Monday, August 29

The G

The g waters the front yard
Last couple weeks have been admittedly chill.  I've had a few business trips taking me to Oslo, Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Zurich, travelling through the Swiss Alps to get to Zug.  The kids have taken the loong summer break to be, well, kids: Eitan sleeps until noon. Both go out in the evening with friends or parties. Neither particularly interested in my instructions to study. 

Madeleine runs a 2:29 800m today at Euell in Surrey. She's disappointed as it's not a personal best and the end of the season. Next is cross country and Autumn nearly hear.

Madeleine: "Yo g, what's up?"
Me: "From now on you are 'The g.' "
Me: "The g is in the room."
Me: "The g is now going down the stairs."
Me: "The g is in the kitchen looking for some food."
Madeleine: "I get it Dad OK ?"
Me: "The g tells Dad, 'she gets it, OK?'"
Madeleine: "You are so weird."
Me: "No more so than anyone else."
Madeleine: "Whatever you say g."

Saturday, August 20

Man's Best Friend

Post run, Richmond Park. Saturday afternoon
Me: "How are we doing as parents?"
Madeleine: "You were doing pretty good but now you're all about discipline and stuff."
Me: "Are you kidding? You guys have so much freedom."
Madeleine: "Like a 9:30 curfew?"
Me: "That's for public transportation. And BTW 9:30 is summer hours and will be earlier in winter."
Madeleine: "See? "
Me: "When was the last time you put forward your case for a different curfew anyway?"
Madeleine: "In the US. In Colorado."
Me: "OK, but I wasn't convinced."
Madeleine: "You *were doing pretty well as I said."

Madeleine texts me from her bedroom: "Can I get sushi delivered?"
Me (texting back): "No. Make yourself some pasta."
Two hours later. Me: "You're making pasta?"
Madeleine: "Yeah."
Me: "You must be pretty hungry."
Madeleine: "Do I just put it in boiling water?"

Nordic Affair

Oslo Philharmonic
A beautiful late summer evening in Oslo. The symphony outside the statehouse a pleasant surprise.

A black BBC broadcaster reports on Trump's announcement to an all white audience that he will have 95% of the black vote in the 2020 elections. Like a 10 year old in the Principal's office, she tries not to laugh.

Ali, Pelé and now Bolt.

Madeleine: "I need new shoes."
Me: "Shall we go shopping then ?"
Madeleine: "I've been wearing my Vans for a year now."
Me: "You've been seeing live bands for a year now?"
Madeleine: "Huh?"
Me: "I didn't hear what you said."
Madeleine: "Vans, Dad."
Me: "So what are we doing this afternoon?"
Madeleine: "Uh, I'm seeing my friends."
Me: "Cool. Why don't I send a flash bomb and we can all hang in Wimbledon."
Madeleine: "Those words hurt me."
Me: "What, can't I join you?"
Madeleine: "Obviously No."
Me: "So you're saying your prejudice. Against old people."
Madeleine: "Yes. I mean no. Only you."
Me: "Your own Dad. You cut me to my bone."
Madeleine: "Were you like this when you were my age?"

Madeleine: "Why don't you move back to the US?"
Me: "Maybe we will one day."
Madeleine: "You could live with Gracie and Moe."
Me: "But then Moe would tell me to do my homework."
Madeleine gives me a knowing smirk.

Tuesday, August 16

Summer Vines

Self Portrait XXXXIX
Mid August yet no tomatoes. Still, I am happy to have my friendly vines and await their red fruit in September.

Gracie began chemotherapy last week Thursday and is in positive good spirits. The chemo is good news as the nodes in her lungs proved non-cancerous. The treatments, which will continue through November, to ensure this remains the case.

Monday, August 15

Rusty Olympics

Rusty cheers for Mo Farah
The dog is fired up by the Olympics.

In truth, I've never seen an animal so happy to have a bone.

Little Britain is in 2nd place for medals after the US and before China. Go figure. The UK is rocking the gymnastics, velodrome and swimming and diving. Then there is Mo Fara, Britain's very own Michael Phelps. Just about almost.

My mornings have been up early to drive to Hampton to run in Bushy Park followed by a swim in the outdoor 33m pool where I can wear flippers.  The other lap swimmers hate it, as I hate them for being in the wrong lane, but we manage to co-exist.

North Devon

Shaka dude
We spend the weekend in North Devon for some surfing and both kids enjoy the beach (picture tattoos, sunburn, babies crying and parents smoking).

The North Devon Coast Area is known for its outstanding natural beauty and Woolacombe Beach chosen as"Britain's Best Beach in 2015  and 13th best in the world by TripAdvisor which says a lot about them. Yes, it's sandy and the water salty but it is not a place I would return to, dear reader. There is no California sunset. I will come back for Madeleine, not doubt. She is committed to the waves.

