Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Top-Down Proteomic Characterization of Histone H3 Proteoforms in Disease


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Leveraging Facebook Likes for Population-Based Biobanking Outreach


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daily snapshot: March 28, 2017 at 04:27AM


It's time. So many feelings at going home but leaving home. Anybody who's emigrated and lives away from their land of birth, friends and their family will recognise all the emotions, heartache, excitement, loss, despair and exhilaration that this travel moment brings. Hugs to all those world travellers out there facing this moment - stay strong and be kind to yourself - allow yourself to grieve even though you're going back home. xoxo
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Sunday, March 26, 2017

where next?

on the move yet again
Where next - why London of course! Final leg of the Spring Break Tour 2017.
video

... and since we had some time to spare with our early arrival, we checked out both the British Library and the British Museum (open late on Fridays) on two whistlestop fly bys.

collecting lions as we go: this one is nebuchadnezzar's
Very whistle stop - short attention spans and whatnot.
But we 'got' the general atmosphere.

chessmen ahoy! prepare to be captured

And we saw the Lewis chessmen 'in the flesh' so to speak.
Mission accomplished :)

The Details
Have I mentioned how very much in love I am right now with Google Maps? (and btw, here's a link to the location sharing feature coming soon: https://arstechnica.co.uk/gadgets/2017/03/google-maps-location-sharing-latitude/). As a smartphone app, it has almost completely taken over from guidebooks. It was great for navigating in Venice and is now proving ideal for route finding in London.
How did I ever manage before?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

out and about there and back

border hopping on a sunny but windy day (ahead of the snow)
Still playing catch up with the blogging ...

Spoiler: we did make it back to Edinburgh and escaped the industrial action. Apart from not much sleep the evening before, we landed in Edinburgh unscathed to pick up our hire car.

Dear reader - I sped over the Scottish border in a Smart Car...

lets it sink in ...

A four-door Smart car.
Not great for long distance, and it catches the wind like a kite.

So maybe I should say that we sailed over the scottish border into Northumberland.

in its natural habitat
Day Thirteen was thus recovery day.
This is by no means because of a late night out with friends, catching up with old times, cheering absent friends or playing Exploding Kittens.

Wee Guy and I checked out Barter Books, the British Library of secondhand books, which is conveniently within a 10 minute walk of our rental. It was busy around lunchtime but we still managed to find odd nooks to tuck ourselves into next to the books.

most perfect bacon sandwich ever IMO ...
For lunch we trotted down to the Treehouse in Alnwick Castle's grounds. Wee Guy had a perfect bacon sandwich, which he described as being plain and only having bacon ... in other words, a perfect bacon sandwich. And the bacon! thick, meaty, juicy, pink ... in other words, not like Canada's pale excuse. The restaurant kitchen salvaged my tasty but gag-inducing roasted garlic and mushroom by sieving out the stringy vegetable matter that made each swallow an ordeal. The result was a velvety smooth veloute that I am not sure why they didn't provide in the first place. Top marks for customer service on my complaint though.

books. cohen. trains

After a wander round Alnwick centre we ended up back at Barter Books for book #2 and cake :)

stables and ghost
Day Fourteen
Day 14 was family day, catching up with mother-in-law/Granny Kate for a chilly but enjoyable day at Seaton Delaval Hall. As stately homes go, this one went up with a whoosh! in 1822, with the west wing remaining roofless for around 40 years. Today it is an amazing architectural skeleton that allows visitors to see the bare bones that usually hide under layers of plaster and wood panelling.

video

The west wing is roofed and undergoing restoration - speaking with the guides gave us some insight into the history and the work currently underway to preserve the building. We also learned about the ghosts but luckily after we'd scrambled through the cellars.


Day Fifteen
More stately home visiting and this time to Bamburgh Castle on the coast. Wee Guy and I bounced up the winding roads in the Smart car (nope - never buying one) and spent the day checking out Lord Armstrong's pile and then paying our respects to Grace Darling.


