Friday, June 6, 2014

Winding down Friday

DSC06214 (1104x1300)A stretch and disconnect, brew a little water, ‘take a break in the garden with a cup of milky tea.   A cool breeze is coming in off the sea; a solitary snail slowly makes its way past me, drawn towards my herb beds.  My coriander is glowering; I’ve got plans to add some fennel this weekend after I cut things back.  ‘live and let live: I sacrifice a basil leaf for my mollusk as a good neighbor.

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Friday afternoon, quiet, time to collect a few thoughts from the week.  Conversations with investors, planning with partners, has gone well, but it’s inches each day with a tall hill to climb.  I am back in the exercise habit, an hour each day, but I’ve been missing time along the beach, conversation about life outside of work.

Life needs both purpose and engagement.  The FT reports that this is more than just philosophy or psychology: research shows the positive necessity of both on physical and mental health.

Thus, isolation may be the worst hazard that both expats or entrepreneurs are prey to.  Building a new business or a new home starts as solitary work, the vision and motivation become lonely hours towards an uncertain future.

Connections, to futures and to people, matter.

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At Bournemouth Beach, the surf is rising with the wind, the trees bending. People and birds huddle still, quiet and close on the empty sands.  The cliffs of Wight are highlighted against the horizon by the setting sun.  

Its an almost Hawaiian ambience, except for the evening chill.  

The city fathers have plans to change all of this within a year, reconnecting the town’s river through to the sea, restoring the carousel, renewing the lighting and plantings.

A world-class vision of our future, proclaims the signage. We all have our world-changing aspirations.  Friday evening, though, is time to step back.  Dinner, conversation, laughter, close connection, all keeps the week, keep life, in happier perspective.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

To the finish line

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‘A quick shout-out for my son, who finished the Boulder Boulder in style at the end of the marathon.  The Boulder Camera featured the picture as part of their race coverage.

I returned to Woodside to find that the Tiger Mom and her cub had moved on.  I hope that he does well with his exams; the mom crowded the kitchen most days but they were dedicated to his success.

I’m working the phones this week, explaining the business and wooing investors.  The clinical group meetings went really well yesterday, regulatory and Ethics submissions almost content-ready and a good path to our first human trial later this year.  Development authorities have contacted me about siting production facilities in their regions, offering substantial enabling funds.  Commercial talks have picked up steam.

It’s all very encouraging: the trick is to convert it to committed investments.  And that is a game of numbers and inches, day by day.

Entrepreneurship is all about persistence, to echo Horowitz: A lot of being a successful CEO is not quitting…If you can somehow stay in the box, then, amazingly, you might find yourself in a good position.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Mammendorf morning meander

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Days begin early in Bavaria, light breeze stirring the curtains and the sun warming the room long before 5 am waking.   Restive, I dig out the tablet, glancing through overnight emails and text replies.  then a couple of more taps, skimming through the morning newspapers.

Small countries export their ambitious people: Bright young talents from the Netherlands are migrating off to distant cities promising more money and influence.  ‘Global Capitals’ are replacing national ones as magnets for trade and innovation.  Amsterdam may become a backwater, inhabited by an increasingly impotent national elite, only a delightful place for paceless mornings of coffee and newspapers.

And that would be a tragedy, because…?

DSC06122 (1300x972)Small towns, countryside-oriented, with lovely pebble beaches:  Dorset’s charm and allure.  Now the Jurassic Coast, an isolated province hidden beneath retirees and rock-hounds, has been ‘discovered’ by well-heeled Londoners.   Unsurprisingly, house prices are rising quickly.   A four-bedroom house with water views at a pretty, unspoilt fishing port such as Beer in Devon, on the western edge of the Jurassic Coast, would have cost £250,000 in 2001; now it might be £700,000. 

I’ll never catch up to the 1%, clearly.

Boiling water for coffee, I watch the spandex-clad cyclists stretch themselves along the paths bordering the Mühlenbach river.  We all have our ambitions.  I’m in town to close a business deal, qualify a CEO, assure a profitable future for the Dutch startup.  This story’s been years in writing, but its original lofty themes and noble characters feel blurred by multiple authors and successive rewrites.

‘No point in giving over to early morning ruminations, though.  And my meetings are still hours away. 

‘Time for a change of scene.

DSC06195 (1044x1300)I dress simply and head out for a brisk walk along the river to outpace my worries.   Unfortunately, the local rhythm is more demanding than the relaxed Dorset lifestyke.  Cyclists shout Rechts if I walk on the left; walkers clack their sticks behind me, then around my feet, eager to pass. 

I stepped off the path, more contemplative than irritated.

The city spires reflect in deep blue shallows.  A bench lies buried in high grass; the bridge rail is dotted with love locks

The British use well-spotted or closely observed to describe photographers or essayists who can direct attention to the subtle meaning and lyrical associations of everyday people and objects.

‘Spot the beauty in Mammendorf’s morning light?

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So, contemplating a fresh June morning in Bavaria,

What do people along the Mühlbach reveal about place? 

How does landscape connect across to past experiences? 

What composition best captures ambience and mood?

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Volksfest, Munchen

DSC06148 (1300x975)It’s been suggested that the abysmal signage on German trains was imposed by the Allies to disrupt recovery after WWII.  My instructions seemed simple enough: Take the S1 from the Airport to Laim, change to the S3, get off at Olching.

And so New Adventures Begin (a.k.a: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride).

Munich-S-U-Bahn-MapThe S-Bahn (S1) has both Express and Local lines, both going to Munich from the Airport.  I picked up my associate, overnight flight from Chicago, and we headed into town for a bit of sightseeing.  ‘Day-pass from the machines, what could be easier?

However, the Express passes Laim, stopping only at the Hauptbahnhof (Central Station). No worries, simply ride on to Marienplatz for lunch.

But, no, this S1 variant reversed and headed back to the airport.  The meal was a bit delayed getting turned around…

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Similarly for trying to get to Olching.  DB Rail recommended an S3 express, which was direct to Mammendorf, the site of the next day’s meetings.  However, today, this was an overshoot from Munich, requiring a half hour wait for the Local S3 to backtrack to our pit-stop village, tucked along the Muhlbach river.

My competence at mastering the European rail system has now called into serious question.

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DSC06161 (975x1300)The morning’s embarrassment was salvaged by the afternoon’s visit to Mammendorf’s annual Volksfest, a celebration of all things Bavaira (since 2007).  Beers flowed (by the liter) and sausages (by the meter).  Everyone (save us) was dressed in traditional Lederhose and feathered caps; the orchestra played Bavarian standards.

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DSC06166 (935x1300) I tried the local delicacy of sausage slices, cold, with vinegar, oil, and onion (the Dutch-German version, swapping beef for haring), and ate far too many pretzels

By late afternoon, the band swung from Bavarian folk tunes to Super Sjoene Daag (The Carnival Song: I got heavily nostalgic and did the dance) and a mix of Elvis standards.  The second liter of beer arrived as the crowd thinned.  We made faces at everyone’s babies, trying tog et a smile.  A few couples danced; I played with portrait photography.

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DSC06157 (1300x925)We talked about what this all meant to the locals.  Everyone know one another, most had been present at the creation of the tradition.  The ambition in Mammendorf was to celebrate tradition with neighbors and friends, to drink fine beer DSC06181 (1300x1295)and eat juicy sausages in the warm summer sun, and to gather the extended family within the company for the future together.

It’s a different ambition, but not  a bad one.