Well the time has come to give you a brief introduction to life in and
around Cambridge.  I think Kona has covered the major details.  The trip
was quite uneventful thankfully.  It was quite strange actually getting
close to our final destination as everything becomes more real and definite.

The surrounding countryside is fen country and pretty much flat as far as the
eye can see, with perhaps the odd mound or dyke to break things up.  We
took advantage of this situation a few weekends ago and went for a 20 mile
(metric is still slow coming to these parts - they finally went for metric
measurements last weekend on food etc but the pint of lager is still safe,
and road signs will change next century) ride along the river Cam.

I don't think the flat is as bad as Kona makes out - as someone pointed out,
we mostly look from it rather than at it and the view from it is nice.  We
think it would just about fit into the front livingroom of the flat we had
in Mt Waverley and that was a small flat.  We are adapting to living like
the British - walking 2k home with the shopping because you can't park
within 1k of the supermarket and it would take 15->20 minutes to drive that
1k at most times of the day.  On the bright side, heading home after one the
seemingly endless rounds of social drinks gatherings is quite safe on foot
as long as you watch out for pissed cyclists :)

As Kona mentioned I think, the photos of Cambridge lie almost as badly as
the pictures of Monash on the world wide web.  Next time you take a look at
those long oblique pictures of the Cambridge skyline, just remember that at
street level, there are tens of thousands of tourists and other Cambridge
denizens dodging one another, bikes, cars, motorcyles, skooters, animals etc
the place is kind of crazy.

The college has been generally wonderful (apart from the small bit that
can't make up its mind whether or not the unused parking spot next to
our flat should be ours or not and which doesn't even know when it will know -
the British did invent bureaucracy I suppose).  It is a great social 
organisation.  The graduates are generally treated a lot more nicely than the
teeming hoards of undergraduates and they have their own parlour with plenty
of good reading material - all in all it's a very civilised place filled with
all manner of interesting people.  As Kona (Katriona) mentioned, we are 
not spending time with many computer scientists (no offence guys) and so we
tend to end up debating world politics, engaging in comparative studies of
world governments etc - it's nice.  We also seem to congregate with mainly
overseas students - the British students either keep to themselves more or
are just thin on the ground, although having said that, we have lots of nice
English friends as well.  Most of the first year gradutates are new to
Cambridge as British students move around a lot more so there is a general
spirit of discovering Cambridge as you glean small bits of information from
various people's experiences.  

The food:

Despite having adequate cooking facilities, we have been regularly eating
at "Trough" mainly to be sociable.  Even with our poor cooking skills we
can easily out perform the crack Pembroke cooking staff.  A brochure from the
graduate centre describes their food as "tastefully presented cafeteria style"
and that just about sums up the English institutional approach to food.  We
were told by the Pembroke graduate president (over drinks :) that several
Pembroke students have got scurvy over the last few years by eating just
college food.  We eat a curry once a week with friends to remind our
tastebuds what food is like - the worst sin the cooks typically commit is to
make the food completely tasteless - which speaks of sheer genius.

I have felt quite welcome in the college - every now and then there is a 
reminder that I am just the spouse of a college member but on those evenings,  
I go out to dinner with other disaffected spouses and we swap tales of woe
about commuting and having to fit into college life.  Despite some problems
getting to and from work (Bus is a small nightmare) I have by far the best
luck I think - others have left spouses behind for 3 years, don't have work
or commute up to 4 hours a day.

The bus I travel on (car parking pending) is not particularly well run.  The
drivers occasionally hold straw polls asking "Is everybody here ?" and then
leave 5 to 10 minutes early :(- so I get down there 10->15 minutes early.  The
drivers have little or no idea where they are meant to stop - periodically
hit bicycles - the standard procedure is to get the dazed cyclist to sign
a form and then leave them stranded beside the road.  I can get parking at
home 5pm->9am M-F so I am going to leave my car at work in the interim till
Pembroke makes up its mind or we move.  A conversation with the council the
other day re parking permits went like this:

D.  Hello, I'd like to enquire about parking permits.
Lady: Where do you live ?
D.  Pemberton Pl.
L.  Sorry, you can't have a permit
D.  But there is permit parking for people in neighbouring streets
L.  That's for people who live in those streets
D.  So what do people with cars in Permberton place do ?
L.  They presumably park in neighbouring streets
D.  So I would have to park in a neighbouring street ?
L.  Yes.
D.  Can I get a permit to park in a neighbouring street ?
L.  You will have to speak with Ann (Some name I couldn't pronounce and which
	she was very reluctant to spell for me) - I asked for Ann to call me
	back when she was free - she never did.

