Head Colds and Flying Don’t Mix

Don't do it. Just don't. It hurts far too much.

Flying with a head cold can be really uncomfortable. If you've any tips on how to deal with it, then I'd love to hear them.

It was two years ago and I was in Barcelona for work when I came down with a soar throat and a head cold. I thought nothing of it at the time, it wasn't until the aircraft took off on the flight home, that I experienced the worst pain I'd had in years. Out of no where someone had stuck a red hot needle into my ear and was trying to simultaneously drive it out of nose and through my throat at the same time.

The thing is, I'd forgotten all about that last experience, until I took this last work flight. A trip to Turin, connecting in Paris, 4 days before the flight I came down with a cold, I had hoped it would clear before the flight, but unfortunately I had no such luck. Instead my sinuses became blocked.

The pain retuned on the flight to Paris, and with it came hearing loss. It took about 2 hours until my hearing had recovered. Unfortunately this coincided with the next flight to Turin. I sucked sweets, swallowed water, blew my nose - in short, tried everything I can think of to try to prevent the pain, but nothing seemed to work.

24 hours later my hearing is just about back, but my ear still hurts. I've my fingers crossed the cold clears up before the flight home. Just in case it doesn't I looking for any tips and tricks I can use to prevent the same pain. If you've any - please let me know...

Burglary – it’s not much fun

It’s been nearly two weeks and I’m glad things feel like they are starting to get back to normal. Things have been a little nuts since we were burgled. There is more I’ve written, but don’t want to share yet. There are still many things being finalised with insurance companies and a court case pending and I don’t want to adversely impact them in anyway. But what I can tell you is that the last two weeks have been very unpleasant.

Saturday - 20th July 2013
It was to be a big weekend in a small way. Emma, my wife, was due to leave for Cork on Sunday, and for the first time since the birth of our littlest lad, spend some quality time away from the family. Herself and her sister where heading down for a couple of days of cooking lessons. While Emma was looking forward to it, I knew she was also worried anxious about leaving the two baby boys behind for the first time. So this week we had a family treat planned.

Saturday morning and the plan was simple. Rise early, well - the boys wake super early, so get up with them. Grab breakfast, make a picnic lunch, and then pack us all in the car and hit the zoo before the summer crowds do. Then on the return leg, stop at the airport and collect my mother who was flying in to stay with me and the boys while Emma was away. With the lovely weather we've been having we knew the crowds at the zoo were going to be big, but we thought our plan was fool proof. That was until Emma noticed it.

Emma: "Chris, why is the front door open?"
Me: "I don't know."

Emma walked out of the house; my car was parked outside the front door. Emma walked around the back of the house to check the parking bay, where her car, the car we were taking to the zoo was located.

Emma: "My car's gone!"

It's a single moment of disbelief which hit at first. Followed by millions of synapses firing; the formation of a mini battle plan. We've got to call the Garda (Irish Police), Insurance companies, locksmiths, what was in Emma's car?

Emma’s car contained a lot of stuff at the time; we had child seats for the two boys, their buggy, toys, blankets, and other necessary bits and bobs. Anyone with kids will know how essential each of these items are, and also how expensive some of them can be. Buying a buggy alone can be not far off the price of a second hand car. Also inside the car was the blanket in which our youngest boy was wrapped when we brought him home from hospital. That simply cannot be replaced.

We’ve been busy working with the police, insurance companies, credit card companies, and even some on line stores trying to clear up after this. It’s been very stressful. But I do have to say that our neighbours and friends have been fantastic. We’ve had offers of help from all around - they’ve all made a huge difference and have been really appreciated. We’ve also got to know our neighbours so much better than we had before. I’ve found myself waving at neighbours I didn’t even know we had until after the burglary.

After speaking to our own insurance companies I’d advise anyone reading this to check, and then double check their policy to ensure that they know what is covered and what isn’t. However stressful the unscheduled loss and the resulting spending have been, it’s nothing compared to knowing that someone was in your house. I do feel lucky that we didn’t meet these people mid-burglary, who knows that their intentions would have been. But it’s knowing that some stranger was in our house going through our things, so close to my family and our children which is the most scary, and now that time has passed both frustrating and, it’s hard to explain, but also an anger causing thought. I find myself checking then double checking everything from locks on doors to windows. I’ve even caught myself staying awake listening to the house, jumping at the smallest sounds, and getting up in the middle of the night to check on the remaining car. Then there have been all the nights when I’ve replayed that night in my head and gone through the “what-ifs” - All in all we’ve both been pretty tired and, it’s fair to say a little on edge.

Garda (Irish Police)
The Garda have been great, providing us with insights and talking me through the basics, when I call them with silly questions, or important new information – which is neither important, nor new.

The latest news is that the Garda caught some people driving Emma’s car a couple of days after the burglary. I understand that the arrest was somewhat dramatic. However Emma’s car was not in good shape and is uneconomical to repair. Little to nothing of monetary value was recovered from the car; however we did get back the blanket.

We are not back to normal yet, but we are getting there.

Random Thoughts on the First Experience of Silicon Valley

Driving down the street passing by offices for most of the major players in my industry as just surreal: eBay, Intel, NVidia, BroadCom.. even some new comers, Evernote.

I've heard Peter Day (BBC World Service Business podcast) talk about how important Silicon Valley is - but when you see these names and how close they are it really brings it home.

Knowing that staff from these companies socialise together and the mixing of ideas, insights, and concepts that come from that - well it is easy to understand why there are so many startups in this area.

But does that mean that the same success can't be had else where ? Well no. But you can understand the advantages of being here, or at least visiting here would bring.

That doesn't mean of course that all the ideas that come out of here are going to be great - I in particular think that google glasses concept is just nuts. If glasses were such a good idea, we wouldn't have contact lenses, and hose people who didn't need glasses would all be buying empty frames... But hey ho...

It is now time to head home. Honestly, it's been educational and fun, but now it's time to head back home and I'm looking forward to that too. I'm even looking forward to my long, and delayed JetBlue flight to JFK ... once I get there I'm hoping to get some sleep or an hour or two before meeting my family and heading back to Dublin. It's been two weeks without them - and I've really felt it. To most people the idea of a 7 hour flight with two babies, while tired yourself, wouldn't seem like a good idea - but right now, it sounds like great craic!

But I do have to share my last bit of California wonder - I'm sitting here, in a bar, typing this on an iPhone via a bluetooth keyboard, while listening to music from my iPhone on some bluetooth headphones, and I'm bopping away in my seat - yet as I look up, i'm not drawing a single glance - which is impressive, given my big hair. Maybe there just a new definition of geek here in birth place of it all ?