I am writing this during the second of the three visits to San Francisco airport I will be making this week. A Singapore airlines plane has just taken off, and a Jumbojet is taxing past the window in front of me. I am in San Francisco to visit a colleague at a research lab called Laurence Berkley National Laboratory (LBNL), and I squeezed in a quick visit to a university, Stanford, just south of here. California is a beautiful place, above is a view from LBNL which is on hills above San Francisco bay, and on the other side of the bay from San Francisco. The view is looking down and across the bay and you can see San Francisco itself on the other side of the blue water of the bay. Berkley is in the foreground this side of the bay. It is a beautiful view.
But travelling to California is not just about admiring the view, it is about discussing work with colleagues and getting their perspective. They see the work you have done from fresh eyes, and you see their work with fresh eyes. It is easy to get in a bit of rut, looking at the same problem day after day, and trying the same approach to understand it. Just a half hour informal chat can point up something that you’ve missed for months, which is really useful. When the chat occurs over a good espresso and looking down on San Francisco bay, is just a bonus.
I also got my rather-out-of-date knowledge of basketball updated. The team from the city of Oakland, just south of Berkeley where the lab is, in the basketball playoffs. They are the Golden State Warriors, and on the train here I was complemented on the colour of my bag – which purely by chance is almost exactly the same colour as that used by the Warriors.
Incidentally, even if you are not a basketball fan, but like a little stats, check out this NY Times article on the Warriors player Stephen Curry. Nate Silver also has an article on him. Curry is a statistical-outlier/freak-of-nature. The article shows stats for the number of three point scores for 725 basketball players. The plot is a bunch of 751 lines for 751 players, and one line way above that bunch: Stephen Curry.