Wednesday, January 30, 2008

You want some of this?

Then bring it. down to the little elementary school in Striesen on Wednesday nights. They have a small kinda basketball court they let us use. If one of the little old teachers stops you just tell her you're playing with the MPI people and hopefully you can get in.
But seriously.

I think things are healing well. The glue seems to have worked. Everybody feels the need to tell me that "chicks dig scars", which worries me a bit that this will be permanent.

And I've received a lot of Harry Potter jokes, the first from the nurse in the ER.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

And the results are in.....

Sächsisch Beer vs. Czech Beer at the MPI beer hour. I think the picture speaks for itself.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

One week and counting.....

One week from tonight will be the last evening smokers will be allowed to freely smoke in every bar and restaurant in Saxony. I can. not. wait. It's kind of interesting. In one day, Saxony will go from being about 20+ years behind the US in smoking laws to maybe 10 years ahead of some states/cities. As far as I know, about 20 years ago all restaurants in the US did away with "smoking" sections. I can barely even remember there being such a thing. I don't know how long ago it was they introduced smoking sections. But right now here in Dresden, for about 95% of restaurants, there are no smoking vs. non-smoking sections. It's all just smoke-em-if- ya-got-em, so to speak. You can be sitting down to a fancy dinner filled with delicate flavors and the couple next to you can light up and chain smoke the rest of the evening, so that everything just smells/tastes like smoke.
On the other hand, in many cities in the US, there's still no restrictions on smoking in bars. I guess because of that it wasn't completely shocking coming to Dresden, since I was at least used to the smoke in bars. But as of next Friday, in Saxony bars and restaurants will have to be primarily non-smoking. All of them I assume. Although apparently they will be allowed to have a smoking "section", as long as it can be separated from the rest of the bar by a closed door.
It would seem like it will never work, people will never accept it. But if it's worked in Ireland, Italy, Paris, NYC......I guess it can work anywhere.
Again I wonder what will become of my neighborhood bar Hebeda's. I think I might go this Friday to take some final photos of the smoky mood, and then go again next Friday to celebrate the lack of smoke.
New Scanner (Milk and Sugar, baby)

I realized the other day that when I take photos with my SLR (an old film kind of SLR), it's costing me a fortune to make them digital just to share with people or put on my blog or whatever. For a 36 roll of slide film, it only costs about 2.50 euro to develop, but then my photoplace charges about 12.50 to scan them onto a CD at 2400 dpi. So when I take 2 rolls of film in it costs me 3o euros, and there's no prints or paper involved. For some reason it took me this long to realize if I were to just have them develop them and scan them myself it would be 1/6th the cost. So it seemed obvious to go buy a scanner that can scan negatives/slides and soon it would pay for itself. But then again I want to get a digitial SLR soon and would I then not have a use for the scanner anymore?? I decided it was worth buying a good scanner, then I could also use it for other things or even archiving old slides/film.

So I got this guy (Canon 8800F)

and here's my first scan, of an awesome graphic I had found out on the town. (click to enlarge)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Making a Gingerbread House in Germany

As usual this is about a month late, but had to post some pictures to show that while in Germany I actually helped make a gingerbread house during Christmas-time. There was a cookie competition at work as part of the Christmas party and our lab decided we would make a gingerbread house as our entry....

The walls go up. Not looking like a standard house

Jenn was the master-coordinator of the project, and supervised the American postdocs

A sidewalk and street, and pedestrians go down...

Final touches included a speed bump and smokers outside in the cold. (Gummibärchen, of course)

And BAM! The MPI-CBG in the snow. Complete with funky awning, trees, speed bumps, smokers, benches, pond, and even some little guys playing kicker up on the roof.

First place! And this contest was no joke, as evidenced by the mean looking cookie on the certificate. Notice Till lurking in the background. He was cherry-picking the candy when eyes were turned.

Soon everybody got into the act. It didn't last very long. But tasted pretty good.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Collided heads in basketball tonight and somehow it opened up a one and a half inch cut on my forehead. No stitches, though, they put it back together with hot glue.

I had it coming, though, the last 2 collisions I had sent the other guy to the ER.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Speeding up Microtubule Growth

Molecular biochemists doctor Gary Brouhard and doctor Jeff Stear (of The Stools) have teamed up to present their last couple years of work, published this week in Cell. CELL is perhaps the most prestigious journal in the world for publishing in the biosciences, and here they have pulled off the cover. Gary and Jeff have shown us how microtubule growth is mechanistically regulated on a molecular level, which until now has been the subject of debate, by the protein XMAP215.

Cover design by Gary Brouhard

The authors at their finest

In the authors' own words:
"Microtubules are long, slender filaments with which cellular structures such as the cytoskeleton, the mitotic spindle, and the axoneme are built. These structures are not static. Rather, they are broken down and rebuilt when a cell moves, changes shape, or progresses through the cell cycle. This remodeling is achieved by the disassembly and reassembly of microtubules and occurs primarily through the removal and addition of tubulin dimers at microtubule ends. "
(Here is a movie illustrating microtubules growing in live cells.)

More specifically:
"To distinguish among the different possible ways that XMAP215 might promote microtubule growth, we developed an assay to visualize single XMAP215 molecules during microtubule polymerization. We demonstrate that XMAP215 does not, in fact, act as a tubulin shuttle. Rather, XMAP215 acts as a processive polymerizing enzyme or polymerase: XMAP215 forms a 1:1 complex with tubulin and resides for long periods at microtubule plus ends where it catalyzes repeated rounds of addition of tubulin into the microtubule polymer."
Nice work, dudes.

Monday, January 07, 2008

New Year's Eve in Dresden...

As soon as I get my photos developed from New Year's Eve I want to post some up here.

But briefly I'll put this great video that Sarah took. This captures the attitude of the evening in Dresden. chaos and fire.

This was outside my flat as we were preparing to walk down to the river for the festivities and Sanni thought it a good idea to try a large rocket in the tram tracks.
Garrett with the commentary. Unfortunately there was a guy where it exploded and he wasn't too happy about it.
it's fun to pause it on the frame of the first explosion.