Monday, September 10, 2007

Summertime, and the living is easy....

Especially when you're near the beach in New England. These images are from our recent vacation on Manomet Beach in Plymouth, MA. We ended up with an impressive collection of rocks, pieces of crustaceans, and even a few shards of worn sea glass. Better still was watching great blue herons fish in the shallows, and see the terns diving and swooping as schools of stripers or bluefish worked the baitfish just offshore.

Oh You Handy Men!

Robert Forrester and Scott Gibbs proclaim their everlasting committment to one another on August 18, 2007 at Tyrone Farm Pomfret, CT

If Pop were alive to see these two sharp dressed guys, he'd whistle and loudly exclaim the title of this post.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Front Porch Loungin'

Enough of politics, climate change, and gnashing of teeth over all things great & small.

Spring is a time to re-emerge from our winter torpor, and Devin & Keiran are all too ready to hang out on the front steps and make some noise.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Maple Syrup and Climate Change

Nothing reminds me more of my New England heritage on a consistent basis than maple syrup. I love maply syrup--on pancakes, drizzled over oatmeal, in my granola--it's the perfect natural sweetener. I used it several times a week, and, like any true New Englander, insist on REAL syrup--preferably from NH, but Vermont will do

When I lived on the Owen Farm in Hopkinton, NH, I took part in the age old ritual of actually making maple syrup. It is a decidedly low tech process, consisting of tapping maple trees to allow the sap to collect in large steel buckets. I remember carrying those buckets through the snow to the house, where the liquid would be added to the huge pot on the wood burning stove. It would be cooked down until it became syrup--I don't remember the exact ratio right now, but I've read that it is 40 gallons of sap makes one gallon of syrup. But the effort of carrying those heavy buckets was easily outweighed bythe amazing amber sweetener that resulted.

So the story of how global warming is affecting the maple industry in Vermont resonates a little deeper and more profoundly than the doomsday scenarios where one imagines the state of Florida disappearing. Those images are a bit too dramatic to realistically contemplate--even though they may eventually come to pass. But the sap run on maples in Vermont?? That definitely gets my attention.

Yet another small illustrative anecdote of how climate change is affecting whole industries, and the lives of many who have made it their vocation or avocation.

Will there come a day when we can only get Canadian maple syrup? I shudder (sweat?) at the thought...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Happy 40th, Brothers!

We celebrated Scott & Steve's 40th birthday at a restaurant in Georgetown, complete with champagne toasts, great food, many laughs, and, most importantly, a full complement of siblings and dear Mom.

Looking forward to the next 40, brothers.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

First Day of School

I took Devin to his first day of school this year. We sang his favorite songs on the car ride over, and I told him that some of his old friends from last year's pre-school class would be in his new class.

He was ready, with new clothes, sneakers ("with lights!" as he always clarifies), lunchbox, and a backpack (which didn't have much in it, but he liked the look).

He walked in to his new classroom, sat down, and within minutes was busy drawing. I was a mere afterthought--he barely looked up at me when I told him I was leaving for work.

Last year when he entered pre-school as a "Butterfly" he wore diapers, spoke in fragments, and was into fire trucks.

This year he enters as a "Rainbow" and wears SongeBob boxer briefs, uses words like "Actually" and "Otherwise" in full sentences, and is enraptured with animals.

I'm always told that the toddler stage goes fast, and now I know it to be true.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Where were you?

I was in my car, driving to work. It was a normal day, unremarkable save for the fact that the sky was a pristine blue and I remember just how beautiful the Potomac looked as I drove over the TR Bridge. I soaked in the view for a few seconds--it was around quarter to nine in the morning. As I continued on through the Rosslyn tunnel and crawled along in traffic on Rte. 66, the first plane slammed into the North Tower of the WTC.

When I got to work, I settled in at my work station, and got a call from Sampriti, who said that a plane had flown into the WTC. I clicked on CNN, and it took several attempts before the page came up--the traffic to the site must have been huge at that point. I saw a fingernail image of the towers, and smoke was billowing. My first thought was that someone piloting a small plane had made a serious error and had flown into the tower. "The damage will be localized", I thought. Such naivete.

