Thursday, April 26, 2012

London - ESH-2012 - pre-report

For the first time in years I am back in London, and back in Love. It is just the most lovable city anywhere, and that is when it is windy and slight chill is in the air. They have promised rain. I couldn't say why I like London. Especially not why I feel different coming here, going through customs, riding the subway, and checking in to my hotel, than what I felt in San Diego, doing the same thing in better weather.
The ESH saw fit to award my abstract with a travel award this year. Very nice. Even more so considering they got me a suite less than fifty meters from the conference. Yes, a suite. First a small hallway with a side-board, then a massive bathroom, a sitting room with a kitchenette/bar (sadly unstocked), and finally a bedroom with a huge double-bed. There is a wide-screen TV both in the sittingroom and the bedroom. As usual, the only thing I care about is that there is free wifi, and there is.

Once I had installed myself I went out for braised mutton in gruel and a Guinness. Very English, and just what I was looking for after a week of margaritas and fajitas.
I pretty much missed the first day, but on the other hand it was mostly working groups and ESH-statements-in-the-form-of-seminars. Tomorrow til Sunday will be three crammed days of sessions. They run until 18:30 on Sunday so I probably have to miss the last one just to get to my flight home.


It is always interesting to see what people find interesting. I use that provides a free tracking service for blogs with up to 1000 hits/month or something like that. In addition, google also keeps track of everyone ever visiting, but you have to pay to get at the good data. Going through my visitor logs for the last couple of months. There are some clear winners.

Using the OS X clipboard in R

Fillet of horse sous vide

Are to two most read. Then there are some that people arrive at after having used conspicuous google-searches.

Balls, great huge balls

But, rather gratifyingly, my very first post still receives some traffic. I guess there just isn't that much information on the Prevalence of hypertension in Norway to get.

When looking at visitors there are some regulars. You know who your are. Thanks for the traffic, it is good for my ego. Then there are some avid readers, what about reading 20 pages in a row as a visitor out of Aberdeen did the other day (no kidney research group there as far as I know, fmc corporation, I thought it was an ISP, but it seems to be a deep-sea oil-related business). Not the first time either. The only other hits like that are centered around one family member or other. I just hope I haven't developed a stalker.

Anyway, I suppose I should write more about practical problems in statistical programming, cooking strange meats, and eh… let's just say balls.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

EB2012 - summary

The best chili and chocolate icecream I have tasted this side of the atlantic. Can't remember the name of the restaurant, but it was a hippish, italianish place on 5th avenue.

So, today is the second last day at Experimental Biology. It may be that I am a little late for the sessions this Tuesday morning. Yesterday was the renal-section dinner. I wouldn't call the party wild, but we managed to cram in a bit of warm-up, some post-dinner beer, and then we hit the margaritas. This being San Diego, the margaritas do not deny themselves. So, here I am blogging behind drawn curtains instead of attending the morning-sessions.

The conference has been quite a success even though I didn't present anything myself. Two of my students had posters. Posters that were gratifyingly well-attended. I established one new collaboration, and got invited to two labs to present our data. It is a special year for the American Physiological Society, 125 years since the establishment. Session-wise the meeting was excellent, although the renal- and the water and electrolyte-sections overlapped as always. I mean, who could be expected to choose between such interesting topics as "Angiotensin II and sympathetic nerve activity," "Novel signaling pathways in renal pathophysiology," and "Regulation of water and electrolyte-balance in diabetic nephropathy." It is impossible, and that is before even considering the programs of the other sections of the APS, or the other five societies that organise their own programs.

The exhibitions were, as they always are, full of wolves with bar-code scanners. I will probably be getting mail from them for years to come, but this year it might have been worth it. When I was looking at surgical instruments, as I am wont to do, I was looking at a double vascular clamp (a kind of holder for appoximating two vessels that you want to connect). These are generally quite expensive. This time, however, it turns out they had stopped producing the one I was looking at, and that I could have it for a smile and a song (almost).

Miniature vascular double-clamp with adjustable distance. Street value: $500, Today's price: $30. The two additional clamps was a bonus.

Now the cleaning lady wants to do my room. I shall valiantly go out into the sunshine and try to appear unfazed as the bright California sun sears my sensitive eyes, and the loud American noises pounds my fragile head. I might go for some more of that delicious chili and chocolat icecream.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Conference-season 2012

For conference-season this year I have two major meetings planned. I have done my share of extra time in the A&E during Easter to be able to go without using up my vacation. First, I am bringing two students to Experimental Biology in San Diego. Then, I am going to London for the 22nd annual meeting of the European Society of Hypertension where I have to present my data myself.

