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By , July 11, 2009 3:57 pm

I took some nice pictures on the microscope last night. These are fluorescence images of coronal sections of a rat brain (rat M, or Mephibosheth, for the aficionados). Blue is a DAPI stain which generally highlights the main part of cells (the soma). Yellow is EYFP expressed in cells which have been transfected with channelrhodopsin 2. Almost every bit of yellow you can see is somewhat hazy – these are the axons of cells from the dentate gyrus (the mossy fibers) which transmit information to other cells in the dentate and to area CA3. There are a few dentate cells where the outline of the cell membrane can be seen – these are the cells which have actually been infected. There are holes/dents which you can see in the sections – these are places where a tetrode or optical fiber was located during recording.

All of these pictures have been scaled down from their full resolution. Below, though, you can use the google maps interface to scroll through one at full resolution.

Siphon coffee

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By , July 5, 2009 9:51 pm

We just got our wedding gift from the Martins! (Thanks Martins! Clint – the rest of your groomsman’s present will be on the way “very” soon.) They gave us some fancy El Salvadorean coffee, and a siphon coffee maker.

The siphon coffee pot works on the same sort of principle as fancy drip-coffee maker: combine proper temperature hot water with grounds, seep briefly, and drain through a filter. The awesome thing about the siphon system, though, is that steam pressure forces the coffee up through the grounds, then holds the coffee in them until the pot is removed from the heat source, at which point the coffee drains back down into the pot for drinking. Left, the water has just been forced by steam pressure up through the grounds. Right, after we remove it from the stove, you can see the coffee dropping back into the pot.

Supposedly, ceteris paribus, coffee made via siphon action is the absolute best. See the article in the NY Times, and the info at Sweet Marias, from whom the coffee and maker were purchased.

It’s Its

By , July 5, 2009 9:41 pm

Just got the camera back from Best Buy servicing – I complained about slow/faulty focusing and a blur (presumably dust on the sensor/mirror. Both issues seem to be resolved, all free of cost – not bad for 3.9 years post-purchase. Though I had hoped for what my dad got in a similar situation, credit for a new camera. I think I needed to take it back more than once in order to get that though. Kudos to Best Buy for the performance service plans, and for being really reasonable about these things.

So – to the topic of the post. Jordan and I ate with our friend Clint at Google this past week (wowser – if everyone chose a place of employment for the food, Google would employ the whole world. sadly, they don’t want everybody, and we have other reasons for working than free food). Given that the last time she ate there with me we got engaged, we felt like we had to do something exciting with our afternoon. So on the way back up to SF, we stopped at the It’s It ice cream sandwich factory in Burlinghame. I can remember eating It’s Its (or at least some knock off version) at the Co-op at UMD back in the early 90’s or before, so ever since I first moved to California, I’ve dreamed about visiting their factory. Sadly, we found that they do not offer factory tours. However, if y ou buy a case while you’re there, they’ll give you free samples (we do NOT recommend the “Chips It” sandwiches – the chocolate chip cookie is quite unsatisfying compared to the oatmeal cookie in the original)! The gentleman in the picture wouldn’t let me peak inside the factory (which was open), claiming that there was an inspector there today. Quickly peeking, however, I could hear sounds of pneumatic machinery, and see people doing stuff that looked exciting.

Without further ado, the it’s it business office door and the inviting factory door:

Business office door Not for us to go in...

Us with our “Chips Its”

Me and my "Chips It" Jordan and her "Chips It"

The guy who refused me also brought our case of It’s Its (we went with original – the oatmeal cookies, vanialla ice cream, all dipped in chocolate – as opposed to coffee or mint-chip), and me with the cooler (dry ice packed for freshness) outside the factory.

The factory employee Our case of It's Its

Coming full circle, it’s interesting to note two things about Google’s awesomeness. First, among all their free food, they have freezers filled with It’s Its of all flavors. Second, their It’s Its, which have a special “Google” imprint, are made with sugar instead of corn syrup.

Carrot Banana Walnut Oat muffins

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By , July 5, 2009 6:48 pm

Modified from the recipe found here.


  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2+ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (3 medium) mashed ripe bananas
  • 1 cup (3 medium) grated carrots – food processed
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts


Combine sugar, eggs, and oil in one bowl. Combine baking soda, cinnamon, and flour in another. Add flour mixture to wet mixture. Add bananas. Mix well. Add carrots. Mix well again. Add nuts. Mix well. Add oats, wheat germ, and maple syrup. Mix well again. Makes 7 (unfortunately the) large muffins (unfortunately there are only 6 in a muffin tin – these are the 3 inch diameter kind). Bake at 350 for 55-65 minutes or until done. (They’re baking now – we’ll come back later to say how they turned out!)

Post Baking Report

Bummer – I forgot about them (too much fun playing Agricola), and they got overcooked. The little bit that I tasted was good, but perhaps a bit more on the crunchy side than I had been hoping. Perhaps more fluid might be required too…

A muffin

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