Things at work have got me running around, working long days and weekends. I am counting the days until we go on vacation. This morning Charles sent me a photo of the place we've rented in Derbyshire for our August vacation. I can't wait!
Gemma noticed it first when I put her out in the backyard after dinner. She barked and barked. I looked outside and in the deepening dusk didn't see anything. But Gemma kept at it. Worried about the neighbors having to listen to the noise I went back outside to find the source of Gemma's unhappiness.
There it was, partly hidden behind the woodpile - a helium filled mylar balloon brazenly proclaiming "Happy Birthday!" while floating a foot off the ground.
I brought the balloon inside and it hovered in the dining room. Gemma cowered and paced anxiously in the living room. As the drafts from the air conditioning moved the balloon around the house Gemma began to bark. There was no calming her.
Charles put the sadly deflated balloon out of its misery and sucked the last of its helium soul out of her. In his Mickey Mouse voice he called to Gemma who cocked her head as she wondered what had possessed Charles. With his next breath Charles's voice was back to normal and all was right in Gemma's world.
Charles and I have been enjoying having the windows open this week because the weather has been so nice and cool. Why is this blogworthy? Because until last year we couldn't open the windows in our house, they had been nailed shut. The previous owners decided it was cheaper to nail the 100 year old windows shut to stabilize them rather than replace them. Last year we had new all wood, double paned windows installed. After living in the house for so long without opening the windows we sort of forgot about that capability.
There is one consequence of our Open Window Policy that we hadn't anticipated - Gemma's reaction. She is now able to hear noises and smell scents that had been blocked. She has lived her whole life in this closed up house and is only now experiencing the excitement of open windows. She let's us know how much fun this is by barking at every little noise - real and imagined, sniffing the breezes and running around the house to explore each window. I can only imagine what the neighbors think.
This is an image of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Pretty isn't it? Well, it isn't when it turns into cervical cancer.
Back in October I wrote about the announcement of a new vaccine to prevent 4 common types of HPV infections in women. Why is this important? Because 70% of cervical cancers are caused by HPV infections and more than 200,000 women worldwide die each year of cervical cancer. Today the FDA approved the use of this HPV Vaccine in women between the ages of 9 - 26.
There was much controversy over whether the FDA should approve this vaccine. The controversy wasn't based on the science and efficiency of the vaccine - it was 97+% effective! The controversy was religious. Members of the religious and conservative right opposed the approval of this vaccine because they said it would promote pre-marital sex.
These people are so wrapped up in religious dogma that they can't even think straight. They don't seem to understand that we now have the opportunity to prevent cancer. This vaccine will save the lives of millions of women around the world. Would these same people have objected to a vaccine that would prevent prostate cancer? I hope one day we will see what the religious right has to say about a prostate cancer vaccine.
I have some great memories of my trip to Vancouver last week, but I brought back an annoying cold. Nevermind, as my father will say, "Take a tincture of time. It should clear up in a fortnight or two weeks, whichever comes first."
I flew the red-eye home (from which I'm still recovering) from Vancouver and the fun started with a fabulous cab ride from my hotel to the airport. My cabbie was a 30 year resident of the city - a refuge from Nigeria who was adopted by Canada. We talked about everything from Jazz to politics, immigration policy, free trade, alternative energy and urban planning. This was my top cab ride ever.
At the airport I checked in, went through customs and then queued up for security. While I was waiting in the snaking security line for my turn to take off my shoes, one of the guards walked up to me. I handed her my passport and boarding pass. She plucked me out of the line, "You are #44." I was led to a separate line, "She is #44" my guard said to another guard. We jumped to the front of the security line and all my stuff went through the metal detector. The shout of "She is #44!" went ahead of me, the crowd parted, it was as if they were frozen in time as I glided through. I was wanded. My stuff was swabbed.
I stood feet apart and arms spread like I was about to fall backwards into a mound of snow and create a snow angel. The guard asked permission to pat me down.
I said, "Sure, just don't tickle me."
"Please don't tickle me. I'm awfully ticklish." I said with a smile.
The guard began the pat-down. "Don't they do this in the States?" She asked with an expression that telegraphed to the guard hand examining my stuff, she doesn't travel much!
"I'm not sure, I know they do pat-downs but I'm not sure about the tickling part." with as near a straight face as I could muster.
The guard laughed, "#44 you are clear. Have a great weekend and safe traveling."
Vancouver Airport = friendly security guards with a sense of humor. Best security experience since 9/11.
If you are in Vancouver and have a chance you should stop by Bin 941, a quirky tapas restaurant in Downtown. The tiny ~20 seat restaurant is cozy to say the least but the great music, open kitchen (bursting with the odd fireball) and delicious food is worth the squeeze. With such an intimate restaurant the service is not only attentive, it seems to be running on ESP. This is a seasoned staff that knows how to work together in cramped quarters as well as it knows its way around the menu and wine list.
The tables are tiny - barely 2x2 feet which dictates the style in which the plates are served - one at a time, to share. The tapas menu has breadth and depth but is not long. One can pleasantly find yourself being able to explore a wide range of tastes, textures, fauna and flora in just a handful of dishes. The wine list is delightfully wide ranging with over a dozen wines by the glass from the Old and New World including two whites from British Columbia.
We enjoyed a rich black olive and hummus starter with piping hot puffed bread. Next we delighted in rare seared tuna with tuna tartare garnished with flying fish eggs and a side of spicy thai noodles. The savory flank steak topped with a mound of peppery shoestring french fries with a balsamic vinegar dressing rendered us speechless. We closed out the evening with a deconstructed Peking Duck tapas. What a meal!
I think few people would have as fun an introduction to Vancouver as I had last night. Friends took me to The Oasis Pub for dinner and Bingo. The Bingo games raise money for Vancouver Friends for Life and boy was it fun. The pitchers of local Granville Island Pale Ale kept flowing and so did the river of numbers called out by the transvestite Caller - "I 33! G 56! B 9!" and when the magic "O 69" was called the crowd went wild. There were all sorts of prizes - edible bras, lesbian videos and comic books, as well as a slew of gift certificates to local restaurants and spas. One of my table mates won a murse - a Man Purse complete with speedo swim suit and Vancouver Pride t-shirt to complete the ensemble. A good time was had by all.