September 30, 2006

Random Mobile Phone Images

A weird feature of my mobile phone that lets me add frames - photo of me.
A canal about 1/2 mile from our flat.

Simone and James feeding the ducks. James acting shy.

Stephen at a pub after work.

A pub in Notthing Hill with amazing flowers - had to take this shot for my Grammie.
Our flat from the garden across the street.

Houston So Real at the Flat

My friend Melissa - a former associate form Aurora Picture Show and her husband Matt, the blogger behind Houston So Real, visited us on Thursday. They were in London for a Hip Hop gig Matt had in Notting Hill and then headed off to a wedding in the Scottish Highlands.

Seeing Melissa and hearing her "you'alls" was so great. Felt like I never left Houston. We had a super time finding all the important tourist spots. She actually said I'm a great tour guide which is funny since we some how accidentally managed to get to Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, The London Eyes, River Thames, and Trafalgar Square. Heck I'll take the credit. She even got me over my fear of crossing the street - just go for it (and secretly pray).

At 10pm the evening began (my normal bed time) as we joined them at the Hip Hop dance club. Melissa cradled her beer while Stephen and I just stared at the action. Frankly it was pretty mellow but we felt cool being on the guest list. We headed home at midnight while they partied until 2 in the morning. Not sure when they arrived back at our place or even when they left the flat to catch the 7:30am Edinburgh flight.

A cool thing about our flat is that we've setup a telephone line through vonage that is a Houston number. Melissa and Matt initiated the phone by calling their kids deep in the Heart of Texas. Feels like we have a Bat Phone. A little US outpost in our living room.

These are the first photos from my cool new UK mobile phone. More to come!

Matt and Stephen drinking beer, watching TV and chatting before the gig.

Photo of Melissa taking a photo of something interesting.

September 25, 2006

Moss Everywhere

Leafing through magazines in the UK is like walking through a damp forest. In both you find moss at every turn. Kate Moss is the universal image of posh Britain. But you know what? I just don’t get it.

Tika Cat's Doppelganger

Prior to departing Connecticut my Grammie gave me a stuffed kitty cat so that I wouldn’t miss my kitty Tika so much. I do miss her terribly but I know she is well loved at my parents’ house.

There have been several occasions when Stephen and I have turned our heads quickly and thought that the stuffed cat was really our Tika. The face doesn’t look real but the body does. Yesterday we added batteries to her internal organs and now she purrs, meows and even breathes.

If she starts eating and crapping you know we’re in trouble.

Love you BooBoo Kitty.


Notice that in the photo in the previous post Tika Cat Doppleganger is on the couch looking on at the ironing. A true replica of our crazy kitty.

Domestic Goddess?

While in the process of looking for a job I'm trying to "add value" in the flat by honing my domestic skills. In my entire life I don’t believe I ironed more than two items. Well, this week I’ve used the iron three times – and haven’t burned anything yet!

Ironing can become an obsession. I’m carefully steering clear of that tendency. Frankly, I like my clothes a bit wrinkled – adds texture and character to your outfit. Stephen on the other hand is into the ironing thing. In the past, whenever I had something ironed – such as a horribly crumpled pair of pants that were almost given to charity, I would put it in his pile and he would generously iron it back to wearability. It took him hours but he would always be watching sports and have a beer nearby.

I’ve taken up other clean habits such as cleaning the bathroom floor, wiping down the kitchen counters, picking up pieces of lint from the floor (we don’t have a hoover yet), and even pre-rinsing items to go into the dishwasher. But this behavior could easily drive me insane. The cleaning never ends. You would have to stop wearing clothes and eating in your kitchen to ever reach success.

Suddenly your domestic partner is someone you hope will notice all your hard work and thank you for it. “Did he realize I ironed the crease back into his pants?” Or worse, “he left a crumb on the counter and I just cleaned that bloody thing.”

