Saturday, July 2, 2016

Here, there, everywhere

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It’s been a couple of weeks of bounding about.

DSC02181 (1300x867) - CopyFirst, a trip to the corporate parent in Uppsala, then together in London for the Manilow concert.   ‘flight to Amsterdam the next afternoon and a train south to Maastricht, arriving at 1 am (suitcase clacking along the empty cobbled streets, feeling vulnerable).

The rushing about was well worth it, though: I’d been looking forward to Raluka and George’s wedding. I hosted family guests at the apartment, and attended a lovely ceremony at the Star of the Sea Basilica.  The reception at the Bonnefantenmuseum was a good chance to meet everyone, talk politics and travel, and swap a few expat and entrepreneur stories. 

The ice-breaker for the table was to match a phrase to each  guest.  Mine was “Dutch Gardener”, harkening back to my inburgeren when I was mis-identified as needing job training.  ‘seems so long ago.

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I took my leave at 10 pm to get up to Schiphol for a quick overnight sleep before flying to the US at 10 am.   Unfortunately, track works and dropped trains left me stranded with a hundred others on a platform in Amsterdam Centraal at 2 am.  NS was uncharacteristically disorganized:  we were herded onto trains, then hustled off of trains, before finally boarding a special run to the airport at 3.

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I spent a week bouncing around the US, welcome time with family and friends, absent since New Year’s.  There was sincere intent to come back sooner, but April and May were more than demanding.  I do need to get back to a quarterly commitment: I know when I’ve been away too long.

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I expected worse of TSB Screening, but they moved along well despite long queues. The flight back was bumpy and unpleasant, dropping into London at sunrise.  A short nap, and off to another concert on the evening of my arrival, neatly bookending the trip.

It’s likely the end of intercontinental travel for the summer.  This ten days were an echo of the manic pace I used to have every couple of months.  I don’t miss it.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

On Google Maps

Woodside roadNew, high-resolution Landsat 8 images have been swapped into Google Maps, yielding really amazing pictures of terrain and buildings.  The whole earth is now cloud-free and the detail is good enough to make out patio furniture, stone paths, and garden boxes in my backyards.

A nice 3-D effect has been added, with taller structures like houses and trees shifting perspective against the ground as I pan over a neighborhood.  .

Woodside 2Street View has also been updated, as I found out when I called up 5 Woodside to show my parents my UK abode.  The picture of the house was perfect, but when I shifted perspective to show my street, I was surprised to find…well…me.

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woodside 7The photos must have been taken by the Google-Cam-Car last summer.  It’s my old car, midday. and it looks like I’m  packing for a trip north.  ‘Cute that they blurred the milk bottle in my right hand. 

I must have been lost in thought: I don’t recall seeing the vehicle glide past.  But it’s nice to be immortalized, literally ‘On the Map’.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Impacts of Brexit

Government waters continue to roil in the wake of the Brexit referendum.  Every day brings a surprise resignation, a pointless pronouncement, a bit of high irony.
The best ongoing commentary has  been the Guardian’s Op-Rd pieces, where writer after writer ladles sarcasm, snark, and wit over the self-inflicted chaos.   and I especially agree with their six practical take-aways:
1 Stop calling for a second referendum: it’s a bad idea for exactly the same reason the first one was.
2 Forget about the Conservative party: another six months watching them would be just as dispiriting, as enervating, as distracting as it is now.
3 Show solidarity with immigrants and refugees: people being told to go home need you as surely as you need them.
4 Insist upon a snap general election as a matter of common sense: A government in which both sides openly admit to not having a plan cannot simply blunder on without one.
5 Get on and build: demand the existing parties find a way to work together in the service of the fundamental principles of international cooperation and creative solidarity.
6 Turn up: When you see an event based around ideas that you share – go to it.
Personally, I have a more interesting set of challenges.
  • Business exports:  With my manufacturing sites now firmly planted  in the UK, I’m suddenly confronted with only having the UK as a market.  Ultimately, if there is a complete break, I’ll have to re-qualify for EU markets by moving production to a Member country, or gaining a certificate of conformity for my products.
  • Clinical trials:  There are reports that scientific researchers are becoming reluctant to partner with British institutions and personnel.  It may be more local presence to get local collaborations.
  • Suppliers:   We do testing in France, Ireland, and the US to get data that, while required by the British regulators, cannot be done in Britain.
  • Taxes:  At the moment, I am a Dutch resident on expat assignment to the UK.  My business and personal finances, reporting, and taxes are based in the Netherlands.  That cooperation may end, and new rules put into place about paying in Britain for monies earned in Britain.
  • Domicile:  My British Passport may gain me little towards residing in the EU.  For residency, property, business ownership, or pensions, it is likely that it creates more long-term problems than it solves.  I may be better to put my US foot forward in the EU.  Helpfully, the Dutch have established an Information Point for Brexit in Amsterdam to help people through their options.
There’s nothing that needs to be done immediately, and things will likely work through in ways that address my own concerns.  But it’s a bit of a spanner into the gears, just as our products are coming to market, just as I am transitioning to something better.