Wednesday, May 31

London Fashion Week

This photograph taken on the runway during London's Fashion Week. The catwalks take place in February and September at changing venues such as the Natural History Museum, showcasing upcoming and established designers like Vivianne Westwood here. As curator of contemporary fashion, Sonnet is able to get passes which makes her particularly popular amongst her (female) friends.

New York's Fashion Week takes place twice a year: the fall shows are held the preceding winter (February). The spring shows are held the preceding late summer (September). The event takes place in Bryant Park, which is converted to a temporary arena with tents covering the park's 8 sq. acres. The individual venues - ranging up to 12,000 square feet - come complete with runway, seating for attendees, backstage areas, lighting and sound. Influentials include Oscar de la Renta to Zac Posen and P Diddy. And of course our very own Sonnet.

While these photographs are not technically inspiring, shot from a poor position and with a c****y digital camera, I like the outcome nonetheless. It shows (me anyway) that the subject matter counts for the majority of an image's value, and the steps to get there only get in the way. A rule of thumb seems to be one good result for every 200 shutters, though this final number might be low.

Tuesday, May 30

Bank Holiday Weekend

Eitan watches the rain and television (28/5/06). While the long-weekend brings a break from the working life, inevitably so to the rain. Somehow, and without fail, the weather turns on the holiday. One would never know that the Southeast suffers a drought prompting the weather neutral friendly comment: "this is the wettest dry-spell I've ever lived thru."


Moments before going to the pool, Eitan and Madeleine have a 'battle' (their expression). The thought was to capture a happy photo together, but I found this animated shot presents more accurately their essence. Eitan and Madeleine play well together, unless bored then they fight. Both use tears to their advantage - Eitan perhaps more so as he likes to play by the rules. Madeleine is not above lying to sway 'the law' in her favor. This weekend, while driving to the coast, I found myself in the timeless and classic move of trying to drive and strike the backseat kids at the same time while shouting 'knock it off.' History repeating itself, or are we simply programmed to act so?


Our urban kids seem somewhat befuddled by the idea of the beach. I admit that this photo saddens me when I consider their now distant roots to California. Photo taken at Bournmouth, where we spent our 'bank holiday' weekend (why do the Brits not name the holiday?). It was family style all the way at the Bay Side seafront hotel, pool inclusive. From the beach, we watched the large cumulous clouds roll in (yes, rain), the cliffs of Dover and The Needles, which are chalk stacks at the western most point of the Isle of Wight. It was nice before we had to flee the weather - but not until after a beach-front lunch at the local chippie.

Saturday, May 27

Pretty in Pink

Madeleine on her way to a birthday party (25/7/05). The girls are into dress-up these days, and the princess motif is the resounding favorite (does this change from generation, I wonder?) Madeleine balances her feminity with football, tree climbing and general stubborness. By English standards, she qualifies as a Tom-Boy. For us, she is a well balanced kid.

Our Own Steven Gerrard

On a drizzly Sunday, we visit the common o practice some moves. It is also Sonnet's birthday. The common has a series of 'secret fields'; the main pitch is occupied by a cricket club who fills their time with tea and biscuits and the occassional bowl. Eitan has no time for this. The rest of the afternoon is spent at our favorite local pub-restaurant. Nb Steve Gerrard is an England footballer who plays for Liverpool, and recently scored a remarkabe equaliser in extra time of the 2006 FA Cup final.


Madeleine in front of sculpurist Rachel Whiteread's exhibition at the Tate Modern (Feb'06). The museum is in the resurrected Bankside Power Station built in 1947 by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, also the architect of the Battersea Power Station (and the cover of Pink Floyd's 'Animals') and designer of the red telephone box. For the millennium, the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron remodeled the building at a cost of £134 million. the Turbine Hall is 500 feet long and 100 feet high and has housed works by Bruce Neuman (Raw Materials, 2004), Olafur Eliasson (The Weather Project, 2003) and Anish Kapoor (Marsyas, 2002).

6 days and counting

Madeleine makes her appearance to the world (12/2/02). Born at St. Mary's hospital in Paddington, she weighed in at 3.3 kg (7.3 lbs) and arrived with eyes wide open and a loud whoop of joy. On the day, Kate Larrison arrived at our house at 4:45AM to watch Eitan while we dashed to the hospital. The delivery was fast - less than three hours - and our lives have been filled with joy since.

Sticky fingers

Eitan discovers tape (27/3/03).

