Sunday, December 30, 2007

Summing up Tex-Mex in Germany in one picture.

This is a screenshot from a German website selling American foods. This was the only entry under the category "Tex-Mex". The heading says "Tex-Mex - for the exceptional spiciness"

Friday, December 28, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Adding to blogroll:

Jon Swift.
I like to keep my blogroll there short, so maybe people will actually check out those blogs.
here is a new addition. This one really is consistently a good read, as are the handful there under "Places I frequent". Check it out.

Friday, December 14, 2007

How we do it in Dresden.

You just have to read for yourself.

One liter. No word on if he is a Dynamo fan.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Favorite songs of the moment

The National - Fake Empire

Thanks to Eric

John Mayer - I don't Trust Myself (With Loving You)

Thanks to Maria
Guns guns guns

It seems like every day now there is news of another multiple victim shooting in the US.
Everybody's seen the stats: in the US there's an average of nearly 100 gun-related deaths per day.
If only we had looser gun control laws, and there were more people around with guns, these shootings would happen less because these clearly stable people would be afraid of dying at the hand of, wait, well,the _shooters_ would be, er dead, uh, maybe after they shot everybody?? and only few more dead from all the stray bullets in the shootout.
Anyway, point is: guns don't kill people. Bad people kill people.
And the security guard at latest church shooting tells us that she prayed to God to guide her bullet and kill the man she killed as she was shooting. As long as God is getting involved, why not pray that your bullet disables the man without killing him, or that his bullets bounce off everybody when he shoots.

Dec 9

Dec 10,1,3089749.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-california

Dec 11

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I opened up my microwave to heat something up and found this inside:

And I nearly puked. This had been in there so long I couldn't tell what it once was or even remember what it might have been. It's not like me to heat up something and then forget about it. And then to subsequently not use my microwave for a few weeks. But there it was.
This bowl is still sitting out on my back porch - I'm kind of afraid to touch and and am hoping the birds and wind and rain will take it all away. I gave the whole microwave a good scrub down for good measure but it still makes me a little queasy to put things in there after that was festering there.
It's funny, cause I do remember thinking once I short one bowl, but couldn't figure out where it may have gone to.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Probably the best holiday. period. Thankfully even over here in Germany we manage to assemble a number of expats to get together and do it right. This year it was 7 Americans, an Irishman, a Japanese woman, and 2 German women. The gathering was held in Nate's place, 2 floors above mine, and my place was used as a staging area to cook the second turkey and the pies. Amazingly, it seemed like we split up the traditional foods cooking duties and everybody ended up with something they were good at. We had the traditional stuff: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, some sweet potatoes, broccoli casserole, pumpkin pie. There was however no green bean casserole. I'm going to chalk this up to an inability to find condensed cream of mushroom soup here. Somebody tried it last year with something else, and it just didn't have the right consistency. I even made a pumpkin pie from scratch. Which I guess just means I put a pumpkin in the oven for a while and then scooped it out and pureed it instead of the canned stuff. Anyway, everything turned out great, and with 2 turkeys for 11 people there was plenty of turkey left over to go around for sandwiches.

Chaos in the kitchen

Monday, December 03, 2007

Tancredo...Before it's too late.

I wasn't sure I got the message until the explosion at the end. powerful stuff. powerful stuff.

I mean, if you're upset about those Mexicans coming to take our jobs, then you will be really upset about those Muslims and their exploding backpacks.

The saddest thing of all this is that somebody must have calculated that this ad would attract more people to this guy than repulse. ahhh, the American midwest......

Saturday, December 01, 2007


Well, it' s a month past, but I figured I'd post a few pics from Halloween. Every year since I've been in Dresden we've put on a Halloween party. And it's always been a success. Halloween is sort just recently creeping into Germany in a purely commercial way, so it's not really a big thing in general. Especially the idea of a Halloween costume party. I always try to convince people to think outside the box with their Halloween costumes here because the ideas that of course are in the heads of Germans and Europeans is the traditional Halloween costume: spooky and scary, like Frankenstein, ghosts, vampires, etc. On the other hand, most people who do put together a costume really get into it - which makes the party so much more fun.
Here are some pics.
And if you see your picture here, then you're probably one of the people in Dresden that have found my blog but haven't told me, so if you want it to be removed you'll have to come clean ;)

The crew that organized the whole thing

Forbidden tree and snake

A giant squirrel drops her nuts.

lab members letting loose. too loose. yikes.

