Well, the flight over involved an unexpected stopover in JFK; the ticket said "Salt Lake City" to "Paris", with a single flight number. Randomly this single flight involved flying to JFK, getting off, and getting on a different plane. I’m not sure in quite what sense this can be considered to be a single flight then. Never been to JFK before; previously, I thought that LHR was the worst airport that I have been to. It’s not. The actual flight was fine; had a interesting discussion with a woman from Puerto Rica. I confess not to know that much about it and about it’s relationship with the US. It’s clear that the country has some difficult decisions ahead. Sadly, we got stuck in traffic at JFK and were over an hour taking off, so now I have miss…

Northern Exposure

It’s 5 in the morning, and I feel fine. I guess it’s odd to be talking about Northern Exposure when I am somewhere South of Paris, but this is where is was filmed and it’s does get pretty cold up here in winter. I’ve never been much in the way for tourism, so a trip up to Roslyn, the physical location for Cicely, Alaska seemed like a pretty daft idea, but sometimes you have to just go with these feelings. Cliff was kind enough to offer to drive me up there. The trip there was, well, flat then hilly. The dividing line between the desert and the trees is really quite sharp. It’s maybe a mile from the first tree to the full out forest. Once you get to the forest, it really starts to look like Northern Exposure territory. We got into Roslyn late; we’d sto…

In the desert

Yesterday I gave a talk at PNNL. It went fine, got a few laughs, had some interesting discussions about infrastructure for bioinformatics, and some new uses for ontologies. PNNL is in Washington State, in Pasco. There are hills between here and the coast, so none of Seattle’s rain gets here — basically, it’s a desert. The cities have the classic urban sprawl; there is no city centre or down town area, just lots of roads with malls hanging off them. The roads are all about 16 lanes wide, with no cars on them. Space is cheap here; it took me 5 minutes to walk from the guest house, across the largely empty parking lot to the badging office. Unlike Livermore where I have been before, the security is relatively low key; no marine with a basooka strapped to his shoulder wish…

Too Hot

Last night we went for a curry in San Diego. The waitress (sorry, our Server for the Evening) asked me whether I want my curry "mild, medium, spicy or very spicy". Well, okay, very spicy I said (had a bit of a cold, so it seemed the sensible thing). She looked dubious; "I wouldn’t advise that", she said, "why not have the spicy just to be safe". The curry was nice, if bland. Today I’ve flown into Salt Lake city. From the air, it’s astonishing, with the white plains contrasting with the deep blue of the water. Apart from that, it looks like an bit of an industrial dump to be honest. Originally published on my old blog site.

On a mission

Last night I came to an amazing discovery; the TV in the US can be great. Last night, I fall across UCSD TV. I watched a great lecture on the sociology of the stem cell debate which was most illumiating. I then stayed awake a bit too long listening to a programme on sleep deprivation and the body clock. University TV — a great idea. Perhaps Newcastle should start pod-casting — a daily lecture on some topic being researched or taught at the Unversity. Perhaps surprisingly, the straight lecture format works quite well on the box, and it’s relatively cheap. Walked around Mission Bay these morning. In the morning, there was a mist over the sky, the air was sweet with the smell of tropical trees and and heady with petrol fumes. It’s a naturally beautiful area; I can&#…

An apple a day keeps the Airplane away.

I’m flying out to San Diego today. I was sure that I was going to miss the connection from Cincinatti to San Diego after lots of delays with the flight. I managed to clear customs in about 5 minutes which is the fastest time ever, with around 20 minutes to go. But then I got stopped after a dog smelt apple on my bag, which I’d eaten on the plane, and lost another 5 minutes on another x-ray. Finally got to the gate, after a cross-terminal dash, risking life and limb rather than doing up my shoe laces. 3 minutes later the plane left. Fun actually. Haven’t had to run across an airport for years. Got loads of work done on the way, much of which has been hanging around for ages, including part 2 of a view of my Italy trip . I have to say that at least part of this is the la…


I’ve been trying Before this I used which was okay, but seemed to fail for a lot of feeds. I like Google Reader, but having to go to a different application for just RSS is a pain. I was going for weeks without looking at it. So I am trying email again. It seems to be working for the moment; it has an non HTML layout and (seems) to be able to cope with all the feeds I use. Originally published on my old blog site.

Rennie MacIntosh

Was in the Rennie MacIntosh hotel in Glasgow last night. It was a little bit shabby, but not too bad. However, the toilet smelt like they cleaned it with a dead badger. They seemed to have plumbed the shower waste pipe in after the toilet U-bend and the smells came up that way. I couldn’t work out why the sewage itself didn’t come up also, but it didn’t; we should be grateful for small blessings, I suppose. While I am thinking about it, I’ve decided to release chapter 1 of my treatise on Italy following my holiday there. I was going to release everything at once, but I haven’t found time to write more; so here goes the first. Originally published on my old blog site.

Acrobat Reader

Guys, this is a PDF tool. Why on earth would I need an RSS reader? I mean, what is the point of that? I already have an RSS reader. I just want to read PDF files, nothing more, nothing less. Originally published on my old blog site.


Woke up this morning (duh, duh, duh, de) to the sound of scratching from outside my window. The first frost of winter was spreading it’s chill fingers over Newcastle. And some sod was trying to clear their windscreen at 7 in the morning. A short while later, I walked out of my house, got onto my bike and rode off. Didn’t even have to clean my glasses. Originally published on my old blog site.