Friday, August 31, 2007

Mambo No. 5!

He's still got it! Oh, Lou Bega, what happened. Headlining the 3rd annual Feldschlößchen (affectionately known in these parts as fartschlößchen) Brauereifest in Dresden, East Germany.

(actually, turns out Lou Bega was born in Germany)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Two of the Greatest Things with Two of the Worst Names

Ultimate Frisbee and Fantasy Football

I will never get used to these names. At least in Europe the soccer version of fantasy football is called "football manager". What's worse is when people just use the first word. "Are you gonna play some Ultimate?" "Are you doing Fantasy this year?"

Come to think of it, there's probably not alot of people that enjoy both. Ultimate Frisbee players seem to me to be the kind to have an irrational hate of pro sports and watching sports. While pro football fans seem to be the type to look down on dirty hippies and people that are actually in real-life athletic and competitive.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tough week(s)

The mad dash experiments and writing is getting to me. I'm freakin out a bit and being short with people. If I haven't pissed you off in the last week, you probably haven't talked to me. I fully expect my lab to avoid me the next 2 days. The good side: Friday I'm off to Brighton for the weekend. Maybe that will bring shit back down to normal.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Waldschlößchenbrücke Demonstration Today

Today (Monday) at the Goldener Reiter. 6:30pm
It appears the subject of the day will focus on furthering the tunnel option as a 'compromise'.
More here

It looks like they are going to try to have a demonstration every Monday. This can't be a good idea. I mean, once a month may be good. But really, who is going to go every Monday for the same thing. Their numbers are just going to drop and soon it will look pathetic. And they aren't exactly getting the word out so well.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sonntag "Bachelor" Abendessen blogging

Schnitzel in Kräter-Rahm Soße

served up with a side of canned peas and carrots cause I forgot to start the rice/potatoes in time.
and some 4 euro red wine.
Australia, Part 2

I forgot to say in part 1 of my Australia trip that I unfortunately got sick. Like just a cold, but how much does that suck? I got this crappy sore throat and headache right when I was supposed to present my poster at the conference, so I wasn't feeling like really talking to people. Anyway, that was what I was focused on as I traveled to Melbourne. Actually, I was concerned about getting over it as quickly as possible so it wouldn't interfere with diving.
I found a little budget hotel in the Melbourne central business district, then headed for the closest doctor as a precaution. He said it looked like a cold but gave me a prescription for antibiotics I could fill if things got out of hand. And I stocked up on vitamins and such and then more or less spent the day in bed. The next day I got out a bit, but very low key and spent alot of time in my room. On the third day I was feeling better and Ann, a fellow HFSP fellow (ha!) I met at the meeting and an American living in Melbourne, offered for me to stay at her new rental house, which she just got the keys to, bit hadn't moved anything in to. Like, literally. So I helped her take a few things over and connect a washer and got to explore the neighborhood a bit, which was super-chill. Called Northcote, just a bit north of downtown on a hill overlooking the city. The buildings on the main road there were still kinda turn-of-the-century style packed-in, and they all had cute little places like shops and breakfast places and little stores which is what reminded my of South Congress and Brooklyn. And you could rent a two-bedroom HOUSE there on a postdoc salary. So I got to stay there for free on a inflatable mattress. That evening I was also invited by a friend of a friend of a friend (!) here in Dresden that lives in Melbourne and had a little dinner party. Again, chill neighborhood, cozy house, cool people.The next day I explored around town again. Started out down South to the beachfront area, then up to the botanical gardens, which were REALLY impressive, then kinda tooled around town some more, then met up basically with all the people I had met independently from Melbourne as a group for some yummy yummy dinner in Chinatown.
Over all, as I've said repeatedly, I was super-impressed with the city. I wish I had more time there and wasn't ill half the time. It was just four days, but from talking to people and exploring around, I could see myself living there.

Friday, August 24, 2007

This was better

In reference to the last post....this was a much better anti-Bush pre-election track. Better groove, better lyrics, better message, better intensity, better video. I actually thought this might have an impact and get people out.
World of difference. Or do you disagree?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

How Lame.

I actually like several Pink songs. Probably more than I should. But oh man. this. The only way I got through this on TV this morning was watching the German subtitles for a German lesson. Which are rare to see on a video. Suggesting MTV or whatever thought these lyrics were important to understand. GAG.

