Thursday, November 30, 2006

European Molecular Biology Laboratory Heidelberg and UPenn

What a day. I've submitted my UPenn application less than a minute ago and addiontally I received an invitation for the EMBL interview week in Heidelberg. Ooohh yeah! I lived in Austria all my live, but I've never been to Germany longer than a weekend - weird, isn't it?

Update: Apparently, this was my 100th entry. Time flies by...


James Bond and a homeopathy trial

Yesterday, I had the pleasure to see the newest James Bond movie, Casino Royal. Without spoilers: it's stuffed with amusing phrases and word-games all related to the older parts. Every time I thought the film was actually over another turn in the plot elongated it by an extra half hour. I enjoyed it very much, though a lot of «Bond pundits» criticise that Daniel Craig isn't suitable due to his blond hair and blue eyes - I don't. Casino Royal is probably the first of its kind where you see the british agent being not perfect and sleek, an unpolished diamond.

The Disgruntled Chemist has launched a self-trial for «Dr Frank's No Pain Spray» - a homeopathic spray which allegedly cures all chronic joint pain and even more - on his newest blog The No Pain Challenge. So far, it was quite amusing to read, possibly because homeopathy has always been a very polarised and controversial topic. There are two factions: the adherents and the severe critics, making it easy to write appealing for a least one of them (obviously, I'm part of the latter).


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

«Speed of Meme»? Take that Einstein, speed of light sucks!

Scott Eric Kaufman tries to analyse the speed by which a meme spreads within the bloggosphere (awesome word, isn't it?) via his blog Acephalous and a technorati script. According to his post I'd probably count as one of the «low-traffic blogs» with my mere 10 and 3/5 readers, plus an insignificant amount of facebook junkies. Of course, I picked up the meme from the «high-traffic blog» The Disgruntled Chemist.

Hitherto the theory applies. However, I assert that I'll rise to the top one day. As soon as I win a Nobel Prize a lot of people will highly appreciate my randomness. This phenomenon can be observed quite frequently after the awards, when books filled cover to cover with platitudes and non-sense suddenly appear in all bestseller list, given that a Nobel Prize winner brought them to paper.

Update: I digressed again and forgot the real reason after all that waffling. If you want to take part in Scott's experiment, link to his post on Acephalous.

  • Write a post linking to this one in which you explain the experiment. (All blogs count, be they TypePad, Blogger, MySpace, Facebook, &c.)
  • Ask your readers to do the same. Beg them. Relate sob stories about poor graduate students in desperate circumstances. Imply I'm one of them. (Do whatever you have to. If that fails, try whatever it takes.)
  • Ping Technorati.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Searching for an island?

Make yourself home.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Do you remember your first speech?

I do, and I just had a shower. As usual I come across random thoughts when I have nothing else to entertain myself (who doesn't?). Anyway, my first speech was about the book «Der Räuber Hotzenplotz» by Christine Nöstlinger, an Austrian children's book author. It's about an evil robber who does a lot of despicable things and, needless to say, encounters justice through our heros Kasperl and Seppi (if I recall their names correctly). The thought about the book made me smirk.

If you now wonder why I started thinking about my youth, try to follow my chain of thoughts in bullet-points:

  • Personal statements
  • Would be awful if I had to write them in German
  • Uhhh especially in past tense, writing about myself, bad bad bad
  • Hmm «myself»,«I»
  • I remember a poorly delivered speech where the speaker was refering to the book's protagonist as «I»
  • Hey speeches... hmmm

For any possible awards of randomness, please contact my PA.

Update: Oh I forgot, you gotta watch this. Was posted by a friend on Facebook quite recently.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Guardian's response column

... and we reserve the right to edit the pieces for both length and content.

I think that's just hilarious. In my eyes it reads like this: «Send what you want, we gonna tailor it to our needs anyway, dumb bastards!». How genuine newspapers ought to be!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The inner life of the cell

That little animation video stunned me: The inner life of the cell by BioVisions at Harvard. Absolutely awesome.


Financial times acknowledges ...

