I'm finally getting around to posting on my short trip to Finland. Well, except for the disturbing flights back. I was there to attend a conference in Naantali. Which is just a 30 min ride from Turku. Which is just a 30 min commuter flight from Helsinki. In other words, the middle of nowhere. Although apparently the spa we were at is rated as the best in Finland. This was a conference on "Chromosome Segregation and Aneuploidy" Or in other words how cells and their DNA divide. So right up my alley. And it was actually a very nice conference. Very small - less than 150 people there. But there were a lot of good people there that do good science, so it provided an opportunity to interact with people not always afforded by the larger conferences. I also gave a talk about my work - my first talk as a postdoc - and it went pretty well, I had many positive responses and interest afterwards.
I met some nice people and made some new friends. I spent a lot of my free time hanging out with the two beautiful women you see here - Megan and Kristin. Megan's from Sydney and Kristin is in Boulder, Colorado but originally from Fort Worth, Texas. So we had somethings to talk about. Oh, and she was an A&M grad. It was nice to see an A&M grad doing well, I think that school may be up and coming, but I wouldn't send my kids there. Anyway, Kristin was all but ready to talk shit about football when I told her I was from Austin and a UT fan.
I have never been that far north before. And this happened to be during the week of the longest days of summer. So it never actually got dark at night, although the sun did set. But it was strange. The first night after dinner we went for a stroll down to the harbor and got some ice cream. As I was sitting on a bench in the sun a man stumbled over to the bench next to me, sat down, and puked all over himself. Which was extremely strange until I remembered that is was past 10pm already and that the Fins aren't exactly known for NOT drinking. On the left is a picture I took from about the same time and place.
On the third or fourth night we took a boat trip to an island for a BBQ. As we were cruising along we started joking about this tiny island we saw as if they were going to take us there. Well, it turned out they did take us there. On this tiny little island we unloaded the crowd and sat down to a nice BBQ meal. (although I have to say the meat wasn't all that impressive. And by that time I think everybody was sick of salmon since it had been served for every meal. But it was some good-ass salmon.)
I think one of the things I will remember most about Finland is the awful awful licorice there. It is everywhere. And the Fins LOVE it. I found out why it is so foul. They add AMMONIUM CHLORIDE to their licorice. Yes, you heard me.
Here is a blurb from Wikipedia on what ammonium chloride is good for:
Other uses include a feed supplement for cattle, in hair shampoo, in textile printing, in the glue that bonds plywood, as an ingredient in nutritive media for yeast, in cleaning products, and as cough medicine. Its expectorant action is caused by irritative action on the bronchial mucosa. This causes the production of excess respiratory tract fluid which presumably is easier to cough up. It is the active ingredient in many antiperspirants, usually aerosols. It is also used in an oral acid loading test to diagnose distal renal tubular acidosis.
Why WOULDN'T you add this to your candy?!? Mmmmmm-mmmmmm. Nothing like a wretchedly spicy-salty sting to kick it up a notch. We were even conned into taking a shot of a vodka flavored with this stuff. worst. drink. EVAR. Like drinking sewage. But appraently the Fins love it so much it was actually banned for a while because kids were drinking it like candy! Unbelievable.