05 September 2012

Life in four currencies

I'm about to return to the UK after two weeks on the road which have taken me through two weddings and four currencies. I flew from the UK to Geneva, where I picked up a rental car (and Am & Paul) to drive to Scott & Freddie's wedding in Villard de Lans, France. After an amazing time with the A-side crew I got a few relaxing days with Helena, my love, back in Geneva.

From there I flew 'home' to Boston for Chris & Laura's wedding in Milton, back where it all started. After another lovely service and fantastic party (and after-party, and after-after-party) I spent a nice couple of days with friends and family before ending up here in Logan, preparing to fly 'home'.

12 August 2012

Olympics mania

Well, London 2012 is wrapping up today, and I have to say that I've been caught up in Olympic mania more than I ever have before. The teams I've been rooting for made it easy: USA has won more than 100 medals (44 gold, at least one more almost certainly coming via the Men's Basketball), Team GB sits comfortably in 3rd place in the gold count (28), headlined by amazing stories like Mo Farrah's 5K/10K double, and even Ireland's Katie Taylor won a lightweight boxing gold.

But even more fun than that has been seeing how awesome London has been as a host city, and how much fun Brits have had at the games. Jonathan Freedman summarizes it beautifully in an op-ed in the Guardian: Britain in 2012 is a multi-cultural place to be proud of, full of people who can achieve great things, and dancing, smiling, shouting volunteers helping to make it happen.

Before the games started the overwhelming sentiment was about how LOCOG, or the government, or British ambivalence, or the weather would ruin the games. The feeling now that it's over is succinctly summed up by a facebook post from a friend of mine: "Back in London after 10 days away and complete strangers are talking to each other on the train. What's happened????!!"

20 July 2012

Redefining productivity

The long wait for my second post on GTD is over (I'm looking at you, Scottogroom). It's been nearly a year since I tried GTD and quickly fell off the wagon. I'm planning to give it another go in earnest soon, but even without the full system I've incorporated a lot of useful ideas into my daily life. Read more about it over at my work blog. You can also add our RSS feed to your web-o-stream if you care what I do all day.

17 July 2012

Dealing with Lion's screwy wifi

I've now twice had to deal with Mac OS 10.7.4 (Lion) having real problems with connecting to either of the two wifi networks at the University of Geneva. One is a standard setup with a captive portal, and the other is the EU shared "eduroam" infrastructure. In both cases Lion's handling of certificates gets somehow messed up (the web has many opinions but no obvious solutions as far as I can see). Anyway, after twice spending an hour searching for a solution the only thing I've come up with so far which seems to work (but then again, ask me tomorrow) is:

  1. Disable wifi.
  2. rm ~/Library/Keychains/login.keychain
  3. Completely switch off and reboot (NB: choosing "restart" from the apple menu doesn't seem to work).
  4. Re-activate wifi.
C'mon Apple. Sort yourselves out!

UPDATE: This doesn't actually seem to work all the time. I did finally find a more technical explanation of what exactly is going wrong, as well as another solution (currently working) here.

30 June 2012

Breakfast guest

I was making coffee and toast this morning when I heard some thrashing outside on the balcony. Imagine my surprise when I saw this fellow peering back at me. I'm not sure what drew him to my porch, but he couldn't manage to get back out again. He kept hopping up in the air and trying to flap through the glass at the edge (you can see some smudge marks from previous attempts in the photo).

Initially I wasn't sure whether he was injured or just confused, but eventually I decided (after some remote teleconferencing with Helena) that I needed to mount a rescue operation. I donned a hoodie and some leather gloves and tried to get him to climb onto a roughly 2.5m piece of metal tubing I had handy. After a few evasive hops, he acquiesced to sitting on the end of the pole while I lifted him over the glass. He sat for a moment, swiveled back to look at me (I imagined a silent 'Thank you.') and then flew off.

08 May 2012

I took a bad position in the currency markets

Yesterday I withdrew 10,000 Malawian Kwacha (about £40) for walking around money. Today the president announced the currency was being devalued by 1/3. Oops.

09 December 2011

The effects of 8 time zones

I flew from LHR to SAN yesterday to come to an NHGRI workshop on "Genomic Opportunities for Studying Sickle Cell Disease", which looks like a really cool meeting (starting in 5 mins). It's a long flight, which I thought would be OK because it was a "day" flight departing at 15:50...but of course when you land 12 hrs later it's 4AM according to your own clock. I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, to get from the tarmac to a taxicab in less than half an hour (!). The non-US citizen immigration line looked long and depressed, though: yay dual citizenship!

I had a beer at the hotel and hit the sack around 9PM. I managed to sleep (albeit fitfully) until around 5:30, which was another big relief. This morning I worked (during UK office hours) and then went for a walk around San Diego before the meeting kicked off. I had the best sushi I've had in years at 11:30 AM (the waitress generously did not look at me funny for having sushi before noon). It's a bright sunny day, which made the experience surreal, since my body was expecting that darkness had arrived hours earlier. It's also the first time I've been here since ASHG 2007, and seeing bars where I was hanging out 4 years ago while walking around the streets solo has put my mind in a contemplative (in a good way) place.

I'm hoping for a good recharge, both scientifically and personally on this trip, and maybe 8 hours of jetlag is just what I need...