Ian Giblin - a life?

This page began as a C.V. but it was really boring, so I added some pictures and jokes and stuff, mostly for my own benefit, and it has turned into a sort of journal. It cheers me up sometimes to read stuff like this and be reminded how lucky I have been. Other times it makes me sick, and I just want to punch myself in the face... So, here you are, decide for yourself.

1969-1980: Not an awful lot happened.

After being born in March 1969 and growing up left-handed, not an awful lot happened for quite some time.

In this picture to the right here I am trying to look thoughtful - an expression I certainly learned from my Father at an early age, and one which I still use regularly in business meetings, at conferences, or when talking to animals. I happened to be born on the same day that a newspaper in our town first came out, so I was in the paper aged 1 and 3. This was undoubtedly the most 'thoughtful-looking' period in my life.

My Parents were very kind to me and I have little to report prior to about 1980. I vaguely remember long periods of good behaviour punctuated with the most terrible crimes. I don't recall having any strong opinions on anything much beyond Lego. One of my Grandfathers introduced me to the joy of feeding peanuts to squirrels, something I have always loved to do. You don't believe me? Look here (that is a real squirrel, and don't worry, I gave him the peanut).

I think I lost my marbles several times at primary school, but it didn't matter because it was far more fun to make paper aeroplanes and launch them onto the roof with 'lacky bands.

Due to an unfortunate misunderstanding between my Parents and the local zoo, I was raised as a potto and fed only berries and grubs until the age of three.

excitement in Sevenoaks

In case there is any doubt as to just how exciting life can be in Sevenoaks, Kent, here is a perfectly typical press cutting from the Sevenoaks Chronicle. I don't think people in Sevenoaks really say things like "the blaze were soon under control". I must thank my Dad for saving this for me, ever keen to keep me up to date on current affairs...
1980-1987: Aged about 12 to about 18, I attended Sevenoaks School in Kent, England.

A private school of the type which the British call a public school, or perhaps independent. Sevenoaks is far less offensive than many private schools, in fact having numerous good points to its credit, not least that it is strongly international and now co-educational. The majority of the pupils I shared the school with were somewhat nasty, and my recollections are of an over-confident snobbish elitism waiting to blossom into a full-blown Old Boys Club. This made me resent much of the membership and exclusion which comes with privilege (although I have since realised that life generally is like that, not just school). The teachers were generally excellent and almost by accident I received an education.

I imagine these independent schools are taking something of a beating (much like the one the boarders gave each other after lights out) under the New Labour Government in The New Britain or whatever it's called now. Much as I object to beatings per se, this might be a good thing. Of course, it's been a long time now since I was there and things have probably changed a bit.

One of the best things about Sevenoaks School was that we got to be in the cadets, which I enjoyed, and the school had its own small rifle range where we could shoot .22 calibre rifles. After a few years I got more involved with shooting and, as a result of also being in the cadets, I got to fire bigger weapons like the Bren, which is a famous British Light Machine Gun (LMG) with a curved magazine which sits on top of the mechanism. There's nothing "fun" or "cool " about war or killing people but, I mean, really, machine guns are cool. They're great fun to fire. I was captain of the shooting team for two years and our coach, Mr. Cunningham, did a brilliant job of teaching us to shoot well, ferrying us around and putting up with our idiotic behaviour, as well as being an outstanding shot himself. It was another lucky coincidence for me that I hated almost all sports, but I got out of most of the really nasty stuff like rugby because we did so much shooting. The "Master i/c Sports" thought shooting was for sissies, but we though he was a sissy. So there.

Postscript: I was very sorry to learn that Charles Cunningham was murdered while travelling in Indonesia. His body was found on March 28 2002.

1987-1990: Undergraduate at Sussex University, Brighton, England.

For those of us lucky enough to go to university, choosing which one was a Big Deal involving interviews, day trips all over England, possibly wearing clean clothes, and so on. So why Sussex? I can't quite remember actually. I had often travelled to Brighton to play Star Wars at 20p a game, even though it was only 10p a game in Hastings, so clearly there was something about the place. The campus at Sussex was also very nice and relatively modern. Unfortunately for us students, a hurricane - very unusual in Britain - arrived during the night a few weeks after we did. It proceeded to knock down the majority of trees on the campus, causing blackouts, general devastation and unflushable toilets (or any other water supply) for almost a week. The term freshers quickly ceased to apply. Although I was up most of that fateful night working on some Physics notes, I didn't hear a thing. A tribute to the material I suppose. I have very fond recollections of climbing about in the many fallen trees with my friends Owen and Rachel. One time we even lit a camp fire without using matches.

I have been vegetarian since 1987 although not for any political or religious reason, I just can't bear to hurt the poor lickle bunny wabbits.

My B.Sc. was Physics with Microcomputing, and this in a time when computers were already considered "a pretty neat idea". Unfortunately I spent far too much of my undergrad time playing computer games (specifically, The Bard's Tale on an Amstrad CPC), but again, almost by accident, I received a degree.

