Blog entries for category "travelling":
I am really looking forward to it!
Я буду в России и Германии во второй половине июля
С нетерпением жду встречи!
I am planning to be in Hamburg over Christmas and New Year:
Between the 25/12 and the 07/01.
I'd like to manage to see everyone. Let's plan ahead and make it happen. Contact me and we will set a date and a time to meet. I am really looking forward to it!
They say I was in Amsterdam, and for a change I still remember. I knew I would have a stopover here on the way from Madeira back to Oz, but I neglected to realise that it was quite a long one. Only having arrived at the Schiphol airport I realised that there was plenty of time to dump my carry-on luggage into a storage locker and to take the train to the city for a few hours.
I'd like to briefly report about the bad experience of staying in the Tivoli resort hotel in Funchal (Madeira) and why I recommend to avoid that place at all costs.
I went to Madeira to attend the ICEC'09 conference (International Conference on Evolutionary Computation) where I presented my and Suzanne's work on Dual Phase Evolution. The presentation went extremely well and there were some interesting questions during the following discussion.
I had a stopover here on the way from Moscow back to Hamburg. For Fabian’s benefit I must say - it's a cute little city. It's got a typical West German downtown with a shopping district. There is giant Mercedes Benz skyscraper that dominates the otherwise unimpressive skyline. The atmosphere was very nice; I went to the city centre, got a kebab and an ice cream, went for a short stroll. Certainly, there would have been more nice things to do in Stuttgart, but I would not have known what they are, so I was on my way back to the airport within a couple of hours.
One question I have been asked many times during the week in Moscow was - "why did you not come earlier?". And looking back at the last 15 years of foolishly avoiding Russia I must say - I really do not know. In either case - I am very glad to have finally corrected the mistake.
Since I first moved away from Hamburg many years ago, there was not a single time when it did not feel warm around my heart when I stepped out of the Hamburg airport terminal building onto the street. Whether I came for 2 days or for one and a half years, it always felt right to be there.
This time I came for 6 days and then again for 3 days a week later.
Down in the old town centre lights shimmered busily. The wind mixed the buzz of the city, the hooting of cars, and the occasional laughter and shouting into a jolly babble and carried it up the Castle Hill, across the park, and up to the walls of the palace. Around, a few groups of people, strolling, many with wine glasses, chatting, smiling, enjoyed the warm Indian summer night and the views across the Danube onto the city of Pest. The giant cornice above the tunnel that lead through the Castle Hill and connected Buda's alleys directly to the Chain Bridge shimmered in a magical silver tone created by the fool moon that shined through the trees. The cornice was a traditional meeting place for couples, and on this night several of them sat and stood along the cornice edge and further up between the trees of the castle. Enchanted, I thought that if someone would ever ask me what it was that I missed while living in breathtaking Australia, missed so much that I could hardly imagine settling there, all I needed to do was to bring across a little of this humbling atmosphere that filled everything around. I could not imagine to find anything like that anywhere outside Europe.
The travel dates for my September-October trip to Europe are listed here.
My "traditional" German mobile number does not work any more, but I will forward my Skype-In numbers to my mobile at my current location. If that does not work, it means that I have no working mobile. Please email me in that case.
I had spent 12 weeks in Redmond and I got to like the Seattle area. I also got to like working at Microsoft a lot more than I originally thought I would. But it was never meant to be for longer than three months. It was time to leave.
Once again, my life was reduced to a suitcase. I was going back Down Under, but I was looking forward to have a 5 day layover in Los Angeles first. As a city, L.A. doesn’t really exist. Well, to be precise, there is an actual place called Los Angeles, but all it is, is a bunch of grim roads with bleak giant parking spaces, a few unimpressive sky scrapers and a small train station build in Spanish colonial architectural style. There is nothing there to see. I didn't believe it, so I went to check, and that was right. Nothing to see. But what Los Angeles really stands for is a giant suburban area stretching for over 100km each way. L.A. is Hollywood, L.A. is Santa Monica, L.A. is Long Beach, Beverly Hills and a lot more. There was something to see after all.
They say she is the European city in the United States. I do not know about that, but I sure had some fun. San Francisco was one of the places I went to from Redmond; this time we went for a three day weekend with my friend and flatmate Bartek. It was the Halloween weekend.
or "about improbable probabilities".
One particularly amazing thing happened to me in Vancouver. I was just queuing up to get into an Irish Pub, as someone called my name. The next person I could think of who knew my name was 250km further south, in Seattle, and I was naturally surprised. However, that surprise was nothing compared to what I felt when I realised who was actually calling me.
As explained previously, I am continuing a brief review of a few places I went to while in the States...
