Monday, November 29, 2010

Keeping up (almost)

Life has been a whirl since touching down at Heathrow last week.  There’s been a pitch or presentation every day, hours-long telephone meetings, ever-growing to-do lists.

and snow.

The weather was unusual in Seattle, where three inches turned hills into ice-slides.  It was expected in Minneapolis, where blowing snow obscured the runways.  But it’s surprising in Cambridge, where the sun greeted a dense blizzard, short lived but ferocious, this morning.  The temperatures are hovering around freezing, but the roads have good traction and the salt trucks are out.

I guess it’s the worst start to a winter in the UK since (depending on the source) 15 or 50 years ago.  I mused about whether the Great Atlantic Conveyor was finally weakening, my favorite disaster scenario from global warming.

The worldwide system of ocean currents is powered by a delicate balance of temperature and salinity. Differences in the density of seawater drive forces that power the great rivers between the continents.  A tip in salinity caused by increased freshwater and higher temperatures could reverse the Gulf Stream, which would dramatically chill northern Europe.

Imagine this picture running backward and you’ve got it exactly.


The larger question is why snow seems to be following me across the hemisphere.  As new snow began to fall on Bury St. Edmonds when I arrived for a pitch this evening, it was becoming more than simple coincidence.  I head for Porto on Wednesday: if Portugal gets unseasonable snow, I’m selling my services to the resorts in the French Alps.

The larger problem with my life was summarized by the tableau of cars in the parking lot.  That would be my blue Fiesta next to an investor’s red muscle car.  I don’t know whether to characterize it as irony, perspective, or aspiration.

Saturday I participated in a seminar on entrepreneurship with a group of business students from Italy at the Judge School.  It was a good exchange of ideas and views, and reminded me of a time when we took on an intern back in the Research Group in Seattle.

We thought that the intern would help with some of the experiments and data analysis, bringing some fresh energy to routine tasks.  Along the way, she interviewed everyone in the group about their background and career path.

Morale brightened noticeably: everyone was reminded of why they do what they do and the passion they once had for their field.  I think that these lectures carry the same opportunity for renewal, remembering larger purposes with fresh enthusiasms.


Invader_Stu said...

The snow is still here so it's not following you. It's staying every where you have been :p

Dave Hampton said...

Fortunately not in Portugal - I really would have wondered if it was here. Headed back to the Netherlands now, we will see if the effect is tracking me or finally broken off.