Monday, August 2, 2010

Memento Analogi - By B

It is really weird to be back here in San Francisco. This house is filled with mementos, little things we have collected over many years. Art, egg cups. It is strange to see all of our stuff, a lot of which i'd forgotten about (these mementos are meant to trigger a memory... but what if you don't remember the trigger?). We have been living essentially without mementos for the past two years... in apartments furnished (and art-ed) by others. Just like I have adapted my professional life for life anywhere (by moving into the so-called "cloud" -- an "office" where documents are not on paper (for the most part!) and, in fact, are not even on a local hard drive but can be accessed anywhere) i have been collecting and displaying mementos in another "house"-- the web--- where i can see them and share them ... (this blog, facebook, and flickr). I am curious whether I will collect and share fewer digital mementos now that I have a physical space again for my analog ones. Probably not... i like the cloud.. i like the freedom to know i can work anywhere... and live anywhere... because i don't think we're back here forever... our long range plan is to be able to be here and somewhere else... at the same time... i have largely figured out how to do this with documents and banks and blah blah blah ... i will need a memento strategy ...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

torture and other thoughts by k

i'm still surrounded by many of the things we have accumulated over these past two years. the big things were relatively easy to get rid of. it's the little stuff...the box of pencils and pens and paints and markers that are a pain. i hate to throw perfectly good things away, but how much can one pass on. for the most part, i think i have done really well with this torturous process. last night arel, dorian and i went to my friend miguel's for dinner and we brought his 6-year-old son a bag of hand-me-downs. his joy at discovering each thing made me so happy! what had felt like excessive junk or stuff that was sad to be letting go became an object of joy for this little boy. the books would still be used, the sweatshirts would still be worn, the dice would still be thrown and stacked and lost. everything is okay.

in our taxi on the way home, i was joking with the driver...a young guy from andalucia, and he said "this country needs more people like you." i said, "i know!" spaniards, or catalans, or maybe both, don't have fun of a sense of humor or sense of fun. i will be missed on some level.

the electric guitar gets picked up today, the oyster sauce and dorian's scooter will have a new home this afternoon, two of the three bikes will be gone this weekend, and so on and so on until we're down to our suitcases again.

but first, the costa brava to celebrate arel's 13th birthday! then on to france for a few days to see anja, julian and florian at her parents' vacation house, back to the costa brava for a few days with miguel and maxim, and then the final final packing and on an airplane on saturday, july 31.

old school folders, anyone?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

unfolding goodbyes by k

we had another goodbye yesterday. i wrote to my friend today to thank her for having us and saying i would miss her and she wrote back:
In the words of the great Dr. Seuss, " Don't cry because it's over - smile because it happened."
a great thought. and i am smiling.

tomorrow we start a one-week road trip to the rioja (wine region of spain), then on to bilbao for a visit to the guggenheim. from there we'll head to biarritz in france and spend a few days there before driving back to barcelona.

we're going through things, getting rid of stuff, deciding what to bring back. the refrigerator and cupboards are getting low in supplies and i just opened what should be our last mega pack of toilet paper...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

vinaros - by b

we got back yesterday from a fun and relaxing time in vinaros with ian williams who invited us down to his and betsy segarra's house ... it's like 2 hours or so drive south of barcelona just across the state line in valencia. according to ian, lonely planet suggests people not even stop in vinaros --- but i like it a lot .

both times we've been there have been for the festival of san juan --- which brings together loud fireworks late at night and traditional music and a parade of gigants (giants)

plus the kids can run free as ian and betsy's place is on the plaza and a few meters from the sea. when we were there seven years ago we rode this fun ride (above) at the carnival ... which we did again this time. the goal is to stay on the bull -- not so easy as it moves somehow in a circle and side to side. more pix of vinaroz here.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

these days now - by b

these days now are like the water
where the river meets
the sea
the sea
meets the river
salty and fresh both
bitter and sweet

school is over... summer has begun...

tomorrow we drive to spend time with san franciscans in spain.... kind of a pre-reentry?

are we here. are we there?

just had a midnight skype with my dad.... and am looking forward to an ungrainy, hi-def, in-the-flesh chivas with the man ! soon

a few weeks left here

trying to get the most out of it

wrapping europe up, somehow--for this go-around at least

feeling really sad right now


Friday, June 11, 2010

get the ark! by k

it's pouring again! what is happening? we have had so much rain in the past week that i'm starting to wonder when/if it will stop. we finally had our summer weather and i was enjoying riding my bike everywhere, but that has come to a stop with all this water. it's still warm, but so so so muggy.

i recently watched an hbo miniseries called "the pacific," all about WWII in the pacific. besides all the other horrors soldiers faced there, they spent days, weeks and months wet! terrible. i left home the other day with dorian's umbrella, only to find when i needed it that it was broken beyond repair. by the time i got to shelter, i was drenched, and i still had at least five hours out and about. i popped into h&m and bought a dry shirt. i think i would go insane if i were wet for a long period of time...

