Wednesday, 30 September 2009

And so, I wait...

Dizzy.  My once-clear head is oscillating between various understandings of the markets and the economy.  The truth of the matter is that we are in purgatory.  My understanding of this in-between-place is that it is only temporary.  The hardship of it is there is really no timescale given to the temporariness of the state.  And so, I wait.

This economic purgatory has little to do with the purification of souls.  Many would like that, but, it is not what will move things one way or another.  More to the point, economic and market data are various shades -- but most notably chameleon, as data twists and blends into whatever reality is called for.

Missmc is growing weary of doom and its opposite friend faith, tired tired tired.  Both have a point of view that obscures things.

And so, we are back to "And so, I wait".  It reminds me of Beckett, not necessarily Godot. "Existentialism for Control Freaks" would be the subtitle.  The best one can do when things are unclear is not to seek clarity, but, to keep the nose down, diverted and amused.  Otherwise, someone will spot you muttering down the street and then your life will be stuck because, well, you waited.

With that, I leave you this.  It has nothing to do with anything except that it is simply astonishing.  Thanks to lovely perfect-bodied L. for the link.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Two stories about toast

I was walking with O. through a Design exhibition yesterday.  We were chatting away about the nature of invention when she stopped in her tracks and said "I invented the best thing in my dream last night but I can't remember what it was".  She said "it was something really simple and obvious".  We chattered on and wandered here and there.  Hours later, she remembered what it was.  She said excitedly, "Yes.  Now I remember.  I invented Beans on Toast".

After the laughter subsided, we took a detour into the student wing of the exhibition.  It was my turn for a toast moment.  I'd read something on the web a few months back about a man that decided to make his own toaster from scratch.  Yes.  Before my very eyes, was the Toasterman.  I was ever so slightly awestruck and blubbered "Are you the toasterman?" at him. He was.  Trumpets and exciting music.  The absurdity of his project coupled with the more serious theoretical side of it was a mix that leapt straight to the essence of all things Missmc loves.  Here is a link

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Capture it before it is gone...

Whilst the markets are gyrating after yesterday's Fed announcement, let's divert ourselves into something more pleasant.   My little son is in the midst of trying to master the art of writing with a pencil.  He is hopelessly distracted from the task, and more than a bit disinterested.  We've patiently avoided pushing him last year as the resistance level was high.  Alas, his first spelling test is on Friday and he is making an effort.  Up until this point, he has delegated his writing to his best friend in the class.  All my Mother's Day cards were written by T.  I do think my son will be perfect for an upper managerial position in the future.

The beginning attempts at letter formation have a real charm.  With that, I am embarking on preserving his sweet attempts with this nifty website.  Fontcapture will turn any of your scrawls into fonts you can use on any Mac or PC.  If you do not have access to a scanner, you can take a photograph in good light and turn it into a JPG file before uploading...

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

What's happening in Tunbridge Wells...

Missmc attempted a tennis lesson this morning but was swept to courtside observer status by the hacking cough.  No matter - it was lovely to be outside and listen to idle chatter about inflating alligators, christmas raffles and the New York French Laundry, Per Se.   It was delightful, and, the sun made an appearance to tone up my swine-ruffled skin.  Much more stimulating than my usual morning surf.  I do need to get out more.  Back home, in bed again, I have looked for the least boring link to offer you as I am shirking away from an essay and looking forward to a snooze. With that, take a look at this  article  in the Independent entitled "Foreigners moving to Britain to go Bankrupt"...

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Space Girl

Well.  Three out of four of us have had swine flu in this house and we've all had very different experiences with it.  Child number two had a breathless, puking, non-stop hacking, heart racing panting mega-wheezing but No Fever version.  I had the same, but, with a fever.  My husband had a "cold".  What all these experiences had in common was the sudden severity of the onset.  This flu gets down to business.  It does not creep up on you slowly, giving you warning signs like an ordinary cold/flu.  It dives right in and tries to annihilate you.  Even my husband of the mild cold version had his symptoms come on with a vengeance.  Suddenly, without a warning of a drippy nose or swollen gland, or, sore throat, he was down, with all of the above plus a hacking cough.  He of the stellar immune system was back in form after a few days, but, is still hacking like the rest of us.

I've been taking Tamiflu and it seems to work.  I am going to get out of bed today.  I've been so useless, and, have not even been able to read.  I have managed a few online scrabble games between naps with a New York friend.  Thank goodness for that as my brain feels like a cauliflower.

Speaking of vapid, one of my friends sent me this video as he thought it might make me feel better.  I do think it has had an effect!  

Monday, 21 September 2009

It is back.