Kona wasn't wrong about her place of work - it's quite like some Doom levels I
have played actually.  We met with a security door the other day for which we
needed a pass to get into this tower so we could get to the basement.  By
going into another tower across the courtyard we could go up 2 levels, up
some stairs, across the building, over a walkway, through several fire escapes,
and 1 computer lab etc, then down some stairs, and we were on the other side
of this closed door.  They have a radio tracking system for staff whereby you
can locate a staff member anywhere in the 3D structure using the WWW- kind of
necessary unfortunately.

Work has been wonderful - I feel guilty thinking about work outside hours
but I really look forward to getting in Monday morning and getting struck into
another interesting problem.  I have been working on hidden markov models
trained for DNA sequence detection, as well as a logic system for experiment
planning and I will soon be looking at some image processing to process
DNA gels, so all in all I am getting plenty of interesting things to do.  The
place is going through a growth phase and is hoping to get a 200 million dollar
grant over the next 3 years to do a large section of the human genome - they
are currently sequencing the DNA region responsible for the gene for
Huntington's disease.  Several departments at Monash teamed up to get a
machine for DNA sequencing about a year ago - they have approximately 60 here
that are used 24 hours a day with teams to load them at night and on weekends.
They sequence approximately 10 to 20 thousand DNA stretches a week.  This
makes things pretty interesting on the information processing side.  There is
3 gigabytes of data generated by the sequencing machines in the form of images
a day and this is ultimately processed down to a comparatively small amount of
DNA sequence once the consensus sequence has been derived.  It is nice being
so close to the biology for a change - I attended a meeting of biologists the
other day and heard reports on the rate of success for experiments - it's
still a very hit and miss process.  I am working on a system to plan which
experiments will help to complete the mapping of a section of DNA.  This 
involves carrying out further experiments on existing DNA sections but
unfortunately up to 15% of test tubes get mislabelled so the software has to
account for situations where you get back data but it does not match the
part of the map you thought it would :)  They also check all the sequence they
get against all the exisiting sequence they have (they do worms, humans, yeast
and the fugu fish!) because sometimes the worm group sequences human DNA and
vice versa despite the two being completely separate projects.  DNA has a bad
habit of getting around.

The other interesting aspect of work is the physical environment.  It is
located in a small place called Hinxton about 16 km south of Cambridge on
a 55 acres site where there once a hall.  The building in which we are
located (crammed would be a better term) is to be demolished in about 6 months
and there are contractors everywhere building the new building.  There have
been many delays and unplanned changes (like them deciding to get 100 new
DNA sequencing machines for which they have no space even in the new
building).  The grounds are very nice though and we even get apples from the
orchard occasionally.  Not sure how safe they are mind you :) - they have
an oversupply of safety warning labels and you even get supplied a list 
(all too short) of the rooms in which it is safe to eat food.  There is a
very unnecessary reminder in the foyer about letting kids play in the
sanger centre.  Someone even showed me a mac the other day that is so
covered in carcinogens b/c of its proximity to the actual experiments, that
you need gloves to operate it (which go in a conveniently located biohaxard
box nearby).  I wandered out the other day down a corridor with mist along the
floor from the liquid nitrogen store near the door to the canteen - you get the

For the technically curious, I have an indigo on my desk, and there is an
obscene amount of disk space floating around - apparently if you complain they
wheel in another 4 gig for you :)  The network is close to breaking but they
will go to 100mbit/sec soon - ip addresses are more of a worry with too
many on the one subnet at the moment - net access from the U.K -> the states is
a real problem (2Mbit/sec :()) - we are talking about getting our own ISDN
link to the states since a fair bit of data goes to and fro - we were even
jokingly talking about becoming a U.S site the other day.  You can try to
check the place out on http://www.sanger.ac.uk - that's my machine so don't
thrash it :)

Finally some recent news - I went caving on Sunday (Kona went rambling =
Bushwalking, but had to catch a train to the start of the 9 mile hike and
got lost in the 1km to the station so missed the hike - at least that's
her story) - the caves were quite like Victoian caves in shape, just 10
degrees colder (7 celsius) and rather wet - ie with a stream flowing through 
it - laddering down waterfalls - crawling along small water filled tubes
etc - and this was the driest this cave has ever been :0 - not sure how
keen I am still but it was lots of fun nevertheless.

I'm sure there's lots of things I have missed - lots of things just become
part of the scenery after a while.  If you want us to try and keep you up to
date, mail Kona and let her know - if we missed you - we're jolly sorry :)
and again let Kona know.  If you want to visit - please let us know and we
will organise some floor space (ha ha), or some college accomodation 
temporarily or something.  We miss you all heaps, and we miss grass you can
lie on, and we miss the food, but Cambridge is about good as compensation can]
get (well you could warm it up a little),