Wednesday, February 22, 2017

‘Not the year for Carnival

DSC01095 (867x1300)i had set time and travel aside to be in Maastricht for Carnival this year – the four-day  pre-Lent celebration filled with food, drink, and costumes (did I mention drink?).  The parade is Sunday, official kick-off in the Vrijthof square with the raising of ‘t Mooswief, and the ‘skade filled with color until the wee hours of Tuesday.

Unfortunately, work and milestones overwrote good intentions this year.  DSC01144 (1180x1300)We are literally days from regulatory submission on the project, everyone hard at work testing, writing, and collating. 

The amount of detail in these Technical Files is really daunting, and every cross reference and report has to be checked, verified, and files into a particular slot. 

The product descriptions, the Design History file, is a constant work-in-progress, requirements and specifications revised each time a test falls sort, the failure mitigations being revisited each time someone imagines a new risk.

DSC01094 (1300x867)We’ll get there, but it isn’t the time for travel.  We’ve spent years getting to this point, and we need to cross the finish line successfully.

TEFAF comes in a few weeks, birthday and spring beyond: ‘time enough to celebrate when the work is complete and submitted.  Still, I don’t like subverting scarce free time to ever-expanding work-time (I’ve been working through the past four weekends).  It violates the spirit of balans en grenzen that I committed to years ago, and reminds me to see that everyone gets a reward and a break when our work is done.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Driving on the left, from the right

DSC01089 (1300x803)I’ve finally sorted out the logistics and financing of getting the car fixed.  Initial proposals from Ford Lease were that the car be repaired in Maastricht.  While likely practical from the standpoint of the engine, I didn’t think that the hood latch would necessarily hold for the 6-hour drive to the Netherlands.  Second suggestion?

“We would suggest flying the car back to the Netherlands.  Ummm, can I have iron-clad assurance that I’m not paying for that? 

The third proposal was to take it to a local accident repair centre to get new replacement parts fitted (£2700).  Perfect.  ‘Good, your appointment is Monday

DSC01092 (1300x810)A ‘Relief Vehicle’ is nowhere in the paperwork, so I went online to find a temporary replacement.  Surprisingly, a rental was only £115 for 10 days, all-in with VAT and insurance.  I locked the price and hot-footed over to the depot: a red Fiesta was being checked out when I arrived.

Oddly, so was a bill for over £400 additional payment.  Digging into the itemizations, I found over £300 in duplicate insurance, add-ons, and options. 

And if I didn’t want all of that? 

“Well, of course, then you’d owe nothing.”

These people are such, well, used-car dealers.  I signed for nothing, took the keys, confirmed condition, and headed out.

The car is, of course, set up for UK driving arrangements rather than my customary Dutch / American driver-sits-left.   And this is where it all gets tricky for me.

I am used to transposing to driving on the left side of the road, but not to driving from the right-hand side of the car. DSC01090 (867x1300)It really takes attention to keeping the right side of the car close to the starboard lane lines.  And even so, I tend to drift left. 

I also have this sense off enormous space to my left inside the car, that the vehicle is very much wider than it actually is.  It makes the vehicle difficult to park and problematic when passing.

And, of course, I’m now getting into the car from the wrong side.

Not a bad thing, of course: It encourages me to go slow, hyper-vigilant of what around me and of where my wheels are.   So far, all good: more working from home and less travel generally, but looking forward to being ‘back to normal’ by early March.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Post surgical snowfields

We put in a good day’s work today, arriving at the hospital early with prototypes and engineers, then working with the physicians to verify that the whole system was operational.  For the  third time in three weeks, everything was flawless:, good data and good performance.

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IMG_0203We were cleared to monitor a hernia repair, relatively quick and routine, so a good chance to see how the readings changed with administration and withdrawal.  It was nice to see the unit operate unaffected by other people and equipment in the OR, just as designed but still subject to demonstration.

Afterwards we all went out for a debrief with the staff, then were given a free hour before dinner. 

The sun hadn’t quite set on Nagyerdei Park across the street and we’d had a smattering of snow during the day.  It was nice to crunch along the trails around the frozen lakes and, as it turned out, I did get lucky with my light.

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