Sunday, 20 September 2009

the last day

hello there,

it is 6.13pm on my last day of roof-holiday. the time went by so quickly!

above is a picture of how i felt on several occasions during my holiday, and tomorrow i will have to open the door. that's fine though, because i had a great time. i am in a different place now, much more relaxed than before, full of ideas for the future and some satisfaction that i did most of the things i had planned.

i can only recommend it to anyone!!!

i will move to a new blog soon, called kanaland.
hope to see you there!


Friday, 18 September 2009

spetsai armata festival

the non-scientific highlight of the summer school was the armata festival, a celebration of the greek revolution against the ottoman empire, in which the island spetsai and its heroine bouboulina took an active role. in remembrance of the battle of spetsai, an enemy ship is sunk in the sea near the harbour, watched by spectators on the shores and on numerous surrounding yachts.

this spectacle is followed by massive fireworks, the most amazing I HAVE EVER SEEN. (and i don't even like fireworks.. ;-))

above is the picture of the burning ship by a fellow summer school participant rafal marszalek. below is a video of the final minutes of the fireworks, filmed by liz morris. watch out during the final seconds, it was like the explosion of the death star. (also take note of the classy dance music that is played along with it)

spetsai summer school 2009

spetsai summer school 2009

in order to have a smooth and relaxed transition back into working life, i decided to apply for the embo/febs summer school in spetsai, greece. this course has taken place since 1966, featuring legendary scientists from the very beginning (francis crick hosted the second summer school in 1969. for a complete history of the course, check this webpage). this year's school was about protein-protein interactions and protein networks and covered a broad range of topics from proteomics to biological structure.

the meeting was very well thought through and allowed much time for science, but also for meeting people and learning about local culture. the mornings consisted of longer sessions with talks and discussions, followed by tutorials in the afternoon, and a shorter evening session. each night, the speakers took out small groups of people for dinner in local tavernas.

as in previous years, the list of speakers was excellent, the research presentations very interesting, clear and comprehensive. the poster sessions and talks of the participants were also fascinating and of very high quality (the fact that i have taken over 50 A4 pages of notes during the meeting is the ultimate proof for these statements). the highlight of the week was a series of lectures by aaron ciechanover, who received the nobel prize in chemistry for the discovery of the ubiquitin proteasome system in 2004. another great feature of the meeting was a morning session discussing the challenges for women in science and young families in general.

all of this was set in the beautiful location of the island of spetses in a hotel right near the sea, with stunning views over the peloponnese. one day was spent on the main land to see the ruins of epidavros and mycenae, and the town of nafplion. another afternoon, we went on a boat trip to the other side of the island, to a beautiful beach with some interesting cave formations closeby.

all in all, this meeting was absolutely fantastic, and i can only recommend it to anyone. it is an excellent chance to get to know senior researchers in your field and network with young colleagues in a relaxed yet science-focussed setting. unfortunately, funding bodies nowadays prefer a schedule completely packed with science, but in my opinion it was the more relaxed atmosphere that inspired conversations about science in all social situations, even on the dancefloor at the farewell party ;)!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009


standing in the winestand at the weinwoche can be very tiring for your feet, so we tend to wish for closing time to come. in order to keep us entertained, my uncle the winemaker (who is also a very well-read man) recites a poem by theodor fontane. it's about a fire onboard a ship on lake erie, on its way to the town of buffalo. holding out against the flames, the helmsman (john maynard) tries to maintain course to the shore, while the people onboard desperately count the minutes to reach buffalo.
maybe not quite as desperately, we also count the hours to closing time. that's why we call it buffalo.

this year for the first time, my uncle could not be there during the wineweek. even though we safely reached buffalo every night, we hope that he'll be there again next year to recite the poem:

"Who is John Maynard?"

"John Maynard was our helmsman true.
To solid land he carried us through.
He saved our lives, our noble king.
He died for us; his praise we sing.
John Maynard."

From Detroit to Buffalo
As mist sprays her bow like flakes of snow
Over Lake Erie the "Swallow" takes flight
And every heart is joyful and light.
In the dusk, the passengers all
Can already make out the dim landfall,
And approaching John Maynard, their hearts free of care,
They ask of their helmsman, "Are we almost there?"
He looks around and toward the shore:
" Still 30 minutes.... a half hour more."

All hearts are happy, all hearts are light --
Then out of the hold comes a cry of fright.
" Fire!" it is, that terrified shout.
From the cabin and hatch black smoke pours out.
Smoke, then fire and flames aglow,
And still 20 minutes to Buffalo.

And the passengers, in a colorful crowd
Stand pressed together on the bow.
Up on the bow there is still air and light
But the smoke at the helm forms a thick, dark night.
" Where are we? Where?" the men must know,
And still 15 minutes to Buffalo. --

The wind grows strong but the smoke cloud stays.
To the helm the captain turns his gaze.
The helmsman is hidden by the raging fires
But through the bullhorn the captain enquires:
" Still there, John Maynard?"
" Yes, sir. I am."
" Onto the beach! Into the surf!"
" Yes, sir. That's my plan."
And the people cry: "Hold on! Hallo!"
And still 10 minutes to Buffalo.--

"Still there, John Maynard?" And the answer is clear,
Though with dying voice: "Yes, sir. I'm still here."
And in the surf, rocks, obstacles afloat,
Into their midst he plunges the boat.
To be saved, it's the only way to go.
Salvation: the shores of Buffalo!

The fire is out. The ship's run aground.
All are saved. Only one can't be found.

The bells ring out, their notes all fly
From churches and chapels to heaven on high.
The city is still but for funeral bells.
For one service only the sad sound swells:
In the procession ten thousand go by,
Or maybe more -- and not one dry eye.

With layers of flowers the grave they soften.
Under more flowers they bury the coffin.
With golden script in marble stone
The city has its tribute shown:

"Here lies John Maynard! In smoke and fire
He held fast to the wheel; he did not tire.
He saved our lives, our noble king.
He died for us; his praise we sing.
John Maynard!"

the english version of the poem was taken from here.
for the german original check here.

Thursday, 20 August 2009


become an italian stallion.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

siggi III.

i heard from a reliable source yesterday that siggi is still around, has been mended a few more times and is enjoying retirement in a comfortable bed.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

rheingauer weinwoche

this week i work at the rheingauer weinwoche in wiesbaden. it's a 10-day long festival where over 200,000 bottles of wine are are drunk each year (during ten days ;-)). this might cause a lot of tipsy visitors, but the atmosphere is very friendly, as people tend to get very merry when they drink yummy rheingauer wine (and there is lots of food and music, too). since the first time the festival was held in 1976, over 10 million people have visited. it is a very popular festival not only locally, people come from many places in the world. just yesterday, i sold glasses of wine in four languages. my mom's family has had a wine stand at the weinwoche since the very first year (for my uncle's winery, take a look here), and so i have helped out there ever since i can remember.
it's a fun festival, so if you ever find yourselves in the rheingau area the 2nd and 3rd week of august, don't forget going to visit wiesbaden.

for a picture and a map of where we are, take a look at the pictures.