Missmc officially has swine flu (again?  well- this is certainly unmistakably IT!) and will write again as soon as some energy and wit are restored.  Tamiflu has helped, but, this is a wretched wretched flu.  I recommend avoiding it at all costs. 

Friday, 18 September 2009

Rubik's Cube Accounting

Vivid dreams about Rubik's cubes and accounting woke me with a start last night.  In my dream, someone had just invented a 3-D accounting tool based on the Rubik's Cube.  I was sitting at a formica table under a fluorescent light across from a man in a brown suit watching a demonstration.  It was amazing and a neat way of fitting several "realities" together so they matched on all sides.  As well,  they could be linked to other cubes though sometimes that caused unforseen shifts...

Since when has Missmc ever concerned herself with accounting?  The only logical source for this dream might be either this or this.  The first This concerns itself with accounting changes that are available to Apple that might just make it look much more rosy for them.  The second This is not accountancy per se but is in effect, a way of looking at how things are going.  And they appear to be going nowhere in this article about idle cargo-less ships parked off the coast of Malaysia.  

The dream progressed to that part where the Rubik's cube accounting man was proposing that Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 be customized and given names rather than Q's.  He proposed that  companies ought to give evocative titles to each quarter before they happened and then try to fit the reporting in to match.  That would replace the numbers with a "story" and make for much better annual report reading.  Imagine...

Q1 - "Making Worlds" (ht Daniel Birnbaum)
Q2 - "The Texture of Time" (ht Nabokov) 
Q3 - "Perception and Paradise"
Q4 - "Expanding Horizons"

Well.  The mind runs with possibilities and shaping references abound.  There is sound evidence from all this that I would make a most unsuitable accountant!  But creativity is helpful in the most unlikely places...

Thursday, 17 September 2009


Missmc has been busy interviewing new au pair candidates.  It is an interesting process that speaks volumes about current economic conditions throughout Europe.  This season it is the year of the Hungarian.  Italy was the summer pick.  Previous to that, there was a bountiful supply of Polish workers.  

We've hired a lovely Hungarian girl who is arriving next weekend.  She is an educated out-of-work television editor who would like to take a year in London to be sure her English stays intact as she has devoted considerable time and effort to getting her English language diploma.

Here is a link to the Hungary Economy watch blog.  The first two articles give an in-depth look into "What is going on in Hungary".  And the more thorough answer is here, should you become hooked on long sentences without humour...

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

The recession is over.

The European Stock market is on a big climb this week whilst the U.K. unemployment numbers are doing the same.  Repeat after me "unemployment is a lagging indicator".  It is a truism.

In the U.S., Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has declared that the recession is over. Hat's off everyone -- and do include a gleeful toss into the air.

The Truism.  Some truisms are locktight, such as "All men die".  Others, such as " Seeing is believing", "A little knowledge can go a long way", and "Actions speak louder than words" are more in the realm of cliches.  Is "unemployment is a lagging indicator" a cliche or a truism?  I'd say it is a cliche.  

I obviously have the skeptic hat on this morning.  I shall stop stop stop.  And walk into the sunshine, stretch my arms, and admire the new dawn.  Except that it is too late for that.  I'll have to settle for a toast at sunset.  Missmc from here on in vows to take "the glass half full".

That is a cliche in essence, but, a truism in a most literal sense.  Cheers.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

The shops are full of dark things.

Economy?  Did someone say economy?  You want to hear about that?  It is everyone's guess what is happening these days.  Inflation in the U.K. has fallen a bit more than expected, according to the latest report.  From Missmc's girlie perspective, the large numbers of bargains that were available in the shops last month confirm that.  I was holding back, like everyone else, until I stumbled upon an amazing Armani skirt for 10% of the original price.  It was on it's 5th markdown, languishing in the dark shadows of the back of a really nice shop.  I went back today to pick up a pair of boots I had on order that I paid full price for.  

Am I the only person paying full price?  The shop was desolate.  Sales people were over eager, and, slightly off-putting.  The summer sales racks were still lurking in the corners.  The salesman commented with a wry arch of the eyebrow that the autumn things would be on sale before the summer sales disappeared.  

Forgive me for a shopping report - tis the season.  I can say, there will be an awful lot of people dressed in black and grey this year.  The shops are full of dark things.  And red.  Oh dear.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Gilligan's Island

Do childhood television and movies influence your persona later in life?  I'd answer yes.  The only television show I watched with regularity and passion as a young child was Gilligan's Island.  Shipwrecked on an island, each episode revolves around the potential of getting off the island through self-initiative and invention.  I remember thinking whether I wanted to be Ginger, the movie star, or Maryanne, the kind girl.  I waffled back and forth, and decided I wanted to be the Professor.  But that was impossible, being a girl.  I'd have to settle on marrying him.  I had a huge crush.  There is more than a slight resemblance between the Professor and my husband in the looks department.  The same eyebrows.  And both the Professor and my current husband are hopeless when it comes to solving the practical problem at hand - the-how-to-get-off-the-island-question.  Both are diverted like dreamers toward inapplicable innovative ideas that soak up time and add no added value outside of the headspace they come from.  So we remain stuck on the island.