When the South Tower was hit, we all knew that it was a deliberate attack. Panic started to set in. Sampriti called to say that a loud explosion had been heard downtown and that her office was evacuating. The State Dept. was being bombed, someone mentioned. That turned out to be false, but the Pentagon had already been hit by American Flight 77. Things were spinning out of control.

A little over an hour later I joined colleagues in front of a large screen and watched in horror as the South Tower, and then the North Tower both collapsed within the span of half an hour. People screamed, cried--we all gasped, bug eyed, and started to stumble out of the room. We left the building, numb, stupefied by what we had just witnessed.

I drove to the Metro station and took the train back in to DC, since all of the bridges were closed. There was virtually no one in the train car. I got out downtown and started to walk north towards Logan Circle. It was eerie--there were few people out on the streets, and there was a strange and uneasy vibe.

We all gathered at our old haunt on Logan and watched the horrible events unfold. The images were horrific. I remember all of the trauma doctors and nurses gathered at St. Vincent's hospital, ready to receive what was sure to be thousands of casualties. They never arrived, as we came to know.

My buddy Charlie called, saying that he was on top of his hotel and was watching "the Pentagon burning". The Pentagon was burning, smoke had engulfed lower Manhatten, and there was a report of another plane that had gone down in Pennsylvania.

The Twin Towers were gone. I couldn't get my head around that. I had lived in Manhatten for a year, and remembered looking downtown and seeing those Towers. Once I had to drop off a package for someone at a firm that was located in one of the Towers, and I remember standing in the plaza that separated the two buildings, craning my neck to stare up at them. Now they were gone. In an hour.

The next day I went to the hospital to give blood. The line was already way out the door, and we were told to come back later in the day. It didn't matter, as it turned out. Our blood donations weren't needed.

I've thought about that day often, usually when I cross the TR Bridge on a beautiful day. Five years later I'm reading the official 9/11 report in all its chilling detail.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Time to pick some peaches, enjoy blue skies, and picnic in the garden.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Faces I Remember

Wherever I go I find beauty, joy, laughter, and innocent resilience in the kids that I meet along the way. Until a certain age, they remain blissfully unaware of the obvious poverty and deplorable conditions in which they live.

These photos are from Mindanao, but I have similar images from every country that I've been fortunate enough to have visited.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

On the road to Digos, Mindanao....

....there are several roadside stands where wood trays are sold. The trays are carved into the shapes of pigs or fish, and are to be used for celebrations involving a roast suckling pig, a favorite among Filipinos. I stopped off at one and attracted a crowd when I asked them if they had any carved turtles that I could add to my collection - I think I must have over 50 turtles from around the world, in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and materials. They tried to sell me the eagle that I'm holding in the photo, but then they searched their huts and found one that was being used as a piggy bank and I felt a little guilty knowing that it was already in use and might belong to a child, but I don't think they felt any such guilt when I gave them cash for it. It's now in my office, next to the other turtles that I've picked up during travels in Sudan, Haiti, India, etc.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Mabuhay! Eastern Mindanao, Philippines

I recently returned from a trip to eastern Mindanao, Philippines. Mindanao is an amazing place--quite beautiful and home to some of the most amazing fruit in the world--including mangos, bananas, coconuts, durian, mangosteen, etc. I was there to conduct some research into the agriculture sector and find out how to improve their product yields and income by providing key inputs such as reliable electricity, loans for equipment and machinery, and technical assistance.

So what do I actually DO on these kinds of trips (if I worked for the World Bank, I'd refer to them as "missions"--sounds so exotic, doesn't it? "I'll be out on Mission next week......"....sounds like something out of a James Bond flick.

Anyway, here's an action shot. This was taken at a rice cooperative in Davao del Sur. The members of the cooperative were lamenting the fact that they did not have a rice mill--which means that they have to pay a trader to mill their rice, take the price that he offers them for the "clean" rice, and that he keeps the rice husks which are left over--and can be sold as animal feed in the local market. They were very skeptical about taking a loan to finance the purchase of a rice mill for their cooperative, so I decided to show the board members how much they currently earn from their crop, how much they would earn if they milled their own rice, and how they would service their loan payments from their increased revenues. It was a simple exercise--but one that they hadn't done before, and the aversion to debt is palpable in a place where moneylenders typically charge 30-50% interest rates.

