A quick end of year hello from Warragul where I have been digging
holes for posts.  For those of you without an intimate knowledge of
southeastern Australian geography, that's about 100 km east of
Melbourne, where my parents moved a few months ago. Lots of things
have happened since I last wrote, but first the useful/time critical
information for the busy:
1. I'm in Australia till January 9 and would love to catch up with you
if you are around.
2. Ways to contact me:
   Mum's mobile:  +61 0408 416133
   My phone  +1 415 5059354 (SMS preferred but okay to call)
   Email: (this address)
   Skype: dplatt
   I'm in Omeo Jan 3rd-7th, Probably Mel 28th-1st,  Mel 8th, leaving
9th - would love to see The Incredibles
  with a few people if you are up for it.

3. I am not moving to Singapore, more details below
4. Still hunting for work although taking it fairly easily and doing
some interesting/fun part-time work.  No complaints ;)
5.  Yes the american electorate is so screwed up it's not funny.

Roaming the planet

Time seems to have flown by since leaving Exelixis.  I had planned to
attend the wedding of some good friends in Newcastle and a conference
in Cambridge and things got slightly out of hand.  I stopped by
Vancouver to talk with with the genome centre there before England and
was then asked if I could fly out to Singapore for an interview.  I
agreed on the condition that they drop me back in Amsterdam which then
led to a few delightful weeks seeing friends in Bielefeld, Berlin,
Amsterdam and The Hague.  I even managed a little bit of genome
assembly while in Bielefeld.  Lots of pictures on the website.  I
ended up travelling through 10 cities, five countries and other than
the fact that no one would pay me to do it, it was actually quite a
fun lifestyle just combining a little bit of tourism and catching up
with people alongside some recreational programming with a wedding
squeezed into the middle.  Lots of time to think, which I need at the
moment.  I wasn't back long before I got called down to Australia for
a tech support call to fix my mother's computer.  Don't let anyone
install Norton's Internet security.  It managed to partially update
itself, couldn't be uninstalled unless it was working and couldn't be
reinstalled.  I was back for a day before heading off to St. Louis. 
I've just come from Vancouver via a laundry stop in San Francisco to
Melbourne.  I've seen the bad airline versions of almost every movie
out at the moment, many of them in German.  Kill Bill 2 was truly
great in German.


I 'm still thinking about synthetic biology, other applications of
genomics/bioinformatics, downstream areas of pharmaceutical work like
diagnostics and clinical applications of genomics, doing some
consulting in bioinformatics, the trade-off between technical and
managerial work.  I think pure academia is probably not for me but I'm
looking at both commercial and non-commercial positions. I think there
are some very exciting things to do in this field but it's also a time
of great uncertainty so I want to be flexible.  I've been wrapping up
lots of little projects and never had time to finish at exelixis
including a whole lot of really cool stuff to do with putting genomes
together from many little pieces.  I get to program this in various
cafes which is a huge improvement over being in an office.


Singapore, what an interesting place.  One of the companies I had been
talking to is based in Indianapolis but has set up a start-up type
environment in Singapore and was looking for someone to run their
bioinformatics group.  It looked like a very interesting position but
it was in Singapore. The recruiter who called me out would only say
that it was in a foreign country when we first spoke and a few people
suggested it might be in Baghdad ;)   I had a couple of interviews in
Chicago and then Indianapolis.  Incidentally the welcome to
Indianapolis guide from the Chamber of Commerce tackles the weather in
about the fifth paragraph and wastes no time introducing you to the
different types of tornado warning after mentioning the extremes of
temperature and overall high humidity.  Welcome to Indianapolis.  I
did my homework and was at least intellectually was very enthusiastic
about the idea of moving to Singapore at least for a few years. 
Everyone I spoke with had a different perspective but the consensus
was that it was a nice clean place (a golden cage), somewhat sterile
but with a huge commitment to biotechnology, something missing in many
environments, and somewhat short on experienced people.  I would not
leave San Francisco lightly and did not plan to leave it in any
permanent sense of the word.  Some of my American friends asked me if
I could really leave overseas, a very ironic question.  I ended up
flying out to Singapore, leaving at something like 4 a.m. in a time
zone I wasn't really in anyway with an awful head cold, arriving
having had very little sleep for 68 hours in Singapore and going
straight into a whole day of interviews after 30 minutes of sleep in
the hotel.  Despite that, Singapore made a very positive impression on
me.  They haven't done a great job of PR, the chewing gum things tends
to be the only thing people associate with Singapore (it's legally
available from drugstores now).  I had a very interesting time
interviewing and had someone taking me apartment hunting and someone
else getting me oriented.

It was quite surreal sitting in a cafe near the Van Gough Museum in
Amsterdam the next day wondering if it had all happened.  Then the
waiting began.  Despite my extreme feelings of heartbreak at the
thought of leaving San Francisco (the day I arrived back the air had
and never before seemed so clean and pleasantly cool/dry and the bagel
from my nearby cafe tasted incredbile), I decided I should move.  My
goal is to experience as many of the good things in life without
experiencing to many of the bad things and it seemed like Singapore
would give me many life experiences I might otherwise miss out on.  I
went into the final phone call with a lot of trepidation.  I was
prepared to be perhaps leaving San Francisco in a few weeks (they said
they would be happy to put me on a plane the next day to Indianapolis
if I was prepared) or to be staying and it was very hard to believe
that both of those outcomes could be good things because they were so
different.  In the final decision, they decided to combine the
position with another search for a chief scientific officer and I
don't have enough grey hair yet to fill that role.  It sucks a bit to
be rejected, but it was done in a very flattering way and I understood
their decision.  It was also a relief to be staying so I guess I
really love San Francisco.  Nine out of 10 friends consulted
immediately afterwards were thrilled I didn't get the job.  I'll miss


No progress to report.  Lots of interesting tales from the front lines
I don't have space for here.  Antonia (yes that ends in an 'a', I'm
not gay - thanks to those who asked) and I have decided for the fifth
time to break up(we didn't implement the first four).  If you know any
interesting smart single women let me know.

Red States

Oh god - that is so depressing.  85% of San Francisco voters voted to
get rid of the idiot.  Enough said.  I am planning to boycott red
States, and avoiding unnecessary contact.  Someone like Bush shouldn't
be running the country.  I don't bear him a lot of ill will, but the
fact that so many people can support such a disaster area should give
you pause for thought.  I'm certainly doing more overseas investment
nowadays.  I've started interviewing republicans when I get seated
next to them on planes and finding that they actually believe the crap in the
advertising, incidentally these are the same states that supported
slavery, you can overlap the maps exactly.  The swing states tolerated
slavery but didn't formally adopt it.  Hundreds of years with no
progress.  I don't see any short-term improvement.  Americans are very
optimistic in general.  It's one of their more endearing cultural
traits.  Most seemed inclined to believe things will sort themselves
out, I hope so but I'm inclined to think the US is somewhat screwed on
its present course.

As always I hope this finds you well, I know some people have been
going through some really tough times lately.  I'm always thankful for
having met so many interesting people over the years and you are
always welcome to drop by.  It's been great seeing so many of you this
year, please stay in touch,

PS I'm breaking in some new voice recognition software so I'm sure
this has a huge number of really interesting typos.  Try pronouncing
the text out loud and you'll probably figure out what I meant.