Monday, May 31, 2010

Food Fair, Facebook and the Flotilla - by b

Palestinian and Israeli Friends and Schoolmates Representing @ the Food Fair on Friday.

Friday night was the International Food Fair at school. It is my favorite event at Ben Franklin where our kids go in Barcelona. The range of countries represented at the school is wondeful. And because --- unlike San Francisco -- Barcelona is kind of lacking (understatement!) in food from other cultures, cruising from table to table and tasting great food from around the world is a real treat.

Last year a friend asked me whether I'd make something for the Israeli table. I volunteered to make two dishes... a typically Israeli salad and a typically Palestinian one... and called the pair the "Two Salad Solution". It was my small part for communicating the need for a two-state solution in Israel/Palestine. (Actually... truth be told... I don't even know anymore if a two-state or one-state solution makes sense... my main point is there are two peoples there and they need to accept one another somehow ... see this e.g.)

This year, when asked, I asked in return if it would be possible for there to be a Palestinian table as well. I'd recently met a Palestinian high schooler at the school... but since the event is basically parent-driven, and his parents aren't here (they're in Jordan) I thought it was unlikely that he'd know about it in time to plan something if he wanted to. The organizers were cool with it. And Nadim was into it.

Mauricio's Humus and the lentils from Nadim's Kushari.

Nadim got a recipe from his parents.---for Kushari, which he ate a lot as a kid and loves (it is actually Egyptian but it's what his parents recommend he make). He bought the ingredients. We cooked together I also made a yummy Israeli yogurt and tomato salad that I ate a lot as a kid.

Fittingly both the Israeli and the Palestinian tables had to share a table. And for that night peace reigned. The adults and kids hanging out behind the table wore Israeli and Palestinian flag stickers. And the kids who came by with their Food Fair Passports could get stamps from both as well.


BUT! when I took a photo of my shirt with both flags and posted them to Facebook via my mobile phone, the first comment that came back was one word: "vomit." So much for people trying to feel good and make even a small, symbolic difference. I deleted the photo and the comments.

And then I woke up this morning to read about the flotilla --- and I felt nauseous myself.

If only life could be a food fair ..

Sunday, May 9, 2010

istanbul by k

i recently went to istanbul with a couple friends and loved it! it is a great, huge, diverse, crazy city, and it was also really nice to be traveling with other adults! it is such a different pace from traveling with kids and was a welcome change. here are my favorite things/moments, and things that stuck out for me.
  • the view from our apartment over the bosphorus. we watched the moon rise over asia most nights, and the amount of traffic on the water is mind-boggling.
  • yogurt! the turks love their yogurt and so do i.
  • looking for a synagogue and finding a brothel instead! we figured if there was security it was probably the synagogue on the map, but lo and behold, a guy going in who couldn't speak english did find the one word that clarified what was going on: sex.
  • the crazy mix of people from all over.
  • being able to walk and walk and walk and walk and sit and talk and talk and talk and talk without interruption and whining.
  • the blue mosque. beautiful inside with all the tiles...not just blue!
  • the spice market with strands of dried okra, eggplant and chiles hanging everywhere. and the spices!
  • cats everywhere! very brave cats. not skittish like in most cities. the people treat them well.
  • apple tea. i didn't actually like it that much, but i like the ritual of it and the curvy little glasses it's served in.
  • friendly people. most people we encountered were very friendly and had a sense of humor...a nice change from catalunya where humor is not a strong suit.
i'm sure there are things i'm forgetting. i'm hoping to post some photos, but since i didn't take one single picture, i have to wait to some from my friends. stay tuned...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

arel as justin bieber :-) - by b

after work on friday, i went to pick up arel who was making a video with a group of friends. they looked like they were having a really fun time and i felt bad taking him up the hill with me (though the food awaiting us at our neighbors' house was ridiculously tasty!!).

they posted the video to youtube yesterday... check it out.. it's fun

Sunday, April 18, 2010

asparagus by k

finally, i have managed to find some wild asparagus that grows all over the mountain here! all spring long, mostly older men, wander off trail looking for wild asparagus. the rest of the year, you pretty much only see people on trails, but from march to may there are the ubiquitous catalan men clutching small bunches of scrawny asparagus in their fists. it fascinates me. do their wives send them out to bring home food for lunch, or is it just something they have done their whole lives?

