Sunday, July 31, 2005

Meanwhile, Back In Tromsø...

Tromsø, Norway, just north of the Arctic Circle, is the home of Röyksopp, pictured right below, a lovely band that makes pretty electronic music with a mellow beat. Brian and I had the privilege of visiting Tromsø in 2000 on a cruise up the Norwegian coast, in the mist, fog, and cold August rain. Left below is the Arctic Cathedral - there's also a beautiful white suspension bridge that Brian ambled across.

Here's how we entered Tromsø, aboard the Kong Harold, identical to this ship below...

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Friday, July 29, 2005

Sapa Celebration

Last night we celebrated the successful IANSA bond deal closing with a gourmet dinner for 12 at Sapa, the posh nouvelle-cuisine Vietnamese and French eatery just a few blocks east of where I live. Joining the five people from IANSA were my bankers Carlos & David, all our attorneys, and, later on, Mrs. Carlos. We all met at 8:30pm, after a little troubling finding the place behind construction - but the interior is a splendid spacious but minimalist atmosphere of translucent and transparent glass cubes, jade, and plants (see picture left). The evening's inebration came courtesy of white wine and 'cosmojitos,' which is exactly what it sounds like, a mojito structured as a cosmopolitan, topped with delicious mint.

We chose the tasting menu, a feast of originality, interesting flavors and textures, and pretty presentations, all in modest porportions, so that we left the restaurant thoroughly satiated but not stuffed.

Erik and I are close to deciding on our forthcoming vacation, now only two weeks away. I think we're set on a national park holiday in the Rockies, it's just a question of when, where, and how, which we're hoping to sort out today and tomorrow. More to come.

I'm hoping to see one of the following movies this weekend: My Summer Love, The Beat My Heart Skipped, Happy Endings, Last Days, Saraband, and Me You and Everyone We Know.


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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Love Is Like A Heat Wave

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Where In The World?

Two weeks vacation are coming up fast, with not a thing planned. The ball is in my friend Erik's court, now. Russia? The Rockies? Stay tuned... This week is decision week...

Meanwhile, my attention turns to work and career...

Almost saw a film at Alliance Française with Pat yesterday, but wasn't feeling well, and slept 11 hours instead. Hopefully, will be more up for culture this weekend...

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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

From a recent issue of The Onion, my favorite feature, “What Do YOU Think?"

Question: “According to a Pennsylvania study released last week, nearly 12,000 people contracted infections during hospital stays last year. What do you think?”

Answer 1: "Perhaps this problem would be solved if hospitals used a strong-smelling antiseptic and painted everything white."
Answer 2: "Infections too, now? I thought it was bad enough when they put me in a room full of sick people, stuck me with needles, and took away my pants."
Answer 3: "That explains why my triple-bypass surgery was done outdoors."
Answer 4: "A closed-off building filled with contagious people? Whose idea were hospitals, anyway?"
Answer 5: "This is why I remained conscious during my hip-replacement surgery and insisted that rubber gloves were worn at all times."

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Monday, July 25, 2005

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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Pristine Lakes and Iron Mine Ruins

Through the rusted remains of an iron mine, furnace, and railway complex, under rustling greenery and over a bed of grass and wildflowers, around a long, pristine lake full of happy fish. Such was my Sunday, hiking through Sterling Forest State Park with Peter. It's about 40 miles north-northwest of the city, in NY's Orange County, west of the Hudson, near the NY-NJ border. In the park there are the remains of some twenty plus old mines. There are also several furnaces here. The Sterling Mine (under Sterling Lake) started in 1750. It lasted until 1902. Its water-filled mine shaft opening can be seen north of the lake. The outlet shaft lies at the southwest corner of Sterling Lake. The shaft stretched under Sterling Lake for 1,000 feet. No trace of the mine itself exists today. We had our bag lunches on a quiet, deserted beach along the northern rim of the lake before completing the circle on a ridge some 20 feet above the water. What a great day!

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Saturday, July 23, 2005

Undersea Community

A relaxing day, it looks beautiful and sunny out, not too hot or humid. It's 7:30pm, and haven't been out for more than 5 minutes. Next up: a sunset stroll by the river. Tomorrow we're headed up to Orange County to hike in a state forest and see an abandoned mill, I think. More on that later.