Most of the rural poor rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. One of the primary issues for these people is lack of basic infrastructure and access to capital. If you don't have electricity, you can't run equipment to process grains, fruits, etc. If you don't have a decent road, costs to transport your product to a local or regional market become prohibitive. If you don't have any capital, you can't invest in equipment that will increase production and yields on your land.

This seems pretty simple to solve, doesn't it? Yet the vast majority of people that live in rural areas of Latin America, Africa, and Asia don't have electricity. How can you ever develop rural economies without it? The World Bank has been around for 50 years, and their mission is to END POVERTY. Yet the Bank does little to finance rural infrastructure. This will not magically happen--and the private sector will never provide these types of services. It seems so basic--but that's the problem--it just doesn't have the cache that other "development issues" have--like HIV/AIDS, malaria, etc.

On the listserve that we have in our neighborhood, one of the recent posts suggested that we bury the power lines because they're "ugly". Spend some time in countries where about 10 percent of the population has electricity and you'll have a whole new appreciation for those tall poles and wires connected to your home.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Happy Birthday Devin!

Devin Patrick celebrated his third birthday today--and enjoyed a full party with friends and family this past weekend. As he is now fond of saying over breakfast on a daily basis "It will be my birthday tomorrow, OK?" He is already enjoying his new games, books, and yes, his first vehicle--a new tricycle from his parents. Pretty soon he'll be asking for the keys to the car, and I'll wonder where the time went.....

India: Parting Images

Our final day in New Delhi was spent in the lovely park that my father-in-law and his neighbors have created in Chittaranjan Park. It is an oasis of trees, flowers, meandering pathways, and tranquility in the midst of the metropolis.

Fortunate Son

Devin doesn't know the priviliges that he enjoys, but you can see from these photos from his visit to a local primary school for students of poor families the vast disparity between his world and theirs.

India Fiesta

A coming out party for Devin & Keiran in New Delhi

Thursday, May 11, 2006

India Ascendant

I read Tom Friedman's "The World is Flat" last year, but it was during a massage at my in-law's home in Delhi that I saw and heard for myself the impact the impact that technology is having on the country. Prem, the masseuse, shows up at the house on his bike. But while he's rubbing my shoulders and working out the kinks from the flight over, he takes three calls on his cell phone. I don't speak Hindi, but my guess is that Prem is taking calls from clients and arranging appointments. This would have been impossible three years ago and laughable ten years ago. The vegetable hawker still goes around the neighborhood, calling out his produce from the street, but now he's also taking calls on HIS cellphone from the houses, who order their produce by phone and have it sent up. When the guy with the fruit and veggie cart is wielding a Nokia, then you know that technology has trickled down and is changing people's lives and business.

India, quite simply, is booming. Construction is going on all over Delhi. A major highway from the airport is nearing completion. Home values are soaring. Luxury villas and high rises are sprouting in Gurgaon to cater to the new class of business execs--most of who are in their 30s and are living lives that their parents could not have imagined.

I remember Delhi six years ago--old, white Ambassador cars plied the roads, looking like extras from a 1950s film. Now it's Toyotas, Hondas, Suzukis, and even Mercedes that are cruising Delhi's avenues and roundabouts. The pall of smog that once hung over the city from stinking two stroke petrol autorickshaws and diesel buses has been greatly reduced--thanks to an innovative and highly successful program to convert urban transport to clean, fuel efficient compressed natural gas (CNG).

There is a certain swagger among the new class, which is riding the economic boom that is driven by the tech sector and outsourcing of services to India from the US and Europe. I met a guy around my age in the park while playing with Devin on the jungle gym. He works for British Telecom. He said that he'd studied in London, and was planning on staying abroad, but returned home and is now an exec, making a good salary and enjoying a lifestyle that is on par or beyond what any upper-middle class family could have in the US. Travel abroad to Indonesia and Australia, several full time help in the house to take care of domestic chores and child care--he smiled and said "This wouldn't be possible in London". Uh, yeah. No way.

