Tuesday, April 30

Big Trees

Katie, Daniel and Daniel's twin boys visit 2505 Shashone Rd off historic HW 4 in the Sierras and near Bear Valley, Lake Alpine and Big Trees national park, home of the largest redwoods in the world. Moe and Grace bought the property when I was a junior in high school and it really meant little to me - weekend with parents in the mountains ? No thanks. It wasn't until I started dating Sonnet that I realised what a gift the cabin was. Beautiful hikes, gorgeous lake swims. A perfect place for kids and family.

Monday, April 29

Dover Harbour

My first time to Dover Harbour and I swim for c 45 minutes in c 10.4C water. 
Approaching Dover is quite something - industrial piers jut outward forming a protected zone for swimmers and rowers but not blocking incoming waves. In the background there are busy ferries going to Ireland, France and other places. The beach is hard-pebbled and nasty to walk on bare-footed. I scramble down to the water's edge (tide is out) and wade in - within minutes I am numb and watching the shoreline from afar. The other direction, unending sea.
Here, the ultra-swimmers train from May to September when the water temp's will rise to 20C. A 'lap' connects two fat jetties or c 2,000 meters.
Beforehand, Sonnet, the dog and I spend the night in charming Chatham to break the two hours drive to Dover.

Friday, April 26

BHS Swimming


Still on the Board. Twice.
Closing out the week in Berkeley, I take my mom to a BHS swimming meet where the Yellow Jackets compete against Bishop O'Dowd, Albany and Castro Valley at the Berkeley High pool (in my day, there were two pools about 50 years old, the water over-heated, over-chlorinated and no lines on the pool floor). I meet the men's coach, Michael, who was BHS '86, but not a swimmer back then. He gives me all sorts of interesting updates on the team, which heads into the Northcoast championships next month. 
Michael points out Maya swimming the 200 yd freestyle and somewhere in the middle of the pack. Maya is the youngest person to swim Hawaii's 28-mile Moloka'i Channel and the youngest woman to swim the 20-mile Catalina Channel.

Wednesday, April 24

Mount Diablo


Most visible land anywhere ?
Mount Diablo has always in my vision, literally, yet despite growing up nearby the highest mountain in the Diablo range (1,084 meters) I have never been to the top until now.  The  360-degree 'viewshed' offers expansive views of the SF Bay estuary and, on a clear day, the Sierras are visible over 300km away including Sentinel Dome in Yosemite.  Today, despite the sunshine, fog is visible on the western horizon. A small ranger station greets Grace and me at the top, where we bide our time talking about whatever. 

We pass multiple cyclists and three Ferraris on the way to the top. The panorama stimulates a discussion w my NorCal friends as to whether Mt Diablo presents the most visible geography vs, say, Kilimanjaro or Mt Fuji. The California poppy's are in full bloom.

Monday, April 22

SF Bay


I swim in the SF Bay whenever here, April being one of the coldest months for water temp as the bay estuary captures the Sierra's snow-melt resulting in temps at around 48-52f. After the initial shock of the jump, I pay the cold no mind and swim for about an hour or so.  One turn around the inside of the "cove", below, is 1500m or c one mile to the regulars but my watch and arm-count suggest more like 1200m.


This is what homelessness looks like in San Francisco - 100% Patagonia clothing and gear (Joe lives in Pacific Heights). I met him at my first job in NYC at First Boston while he went on to run the firm's North American Asset Management Business then settled in Hong Kong to head investment banking in Asia. High flier for sure. Once Credit Suisse consumed by UBS last year, Joe and his wife relocated to the Bay Area. 

Jon Grussing, who I have recently re-connected with, was also in the FBC Financial Institutions Group and same vintage year as Joe, remains at Credit Suisse and will likely transition to UBS - I joke, he is the last man standing. Joe and Jon each worked at their first post-uni job for 40 years.

Big Mac Revisited

Grace, Lupe and I go to the Stanford Medical Center in Berkeley so Grace can have a small skin cancer removed from her arm. A simple procedure requiring about 45 minutes and some stitches. Afterwards she wants McDonald's and so there we go. Neither of has had a Big Mac since I can remember (though we hit a Taco Bell on San Pablo last year after reading about Taco Bell's product r&d department in the New Yorker). She informs that the Big Mac is just not the same anymore (for me, it is always the same). 

What is different is that there are no counter-staff and a busy restaurant has a crew of like four people. What's a teenager to do for a summer job ?

