Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Pope of Hope or Common Liar?

Well interesting development on the campaign trail today. It seems our buddy Mr. O'Bama may have been caught in quite the lie. You know who I'm talking about, the Pope of Hope, the man who is going to change politics as we know it?

See, as the story goes, and it remains to be seen if it is true:

" a member of Mr. O'Bama's staff telephoned Michael Wilson, Canada's ambassador to the United States, and warned him that Obama would speak out against NAFTA, according to Canadian sources.The staff member reassured Wilson that the criticisms would only be campaign rhetoric, and should not be taken at face value."

Well this is interesting as far as it goes, and of course all politicians shade the truth from time to time, but it seems to me that there is a little more here. It is one thing to say, "I'll reduce your taxes" and never mean it, and quite another to call a foreign minister and say, "I'm going to lie to the American people and it involves my country's relationship with yours, but don't worry because I don't mean a bit of it".

If true, this belies both an inherent dishonesty, which is natural for an Illinois politician, and a complete misunderstanding to the importance of candor and truth in dealing when it comes to permanent treaties with your allies and neighbors.

By the way, as a side note, I happen to know Micheal Wilson quite well. In a previous life he and I were on opposite sides of a business transaction and I found him to be a charming, honest and very engaging man. Quite famous in his country as well which became apparent the night of our closing dinner. I was host and arrived at the restaurant a bit early to make sure everything was just so, and noticed that a lot of the restaurant's staff were milling around - far more than we needed to handle the 15 or so people in our room. Finally I asked a waitress what the deal was, and she said in her McKensie Brothers accent, "Oh, Michael Wilson is in your room tonight, we all would like to see him".

Can you imagine a restaurant staff in America standing around to see Henry Paulson? Me either.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Traditional Garb

In what can only be described as a descent into the "politics of personal destruction" the opposing democratic candidates released photos today of their opponent in the traditional garb of his/her respective culture.

I don't know about you, but I find that first outfit, far more horrifying!

n.b. Post slightly edited to "horrifying" from "terrifying" once I was fully able to process just how offensive the outfit was to the standards of modern fashion and stylish women everywhere.

One Question

While these $3,600 shoes are the best indication yet that we will not enter into a recession, I do have one question for Antonio Berardi: What happens when you're walking into a strong wind?

The entrepreneur in me sees a strong aftermarket for $800 click on heels.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cora's Coffee Shop - California Dreamin'

I'm a bit tardy in posting about my trip to L.A. in part because I forgot the link from my camera to my computer, so I figured I'd wait until I could post pics and text. Then, after arriving home last Monday, I was over taken by events here and well, now I'm beginning to catch up.

One of the reasons I've always loved L.A. (yes, I really do love it), is because it is a wonderful food town. Another reason is because of the outdoor lifestyle that can be found there.

I've had so many great times in L.A. that combine these two aspects of life - many of which were actually in winter. Drinks of the rooftop of a building that we just finished developing, a multi-bottle wine fest on a crisp February night overlooking Huntington Beach and on this trip, cocktails on the Getty's patio overlooking downtown L.A. on a clear night.

So, upon reflection I guess I should also add drinking, to outdoor lifestyle and food!

Well, last Friday I had another one of these L.A. moments. After two successful days of business in town, I found myself with a free morning before my afternoon flight to Phoenix. The weather was perfect; Sunny, a slight breeze off the Pacific, and only a faint chill remaining in the air, I walked out of hotel on the ocean and headed to Cora's.

I had been walking past Cora's for the previous two days and from the moment I saw this place I was intrigued. The food savant in me recognized immediately that this smallish joint with only a couple seats inside and an ivy enclosed patio would be the perfect spot for a nice leisurely breakfast. Unsurprisingly, I was not wrong and Cora's offered a brief respite from the constant L.A. vibe.

I chose a small table on the patio, natch, and began to review the menu:

  • Orange Pancakes and Blueberries

  • Huevos Rancheros

  • Caprese Omelet

  • Smoke Salmon & Eggs Panini

"Oh boy!" I thought, "What in the world am I going to do!"

After some deliberation, I chose a prosciutto omelet with cheddar cheese, and opened my Journal to catch up on the day's news. As other orders passed my table I noticed something kind of cool about Cora's food. It was kind of an obsessive/compulsive's dream! Pancakes were fluffy and perfectly formed. Omelette's were shaped like little cylinders with nary a spec of egg out of place. "Weird", I thought since the rest of setting was so casual and relaxing. Still it was oddly nice, kind of a yin and yang sort of thing.