The beachside chippy, however, totally legit - a line forms along the block from 11AM. Inside, the Brits order fish and chips or sausage and chips or just chips. The order, doused in salt and vinegar, arrives in a card-board box, complete with small wood fork.

Server: "Order please?"
Lady: "I'll be hav'n those chips. And the cod please."
Server: "Order please?"
Lady 2: "Two chips. Make it three chips and the fish."
Server: "Order please."
Man 1: "Chips and a sausage."
Server: ""Order please."
Man 2: "Oy matey, I'll get a double portion of them chips."
Server: "Order please."
Man 3: "Chips and the beef burger."
Server: "Oder please."
Lady 3: "Hmmm. Yes, I'll have the chips and the vinegar, if you don't mind."
Server: "Order please."
Me: "Anyone ever not order chips?"
Me: "I'll have the chips."

Wednesday, August 10

Meanwhile At The Track

Wimbledon Hercules
Eitan and Madeleine have a tough workout including 2x 3 minutes hard followed by some 400s and 200s. Funny it doesn't seem like a big deal, 3 minutes, until you're in agony at 1 minute and not even at the half way mark. These kids are tough, though, and power through.

I arrive at the track at 7PM - kids taxi service - treated to a perfect temperature and slow sunset over Wimbledon fields.

Trump suggests that gun owners assassinate Hillary Clinton and her selection of Supreme Court judges. Paul Ryan and those turds in what was the Republican party continue to back Trump.

Eitan: "Madeleine tried to sell me a shirt."
Me: "She's desperate for money. I've got her and Lucas cleaning the windows."
Eitan: "Where is she now?"
Sonnet: "They're circling the neighbourhood trying to sell baked goods."
Me: "Highly motivated. I like it."

Dog Days Of Summer

Like mother, like daughter
The kids remain on school-break and both nesting or, at least, sleeping until afternoon if I let them. It is hard for me to let go of my father and I urge them to get out of bed, do homework, work on the yard, walk the dog etc etc. No sound for a teenage kid worse than Dad walking up the stairs, rapping on the door before entering without an authorisation.

It's better for them when I am at the office (Since I work with France, France is on holiday).

Eitan and I have been going to for a morning jog in Bushy Park then the pool for some laps followed by coffee and croissants at an 'artisan' cafe near our house. It's a good combo for a workout; I am also looking into meditation.

Madeleine calls my mobile: "Do you want to buy an Izod shirt for 10 pounds?"
Me: "No."
Madeleine: "That was fast."
Me: "Okay, what's the deal ?"
Madeleine: "It's almost new. Only one owner and light blue."
Me: "Who's the seller ? "
Madeleine (pause): "Lucas. [Dad's note: Lucas is one of Madeleine's friends]. "He needs money for train fare." [Dad's note: the crew wants to take the train to Brighton for the day]
Me: "Tell Lucas if he wants to make some money he can come to our house and do yard work on the weekend."
Madeleine: "I am not going to tell him that !"
Me: "Gotta work, kid. I am not taking the shirt off your friend's back."
Madeleine: "Gee, thanks Dad. You make it sound like it's so unfair."

Monday, August 8

British Gold

Adam Peaty brings home the gold medal in the 100m breast stroke, as expected given his world record in the event. He does these Olympics in style, clocking a WR in the heats then again during the finals - 57.55. Gemini crickets, that's fast.  The last time a Brit won a swimming gold was the great Adrian Moorhouse, also in the 100m breast, in Seoul '88.  

The BBC interviews Peaty's parents in Staffordshire: "There was times I felt like taxi driver but I said to Adam, 'to be a champion you got to work hard - so get out of bed!' " Seems about right.

My cynicism for these Olympics, given the doping and general flimsiness of the Brazilian platform, fades away amongst the entertainment : the BBC delivers 16 channels of live broadcasts, which arrive around 5PM GMT (trials) then again at 12:30AM (finals). Who can't be inspired by it all ?

Sunday, August 7

Louie In The House

Louie and Guilia (with a 'G') visit from NorCal while criss-crossing Europe.  Louie an ancient high school friend and swimmer though more inclined towards water polo player where he co-captained the Yellow Jackets water polo squad in 1982.

Louie was a positive influence: body-focused, curious and always good energy. I recall summers sneaking into weight rooms mid-day at the UC dorms to get an extra workout. He introduced me to climbing the bleachers at the Cal football stadium (we circled the grounds searching for weaknesses in the security fence). Minor aversions compared to what else going on in Berkeley.

