Monday, March 31

Camera Photos & last of my March Challenge

So this weekend started BST (British Summer Time) for those of us who were on GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) which means we're back to being 5 hours ahead of New York. The part I enjoy most about the switch to BST is that it's light out MUCH later, making me a happy bunny!! So I took a few photos on my camera phone tonight to show you how light it was, but then realised I had lots of old photos on that memory card from in & around London, so here they all are for your viewing pleasure . . . (I know you've been dying to see them ;)
bad photo of a cool painting at the Wallace Collection
view out my back window at 19.35 tonight!
random slightly weird photo of me
one of my new toys which I got whilst in Germany paying in US$ - can't wait to get this set up in my flat!!
this photos is primarily for Miss A & her boyfriend. This is Long Mountain wine, similar only in name to the White Mountain wine we use to drink on Tuesday nights during our MSc year. Our mate Meredith found it & bought it for our dinner one night, in honour of our White Mountain days. This wine however was the same price, but MUCH better than WM (which was just crap!)
a photo from inside the NEW St Pancras International Train Station - it is pretty cool & this photo does it no justice - you'll just have to visit me to see it in person :)
in comparison here is Paddington Station
remember I told you how I spent 2 days cleaning our labs . . . well here is the JUNK I cleaned out of one of our 3 tissue culture hoods
here it is post cleaning :)
view out my front window at 19.40 tonight . . . don't you just love all that light!!!!!

Being that today is the last day of March I figured I should reel off a few things I'm thankful for today:
  • British Summer Time (aka more sunlight in the evenings)
  • Plants in my flat which make me happy
  • washing machine in my flat so I don't have to go to the launderette!!!
  • PG Tips (tea) it's waaaaaay better than Tetley or Lipton or any crap American brand tea
  • my new iLuv stereo for my iPod!!
  • my new DVD player (also bought at Ramstein) which plays DivX ;-) DVDs meaning my mates in Germany can send me 1 DVD with 4 movies on it - YEAH BABY YEAH!!!!
  • my mate 'Topher who is going to let me kip on his couch whilst I'm in St Petersberg, Russia this coming May
  • especially thankful to Sally at for helping me to sort out my Russian Visa (which I hope to mail off tomorrow via Special Delivery Royal Mail)
  • my mate Andy who made THE BEST steak & ale pie with mash last night - it was DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • and last bit not least, the sun, which came out today for the first time in a long time, making it possible for it still to be bright out at half 7 when I came home tonight!

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Sunday, March 30

Photos from Natasha's 25th Birthday

okay, not a b'day photo, but my ticket from the brazil v sweden match on wednesday night
laura (new post doc in our lab) and her boyfriend alberto

me, tash (b'day girl & phd student in our lab), bianca (post doc in tb lab - in our open office plan) & laura

me, tash & rachel (phd student who works with kevin - for those of you who remember kevin from ti)
me & tash

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Thursday, March 27

Brazil 1 - 0 Sweden

Got a free ticket to the Brazil v Sweden football match last night at Emirates Stadium (where The Gunners play). It has a seating capacity of 60,355 and last night there were 60,221, darn good for an international friendly match, I think.

So you're wondering how I'm so lucky to get a free ticket are you???? Well my best mate, Jim called me up while I was on the bus heading home. He asked if I was free, I said yes, he said to meet him at the Tup (our local) in 20 minutes, I said okay. He showed up & off we went to the match. It wasn't raining hard when we got there, but by half time it was raining what I would say is not heavy, just consistently, so it became very damp & the wind really picked up, so we were a bit chilly. Of course I wasn't prepared to sit outside at the stadium since I was coming home from work, but it was still fun :)

The part which also played a key role in keeping us warm was doing the Mexican wave. The second best part was when Brazil scored in the second half . . . to be honest the first half was a bit boring, aside from a bit of fancy foot work from Robinho (who btw shares my b'day!)

And for those of you wondering how my March Challenge is going, I'm thankful to have such generous mates to give me free tickets to football matches and wonderful mates in Germany who let me visit for Easter!!

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Tuesday, March 25

Ramstein's Easter Fun-filled Weekend

Just back from visiting Neala, Ben, Chris, Nik, and Katelynn (along with Melissa, Mike, Madison & Blake) on Ramstein Air Base (Germany). Had a great time, even though it was freezing cold & snowing (lol)

Here are a few photos from the weekend
Blake & Melissa

Mike, Nik and Ben playing video games

Chris & Madison

Neala & me - don't know what we found so funny, but something!

Katelynn with her dad (Ben)

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Thursday, March 20

Thursday Meme from Ms. CheeseWiz

Four films I’d watch again:
1. Silence Of The Lambs
2. The Notebook
3. Office Space
4. What About Bob

Four places I’ve lived:
1. New York
2. Vermont
3. Rhode Island
4. England

Four TV shows I watch:
1. Grey's Anatomy
2. Army Wives
3. Re-runs of Friends
4. BBC news (not sure that's considered a show, but I watch it)

Four things to eat:
1. spag bol
2. curries
3. chicken & biscuits
4. mac & cheese (homemade of course!)