Friday, May 26

One by the river

This photo taken on the Thames Path in Richmond. The spot is nearby the end-point of the Oxford Cambridge boat race (ie, crew or rowing), which has taken place every year for 177 years. Today's 4.5 mile course, which was first used in 1845, stretches from Putney to Mortlake. Oxford won this year's race in 18 minutes, 32 seconds for the Blue's fourth victory in five years. Cambridge maintains the edge, however, with 78 wins to 72 (the slight discrepency the result of a boat sinkings in 1912).

Thursday, May 25

Happy chappy

Eitan prepares for the winter walk to St Mary's Montessori (24/2/04). London's boggy weather is not as bad as most foreigners think - 45 inches of precipitation a year, or about the same as San Francisco. The difference: it occurs throughout the year. Plus we have dull, overcast days especially in the early months of the year. And the sun goes down at 1530 following daylight savings ('spring forward, fall-back'). The kids know nothing else - what they worry?


Eitan outside T J's restaurant cafe on an overcast Sunday morning. Visited by blue collar workers from around the neighborhood, and next to the local hardware and wood cutters, the diner is neither hygenic nor smoke-free. It does offer the page-3 girl and a fine fry-up any day of the week from 6AM. No neighborhood should be without one.

Wednesday, May 24

Yes, Dad... ?

This Madeleine's practised 'kiss-off' look. I spent Tuesday with the kids and it is always fun to re-connect with their daily routine (24/5/06). After the morning school-run, several free hours present themselves for chores or reading. Madeleine has her friend Katie over for lunch, then we pick up Eitan from school. Both kids in spanish (teacher Angelina: 'children are making fine progress') followed by bath, dinner, homework, bed-time books and some (forbidden) T.V. All this by 7:30PM. Sonnet and I find ourselves in bed not much later.

Sunday, May 21


As London is expensive, and the dollar week against the pound, we take full advantage of the mega-stores upon re-entry to the good 'ol US of A. In this instance, we buy a season of kiddie outfits in one afternoon at Target... or is it Walmart? Any case, nobody does scale like America and these Brits could learn a thing or two about mass merchandising. Madeleine and Eitan enjoy the free ride.

Out on a...

 Madeleine is a tree-climber . At first, this hobby a minor irritant as inevitably it delays passage from football, school, the park... anywhere some bark catches her fancy. However a school mom made me appreciate that not many girls actually like to climb trees. In fact, such an activity is a fine example of risk-taking, thrill seeking, experience gathering and general creativity all bundled together. Now I (try) to show patience when Madeleine stakes her high-up claim.

Saturday, May 20

Pre school

Madeleine before the walk to school, Thursday morning, 17/5/06. She is working on her sounds and slowly beginning to recognise words and numbers (she can count to 100 in english and spanish). We give her lots of praise to build her confidence. Sonnet and I get a kick out of her attempt to work through 'van', 'dog' and 'truck'. As does she.

Spring III

More tulips from the Bank holiday weekend; photo taken with my mobile phone, 2.0 megapixels (1/5/06)

Thursday, May 18

Madeleine and Sophie in Big Trees state park



Eitan agrees that the more lighter fluid, the better (Jul'04). Sonnet must have been inside when I took this photo.

Tuesday, May 16


This self-portrait taken at home in front of the living room mirror, circa 2005. The kids are healthy and happy. My wife loves me. We live in London. I'd still like to break 3 hours for the marathon but this somehow seems further from reach each passing year. Relearning french and sitting in a Paris cafe life is good.

Little Princess

Madeleine prepares for a weekend birthday party (10/3/05). for those not familiar with Frances Hodgson Burnett's 1905 book 'A Little Princess', the fable describes a pampered little rich girl who suddenly finds herself a penniless orphan after her father's business venture fails and he succombs to jungle fever. In the end, the father's business partner tries to right the wrong of his poor financial advise, buys a house in London and rescues the Little Princess from a life of 'scullery drudge.' Hey, wow - this a story that could have taken place in Silicon Valley.

Monday, May 15

The kid's got game

Madeleine, Eitan and I spent Sunday afernoon practicing our soccer (8/5/06). Madeleine inches the ball up to me, the goal-tender, and insists forcefully: "Don't move!" A mighty kick sends the ball thru my stationed legs followed by a squeel of delight - Goal! Eitan was disgusted.