Since, Louie has taken on 'causes', running for Marine County Superintendent in 2000 to oust a jerry mandered, special interest incumbent (he got 40% of the vote but still 2nd) and again in 2002; formed a non-profit to provide after-school academic support in the sciences across Marine county (300 pupils). Had a beautiful and precocious daughter.

Meanwhile Madeleine runs a 200m for the first time in a sunset time trial on the Wimbledon track. Without a starting block normal for the event, our gal blasts forward, hits the curve in full stride and brings home the race in powerful fashion, clocking a 27 seconds, half a second from qualifying for English Nationals. Not bad for the first-timer. She says: "Uh, it was fun. Quite fast race. I was surprised."

Saturday, August 6

Orange Is The New Black

At our local The Plough
Along with having teenagers, we now have a set of rules that aims, well, to establish some rules.  For instance, Eitan's curfew is 12 midnight. He is allowed to use public transportation to get home (mainly bus). Madeleine (I remind she is 16 months younger) can stay out until midnight but she must have a ride, secured beforehand. Otherwise she must be home by 9:30 if by public transportation (this, dear reader, is the summer-rule given late evening sunsets).  

Of course Madeleine feels it is deeply unfair.

I signed Madeleine up for car-service Uber "for emergencies" which has been used 3 of the first five days in service.

Me: "Why don't you guys have a party here?"
Eitan, Madeleine:
Me: "Why not? Don't you want to have your friends over?"
Eitan, Madeleine
Me: "We could move the furniture from the living room. It could be big."
Madeleine: "No way, Dad."
Me: "What is it then, alcohol?"
Madeleine: "You would never have alcohol."
Me: "I'd not thought of it. What do the other parents do?"
Madeleine: "They're upstairs."
Me: "Well that's good to know."
Eitan: "Yeah, see?"
Me: "So no booze, no party ?"
Madeleine, Eitan
Me: "Sorry I asked."

Our First Lady

Melania was naked and illegal in 1995. Maybe married, too.
OK maybe Trump won't get elected.

Who could possibly have imagined that the Republicans would be able to hoist someone on a blinkered nation worse than Sarah Palin ?  Trump is finally going down in flames after he has insulted, well, everyone but most of all parents of fallen sons. Military families represent a large part of Trump's support base. His recent attacks have cut muscle.

Me: "What do you think of Trump?"
Madeleine: "Dunno. Pretty bad, I guess."
Me: "What would you think if I ran for president?"
Madeleine: "You would be a terrible ruler. You would tell everyone in the city that they're not allowed to drink and then you'd sit back and drink as much alcohol as you want."
Me: "Fair point."
Madeleine: "Are you still going to do it?"
Me: "Run for president?"
Madeleine: "Drink alcohol."

Monday, August 1

On Trump

A soothing photo of mountains
Why Trump will win.

Start with the two Americas : whites who go to the same universities, marry each other and work together and live in the same safe neighbourhoods. They're well off and mostly liberal. Workaholics. Striving with opportunity. Mainstream media is their mirror. Think Manhattan, San Francisco or Salt Lake City.
On the other side, there is a new lower class of white Americans with a high school or no degree who find themselves unmarried or divorced and unable to work due to illness or disability or simply unemployed.  Their zip codes are filled with chronic crime, decaying housing and infrastructure and services from clean water to policing (or aggressive policing). Think Flint, Cleveland, St Louis ... As a consequences of these trends, the traditional bonds of civil society have atrophied in lower class white America - less trust and less 'social capital'.
Trump speaks for this audience : The RNC captured the mood with Trump's speeches of an America in decline and unsafe. Contrast this to the Obama/ Clinton's masterpiece of self-congratulations during the DNC: everything in America is awesome ! America is great, diverse, dynamic and prosperous!
But it is not so for Main Street. The reality for lower class whites is, that since 2005, according to McKinsey, 81% of this population had flat or falling incomes. This group is in the grip of an epidemic of ill health and premature death and  chronic unemployment. It is why Trump comps to Hillary in the polls.
If Trump mobilises white voters - something much easier than minorities and the young - he will win. To see it, there were 129 million voters in the 2012 election, of which 93m (72%) were white. Romney won 59% of those votes to Obama's 39%, but still lost. If Romney had won 62% of the white vote he would have won. Can Trump do it? Right now he leads among white registered voters without a degree by a margin of 58% to 30% compared to Romney's 55% to 37%. Throw in Sanders' 13m supporters and the many young voters who won't show on election day. The white lower class, especially the older cohorts, will turn out for Trump in droves, just as their English counterparts turned out for Brexit.
We are on the path for a demagogue.