My wife's cousin returned to India after getting his MBA in the US in the mid-late 90s. At the time, he thought he'd miss out on the opportunity to apply his skills and talents at a top flight company in the US. Now he's a director for Dell in India and is managing projects around South and Southeast Asia. He got in when the wave was still forming in the ocean and is now riding it all the way to shore.

I have had the privilege of living, working, and traveling in many developing countries. It's a well known and depressing fact that the well educated professional class that should form the backbone of the civil service, private sector, and NGO community are generally found here in DC, or NYC, or Europe, Australia, Singapore, etc. Talented people who have good skills want to deploy them where they can be most effective and reap the material rewards for their labor. I have no empirical data to support this statement, but when the best and brightest of any country return home from overseas study or jobs or never emigrate in the first place because they believe that great opportunities await them in their home country, then that country has reached a turning point in its development cycle. Based on what I saw and heard while I was there, India has reached that point, and it's great to see.

In a recent email my father-in-law said "I read an interesting statistic the other day. Before the British India Company came to India, India and China contributed 65 % to the GDP of the World when Britain's contribution was only 2 %. I have no doubt both India and China will contribute to the world GDP at the level of 1757 by 2050. "

At this rate there is no doubt that world economic and diplomatic power will shift dramatically towards Asia in the next 43 years. I wouldn't bet against my father-in-law's prediction.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Have been on leave from the blog for the better part of the month while enjoying our first family trip to India. Wonderful two weeks spent mostly in Delhi, and happy to report that the kids not only stayed healthy but had a great time. The same can't be said for their Dad, who got sick, as usual! Enjoyed a wonderful trip to Jaipur with my father-in-law, who booked us in at the Rambagh Palace (shown left), which is the former home of the Maharaja of Jaipur. Truly an experience and one that I hope to repeat with my dear wife someday. Much more to write about but details will have to wait until a subsequent post.

Monday, April 03, 2006


Tim & Jenny are wed on the Day of Fools.

Honeymoon: Two Years in Angola!

A gente festeja na Luanda, entao!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Signs of Spring

Creeping white & lavender phlox along the front wall.

Pink Hyacinth in full bloom

Thursday, March 23, 2006


It's not often that you can see an octet that features the best jazz musicians playing today, but that's exactly what I enjoyed last night at the beautiful Strathmore Hall.

The group is the SFJazz Collective, which was started three years ago is still led by Joshua Redman--one of the highly touted "Young Lions" from the early-mid 90s who has gone on to produce an impressive body of music over the past decade. Redman has done something increasingly rare in this day and age--form a serious jazz band that gets together in the spring in SF, composes and rehearses original compositions, as well as those of a modern jazz master, and then goes on the road together to perform these works.

The lineup for the band is just overflowing with talent--Redman is a star in his own right, but he's surrounded himself with premier players, young studs and one certified legend, including Nicholas Payton on trumpet, Renee Rosnes on piano, Eric Harland on drums, and the venerable Bobby Hutcherson on vibes.

The original compositions that they played were disparate in style and character, ranging from the idiosyncratic "puzzle" of Payton's "Soduko" to the driving, muscular, rhythmic dynamism of Harland's own piece at the end of the second set. In between were sprinkled some gems from one of the great modern jazz musicians--the icomparable Herbie Hancock. The ensemble clearly delighted in performing pieces that ranged from early in Hancock's career ("And What if I Don't?"), to the gorgeous "Tell Me a Bedtime Story" from Fat Albert Rotunda and "Riot"--a heavy cut from his period with the groundbreaking Headhunters. If you're not familiar with Herbie Hancock, I suggest that you take a trip to your nearest independent music store and buy as many of his albums as you can--you won't be disappointed.

The playing was flawless throughout--with each member showing the kind of chops that one would expect, but always within the bounds of the ensemble, and always with the kind of swing that keeps feet pattin' and heads noddin'.

Truly a wonderful night of inspired live music. Jazz is well as long as guys like Redman can pull together legends from the Blue Note catalogue of the 1960s like Hutcherson and up-and-comers like Harland to rehearse and perform at this level.