Do you like the use of British terms peppered here and there into the writing? You actually can’t help it. I found myself thinking in a British accent. Is this the downward spiral Madonna took? It all started as Mrs. Guy Ritchie and I’m sure the next phase was ironing.

September 23, 2006

Damon Linker's Book Review in New York Times

Congratulations to Damon on his New York Times review of his book THE THEOCONS Secular America Under Siege which was released earlier this month. He'll be on tour so check out his websites for a stop near you

September 22, 2006

Lock This Way

Photo of our kitchen in the London flat.

Before life becomes too familiar over here I’m going to point out some things that I’m noticing are a tad different from the US. These are every day life things. Note: British spellings reinforced by British laptop.

1. Kitchens – everything is smaller including the fridge. We’re talking wet bar size fridge. Lighting the stove requires a match. The clothes washer is in the kitchen and it has a drier built in. Don’t get too excited, it can hold about five pieces of clothing, washes for about two hours, you have to pull some stuff out to ensure that everything dries, and the drying takes another two hours. Then you have to iron for sure because everything is super wrinkled.

2. Salad Dressings – the primary salad dressing is known as salad cream and it is a Hellmans product that looks like tardar sauce. White, creamy, bits of mystery vegetables. I did see a choice of four other dressings in Tesco (ubiquitous super market) that seemed pretty standard except the French. Instead of that pink creamy catchup/mayo stuff you see in the US, French is more like an Italian vinaigrette.

3. Vegetables – called Veg.
4. Closets – bring your own. Wardrobes are the norm since the buildings are quite old.

5. Heaters – remind me of California – a giant vertically mounted fixture on the wall. Looks like a piece of modern art that you loved so much you had to purchase one for every room.

6. Prepared Foods – All natural with no chemicals. It is a shocker. You read the ingredient list and you can actually recreate the item yourself without visiting the local chemist. Servings are smaller, no Texas-sized meals here. We found a Whole Foods in our neighbourhood and now feel like we’re back at home. It is even affordable – that is if you don’t upset yourself over the value of the dollar.

7. Cars – smaller, think mini and you’re into luxury sized vehicles. The style of driving is to speed up to an intersection and then determine if you are going to let the pedestrian pass or block the way and give them the “piss off” face. I’m getting better at not having a heart attack and trying to remember which way the cars are coming. The good thing is that they have “look left” and “look right” painted on the ground at each crossing.

8. Locks – Even with a key I can’t open the door to our building or the flat. It seems that the keys turn opposite of the US. If you do it the US way you lock yourself out and everyone into the building. The pizza delivery guy had to help me get back in – Stephen gave up hope.

September 17, 2006

Stuffing the Flat

Stephen partially furnished the flat but we were in the need of some more essential pieces of furniture. So, today we set off for IKEA via public transit – since we are car-less (by choice). The Tube was our primary transport which took us quite a while because of repair delays. Sundays is when they do the bulk of repair work. It took about an hour.

Arriving at our stop we were surrounded by people who had their IKEA purchases in hand. We knew we were close. It turned out to be quite an adventure finding the store. In the US they are on major highways. This IKEA is in an industrial area near Wembley Stadium and not very walkable. We eventually made it and all of humanity was there to greet us.

Like a treasure hunt we searched through the store, identified our desired items and then located them in the warehouse area. The checkout queue (not use of the Queen’s English) was endless and then we had to wait online for home delivery. How else would we get the new stuff home? Turns out we were able to ride with our delivery! We love efficiency.

Speaking of stuff, our boxes arrived from Houston and we were both shocked by what we thought was important to ship. I filled two giant garbage bags full of clothes and brought them to the local charity. After having spent our summer (me in the North East and Stephen in London) with only a few possessions it felt crazy to hold on to clothes that we never wear. Three months of absence broke the bond of sentimentality. Now to resist overloading the flat with new stuff!

Arrived in London!

I've arrived in London and was welcomed by Stephen who took me to our flat. It is amazing - set in the center of Notting Hill. Photos to come soon.