i had sort of given up again this year...resigned to not finding any. but dorian wanted to pick some wild flowers for me today, so he and barak went up to a small piece of "forest" behind our house, part of this complex. no one really goes up there, but dorian came back with some beautiful fresias and other flowers. he then went again with arel to get flowers for our neighbor. and then after getting frustrated with his typing practice, he convinced me to go back with him to get more flowers. and that's when i saw the asparagus! it's much scrawnier than commercial asparagus, so i wasn't even sure it was right. we took three and dorian sauteed them with garlic...yum! so we went back and came back with a handful. now the plan is to make a spanish tortilla, like a frittata with it. do you think our pee will smell wilder?!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Visiting Dachau With My Half-Jewish/Half-German Son - by b

Reading, Dachau

On our recent trip to Munich I visited Dachau with Arel.

I did not take him on our last trip a year ago—he was too young. And I had thoughts of my own to synthesize.

When we ended up visiting Munich again -- for an 80th birthday of Kristin's uncle – Kristin and I both felt Arel was ready. And I felt ready as well--as ready as I was going to be. Because Arel himself is a synthesis of German and Jewish families, I wanted this very intense introduction to the holocaust and world war II to be as synthesized (vs. one-sided) as possible.

The visit reinforced for me just how much I have thought about this event in history --- from since I was a young child. And how little my core view of it has changed. As I was growing up many questions were asked and answered around me that centered around whether there was something inherently evil about Germans, and inherently weak about Jews. Even as a young child I felt the answer to both questions had to be no.

Arel and I set out early on our last day in Munich. It's a short ride on the metro from the center of town--- and then a bus ride from the train station in the town of Dachau to the concentration camp itself. We could have walked instead of taking the bus --- there is a clear path with instructional/memorial plaques (starting with the one in the photo above).

We arrived a few minutes before the camp opened. There were few people at that hour.

It is paradoxically very beautiful there... I remember this from visiting Terezin on the outskirts of Prague---the setting is very pretty, very much natural, and the birds chirp. It is a strange sensation.

The camp itself (officially it's called a memorial site) is a wide open space ... there are no barracks anymore, just their long, narrow rectangular foundations sticking up perhaps a foot or two above the gravel. It is hard to imagine the six thousand people the place was built to imprison being there ... let alone the 32,000 who were there at the end of the war. The place does not give that impression.

It was chilly but there was some sun.

We spent two hours there... including quite a long time in the museum that attempts to explain how a place like Dachau could come to be. At one point I asked Arel if he was ready to look around the camp. He wanted to keep reading and studying the photos.

It was a bit warmer when we went back outside. I wondered whether there were moments if one was a prisoner there, if the sun would shine and things might feel ok for a moment ... could that have been possible?

Arel and I talked a lot... How in the age of Facebook status updates and knowing what ones' friends are up to wherever they are in the world what it must have felt like to not know where your friends and family were-- to know if they were alive or not... how it might have felt to live like that? In the camp. And outside too where life was also in turmoil.

At the far end of the camp are memorials built by various groups ... the camp had prisoners from a variety of backgrounds.

We visited some of them. We also walked into a small chapel just outside the camp where Arel lit a candle in memory of Kristin's father. Bert used to light candles if he would ever wander into a church on his travels... so our kids sometimes do this for him.

We went to the crematorium. It is also at the back--and off to the side-- I gave Arel the option of not going in. But he came. It is extremely sobering to walk through the succession of rooms ... the room where prisoners were told to remove their clothing so that they could shower. The shower that was actually a gas chamber (the doors were what got me the most). The next room where bodies were stacked, and then the crematorium where the bodies were burned.

This was strange. And numbing. And confusing. Ironically this most horrible core of Dachau was surrounded by its most beautiful nature. At one point, Arel and I caught sight of a field mouse scurrying by.

It’s impossible to stand there and not ask oneself how this happened?


The words displayed prominently above the Jewish memorial are from Psalm 9:21... "let the nations know they are but men."

Traditional Jewish translation/interpretation would say that "the nations" are the nations other than the Jews... as in "goyim" which simply means "nations". That's not always the case though. The word goy refers to the nation of Israel itself in a number of biblical references.

I read this warning as applied to all nations --- that we are all made up of human beings and we all might be capable of imposing, allowing to happen or suffering the unspeakable cruelty that occurred at Dachau and the camps it served as a model for--- and during all the other massacres and genocides and horrors that people did to people before, during and since WWII all over the world.