Sunday, May 14

Space 1999

In 1975 I was hooked on Space 1999 with Martin Landau and Barbara Bain. When the moon is blown out of the earth's orbit following a nuclear explosion, the colony of Moonbase Alpha fight for their survival while meeting alien mystics and cosmic hippies. The program was influenced by 2001: Space Odyssey and the clothes are 1970s far-out with plenty of bell bottoms and polyester. The special effects were terrific for the time and my favorite was the space transport craft - or Eagle. I was so enamoured that I went to Mr Mopps toy store in Berkeley to purchase the model kit, which hung from my bedroom ceiling by a piece of clear thread until the series was cancelled in 1977.


Madeleine enjoys a favorite treat on a hot day in the 'burbs (15/6/04). Her favorite today remains strawberry - one wonders how or why life becomes so much more complicated as we get older.

What big eyes you have

Eitan's first experience with a magnifying glass (10/10/02). He was quite fascinated by the effercts for a while, then moved on to other natural easily experienced phenomena like gravity. I imagine the glass will come back into use at about the same time he discovers snails and slugs.

Lake Alpine I

This photograph taken on a warm July dawn in '04. The lake was 'discovered' by us in the 1980s and is located near Bear Valley and my parent's house in the Sierra Nevadas. It is 2,227 meters above sea level, and cut off from the world for a good part of the year due to snow and the closure of route 4. The rocks warm up during the summer day and provide an ideal spot for sunning. The lake offers a good swim across too, with beautiful views in all directions.

Saturday, May 13


Photograph taken at our friends the Claydon's house in Bath (7/8/05). Located in the South West, the city is famous for its natural baths which are fed by three hot springs. The waters were certainly popular with the Romans, who believed them to be a cure for many afflictions and lovely for a spa - a legacy which remains today for the Knightsbridge crowd. From Elizabethan to Georgian times, Bath was a holiday spot for the wealthy (Charles Dickens' book Pickwick Papers is also set here, and satireses the town's social life). Consequently the city contains fine examples of Georgian architecture, most notably the Royal Crescent.

Friday, May 12

A Million Bucks

San Francisco friend and Sr. Analyst at hedge fund Passport Capital Laurance Narbut visits London to raise the Big Dollars for his latest money making play: rigs (11/5/06). Our friendship was formed during the technology go-go years when Laurance was investing on behalf of a weathy family, and starting an internet company. Now he walks to work in 13 minutes, wind-surfs in the San Francisco Bay and relaxes on the Eel river in Mendicino county where he is building a house.


More bathtime antics (6/2/06). Both kids wear their high-tech goggles, which have been a main-stay for at least 3 years. Could there be an 'All-American' 500 yard freestyler in the making?

Thursday, May 11

Let there be...

The West Coast gang, including Simon and Devon and Sophie, check out the Light spilling through a fallen 2,000 year old Giant Sequoia in Big Trees National Park. The Sequoias (not to be confused with Redwoods) grow to 112 meter by 7 diameter and thrive in only a handful of moist locals including Northern California. This particular grove is home of General Sherman, the largest living organism on earth with a a volume of 1,487 cubic metres (52,510 cubic feet).


Madeleine tucks into a favorite meal (26/9/04). Pizza ranks up there with McDonald's chicken nuggets and chips and Sunday waffles. Unlike her brother, Madeleine is a slow eater and always the last to clean her plate - if at all. Wisely she has come to realise that food avoidance equals attention, and many an evening I have spent shovelling a 'choo choo' or 'space invader' of food into her mouth. Other nights it's the tried and true classic: 'No desert if you don't eat your broccoli!'

Tuesday, May 9


The kids and I are greeted each day with Sonnet's happy face. This photo taken one fall evening at Richmond Park whilst taking the holiday photo.

Monday, May 8

Summer hats

Madeleine and her pal Katie hang out next to the St. Mary Magdalene church where the Montessori school is located (6/5/06). They are not wearing black eye shadow or smoking ciggies but, inevitably, they will be teenagers (3,103 days but who's counting?).

Sunday, May 7

Omelette anyone?

Stephen Jansen, a member of my poker table and partner at a hedge fund in London, spends his life quantifying circumstances (7/5/06). In short, he's a numbers guy. I was happy to catch him in his natural habitat preparing an angel cake for his beloved wife Jennifer's 35th birthday.

Saturday, May 6

This is your brain...

