Family Mediterranean Cruise Day 3: Rome

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On day 3 of our cruise we stopped in Civitavecchia (Rome).

As a thank you gift to my parents, we had arranged three private minivans with bilingual guides, that picked us up in Civitavecchia and took us to Rome.

Much has been written about Rome, with so many archeological remains, and art, combined with a very lively city life and character.

We did not have much time and the group was large, including kids and a person in a wheelchair, so we started at the Spanish Steps, and went to Villa Borghese, one of Rome’s most famous parks, right above Piazza del Popolo. From Pincio’s large terrace we enjoyed a great panoramic view of the city.

Then we focused on a few highlights like Michelangelo’s “Moses” at the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli, Aventine Hill’s Knights of Malta keyhole view of St. Peter’s, a guided tour of the Colosseum, and Saint Peter’s Square.

Unfortunately, in order not to miss the ship, some of the highlights we had to see from the van, like Victor Emmanuel Monument (Il Vittoriano – Altare della Patria a.k.a. torta nuziale “the wedding cake”, or “the typewriter”), Castel Sant’Angelo, Fontana di Trevi (closed for repairs) or Piazza Navona.

Family Mediterranean Cruise Day 1: Marseille

This summer, for my mother’s birthday, my father invited the whole family (on both sides of the Atlantic) to a 7 night Mediterranean cruise from July 10 to July 17 onboard the MSC Musica. Thank you dad!

Cruise stops

We boarded in Valencia (Spain), and stopped in Marseille (France), Genoa, Rome, and Palermo (Italy), La Goulette (Tunisia), and Palma de Mallorca (Spain), before returning back to Valencia.

Although the ship is a mass market one (you could tell looking at the food, entertainment, and passengers), it was quite nice.

Day 1 we visited Marseille.

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After a short stroll though the port area, its market, and downtown Marseille, we had lunch at Le Relais 50, a very nice traditional Michelin-starred restaurant with great views of the port. We, of course, had a delicious bouillabaisse, and fish. To top it off, we had what it has become my favorite ice-cream at Amorino (I just found out we also have an Amorino a few blocks from my apartment in New York, yeah!).

At night we had a gala dinner on board, and enjoyed the dance and acrobatics show before going to sleep.

My Lego cable management solution

After a month traveling throughout Europe (posts and pictures soon), I returned to New York and I needed to catch up with work. In order to be more productive I had to tackle the “cable jungle” challenge. Quick and easy (and cool) solution? LEGO!

Just attach some velcro to the back of a Lego 2×8, attach it to the edge of your desk, get some of your favorite figures, have them “hold their arms up”, and let them hold the USB and charger cables for you :-)


Innomedyx, one of the companies I co-founded, establishes the Clinical Innovation Center at the Polytechnic University of Valencia

Innomedyx (Twitter, LinkedIn, FaceBook), a company I’m a co-founder of, has established the Clinical Innovation Center at the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain), the best BioTechnology University in Spain according to Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

Rosa signing

photo © UPV

The Dean of the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), Francisco Mora, and the general director of Innomedyx Knowledge in Action, Rosa Valenzuela, signed a partnership agreement that formalizes the chair of Clinical Innovation company on July 1st.

This initiative, which will have an initial duration of two years, will drive the study in the biomedical field for clinical application in genomics and personalized medicine. It will also assist in the design and delivery of continuing education programs, organize seminars for technological dissemination and cooperate in research projects. Eventually it will also provide predoctoral and postdoctoral fellowships, final thesis project awards, seminars and workshops for students.

The Clinical Innovation Center will be part of the Molecular Recognition and Technological Development Center (IDM), a joint unit between the UPV and the University of Valencia whose director is Professor, Department of Chemistry and head of the IDM, Ramon Martinez.

Great job, Rosa!


More details: La Vanguardia, ABCEl Periodic, InformaValencia, UPVNews

From VIP breakfast to party to another party… in a day

Wednesday was a long day.

First I was invited to a VIP breakfast executive briefing and presentation by IBM at 7:45am. The event, in which IBM showcased their Watson technology and three partner companies talked about how they are leveraging NLP capabilities, lasted until 12:30pm, but I stayed for an extra hour for a meeting with an IBM executive.

