
Madeleine: "Yep."
Me: "You're going to love it, though there is a lot of sex."
Madeleine: "No there's not! It's PG."
Madeleine: "Really, Dad, that's not very funny."

Mother Daughter

My gals

Z over last night while her older sister (age 12) at swim practice so I use the opportunity to ask Z whether older sister is texting boys, to Madeleine's eternal mortification. Z's older sister is, in fact, texting boys and, in addition, they have gone to the movies. You know, on a date. Seems OK to me. These days information comes in snippets.

The Gipper

US Embassy, Grosvenor Square

Ronald Reagan gets respect and why not, given the special relationship with Margaret T, RIP, which defined the 1980s and the backbone of the Western World. Remarkable that two democratically elected leaders could have such an influence on us all.  And how rapidly the world's focus has moved from cold war Chess to fast moving revolution across the Middle East. A slow train coming.

Egypt's President Morsi taken into military custody.

Wednesday, July 3


Monday Madeleine plays trumpet in her school's Junior Brass Ensemble and the Sumner Concert. We recognise the theme song from the Titanic. She also sings in the Junior Choir.

Before, Sonnet and I arrive on Emanuel's campus, and observe her playing kickball with a group of Hill formers. She is happy as only a kid can be happy in the summertime with vacation right around the corner.

The Mall

Horse brigade

The Mall connects Buckingham Palace to the Admiralty Arch and on to Trafalgar Square. Notably, the London Marathon ends here and I found myself in a First Aid booth about where the horses are now, 2009. I was in bad shape, man.

I first became aware of The Mall via David, a Euro fag in my college dorm; David had a lion's main of hair, a trust fund and a cocaine habit.  He breathlessly informed me of "shagging" a girl he had met on the day off The Mall, in St James's Park, after dusk.  I thought, back then, wow! now that shit would never happen in Berkeley. But I was probably wrong.

Monday, July 1


It is a concrete jungle out there.  Fortunately no stitches though I am informed: "blood everywhere."  Sonnet and Aneta rush to the scene and our gal makes the trip to the A&E.

Me: "Nice to have so much sun in the morning."
Madeleine: "Yeah, I like it too."
Me: "Do you prefer summer or winter?"
Madeleine: "Summer, definitely."
Me: "Spring or autumn?"
Madeleine: "Sometimes, late at night and I am reading in bed, and it is raining really hard, that is cool."
Me: "Yep."