At left, underwater hippopotami.

Like manatees, with feet and better breath. Not that I would know.

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Berry Happy It's Over : - )

Hey, all, here I am, rested and happy, the deal is done, and I can now legally tell you about it.

To celebrate, this morning I casually outed myself to my two wonderful banker colleagues, in case they hadn't figured out on their own that I'm gay. Last year I'd used investor trips to do the same with my trader, salespeople, and customers. This makes me very, very happy. I've been completely out in my private life since I was 19, now I'm completely out at work.

Since May I've been working 24/7 on a $100 million bond offering for a Chilean sugar company, IANSA, that's relatively unknown in our market. This involved going to Chile to study the company and confirm its creditworthiness ("due diligence"), writing the prospectus that informs potential buyers about the company and the terms of the bond ("documentation"), and, when the deal is publicly announced, marketing it to potential investors in a delicate dance between seller and buyers that determines the bond's interest rate ("placement and pricing.") Above, a raspberry, which is one of IANSA's most profitable products (Chile exports off-season frozen fruit to the Northern Hemisphere).

Finally.... Wednesday's dinner was Dosa (pictured below), an Indian specialty which is like this awesome conical pancake arranged around a mound of potato and onion, which is dipped in various Indian sauces. Hindulicious! Cartoon:

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Can you guess what this is (pic below) that I ate last night with Fernando & Sunil?

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Crunch time for Aaron. At work, the most crucial day of my year...

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Computers Are The New Cars

i.e. life is chaos when they're out of commission. But at least, when you finally get your car back, you don't have to reconnect the hardware and reload the software...

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Monday, July 18, 2005

We Serve Everyone

There's an old joke about a man who walks into Lindy's restaurant and asks 'Do you serve crabs?'. The waiter tells him 'Sit down. We serve everyone...' Glad to know, therefore, that there's somewhere in town when I'm in a sour mood. : - ). I was wondering why people say 'sour grapes,' since I've never seen, tasted, or even heard of one, except metaphorically. Turns out it's from Aesop's fable, The Fox And The Grapes, about a fox that tries repeatedly to snatch a bunch of juicy grapes hanging too high on the vine. Frustrated, the fox walks away muttering that the grapes are probably sour, anyway. The moral being 'it is easy to despise what you cannot get.' There's a slightly different shade of meaning in their somehow.

I saw "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" yesterday with David, review forthcoming. My plane back from Miami was delayed for three frigging hours, whereas my flight going there spent an aimless hour on the tarmac, as if the airport hadn't been notified that we were coming... : - ) Still, lovely weekend all in all...

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

A Pancreas By Any Other Name

...would be just as sweet... last night went to an Argentine barbecue in Southeast Miami and met some of David's friends. I re-acquainted myself with 'choripan', a delicious sausage on french bread, and 'mollejas', or sweet breads, which I learned are not pancreas-type sweetbreads, but neck-gland-type sweetbreads. Slightly meaty, slighty gamey, somewhat fatty, and grilled to joy-inducing crispiness. For dessert, mango cake and a dulce de leche roll. Yesterday, we ambled around the design district looking at lamps and the like, after some baguette sandwiches at a Haitian café and a stop at 'Stop Miami' to pick up wine for a gift. Just hangin' out...

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Saturday, July 16, 2005

I Sea Grape

Miami is lovely, very tropical, humid, and florid. Very sunny, permeates everything. David's digs are all whitewash and bright light, with vegetation and a sea view. It's a formerly run-down 60s building being revamped with amenities. It's also, reportedly, the home of the world's largest sea grape tree. At left, a painting of a sea grape tree in Cuba. Enjoy... xo Aar

We may see Charlie & The Chocolate Factory later. Also, a barbecue. lots of friends, no watches or agendas or schedules. Really lovely....

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Friday, July 15, 2005

Yakety Yak

and don't talk back... Old 50s song... For those mystified by yesterday's cry of 'Ack! Ack! Ack! Cowabunga!', let me clarify that the 'Ack!'s indicate frenzy, whereas the 'Cowabunga' denotes the sensation of leaping into the great unknown. Just got 10 hours of sleep. One more intense day, and I'm off to Miami this evening. Woo-hoo!