I couldn't wait to get my food.

My breakfast arrived in short order and I was not let down. The same perfectly formed that I had seen pass my table was there in front of me accompanied by a perfectly square piece of thick brioche toast and a roasted 1/3 wedge of potato. My waiter cracked some fresh pepper over my food, and I was ready to eat.

The omelet was very nice. Not fluffy and dry like so many places, it was almost perfectly cooked. Just the right amount of mildly sharp cheddar and chopped prosciutto were tucked neatly (of course!) inside. I can't be sure, but I'd swear that it was cooked in olive oil instead of butter, which was a nice touch. The potato was roasted so that it was crispy on the outside, yet full of moist potatoey goodness on the inside. Cora's kept me in a never-ending cup of Illy coffee to complete a lovely breakfast experience.

So, to sum up, go to Cora's. It's on the Ocean, just north of Vincente on the west side of the street. Tell them Mr. Monk sent you. I'm sure he's a big fan.

Update: Wow. Looks like I need to change the date on my camera!


This is an absolutely brilliant approach to managing the spice drawer mess. I found the link over at Chicago Foodies, and while I have a pretty good spice drawer situation currently, we are in the process of building a small cottage up north, and this approach will work perfectly. Interestingly, the designer used canisters that he purchased at The Container Store. I'll have to go and see if I can pick some up.
Gosh, if I just knew somebody who, oh I don't know maybe worked there, then maybe I could get a bulk deal for about 50 or so........

Friday, February 8, 2008

To My Daughter


I can’t believe it! Today is your 13th birthday! I know you’ve heard Mom and I say it before, but time certainly has gone by fast.

It seems like only yesterday when Mom told me that I was going to become a father again. At the time we didn’t know if you were going to be a boy or a girl, and we made sure the doctors never told us – we wanted it to be surprise.

Maybe it was because of the anticipation, but those 9 months took forever to pass, and the final days before you were born seemed to be the longest. Mom went to the hospital a few days early to make sure everything went well, and your sister and I stayed home and kept up our daily routine of school and work.

Finally, on Tuesday morning, the doctor said it was time.

The day you were born, PD1 went to stay with Grandma and Far Far, and I went to the hospital to be with you and Mom. After a long day, you finally joined us sometime around 7p.m. and I became “Dad” to my second daughter. I’d never been so happy in my life!

The next morning PD1 came to meet you for the first time – it was a moment that I will never forget. As she came into the room, you were quiet and very aware looking at all of us and probably trying to figure out what was going on. PD1, who brought you a small stuffed animal - your first present - wasn’t quite sure of who this new girl was. She looked at you a little suspiciously and we had to convince her that it was ok to hold you! We all thought both of you were very cute together.

We’ve often talked about those early months with you PD2 and sometimes I’ve felt a little bad about how we’ve teased you about being so colicky. Yes, at times the crying was difficult, but what has gotten lost in this story is how close we became to you during those times. You see, Mom and I had to work out a schedule to take care of you since we both were working, and you didn’t sleep very much before waking up. This arrangement resulted in one of my most treasured memories as a father.

Every night, Mom would go to bed early and I would stay up to give you your last feeding. It was during these times PD2, that I had the most wonderful moments with you. The family room, quiet except for the sounds of a “Rockford Files” rerun on TV, was where you and I would sit in the Lay Z Boy chair and rock quietly while I gave you a bottle before bed time. It was a simple thing, and I know it doesn’t sound like much now, but the magic of those quiet moments with my new-born daughter was incredibly special.

This experience taught me something about life that I hope you will learn as you grow and mature. In life, the big events that you expect to form the base of most of your memories often turn out to fall a bit short of your expectations, while the quiet moments that you share with your loved ones sneak up and remain imprinted on your memory forever. This is what happened to me, and I’m grateful that I have this memory of time with you.

So, today my youngest daughter turns 13. This is an important moment in your life PD2, because it is more than the simple passing of another year. Today, you officially begin to leave your childhood behind and start on the road to becoming a young woman. To be sure, it is an exciting moment, but it is also one that we need to stop and recognize for all its importance. In the book of your life, you are about to begin a new chapter and what you write in these ensuing pages is entirely up to you.