Then I headed back to the office for 3 conference calls. By 7:00pm I was ready to go to the Social Radar startup launch party Stephanie and I had been invited to. Since it was at Milk Studios in Chelsea, a few blocks from our apartment, we decided to walk although it was raining.

I am sure it was a great party, with all the expected “features” like a DJ, food from Momofuku Milk BarLuke’s Lobster and OddFellows, live painting by No Kings Collective, print-making, a photo booth… but upon arrival, there were two lines, the “regular” line and the “VIP” line. I understand not everybody can get in at the same time, particularly since 1500 people RSVP (which means less than 500 would show up, but still, a lot of people), but really?, so many VIPs that a second line was needed?

It might be NY’s concept of cool and fabulous and glamorous, but I was not up to waiting in line. So we headed to another party we were invited to: The New Museum’s Annual White Party for Members.

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Now, that’s what I call a cool summer fête. The vibe and people attending the party were even cooler than previous editions. More people wearing white, as the theme of the party suggested (attire: white & bling), and more people with artsy outfits, yet no stuffiness and high brows. It was all fun, music, great cocktails, private viewing of the exhibits (Roberto CuoghiCamille Henrot, & Ragnar Kjartansson), DJ sets by Heavenly Beat & TEEN, and even a limited edition print by Quentin Jones. But of course, as always, the best was sharing the awesome views from the Sky Room with my beloved wife.

I could have stayed there all night. Too bad we had to eventually go back home, but a conference call with Singapore, an interview with an analyst in India, and a sales webinar with Colombia meant having to get up really early next morning and having to face another long day. I guess it can’t all be party and fun… yet ;)

VIP pass for Basel art show and Amos Lee concert in Brooklyn

VIP Pass

A friend got me a VIP pass for the 2014 Scope Basel Art Show (thank you, Jorge!). I had it all planned out: since I had a meeting in Stuttgart the day before, I could drive to nearby Basel, attend the VIP opening, and then fly back to New York. But the Stuttgart meeting was cancelled, so I changed my plane ticket, and returned to New York in time to go to the Amos Lee concert in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with my wife.

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Life’s pleasures should always be shared, and there is no shortage of them.

Madrid, London, and Valencia

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After a weekend in Valencia, last Monday I went to Madrid. Awesome high speed train from Valencia in the morning, business presentation, and a delicious Japanese lunch at Kabuki with my friends Juan and Alvaro. So good was the lunch and company that I almost missed my flight. It did not help that I went to Terminal 4 as usual, when my flight to London departed from Terminal 1, and in the Adolfo Suarez Madrid Barajas airport, it takes a long time to go from terminal to terminal.

I arrived in London Monday night.

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Tuesday morning I had a meeting in front of the House of Parliament, where my business partners mentioned some interesting facts:

  • London has seen an increase of 12 million visitors after the Olympics
  • To prohibitively expensive cabs now you have to add the new cost of city driving zones
  • Product needs to be “localized” because the USA and the UK are “separated by a common language”
  • IBM London (South Bank) cafeteria has some good options but… you can’t pay cash or credit, “LOCAL employees only”

After my second meeting, I went to Gatwick airport, where the flight info screen system goes from “Please wait” straight to “Gate closed” when flight is delayed over half an hour, sending annoyed passengers into a frenzy. I am starting to hate airports without wifi but at least they have a great express train service and they don’t hide electric plugs inside a locked metal box, like they do in Valencia.

I flew back to Valencia for the night, and the next day I flew back to NY via Frankfurt.

My first IBM European Cloud Advisory Board meeting

Last Thursday I arrived in Nice just in time to catch a very nice and expensive taxi (al least they are almost all brand new and very clean Mercedes Benz cars) that took me to the IBM Client Center in nearby La Gaude for my first IBM European Cloud Advisory Board meeting.

It was an interesting meeting, attended by 15 business executives, investors and analysts. Not only they were all very smart, but I was brain dead after the long red-eye flight. Even considering that, I did make my little contribution.

After the meeting and some technical workshops, we all went back to our hotel in Nice. Everybody else was staying at the Holiday Inn, but since I did not confirm until the last minute, I “had to” stay at the lovely Le Grimaldi hotel. A real treat!

