Catching my breath

Back in Seattle now, after hectic trips to New York and Washington DC.  Many thanks to NYC Resistor and the New York DIYBio group for hosting one of my NYC book talks, and to James Jorasch and Science House for hosting the other (here is the blog coverage of the latter).  And a big shout out to Dan Grushkin for getting everything rolling.

The last day of the Washington DC trip was a little strange.  I had lunch across the street from the White House, then hopped a plane and caught Balkan Beat Box here in Seattle, where the woman beside me was doing some funky Balkan-Capoeira fusion dance thing.  (Had to give her plenty of elbow room, lest I suffer a concussion.)

My head is still spinning.

More Skyscraper Tourism

I'm in Houston today, speaking to a small group of American Petroleum Institute members about the future of biofuels  (Thanks for the recommendation, Jamais).  More air travel in the service of explaining carbon neutral fuels.  Nonetheless, the view from the 49th floor of the Shell Plaza tower is remarkable.

I am told by residents that Houston has evidently just decided the answer to local traffic and transit issues is to widen I-10 from 15 to 22 lanes.  They are apparently proud of the 2 HOV lanes that will come with the expansion.


Ah, Paris

I'm sitting in a pleasant cafe with free WiFi, eponymously at 28 Marbeuf, just off the Champs Elysees.  If you are nearby, it's a good place to pause and catch up on email.  It's supposed to be 34C here today, and the air conditioning in the cafe is especially nice.

On a different topic than usually appears in this space, I've a few thoughts about traveling with an infant in Europe:
1.  In both France and Germany, changing tables are everywhere, which is a nice improvement over the States.
2.  IMPORTANT :: Pampers here are not the same here as in the US.  The European sizes are smaller, and to avoid unpleasant poo explosions we had to buy diapers 2 sizes larger.
3.  As unpleasant poo explosions are inevitable with a 10 week old child, we've found a bottle of Spray and Wash to be exceptionally useful.
4.  Instead of trying to pack some sort of crib for the kid, we simply brought along a couple of foam triangles to keep her from rolling over and used blankets for padding on the floor.  The foam packs small and is light.  Way better than lugging more large stuff around.
5.  Gripe Water rocks.

We had a very nice week in Normandy, and I have a review of the Inn we stayed in Bayeux, Relais Des Cedres.  In one word: Don't.  First, there was mold all through the wallpaper in the bathroom, not something I really wanted to expose a 2 month old child to.  And while our arrival was reasonably simple, Madame herself turned out to be very difficult.  We returned late one night after touring, on the eve of Bastille Day, when the town was packed with both cars and pedestrians, and she couldn't be bothered to move her car 20 cm so that I could pull into the driveway.  Even after two weeks in France, I'm still stuck halfway between German and French, so my understanding of what she said was not so great, but she seemed to be saying she could not possibly step outside in her dressing gown to start her car.  Besides, her back hurt, I gathered.

I retreated, but upon finding a place to park I went back to the Inn and discovered that Madame was feeling plenty fine to climb three flights of stairs and lean out a window to watch the fireworks.  And then early one morning when we checked out, she had no trouble scampering outside in her dressing gown to move her car.

I suppose if it is your last choice, Relais Des Cedres is a reasonable place to sleep.  But be forewarned.  However, just next door is Hotel Tardif, with an excellent walled garden, which seemed like a much more peaceful place to spend one's holiday.