By MNLSpayday loans
Right after I accepted the IBM Beacon Award for Healthcare and Life Sciences given to my company (Kanteron Systems), I was video interviewed in the corridor. Here is the result:
From Monday 25 to Wednesday 27 I was in Las Vegas receving an award (IBM 2013 Beacon Award for Best Industry Solution, Healthcare and Life Sciences).
I don’t like Las Vegas, too flashy, too empty, too superficial… but every time I go, I end up with interesting experiences and observations. Like the devastating effect extreme market capitalism can have on the credibility of institutions (Judge Judy’s branded slot machine?? WTF!!).
The event, organized by IBM, took place at the Caesar’s Palace Hotel (I hold quite strong memories from that place, years ago): 2,500 people, busy schedule of work meetings and sessions, a lot of food, a few parties and a concert.
The first day, after my “virgin” flight there with Virgin America, I met with a senior IBM executive, rehearsed the award gala, and had dinner with the “Spaniards” (people from IBM Spain, Indra, El Corte Ingles, etc) at Margarita Ville, with live music, and a giant slide through which a girl slides down to a giant “margarita pitcher”.
The second day I had a meeting very early in the morning, then received the award on stage, was interviewed for TV, went to a party with great food and awesome bonbons, at Shadow Bar, and then another one with lots of good looking people (another kind of bonbon), at Pure Nightclub.
The last day I participated in a recorded round table debate with Tim Llewellynn (from New Zealand living in Switzerland) and Aleksandar Vidovic (from Slovenia) about cloud technology and security. It was filmed in a studio set incredibly set up a cafe down to the most minute detail, by a large TV crew, with a director from LA, and organized by the ad agency Ogilvy. Although it lasted for 2 hours, they told us they would bring it down to 2 minutes for TV!
After some more meetings, I went to the private gala reception at the Penthouse Suite (the “Celine Dion Room”) of the Forum Tower. Then some Nobu sushi for dinner and a concert by Train.
A red-eye midnight flight too me back home, tired, exhausted, but happy with the results, the networking, and the experience.
Interviewed by Aurora Muñoz for Zoom News about the Mega case.
Here (PDF) is a 3 page article Spanish newspaper El Mundo published on Monday in their “Innovators” special, featuring my company, Kanteron Systems.
Although it may not be too obvious, I have been going through a few very hard weeks for several reasons. So someone who knows me well told me I should not be stupid, and should have fun. Let’s be it, then!
As part of their James Bond 50 years celebration, MoMA has been showing some of 007 movies in their collection (the largest by any museum in the world). So yesterday I was invited, and I of course invited Stephanie to be my guest, to the screening of the latest James Bond movie: “007 Skyfall“.
Guess who is in the movie (OK, everybody knew already but me, so?) fellow Spaniard Javier Bardem!
So, how about the movie?
I enjoyed it because… let’s just say it’s another 007 movie. Perfect technical production, some brilliant moments (I love their artistic intros), some very weak plot points and attitudes (very dangerous defense of covert operations), messy clichés (the reckless and bloody hitman-corporate-terrorist improbable link), and an attempt to bring current events (powerful China, of course!), technology (ascii in the hex column? unix X system showing a real time 3D in a dump mode? “evolving, self-reprogramming, obfuscated code”? really? that’s SO weak! you guys need a better tech advisor), and depth (childhood and unresolved trauma, beautifully scenefied in a remote Scottish house) to what it is, and is expected to be, just pure fun.
So leave your Lacanian interpretations and your Bergman expectations at home, and enjoy the ride. If you can and will. You don’t need to “be warned” because 007 has always been that: circus, opium, fast food, simple joy, and even nostalgia (people clapped the most when he got into his Aston Martin vintage DB5!) and you know that, and sadly that’s exactly why the formula and the franchise work.
Which intellectual doesn’t have a kid inside? which kid does not want to be a man (or be told what one should be even if that’s very wrong)? which simpleton does not want to be awed?
From tilted posts to trees completely gone, after hurricane Sandy there were many signs of destruction around New York.
I had to stay at Stepahnie’s apartment (thank you again!) until Monday, because my building remained without power. And even after the power returned, the telephone and internet took two more days.
Some people were not so lucky, with all hotels fully booked, and had to stay at home for days without power or water. I heard of a woman who paid over $400 for a night in a room at the Gramercy Hotel, even though they did not have power or water either, just because she was too sacred of being at home alone for so long without electricity.
So, when Stephanie went to her office, I also went to work: to help others by helping handing out food and water in one of the “soup kitchens” (the one at 27th street). Signs of reconstruction were everywhere. And that’s when the real “American Spirit” shines its brightest light (not with flags or elections): when everybody comes together, in a fairly self-organized way, to wholeheartedly help.
[Note: images on this post, except those of the gallery above, have not been taken, or downloaded, or hosted by me; for full attribution follow the source]
Many people tried to help as they could. From great efforts, to little gestures. It all helped.
And just when things seemed to slowly be returning more or less back to normal, winter storm Athena reminded us that it can always get worse, and “Winter is coming”. Thousands of flights cancelled again, snow everywhere… pretty but cold!
To go from Baltimore to NY has been a real nightmare. I had a return train ticket for the 29th at night, but that was obviously cancelled. Amtrak then rebooked me on the first train out of Baltimore (at 03:45am on November 1st), and since flights or buses were not operating, I took it.
The nice lady at the travel agency got me a reservation on a flight to La Guardia. But a few hours later the flight was cancelled. Then she got me another reservation on a flight to JFK. But that was also cancelled by the airline hours later. She is definitely the best, most professional and caring travel agent I have ever met. But good thing I still had my train reservation.