This is Gary and Jeff. pretty good.

Dresden vs. Genital Herpes

Today as I glanced at the standings and games for Dresden's top soccer club, "Dynamo Dresden", I noticed they are scheduled to play Hamburger Sport Verein II, or, as shown in the standings on the left, HSV II

Following Dresden soccer is actually quite sad, they are in the 3rd German league and hoping to stay there. I can't get into soccer unless I have a team with a reason to root for, and Dresden is just not good enough. They don't even get on TV. When I got here they were 2nd league, which was reasonable. But now. eh. I can follow the game live online. Hopefully they will pull it out against Herpes Simplex Virus II.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ihr seid alle arme warme Würstchen! Bitches.

Saw this sticker on a sign one day

Other than it making me laugh, does somebody wanna help me with this?
"You are all poor warm sausages?"

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I don't know why I haven't thought of this before. I mean, we all think it when we see these little notes....

More fun at

Monday, November 12, 2007

Winter is here

Check out the forecast. Basically now Dresden will look like this for the next 16-20 weeks. No warmer. no colder. none sunnier. It challenges my motivation to ride my bike into work. It's really quite annoying.

Oh, and the days become way too short. Now's the time when I can leave home in darkness and get home in darkness.

For North American readers:
quick, guess what city has an equivalent latitude to Dresden, Germany (About 2 hours south of Berlin):

Washington DC

Answer: none of the above. Go north from NYC to Montreal, then go THAT DISTANCE north AGAIN. And you're in Dresden territory.
The sun sets around 4pm.

Boston is on latitude with central Spain. Paris and London hit up in Canada. weird, huh?
North Carolina meets up with Africa.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Robot Dance

I have to go to Youtube and watch this like once every couple of months. It's just ridiculous.

And here's the same guy a few years later. Maybe he's lost something as he gets older, but this thing were he comes up slowly from falling down is UNREAL. you will have to watch it again.

Friday, November 02, 2007

More pretty science pictures.

or what I've been staring at on my computer trying to make figures.

A dividing human cell. The DNA (blue) is pulled apart by fibers (green) that attach to the chromosomes at a specific place (red)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I can't stop listening to this song. It's like my rally song now.
Even though I have no idea what the lyrics are saying. It just jams so hard. I could listen to the first minute over and over.

Montreal -40C

Oh yeah, I did mean to give credit where it's due. Eric first told me about this band/song when we were having a little sitdown music sharing session. And Abi delivered me the album along with some other cool stuff. And my Quebecois friend Laurence confirmed that these guys are in fact "awesome".

Monday, October 22, 2007

No time for blogging

Not that it takes all that long, but I guess I'm just not feeling creative enough, or I'm just too exhausted when I get home to deal with it. Been so busy lately, trying to make a final push with experiments and writing to get a paper out. It's going incredibly slow, even though I'm busting ass. Add to that I have a new student I'm responsible for and I've been totally neglecting her because I'm so busy. And then for some reason I decided to start a new German course that meets Monday through Thursday from 5pm-7:30pm. So I gotta leave work at like 4:45. Which means I'll have to start getting in before 8 to get ANYTHING done and probably will come back after class some days. And I'm also helping organize this big annual halloween party. And I also gotta deal with the stress of figuring out a halloween costume - and they don't exactly have the big costume shops here. And and and.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

More Beauty in Science

These are some of my favorite movies.
The Drosophila (fruit fly) embryo syncytial divisions. This is an embryo from a line expressing a green flourescent protein attached to the tubulin protein - so you can see microtubules and mitoses.
Here's a couple stills of an early developing embryo

And then the movies....
They are all perfectly synchronized and are mesmerizing.