Four places I'd rather be:
1. My bed
2. Germany (I'm going tomorrow but wish I was there already)
3. travelling - just about anywhere would be wonderful
4. eating blueberry pancakes with REAL maple syrup in the ADK General Store (in NY)

Four things I'm thankful for:
1. ability to travel pretty often
2. my mum being sober for 27 years & 1 day (yes, that means her 27th anniversary was yesterday!!!!! How cool is that?!?!?!?!?)
3. my mates in London, who make it easier to be so far away from my family
4. my job- allows me to live overseas, to pay the bills, learn new things about immunology of infectious diseases and over all keeps me entertained M-F :)

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Tuesday, March 18


So the Airbus A380 super-jumbo jet has completed its first European commercial flight from Singapore to London. It arrived 15 minutes early & safely in London today, see photos here

Heathrow's had to construct a special pier at Terminal 3 to accommodate A380s planes, now that British Airways, Virgin, and Emirates.

Airbus says that the A380's impact on the environment is low as it burns 17% less fuel per seat than the current largest airliner, I think that's pretty cool!

As some of you may already know my obsession with this airplane is that my sister use to work on the A380 engine which Pratt & Whitney is making - their engine was not the one on today's plane, but will be going on some others in the future. (BTW she's not on that engine anymore)

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Monday, March 17

Happy Evacuation Day

Happy Evacuation Day & Happy St Patrick's Day!!

Evacuation Day is an official holiday commemorating the evacuation of Boston by British forces during the American Revolutionary War. It's also observed in Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. Governments are closed, along with the local schools. Thanks Jenn for telling me! Also Jenn deserves a big congrats, she's pregnant and due 3 days before her 30th birthday. I'm so excited for her :)

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Wednesday, March 12

CFSE labelling of heat killed Bps

I know I probably should have "asked" you all if anyone had advice before I started my experiment today, but I've been rather busy "chatting" with Miss A via email, cleaning the lab, doing vaccinations for Tash, doing category 3 harvests for Tash, and setting up stimulation experiments for myself, so suddenly I remembered I wanted to do this experiment, so I looked up a protocol from a paper I'd recently read (Use of CFSE staining of borreliae in studies on the interaction between borreliae and human neutrophils. Tuominen-Gustafsson et al, BMC Microbiology October 2006). So my point which is somewhat non-valid anymore as in a few hours I should have the answer for myself, but let's have a mini-contest to see who can guess the if it's going to work or not (obviously if you have a science background & can give me more validation as to why you think it will or will not work that would be wonderful as well!)

I would like to label some heat killed Bps with CFSE & then see if I can see them on the FACS machine. I think it would be REALLY cool to then give these bugs in & then look to see where they go &which cells they're interacting with, the problem is I'm not sure that dead Bps will pick up the CFSE stain in the first place. I'm not worried about the fact that they're dead & won't divide, I understand that, just wonder if my morning of staining is going to work or not in the first place. It's a very crude experiment & now I'm just waiting for the FACS machine to be free.

So my question to all of my readers (all 3 of you) do you reckon this will work & why????

UPDATE 18.15: I know the results so please give a guess & I'll let you know tomorrow.

Also Laura & I just booked our tickets to Berlin for a TB symposium in June, we're so excited to get a day of sight seeing on Saturday as well!!

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Tuesday, March 11

PhD or not to PhD that is some peoples question

A good mate of mine, who I shall call Miss A & I have been discussing getting a PhD. She's waaaaaay further ahead of this planning process than I am, as she actually has applied & gone for an interview & toured the campus. She emailed me today to say she doesn't think she wants to do it anymore & did I think this was weird. Here is my reply, which some of you might find interesting since I'm sure you've wondered, when or why has she not gotten her PhD yet. If you have more questions feel free to ask away.

Miss A,
I never even made it as far as an interview & visiting a campus, I just have this gut feeling like I'm not meant to be a PhD student. I don't think it has anything to do with me not being smart enough, just the stuff they (PhDs) do seems less like what I actually enjoy about the lab. I'm not into the writing of papers & grants. I enjoy the lab section of the job - I like playing around with media & bugs & at times even enjoy the LFU (email me if you haven't figured out what that is yet) work, that is when they're BALB, but even the B6 I'm getting use to - did I tell you I can now ip inject a B6 . . . I'd never done that before in my Trudeau life (as I like to call it).
I see Greg, Ulrich, John, Helena & Quentin pulling their hair out over money & grants. All worried they're research will be scooped by another lab or PI (principle investigator). Maybe I'm just not cut-throat enough for that position. I wish I knew exactly what it was, though I guess in a way it doesn't really matter, I just know I don't want what they have. That's not to say I won't want it in the future, just for now, I can't or maybe I don't want to handle it. I don't think it's a bad thing by any means, as I love my job & the work I'm doing now. If/when the day comes when I suddenly have the urge to go for the PhD, then hopefully I'll be in a position where I have the time & can pursue it.
Anne-Marie (a receptionist) had a bit of a go per say with me over this issue just last week when I bumped into her whilst on my way back from getting my new glasses (see photo in older post). She said, so when you gonna be done with your PhD? To which I explained I wasn't a PhD student, just here working for now. She said, oh come on, what a waste of time, you know you want one. I thought, the cheek of her to tell me it's a waste of time, how the heck does she know what I want & if what I'm doing is a waste of time?!?!?!?!
There are lots of things I still want to do in my life, like more travelling & in my mind signing up for 4-6 years for a PhD doesn't really sound like fun when I could spend that money & time doing other things. Some might call it laziness, but as Greg always says PhDs come & go, but the technical & administrative staff are the ones who run this place! So my point is that your decision not to get/want to get a PhD right now is nothing to be ashamed/embarrassed/worried about at all!