... that Austria is the land of grumbler (20th Nov). As a proud compatriot I will follow this tradition: I had the most overwhelming developmental biology lecture today and it was damn hard for me to follow, my mattress is lowest quality, hence my back hurts, London is bloody expensive and I still haven't finished my UPenn personal statement. Moreover, during my 23 days of rhino-viral joy I missed three molecular biology lectures and I haven't managed to work through them yet. *nag, nag, nag*

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Cluster Rooms and Facebook

My internet was broken, so I got used to work in the library for the last couple of days. Since I don’t invite people to find my stuff before I lose it, I always have to sign out of the cluster PC and grab my things, whenever I feel the urge to replenish my caffeine supply or go to the toilet. Of course, the computer I’ve been using before is then occupied and the search for free places starts. One thing which eventually becomes blatantly obvious: most people don’t have anything else to do than using facebook in a university cluster room! To be precise, roughly 72 people queue up for roughly 50 PCs to use facebook or MSN.

I have to admit that I like facebook as well and it’s a lot of fun browsing through friends’ picture collections searching for especially bad shots of other persons … hmm … nope that’s my collection, sorry – where was I? Oh yeah: go to hell facebook users, this is a goddamn university library, no playground!

Soon the biggest work force waster after smoking and coffee breaks will be facebook usage.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Folding duvet covers ...

... correctly is rocket science. I bow to you oh mother.

Watched Zoolander. Really1, really2 [...] reallyn, ridiculously good-looking.

Why doesn't Berkeley use an online-recommendation system? *disgruntled-sound* Now I'll have to buy printing paper again and fill in forms by hand.

So much about vanishing randomness on this blog. Cheerio my friends.


Control a Woman?

Yes, shopping sometimes is fun, especially when you walk into one of those fun-article stores in the Plaza on Oxford Street. A picture says more than a thousand words:

My favourite button is «hurry up». The operation instructions are unfortunately somewhat vague. Well, who could claim that he understands all women anyway? (In case you are female and don't think this is funny wait for «control a men».)

There was a half-price poster sale (the one I was missing at the fresher's fayre) where I acquired1 two lovely specimens. Now I need to find a proper place on my wall.

1«acquired» meaning that Pete paid for them and he refused to take any money from me. Maybe I can make him pay my gym-bill after christmas? I'll have to fathom the limits of his generosity.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Uhm, comments and not being published

Shame on me, shame on me! This is kind of embarassing.

I actually never checked my «moderate comments» section in my blogger account. So I just discovered more than 20 unpublished comments. Hence, my apologies to everybody who thought that I was oblivious of her/his remarks. Yes Thomas, I just read all of your comments and no I didn't think about your birthday, sorry - so an official «happy birthday mate» now (Remember, remember the 3rd of November...). Apparently, the blogging business isn't as foolproof as everyone thought.

Nichts ist so einfach, dass man's nicht falsch machen könnte.


A cell phone how it should be

Motorola managed to design a mobile which appeals to me, the Motofone. Plain-vanilla, no bloody cameras, MP3 players, colour displays or other knick-knack that suck away precious battery power for no obvious reason. Unfortunately, the phone is designed for emerging markets like India, so it's likely that it will never be launched in Europe or the States.


Since my significant other wouldn't post any funny things she encounters, I'll do it (infringing all possible copyrights and ignoring the harzard of having to experience a lobotomy for this one day). Alex forwarded the following email to me approximately a month ago. Study hard, party hard!


Thanks to all who came out last night, a good time was had by all. As for our apartment ... let's just say I'm afraid to walk around without shoes on yet, haha. Oh, and we are completely out of anything even resembling alcohol. Good work. And it turns out Mitchell's really isn't that bad of a bar, might be worth hitting up again.

I have yet to leave the apartment today; not for lack of energy or sobriety, but motivation. I woke up and realized the weather was not encouraging. Then I walked out into the living room and kitchen, saw the aftermath of the carnage that was last night, and decided that I should just go back to bed. Hope everyone that actually made it to Scaife enjoyed a day full of proteins.

In attempting to clean up the living room today, I found a lanyard and keys under the couch. If they are your's, just email or call me and I'll be sure you get them back to you.

Once again, thanks for coming out!

I forgot to ask a couple of questions I had for you all ...

  1. Who the hell ate my fudge-cicles?
  2. Who the hell ate my hot pockets?
  3. Who was drinking out of the cats' water dish?

I'm especially concerned about that last person.


Yeeeeha, I did it.

My first real paper-based application is finished and already on its way to Cold Spring Harbor, NY. I only wonder why royal mail employs persons in post offices that seemed to have come to this country on a floating door. I've never heard a worse accent in a public place where people ought to understand what the dude behind the glass window is actually saying since it might be crucial for the correct delivery.

I just realised that if I get interview invitation for all my desired programmes, I will be quite busy touring through the States. Groupies wanted!

