Monday, June 28, 2010

So this past weekend I went to Zurich for the international Zurich weekend where other trainees working in Europe and originating from all over the world meet up for some parties and exploring the city. When I arrived we went to a bar area to watch the world cup. Met tons of people sorry if I messed up or didnt remember your name >.<. After the scavenger hunt I had to go back to work. Why work on a Saturday? because it was the only time that this machine is available. It is called the Swiss Light Source and it is a source of high energy x-ray radiation. We use it to determine the protein structure based on how the radiation scatters upon hitting a crystallized sample of protein. So I observed the post docs using the beam line until about 1 am then one of them decided they were tired and wanted to go home so they very graciously drove me to the train station in the city they live in. From here I took the train back to Zurich and met up with the IAESTE group at ETH ( the local technical university) for a party. After the party we went back to the bunker. I slept for 2 hours woke up and then went to swim in lake Zurich and hang out in the park. At about 4 we went to watch the World Cup again but after Germany scored four goals and England only had one we decided our cheering was a lost cause.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I am at work right now waiting for a centrifuge run to finish. Excited for Zurich this weekend! I will post something about this later. So this week was a pretty good week. The weather started to warm up finally and I am starting to get to know people more. Also I am moving up in our labs World Cup pool. Although I am still pretty far behind the front runners. Yesterdays game with USA vs Algeria was really exciting. There were so many times I jumped out of my seat hoping but then nothing. I can see why some people might say the sport is boring but there are also times when the drama is like that of basketball or other sports. I can definitely see the appeal especially if there are people who want to join in and watch. Watching by myself back at my hotel room is much less exciting atmosphere. Anyway the centrifuge run is about done so...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Books and Cheese

I went to St. Gallen and Appenzell this past weekend. St. Gallen is home to a Stiftsbibliothek, a library housed inside an abbey. They don't let you take pictures inside the library so all I have is pictures of the abbey. But this library is breathtakingly beautiful and it houses books that are over a thousand years old. St. Gallen also has alot of shopping and from the posters plastered around a wide variety of nightlife? But since it was Sunday most of these things were not happening. So from St. Gallen I traveled to Appenzeller where there was this medieval festival. They were giving out free beer and selling really good bratwurst and local cheese. I had something called raclette for dinner. Usually people eat this in the winter but it was just so good. Its a plate of melted cheese accompanied by some potatoes and vegetables. You sorta mix it all up then eat =D. Ive never had so much cheese in my life. I'll probably take a break from cheese for a while haha. Argh slow internet= not many pictures.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

So today instead of a weekend long trip I just made a day trip to nearby Schaffhausen which is nearby Rhinefalls, the largest waterfall in Europe! Before I went to the falls I walked around the old German styled city and looked into some shops and picked up some souvenirs because unlike other trips this one only cost 4o francs. This included the trip onto the rock in the middle of Rhinefalls =D.Unfortunately it started raining. At this point though I am not surprised. Weather here changes very suddenly. One interesting fact that I learned from the lonely planet book I got from my sister was that Schaffhausen was actually bombed by allied forces. The US apologized and said it was confused because the city is so close to the border with Germany. Only it was bombed again shortly afterward. So the book speculated that there was a factory there that was supplying arms to the Nazis? I also saw some old castles and did a lot of walking. There was this path I walked down where the houses really reminded me of the levee back at home the only difference was that here the water moved much faster.
So I wish I could put up more pictures but internet is slow so in like a half hour of uploading I only got one.

Friday, June 18, 2010


So I think I promised pictures last time and I think my internet can handle it this time.

Group 1! We were followed by group 2 which was mostly composed of soldiers on leave. I think I am the most scared in this picture cause we haven't jumped off anything yet.

This is a picture of me jumping off a ledge and doing a little twist to fall into a little slot carved into the wall that would guide me into the right spot in the water where it was safely deep enough.

This was the jump where if you didn't grab onto the instructors hand after you surfaced the waterfall was strong enough to force you into a little loop. Not terribly dangerous just sucked if you missed his hand.