After a quick shower, email check, and changing clothes, we all went to have dinner at Restaurant Clarion, on the 12th floor of the Aston Hotel, with great views over avenue Félix Faure. The night before they had dinner at La Terrasse, rooftop restaurant at the Méridien hotel, right on the Promenade des Anglais, as I was flying over the Atlantic.

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I had the pleasure of sitting with Alessandro La Volpe, IBM Director of Ecosystem Development Europe. In front of us, of course, a big screen projector with the soccer match. Don’t ask me who was playing, apparently I was the only one who could care less. I was more interested in the full moon over the bell tower outside the terrace, which of course no phone camera is capable of capturing well enough.

At the IBM Federal Summit, Washington DC

Last Wednesday I participated in IBM’s Federal Summit at the Ronald Reagan Federal Building in Washington DC.

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Business aside, it was one scary meeting. There were control systems all over. From the IRS to airports, to National Security, the demos were much more advanced and comprehensive than anything you may have seen in a movie. Big Brother to the Nth degree. They know it all about you. In a second. You either get paranoid-serious about security, encryption and privacy, or you might as well forget completely about your privacy. If you choose the latter, at least demand that those who rule (and it should be “we, the people”) expose all their info too, and that we have access to all and any of their and our info. Watch the watchers.

At least I enjoyed for a fleeting second when I saw the surprised face of retired General Keith Alexander, Former Commander, US Cyber Command and Former Director NSA, Chief Central Security Service when, on his way to his keynote speech, preceded by two attractive young female assistants, and one burly bodyguard, saw the “hacker” and “come back with a warrant – EFF” stickers on my laptop and tattoos on my right arm. No time to chat, but I’m sure he can have me checked out online if he wants to ;-)

The event also helped me experiment something that I knew about but had not experienced before, or if I have, I have already forgotten about it: the despicable interaction behavior modification based on perceived status derived from external symbols. Allow me to explain: the event was composed of talks-speeches (separated into 5 tracks), food, and “stands” with signs and screens displaying a host of different solutions IBM and partners, like my company, offer the US government.

Most partner companies had an executive dressed in a suit, “working the floor”, and an assistant “manning the booth”. To make the distinction crystal clear, the organizers have bright blue t-shirts to assistants. Since I was the only one attending from my company, I was given a t-shirt, and I thought it was a playful display of good spirit to wear it over my dress shirt, so I put it on. The second I put on that t-shirt the attitude towards me of those around changed completely! Mainly from “business partners”, “event organizers”, and “government officials”, but strangely not from IBMers for the most part (I guess they receive training on avoiding this).

All of a sudden I was addressed to quite unpolitely, given constant orders and directions, often repetitively as if I could no understand at first, and requested to move, get out of the way, or even simply ignored. Amazing! The same people that minutes before were networking and chatting with me, cracking jokes and trying to do business, now turned into complete *holes (without the glass*).

It was a real enlightening experience. Not that I did not know before that power structures and hierarchies were detrimental and damaging to equalitarian, fair and “decent” human relations, but boy did I get a first row seat this time! So, remember, no matter what you are wearing, who you are, or what the acronym on your title or position spells, you work WITH people. People do not work FOR you. Let’s get rid of the self-entitlement, self-righteous, dominating, and abusing attitude and behavior concentration of power seems to lead to. Open your eyes, look beyond the tie, the apron, the make up, the business card, and remember: what you have in front of you is a real person, not a “function” or an “asset”. And if you think you are doing your corporation, your stockholders, or your pocket a favor by believing there are “inferiors” and treating them like dirt, you could not be more wrong. Get your head out of your butt, and change before it is too late. Because that kind of attitude should not go unpunished.

Another lesson I learned in this trip is the importance of not having checked-in luggage:

I was recently named member of the IBM European Cloud Advisory Board, and the first meeting was to be held the next day in Nice (France), in the morning. In order to make it I had to change flights at the very last minute. My wonderful travel agent was super fast and expedient, changing my tickets as the check-in was being announced closed in front of me. I looked for the supervisor, explained that I had an eTicket confirmation and no baggage to check-in and, presto, I was allowed to board, making it on time to my meeting after a nasty flight.

Note to myself: do not fly 7 hours with torn ankle ligaments unless you fly flat-bed first class with an ice pack on it.