The upcoming presidential inauguration is certainly causing a lot of optimism in this country - a little too much, I think. There is only so much one man can do, no matter how brilliant, and I fear that the stratospheric levels of expectations surrounding Obama can only lead to a similarly high level of disappointment. The current economic problems are so deep and so widespread in their causes that there is no simple solution for them. It will take time to rebuild confidence and redeploy resources to where they can be most productive. In that sense, I fear that the ongoing support to the car industry will only prolong the pain.
On a more prosaic note, autumn was once again an opportunity for getting out of New York, at least for a little while. Luckily, the Hudson Valley and Pennsylvanya offer good opportunities for wonderful hikes just a short trip outside the city. One of the great joys of the Northeastern US is "fall foliage", a rainbow of colours that never ceases to amaze.
November brought some more trips out of the city, this time a bit further away. First came a visit to San Francisco and Berkeley for Rima and Hemant's wedding directly followed by Austin, Texas, where Wassim and Mariah are now both working at the university. Having never been to Texas before it was quite an experience. The landscapes around Austin are beautiful and I gorged on the excellent (if not particularly healthy) BBQ, Tex-Mex and Chili.
Finally Christmas was the opportunity to spend some time with my family in the Southwest of France. For those who haven't been following, we bought an old house there a few years ago that we are slowly renovating. It's coming along pretty nicely - by now we have fully renovated 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, the kitchen and the living room. Trips there tend to be busy as there is still much work to be done (including what appears to be a neverending supply of gardening), but I also took the chance to enjoy the wonderful food and surroundings. Below, Biarritz beach by night