Autumn is here. Tree leaves have changed to many different shades of yellow. A thick carpeting of leaves now covers our favorite trails. Skies are mainly gray with almost daily rain. This morning we again awoke to steady rain. Quite a few have told me that autumn makes them depressed with its overall grayness and dampness. I agree about the dampness, but cannot say that I feel any depression. On the contrary, I have always enjoyed the change of seasons and it is something that I miss in Florida. In Florida certainly we have cool temperatures arrive around Christmas. Pine needles fall and live oaks lose their leaves. It is not, however, with the glorious color changes that one sees in the northern climates. So I am enjoying this. I try to go for daily walks after lunch and after work. There are several paths that one can follow under high trees with leaves swirling in the wind as new clouds approach providing another downpour. I have noticed that in the parks and along walkways two straight lines of trees have been planted to frame the paths. This appears to be an European landscaping custom. Certainly it makes for an enjoyable outing for the runners, walkers, and joggers. These trails are also lit at night. These paths are seemingly quite old, as the trees are very tall. It makes for a picturesque walk, especially in the fall. I look forward to seeing it with snow.
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The other thing that I have noticed is that people here like to take the shortest route between two points. So if there is no sidewalk present to make the trip shorter, there is a well trodden path through the grass to a neighboring building, sidewalk, or bus-stop. With the rain, these paths become rather muddy and one notices them becoming wider and wider, as people try to keep to the grassy area. People are no different here than other places where I have been, as I remember the same thing happening on our U.S. university campuses, as students cut corners across grassy areas. Eventually the administration gives in and paves the paths. I wish somebody would pave the path that leads to the bus-stop from the hospital! There is no way, I am going to take the long route when I might miss the next bus…..
We flew back to the United States for close to two weeks at the end of September-early October. We left a day earlier to go to Tallinn, as we had a morning flight out of the Tallinn Airport. There is a new airport in Tartu, but it has very few flights, so pretty much one needs to fly out of Tallinn which is 2.5 hrs away. I never tire of visiting the Old City part of Tallinn and will be going again this Saturday. I have added some new pictures that we took during our visit at the end of September.
Before I forget, I thought I would share this youtube video with you to provide you a short history lesson on Tallinn and the various conquests that have taken place across the ages. I think it is nicely done showing how that medieval city was built. Hope you enjoy it as well. While in Tallinn we stopped at a restaurant Sfäär on Mere Puiestee that features what is called Nordic Cuisine. I would highly recommend it. These Nordic restaurants feature dishes typical of Scandinavia using local fresh produce, but with interesting new types of combinations. For example, Juri had reindeer with lingonberries and potatoes that were done differently; I had wild boar with apples and a nice beet, parsnip, and lettuce salad. The restaurant also had a nice selection of wines.
Next day we flew to Washington, DC and stayed with our younger daughter who works at NIH. We attended a Gala dinner dance in Washington, DC as part of a fund-raiser for Estonioan-American youth organizations. After the Gala, Juri flew back to Tartu, while I flew onto Florida to give a talk that I had promised to give at a Pediatric Cardiology Conference a year ago, before I knew about the Fulbright. I was able to catch up with my own research at USF with my lab members and to check up on our home. There was a lot of weeding to do and taking care of landscaping at home – more than I would have imagined. I made new arrangements for better lawn service. I am glad I made that trip. A downside was catching a horrible cold on one of the flights – most likely the overseas one and then waiting 2 hours to go through US customs. I am only now beginning to get over it. This is a down-side of flying, especially in the fall months.
I thought I would give you a tour of my Fulbright lab. The front entrance of the hospital where the lab is located was under construction when I arrived in August and was recently opened up. This hospital is part of the University system and mainly houses the Psychiatry clinics and hospital wing and also Dermatology. Why the Hematology-Oncology labs are here is just a matter of where there was space at that time. Apparently a new building is being built and our labs will be moving there. I was given a three-year appointment at the University, so if the research goes well, I may come back for shorter time periods. As one comes into the hospital there is a nice atrium with a small coffee and lunch shop. The atrium has quite a few palm trees making me feel right at home. It will be especially nice during the cold and dark winter months. Our lab and offices are up the winding stairs on the second floor. I have a nice, bright, large office with a nice view. The lab is down the hall. The lab is a nice size and looks the same as labs do all over the world. Lab benches, basic cell and molecular lab equipment, and chemicals on shelves and benches. Dr. Everaus’s lab is quite well-equipped. She has benefited from some nice Eurozone grants for her research. Hele Everaus is quite well known in Estonia. Whenever I mention that I am collaborating with Dr. Everaus at the University, I am told that ,oh, she is famous! Not only is she a good doctor and heads the Bone Marrow Transplantation Clinic, but she also gives lectures pertaining to different health topics on the television and radio. Many people see and listen to those broadcasts. The lab people are shown in a photo we took at our last lab meeting. We now have patients’ permissions to use their cells and have started our experiments. Very preliminary results show promise!