Friday, May 25, 2007

Lloyd Chudley Alexander

I learned today that Lloyd Alexander died the 17th of May, the National day of Norway and by other reasons an important day for me personally. When I recall my childhood as well as I want it will be in the library, childrens’ section with all its vast collection of books, books I could lend and take home in my back pack. To read and read and read and dream about all the wonderful places in those books.

I remember the librarians looking at me the first times I went there and the stack of books I wanted to bring home. “That is awfully many, love. You do realise you only have them for 14 days?” I nodded and my mum or dad, who usually accompanied me to the library, left me in the childrens’ section and walked the long walk up to the adult/grown up library to lend some books for them. Sometimes my dad staid with me and read the comics you could find in the children’s section though. And you were only allowed to bring three of them home, “otherwise it would be any left for others you see”.

I read, and still read, fast, especially when I was younger in comparison to other children my age. Therefore I could bring home many books in my little bag and read them all and then return them on time, or before time, and bring home new. I think it was then I started to reread books. It was like an old friend, someone you can count on.

I still remember listening to the radio during one summer and hearing the stories of “Westmark”, ”The Kestrel” and “The Begger queen” as a radio theater. I remember the horror I felt in the middle of The Kestrel when the rebels (or our heroes on a quest for freedom as they were in the book) were mortified finding their own soliders sitting leaning towards trees, dead, with no skin on them. I can hear the anguish and hate in the voice of [the actor of] Theo, ‘The Kestrel’, when he said “the are like meat, bloody and propped up towards the trees. Their eyes all bloody and there skin gone. The fiends that have done this is not human, so why should we.” I remember calling for my grand mother in the middle of the night when I relived the episode in my dreams, with me as Theo’s best friend – not Mickle though – never Mickle although she was and is a beautiful role model for a young girl when it comes to that.

I remember the bravado of the Rebel leader Florian, what a beautiful name, and the awful evilness of Skeit as well as Cabbarus, not to forget the fun yet enormously sad Count Las Bombas – the conman with his different potions and creams. And Justin, the rebel with the intense blue eyes and the madness to match it, the hurt and the loneliness that only those who have seen the world crumble down in front of them can really have. The lust of Theo to become one of Florian's children, like Luther, Stock, Justin and Zara. I realise in hindsight that these books might have given me a view of the necessity of rebellion, or maybe the necessity of realising the life is never ever fair, but we have to try and make it as fair as possible. And still it is a dream, a childish dream of the just war, the just means to make it all right.

To finish, if you haven’t read the books as a child (or adolescence maybe might have been more appropriate) I still think one can read them now. If I had kids for sure I’d give them the Chronicles of Prydain first, since they are more childlike and almost like a Fellowship of the Ring for children. And the stories of Vesper Holly, the third series of Mr Alexander, is also great for the independent girl who finds friends and adventures all over but never is portrayed as a second hand character. Then read the Westmark triology and see the influence from the French revolution, the fall of the Eastern Europe dictatorships [although that hadn't happened at the time] and other unjustly ruled countries all over the globe. I can not help but to speculate how much the series is inspired by Alexander’s own experience in the WWII where he trained in Wales and then moved over into the Rhineland and southern Germany in the end years of the war. After all the Chronicles of Pyradin are inspired by old folk lore from Wales and Alexander did translate more than a few books from French, among all Sartre as well. (The Kestrel does bring similar feelings as Sartre's The Victors, interesting indeed. Wonder if Alexander did a translation of that play as well?)

I realise now, when my eyes are filling up, that I probably never got over the fact that Theo, in all his splendor of being the brave rebel, lost his own faith in man when he became the Kestrel. The pseudonym hid more than just his name, he traded in the humanitarian side for the more vicious side and fought the horrible Cabbarus with his means – proving yet again that war will never be beautiful, fair or won. There are only those that loose more than others. And Theo put away himself for the cruel and innovative Kestrel, still the hero in so many eyes of the rebels to is own disdain.

I think I will look for the books on line and see if I can buy them. At least The Kestrel, since I am not entirely sure I really liked The Begger Queen… strangely enough in all this but I will probably buy all three of the books, after all it is a series.

