After a HOT week in Houston (albeit one that was bookended by gorgeous weather in Minnesota and Virginia), it feels great to be back in Lausanne. It is also very nice to be reunited with my team at Poken, although half the team is in San Francisco right now so I won't catch up with them until next week.
My time in the US was very productive. Although I spent all of my days working for Poken, I also managed to catch up with family/friends in the evenings and coordinate some major renovations to my house. I'm very excited about these renovations as they are expected to reduce my energy consumption by almost 50%. This includes installation of a solar-powered attic fan, creating a better, insulated seal between the attic and the rest of the house, sealing all of the house's air leaks (around doors, windows, and exterior wall power outlets, for example), servicing the HVAC system, solar film on all the windows, installation of switches to shut off power to standby equipment "vampires," and replacement of all light bulbs with low-energy CFLs. This is a full-system approach that addresses not just the efficiency of equipment itself but also the efficiency of the way that air moves throughout the house and reduces the load on that equipment. In fact, when I replace my A/C unit next year, instead of just getting a more efficient version of the same cooling power, I should actually get a lower-power version--although still more efficient too!
Even with the rising cost of energy in the US, these renovations aren't likely to pay for themselves for several years. However, as most of you know, I try to live my life with at least a double bottom line and I believe the cost of energy inefficiency is much greater than just the price I pay per kilowatt-hour on my monthly electric bill.
My flight trip back to Lausanne was good for a couple of reasons. First, I achieved Gold Elite status on Continental. This is the first time I have broken the gold barrier and, with only 20k more miles this year, I may even arrive at Platinum. Hooray! Also, Matthew McConaughey was on my flight from Newark to Geneva, two seats in front of me. He was coming in to support Lance Armstrong at the end of the Tour de France. He seemed really laid back (as one would expect) and pleasant to everyone who came up to talk with him. I also give him major props for being so ripped at 39--almost 40.
Since I've been back I've been filling my non-Poken time with catching up with those whom I've missed--both IMD classmates and Poken coworkers. Friday night I went to see Bruno with some friends--outrageous as expected. Tonight I will attend my first Swiss music festival at Paleo, which I'm looking forward to. It probably won't be the typical massive-crowd-drunk-mosh-pit scene during Beethoven's 5th Piano Conerto, which is just fine by me. :-)
This weekend in London was awesome. After a week of being sick enough to keep me out of the office (The doctor was positive I had malaria--yikes!) I managed to shape up enough to travel on Friday without incident. Friday evening itself was uneventful and I just settled into my hotel in Westminster.
Saturday I met up with an IMD alum from 2007 who had helped me with my job search last year. It was good to meet him in person and we spent a few hours just walking around the city. "Impressive" is the word I would use to describe London's architecture. It is full of very impressive classical buildings. I didn't recall it having quite as much Gothic architecture as I noticed this time but hey, I love Gothic architecture, so no complaints there!
In the evening I met friends from the Petroleum Club of Houston, who happened also to be in town, at The Orrery, a fantastic little restaurant with a lovely terrace for dining. The lobster, lobster, lobster appetizer was exquisite and the dark truffle risotto incredibly rich. The latter paired especially well with the Paolo Scavino Barolo Carobric 2000 (WS 94 points), which opened up into an excellent, beautifully textured wine. I had no room left at the end but managed to finish the chocolate fondant anyway. :-) What a meal and what an evening!
Sunday I spent more time walking around. This time I made for King's Cross Station to pay homage to Harry Potter. After that I spent some time at the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, both of which were very cool. For lunch I met the former president of Wiess College at an Indian restaurant before heading back to catch some Wimbledon.
It's too bad that Andy Roddick couldn't quite pull it off; what a coup that would have been for an American on Independence Day weekend! US men's volleyball also didn't quite come through, finishing 3rd in the beach world championships. American women, though, had a much better weekend, with Serena and Venus dominating Wimbledon and our women winning the beach world championships.
During the marathon 5th set between Roddick and Federer, I met up with an old friend from Lovett College who is currently finishing his MBA at Oxford. We watched the end of the match and then made our way to Shepherd's Bush Empire for a Jimmy Buffett concert. This venue was excellent! Although it was larger than The New Morning Jazz Cafe, where he played in Paris last year, it still seated <>
My friend and I were standing down near the front--maybe 30' from Jimmy--and having a great time singing at the tops of our lungs, meeting other Parrotheads, and drinking Guinness. The concert was great and I'm so glad I could make it. Unfortunately, while I was videoing "Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw" a rogue beachball jarred my phone from my hand and now my picture-taking capabilities are defunct. Oh well, if you're going to break your camera, that's not a bad way to do it!
Now it's back to work in Lausanne, where I have a tremendous amount to accomplish this week. Because of my sickness last week this will be my first time in the office in a while--bring it on!