While at Sussex I developed an attachment to Acorn computers (no pun intended). The original Acorn Computers Ltd. of Cambridge (makers of the famous BBC Micro, amongst others) is unfortunately no more. Fortunately the hardware lives on, as does the excellent RISC OS operating system. I continue to use my two RiscPCs every day; they form an important part of what I see as my complete computer system, which also contains Windows platforms and number-crunching machines running Red Hat Linux. My interest in computing and mathematics resulted in my having questions answered by Joe Taylor (apparently not a believer in home pages but notable developer of DrawScript) and Gavin Wraith, who clearly thinks home pages are just marvellous. What I like most about both JAT and GCW is that they have always got the fundamentals right with full confidence that the rest will follow. They see, I think, in Acorn computers, what I see, and that is the almost lost art of computing. Not to be confused with "using a computer", which is what you're doing right now.

1990-1994: Various degrees of postgraduate-ness at Sussex.

I was lucky enough to work with two excellent academics at Sussex - first was Giuseppe Martelli, with whom I went on to study for my Ph.D., and who introduced me to planetary science. I also began hanging out with Carol Alexander, who is now a professor and Chair of Risk Management at the University of Reading ISMA Centre. Carol has a charming mis-spelling of my surname on her home page, although that hyperlink is rather complex and may not work. I worked in parallel as a research assistant for Carol and a Ph.D. student for Giuseppe. The work with Carol involved, initially, studying fractals using a computer. This developed into a study of evidence for chaos in financial markets. With Carol's looks and Carol's brains (and me programming...) we went a long way, eventually developing a system for forecasting of high frequency financial data. This system was entered in, and won, the First Non-Linear Financial Forecasting Competition. This material is described on my publications page. Carol and I continue to work together.

My Ph.D. was built around hypervelocity impact studies and the need for clever software to analyse experiments. If you're looking for my thesis, it is on my publications page. Giuseppe Martelli found that he was seriously ill some time after I started my Ph.D. with him. He continued to contribute an enormous amount, often with me discussing the work by his bedside. He died the day after my viva, which is the final face-to-face examination required for a Ph.D. in the British university system. This time by design, I received a Ph.D.

Also during this time at Sussex I was working with my Father, Roger Giblin, on comparative ballistics of shotgun pellets. We had both been enthusiastic clay target shooters for many years. This was relevant work at the time because British shooters still used lead shot in their cartridges. Although lead shot is ballistically and economically good for this purpose, it is toxic and the environmental considerations meant that it would ultimately be phased out. Finding a viable alternative to lead shot, or at the very least keeping shooters informed about the relative performance of available loads, was an interesting project. My contribution basically involved developing software for recording and analysing acoustic data on my Acorn A5000. This was ultimately adopted as a real project, with real funding, using bigger computers, by Roger and his Ph.D. student, Dave Compton.

Pisa view

View West from the Ponte di Mezzo, Pisa
1995-1997: Post-doctoral work supported by the European Space Agency, consultancy for Pennoyer in N.Y.

After finishing my Ph.D. I applied to ESA for post-doc funding and was awarded a one-year position in the Space Mechanics Group at the University of Pisa, Italy, working closely with Paolo Farinella. Paolo was not only extremely hard-working but also brilliant; these two factors combined to produce the most productive and well-rounded scientist I have ever met. My post-doc was extended to a two-year position and I really enjoyed this time in Pisa. It was a very productive time for me; I also never got bored of the walk to work. This view, which is from the Ponte di Mezzo (literally, "middle bridge", across the river Arno) looking West, captures a little of the beauty.
Paolo unfortunately died of complications related to a heart defect in early 2000. Anyone who knew Paolo Farinella might enjoy looking at the photographic tribute at the P.S.I. web site; beware though that it takes quite some time to load.

During my post-doc I authored or co-authored a number of papers which were essentially tying up loose ends from my Ph.D., and I was also involved in several new series of experiments with Don Davis and Eileen Ryan of the Planetary Science Institute, Tucson AZ, USA. This collaboration is still in place and we are working on several papers based upon these experiments. Plenty of detail is on the Impacts Pages which I maintain both here and at PSI.

This is a panoramic (90 degree) picture of Tabla. Jennifer's in there somewhere...

In September 1998 I married Jennifer Davis, who by no small coincidence happens to be Don Davis' daughter. Jennifer has worked at Tabla and Eleven Madison and is now the Pastry Chef at Blue Smoke, a new restaurant here in New York, opening mid-March.

Although I'm not really into joining things, I joined Amnesty International in 1998 because I think what some people do to other people is just horrible. I'm no turbo activist but I get involved from time to time.

favourite view

This is one of my favourite views here in New York, from Pearl Street looking North. I like it because there are so many levels there, and they all have their own charm. Too bad about the scaffolding to the left; I'll take another picture when they clear it away.
1998-2003: Pennoyer (Wall Street) and the Planetary Science Institute

After consulting for Pennoyer Capital Management for several years, I was offered a full time job here by Wayne Weddington, the boss. We then ran a hedge fund based upon a mathematical system we call WIES. This work was also with Carol Alexander, albeit usually via email and telephone. The fund's performance was excellent but our problem was convincing people to trust such a very technical system (it works on micro changes in air density). Try to take a look at the Pennoyer web site if you're interested in this, although it may be password-protected.