In the end of the articles here and here it states that Alexander's wife, who he met in France and was married to for 65 years, died May 2nd. I guess that is somewhat beginning of hope for love and man for me, although I will miss the writer and my childhood feelings of innocence and grandness of rebellions.

Stanely Cup finals

So, the time has finally come for the Final! Monday is the day it all comes down to, or at least that is the starting of it all.

I am not really sure what to do though. I mean, I have never ever liked Anaheim Ducks. Never. Ever. And I like Canada just for being there as a hockey nation with few teams but gosh they still have a large piece of my heart. So, really it should be simple but still. Anaheim kicked both Predators as well as Canucks out of the play offs so if they win the other teams still could be considered good.... on the other hand, it is still the Ducks.

I guess the main reason for my shifting is that I really like Teemu Selanne (presently third in the goal statistics!) and the brothers Niedermayers. They play good hockey, revised - they play great hockey and that is something fun to see! And Pronger of course.... shouldn't forget him nor their goalie.

I guess I'll just watch the games and see who wins. Pah.... that will so never happen since I know I get involved when watching hockey.

stories from the world of science

If one is interested in reading about the lives and thoughts of scientists & post docs there is an excellent collection of different people writing about vairous things in the "Post doc carnival" at the blogg "Minor revisions"

...and no, this is not since I am in the link collection but because one can find other stories from people who love science but yet feel a little diverse about this world of science.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Eppendorfs, Gilsons and Bunsens

I never given much thought of why I am used to call micro centrifuge tubes for eppendorf tubes until I moved to the States and my new lab mates (very loosely used term) look at me funny when I started talking about eppendorfs. “You mean micro centrifuge tubes?” and I nodded. It never occurred to me that it is just a brand name, silly me. It’s probably the equivalent to calling all soft drinks for coke, or ginger ale if that is what you like.

Gilsons, the micro pipettes, on the other hand I am not sure of. Are they a brand? The first ones made? Or am I supposed to call them pipettes as well? In that case, how to I distinguish “real” pipettes (ranging from 0.5 ml to 25 mls) from the Gilsons i.e. the disposable ones versus the non-disposable ones. Gilsons cost plenty as an old friend of mine said.

Furthermore I realized today, or tonight rather, that again I am stuck with the lab bench adjacent to the wall on left side of the row. This might not be a problem but when the Bunsen burner is attached to the gas hook up is also on the left side is does become a problem for little ol’ me. Why? Because yours truly is left handed. So, I also realized that putting your latex gloved hand over the invisible flame (the burner I have hasn’t got a thing to adjust the air intake but only the amount of gas flowing) while trying to grab a sterile bacterial “smearer” hurts. It was the smell that made me realize I put my hand in the flame. The hurt came later. And then I saw the yellowish glove turned a bit deep orange/burned… Ah well, not too much of a burn but I was pretty much waiting for this to happen. Always strange to have a bench that is opposite what you need.

At least I think I have good data from the sad bacterial that did not want to grow until 3 pm rather than being over and done with at noon, so I got out of the lab by 9. I’ll count them tomorrow but the ODstudies looked really interesting. Hopefully they will cooperate more tomorrow so I can repeat it without too much hassle. Now, time to sleep.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

money and grants...

Watching one of those horrific ‘reality’ programs on TV, in this case the show ”Daddy’s spoiled little girl” on We, I think I would react differently to the whole trust fund thing. I mean, not only did my parents raise me with manners and politeness towards people that is something that definitely seems to be lacking in these people portrayed, if I had a trust fund jeez what kind of research I could do. Hm, I know that that probably is not true, with ethical rules and guide lines and all, but still… the notion that I think I would do research if I had a trust fund is somewhat mind-boggling for me at times. (It screams a of little geekiness or maybe obsession although I kind of find it a little better than spending it all on bubbly wine to sprout over my so call friends as people seem to be doing all over the world,) Other women would probably go for shoes. And men would probably go for cars or some new technical gizmo. Oh, or maybe a big mansion to actual own a house to live in? Would be a new thing for me!