A few hours before going to the station, I receive an email saying my train reservation was cancelled by Amtrak. So I spent exactly 3 hours on the phone (calling, selecting options, waiting, line drops, starting again…) trying to understand what happened and trying to digest the news that there would be no trains to NY until November 5th. In the meantime, I saw on a bus operator’s twitter account tweeting (in case of emergency you need communication channels and social media) that they were running buses from Baltimore to NY November 1st! After a while trying to get through their phone sales, I decided to try online booking. The system kept falling, but I finally got a ticket, and an even earlier second ticket by someone who had booked too many.
After another extra night at the hotel, and waiting in the rain for the bus to arrive, I’m out of Baltimore, at last! Writing the beginnign of this post from a tunnel traffic accident that delays us over half an hour, but in a nice and clean Bolt bus, with plenty of leg room, electricity plugs and free open wifi. How ironic that when I get to NY I will not have those things in my apartment. Let’s see what happens.
[Note: images on this post have not been taken, or downloaded, or hosted by me; for full attribution follow the source]
Upon finally arriving in New York, I see with my own eyes how strong the hurricane must have been:
Glad I did not arrive via train (look at these pics), since service to NY will not be available until Monday November 5th
although tunnels did not look better
and the airports…
were a mess.
So I finally made it to my apartment and as the automatic system had warned me: no water or electricity (so no internet, no light, no heat, and no elevator to the 14th floor… at least I don’t live in the 50th floor like someone I know!). Ed Con utility company says “we do not know how long it is going to take to reinstate the power, but it may be after the weekend”. WTF.
I walk 14 floors upstairs, in complete darkness, with my suitcase, throw everything that was in the fridge to the trash, water the plants, pack again, and walk downstairs.
Stephanie (thank you, thank you, thank you) offers me to stay at her apartment uptown. Looks like I can’t take the subway but above 40th street there is electricity and running subways. Big lines to take buses.
A warm shower, three purring kitties, a good night sleep… happy again. Tomorrow, while she goes to work, it will be time for me to lend a hand and help those in need.
Hurricane Sandy has been all over the news. Here is the account of how I experienced it.
I was scheduled to present a scientific poster at the Digital Pathology Association annual meeting, taking place in Baltimore, MD. So Sunday 28th I left NY by train, and arrived in Baltimore. I must admit I finished the poster on the train (in the Acela trains they have electric plugs and free open wifi, which is awesome), and printed it at a local Kinko’s one hour before the end of the scheduled set-up time, which was 6pm.
I went in the Baltimore Convention Center Hilton with my poster, set it up, stayed throught the cocktail reception, and left at 8pm. It was cold and raining, but I had an umbrella, and it was not a big deal.
The next day, Monday 29th, getting to the Convention Center from my hotel, only 2 blocks away, was not too pleasant. As a matter of fact, the wind made it difficult to keep the umbrella straight, and it was raining hard. But by the time the conference session was over and I had to return to the hotel, it had become a nightmare.
I held on to the umbrella really tight, but the wind proved to be stronger. With maximum sustained winds of 90 mph (150km/h), my umbrella was turned into a formless wreck of twisted and broken metal tubes. The rain was horizontal, and there were almost no cars (no taxi service) on the streets. I found out later that police had imposed a curfew of 6pm. It was 6:30pm. The rain drops hit my glasses like rocks, and they felt very very cold; so much so that my face and hands were absolutely red and numb. Traffic lights were swinging, tree branches flying, and even a piece of ceiling plaster flew off the Sheraton’s parking lot entrance and hit me in the face (although not hard enough to fix me). At times I would take two or three steps without touching the ground, and could not stop at the traffic lights, good things there were no incoming cars. By the time I got to the hotel I was completely soaked, from the raincoat all the way to my underwear, and frozen.
Of course, my train back had been cancelled, and news were coming in about power outages in New York, evacuation order (in the map I show the evacuation zones, and where I live marked by a circle), airport, tunnels and subway closed…
The next day a wonderful lady from Tzell travel group (one of the very few that actually made it physically to their NY offices: that’s what I call dedication to customer satisfaction, I salute that determination) tried her best to help me find a way out of Baltimore. She even got me a confirmed reservation in the next scheduled flight, although there was a big waiting line from a ton of people wanting to head back to NY, but the flight was later cancelled. Airlines’ information and systems were confusing, showing available seats in cancelled flights, and things like that. Amtrak was not helping either, postponing any information until the night. But in the end, it was completely impossible.
Luckily the hotel offered me to prolong my stay as needed, honoring the negotiated rate. But due to personnel not being able to make it to the hotel, the rooms were not being serviced. So one more night. I had only packed for one night. The stores were all closed. And no cleaning service at the hotel. Time to hand wash my clothes.
The next day, Tuesday 30th, I received a message from my building automated system alerting me that there was no power (which meant no hot water, no elevators to any of the 50 floors, and of course no electricity) anywhere south of 39th street. That meant both my apartment and office. Very appropriately listening to Eurythmics – Here Comes The Rain Again metacafe.com/w/sy-5749511
I took the opportunity to work a little bit more, and also attended the American Society for Information Science and Technology meeting, taking place at the same Convention Center.
It was becoming a personal imperative to be able to come back to NY. But after yet another cancelled flight, and another waiting period from the train company, I finally got a reservation… on the Thursday November 1st 03:54am train. Not being one to accept so many set backs in a row, I have decided to look for alternative methods. Rental car companies would not allow me to rent a car.
But I have found a bus operator that will take me to NY Wednesday 31st in the morning. [ Update: buses not running today either, so I have to wait for the train at 03:54am tonight Update 2: Train cancelled, finally leaving by bus the next day] That was part one of dealing with Hurricane Sandy. Let’s see what happens once I get to New York…