Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The September issue

Although I physically left Fred Hutch a while back some unfinished business remained after departing, such as my two last articles for Science Spotlight. Readers, I give you:

BSCL therapy for ocular GVHD - a sight for sore eyes
An improved method to detect low levels of methylated DNA

In the first piece you can learn about a neat way of treating graft-versus-host disease in the eyes, using bandage soft contact lenses. The second story is of slightly more technical nature, describing an improved method for detection of methylated genes, which in turn may be used as biomarkers for colorectal cancer.

Writing for Science Spotlight this past year has been a wonderful learning experience—challenging at times, but incredibly worthwile. As faculty mentor, Dr. Julian Simon supported the team of editors in the best possible way, and beyond that served as a personal mentor for me concerning all things related to science writing (and science [and life] in general).

In short: this was great. I'm very happy that I was able to do this for a year, and would not have hesitated to apply for a second term, had I stayed at the center.

I hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse of the research that is performed at Fred Hutch—I certainly enjoyed writing about it!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Putting the Ä in Ämerica

I realize that it's been awfully quiet on the blog since I packed up my apartment in Fremont and shipped myself and my things back to Sweden. Now that I'm here, I've had some time to reflect on my time in the United States (and elsewhere). Lots of great memories, of course! One of the many things that amused me during my self-imposed expatriation was the Americans' enthusiastic use of diacritical marks—umlauts, mainly—in places where one would not necessarily expect them. I started ”collecting” these little oddities early on, thinking that it could be fun to eventually share them.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe the time has come—but first, a small disclaimer: this post might not make much sense to the non-Swedes. On the other hand, perhaps there is something to be learned? (Nah, not likely.)

The first example, which most people probably know about already, is the snack bars by the brand Lärabar—simply pronounced ”lara bar” by the locals. The same producer has another line of fruit/nut bars with the double-dotted name über. Why not just call them ”snäck bärs” while you're at it?

Evidence of further umlauting is often found in the candy isle...

...and, to my surprise, also among the wines. How about a fine bottle of aged Pölka dot with that Seitan Roulade with Chestnut-Champignon Stuffing?

Another family of goods with a strong preference for extra dots and dashes are hair and body care products. Just look at this collection of items, found at the local pharmacy:

The more diacritics, the less dandruff? More dots, less frizz? Göt 2b kinkier—now that's a winning name.

After applying that first-class Jāsön shampoo, perhaps you need a fashionable scrunchy to complete the look? Hmm, let's see... Wait, here's one!

Ah, there we go. Next, a collection of random items that made me giggle over the years:

A soft neck pillow from Clöudz:

A cozy candle from Cløve:

Bling stickers (limited edition!) from Colorbök:

If it's metal it's gotta have umlauts— I found Camöuflage in Canada.

Perhaps some power vinyasa after that? The folks at häutēyoga seem to know what they're doing.

Music maestro Buzz Brümp knows how to attract a keen audience to Tractor Tavern.

Another Canadian gem: Blue Ångel.

North America isn't the only place for misplaced dots; in Costa Rica, kölbi is the biggest and oldest network provider. Vamös juntos!

Finally, a colorful mural from my old hoods. I'm not 100% sure that it's actually a misplaced umlaut, but I kind of like the idea that it's saying LAMA G's Cäfe.

Ådiōs, fölks!