An old forest and a big hole

In an ongoing attempt to tick off as many national parks as possible, we’ve now been to the Petrified Forest. It’s basically a desert with a lot of stone logs in it. This doesn’t quite cover it though; the fossilized remains are so dense at points that you would believe that they have been placed there, but it’s actually natural. Although it was hot (about 36C I think), I seem to have acclimatised now; keeping the air con off in the car helps. This gives you the freedom to walk around at peace, except for the need to consume water and factor 50 sunblock in roughly equal quantities. Ironically, the two best sights, however, were not the fossils: first, newspaper rock which is covered in 1000 year old petroglyphs — there are literally 100’s of them; an…

I have climbed highest mountains

Well, okay, so actually we drove. From San Diego, we drove straight to Indio, which is just south of the Joshua Tree National Park. Got there to late to do anything; to be honest, the area (Palm Springs) looks like there is little to do except bask in luxury of expensive hotels. The next day, we drove through the Indio mountains; this is edge of the desert proper and was, in a nutshell hot (38C) and dry. The Joshua Tree park was $15 to get in with a car; money well spent. It’s full of Joshua Trees as you might guess, but also amazing rocks, cactus of all sorts, animals, a hidden valley (which really is hidden, I got quite nervous when the exit was not where I thought, but another 100m on). The sunset was wonderful. Today, we drove across the Mohave desert, or at least the outskirt…

Cars and Cactus

So, two days in San Diego; it was a busy place. Comic Con was on; I’ve never seen so many Jedi in one place, although the Boba Fett’s made a pretty good showing. Most of the stuff that I saw in San Diego, I’ve been to before; the exceptions was Balboa Park — very nice indeed, lots of museums, including a botanics and a cactus gardens — and Coronado — chilled out, lovely and, no doubt, very expensive. Also spent 3 hours in car hire places. A throughly irritating and unpleasant experience. I was taking back one car and taking out another. The first car had some bumper marks on the rear; apparently this required urgent buffing to return a hire car with 80,000 miles to full service and this would cost $75. Much arguing with the idiot cliche of a hire man …

Due South

Yep, so Portland is definately not so bad. We ended up in the Irish pub last night, which was fine up to the point they started the pixie music. Then we moved to a second pub, which was book-lined and made you go to the bar to get drinks. Much nicer. I hit the sack just after 11 — I was really tired, and unable to count how many beers with the combination of pitchers and variable glass size. Now in Portland airport, heading south to the hydrocarbon assault of San Diego. Originally published on my old blog site.

CNS'08

At the interoperability workshop. It’s small but focused. But there’s no network! I don’t know what to do? I might end up even listening to the talks now. Originally published on my old blog site.

Walking by the River

Okay, so it’s possible that I was a bit rude about Portland yesterday. I walked to the meeting today, down the river side past the multiple bridges. It was overcast, warm but not hot. I could have got a bus or streetcar, though; Portland has a good light-rail transit system, but multiple forms of trains, overhead cable cars. There’s also good support for bikes as well, with a few bikes going past every few minutes. Maybe, I was just being a bit miserable yesterday. Originally published on my old blog site.

Skype Spam

Just got my first piece of skype spam…pretty novel. [17:09:39] marianne - fille sexy a baiser sexe says: ca va ? [17:10:38] Phil Lord says: ca va bien, et tu? [17:10:39] marianne - fille sexy a baiser sexe says: sur http://www.*******.com y'a des joiles femmes ! Originally published on my old blog site.

Portland, Oregon

Flying into Portland, it looks a really beautiful place. It’s got a hilly, dynamic, green and water-rich landscape. The city itself, after this, is a bit of a let down to be honest. We’re in the Benson Hotel — a local landmark the programme booklet tells me. It’s at the edge of the downtown district which is small, yet tall. Small is actually good, as it’s not far to get to one of the quieter backstreets where there is plenty of simple, cheap food. Heading North, the areas get slightly seedier (bar, then camping shop, then grocer, the full nude review theatre). After the vibrancy, relaxation and excitement of Toronto, it seems bucolic to say the least. The Benson Hotel is nice, but somewhat tatty. They got all the frills — doormen outside, chandeliers…

Back in the USSA

What a pleasure it is to be back in America. ISMB and Toronto were good, but now I’ve moved onto higher things and am in Minniapolis for a flight change. I entered the US in Toronto (er…) having cleared immigration there; end up in the secondary examination room (where’s the vaseline?) having after first miserable enemy of humanity for an customs officer who didn’t want to point out that "index finger" meant the first finger. Well, it was early. I should mention that the two customs people in the backroom, though, were polite, patient and efficient. On the plane, I had a moment of panic when the announced the destination as "Twinchitty", somewhere I did not want to be. Turns out Minneapolis is known as "the twin cities". Stopped in t…

Upstairs, Downstairs

Got up yesterday morning (duh, duh, der, duh) to go the conference. On the way down in the lift, realised I’d forgotten my geek badge. So, went back up to my room. Realised, I’d locked myself out. So went back down to reception. Then back up to get my geek badge, then back out. 55 floors of movement. Hmmm. I’m enjoying ISMB this year. Been flitting between SIGs and don’t have to worry about bio-ontologies till tomorrow. Text has been quite fun. BOSC as often has some interesting subjects but with a big variation in the quality of the talks about these subjects. Biopathways had some nice stuff also, but the talks are a bit long and the program keeps going off time. Lucky that Mark Wilkinson’s biomoby talk was early at BOSC, as I could pop out of pathways wit…