Look at the smiling faces of people happy to be alive! haha just kidding everyone I talked to was saying how much fun and how amazing this was. I agree.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Get Busy Living...

Over the weekend I went to Interlaken by myself because I got kicked off the list for a trip to Gruyerre to see cheese and chocolate making. Oh well. Instead I went to the Greenfields concert where I saw The Prodigy, and Rammstein amongst others. Im not a big head-banging rock fan and although I didn't know what they were saying I really like Rammstein. I thought I was going to enjoy The Prodigy too but I think there must be a German version? I guess I was expecting the British one. I also found that German really works well with that kind of rock haha. So thats what I did every night friday-sunday. Saturday I spent most of the day canyoning. Which was crazy yet amazingly fun. Ever wonder what its like to jump off a waterfall? Well this is how you would find out. The very first thing they told us was don't hesitate. There I stood peering over the edge. Water rushed under my feet as the instructor told me where I needed to jump. 40 feet below the white water churned. I really wanted to hesitate. On the count of three I leapt out as far as I could. After what felt like forever I hit the cold water and was deep underneath. The life jacket buoyed me up but I still tried to swim like crazy for the surface. When I emerged I gasped for breath not from working hard but just from the shock of the whole thing. Slid down rock faces and jumped over waterfalls for another six hours. Oh and the view was amazing while we were doing this. It was a little overcast but you could see most of the way up the canyon from which you had just jumped/slid down. Sunday I tried to go to the top of Europe. But the weather was really bad so it was not worth the trip so instead I explored the city of Interlaken and its neighboring villages. Oh yea and whenever I could I watched some WM. There were lots of Americans at the hostel so there was a pretty big showing for the USA - England game. Pictures aren't uploading but I'll put them up as soon as I can.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Luzern Trip and Haul

So Saturday morning I wake up bright and early at 6:00 to get on the bus to Brugg. Took the train into Zurich and then got on the train to Luzern. Actually I was supposed to meet other IAESTE people in Zurich but I wasn't sure if it was them because there were just so many people at the stations designated meeting point. Its this big sign with four arrows and a dot. There are signs that direct you to this meeting point from all the platforms. Pretty cool. Anyway arrived in Luzern and met the rest of the IAESTE group at Luzern's meeting point where there was no one, so when they arrived I instantly knew it was them. There were people from ALL over the world and they were all very friendly. Sadly I did not get to meet all of them. We walked to the organizers car and dropped off our stuff then stopped by a lake to wait for people and to eat lunch. This was the first time I had been to a beach where it was ok to sunbathe in the nude or at partially nude. Took a tour of the city where I saw some a highly decorated bridge, a prison, cathedrals, the city wall, a lion statue, and street shops where people sell things literally from their houses. According to my friend Kirsteen some people have things that they give away too apparently but I didn't see anything. I think it might have been cause I was trying to keep up with the guide. People from our group suggested that since there wasn't much to be said about each site we went to that we should just make up stories. I don't remember who said this and the whole story but I think i t was Roman who told some story about how way back when they used to ride on lions. After this tour we went to the transport museum where there were old planes trains and automobiles. There were also a bunch of new types of transportation like electric bikes vespas and cars that you could test drive. As long as your drivers license said something about a motorcycle you could drive the vespas haha. Then after lounging at the transport museum for a while we went to drop off stuff at our hostel which was four bunk beds in a portable. Not bad accommodations just very hot ones. Apparently in the girls room some of the girls came back with wet hair and forgot to open the window. Resulting in water just pouring down the window and general sauna conditions. After dropping off our stuff we went for a quick swim. There was this place near our campsite called LIDO but they were going to charge us like 6 francs to go in to their playarea/beach. Granted there were lots of cool things in there like volleyball and diving platforms etc. So as frugal students we decided to just go into the lake as soon as we got past the fence surrounding Lido. We saw some locals diving off the pier and although we weren't sure if this was allowed or not (note: there was no ladder) we decided to do it anyway. I was the second one into the water and wow was it cold. I think the fact that it was a very hot day made it seem even colder. So I swam for my life following locals to see how they were going to get out. From far away their nimble climb up the side of the pier's post seemed easy but when I got there it actually looked kind of hard. Instead of climbing straight up there was a slight backwards facing slope. Fortunately though my intense desire to exit the water inspired me to make the climb pretty quickly. The guy behind me I think it was Roman was telling me to hurry up too lol. I guess he was pretty cold too. Apparently though nobody said to the others that it was cold so even the last person to go in had a quite a shock. Then I went back to take a shower. The showers were actually very nice here and the meals were great too. We had spaghetti bolognese and salad for dinner. We had orange juice milk coffee tea cheese butter jam yogurt and lots of different kinds of carbs for breakfast. After breakfast we went to a mountain nearby called Pilatus? GREAT VIEW.