It has been a bit strange here since the Twin Towers were destroyed, and there's still a big gap in the sky where the buildings should be... I'll just skirt the issue if you don't mind, and say that NY is still a really neat place to live. I like the way steam comes up out of the ground sometimes. And the weather here is really to my liking; ninety percent of the time the sky is clear and blue like in the picture to the left here. In the winter it's horribly cold, and in the summer horribly hot. It's great!

I continue to work on space science and attend conferences when I can. I was delighted to be told at the Asteroids, Comets, Meteors '99 meeting that asteroid number 7728, aka 1977 AW2 would be renamed to asteroid Giblin in my honour, thanks to a recommendation from Paolo Farinella. I visit PSI from time to time. We will probably be considering another experimental campaign as soon as we can get the current paper out for publication.

2002 until we're dead, or they find someone better: The New Company

That's right! Wayne and I migrated to a new company as of April 2002. It's very hush-hush. The first rule of The New Company is: you do not talk about The New Company. The second rule of The New Company is... well, you get the idea.
Absolutely bad-ass!

The O-Man demonstrates just how much concentration is required to get a clean kill in Ghost Recon. As you can see, not only are we hardcore, but so are our sandwiches.
Since I can't talk about that, I'll talk about a few non work-related things I get up to.

Computers, Computers, Computers... I like building PCs, playing games on them and when I get the chance, visiting my friends for mini LAN parties. The first game we ever networked was Chocks Away on the Acorn Archimedes, using a serial cable. Then it was desktop PCs on my Parents' dining table, and now it's all laptops and crossover LAN cables at 100 MBit, and it takes about one minute to set up. Outstanding! One such scene is shown to the left here. This elusive player is known only by his nickname - or "handle" if you prefer - of The O-Man. The O-Man is equipped with a sporty Toshiba Satellite Pro laptop while the other laptop is a far less elegant Dell Inspiron. But we're both packing nVidia GeForce chips for the gaming and I think mine has more memory, so there. Home made bread provided by Margaret Giblin is gratefully acknowledged.

New York, Or Something Like It... Occasionally I find something around New York worth photographing. Less often, I actually have a camera with me. To see the sort of ridiculous things I like to photograph, take a look at this picture which is entitled "How will you kick the ball... If you have no feet?".

September 2004 : Goodbye The New Company

OK, well, that didn't quite work out as expected. The New Company has pretty much ceased to exist. I still can't say the name of this company, now for my sake more than theirs, but it started with a letter J and ended with... a sort of damp squelch. But let's go back a little... I initially parted ways with Pennoyer in January of 2003, but I stayed on at the J-Co., running quantitative models and deploying a few of my own, but mostly just trying to stay sane and not doing a terribly good job of it. I did meet some great people there and it was a pleasure to work with them; "Bucking" Branko, Vic the Simulator, and of course GregMaster 5000 to name but a few (names have been slightly adjusted to protect the innocent). All good people and they all left before I did. Actually that's not true, there are some good people left behind.

I parted ways with the other company at the end of August 2004. From September to November 2004 I was playing Half-Life 2 and trying to find a new parking spot for my sand buggy... No, wait, I mean trying to find a new job.

A few other highlights from this '02 to '04 period are that Jennifer's dog Ellie came out from Tucson to live with us, though sadly not for very long. Later, we got another dog called Hazel. Then we moved to New Jersey (no, don't laugh, they have trees and everything!), althugh that was mostly for Hazel's benefit. Hazel is the dog, the Dog of Dogs, she's the dog I always wanted when I was little. Not that I didn't love the other ones, or even Hopey, the second dog we have now, but Hazel's just the best dog ever. Yeah, I know, everybody thinks that about their dog/kids/cell-mate. Anyway here are some pictures of Hazel and Hopey...

Nice spot for a picnic

I had to park my buggy very carefully to get this HL2 screen shot; if you make any noise at all, the Ant-Lions will get you!
My toys!
Hazel, about 6 months
My house!
Hazel, about 1 year
My couch!
Hopey, about 2 years
Those dogs... They just play and play. And once, they ate fifteen bucks, which was just great. But they're always wonderful to come home to. Dogs certainly do rule.

Hazel likes to sit and watch squirells outside, when she's not taking up most of the couch or bed.

Hopey is more of an easy-going dog. After spending almost the first year of her life in the Bergen County Animal Shelter, Hopey is content to just keep tabs on us and practice her wagging, or to try to hypnotise people with food so that they drop it on the floor.

"But... What happened next, Uncle Ian?

Well... I'll just have to write that up another time. But I'm still writing, so you know I make it to the end...

Last partially updated: Spring 2014

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