After so many childhood years of such a show, I ought to have learned a bit.  The Professor is not the answer.  The female role models were lovely, but, let's face it, I'm neither the movie star or kind girl-next-door type.  On the island, they had adventures and good times.  It was a pretty cool place.  A small society. With people most unlike each other with distinct personalities. Oddly, there were not children, but, Gilligan was somewhat like one.  The millionaire and his wife were grandparent figures.  It reflected life in a family, without being one.  It reinforced the roles different people contribute to a society and the value of the collective, rather than the individual.

So.  All that leaves me with an admiration for a collective group but a desire for escape from such a thing.  Some rather hopeless female role models, a lust for the smart man who cannot solve the problem at hand, a disdain for idiots and fat men, and a skewed vision of what grandparents are for...

I'd better go mend that hole in the boat.  Surely I am capable.  But I'd like to take everyone along with me.

Friday, 11 September 2009

A Mannie?

Silence.  Yes, I've been missing.  The certain thing is that I've no shortage of good material at hand.  Alas.  I've promised to keep quiet about a few things, things that would make you laugh.  Pity.  Any story about seven inch gold stilettos does deserve a brief mention.  You'll have to use your imagination.  I'll add that it involves a yacht.

But I was not there.  I've been busy attending other water-themed parties.  I'm afraid to delve into them lest my invites stop coming.  I will say, from my most (un)serious economic eye, things seem to be improving if one can judge by the party variable.  Festive festive festive.  

All these joyous evenings have spurred Missmc into replacing the soon-to-be-departing au pair. I thought I'd found one a few days ago, but, she accepted another triple the pay of our offer.   No wonder.  When describing her to some friends I said "the only drawback to this girl is that she seems far more competent than me with regard to taking care of the children".  My friend's husband, ever a source of wit, retorted "that's not hard".  

So I've been looking looking looking.  I thought I'd found another candidate last night.  A boy nanny, otherwise known as a "Manny".  He was Czech, just fresh out of law school, and, a tennis semi-pro amongst other things.  When I described the mannie I'd found to my husband a slow animation began to take over his face.  The eyes saucered.  The jaw jutted.  The response came two hours later.  "If you want a mannie, I'd be okay with that".  

I hadn't thought the mannie would be for me.  But then, of course, it had crossed his mind and wandered into mine.  I really truly thought the boys might enjoy a boy for a change of pace.  But I had clearly stepped into uncharted territory.  We have had years and years of terribly pretty girls living with us as I thought my young boys would naturally take to someone who was attractive.  I haven't ever been threatened by their presence.  Gosh.  I must be daft.  

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Dull is the new black

Coming up on the one year anniversary of the Lehman debacle, the financial journalists have gone all New Years Eve-ish in writing.  The reflections on the past year are everywhere.  I expect a few top ten lists to be issued soon.  What is in and what is out.  

At the moment, "the new austerity" seems to be the trend in outlook.  The FT has a new blog entitled "Money Supply".  This article on the Bank of England furthers this outlook this from a forecasting perspective.  

I just went to buy a pair of shoes and the nice mid-high range has been removed from our local shop.  Instead, a cheap mass-manufactured Spanish range is in stock, with a private label insert with the shoe store name on it.  Private-labeling it is supposed to give it cachet, but, the trick does not work.  They are of dull design and the label does not make them any better.  

Where am I going with all this?  Get ready for the dulling down of things.  Dull is the new black.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009


Over the weekend, we headed to the Southbank with the children.  There was an exhibition entitled "Pestival" that dealt with all things creepy-crawly - insects to be precise.  The highlight was walking through a giant scaled model of a termite nest.  Inside the nest was an enthusiastic fellow who explained the architecture and habits of termites.  Architecture without architects is a fascinating topic and these termites are ancient leaders of the green movement.  Nests are constructed in a way that provides natural "air conditioning".  The man inside the hive lecturing was Dr. Rupert Soar.  He was not an ordinary insect expert.   The head of a company called Freeform Engineering, Dr. Soar has extrapolated the ideas found in termite hives and combined them with rapid prototyping technologies.  I first encountered a rapid prototyping structure when I was in the 2002 Whitney Biennial.  Artist Robert Lazzerini used rapid prototyping machines to manufacture skewed sculptures.  