Taken from here. (with a higher quality video & lots more info)

And another example with a different protein labeled:

Taken from here.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Okay, I've been lazy about posting. So here is a dragged-out boring story. A while back I bought a Kit Kat Chunky Peanut Butter bar from the institute vending machine and to my surprise it was just a solid chocolate chunk. A week later I bought the same thing and the same thing happened again.

Check that out. just not right.

I called Nestle about the unfortunate situation only to be repeatedly directed to an answering machine that hung up on me. But even amidst the growing teasing of my work colleagues over the issue I was determined not to give up.
I wrote an email to Nestle complaining that I had twice given them my money to be given a big boring hunk of chocolate when my tastebuds were already waiting for peanut butter and crunchy goodness. I got an email back that said they were sorry, but they needed more info like the packaging writing. So I provided it. And then got a letter in the real mail apologizing.
But today I got a box, a BOX from Nestle. Filled with chocolatey booty ( but strangely no Kit Kat Chunky Peanut Butter). Anyway, who's clowning who about complaining about candy bars NOW? Maybe I'll give them the crappy Smarties....

Saturday, October 06, 2007

German Pop Music Charts

A mystery to me. I give you three examples. All three rocketed up the charts when they came out. All three are nothing any sane person would want to listen to more than once.

Grup Tekkan - Wo Bist Du Mein Sonnenlicht?
Number 12 in German Charts (April 2006)
These guys were serious when they made this, but it was so bad it was funny, and got some airplay, and then of course once it made it onto MTV all the kids got mixed up between what is bad and what is funny and what MTV tells them to like and then it just started going up the charts and this video was regularly played. Watching once is painful yet comic. But this thing was #12 in Germany.

Crazy Frog - Axel F
Number 3 in German charts, Number 1 in Europe charts (May 2005)
I think this frog got its start in ringtone commercials. And I guess people liked it so much that somebody just made it into a song. Well, just made the frog sing Axel F. And then a video. And BAM! Number 3 in Germany. WTF? I mean, WTF?

Schnappi, das Kleine Krokodil
Number 1 in German charts (Jan 2005)
Unquestionably the most creative of the three. but this is the intro to a children's cartoon. And it went to NUMBER ONE on the German pop charts. With the video regularly on MTV.
Another prime example of MTV telling people what they want to hear. And the masses listening. "hey, wait, this is actually pretty catchy! It's fun because it's for kids! I want to hear this more! it's cool!"

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Free Burma

Free Burma!

(click on graphic)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Rude Pundit sizes up Blackwater perfectly in two sentences.

Just imagine: you tell some alcoholic pistol-fellating badass wannabes that they'll get paid a thou a day to drive around Baghdad in Hummers with submachine guns and not only do they not have to follow military code, they can't even be prosecuted for "misfires." Why, they might go batshit crazy with power.

The full post is here.

Update: Indeed.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Dress like a Scientist Day

Today was "Dress Like a Scientist Day" here in the MPI-CBG. Also known as as genetic engineering inspection by the Saxon Ministry of Environment and Agriculture. We've been getting reminders and warnings for over a week now that today inspectors will be in the building to check that we are meeting safety regulations. So we've had a week to prepare - which means removing coke bottles from lab desks, taking empty beer cases out of cold rooms, buying lab coats so that we can actually wear them while the inspectors are here, closing and locking doors to "Gentechnik Arbeitsbereich S2" rooms that have been open since, well, the last inspection. The fun part is everybody is walking around all day in sterile white full-length lab coats and you feel like you are in the movies. It lasts a whole day. At about 6pm people started opening doors back up, bringing their snacks back to their desks, and removing their labcoats and hanging them back on their hooks, where they will sit until the next inspection (complete with one-week warning) comes around. That we are are told about these inspections in advance of course renders them pointless, and the fact that we ARE told about them must mean that the inspecting agency knows that the regulations are in fact a bit of overkill, and it's all just a big song and dance for the people who don't know how science is done to feel good about health safety and etcetera.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Overweight = Uneducated?