Even though I was severely interrupted in my internet duties by regular fluctuations of connectivity and a damn slow blogger portal, I eventually managed to change my page design to something impressive (self-shoulder-pet). Amazing what a layman can make out of a DNA x-ray diffraction electron density map with The GIMP.

Update: Now that I'm using the library computer, I notice that MSIE6 screws up the design. Can't be bothered to search for the «faults». So everyone who uses the microcrap browser either change to version 7 or get Firefox/Opera (It's for your own good). If anyone uses Safari, could you please leave me a comment about how the page looks like. I haven't had a chance to test the layout with a Mac yet.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

7 out of 7 points, let's say that's a weak 6

I just finished my preparation for tomorrow's molecular biology workshop, which embraced a little online quiz on WebCT as well. The result reminds me about Prof Crompton's comment who missed out to mark a question on a returned short-exam. «Oh well, the answer seems to be perfectly right. I'll give you 2 out of 3 for that.» Yup, that's how it should be!?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Epic 2014

Googlezon will come: Epic2014

Update: The entry seemed so short, so I'll add an item of randomness.

«Voice?» said Rincewind.
«What happens if I claim immunity because I'm a foreigner?»
«There's a sepcial thing they do with a wire-mesh waistcoat and a cheesegrate.»
«And there are torturers in Hunghung who can keep a man alive for years.»
«I suppose you're not talking about healthy early morning runs and a high-fibre diet?»
from Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel 'Interesting Times'

Monday, November 13, 2006

So I'm registered

I can proudly announce that I have registered at the UCL health center and therefore I am another happy customer of the NHS? Unlike expected everthing went pretty smooth and quick, besides that the come-in clinic hours were already over when I entered. So I'll have to go back to the health center at 2pm and wait for a nurse to check my «cold». Wondering what the result will be.

Update: After one and a half hours of waiting (it's now 3:45pm and I just got home), I was attested perfectly healthy besides the bazillion of viruses that enjoy populating my lung. «Come back if it doesn't get better within the next ten days.» What did I predict, hun?

One plus for NHS (or rather the UCL health centre): They've been very friendly.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Grrr, gotta see a doc

What I avoided successfully for more than two years eventually came over me: I have to go and see a British physician. Since I almost coughed my lung onto the floor I figured it might be a good idea to have my persistent cold checked (almost 3 weeks), which wouldn't even get better after 4 days of sleep and relaxing. Lucky as I am, I probably caught an atypical pneumonia. So I'll have to register to the NHS and sit around for a couple of hours in the ER, «briliant».

Something to cheer up the minds again: Will it blend?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Star Wars goes plant biology

Dr Lukowitz' research about YODA MAPKKK and transcription factor HAN. If they're ever going to conduct research on plant oncogenes, I'm sure one will be call VADER.

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Shield the earth?

Some of you might remember the movie «Highlander» where the earth is protected by an artificial shield against cosmic rays, since the ozone layer had completely disappeared. Guess what ... some IvyLeaguers actually suggested such a solution as a counter-measure to global warming:

The effect would be to uniformly reduce sunlight by about 2 percent over the entire planet, enough to balance the heating of a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere.

Once again «we» try to treat symptoms instead of ripping out the root of the problem. Carbon dioxide absorption will still acidify the oceans with unpredictable catastrophic ramifications.

The total mass of all the fliers making up the space sunshade structure would be 20 million tons. At $10,000 a pound, conventional chemical rocket launch is prohibitively expensive. Angel proposes using a cheaper way developed by Sandia National Laboratories for electromagnetic space launchers, which could bring cost down to as little as $20 a pound.
Of course that's all for the good of mankind, isn't it? Financial ulterior motives and other firms than NASA and ESA pushing into space is just a little bon-bon.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Interesting obesity article

Although, not all arguments sound a hundred per cent coherent and cogent, this article from the latest «New Scientist» is definitely worth reading.


Friday, November 03, 2006

So I finished my GRE general test

Here comes the real fun: the statements of purpose for 7 American and 4 British universities. Let's get skilled in the art of catchy, literate, entertaining and informative but not amusing, emotional or bombastic writing. Sounds for me like a paper about n HIV cure.

Something else: There's a hairl-dresser in Euston station with a very time efficient system. First you buy a voucher at a ticket machine (9£ for men), then you queue up, get your hair cut and finally they treat you with a «head-vaccum cleaner» to get rid of all those tiny pieces of hair that would drive you mad. Very innovative, quick and cheap.

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