Thursday, June 30, 2005


Last night I played soccer for 2 hours. Real soccer with people that could play. Not the youngest people I admit (I was the youngest), but they play on a weekly base so they're pretty well trained. Unlike me... I hadn't played this kind of soccer for years and altough I really liked doing it, my legs tell me I am not used to running around for a couple of hours any more. We played 3 on 3 so it was quite intensive. I like the feeling though, it's good to feel that you've been working out... It was also a very nice evening to play soccer last night. Warm, but not too warm, just perfect. I will certainly do this again...

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Animals and iPod

Last night I saw a raccoon strolling around the backyard. Kind of weird to realize they are walking around here freely, there are also a lot of squirrels, my lab is surrounded by deer and I'm told there are also lynxes in the area. Then again I was also told that it would be sunny from may to november....

Less fun; my iPod broke down yesterday. It still plays without any problems, it is just not recognized by any computer as an iPod. Pretty annoying, because this means I can not change the music that is on it. I did a diagnostic show and it told me my hard drive is damaged. Fortunately it is still under warranty for one more month, so I will have go to an apple store and see what they can do for me. It will probably mean I will lose the 38 gb of music that is on it. That is not too bad, because I still have it on my computer..... which is in the Netherlands... We'll see what happens.


Last saturday we went to Ron's place for a BBQ. Ron is my uncle's colleague and they are in the same band (although some of the wifes expressed their doubts about the present existince of this band; Chemical X). Although I hardly knew anybody there, I had a great time. All the people (mainly colleagues) were very nice and all the kids were totally enjoying the trampoline and disney movies. I discovered the refined taste of Margherita's (before I had never mixed my tequila with anything other than bitter lemon) and sitting outside with bbq-food and fire is always fun. Then their was this weird dog that without any result kept asking for attention.

[EDIT1] It was pointed out to me that the fact that one of the guests offered to BBQ the dog on multiple occasions should not go unmentioned. He's right, that was pretty funny too. I almost forgot. And for all you prejudiced people out there; yes he was Asian....[EDIT1]

I was also impressed by Ron's collection of autographed guitars. He had guitars from Megadeth, Social Distortion, the Donna's, the Offspring and a couple more. It was like his own private "Stairway to heaven".

[EDIT2] In retrospective I wonder if Ron's guitar collection reflects his lack of wood :P (terrible insider's joke) [EDIT2]

Laptop matters

Well, apparently laptop repair shops don't read emails, faxes or letters, because altough I have told them 3 times they should not call me when my laptop's ready (cause I'll be in another timezone) I received a wake-up call last week at 5 am local time telling me it was repaired and I could come to pick it up. Because of the happy contents of the message I quickly forgave them their mistake of waking me up. Now my parents can bring my laptop when they're here for their holidays next week and I can finally work on my own machine..

My colleague Tim was less lucky in the laptop department this week. He spilled some coffee over his, which caused his screen backlight to stop working and the keyboard to behave really strange (double or non responding keys). Repairing would cost at least 500 dollars and we couldn't do it ourselves, so it's now degraded to be a desktop computer by using an external monitor and keyboard.

Computers.....there so useful if everything is working fine....


Besides his birthday Max attended a soccercamp last week. He got practise for 3 hours every day (supported by his mom and sister) and he really seemed to like it. It's a shame however that his UK coaches poisoned him with lies. I'll explain for the last time; The best soccer-players in the world are not from England!! The kid's half Dutch and should realize that's were the talent's from!!!


Last week (I know, it has been a while) we had a birthday-party theme. On tuesday my colleague Mary, the immunologist and "lab's mother" turned 55 which was a good reason for the lab to go out for an extensive lunch. We went to downtown Portland and had a great lunch. The trip into the city from our lab must have looked pretty funny, I was in the "international convertible"; An American, Ukrainian, Chinese and Dutch guy in one car. In the afternoon there was cake and icecream, which seems to be a normal combination here. Needless to say we did not get a lot of work done that day.

Thursday it was time for a much more anticipated birthday; Max turned 5! He had been telling us for two weeks how long it would take before he had as birthday. For a 5-year old a birthday is one big rush of excitement; presents, cake, attention and a lot of it all! He had his party at "Pump it Up", which is gym full of blow-up slides, jumping pillows etc. Party-heaven for these kids. After jumping we went to the party room for cake and Max, got his presents sitting on a giant blow-up chair. When all the kids were leaving again, he told me; "I've got a lot of new toys, we're gonna open them all tonight" Of course he was to tired to live up to this, but I got my fair share of Lego and Playmobil the following days.....

Monday, June 20, 2005

Multnomah Falls

Sunday, we decided not to work and enjoy the nice weather instead. We went down to the Columbia River Gorge and Multnomah Falls.

So after a month I finally acted like a tourist as I was walking around with my camera on a sunny day. It's a very beautiful scenery. There are some nice wetlands along the river that might interest a couple of my biology friends but have merely an esthetic value to me. Nevertheless I enjoyed myself.

At Multnomah Falls there was something going on that included music and all kinds of volunteers with stands. The kids got to make a necklace and saw Smokey the Bear (which was both scary and interesting). On the way back they fell asleep in the car within minutes, exhausted from a day of impressions. It is good to know the area is so beautiful and I am happy I will have some more time to explore...

