I'm relieved that it's winter. I've just returned from Australia, where it's spring and beautiful and pointed at the southern stars. I was the second day's keynote speaker at the ever-excellent Web Directions (South) conference, and I visited Mitchell Whitelaw at the University at Canberra, and before that I was in Denver for Planningness, and before that Mark Hansen invited me to do the first statistics seminar lecture of the year at UCLA. We've just dodged a genuinely-interesting but still bullet-shaped project at Stamen and things are looking to settle into a welcome groove. I'm researching simulated annealing for map label placement and thinking about some upcoming projects and just generally glad to have organized a sort of loose sabbatical for the period starting with Thanksgiving and ending a little ways into 2011.