So I wanted to mark this moment for you with my thoughts, and hopefully some pearls of wisdom that you can consider. You see, as a teenager, you need to start thinking about your life, about what type of woman you will become, and what mark you want to leave on this world. You are an extraordinarily lucky young lady. God has given you life and blessed you with free will. He has seen to it that you have all the advantages one could pray for in this world. These circumstances are a blessing, but they also are a challenge. To those in whom much is given, much is also expected, and you have been given so much.

Your intelligence is unequaled. I know there are people in this world that may have a higher IQ, but your intelligence is special. You are a quick learner and your wit brings with it the ability to leave people laughing at a moment’s notice. This gift is special, because it presents you with a unique challenge. You can choose to use your intelligence to help you do the minimum work required to meet expectations, or you can use it to explore your world, and help you make connections that others never even have the opportunity to see. My dream for you is to find the joy in hard work and deep introspection, to recognize that there is so much to see and learn, and for you to revel in the discoveries that you will undoubtedly make.

Your personality is infectious and you make friends easily. PD2, I’ve always been amazed at how quickly you can integrate into a group and make friends with virtually anyone. Perhaps this is partly because as the second child you’ve always had to try a little harder to keep up in our competitive family. Whatever the reason, it is a talent that few people share, and as you build your confidence and leadership skills I know that you will find ways of using this talent to help others see not only your wonderful personality, but also the insights and knowledge that you have gained in this world with your intelligence.

You are sensitive. Mom says that you are, like her, an empath, and this is undoubtedly true. Time and time again we’ve seen you demonstrate an uncommon sensitivity to the emotions and feelings of others. This is one of the things that make you most special.

The next few years, PD2, will be very important in your life. You will experience moments of great challenge, the disappointment of failure and the thrill of great success. This is the natural course of life. Your job is to take these challenges on, and no matter what the outcome, make sure that you always learn from each experience and that you never give up. Perseverance, PD2, is the key to success in this world.

More than most young ladies, I believe that you are well equipped to handle the challenges of being a teenager. You already have built a solid sense of who you are, what you believe in, and you have developed a moral sensibility that will help guide you to making good decisions. For this reason, I want to challenge you to follow your heart! So many teens are led astray because they want to fit in and be popular. Sadly, in doing so they miss a key point of life; our differences are what make the world such a wonderful place! Standing out as an individual and contributing those talents and thoughts that make us special is not always easy, but it is always rewarding.

As a teenager it is important that you begin to find your way in life and as you do, that you hone your talents and build your confidence so that as an adult you can master anything that life will throw at you. Above all remember to thank God for your blessings and help those who are less fortunate. Doing so takes a strong sense of purpose, courage and confidence. I know that you will find joy in your growing freedom, purpose in your growing responsibility, and that you will learn that you have the strength to live your life with dignity and grace.

Of course, you are not alone on this adventure PD2, and you never will be. Always remember that Mom, PD1 and I love you, and that we will always be there to share in your life and support you. Let us help you and guide you. We may not always be right, but we will always be honest and loving.

There is another thing I need to tell you, and this is exactly what I told your sister when she became a teenager three years ago. The years ahead, indeed the rest of your life, will be filled with temptation. You are lucky to live in a world where God has given you free will. You will decide what you want to be, who you want to marry, where you want to live. You will also be faced with real choices between good and bad, and it will be important to choose wisely. Your life or lives of others may even depend on it.

To help you I can provide some advice. I have found in my life that those who make bad choices failed to distinguish between pleasure and happiness. Understanding the difference can help serve as a guide in life. Pleasure is something that provides a physical sensation; a glass of wine, buying a new car, taking a drug. Happiness is a much deeper feeling. It cannot be achieved by these things, but rather only by doing what truly touches your inner soul.

Pleasure will always seek you, either through advertising, a friend, or even someone who doesn’t wish you well. Happiness requires you to find it. Pleasure is cheap, you experience it, and it goes away. Happiness is work, you pursue it, achieve it and it remains.

I don’t mean to suggest that pleasure is bad, because at the right time, in the right place, in the right amount, it surely will add to your life. It should not, however, become the goal of your existence. Too many people fail to recognize this and end up in an endless search for fulfillment because they never chose to accept the challenge of first finding their own inner voice.

In the coming years as life’s temptations come to you, remember this distinction and choose wisely.

So welcome to the teenage world PD2! Mom and I look at you with such pride knowing that you have already accomplished so much in life, and at seeing what a wonderful young lady you are becoming. It is with great love that I wish you “Happy Birthday” today, and it is with great excitement that I look forward to watching you become a young woman over the next few years.