Hi, thought I would drop a quick end of year hello to everyone.
Am leaving for Australia in a few hours just-in-time to be flying for
New Year's Eve.  Have always wondered if they serve champagne for such a
flight, will report back.  They will probably just announce the presence
of champagne up in the business section or something. 

 Life has been very eventful since letter 15. 

I guess the most exciting news is that as of last night I am an uncle
and we have added a whole new tier to the family tree on both sides of
my family with the arrival of "Luke Andrew Smith 6lb 14ozs born at 10.30
31/12/02" to quote the e-mail.  If anyone knows what that is in metric,
let me know ;) it was apparently quite an effort on Mandy's behalf
and I will leave her to give you a detailed description, but suffice
it to say I would probably have fainted had I been there.  For those
Americans out there, no this is not a taxation driven decision there
is no benefit in Australia to having a baby at the end of year.

Some of you are probably wondering why I'm heading back to Australia
(other than the baby), I was there in November for my green card
interview.  That was quite a process, involving several weeks wait,
blood tests, and eventually flying out to Sydney on a very hot day for
an interview.  The interview was quite interesting, lots of seemingly
innocuous personal questions like "why do you like living in San
Francisco?".  I'm sure there's an incorrect answer, but I'm not sure
what it is.  I answered "I can ride a bicycle to work".  Because the
government is probably watching this conversation, I'm not going to tell
you if that's the real reason, you will have to ask me when I am out of
the country sometime.  They welcomed me at the airport at San Francisco
with my own personal line (which is a big deal if you have ever come
through US immigration).  Then they fingerprinted me.  A suspiciously
short guy who did the fingerprints told me "I love fingerprinting you,
I could fingerprint you all day long".  Welcome back to San Francisco.
They told me my green card is in the mail, and to call them if I don't
hear from them for eleven months.  No I'm not a citizen yet just a
permanent resident, so I'm not morally responsible for this mess still :)
would probably consider it in the long-run as long as I didn't have to
give up my Australian citizenship.

I guess the saddest news for those who haven't caught up with me lately
was that Kathy and I broke up back in August.  Long story but I guess
it's not the right relationship or the right time.  I was travelling
immediately afterwards visiting Germany and England and have had a lot
of time to think about it, talk to people and write.  I don't have any
really firm conclusions still about this whole dating thing except that
it seems very very hard for some reason, at least for me.  I am lucky
to have very many wonderful friends all over the place (yourselves
included), so there are plenty of distractions, but I'm definitely the
type of person who is content within a good functioning relationship,
so if you know a nice single woman somewhere, looking for a relatively
low maintenance but somewhat messy Australian male based in the Bay Area,
I can send you references :) I interrogated my parents a while back when
they were visiting about their "top-10" things I should be looking for
in a life partner and it was so good I scribbled it down on the back of an
"I love San Francisco" sticker in a Starbucks near union square

1. Dominant (Dad)
2. Relaxed (Dad) 
3. Similar upbringing (Mum)
4. Australian (Mum)
5. Flexible/untidy (Dad)
6. Intelligent with career but not inflexible (Dad)
7. Outdoorish, can rough it a bit (Both)
8. Likes children (Mum)
9. Dinner suit flexible (Dad)
10. In love, chemistry (Dad)

I have probably mortally embarrassed both of them now, but I have great
parents and think there is probably a lot of wisdom buried in that list

I guess September disappeared in a blur of travel, Europe and a
wonderful time here and in New York with my parents.  October was very
hard, it was originally when my green card interview was scheduled,
but I moved to accommodate our annual scientific off-site and then that
was cancelled, and work went through a bit of turmoil simultaneously
announcing a deal worth potentially $1/2 Billion and restructuring in
which a number of people were laid off including some close friends.
That ended up going back-to-back with departure for the green card
interview in November, so it's been quite a rollercoaster end to the

I'm continuing to settle into my home when I am here, it's been great
to have a few of you visit.  For those who didn't catch the last e-mail
I have moved a few miles across San Francisco into a unit in an old
Edwardian building in the Lower Haight area that I bought back in June.
My Linux server here has now been up 218 days continually without a reboot
so I guess I can say I have moved in.  Please check your address for me.
I had a few Christmas cards forwarded from my old address but that won't
continue much longer:

Scott St (cross st Page)
San Francisco, CA 94117
415 5059354

There are plenty of pictures on my website for those curious
http://feb17.org what it (or I :) look like.  

I should wrap this up because I have a plane to catch (I'll be in
Melbourne till the 21st) - will most likely borrow my mother's mobile
phone if you want to catch me +61 408 4161 33,  as always it would be
great to see you and catch up.  As I think I have mentioned already it
has been quite a year in many ways, but one of the enduringly wonderful
things about life is having interesting friends to spend it with, and
I'm looking forward to another good year with you all,