A while ago I saw this study by the CDC that said that 2/3 of US adults are overweight, and then broke it down by state with this map:

My first thought was to see how this map would overlap with a red-blue map of the electoral voting from the last presidential election:

As you can see, there isn't really a significant overlap, as most of the western US outside of the coast is very red politically, but doing relatively well on the overweight front.
So I went looking for other colored US statistical maps and found one, breaking down by county, the percentage of the population with "less than 9 years of education". It from here, and appears to include at least 1st grade as a "year of education", so basically people who didn't complete even one year of highschool
I've put it next to the first map for comparison (click to enlarge).

Now this was a striking correlation. To be politically incorrect, the swath of fatties ranging from Texas across the gulf states into Appalachia lines up nicely with the dummies.
(Of course years of education doesn't necessarily = intelligence)
If were a real blogger, I would try to come up with some insights into the correlation between lack of education and high percentage of overweight population.
But I'll just stick to the pretty pictures and short-attention-span posts.

One thing that's notable above is that while voting predominantly Republican, the residents of the Rocky Mountain states and western plains are relatively educated and not overweight. go figure. :)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Interesting Product Names

Saw these "Krack Nuggets" in Bahnhof Neustadt. Eric bought a bag for the ride up to Berlin. They were pretty good. I don't know if they were "max", but for 50 cents pretty good.

A while ago I saw the "tramp" bar in my local grocery store. Part of the family pack.
Comes with "Milk Flip", "Beach Cola", and "Buggy". MMMmmmmm-mmmmm. "Something for everyone!"

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Back to Work

Eric left this morning. Time to get back to the grind. I basically took off a week while he was here, but man, it was totally worth it. That was a blast. We running around meeting people and doing all kinds of stuff but it was never stressful. More on Eric's visit later. Like perhaps when I get all the pictures. Here's one:

Going to work today was not a blast. It felt like everybody else in the world was either too cool or too lazy or too rebellious or too good to actually do anything for themselves and I spend a large part of the day dealing with stuff nobody else would. I really need to buckle down and get stuff done over the next month.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Eric Franklin in the house

Tomorrow this fellow will be in DD for a week.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Radebeul Wine trip

In my tradition of posting about things weeks after they happened - here's a few pics from our little bike trip over to Radebeul where all the little vineyards opened up their doors so you could cruise through and drink their wines and eat their food. Just about 10-12km up the Elbe and then in towards the hills from Dresden is Radebeul where several small vineyards are. So me Nate, Zoltan and Ellie biked out there - and then happened to meet up with Abi and company.

This is the route mapped out - 28km (17mi) total

Mmmmmm....Summer Wine and Flammkuchen.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Diving with some sharks

One of the fun dives advertised on our dive trip was a "shark feeding". Which seemed exciting to me since I had only seen like one shark in my life before. The idea was that a big group of divers would go down and watch sharks come and eat some fish put out to attract them. The prospect didn't seem too scary, since it wasn't like we were expecting great whites or something. Just some average sharks that hang out around these reefs. It got more exciting when prior to THAT one dive, like minutes before getting in the water, the crew came around with an extra release form, in addition to all the stuff we had to sign getting on the boat. This one basically said diving with sharks was dangerous, and although the divemaster assured us nobody had ever been hurt when doing this, there was nevertheless a risk of injury or DEATH (haha he said in a comical way so everybody laughed.)
So basically the setup was the entire boat goes down and sits on some rocky coral area shaped like an ampitheater. In retrospect, I probably should have picked out my seat more carefully in case I woulda plunked my butt down on a deadly poisonous scorpionfish. Then a big steel can filled with giant fish heads is lowered down and on a cue, a divemaster releases the fish heads, which float up on a rope and then the sharks are come over and go crazy eating it. I got down there first so I could get the closest seat to the action to try to get some good pics.
After the feeding was over, two morays popped up right where all the stuff was going on, probably thinking "what the HELL is going on?!" On the way back from the dive apparently a remora got confused in all the commotion and decided to hitch a ride with me instead of a shark (see pic by my buddy.)
After I got back home I was looking for pictures from others of this shark feeding on the web and googled "MIke Ball Spoilsport " (the boat name) and "shark feeding". And got THIS link. Skip past the part about the woman who died while diving on the same boat to the part at the end about the Spoilsport instructor who "suffered severe injuries in a shark feeding incident." Guess feeding shark isn't that much of a laughing matter after all.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I like brown.

