Tag Archives: London

Some notes about J1, H1B entry visas in Amsterdam, London.

7 Jan

I feel like I’ve been to US consulates and embassies to get new entry visas a hundred times. In reality it is probably 5 times. Still too often! I’ve only lived in the US since 4.5 years, but I have had many short contracts and a new contract always means I get a new visa, and a new visa means I need a new entry visa. I was on a J1 for 3.5 years and am now on my second H1B.

In London, there is a photo booth in the embassy, so no need to spend money and time beforehand to get pictures taken. Make sure to bring money (not sure anymore if coins are needed or bills are OK). I had my appointment on a Monday morning and got an email that I could pick up my passport from a spot in central London on Thursday. The US embassy in London is quite large and you can buy something to eat and drink inside.

In Amsterdam, however, there is no photo booth, so you need to bring pictures. I brought pictures, but the background wasn’t white enough (sigh…) so I had to go and get new pictures taken. There is a place on the Roelof Hart Plein, called Foto Amsterdam (Roelof Hartstraat 4), that makes pictures for 12.50 Euros. A friendly local makes and prints pictures for US visa quickly. His shop opens at 9AM (but today, he was late and I had to wait until 9:15). Last time, I had my appointment on Monday and got my passport back by mail on Friday. This week is Christmas, I had my appointment on Tuesday the 24th of December and got my pasport back by mail on Thursday the 1st of January.

Collaborative science in the 1850s

14 Sep

I just finished reading a nice book about John Snow and London in the mid-19th century. The book tells the story of Snow’s idea that Cholera is transmitted through water (and not air). The book has a website here.

The book is from 2006, so chances are that you have already read it.

I was reading the book in the hope to learn more about diseases and epidemiology, but I think I ended up learning more about research in general. I also learned that London was a smelly place in the 1850s.
The book is full of wonderful lessons for a young researcher. For example, the book shows that

1. Research is hardly ever done by one person alone. John Snow was probably a great researcher, but he couldn’t have done his important work on Cholera without the help of statistician Farr and reverend Whitehead. Even in the 1850s, science was a collaborative enterprise.
2. It is OK if people don’t believe you. In fact, a lot of the evidence for the waterborne transmission route of Cholera came from Whitehead, who was on a mission to disprove Snow’s theory.
3. Changing opinions takes time. It took many years, lots of data and papers before people started to believe Snow’s idea, even though Snow was well known and a respected physician.

The map that figures in the title of the book didn’t reproduce well on my Kindle, so I had to look it up on Wikipedia later.

John Snow Cholera Map from Wikipedia

John Snow Cholera Map

Honestly, I find the map not very impressive. Sure, it may be important in the history of epidemiology and the history of data visualization, but I was slightly disappointed that the map wasn’t clearer. It is supposed to show that all the deaths occurred near one pump. But The locations of the pumps are not very clear at all. It also doesn’t show the surprising pockets of Cholera absence that are described in the book and that were important for Snow’s inference.

The book is highly recommended!