Well, leaving the gender stereotype – I would probably go for some shoes, after all it is a small addiction for me* - but still being able to go to different conferences in order to meet people and discuss research without being begging for travel grants (mental note to self: need to write the grant application for the conference in September and book a plain ticket for the same) or just not have to work for the salary.

End of ranting since the show stopped and I need to go to bed before getting back to the wondrous research business tomorrow.

*shoes are the one thing I do end up buying more often than other things – books excluded - simply because they are easy to try on and most often does not require a fitting room or messing with.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Why hockey is so big?! And of course... bye bye Canucks

This article made me teary eyed. Yep, I am a sappy sentimental Swede on the other side of the world and I miss my country sometimes. Or at least I miss the happy feeling portrayed in the article. Gosh, if that was the truth though… that would be an even bigger thing. Well, it is not that they are lying in the article, get me right, it is the fact that if every town was as good at self assurance and pride we might stand a chance against those thoughts we breed as a community back home. Sometime I wonder if we were all indoctrinated while sleeping in day care with “Don’t think you are anything else than average. Don’t perceive you are different than others. Don’t stand out. Everyone striving for success will fall harder when the fail” or Jante as we call it.

Ok, that was wrong of me. Not true. Or just a little… but truthfully I would like to visit Örnsköldsvik some time. Just to see it. Gotta love a town that has 30 000 inhabitants but still 7000 people on average attendance at game time in the arena!

Back to NHL and Stanley Cup (and yes, I can see my reports getting fewer and fewer now). Canucks played like, ah well I didn’t see that game yesterday. Tried to but when no TV channel in my vicinity proved to be able to let me watch it I gave in and waited for the game to be over. I fell asleep before the second over time was over. As expected Niedermayer (Scott not his brother) made the goal. Ah hem, when you go down better loose against the best huh?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Selanne, Pronger, Niedermayer and Luongo

Ok, I am the first to admit that I don’t like The Ducks. First of all, how can you want to call a cool hockey team ducks? I mean, in some way I should probably not disagree since it is an old [British slang] word for “beautiful woman”/”cute girl”/affectionate for "female" – kind of what Spike calls some of his love interests and he is from the late 19 century. It is therefore, in the male chauvinistic and misogynic world of hockey, a brave name!

On the other hand, if you see a fight between a predator and a duck, who would you think would win? Yes, exactly my point. So, not because of the name itself but maybe rather that it was a lousy movie (actually I think they made two or three ‘The mighty Ducks’ and I have an inkling that Joshua Jackson was in the first one, with Charlie Sheen) and that Disney started the real team after the movies. It is just strange.

Anyhow, when I saw the Ducks play in January I almost got into trouble when I laughed when T. Selanne made yet another brilliant pass to one of his team mates. “What are you doing?!” came from a guy sitting next to me. I tried to explain it in some way to say that since he is Finnish and also because he is good, I just enjoyed watching someone that knows how to play hockey play. It didn’t really work out but the guy at least stopped looking at me as if I was cheering for the wrong team.

Well, last night I wanted so bad that the Sedin brothers could have done something. Reading today that they weren’t playing together and not at all in the first half? Why not? They’ve scored more than others in their team the last games, together with Naslund / their captain. Though, I do not know what the game looked like since I really made a mature decision and stayed home rather than going wandering looking for a pub where I could watch the game (maybe one down town, maybe) since I knew I had to get up real early this morning. I stayed at home and watched the updates on and let me tell you, I was happy when it said 2-1 Canucks in the beginning of 3rd. Of course that didn’t last. Selanne did his thing and made 2-2. OT next. And I went to bed before that even started. Probably best since they lost. And now it is 1-3 for Canucks in games. I guess I will have no teams in the playoffs soon…

I really understand and appreciate that Pronger (top five in offensive leaders) and Niedermayer are nominated for that trophy, as well as Canuck’s goalie Luongo (top five goalies). It is just too bad that the first three guys in this entry are on the wrong team, the stupid duckies – the reservoir for the severe bird flu in the world. Ha.