Kate's Bellybutton Lint Collection

I used to think blogs were self-indulgent navel gazing, but now I'm not so sure. From a practical standpoint, they're great for keeping up with friends, especially when you're awful about keeping in touch (like me). I know most people could probably care less what I think or do in a given week. For everyone else, this blog's for you! Enjoy my collection of hand-picked navel lint!

May 17, 2009

AAI conference in Seattle

The American Association of Immunology had its annual conference last weekend in Seattle. This was one of those monster conferences where you end up rushing from one room to the next, trying to catch all of the interesting topics. The longer I'm in this field the more I see a strong bias towards T cell biology. I attended a talk by John Cambier about B cells which seemed well-attended... until I switched over to the room with T cell talks and saw that it was packed! The most interesting talk, in my opinion, was the effect of electrical fields on blood cells. I did not know that wounds produce electrical currents, and that both myeloid and lymphoid cells will actively crawl towards cathodes. Weird science indeed!

In my free time I explored the area around the conference center in the company of several other Genentechers. We visited the Olympic sculpture park, walked atop the space needle, browsed local goods at Pike's Place Market, and devoured a whole mess of extremely fresh seafood.

Another thing Seattle is famous for is coffee, of course. Starbucks was spawned there and in fact the original store still exists near the entrance to Pike's market. You know the familiar green Starbucks logo - the girl with the crown and what appears to be two fish tails on either side of her head. What is that about? Well, it's actually a cropped version of the original logo, which was too smutty to propagate. The logo on the original store depicts what could be a Melusine, which is a sort of harpy/mermaid/whore hybrid. It turns out that while sailors found mermaids to be enticing creatures, they always wondered how one could, um, "get it on" with one of them. So they came up with the split-tailed mermaid. This page has a great summary of the evolution of the logo.

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