I noticed this one day I had quite a bit of brown on me. Brown shirt, brown shorts, brown flip-flops, brown bike, brown bag. This picture is several weeks old, you can tell cause I don't have the mullet, and I don't have the mini-mullet I'm currently sporting, due to an unfortunate turn of events at the hair-dresser (it's not THAT bad).

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Australia, Part 3 (finally)

I'm finally getting around to the the third and last part of my trip to Australia. After I left Melbourne I flew to Cairns, where I had a few hours to kill around town before boarding our boat that would ferry us around the reefs for the next 4 days. I've realized that as I get older I tend to be more susceptable to sea sickness, so I brought some dramamine gum and took a couple as we left that night out to the barrier reef. Turned out to be no problem, there weren't really any bad waves, and I slept fine through the journey.
The next morning we got an early wake-up call and a quick breakfast before getting in the water. I hadn't been diving in 3 years, so when the dive master told us to go ahead and hook up all our gear I was hoping I would get it right on the first try. Fortunately nobody noticed when I somehow managed to try to strap my BCD to my tank inside out, and I managed to correct it on my own.
The first dive was a site named "Cod Hole" for the giant Potato Cod that live there. I wish it wasn't our first dive because it was actually really really nice, but I was a little preoccupied with getting everything under control during my first time underwater in three years, like chilling out with the breathing and figuring out the camera situation.
I did manage to get a few shots of these giant lethargic cod that you can just swim around.
I think I did 4 dives the first day. And then it was time for our overnight journey past the barrier reefs, and WAY out to the coral sea. This is why I got on this boat, it's one of only a handful that make trips out to the coral sea, which is a significant ways further out to sea, and promised more excellent diving and the chance to see some of the bigger fish. We were warned that the overnight trip could be a bit bumpy, as we were out in open sea in our (relatively) little boat. Confident from the previous night that there would be no seasickness problems, I eschewed the foul-tasting gum and just got in my bunk.
Well it took about 5 minutes into our journey to realize this was not going to be the same as the previous night. I was in the "budget cabin" located in the bow of the boat, and when we hit these big waves I was literally getting air out of my mattress. So I quickly tried to down a couple dramamine gums, but as I did I already knew that they were not going to do the trick, and I was probably going to be upchucking them before they had a chance anyway. It was that bad. Not long after I headed to the back of the boat outside, try to get some fresh air, try to focus on the horizon, but mainly to pick out a nice place to puke into the sea where the wind wouldn't take it back into the boat. Asd it wasn't long before I was puking. Once, twice..... Three times. The horrible part was that unlike puking when you are sick on land, I did not feel any better after puking. Just as bad. A young woman came out to the deck with her husband to join in the puking. I tried to sit, to lie down, to prop myself in anyway to minimize the pain and sickness but nothing helped. I vomited again over the back. I went one deck up where it wasn't so wet and found a position lying down that minimized the pain. But then it got too cold outside so I headed back to my cabin. Was there about 3 minutes and then had to bolt to the toilet to puke again.

I could go on with the details of every minute of every hour of the night, but it was basically more of the same. Puking, adjusting, drinking water. repeat.
I was eventually reduced to a dry-heaving fetal mass on the bathroom floor. And I'm not exaggerating one bit. It was HANDS DOWN the worst night of my life. When the boat finally stopped I fell asleep and about 45 minutes came the wakeup call for the first dive. Needless to say, I passed on that one.
I did get in on the next one, and actually getting underwater is often one of the best cures for sea sickness. All of a sudden you are weightless, and there's no rocking, no turning. just peace.

