March 20, 2010 :: Tags: iran, obama, travels :: 1 Comment
First day of spring. In fact the very first second of spring is the start of new year in Iran.
Last time I celebrated the Iranian new year in Iran was around 34 years ago. As a family (parents, my sister, brother and I) have not all been together for 34 years. So, given that I now have less fear of going to Iran (maybe not so smart), and that my sister who lives in Dallas, Texas also decided to go to Iran after about 20 years, I decide we go too.
My parents are naturally filled with joy and were anticipating our trip for a while.
I want SORA to experience Iranian new year. I really want SORA to be a global/ culturally aware person, respecting and enjoying the diversity of our world. So, we are in Tehran for a quick visit, and then Istanbul for a short stay. I have been to Istanbul a few times but this will be the first time for Nami and SORA. I will be posting many pictures soon.
I continue to be proud of President Obama for his message to the Iranian people on this day. Unfortunately the message is blocked on most sites, but as always information have a way of getting around in an open society, or one aspiring to be.
As some of you have already found out, I am only an email or a phone call away. I check my voice mail regularly and return calls.
Happy Iranian new year. Let us each pray in our own way for peace, freedom, and justice across the world. Wishing you and your families happiness and health.
March 4, 2010 :: Tags: bikes, dinucci :: 3 Comments
I have already been waiting a few months for my own DiNucci Bike. As it turns out Mark was preparing for the Hand Made Bicycle Show. He is such a perfectionist that he won the award for Best Lugged Frame.
Mark does everything handmade, using pretty basic tools, and absolutely with no compromise. Mark does not try to save money or cut the corners. If the end product will have his name on it, it better be darn good. My kind of guy who also happens to be an audiophile, a lover of analog naturally. To my estimate, Mark can make about 24 bikes a year if he is lucky. In fact, if we are lucky. I am number 2 on his current list. Man, I hate being anything but number one. Grateful being on the list though.
Pictures below are courtesy of urbanvelo.org.
February 23, 2010 :: Tags: alinea, chicago, restaurants :: Comment
We have been in Chicago now for three years. Getting to like it very much. I still use a few buts and ifs in describing Chicago and think of San Francisco as home but Chicago is getting there too.
I have not been traveling much lately. Kinda unusual for me as for most my career I have been traveling way too much. I do not know my way around the city well yet but good to be home. A few weeks ago took Nami to dinner at Alinea for our tenth year anniversary. Alinea is an amazing restaurant. Probably the best I have ever been to. First time I payed about $880 for a dinner for two (few sips of alcohol for me, plenty for Nami) and I thought the meal was actually under-priced (good definition of value).
It has been getting cold here but not living up to the reputation of Chicago as a cold windy city. For all I know, this could be my San Francisco neighborhood weather at nights.
It is really a shame we lost the bid to host the Olympics. Still Chicago has given some good gifts to the world: our president and SORAsound. I know some smart aleck may remind me of some of our past governors among a list of other politicians we have had. But let us please not get there as each state has had its own gift in those regards.
Back to Alinea, you are served a 29 course meal which a hungry person like me from a deprived background would thoroughly enjoy. Each serving is small, beautifully presented, tasting just great. Last desert course used our whole table as the dish! A different beauty from the Japanese Kaiseki but this would be where I will happily take my special Japanese guests to impress them with how well we do in America.
Chicago also offers some great dives – from BBQ to Hot Dogs at Hot Doug where you have to wait in line for almost an hour to get to the counter and order your hot dogs. Chicago arguably has the best restaurants in America, although San Francisco and New York are better known for their restaurants.
A great contributor to the Chicago restaurant scene is Chef Paul Kahan, a great chef, audiophile, analog man, and partner in a few hip and good food places of Chicago including Black Bird, Avec, The Publican, Big Star Taqueria, and The Violet Hour. The Publican makes the best pork belly sandwiches I have ever had. The Violet hour is a beautiful bar, Speak Easy on the outside, nice London or Tokyo bar interior inside.
The cultural scene in Chicago is rather impressive. In the great midwest tradition, it is downplayed, but it is visibly there. We have great museums, good music halls, an aquarium with funky frogs and turtles, and lots of ethnic food. At times I go to a dumpy place to have Bulgarian breakfast. Nice. Delicious home cooked kinda food but they seem to forget smoking cigarettes is band inside restaurants. Same with one of my favorite Bosnian restaurants in Chicago.
Our beaches are beautiful. Given the city boy I am, I enjoy going to the beaches by the high rises. The best of both worlds. More on that, in the summer.
January 23, 2010 :: Tags: hi-fi, travels :: Comment
Last few years I did a lot of consulting in Miami, staying at a boutique hotel in South Beach. Few times dined at a good steakhouse (not a chain). In fact, once the night before I ate there, Gorbachev was there. This steakhouse is also known for their wine cellar which I have toured a couple of times. They have a bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild, priced at $175,000. The sommelier once told me and my guests that this wine is really vinegar now.
Maybe I mis-took him as being serious. Thinking of it, I can not help but think of the products of some companies as expensive vinegar. One can also conclude that if we do not use our gear, regardless of the price, they “vinegar”. Hope you are enjoying your music this week-end.
A customer of mine once said he is rich. He tells his daughters they have a lot of money, but they don’t have a penny to waste. That comment resonates in my mind at times as I talk to customers. I do my best to treat them as they have no pennies to waste.
An ex-president of a multi billion dollar, highly respected luxury retailer told me once that at his shops they do not sell what customers need, they sell what customers want. There are people like me who want the absolute best, and are willing to pay for it. For us “value” may be less important. We know we are paying too much for that very last bit of perceived improvement or differentiation. We also tend to be loyal to a brand or a company, or people. Those companies or brands or people can screw us once, but then they lose all the potential lifetime revenue from us as we will be goners.