Back to the termites.  Philosophically, the marriage of what a termite constructs combined with the use of rapid prototyping technologies for use in architecture is a good mix.  I love the idea of printing a building layer by layer, using robotics.  Building complex structures such as those made by termites would not be readily achievable without this technology.   Whilst listening, I imagined several people must already be developing large scale use of rapid prototyping for use in architecture, and, according to this article in the FT, that is the case.  I do think this company has a very interesting angle on it with the incorporation of green structures based on termites nests.

It is really this kind of thinking that makes the world go round.  I wish them baskets of success.

Monday, 7 September 2009

If everyone were like you, you would not be here...

A good friend is in training at her management consulting firm to specialize in capital markets.  She has sent a few text updates in the past few days outlining her progress.  Day one, text one was a garble of panic over the billion pages of notes she had been given.  Day two was a bit more gleeful, as she had won the mock trading contest handsomely.  I am really looking forward to today's update.

Meanwhile on the BBC, the headline reads "Gender pay gap in city 'shocking'".  It is a bit of a non-article as it is a more complex topic than the length of the article allows for.

I am fully confident my friend will excel in her new field.  One of the primary contributions to her success will be that the issue of motherhood will take a second seat to her drive to the top.  I'm really rather of proud of her for that.  

But I do feel that one should not say such things aloud lest it is misunderstood and she or I are swept off to a thunder-struck island where lightning bolts crackle down every second in punishment.  "If everyone were like you, you would not be here" boomed the voice down from the clouds as a million small horrid creatures ran about shrieking, darting into holes and popping out with a "boo" and slowly slowly torturing us into submission...

No.  Enjoy your course.  That was fiction.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Quick Link --

The re-start of the art season has collided with back-to-school.  Yes yours truly has been out a bit too late again repeatedly this week.  For you, that means a link rather than something written by me.  Apologies.  Next week I shall devote myself to you wholeheartedly.  In between the parties.

The Global Financial Chess game continues.  See here - "Hong Kong recalls gold reserves"...interesting, interesting interesting!  

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Back to school

It is the first day of school for the little one who is entering first grade.  After the summer, the basic back-to-school conversation with parents is a quick kiss-kiss-lovely-to-see-you-how-was-your-summer-yes-it-rained-but-we-had-a-splendid-time-and-you-and-you-hows-your-fine-thanks-you-are-looking-well all conducted with big grins and suntanned faces.  Behind the facade, it is "I-might-be-late-let's-get-in-line-oh-my-oh-my-boy-is-going-to-the-big-school".  

And, to make it a bit more complex for our house, son number 1 is in tow.  Son number 1 used to go to the lovely prep until the credit crunch.  He is now waving goodbye to his lucky little brother who is dressed in his old uniform, going to his old school.  Big brother will be returning to his state school next week.  The plan was that he would stay home this morning with his father and have some quality time to spare him any misery as he longs longs longs to go back to the prep.  At the last minute, little brother refused to go unless big brother came along.  Mad scramble, big brother dressed, out the door, on the bike...and in all that, we forgot our bike helmets.  We made it anyway but had to suffer the disapproving looks from the uber-mum who noticed us en-route.  Eeesh.  And I had thought I was organized.  

After that, I ran into the Blonde.  I complimented her on her fine choice of jacket which happened to be mine from days of old that she had picked up in a charity sale.  From her reaction, it was clear that perhaps I should have not ID'd it.  Oops.

The saving grace of it all is that it is conker season.  Horse chestnuts are just starting to fall and provided good distraction on the way home for big brother.  And he will see all his old school friends tonight at tennis.  Thank goodness.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Global Financial Chess

Gyrating markets are dealing with a new bit of law from China regarding derivatives.  See this article in today's Wall Street Journal.  Over the weekend, there was much confusion over whether China had a new stance on derivative contracts.  Some on that may be read here.

So.  What on Earth?  All interpretations and points of view aside, this is the other reason the September markets are in for a ride...

A tidy maneuver and the first move in what might be a long game of global financial chess...

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Slacking off.

My head is in New York and my body is in London. School will commence this week, party invitations that require shopping for dresses litter my desk, and a bit of work beckons. But it is sunny. I'm between states and think perhaps for today, I shall head back into holiday mode.

Amidst the wildfires of L.A., I have a piece in an art exhibition at LaXart opening tomorrow. Here is a live webcam that might be engulfed by flames sometime in the next week.  Looks awfully smoky there...

And the markets.  The markets.  As promised, September looks to be a roller coaster ride.  Hang on.  I'm now headed out in the sunshine for some pure bliss.  The markets are another form of reality, and, I'd rather be elsewhere.