World Wind

I found a great piece of software. At you can download WorldWind, which is a program that allows you scan the globe and zoom in with the use of sattelite pictures. Too bad the Netherlands aren't available in high resolution yet, but there's a lot of other stuff to play with. In the left picture there is a relief scan of the Oregon coast and Portland and the right picture shows my lab. That's how close you can get! There are also a lot of add-ins available that give you the same effects of al the planets and the moon! ANd now for the best part; IT'S FREE! So go check it out, it garantuees you some playtime...

ID? What the %$#%$?

Okay, I always thought that you only needed ID to buy alcohol at the age of 15 and so did you right? Wrong... After a long day of scraping, sanding and painting at the old house, we came home saturday evening, where dinner was already served (thanks Bev), we finished dinner and went out to pick up a movie and relax a little bit. In the videostore, we decided, in a moment of sheer brilliance, that a beer would go down very well, so we stopped at Albertson's on the way back. And now for the fun part; we weren't allowed to buy the beer because I did not have any ID on me. I'm f*****g 24 years old and I was with my uncle who is 37 and did have ID on him. Now should I take this as a compliment or be totally stunned about the madness in this country? You decide... Just wondering about the consequences of this everyone-in-the-group-of-people-of-which-one-is-buying-alcohol-
skull-more-generally-known-as-brains-policy. Does this mean a family doing their weekend groceries can not bring a bottle of wine if the kids accompany them to the grocery store? I am truly puzzled with this... So we went to another store and I waited in the car like a 14 year old sending out his big brother for a beer... Going through al this trouble the beers tasted extra well while watching Oceans Twelve, which I had already seen on the plain but this time I could actually hear what they were saying which came in very handy in understanding the plot... Still that one sentence "can I see your ID please, the both of you..." I don't think I have ever had someone asking me this in an alcohol related context.... Weird.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Music for this week

The three albums of the moment (at least for last and this week) are definately; System of a Down - Mezmerize, No Use For a Name - Keep them Confused and The White Stripes - Get behind me Satan. Furthermore I finally start to appreciate the sound of Audioslave. The first time I was expecting a Rage against the machine sequel and I was kind of disappointed. But if you listen to it like it's the vastly improved Soundgarden, it's actually pretty good :)

Sunday, June 12, 2005


It has been a while since my last post, but guess what; I have actually been quite busy. In the mean while I have filled out a ton of forms at NSI/OHSU to allow get my own badge and keys to all areas. I took some preliminary courses on respect/harassment/discrimination at the university, privacy while working with patient records and safe working with research animals and lab equipment. I don't think they have told me anything new but, since this the USA possible liability claims have been taken care of... In the mean time I spend the weekends working at Martin and Angees old house, and I must say it has turned from "just helping out" into a kind of "it WILL be done before july"..

At the lab we started recording last week and we had some really succesful days with lots of nice cells to record from. The last couple of days however were worthless but the mice we used those days were older and heavier and we found out that the anesthetic we kept at room temperature should have been kept at 4 degrees celsius. The mice still were anesthesized nicely, but there were probably some side-effects.

For all that are interested I will try to explain what it is that we are doing; In the cerebellum (part of the brain) a lot of sensory information is collected and finds a way to the motor cortex (other part of the brain) from which movements are initiated. The area we're looking at collects information from eye movements and the vestibular organ (balance organ/inner ear organ). There are different types of nerve-cells in this area; Purkinje-cells (Pcells) are the central output to the motor cortex and different types of helper cels (interneurons) are located systematically around these Pcells creating a kind of circuitry. The anatomy and signal transduction of this circuitry is pretty well known but the functional circuitry is still unknown and our point of interest. The respons of Pcells is known but the origin of this response is not. We use vestibular stimuli (a moving table) in combination with electrophysiological recordings in an anesthesized mouse's cerebellum to map the responses of the different interneurons. this will eventually unravel the circuitry I mentioned before and might bring us closer to a cure for Tinnitus, Meniere's disease and motion sickness. If anyone cares and wants to know more, feel free to ask me. I hope I managed to explain things a bit clearly....

Saturday 4 June sucked. It was my girlfriend's birthday and I was at the other side the world. I send here some flowers and talked to her on the phone, but being there would have been way better. Well, I guess I just have to wait another two months and then she will be here to visit! That'll be great. Other than that I miss Sita somewhat, I am not really bothered with any form of homesickness. After all, a lab is a lab, whether it is in the Netherlands or the USA and I have been to busy to even realize I have been here for a month already. I guess it helps a lot that I am getting along with family very well. I took Max to the pool last week without his dad coming along and of course this was quite an adventure for the little guy. Especially when I told him we were going to walk (he called it "hike", but it's only 10 minutes) and take a secret path. Then he even saw a woodpecker and we came along a tunnel; all very exciting when your 4. At the pool he behaved perfectly (besides the standard attempts to get candy and play the videogames), guess there's no point in whining if your parents aren't there. Well it's sunday night, I am about to hit the showers and go to sleep. Tomorrow we'll see if we have any luck in our scheduled recordings. I hope to post again a bit sooner next time..