Bottom of the Mountain

Top of the Mountain. What a Hike
JK there is a train which is really cool.

You know how people make haul videos on youtube well I made a haul pic from today's small shopping spree for food and a new pair of sandals cause I broke my other ones in Luzern. Im really excited to use this swiss army knife like thing that separates into a fork a spoon and a knife. Also got some cereal. Tried to look for some swiss cereal but I couldn't find any. Finally got some really cheap chocolate 100g for .45 francs!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Starting the Main Experiment

So today I finished up some procedures that were kinda like practice/prep. Now I am going to do the real deal! And my post doc is going away on to a conference so I'm kinda on my own. Hope I don't mess up. Still there will be lots of other people to help me. Lets see what else. I've been trying to save some money so for the past couple days I've been making/eating sandwiches which are much cheaper than say a meal at the cafeteria. So far I've had tuna, salami (2X), bologna. Well as you can see other than work not much is going on out here in the almost countryside so all I have to talk about is what I eat haha.
The very gracious owner and chef for the hotel/restaurant where I am living gave me a bottle of wine that he makes himself and a very tasty carbonated apple drink. In turn I gave him a bottle of Beringer to give him a taste of Napa Valley. Hope he likes it. Well tomorrow I will be going to Luzern for the weekend. I am probably not going to bring my laptop so no updates for a while. But there should be lots of pictures and more stuff to talk about when I get back.
This robot makes very small droplets of concentrated protein and precipitant. ( I think. Just kind of guessing from what I saw somebody do with it) and then determines which conditions result in crystallization.

This robot takes pictures of prepared hanging drops. So you can look for crystals from the comfort of your desk.

Today's Kaffee snack=D

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Work and Play

So I promised more pictures. Here we go.
This is a swiss porto poty. Its so futuristic and sleek.

This is a small snack we had on the hill above Zurich. The chocolate cake was very good and that apple juice is slightly diluted with carbonated water. Tastes kind of like champagne.

Theres a heli pad in front where I work.

This the lab bench next to my desk. There are so many lab tools here! so I didn't have time to take pictures of the whole lab.

Time for kaffee as they say in Switzerland

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Weekend in Zurich

So I spent the weekend in Zurich exploring all the famous shopping districts, Bahnhoffstrasse and Old Town. The shops here were very nice but also very expensive. Also we had the most time to walk around on Sunday when almost everything was closed! The only places that were open on Sunday were the ones underneath the train station. There were still a lot of stores here and also an open air market with a wide variety of Asian offerings. We signed up for a tour of the city for Monday afternoon. Woke up on Monday to do some errands and prepare for my three months here then went on the tour. Drove through many of the places we had walked past but also some of the places we didn't know about. Learned some interesting history and heard some funny stories. For example the city of Zurich used to be surrounded by a wall and it used to not encourage shows of wealth. Then we went on a gondola ride up to this scenic mountain with a great restaurant on it. This restaurant has delicious chocolate cake and sells this carbonated apple drink that tastes like champagne instead of martinelli's. After that we got back on the bus and the bus got on a ferry to take us to the other shore of Lake Zurich. After that we ate dinner at the train station and I got on the train to head back to where I live for work. Pictures and my first day of work later!