Anyone have thoughts/ideas/comments about Miss A & me not wanting a PhD?

On a completely different topic, today I'm thankful to the porters who scrubbed, cleaned, polished, and waxed our lab floor - it looks beautiful!!!

Okay off to have movie/curry night with Shani & Ellie now.

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Monday, March 10

London's weather forcast for the week

Monday - HIGH winds & heavy rain (they got that right!!!!!!!!!! If you don't believe me, check this out)

Tuesday - light rain with lots of wind

Wednesday - light showers

Thursday - heavy rain

Friday - heavy rain

Wow, it's gonna be a great week to be INSIDE at work :)

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Friday, March 7

Europe's TB capital

Some of you may have guessed it from the title, but I'm referring to the wonderful city I live in, London, England, named the TB capital of Europe, now who wouldn't be proud to have that title?!?!?!

Luckily researchers over at Imperial College (where all of my FLUs currently are - if you don't understand that email personally & I'll let you in, but for obvious reasons I cannot write it out on the blog) have come up with a new faster TB test, check it out here. Currently the way to test for TB is long and invasive procedure, consisting of 3 days in hospital, procedures to get sputum samples, and then growing the TB bacteria in the lab - that's what they currently call the "gold-standard" test . . . doesn't seem so gold standard to me, but I guess when it's the best you can get it's gold.

This new test will look for interferon gamma proteins being produced from immune cells from infection & not vaccination (remember until only a few months ago the UK gave the BCG vaccination to all children) which the Mantoux test (aka PPD test) cannot do.

For those of you not in the know about the TB vaccination, BCG, here is a bit more info than you actually ever wanted to know. Bacille Calmette-Guérin (Albert Calmette a French bacteriologist and Camille Guérin a French vet) is the attenuated (aka weakened but still live) bovine tuberculosis bacillus. It has lost its virulence in humans due to years of culturing in an artificial medium. It was first given to humans in 1921 and depending on geographical location and time post vaccination it can be up to 80% effective in preventing tuberculosis. It has been shown to be efficacious against tuberculous meningitis in children, but much less so against pulmonary tuberculosis. Another interesting tidbit, should you ever be in London & fancy a chat with Mr Paul Fine about it's efficacy, be sure to plan a few hours, he LOVES this topic!!

So today I'm thankful for this discovery & the fact that it's Friday :)

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Thursday, March 6

glasses & sewing machine photos

Here's the sewing machine I bought a few weeks ago:
Here I am 4 eyes and all!
Spent ALL day in Croydon today at my visa extended interview - they warned me to be available for up to 3 hours . . . the short of it is that after paying £550, sitting around from 11am to 4.30pm I got it, so I can stay till Dec 31st!! Yes that means I have to do this whole fun filled process again in a few months, but in my March Challenge of being more thankful, I'm just glad I got this extension :)

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Wednesday, March 5


let's start with my thankfulness first off! i'm thankful for dan who organised & cleaned the shelves in the tissue culture room. i'm thankful to tash, mel & laura for helping me clean the main part of the lab, we still have LOTS to do, but we made a valiant effort today & everyone will see the difference immediately.

for those you of dying to hear about my new four eyes . . . no longer have to wait as I got my glasses today so instead of :-) I suppose I need to start making 8-) smiles to show off my lovely glasses (lol) i do apologise that i have no photos of them yet as i was super busy spring cleaning the lab & then sorting out my paperwork for the much awaited visa extension interview tomorrow in croydon, so you'll all just have to wait . . .

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Tuesday, March 4

March PS Challenge

So how is everyone doing with their "be more thankful & try to take fewer things for granted" March challenge?

I'm rather proud of myself for my participation. For example yesterday, I showed up at the pub to meet some mates who happen to all be running late. I sat there by myself for 35 minutes before anyone showed up & I was getting a bit impatient, but again I thought, "what would Tricia do?" and then I realised she'd probably give anything to be outta the hospital, even if her mates were running late. So I sat quietly reading until they all arrived. Instead of bollocking them for being late, I just said, "glad you made it, I was worried maybe I'd gotten the date wrong"

Today I went to the gym & went on the treadmill, walking for 2 minutes then running for 2 minutes for a total of 50 minutes. I had only planned on going for 20 minutes, but then I decided to push a bit harder & keep going for Tricia & my March challenge. When I got done, I was a sweaty mess, but felt good for having done it!

So how are you all doing? Leave me a comment so I know . . .

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