I may play my first game of tennis this weekend! Stay tuned...

Here are pictures of Samarkand and a cartoon:

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Ack! Ack! Ack! Cowabunga!

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

What's Gnu?

Worked until 1am last night, but my contribution to the Secret Project is done. Phase two involves lots of talking and explaining, for a week and a half, primarily during normal business hours. I hope you like this nature photo! Three years ago in Kenya, Erik and I went on safari and saw many amazing things, from an appetizer-stealing monkey to a lion couple in the heat of passion to a male elephant that clearly wanted to be. We also saw an alkaline lake with several million flamingos! Well, off to banker-lawyer-land. Last night at 1am there was a double row of limos outside the law offices - easily 20 vehicles - that's an awful lot of young lawyers burning the post-midnight oil.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Let's Dance...

I'm still chugging away in lawyer-land on my Big Secret Project. The weekend looks miles away, which is literally true, since I'm visiting my friend David in Miami Proper, where he's recently moved, from Miami Improper :-) I've been reading/listening to the excellent audiobook, 'Snow Falling On Cedars,' which I understand didn't translate well to the big screen, at least as attempted in 1999. It's an amazing book, about murder, fishing, Japanese internment camps, forbidden love, and strawberries. And that's just the first third of the novel...

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Monday, July 11, 2005

Traffic Marmelade

Erik and I drove to beautiful Leiden (pictured below) on our recent trip to Holland. Compact and pristine, Leiden is a 17th-century university town preserved in amber, along a criss-cross of cool canals. We happened upon full-regalia cocktail parties at the university. However, driving there was an ill-conceived idea - 3 hours in heavy traffic for a 1 hour visit. The next day, we took the train to The Hague.

Quote of the Day: "I'd like a table for 13, please, and the name is Iscariot..."

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Sunday, July 10, 2005

Before The Breathing Air Is Gone...

Before the sun... is just a bright spot in the nightime... Had a lovely day out in Pound Ridge with Kevin & Stephen, and Kevin's very cool family. It was a halcyon, relaxing day, with a cloudless sky and the buzz of busy bees amidst Kevin & Stephen's colorful flower garden. I was fairly mellow about said bees, provided they stayed at least 3 feet away from my head.. My reflexes improvised various evasive maneouvers but at no time did I lose my tranquility. Kevin's delicious dinner included steak strips, roasted vegetables in garlic & wine sauce, salad with fresh herbs, apple tart, and fresh blue- and straw-berries. Bliss.

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Saturday, July 09, 2005

Arrrgh. My computer's hard drive has been wiped out, with all my data. Well, at least all my music's backed up, and I have the laptop until my desktop is repaired and refitted... Still, I have lost a lot of valuable data... What a colossal time-waster and pain in my butt.

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Friday, July 08, 2005

Chile Gets Its Groove On

Some of you will recall that 7 years back, some Chilean businessmen were offended by my casual dress, dissheveled and jet-lagged appearance, slouching in my chair, and general informality. But times, they are a-changing! This month I've been working 24/7 with Chileans on a project, and they are truly a delightful bunch, with kind hearts and a sense of humor. Best of all, they decided to go casual this week, following my example, and I think they deserve some comfort, since they've been working non-stop on this project for literally weeks on end.

Hope to finally tell some interesting tales this weekend. Free time and a working computer would be hugely helpful toward this end. Meanwhile, enjoy this Rothko.

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Embarrassing Moment!

At Starbucks, I waited for my grande, skim, no-foam latte, until the barista placed it before me. Lifting it, I realized it was too light, full of foam, and prepared to complain. I lifted up the lid, plunged my finger into the latte, and was going to say 'see - it's all foam' when a voice behind me growled 'you didn't have to stick your finger in my coffee, you know' : - ) It hadn't even occurred to me that the latte before me was somebody else's order. Oops! I apologized, admitting that this was my dumbest move of the year (any other nominations?). The customer was placated, but the barista was pissed, forced to re-make a coffee, at his expense, while a long and growing line of yuppies expressed impatience in various passive and aggressive ways...

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