... followed by packing ... where next?

the details
Not much to note here, except that if we'd been visiting more National Trust properties like Seaton Delaval Hall it would have made sense to buy a membership to decrease admission fees.

Oh, and not sure if this is relevant but beware booking car hire online. Sometimes the cheapest option might not be as good as it sounds. I booked through what looked like an aggregator since the rates quoted were extremely low. however, when I checked the find print for zero deductible premiums I found out that even with zero, you still have to pay up. What brings it to zero is that you then have to put in a claim to the aggregator company ... ho hum.

I rented directly from Europcar, picking up at one airport and getting one-way hire (extra 46GBP) to drop off at another. My premium package to reduce the deductible to zero cost around 75GBP for four days hire plus around 30GBP for roadside assist. And I bought a full tank of gas for around 33GBP so I didn't need to hunt out a refueling stop before return.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

out and about vaporetto style

my travel sidekick
Playing catch up here with the blogging after some busy travel times.

On our second day in Venice with vaporetto tickets, or in other words day ten of our spring break vacation (please try to pay attention), we vaporettoed the heck out of our travel privileges!

video

First stop - the Lido. Where we experienced cars on roads and the faded excellence of a seaside resort out of season. Closed down arcades and fenced off lookout towers. A chilly beach and grey skies.

Guidecca seaside stroll
Followed by a a counter-rotatory trip around Venice and on to Guidecca, another island but no cars ... just artist studios and a lot of dog poop along the seafront ...

dragster from 18th century Venice, i presume

Day Eleven
... which of course is day four in Venice and thus day -1 of unlimited 48-hour vaporetto travel (you are paying attention?) was palazzo or bust. We ticked off the textile and costume museum at Palazzo Mocenigo and then navigated thru Dorsoduro to Ca' Rezzonica. The displays are incredible but what's even more impressive are the surroundings they are in - these are impressive palaces along the Grand Canal.

video

Even if you don't like the subject matter, the ornate staircases, mouldings, strangely lopsided door hanging and remnants of an opulent days-gone-by lifestyle are worth the visit. Again, the museums pass from Venezia Unica is worth the price. We didn't stay longer than about two hours in each museum so far on this trip; we stayed longer in the Doges Palace on our last, but paying full price imposes an arbitrary time-to-cost benefit ratio that discount passes don't guilt you with.

yes, of course i managed another aperol spritzer :)
Homing instinct kicked in for late afternoon. On hostess Giulia's recommendation, we stepped inside Fondaco dei Tadeschei, the Venetian answer to the luxury shopping mall. It's right beside the Rialto Bridge, on our route home, and is yet another palace I think. Formerly a German merchants building and then a post office with a side association with Mussolini, the building lay empty for a number of years before its recent (and sensitive) transformation. It is four floors of opulent shopping, each floor with amazing views of the Grand Canal and rooftop Venice. The top floor contains an exhibition area and the roof terrace is free to visit. However .... the tickets are timed so we didn't get out for the views. Hint: visit the ticket booth on the top floor first, then go for a coffee.

lots of floors of really expensive shopping
and a good cafe

Packing took the rest of the evening, punctuated by taking the recycling out and then worrying about the Italian air handlers strike for the next day ... spoilers!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Art and Technology: When Worlds Collide


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Friday, March 17, 2017

out and about offshore

in my happy place
Today we activated our travel passes then headed off to the glass mecca that is Murano. Everyone has heard of Murano glass but the tricky thing is getting your hands on genuine pieces. Every single shop on Murano sells glass; many of them just sell glass cheaply; most state that all the glass sold therein is genuine Murano glass; some say it is Murano glass handmade on the island; a handful have Murano accreditation.
A lot of the shop windows contain identical glass pieces.
Some shops are expensive.
Some are very cheap.
Some loudly proclaim No Chinese Glass.

sigh ... glass
I am still not sure how to buy Murano glass made on Murano ...

