Well I suppose that most of you have heard the bad news about
Katriona and myself by now.  Katriona decided that she wants to go her
own way and though I don't really understand her reasons to be honest,
there is nothing I can do about it :(  I'm sorry if this is the first
you have heard about this but things have been understandably hectic,
and I am happy to fill you in on things if you mail me.

It's Autumn in the northern hemisphere now, and Cambridge is all red
and yellow.  The cold days are bringing back pleasant memories from my
early days in Cambridge.  I am living further out now so it's a bit
more of an effort to get into town.  I will be back in Melbourne for
the worst of "winter", so it won't be too bad this year.  Which
reminds me, I arrive in Melbourne on the 10th of Dec. and leave on the
12 of January, so if you are in Melbourne then, we should plan now to
catch up!  I am also visiting San Francisco, Seattle, Boston and St.
Louis after Melbourne, on the way home, so I would love to catch up
with my non-Australian friends as well! I am in the process of sorting
out those details, so let me know if you will be around then.

On the typing front, things are stable.  The physiotherapist has
identified a problem with nerve constriction in my upper body, which
he thinks, explains the problem.  I have stretching exercises which
help considerably and I am getting a "normal" amount of work done.  I
still use voice recognition for things like this.  I have caught up on
about 5000 words of correspondence this weekend :)  apologies if you
didn't receive some correspondence.

Work is going along very nicely at the moment, with a few major
projects coming to fruition.  There's still a huge void between the
professional impression you get of the genome project, and the day to
day reality.  Just to shatter any illusions that the genome project is
a fine example of large-scale organised science striding forward.  

> From: <name witheld>
> To: <etc>
> Cc: hinx
> Subject: Freezer Stuff
> Hello,
> We have the following in the top right hand side of our -70 freezer:
> Four plates with the following markings:-   D1025
>                                             Y97C2
>                                             Team11 h3b13 a-h
>                                             Team11 h3b14 a-h
> Also a tube was found on the floor of G132 marked '9677M'
> Whoever owns them can they please come and collect them.
> Cheers,

Something to keep in mind if you ever try to write algorithms in this area:

Someone did an Autumn-clean of the nematode project and found 0.25
million bases of DNA that were sequenced but never made it into the
final sequence.  We inadvertently sequenced a quite large bacterial
virus the other day, using four of our sequencing projects, when the
virus got loose in our DNA library.  It was eventually identified from
a small fragment of its sequence that was already in the public
databases.  We now have the entire sequence :)  Some poor person's PhD
has probably just been scuttled.  In other news, our old building is
currently being demolished, which makes for an interesting diversion
outside the window.

The future for me is still very uncertain.  I would be quite welcome
to stay at work for my remaining two years, and I have the flat to
myself now, but I am thinking more and more that I would like to move
away from Cambridge.  It's just too hard coming into contact with
Katriona regularly, so I am thinking that I will move to the U.S. next
year quite possibly.  This is all dependent on what jobs are available
and where, but computing people with a biological background are in
demand at the moment, so I can't see too many problems.  It's just one
more difficult decision.  There are lots of nice things about
Cambridge that I really like, and a few more years here would be

On to more happy experiences, I returned recently from Eastern Europe,
where I spent a few weeks with my parents who were there on business.
It is certainly an experience, and mostly pleasant, but very
exhausting.  I wish I had kept up my high school German now, because
English was next to useless in some countries.  We started from
Austria and traveled up through the Czech Republic to Poland, then
back to Prague.  That was by train, and we then took a car for 2000
kilometers down through Austria, Slovenia and Croatia.  I can't relay
all of the details here, but I will tell you about the highlight of
the trip in my opinion.  There is a small ossury ( house for bones)
near Prague, that was filled with an estimated 40 thousand human
remains when a cathedral was built on the site.  They were originally
buried during the plague because the site was consecrated with soil
returned from Jerusalem.  So far, so good.  In the late 19th century,
a crazy individual set about reorganizing the bones, into 4 huge
"bells" and some very macabre decorations.  He has made a chandelier
from every bone in the human body, and has strung skulls around the
place like Christmas decorations.  He even signed is name with some
leg bones on the wall! "Sedlec" is a must-see.

Other than that, I would recommend that everyone sees Prague.  It was
a german public holiday and you couldn't move at times, but it's a
very romantic city.  It's a pity that I wasn't in a particularly
romantic move.  The most somber moment would have to have been
visiting Auschwitz concentration camp.  It's just too horrific to
contemplate.  I was pleased to notice that the Australian government
has refused entry for the revisionist historian David Irving. It's
very sad when historians play with tragic events like this.

So you should rush off and see Eastern Europe before McDonalds
completely take over.  They have a beautiful restaurant in Krakov in
Poland, that is situated in a 16th century wine cellar.  Not to be out
done, pizza hut have moved into a 14th century one.  I overheard some
rare English conversation in Prague, and some Americans were off to
get some McDumplings  (dumplings being a popular national dish in the
Czech Republic).

I was certain to get my fill of beef whilst overseas.  The latest
scare is that they may have introduced a new disease into sheep by
feeding sheep on cattle remains that had been fed sheep :(  although
the risk of a major epidemic diminishes with time, people seem to live
in a state of complete denial regarding the risk.  Unfortunately this
includes politicians, who seem to believe that simply saying that the
disease doesn't exist will make it go away.  Meanwhile, scientists
have demonstrated that the recent human deaths from the variant strain
of CJD  are almost certainly from cattle.  You still get throw away
lines from politicians like "British beef is as safe as it has ever
been" (since 1980 :)  people will say things like "your chances of
dying are less than one in a million", and they don't seem to grasp
that this is all contingent on whether or not there is an epidemic.
Simple arithmetic arrives at that figure assuming it isn't in
incubation.  God help the British, because they won't help themselves.
Don't even get me started on the way they treat Europe :) 

Well I will see many of you soon, so I will keep this brief.

See you soon,