September 14, 2006

A For-Profit Philanthropy at

The New York Times reports Google is launching a non-tax-exempt philanthropy.

From the website:

“ includes the work of the Google Foundation, some of Google's own projects using Google talent, technology and other resources, as well as partnerships and contributions to for-profit and non-profit entities. While we continue to define the goals, priorities and approach for, we will focus on several areas including global poverty, energy and the environment

According to the NYT article Executive Director Larry Brilliant “likens the traditional structure of corporate foundations to a musician confined to playing only the high register on a piano. ‘ can play on the entire keyboard,’ Dr. Brilliant said in an interview. ‘It can start companies, build industries, pay consultants, lobby, give money to individuals and make a profit.’

I applaud this effort having long advocated for the sustainability of “nonprofits” and the need to be accountable to standard business practices. Perhaps this model will further professionalize the field and create an environment in which viable career paths and competitive compensation can flourish.

September 13, 2006

Behind the Scenes of Project Runway

Want to see the most fantastic show on TV and Cable - and regain your faith in reality shows? Check out Project Runway. Season 3 is down to five clothing designers, from 16, competing each week for loads of prize money, a new car and lots of goodies.

There are so many great features about the show. First of course is Heidi Klum who is a knockout. Not only is she beautiful but she has humor, grace and tons of style. Tim Gunn, Chair of the Department of Fashion Design at Parsons The New School for Design, is the reality-check during the show. Unlike other reality shows who feature talking heads with no relevant skills, Tim is a design expert and teacher. It shows.

Beyond what you can see on TV are the online feaures. You can own one of the fashions by bidding in the online auction, listen to Tim's engaging podcasts, register for RSS feeds, listen to the full exit interviews with all the "aufed" designers, create your own runway video mash-ups, and countless other features that I haven't yet discovered and probably won't understand for about two more years.

Although the show is edited down to capture as much back stabbing as possible, it is clear from the podcasts and exit interviews that these people respect each other. Talent, respect and teamwork are the bottomline for these artists.

September 11, 2006

Childhood Friends - See Us Grow!

This summer, being back at home in Connecticut, I had the opportunity to reconnect with two childhood friends. Here I am (left) with Karen(center) and Lori (right) from our April 1972 playgroup.

Love the fashions! This must be from the period when I would only wear polyester pants. Or maybe those are leggings? Check out the shoes. Karen says I still look the same. It is funny to see little mini-me versions of ourselves.

I was lucky enough to spend time with Karen and Lori this summer. Karen is now preggers with her first and Lori has three kids. Lori lives in Stamford and Karen is just a few exits up the Parkway in New York. Although it felt like the summer that would never end it gave me more quality time with quality people.

Lori and I went to college together and we both studied photography. Now she's a professional photographer and I only wish that I were. Visit her site at www.seemegrownet. She was also the mastermind behind the photography of the Stamford JCC Maccabi games and I was her humble assistant. Photos can be seen at

Mom and Grandmother Addicted to Crack

Four days a week my mother and grandmother play with crack, make noises like BAM! and break bones. Seeing them on the street you would think they are harmless but behind closed doors fagetaboudit - they are gamblers.

The name of the game is Mahjong (or as my mom and grammie say MARjong) and they play it in groups of fours and fives. It is the latest craze amongst retired women and they take it very seriously. The room must have noshes, coffee, tea, be cat-free, and no answering the telephone to disrupt the game.

There are four lovely ladies in the livingroom at this very moment playing their weekly games and I can smell the cigar smoke from down the hall.

Mashing Up Google Maps

Ever wanted to create your own Google map? Now you can. Its called a mashup and the blog offers the instructions as well as countless custom maps.

The beautiful feature is that people want you to add information to their maps. Share your favorite shopping spots around the world, add to the San Diego Trolly trip map or create a virtual tour of your last vacation. My dream is a way to map walkways and bikepaths.

Today the blog is filled with maps relating to 9-11.