I challenge you to watch to the end. And not get goosebumps. Not the good kind. The bad kind. The "oh man, how embarrassingly cheesy" kind.

All the lyrics are terrible. Including "Dear Mr. President,
Come take a walk with me." and "
How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?"
but the best section is:

Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Minimum wage with a baby on the way
Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Rebuilding your house after the bombs took them away
Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Building a bed out of a cardboard box
Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Hard work
Hard work
You don't know nothing 'bout hard work
Hard work
Hard work

Yes, Pink knows about hard work and minimum wage, etc. Did you see when she got "punk'd" by Ashton Kutcher? Man, that was tough. Not tough like actually ever having a job out of showbiz, but tough. Here's a link:

"why would I do this when I'm a famous musician with lots of money?"
"I'm calling my lawyer"

UPDATE: I wikipedia'd this song to see if maybe Pink would say something about it to try to lessen the ridiculousness, like, oh, it's supposed to be a letter from a little girl in a bad part of Chicago or some crap. But instead I got this jem:

Pink said that the song is an open letter to the President of the United States, George W. Bush, and that it is one of the most important songs she had written. She stated that it would never be released as a single because it was too important to be perceived as a publicity stunt.[1] It was, however, released in Europe and Australia.

Ohhhhhhh just stop.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Happy Pretty Groovy Poppy Ladies Singing

Jem (yowza!)



And this one's a bit older.....

Frou Frou

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Australia, Part 1

So last month I was in Australia for 2 weeks. I was in Australia once before, for about 2 and a half weeks in March of 2004, part of my 2+ month excursion through SE Asia. I kind of assumed I would never, or at least in no time soon, be back in Australia. I mean, for the time and money, it just seems more exciting to go somewhere new. However, the organization I have a fellowship with, Human Frontiers of Science Program (HFSP), had their annual meeting outside of Brisbane. I didn't go to the last meeting in Paris, and they say they _expect_ you to make it to at least one meeting, so I sacrificed 2 weeks of my time and headed out to Australia. For HFSP. Actually, it turns ot the next meeting is in Berlin, so I'm glad I didn't hold out for that one.
The meeting was cool. Everybody there was either a postdoc like me on a long-term fellowship, an ex-fellow and brand new professor on an HFSP "career development" grant, or a professor with grant funding from HFSP. Unlike most meetings, the science covered a relatively wide array of topics, so most of the stuff wasn't TOO relevant to my work. But there were also some people in my field there, some names I knew, so it was good to meet and talk to them.
The resort was really nice. Located on the Sunshine Coast. We had nice dinners prepared with good food outdoors on the beach or around a bonfire. The problem was it was like the coldest winter in Australia in 15 years. So nobody was really prepared, and we were trying to stay warm and huddle around the gas heating towers they brought out. This also meant there wasn't much water activities going on during the days.
Part of the conference was a boat tour of the everglades nearby, which was actually a big disappointment. But there was some nice scenery.

In a kind of "what the fuck?" moment during dinner one evening we got to see some sort of Australian hillbilly shear a sheep.

Another good thing is I met some other cool fellows. Actually, coincidentally, I met two girls that were working in Melbourne and ended up hanging out with them during the conference. Which sealed the deal on my debating of whether to head out to Melbourne next.

I just really like this picture somehow. On the right is Kirsteen (From Ireland)(in Melbourne)
(To be an HFSP fellow you must also be working in another country from your home.)

Notice the attire. It does actually get cold in Australia, even halfway up.

Random Thought

How much does it suck to be the first person to have the idea and get Arschgeweih (English: "Ass Antlers" )tattoo? Also known as a "tramp stamp" in English. It's basically now the most played-out, trashiest, un-original thing you can do to your body. The girls that had like the very first few have got to be hating life. I mean, I can just barely put my reaction to them aside and admit that if it was one person and the first person, it could be pretty cool.
Same goes for guys with the barbed wire/tribal band bicep tattoo.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bridge Protest

Turned into a "thank the lesser horseshoe bat" gathering. This was to be the first day of construction. Some people were dressed as bat or had bat puppets. The neumarkt area is looking nicer and nicer as buildings are being completed.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Even Dick Don't Know Dick


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

This isn't good.

Laptop computers lower sperm counts and increase infertility risk for men

All I do is sit at home on my couch in my boxers with my laptop settled firmly in my lap. Guess I should change that.

