Brad Feld

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What I Did On My Q3 Vacation

Sep 19, 2007
Category Books

Ahhhh.  That felt good.  In my ongoing commitment to my marriage, I give Amy one solid week a quarter of uninterrupted “Brad / Amy time.”  This quarter I handed my handheld to her as we boarded the plan in New York on Monday the 10th and she returned it to on Monday the 17th when we disemarked in Minneapolis.

We had a glorious and much needed vacation together.  2007 has been an intense year so far – one that I’m very pleased with – but has demanded (and required) unyielding focus.  Amy has been amazingly patient with me but some serious together time was in order.

We spent a great week in Rome and Venice, but enjoyed the semi’s and final’s of the US Open with my brother and his wife before we disconnected completely from our daily life.  We love to watch tennis and Amy rewarded us with unbelievable seats (row 3 for the semis; row 8 for the finals.)  Federer (and the entire experience) was magical.  We even enjoyed the trips back and forth on the #7 train.

We’re huge Italy fans so Rome and Venice were fun, although I don’t like boats so Venice was a little tough at times.  Vacation for us is a lot of eating, sleeping, relaxing, reading, doing some husband/wife stuff (feel free to use your imagination), sleeping some more, walking around, a few runs, and a lot of chilling out.  No computers.  No cell phones.  No work.  Rome and Venice, especially the superb San Clemente Palace, provided a great environment for this. 

As usual, we both consumed about a book a day.  My list – which is heavily slanted toward Italy and Venice this time – follows.

Japan and the Internet Revolution – I’m not really sure how this ended up in my reading pile.  While a lot of it was dull and tedious, it has a few fun sections, including about a dozen pages on Softbank, Masayoshi Son, and a handful of things I saw first hand between 1996 and 2000.

Category 7 – I needed some fiction after that one and picked this up in the airport in Amsterdam.  The subtitle “It’s The Biggest Story in History” set the stage.  Pretty good – especially if you are curious about how a weatherman (Bill Evans) would construct a novel about the world’s worst storm and the evil genius that creates it as it is about to wipe out New York City.  Good mental floss.

Italy: A Short History – I’ve never been good at geography and I’m even worse at history.  After reading this book, I realized how completely clueless I had previously been about the history of Italy.  This was a great primer and should be read before you head over there – superb context in an easy to consume package.  Man that place has had a lot of governments.

Growing Up Guggenheim: A Personal History of a Family Enterprise – I love the Guggenheim.  While one of my unsuccessful dotcom-era investments was one curiously called (and rated a paragraph in Peter Lawson-Johnston’s memoir), the experience did not diminish my fascination with all things Guggenheim.  We went to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice (wow! what a collection) and I picked up this book while I was there.  Lawson-Johnston tells a good story.

Since the Layoffs – Time for some more fiction.  I spent an afternoon by the pool at the San Clemente Palace and polished this one off.  Iain Levison is fucking hysterical.

The City of Falling Angels – While I inadvertently saved the best for last, I should have read this before I went to Venice rather than on the plane on the way home.  John Berendt wrote a beautiful book that uses the backdrop of the Teatro La Fenice Opera House fire of January 29, 1996 to describe Venice in intricate and glorious detail.  I rarely think of a book as “luscious” but that’s the best word for this one.  Yum.

I’ve been back for about 48 hours and am finally caught up just in time to head to San Francisco tomorrow.  It’s great to be back on the grid, but it was superb to check out for a week.