Monday, April 15

Another One Bites The Dust

Though the picture does not do it justice, Dave, from Columbia MBA, was on his way to becoming the Financial Controller and eventually, perhaps, the CFO of Pepsico - I always thought the latter since he was the No. 1 accountant from my year at CBS. Instead, Dave has taken his marbles from the circle, leaving Pepsi as SVP & Deputy Financial Controller to be retired and spiritual, something unexpected, and that I applaud wholly.  

Brooklyn NY

I spend several days in Brooklyn visiting Katie and Daniel at their lovely home on a grade-listed and charming block in Brooklyn Heights near to the metro connections and fabulous restaurants including Clark's, a diner where we have a late lunch in the photo. Afterwards Katie and I walk across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset (magical), check out the WTC memorial and catch a ferry back to Brooklyn. The next day is the Highline.

Daniel has three teenage boys and I am happy to meet two of the three in motion.

I have figured out how to swim every day in NYC - the appropriately named Asphalt Green on 91st & York (Manhattan; top class 50 meter indoor pool, $25) and the Brooklyn YMCA (clean, functional 25 yards). My kilometres per week remain at c 30km.

Sunday, April 14

A First Apartment

Riverside Drive at 125 Street where Sonnet and I lived together first-time on the 5th floor facing me now with a view of the park and the river. I was at Columbia MBA and she arrived with her friendly black cat Dominique, having left her job at William-Sonoma, trusting that the apartment would be acceptable. Or me not a fraud. We were engaged to be married with everything ahead of us to come. 

Saturday, April 13



I am in Midtown, on a wet and unpleasant day, at Park Avenue Plaza (middle left) which once housed the mighty First Boston (then CS First Boston then Credit Suisse First Boston then CSFB then Credit Suisse and now UBS). Yes, the top floors - mine 39 - housed the bankers who worked on Important Deals and Global Mergers and Acquisitions. PAZ, as it was called, was a sure power building with its novel green mirrored windows and simple detailing - a vertical cleft on one side that went from street level to rooftop. Given how seriously everybody took each other it is not surprising that my most absurd stories - and many of my best friends - are from this time.

From Midtown to downtown, still on Park Avenue but now on 21st Street, where I see painters painting a wall white for no apparent reason. 

Valle dei Templi

A Sicilian local catches me taking his photo as he takes a break from the morning shopping in Taomina nearby the San Domenico Palace. I am drawn to his style.

Temple of Concordia
The Valley of the Temples, in Agrigento, on the top of a mountain that provides panormanic views - and therefore protection - of the Ionian Sea, includes the remains of seven temples, all in Doric style, and dating from 25 centuries ago, give or take. The Concordia and its 6x13 columns, was built in the 5th century BC and turned into a church in the 6th century AD and thus survived the destruction of pagan places of worship. 


Sonnet and I visit Sicily staying in Catania at the base of Etna, the world's most active volcano and, from 2013, a Unesco World Heritage site -  the ancient Greeks believed that the deadly monster Typhon was trapped under the mountain by Zeus. Etna does lend a certain feeling of unrest, the last major eruption sending 20 feet high lava flows in the 1990s, reflected by the surrounding chaos - roads and circles that make no sense, drivers who don't obey the traffic rules (if they exist), houses, churches and piazzas jammed together like crazy -- wonderful, all. Catania itself has been part of so many empires it is hard to follow the city's history - it belonged to the Romans, the Greeks, the Arabs and even the Normans. Every street corner offers something.

The Ionian Sea

The Greek ruins reason enough to visit Sicily as they are the most preserved in the world before the Romans arrived and put up their own ruins. We are in Taormina (where The White Lotus S2 was filmed), Agrigento (The Valley of the Temples) and Syracuse where I swim a few kilometres in the turquoise water launching from metal steps that descend to the rocky shore.

Easter Sunday


Sonnet prepares lamb for Easter, celebrated with Madeleine while Eitan in Washington D.C. interning at Crossroads Campaigns supporting progressive non-profits and electoral campaigns. He has transitioned into a central brownstone with five other young people who are enjoying more-or-less the same life and lifestyle. 

Normally the first major holiday of the year, ushering in the British springtime, met stoically with rain, gale force winds and even a hurricane but this time it is mild with only two-days of the four-day bank-holiday weekend washed out.

Dissertation At Work


Madeleine at the coffee shop office

Madeleine is working on her final-year dissertation at Manchester, which means, over the two-week Easter break while at home, she is out the door by 9AM with backpack on and computer fully charged. Her subject, suicide and self-harm in UK prisons, a serious one that demands examination. She is crunching data over the last 20 years tho not meeting any of the in-mates. The hypothesis is that inmate anxiety has become worse in confinement as investment in incarceration facilities and mental services has declined during the survey period.