September 5, 2006

San Francisco's art collection: lost, strayed or stolen

This Associated Press article by Ron Harris appeared in When I was Project Manager for the Hearts in San Francisco project I had the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation donate some startup funds to the San Francisco Arts Commission to start working on cataloging and improving the storage of the Civic Art Collection housed at the San Francisco General Hospital. This article is about the current situation. It is very good to see that they are speaking openly about the state of this collection.

The Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera paintings that I had restored and loaned to the Museo de Frida Kahlo in 2005 are also at the San Francisco General Hospital but are not part of this civic collection.

Here's the article:

For a city boasting Rodins and Munchs in its public collection, the basement of Building 30 at San Francisco General Hospital is no place for art. Steam pipes lattice the ceiling and the dust on rusting file cabinets appears years thick.
San Francisco owns more than 3,000 pieces of art, acquired mainly through commissions and gifts and valued at about $30 million. But decades of poor record-keeping and other factors have landed work by noted artists here.
"It's dirty. It's hot. It's moist. There's steam," said Carol Marie Daniels, a project manager for San Francisco's civic art collection who has spent more than a year sifting through the hospital basement and similar places for the city's lost and misplaced art.

"These windows don't even have glass on them so when it rains water can pool in here," she said. "There's rat droppings all over."

The city has hired art technician Brian Boeddeker to help Daniels inventory the collection and rescue treasures that have fallen into disrepair. Required physical inspections of art installations haven't been conducted for decades. Now a team of five is playing the dual role of art sleuths and data entry specialists.

Their task is considerable: Of the 3,301 pieces listed on the city's new art database, locations have been entered for just 793. Some items have not yet been inputted from an outdated record-keeping system, while others are just now being rediscovered in dank corners of the city. Of the 793, 318 are listed as being in storage.

"We had an old system of cataloging," said Richard Newirth, director of cultural affairs for the San Francisco Arts Commission.

"We never really had the capacity to keep up with it on an ongoing basis. In fact, we've discovered that some pieces have disappeared."
Among the missing pieces are a painting by the late Jay DeFeo, a two-time National Endowment for the Arts fellowship recipient and highly regarded Bay Area artist.

"It went to a branch library," said Susan Pontious, deputy director of the city's public art program. "That's one we would like to have back. ... Things that are not bolted down go away."

Work by more well-known artists seems to get better treatment. Early prints by Richard Diebenkorn are safely installed in a meeting room at the art commission offices. And Wayne Thiebaud's work can be seen at San Francisco International Airport.

One recent weekday at the hospital, Daniels and Boeddeker rediscovered Ray Luazzana's etching "The Last of the Unrealists," and "Nude In Studio," an acrylic by the well-known California artist Joan Brown, stacked like worthless pallets against a dirty wall.

Brown, who died in 1990, won a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship during her lifetime. Today, her posthumous award would be having "Nude In Studio" rescued from a dusty forgotten heap.
"It's heartbreaking," Daniels said, brushing her hand along the dusty frame.

September 1, 2006

Drama on the Tennis Court

Yesterday I attended the US Open and was instantly pulled into the action in center court. Tennis isn’t my sport of choice (yes, I prefer gymnastics and ice skating) but I was surprised by how exciting the game is when seen live.

We had the privilege of sitting center court in box seats. What a view! You could hear and see the action including every grunt. I was reminded of how front row seats to the ballet are coveted by a certain set for the thrill of being sweated on, hearing the jumps, lands and grunts. Tennis amplifies all those enticements, if you’re into that kind of thing.

When we returned home I tuned into Agassi playing his thrilling nearly four-hour match. I understand why fans are willing to pay upwards of several hundred dollars for a seat. The drama is intense. You don’t know the storyline and who can tell who will be the protagonist or antagonist? The crowd reacted to every facial expression, dramatic stance and painful dance as the two men dueled in front of 23,000 audience members.

So good to know that 36 is not so old after all.