This year both societies are providing iPhone apps with the program: EB2012 and iESH2012. The Experimental Biology is actually available for Android as well. The EB-App works brilliantly, while the ESH-App shows nothing what so ever at the moment. The screen-captures in the app-store looks promising, so I understand it as if the App will be some kind of live-update thingy. That does not really help me now when I try to plan ahead.

Using the brilliant round-trip planner I even managed to book a round-trip flight so that I do not have to go back to Sweden in-between or something equally stupid.

Having spent all my time in the A&E and helping put together the posters for EB, I am hopelessly behind in constructing my own poster. If I had had a talk it would have been much simpler. Then I could have kept preparing and changing it until the last minute, or at least the day before. Now I have to have time to print it before-hand.

So, maybe I should not sit here blogging. I will, however, try to report something from the meetings once I am there.

Sunday, April 08, 2012


One dish I have quite recently gotten to enjoy is salad. It is almost never done well at restaurants, and it is hard to do well in Scandinavia. It is getting better, but you can still only get really good, sun-ripened vegetables for a short period in the early autumn. Otherwise you have to buy your vegetables and let them lie for a week or so.

Now, the beef-salad is one of my favourites, you can do it with any meat, but prime, well-hung beef is just unbeatable. It is best served on plates, but you can equally well mix it in your salad-bowl and just put it on the table.

First you need some bitter lettuce. Today, I used ruccola, but finely-sliced endives are another brilliant choice. If you don't like it bitter, you are wrong may like it better with some baby-spinach. You can also add fresh herbs, for example basil. A less bitter choice may be a good idea if you are having wine, especially good red wine, to drink. The bitterness has a tendency to overpower the tannins and make the wine taste like juice.

Then you need ripe tomatoes. Best are the ones you watch fall and then use directly, but you can just buy your tomatoes and leave them to ripen on your counter for a couple of days and it will be almost as good. Watch out for really unripe tomatoes, they go powdery and soft before they get sweet and juicy.

I often use some peppers, red in this case, to get that crunchy feeling. Lately I have also started using Spanish pepper or mild jalapeno to get some extra sting. Olives are important, and they have to be good quality olives. There are any number of types, the green ones I used today were Greek Halkidiki olives.

I added an Italian air-dried ham, just because I could. Not Parma, but quite good anyway. There should always be cheese in a salad. I almost always use Parmigiano Reggiano, but Grana Padano is also good or Västerbotten, the only Swedish cheese worth its name.

Once you have built your salad, then you cook the beef. Rare to blue. Slice it, and spread it over the top of the salad. Finish off with a large-bodied olive oil and a liberal amount of Aceto Balsamico di Modena. Observe that I have never spent too much on a Balsamic Vinegar. They just keep getting better the more you spend.

Serve while the beef is still warm.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Opera, Baroque, and Vampire Weekend

I was never very fond of pop (not you Pop, pop the music). The lyrics always got in the way of the music, I thought (and often the music was not to my taste). Then Spotify happened. I promptly fleshed out my collection with new and exciting interpretations of Bach, Monteverdi, Telemann and Lully. It was glorious. Since it was free, I listened to some pop that my friends suggested. Most left little impression, but someone suggested Lily Allen, with the country classic: "Not Fair," and the equally brilliant: "Knock em out."

Let's just say that lyrics suddenly appeared in their proper focus. And then, someone else suggested Vampire Weekend. Their music can only be described as reminiscent of a British boy-band that went to the Caribbean, got high, and tried to remember public-school. Calling their music psychedelic will only put my life in bleak perspective for you, so I won't. Just listen to their piece: "Mansard roof", or "Oxford-comma."

Anyway, for as long as I had Spotify I did listen to some pop, and quite enjoyed it. Then I decided I didn't listen enough to warrant premium, and I can't abide adverts. In short, I stopped listening to stuff I didn't own. That was probably two years ago, or something.

So, -why this post? you ask.

Well, I should be producing a table and figure, basically statistics with bling, and I'm not highly motivated. The day before yesterday was a big funding dead-line in Sweden. Needless to say I worked the A&E two weeks straight before that, and had to do all the final writing in my spare time, that is, at night. Instead of preparing these data I have to do for some conference or other, I have spent the last hour, or so, listening to clever genre-twisting pop-music. Before I get back to my procrastinating ways, I'll leave you with a bit of modern music, a fugue on Telemann composed by Max Reger and played by Igor Levit.