... and this is your brain at Dulles Int'l Airport awaiting a connecting flight with two kids under age four. Photo taken at gate C-21 after our flight delayed four hours due to thunder storms (18/7/04).

Angel's Camp

Madeleine at the Giant Burger in Angel's Camp, California, on our way home from the family cabin in Calaveras County and the spot of Mark Twains 'The Celebrated Frog of Calaveras County'(Jul'04). We spent three weeks in the mountains, which was a perfect, and restorative break from England. The cabin has been in the Orenstein family since 1984 and is filled with fond memories, now to be experienced by Eitan and Madeleine and their friends.

Madeleine in the tub

Bath is a time for the kids to go nuts, and they have never resisted the call to water (213/03). The two share this time playing with an assortment ot toys including dinosaurs, insects, various fowl, cars, trucks, squirters, empty shampoo bottles, kitchen items, wood spoons, sponges, and anything else that is a) smaller than the tub, and b) un-anchored. This picture captures Madeleine post scrub and pre-PJs.

The Cat in the Hat

Madeleine wears a purple statement, made for her with love by Auntie Katie (18/6/02). In Madeleine's hands is 'doggy', who has been by her side since any of us can remember. Doggy was initially a gift from Kelly Nolan to Eitan, who did not take to him straight-away. Madeleine moved in, and quickly the two became inseparable friends. Without doggy, there would be no bedtime story, no peaceful sleep, no morning cuddle and thumb suck. In short, the world would be a much harsher place.

Big Mouth Strikes Again

This is a posed photograph, taken in front of the Orangery, Kensington Palace, following afternoon tea and biscuits (20/1002). When prompted, a rather bemused Eitan gave me his widest smile, while I snapped away with my Camedia. For a while I used this shot as my screen-saver, which somehow seems an appropriate 'gate' into my computer.


Eitan is three days old (2/10/00) and already has formed a bond with the yellow duck which is still located in the bathtime toy bin. Eitan, when asked now about the photo as I write, notes 'my willy looks bigger than it is now.' He also comments that he is 'a bit smaller.' His hair calic already evident.

More spring

This flower also found at Embankment (1/5/06). The cherry blossoms now in full bloom for aprox. two weeks.

The Blitz

The Arts Council of London and the Royal de Luxe 'host the biggest piece of free theatre ever seen' according to them (4/5/06). de Luxe was founded by Jean Luc Courcoult in 1979 - leave it to the French. This 'capsule' positioned at Waterloo Place just off the Pall Mall and two stories high elicits numerous responses from passer-bys on their way to wherever. My favorite, in the finest Southeastern brogue: 'wha tha fook is that?' which pretty much sums up my feelings too.

Thursday, May 4

Springtime UK

English parks come alive by May, and this tulip bed on Embankment no exception (1/5/06). Over the Bank-holiday weekend (May 1) the Brits come out from underneath their rocks, squinty eyed and pale skinned, prepared to do a summer's worth of DIY in one weekend. Invariably there are traffic queues into B&Q and Homebase. It's also a given that 90% of the adult population will return to work sun-burned.

Ps - I took this image using my little Sony Ericsson mobile phone, which has a 2.0 megapixel camera.

Wednesday, May 3

These boots were made for walk'n

It's not entirely clear to me, or Eitan, what actually IS in Madeleine's cowboy boot though it certainly has captured their attention (9/7/05). The pink dirt kickers, purchased by Grandma Silver in Colorado, remain a favorite item. While the initial pair out-grown some time ago, a replacement set may be found in the pantry (unfortunately the Montessori forbids her to wear them - the boot heel considered to be quite dangerous to the other children, you see).

School Colors

The every-morning circus ends with the kids fed and dressed (it's hoped) and raring to go. Eitan's journey to school and reception (or kindergarten) is several quick blocks. Madeleine tags along for this part, then makes the longer trek to her Montessori just across the train tracks. Often there is whinging and moaning, and depending on my mood (or the weather) we drive.

Tuesday, May 2


Madeleine over Easter Weekend, at the Kew farm (21/4/06). More likely than not, her expression in response to something I've said - like "let's bring home a cow to take care of the grass."

More pumpkins

Pumpkin and apple picking in Hertfordshire last fall (21/10/05). A photo of Madeleine's 'cat' can be seen in an earlier blog below.

History of the Jack-o-Lantern (thank you, Univ. of Illinois Extension)

People have been making jack-o-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack." According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with it ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."

In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack’s lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack o’lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack o’lanterns.