Friday, July 24, 2009

Mora or Less; or, "Vasa the matter w' you?"

Joe Suddenly it seems that the summer is nearly over, leaving us with a long list of things we meant to do and little time left in which to do them. With that in mind, we set off this past weekend to check one item off our list: a trip on the Inlandsbanan railway through central Sweden. So on Friday morning we got up bright and early (note to self: 8:30 AM only seems an acceptable departure time when one does not remember to consider the two hours of prep and transport that lead up to it…) and hopped a train to Mora, the southern terminus of the railway.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Jennifer Here's another Swedish specialty: smultron, or the woodland strawberry. I had been hearing of this fruit ever since I got here. Swedes adore them. Advertising that wishes to convey a sense of summer often shows a bunch of them strung on a piece of grass. I first asked about them a long time ago: what are those tiny strawberries I see in pictures? "Oh, those aren't strawberries, those are smultron. They are very very good." Where can I buy some? "You cannot. Some people claim there are cultivated varieties but those are not real smultron." Where can I find some? "They are very rare, and quite special. You might not find any."

Saturday, July 11, 2009

BAGECO and my night at the castle

Jennifer I've covered now the FEMS conference in Göteborg, but I should also mention the conference that I went to June 15-20 in Uppsala. The name of the conference was BAGECO, which stands for Bacterial Genetics and Ecology. This conference was quite a bit smaller than FEMS, maybe 400 people or so, and geared more specifically toward my interests than was FEMS (which included lots of clinical and industrial stuff), and I met some potential future collaborators. Post-doc E. from my department also attended, and we had a good time talking at lunch and during the breaks.

Monday, July 6, 2009

FEMS, fun, and handball

Jennifer  I presented my research at two conferences in June— I'll take the second one first, which was the FEMS conference in Göteborg. FEMS stands for "Federation of European Microbiological Societies," and the group has a conference every other year, much as ASM ("American Society for Microbiology") does. (Some of you may remember that I went to Toronto in 2007—that was for the ASM conference.) The meeting is big, with an announced attendance of 1700 participants. The participating countries were a little differently distributed than they were at ASM—FEMS had far more African and Middle Eastern delegates, but perhaps fewer from the Far East. Since I hail from a Swedish university, I officially counted as a European delegate (I had my picture taken with the US flag as well, see the gallery). The conference ran from Sunday afternoon to Thursday; I dutifully stood by my poster during the Monday afternoon coffee break, then gave a short oral presentation about it on Wednesday. I got some good questions, and caught the interest of some other microbial ecologists, so I will count this conference as a success.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tiny Boats

Joe Wednesday afternoon found Jennifer with some unexpected free time, so we decided to make a trek to Göteborg's Sjöfartsmuseum. This is a very different affair from Maritiman: the Maritime Museum looks and feels like it was built by money from the industries of the harbor, back when there was money to be made there. It's full of exhibits about fishing, shipping, and the harbor itself, none of which appears to have been updated since the early 80s (at best). In other words, it's a fascinatingly quaint museum, with room after room of lovingly crafted little dioramas, most without a shred of English explanation.