Friday, March 17, 2006


Aymara Indians at a road blockade near Potosi, Bolivia. This image was taken yesterday by one of my colleagues.

Note the traditional "chulu" colorful woven hat that is worn underneath the bowler. This is a new fashion twist, as women traditionally wear the bowlers, while men wear the chulu hats. These guys are going with both.

This will probably make it's way onto Dolce & Gabana's runway show in the fall.

Erin Go Braugh!!

Happy St. Patricks' Day!

Always gives me pause to remember those ancestors who came before me. The Leary's and O'Connors from Cork and Kerry. Typical American Dream stuff--hard workers, laborers, really. "Poppy" O'Connor, my grandfather's father, was an iron molder and "had a fist that was like a block of cement." The struggled, worked hard, raised their kids, and watched as the next generation prospered and moved up the rungs on the American economic ladder.

My grandfather was the first in his family to buy a house. He sent both of his kids to college. Always worked two jobs and every holiday to earn the extra pay. When I got an offer for my first job out of college at a law firm in Manhattan, his first question was "how much they gonna pay ya?". I told him ($25k/yr.--this was 1993). He whistled and shook his head side to side "Oh you handy man--I never made that much money in a year in my life".

We'll raise a pint of Guiness to them all tonight.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Image du Jour

Old City, Sana'a Yemen

Act Globally, Act Locally

I recently had an epiphany. Well, it wasn't that momentous, but anyway, I realized that I spend more time reading, analyzing, and oftentimes bitching about policies, politics, and the miscreants who practice both than I do actually putting energy into productive change.
So rather than just start another blog and become a permanent member of the chattering class, I decided to get involved. I started a group through a local community association whose goal is to provide basic home repair and landscaping services to needy people within our neighborhood. Six volunteers have responded to my call over the listserv and we have already identified one project. My goal is to do at least one project per quarter.

It's small, its local, and its impact will be the same. Here, Here!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Brothers in Arms

You never know what will happen when a sibling intrudes on another's exclusive domain, but Devin has been nothing but a loving and very affectionate big brother to Keiran.

The only thing we wory about is that he'll fall when climbing on his changing table or crib in his attempt to get closer to his brother. Oh, and he loves to squeeze his face in his hands, which also causes us some concern, but at least he's not pushing him over in his swing.

Devin's response to Keiran's cries: "Mommy, he needs meeelk" Posted by Picasa

Go Ahead, Smile....

This just makes my day..... Keiran at 9 weeks has emerged from the "blob" phase of infancy and is now showing some animated personality.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Keiran Joseph Gibbs

Yeah, it's been awhile--but I've been busy.....parenting can be a little time consuming. Especially now that we have TWO boys.

Yep, Keiran Joseph Gibbs emerged with minimal effort (even Sampriti agrees) on January 6, 2006 at 10:31 a.m.

Here's what he looked like just after he was born.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Espritu: Spirit

From Webster's Online Dictionary:

Non-English Usage: "VIVO" is also a word in the following languages with English translations in parentheses.
Esperanto (life),

Italian (alive, bright, deep, lifelike, live, lively, living, living person, quick, racy, raw, sharp, soul),

Latin (alive, be alive, fresh, live, living, reside, support life, survive, to live, to sustain),

Portuguese (above-ground, active, acute, adroit, agile, alert, alive, argute, bobbish, bouncing, brainy, breezy, bright, brisk, buoyant, chirpy, clear-sighted, clinking, coltish, cork, corky, crisp, dapper, diagram, fervent, frisky, gaudy, gay, graphic, graphical, hasty, hurry, intense, juicy, keen, kittenish, knowing, light, lightsome, live, lively, living, luminous, lusty, mercurial, mettled, mettlesome, nimble, nippy, parky, perky, pert, picturesque, piping, poignant, quick, racy, rattling, resilient, shrewd, smart, spanking, speaking, spirited, sprightly, spry, stirring, subtil, subtile, subtle, swift, swift-handed, vivacious, vivid, volatile, warm, watchful, zippy),

Spanish (active, alive, animated, bright, facile, gay, hot, live, lively, living, quick, quickset, quicksilver, realist, realistic, rich, rousing, short, smart, sprightly, vital, vivid).