The original research publication:
Increase in scrotal temperature in laptop computer users
One of the important and interesting findings: the right one gets warmer than the left one. "In our study, median left and right side scrotal temperature increase in the group with working LC was 2.6°C and 2.8°C, respectively."

I see this here and I can't help but think this is what Homer Simpson would call Ovaltine.

Homer: So, what do you like, Lisa?  Vio-ma-lin?  Tuba-ma-ba?  Oboe-mo-boe?
Lisa: [pointing] That one!
[Lisa's adorable little digit points up to a beautiful new baritone
Homer: [reads price tag] Two hundred dollars?!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Günter Blobel and the Waldschlößchenbrücke

A few weeks ago I went to the “Meeting of Nobel Laureates in Lindau”. I think I’ll write a post on that meeting in general at some point, but one of the interesting things I did there was talk to Günter Blobel. Günter Blobel received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1999 for his discoveries on how proteins in the cell are directed to different places through sequences and receptors on proteins and in membranes.

He is also known for the fact that he donated his nobel prize winnings (~1 million dollars) to the reconstruction of the Frauenkirche in Dresden. (A famous church destroyed in the bombing of Dresden at the end of WWII) But I wasn’t aware that he has also been very active in the restoration of Dresden in general and as a child actually witnessed the firebombing in 1945. So seeing that he obviously has many connections to Dresden I wanted to ask him about this
controversial bridge that is about to go up, that many have been fighting. And let me tell you – I got an earful. Not surprisingly, he is vehemently against the bridge. He basically has the same feelings I and others do about the destruction of that land. “Go there. Sit there. Have a picnic” he says to realize what will be lost.

It turns out he’s actually being very active in following up on the bridge developments. From NYC, where he has a lab at Rockefeller, he says he talks every day to people in Dresden about this bridge and what can be done to stop it and/or promote alternatives. And because of this, because he has also been outspoken about it, the government leaders here pushing hard for the bridge hate him. And they even attack him.

There is an initiative for a tunnel to be built instead of the bridge. It has been shown that the tunnel is in fact feasible, and with no extra cost as compared to a bridge. Blobel brought up the point that, actually, part of the bridge plan consists of a significant tunnel to be dug extending partway to the entrance of the bridge. He says that from the people involved he has talked to, there is no good reason a tunnel cannot be continued all the way across.

In the end, after all his connections and efforts in Dresden, he has come to the conclusion that the main reason for the bridge is simply corruption and money. There seem to simply be no other reasonable explanations. And I’m starting to see this feeling echoed more around Dresden, as people seriously look into the alternatives.

Blobel was also frustrated with the lack of attention to this issue by Angela Merkel. That she’s been such an ‘advocate’ of the environment, of Germany being so green-conscious, of saving the trees, etc. But has not listened or given any significance to this fight in Dresden. In Blobel’s words, “Merkel will pay” for this if and when Germany loses a world heritage site. “The shit will hit the fan”.

Blobel says he has been practically made into a devil for his outspoken opposition to this bridge. He says he has been attacked by those in the government, accusing him often of interfering with Dresden and Saxony issues, of using his status for his own desires, of trying to usurp the democratic process. This is after all he’s done for Dresden. And now he has sponsors set up, unrelated to the bridge, but to further develop Dresden, the city he loves, but anything with his name on it is turned down immediately. Like poison.

I wanted to do something. But if a Nobel Laureate, who DONATED his prize to Dresden, who was THERE WHEN THE FUCKING BOMBS came down, who gives money and time, and has assembled connections in Dresden that he communicates with on a daily basis....if this guy sounds a bit defeated. Well. What can be done? He seems to have resigned (albeit still furiously passionate) that this is all about corruption and money. And there’s no way to stop it.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Dresdners: Waldschlößchenbrücke Demonstration

Monday, August 13th 6:30pm Neumarkt

more info here.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Breaking News: Endangered Bat Stops Waldschloßchen Bridge Construction.

Well it looks like there's been at least a temporary postponement of the start of construction of this damn bridge. Apparently some environmental agencies have found that there had not been consideration of the destruction of the habitat of the Lesser Horseshoe Bat. Construction was set to start in 4 days. I'm all for managing development projects to protect endangered species, and I'm all against this bridge for any reason, but this is a kinda weak move, discovering this 'bat habitat' 4 days before the construction starts. I can't imagine how infuriated the big bridge proponents are (which makes me smile nonetheless). A chart on the wikipedia page for the bat even lists it as of "least concern" as far as wildlife conservation.

