Copyright©2009 Antony Williams
I hate the drive to Washington DC from Wake Forest North Carolina where I live. At the right time of day it’s kind of fun actually…some good music, my iPhone to talk to people on the drive and a chance to think, think, think without the interruptions from skype, email and even my own lovable children. BUT, at the wrong time of day a 4 hour drive becomes a 6 hour drive and I spend a lot of time parked up on the highways trying to move. It’s quite simply, hell. So, this week I decided to take an Amtrak train up from Raleigh to Washington to stay with my colleague Valery Tkachenko the night before my presentation at the FDA.
It didn’t start well. The train left the station 30 minutes late. The guy sitting next to me on the train clearly hadn’t bathed for a few days but the train was full so there was initially nowhere else to sit. He slept the entire way anyway so we didn’t exactly engage much until he lay his head on my arm and proceeded to salivate in my general direction at which point I, the one that was awake, suffered an intense myoclonic jerk and launched him to the other side of his seat to dribble into the central aisle. There was no wireless on the train. Food was expensive…a coke for $2. Stops were frequent and it took over 8.5 hours for me to get to Valery’s house. I did get a lot of work done on the ride but I’ll conclude it with NEVER AGAIN…I’d rather drive. Compared with the quality of train rides in Europe, of which I have had many of late, Amtrak leaves a lot to be desired. Enough whining…
I was in Washington to give a talk at the FDA in a symposium with a number of other online database teams. These included PubChem, ChemIDPlus, HSDB, DailyMed and one I hadn’t heard about yet… PillBox. I really enjoyed the talk about Pillbox…check out the site. Great design, simple and intuitive flow and a great vision. Loved it!
The presentation I gave was called “ChemSpider and How The Wisdom of the Crowds CAn Improve the Quality of Chemistry on the Internet.” The talk is on SlideShare with about 40 of my other talks here and is embedded below also.