Sometimes when I am in San Francisco I imagine a loaf of bread shooting up in price to 200 million dollars (a loaf cost 200 million Deutsche Mark leading up to the rise of the Reich) and unscrupulous leaders using very savvy media techniques to effectively target a scapegoat---while simultaneously creating a totalitarian system of control. I'm not sure how long the SF ethos of crunchy universalism would hold up. And how would I act?

I feel almost any of us could be on either side and we have the power and responsibility to work to prevent sides having to be drawn.

On our door in San Francisco we have a traditional Jewish object.. it's a mezuzah.. it is traditionally placed on the doorpost of homes where Jews live---it harks back to the story of Passover when Jews painted their doorposts with blood of a sacrificial lamb so that god would pass-over their homes when handing out the final plague on the Egyptians --the killing of the first born sons.

Mezuzah cases can be very beautiful objects of art..despite the dark story the object recalls. And they all have a prayer inside. I wanted a mezuzah on our door... but I wanted something more searching inside... not a statement of faith. I replaced the prayer inside with the lyrics to a very beautiful ... but dark and haunting song called "dona dona"...

It was written by two Jews in the early 1940s. It is a song of a calf being sent to slaughter in a farmer's wagon. The calf is looking up at a swallow flying freely. The farmer asks the calf, why aren't you a swallow? And the chorus is darkest of all: "how the winds are laughing.. they laugh with all their might"

At any given time in history --- due to circumstances beyond our own control---we might be a calf or a swallow (or the farmer driving the wagon). We might be able to change our own position. Or we might not. We do have the power now to know this and to work in any way we can to prevent our victimhood or our creating victims. At some point a society gets too far down a path. The time to think and act is long before that time.

If you like, here are the words to the song. You might know it. It was made quite popular in the 60s and translated into a number of languages.

Oyfn furl ligt dos kelbl,
Ligt gebundn mit a shtrik.
Hoykh in himl flit dos shvelbl,
Freyt zikh, dreyt zikh hin un tsrik.
Lakht der vint in korn,
Lakht un lakht un lakht,
Lakht er op a tog a gantsn
Mit a halber nakht.
Dona, dona, dona, ...
Shrayt dos kelbl, zogt der poyer:
Ver zhe heyst dikh zayn a kalb?
Volst gekent dokh zayn a foygl,
Volst gekent dokh zayn a shvalb.
Bidne kelber tut men bindn
Un men shlept zey un men shekht,
Ver s'hot fligl, flit aroyftsu,
Iz bay keynem nit keyn knekht.

On a wagon bound for market
There's a calf with a mournful eye.
High above him there's a swallow
Winging swiftly through the sky.
How the winds are laughing
They laugh with all their might
Laugh and laugh the whole day through
And half the summer's night.
Dona, dona, dona...
"Stop complaining," said the farmer,
"Who told you a calf to be?
Why don't you have wings to fly with
Like the swallow so proud and free?"
Calves are easily bound and slaughtered
Never knowing the reason why.
But whoever treasures freedom,
Like the swallow has learned to fly.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Pink - by b

Somehow these images go together for me

Detail, Sant Marti d'Empuries I, Heidi Martin Kuster
The kids just finished their 80 millionth school vacation for the year... and we went to Paris and Munich. In Paris we stayed with friends Heidi and Jeff from Barcelona who moved recently to Paris . Heidi is an abstract painter. This is a detail of one of her pieces.

Lucian Freud by Rianne Groen.
Kristin and I took the boys to see Lucian Freud at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. Kristin had seen his paintings up close before... I never had.

Mortadella... by Christoph Hänsli
And finally, while looking through a German cooking magazine a few days later I saw this: Mortadella by Christoph Hänsli.

I am not exactly sure why I'm posting this. I think I'm avoiding finishing my blog post about Arel's and my visit to Dachau.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Maybe Not - by b

I don't know. I made a whole thing about feeling really connected in my post a couple days ago called Up in the Air. But I've been fighting with Kristin and the boys (e.g. see this) and I've been a genuine grumpomatic at home. I was talking with a friend who said that's not uncommon after a trip far away. I do still feel more connected then ever --- big picture --- but perhaps in this very moment (or week) i'm not. On Monday we travel together for a week to Paris and Munich. I'm looking forward to that and to re-connecting.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

THE MOST HORRIBLE DAY EVER IN MY LIFE TIMES 100000000000000000000000000000000000000 - by d



p.s. i'm really in the mood for a kit-kat :-)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Up In The Air - by b

I just returned from a short, three-day visit to San Francisco, followed by two days in New York. While flying to SF, I watched Up In The Air again. That's a picture of it on my little airplane screen. I must have dozed off when I saw it in the theater ... because there was a chunk I had not seen before. I really liked the film... classic.. simple -- with a deeply flawed yet somehow heroic(ish) main character. A big theme in the film is connectnedess vs. disconnectedness. Clooney plays a man who is very disconnected from family --- though, in a strange way, he is very connected to people in general, much more so, at first, than the young colleague who tags along with him on his journeys.

