I'm standing at the curb, 100lbs of luggage digging into my shoulder, all my worldly possessions. The bussle of the airport swirls around me as I wait for the shuttle to the hotel. The van stops with a screech of rusty brakes and the driver begins in broken english, then mandarin. It's dark and the lights of the unfamiliar city fill the windows as we drive. We arrive at the hotel and I am listening to the cleaning staff speak, trying to pick up their mandarin conversation. My pigeon-mandarin is even rustier than the brakes after 6 weeks of inactivity. I drop my bags with relief. I'm in San Francisco.
The eucalyptus trees, the water and mountains, dry air, sunshine and happy people - the west coast is truly wonderful. Not much free time to enjoy it, though. The meetings here brim with venture capital frims (VC), the gate-keepers of financing new ideas. They look into their financing crystal ball and see two years of darkness before the light begins to show. Even worse, most predict little to no hiring of new chemists once the recovery begins.
Take those predictions with a hearty grain of salt, though. Bright spots still shine, good ideas find funding and people that add value to an organization will find a place. Spring is coming, the days are getting longer and the time has changed (spring foward to DST in the US).