video

The glass museum, refurbished since our last visit was a treasure to view. The displays are beautifully spaced out and a feast for the glass lover's eyes. Historical pieces flow chronologically from Roman to modern, with educational videos on the various techniques exploited so brilliantly by the Murano artisans.

sailing up to the Rialto on our budget tour
After Murano, we made excellent use of our travel passes by sailing all the way around the southeastern end of Venice, past Arsenale and the shipyards, to the Biennale site where we disembarked. By uncanny accident we found ourselves at the every same cafe as we had collapsed at three years ago. Enter cake, hot chocolate and an aperol spritzer. No cat this time :(
Making even more use of the travel pass, we completed our Grand Canal voyage via ACTV vaporetto line #1, getting off at Casino and then walking home.
My ankle aches but my heart soars.
Already I want to come back to Venice!

plotting the next trip?
The Details

  • Venezia Unica for travel passes - buy them online in advance then swap the voucher for tickets on the day. Choose from the daily or single tickets, or splash out on the far less restrictive multi-day options. I noticed that there is also an ACTV smartphone app that allows you to buy and download tickets to your device. Haven't used it yet but noting for the future ...
  • Murano is easy to reach  just check the ACTV routes and timetables. Check before boarding - a single word, Murano? is usually all that is needed. The vaporetto crews have been wonderful on both our trips.
  • DIY budget tour the Grand Canal courtesy of your travel pass. Line 1 zigzags from San Marco all the way through; line 2 takes a faster passage through. If you're lucky and the boat is not packed, try sitting at the front and pretending this is your private gondola.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

out and about circling back

still not quite believing we're here ... St. Mark's Square, with the Doges Palace
We are in Venice.
We were in Scotland, but thanks to EasyJet, we're now in Venice and staying in the same apartment as three years ago. :)

We arrived late last night and remembered our way thru the maze of calles and alleys and snickets little wider than a handspan. We carried our case over the bridge steps, followed the blue dot on Google maps, and buzzed in to see the amazing Giulia once more.

apologies for the frenetic slideshow but google pics doesn't do movies from desktop :(
scenes from the Natural History Museum, Ca' Pesaro Modern Art Gallery and various navigations

This morning we shopped in the most elegant grocery store I have ever seen, then missed a traghetto (OK, we couldn't find it), walked the bridge route across the Grand Canal to visit the Natural History museum and Ca' Pesaro, the modern art gallery.
In between the dead animal abundance of the former and the inspirational canvases of the second, we had our first gelato ... priorities.
And we keep pinching ourselves cos surely we must still be sleeping ... #backinvenice

putting our heads together - Rodin, ebb and Martini/Gish
the details

  • easy peasy Easyjet flight from Edinburgh to Venice, limits us trans-Atlantic travellers to only one piece of carry-on luggage and a max of 20kg for the suitcase #packlight
  • purchase the onboard vouchers for food etc ahead of time ... but don't go nuts. They are only valid on the flight you specify :( #boughtalotofkitkats
  • depending on where you are staying, the Alilaguna boat shuttles direct from the airport make a lot of sense. They are more expensive than the train or bus transfers and much cheaper than a private watertaxi. Book the voucher online and exchange on arrival at the ticket office. For us, the convenience works. It's also a great way to arrive in venice during daylight - there's nothing quite like seeing the city skyline 'floating' emerging above the lagoon surface. Maybe not an option if you don't travel well by boat ...
  • visit the Venezia Unica website for all sorts of discounts and travel tips before arriving. We bought a museum pass for all 11 civic museums and have two days of unlimited vaporetto travel sorted. You want to do it ahead of travel since you need the printed vouchers to claim your tickets, etc. 
  • crossing canals is easy on foot if you can find a bridge; vaporettos are an expensive way of getting around for tourists unless you buy a pass (see above). The alternative is a 2 Euro ride on a gondola ferry or traghetto. Street maps of the city show where these cross the Grand Canal (apparently) but note, they are not regular and seem to run to their own schedules. It is however a cool way to get on the water.
Schrodinger's traghetto perhaps - we saw it on the water but not at a landing




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