I have traveled a lot this last year and a half. The travel has let me connect with all sorts of people. Crucially, quite a lot the travel (much of it chronicled on this blog) has been WITH Kristin, Arel and Dorian. Luckily my work allows this--just like it allowed me to live in Barcelona, it allows me to travel around with my family and explore places --- and still be effective professionally.

Whether it is because of or in spite of all the traveling, I have felt less up-in-the-air and more grounded, connected than I have in a long, long time.

BTW... the flight to SF was one of the most beautiful I have been on in some time. The ice and the water was amazing. I wish I got a shot when we hit the Pacific coast and turned south at Point Reyes. Green hills. Gorgeous.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

gaudi by k

here are some photos from parque guell, one of gaudi's famous places. i've been there several times, but it was nice to go back and be reminded of how beautiful it is. it's a bit off the beaten track, but when june visited and wanted to see all things gaudi, i signed on. these are june's photos...i thought they were so great i should put them on our blog.

june and kristin in parque guell.

kristin and barak about to meet june.

kristin looking for june...obviously she had spotted me!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

snow? by arel!

---outside of our house monday afternoon---

"its raining!!!" -mama
"no its snowing" - me
"yea right" - mama
"see for yourself"- me
"WOW your right!!! DORIAN!!!"-mama
"Due to harsh conditions--the weather" - Dr. Penburg in english class
**whole class gettting excited**
"Our campus has become very hazarous"
**whole class sighs**
**whole class on their toes**
"i will not be seeing you tomorrow"
**whole class jumps up and yells for 5 minutes straight**

so it snowed here the other day and everyone had trouble getting home and driving and stuff. it was apparently the biggest snowstrom in barcelona single like 1962...pretty cool
me and some friends had a snowball fight then went to the mall to get out of the cold.

Oxford - by b

I missed the amazing snow falling in Barcelona on Monday. But I did get to enjoy this moment after leaving my conference (shhh, a couple hours early) in Oxford. Students rehearsing in Christ Church college cathedral.

Monday, March 8, 2010

snow in barcelona! by k

i am finally getting up some more picture from the snow day. it was truly amazing. never seen anything like it here!

the view outside our kitchen window the day after.

dorian right after school. very happy because of snow and no school the next day.

walking home on snowy day.

the view outside our living room the day after.

on the dirt road on the way to school.

arel and dorian in our complex on day of the storm

dorian's snowman the day after the storm.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dorian Demos Zibz at Park 2.0, Barcelona - by b

{{update march 6, 2010, see this post at the new zibkids blog}}
As some of you know, Dorian and I have been developing a really cool web site that lets any kid become an entrepreneur.. it's called Zibz (biz backwards) and you can find it at Today Dorian had a fantastic opportunity to demo Zibs to a couple hundred grad students at an innovation/entrepreneurship park. He did an awesome job---including a nice intro in Spanish. The event was filmed and we've been promised video. For now, some snaps.

Dorian Getting Mic'd

Dorian getting his Madonna mike

Dorian Demos Zibz (he talks, I just work the keyboard)

Dorian demo'ing. He did all the talking, I was his typing monkey. (I did get a chance to speak before Dorian... a talk on the subject of entrepreneurship... I had been asked to encourage the students to start companies)

After the Demo

After Dorian's demo there was a raffle. Many students ran up to enter.

Dorian was asked to give out the prizes. You can hear a great mix of Spanish, Catala and English.

Dorian is Interviewed After the Demo

Dorian Being Interviewed After Demo

Dorian Being Interviewed After Demo

Later Dorian was interviewed

Getting a Tour of the Motion Capture Lab with Parc Innovacio Managing Director Juan Perez Rodriguez

Getting a Tour of the Motion Capture Lab with Parc Innovacio Managing Director Juan Perez Rodriguez

Before the demo, Dorian was given a tour of the Media Lab at the school/park. He got to try on a cool motion-capture glove.

Juan Perez Rodrigues, Parc Innovacio Managing Director with Barak and Dorian

It was a fun morning! Dorian was nervous going in. But he totally, totally rocked it! He said he had fun. And he said he feels good that he knows he can get up in front of loads of people again.

Dorian Getting Comfortable With The Stage Before the Students Arrived

Oh wait!! My favorite picture. Dorian getting comfortable with the stage before the students arrived. We all have our tricks!

More pics if you like are here.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

swiss photos - by k