Other than that one night the trip was great. I saw alot of sharks on this trip. I think I had seen one little shark before in my life. And then dozens on this trip. Not including the 'shark feeding' dive we did (I'll devote another post to that dive - lotsa pictures) The conditions were close to perfect - no harsh currents, excellent visibility. We also did a couple of night dives - these are often my favorite because of all the neat critters that come out - and also the spooky feeling of being surrounded by blackness - up - down - left -right - and a tiny light to guide you. It's like a treasure hunt, and you use your light to find fun stuff on the ocean floor.
It was strange being way out there in the coral sea. You wake up and you can't see land in any direction. just water. Then you realize you're moored on reefs that come right up to the surface and the coral even sticks out of the water at low tide.
In total I made 11 dives in 3 days - not bad. Each dive is about 30-45 minutes long and between 15 and 35 meters deep. I rented a big high-powered underwater flash to go with my digital camera and underwater case, but unfortunately it only would fire like 5-10% of the time, and I didn't have the patience to sit and take 20 pictures of each single interesting thing. I wish I did though, I really like the few nice pictures I got. We had a photo competition on the boat where everybody uploaded their best photos. I was the lucky winner, but only because it was a crowd-voting scheme and not professional judges. One guy had a real profi rig and had some NICE pictures, but somehow the people weren't feeling it. Maybe because it seemed like cheating when everybody else had their little compact digitals. See the winning picture here.
(Notice how the other expeditions' winning photos are much nicer).
The last night on the boat was cool when we were treated to an Aussie BBQ - which started of course with shrimp on the barbie. (sweet). And didn't end before we were eating grilled kangaroo. Which was actually pretty good.
And then the way back to Cairns was fun too. The boat dropped us off on this little island which is home to some elitist resort - which we were told not to go near - and also a tiny airplace landing strip. Two tiny planes cruised in, picked us up, and flew us down the coast to Cairns. But to make it interesting they took a route low and out over the barrier reefs so we could get a nice view from the air. We even saw a few humpback whales surfacing on the flight!
All in all a nice trip. I hope it's not 3 years before I'm diving again. It's SOOOO nice just to be cruising around underwater. I'm a little afraid my live-aboard days may be over though. Will have to find places where I can get a day trip from shore.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Smoking Ban in Germany

I keep getting excited about this and then confused on how it applies. As far as I understand it has been left to individual states in Germany to enact their smoking bans. And on August 1st the first 3 kicked in. I think either then or on Sept. 1st federal buildings and trains/stations have banned smoking completely. And I've been hearing that some sort of ban has gone into effect Sept 1st for Saxony. But I can't find anything to back this up on the internet, in English or German. Does anybody REALLY know what's going on with the smoking ban in Saxony?
I heard that as of now restaurants that want to maintain a smoking portion will have to have is physically separated (i.e. by doors) from a non-smoking portion. And what about bars? And other buildings? People were lighting up yesterday inside the new Dresden conference center for the European Life Sciences Meeting. Boy, that was a "yes, we are still in Germany" moment.
Can anybody fill me in? And are the bars/restaurants in Neustadt gonna actually pay attention to this?

update: Okay, I found a few articles, it looks like Sept. 1st smoking is banned in trains, stations, etc. and federal buildings. And then for Saxony a ban kicks in in 2008 that will apply to more places i.e. restaurants, but will still include some exceptions.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


This an acronym in German, short for "vorne kurz hinten lang", or "front short back long".

What I'm saying here is that I have a mullet.
It was created in honor of Jeff's entry into the World Beard and Mustache Championships last weekend, which I attended (post to follow). Jeff and Kate have been encouraging me to cut a mullet into my hair for a while now, so this was the perfect opportunity.
Lucky for me, Abi was up to the task, having a bit of hair-cutting experience on her boyfriend Chris. Which meant it was free and I didn't have to deal with explanations to a hairdresser, in German no less.

The mullet has its greatest power when coupled with a jeans jacket.
and a nasty mustache.
And now for a few pictures.