The good thing is, it seems like now ANY potential halt to this bridge is going to go through any Dresden court, as it feels like now the people want alternatives. I guess we'll see how long this delays things. There seems to be more and more energy against this bridge every week in Dresden. I signed a petition when I was a the ENT doctor last week.

Coming Soon: My chat with Günter Blobel about this bridge.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Hard to believe

State legislator caught offering to pay to perform oral sex tries to explain it. The explanation follows the common rule of safety that if your racist sensibilities tell you that you may be about to be mugged, offer oral sex.
Original Orlando Sentinel story
here. Talk about just digging your hole deeper. This guy should really just never talk to anybody in the press ever again and hope people forget him.

I do have one question about the story, though, which is who dries their hands in a stall?? What, did the police officer wash them in the toilet and was using toilet paper to dry them? makes no sense.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Can you see the fish in this picture?

(click to enlarge)

I was looking through my diving pics again, and was looking at this picture of a giant clam, and realized there's a scorpionfish right smack in the middle of it!!! I'm so excited! I never saw it when I was taking the picture. And those guys are fun to find. I've never seen one in real life. That, is, been aware of seeing one. They are also among the most poisonous fish (nasty spines), which in combination with their camouflage offers another reason just not to touch anything down there. even harmless giant clams.
For an idea of size, this clam was probably about half a meter wide.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Quick Scuba Pic

I only ended up with a few nice pictures from diving. But here's one my buddy took with his camera of me taking a picture of some fish, and the picture I was taking (which didn't come out well).

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Psoriasis Awareness Month

August is 'Psoraisis Awareness Month' as designated by the NPF (National Psoriasis Foundation) In case you didn't know, I have psoriasis. I guess it seems obvious to me, but somehow friends I've had for several years just first notice it on some random day.

It's always surprising to me to see how many people don't know what psoriasis is or sometimes have never even heard of it. And the most people know is the word conjures thoughts of some sort of skin condition.
So I ask you, reader, in celebration of Psoriasis Awareness month, to just educate yourself as to what psoriasis is, even if it's just reading the rest of this post. Even better, tell somebody else what it is.
HERE is a good FAQ (with links to even more information)
Psoriasis is a auto-immune disorder. The molecular mechanisms are still poorly understood. But it appears that immune cells are inappropriately activated and releasing cytokines, etc, resulting in the over-proliferation of otherwise normal skin cells. Which results in a plaque or lesion on the surface of the skin. Skin cells mature and proliferate about 5-10 times faster then normal, so they build up on the skin. In addition, the immune response causes increased blood flow and blood vessel development in the area, resulting in a redder color of the lesion.

Psoriasis is not contagious (duh)

Nearly 2% (7.5 million!) of Americans are thought to have psoriasis of some form. You know other people with psoriasis, even if you don't know it.

There is a huge variation in the severity and types of psoriasis individuals have. And it can vary day to day, month to month, and year to year a lot in one individual.

There is no 'cure' for psoriasis, and no treatment works the same for everyone, or even most.

Nobody with psoriasis wants to have it, and is probably doing all they know they can to treat it.

Most treatments target cell proliferation (and in fact there is a little overlap with some cancer treatments i.e. methotrexate) or, more recently, the immune system and specific cytokines/receptors.

The best treatment I ever had was simply UV light in a big booth 2 times a week in combination with a drug that sensitized the skin to the light. This literally cleared my psoriasis 100% at a time when it was the worst of my life. Unfortunately, the clearing is not permanent, and doctors are reluctant to continue UV-light treatment very long due to skin cancer risks.
Even sunlight has a clear positive affect on psoriasis for me.

For most people (I assume), more than any physical discomfort, the worst affects of psoriasis are psychological.

End of lesson.

As I get older I've realized that rather than deflect or lie in response to people's questions about my skin ('What happened to your legs?!')('Man, you really got eaten by bugs this weekend'), I feel better by taking a bit of time and telling them it is psoriasis and explaining it a bit. What's weird is when people I've known for 3 years say these things. Like, did you not ever see this before?

After just 4 days of Australian sun and saltwater I'm seeing an effect on my skin. Yet another reason to move to Melbourne.