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San Antonio, Texas

It was so good to get back to Texas as I do miss the people so. This was a quick trip down to San Antonio, Texas to give a metabolomics talk at the Greehey Childrens Cancer Center for a new collaborator, Charles Keller. Charles is an upcoming young science star who is working fantastically hard on solutions to rhabdomyosarcoma and medulloblastoma, both childhood cancers. We believe that there is something to learned in the metabolic profile of cancerous cells and that we have the right tools to discover these metabolic fingerprints. The other really cool thing about this trip is that I got to travel with Greg Jones, the director of research at SCI.

We flew down to San Antonio, spent the morning going over the facilities there at the Greehey Childrens Cancer Center which in addition to the beautiful building, made for an impressive arena to perform science in. Dinner that night was had at Pesca with Charles, Greg, Beverly along the Riverwalk down in San Antonio and while they are famous for their seafood, I chose a mighty fine tasting fillet mignon which was…. mighty fine. I was surprised at the inclusion of roasted sun dried tomatoes, but they worked surprisingly well and I’ll remember that next time I grill up one at home. I had the grilled scallops as an appetizer and while the sauce was perfectly done and very tasty, I do tend to grill up better scallops at home…

The next day Greg gave his talk on VisTrails and even though I was familiar with the concept, I learned some new things about specifics that made the importance of this software that much more apparent. Any number of fields that require provenance of data streams and workflows can benefit including image forensics, remote sensing, animation, photography, medical records, medical imaging and many more.

After Greg’s talk was my talk on metabolomics which was an absolutely excellent experience with an wonderful question and answer period afterwards. The timing was perfect as we went precisely 45 minutes for the talk, with 15 minutes of questions afterwards that ultimately ended up occupying 45 minutes with people asking lots of questions. Everybody seemed to love the content which really ups the enthusiasm for this particular collaboration. Before taking off from the airport, we talked more about our data and the interesting item for me was the realization that we had another stem cell population staring us right in the eyes with respect to the satellite cells of the muscle that may prove to be a reliable, accessible index for what stem cell signatures are likely to look like metabolically.

The flight home was uneventful with the initial leg on a very full flight (no upgrade) from SAT to ATL, but we did seem to do an awful lot of banking and turning during the flight to either avoid other air traffic or big storm clouds. Some of our banks and turns did not make any sense though as we seemed to simply fly circles or big lazy eights without any apparent reason. Perhaps we were just occupying time due to lack of landing slots at the Atlanta airport… The thought did cross my mind that that there might have been something wrong with the plane and that we were burning off fuel because of some rather dramatic whining and grinding that we heard as the plane was taking off, but judging by the line of planes queued up to take off at the Atlanta airport, we were likely delayed due to unavailable landing slots. I would find out later that night that weather was the culprit with some fantastically large storms that spawned a number of tornadoes throughout the Mid-West.

The ATL to SLC stretch on a Delta 757 was lovely with an upgrade to first class that included 110v power outlets in the newly renovated seats! During the flight itself there was a little bit of bumpiness an amazing lightning storm over most of the state of Oklahoma and the panhandle of Texas. The storm stretched for hundreds of miles and literally glowed from all of the lightning arcing through the clouds and shining through windows in clouds transilluminating their internal structure. You could also see electricity arcing and sparking from all of the electrical wires on the ground down below appearing like the entire ground in residential neighborhoods was sparkling with little tiny points of light that moved over the ground. As we got further away from the storm, the sparkling lessened until we were about 100 miles away. It was a stunning sight that I got a taste of in this animated gif below, but given that the plane ride was a bit bumpy, the images are not as crisp as they could have been.

By the time I got home and in bed it was 1:30am making for a good 20 hour day. I’ll be working through the holiday on a chapter, taking time for a little BBQ with family and next week brings a whole slew of tasks including getting photographed for a story on our retinal reconstruction project, the arrival of a very special package from Japan (thank you Mineo), a trip up to Hill AFB for another photographic task and preparation for yet another trip at the end of next week to present our research, this time in Los Angeles… crazy.

Categories: Travel.

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