Well, during the three months in Redmond I tried to not loose any time. When I was not working I was either sleeping or exploring what western state Washington and its habitants have to offer a traveller and/or a longer term resident. In fact, the "exploration" was the activity I invested most energy in. Having had no time to blog while in Redmond, I'd like to give a few very brief impressions here for the benefit of friends and family.
In the past I have worked with many people and organisations on many projects and I am being contacted with job offerings on regular basis. And so one day, must be about a year ago from now, I had an email in my mail box. It caught my attention as instead of praising the job as a unique and great opportunity, as head hunters and sales people often do, it was quite brief and to the point. Another thing that caught my attention was the company it came from. This is how the email started (I blanked out names):
My name is [...] and I am a recruiter at [a known software company]. I recently received your name as someone to consider for technical positions when we come to Australia in two weeks. If you are interested in being considered for a position, we would like to get a better understanding of your background by conducting a mini-interview with you. [...]
This was followed by a few brief questions, some of which were quite technical in nature - again - something you do not usually see in first contact emails.
I was intrigued by this email, and what made me even more curious is that I have never been in contact with that company, I did not know any people working for them, and in fact, I was not a huge fan of their technology. Who would have given them my name?
The visit to Hamburg was very brief indeed. The sole purpose of it was to spend some time with my family and that is exactly what I did. Nevertheless, I am very happy that I have still managed to meet some friends one night.
The Eleventh International Conference on the Simulation and Synthesis of Living Systems was a big success in general as well as for me personally. While the biggest ALife event to date, the conference was signified by a traditionally very low acceptance rate and a very high paper quality. Presenting my own work as a full conference paper was fantastic, and attending the meeting of the leading ALife researchers in the world was a stimulating and rewarding experience.
Finally. I had waited for a very long time to go back to London. All the efforts of the American Airlines staff to screw up my mood did not have a chance to succeed - I was finally there.
Or Chicago - London
I was excited and full of happy and eager anticipation to get to London once again. But first, it turned out, I was to have some unpleasant adventures.
Before I get to the main story about how American Airlines treat their customers like shit, here is a warning for all travellers from the metric world who want to go to the US and back:
First of all I must say - I really liked Chicago. This was the first place I've seen in the US, about which I thought that I understood why people would want to live there. Like in some European cities like London, I in a real metropolis, with imposing buildings, and busy ado everywhere. Sitting on the train and looking at other passengers I realised that they did not appear any different than in any other of the world's metropolises. I could have been in Moscow, in Paris or in London, and the people would not look much different. I liked it. But first, I had to leave Knoxville...
The reason I came to Knoxville was to visit Sergey's Gavrilets lab for theoretical evolutionary biology at the University of Tennessee. Sergey is one of the leaders in the field and it was a very interesting visit.
The trip from Atlanta to Knoxville was nice, northern Georgia and eastern Tennessee offer some beautiful nature.
The actual reason for my trip to Atlanta was attending GECCO - the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference 2008. I have published some work there and thus presented that work in form of 2 posters and a paper presentation at the Graduate Student Workshop. One paper was on protein pattern classifier learning [Paperin, 2008a], the other - a conceptual investigation into using my computational model of Gavrilets' Holey Fitnes Landscapes for preventing premature convergence in evolutionary optimisation algorithms [Paperin, 2008b].
The conference was a brilliant one, everyone I met there liked it a lot.
most people who do a trip around the world to attend conferences and visit universities spend their free time looking at local sites, going to local museums or just relaxing in the hotel lobby. Sounds kinda boring, init?
This is why instead of all that
I am swimming/cycling/running the London triathlon!
On the 9th of August I will do a 750m swim, a 20km bike ride and a 5km run. The funniest thing is that while most people train before doing this kind of thing, I am travelling, so I spend most of my time attending conferences (i.e. sitting) in the day and, well, ehm.., socialising in a not most healthy way in the night. So I am quite curious how the triathlon will go!
Anyway, here is your part:
Due to late entry I was only able to enter the race through a charity. This means, they give you a place in the event and you agree to raise some money for them in return.
My target is to raise 200 GBP (ca. 450 AU$), so I need your support.
I went to Atlanta to take part in GECCO'08, but staying on for 2 days after the end of the conference I had a chance to explore the city. I did not like it. It made the impression of a third world county. Dirty, hot, loud, and so full of beggars that you cannot cross the street without being harassed for money. I have not seen so many homeless people in my life.
The last few weeks before the departure for my world round rip were quite crazy. As it happens, I tried to do too much in a far too short time. All the idealistic plans about being ready for departure a week before the flight in order to take things easy turned out to be fatuous. Well, I should have expected that. At the end, I barely managed to finish most of this website and to release a new beta version of LiveGraph. The grandiose plans of writing a numerical analysis paper on holey fitness landscapes and starting the Dual Phase Evolution review paper fell sacrifice to the harsh reality and my inability to make realistic time estimates.