Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fine, Go, You've Stayed Your Hour

I was pretty busy all week and I never seemed to get a chance to write anything down here, but as it is Sunday I have some time right now. I got my waterproof backpack, which is nice. Except it hasn't rained since Monday so I hasn't really been used in the rain yet. As it seems Scotland is a little greedy with its rain. Come the first real day of the week it decides to spend its entire rain quota in a few hours. Then with no more allowance it must wait a whole other week to rain again. Which is nice, if you can brave the storm on that single day, the rest of the week is relatively dry. Its been getting progressively colder here week by week, of course the wind chill has a lot to do with that. I'm curious about the temperatures come December, but I suppose I will cross that frozen bridge when I come to it. Friday finally came and I had a little bit of time to relax before I was off to the Ceildh. Which was extra fun this time because I got to wear my kilt for a good reason this time. Not that I feel there is ever a bad reason to wear one, unless of course its snowing and there is a cold arctic breeze or something... because that might be hard to deal with. The Ceildh was really fun, despite a little short. Although that was our fault for arriving so late. Walking to and from the venue was really entertaining since I was in full formal Scottish attire. Got a few whistles and hollers, which was a little awkward. We didn't get home until 1:30am, and of course right after I finished getting changed out of my attire at about 1:45, the fire alarm went off, so I had to get dressed in whatever I could find quickly and head outside, where it was very cold...  Rather annoying. I spent pretty much all day Saturday doing laundry and working on my paper that is due on Friday, it's about steroids in baseball and physics. Which since I'm American is much easier because I was watching baseball during the steroid era and already know the rules of the game. The non-US students had to do a lot of research on how the game actually works before they could start. Saturday night at around 11:15 my friend Soak came knocking on my door asking if I wanted to go to a pub with everyone. Having felt like I did a fair amount of work I decided to join. Which was fun. I had a few pints of McEwan's Export, a favorite of Mr. Stuart Mackenzie (featured below for your viewing pleasure). It's actually very good beer, and I think I'll start ordering it when it's available. We didn't stay out too late last night, as the pubs in this country close at 1am we were forced to return home relatively early. With no Formula One race to watch this weekend I got to sleep in a little bit longer than I usually do on Sundays. Overall it was a pretty good week. And the time is flying by here. With the exception of a few days each week, the days seem to be passing very very quickly. Which I can't complain about because the sooner classes are over the sooner I will have some breathing room to do some more exploring, and maybe play some more golf, if the weather permits it. Only 6 more weeks of classes then 1 exam and I'll be free for Christmas break. Which is very exciting. 

Oh and in another homage to both Stuart Mackenzie and this country I set up my own Scottish Wall of Fame. Also featured below. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Change brought on by necessity

Well after being caught in ANOTHER royal soaking, compliments of the Scottish weather system, I have made some changes to my gear. The small "backup" umbrella I kept in my gym bag was promptly destroyed by the wind after attempting to use it today to keep by backpack dry. With all the arms compound fractured, I was forced to use it as a limp blanket, awkwardly attached to a stick, in attempt to conserves the dryness of my backpack. While performing admirably for the most pathetic umbrella in all of Scotland, it was not enough and my bag did get pretty wet. Nothing was damaged, but the bottom of my notebooks got a little wet and caused that annoying "wet/dried paper wave" on the bottom quarter inch or so on all of them. Thankfully I managed to fix them by placing each, one by one under my laptop and running large programs. The heat and weight of my laptop managed to smooth and dry them off. However, I would not stand for such shoddy backpack performance again. As this bag was supposed to be "weather proof" I decided I needed something more extreme. I went online and ordered a 100% waterproof backpack meant for surfing or kayaking or some other water activity where you shouldn't be wearing a backpack anyway. No matter, I think this should suffice for my needs. Not only is it pretty cool looking but it also floats, so in case the rain gets really bad, or I fall into a Loch on my way to class I won't need to think, maybe if I had a life-preserver this predicament I'm in would be much easier. A thought which I know plagues all of us constantly. It also graded acceptable for "quick, full submersion," so even if I dive in said Loch, the bag will be fine as it floats to the surface. All a bit overboard, which comically is the name of the manufacturer, I know but I had to draw the line somewhere. Now the only low point in my defense against the rain is my shoes. As rain boots are only for 5 year-olds and females, I will have to find an alternate solution.

In other news, since I forgot to post a well, post over the weekend I'll give you a short recap. I needed to head into town to get a new kilt pin and to buy my bowtie, so I headed out. Whilst searching diligently for my ideal kilt pin, photographed below, I happened upon another lovely piece of art. A Ferrari 458 Italia, white with yellow brake calipers, a 4.5L V8 engine, and a top speed of 202mph. Lovely machine. I took a look around it, looking at the clear window to the engine, looked inside, and took a photo, then as the mob of onlookers realized there was a Ferrari near them swarmed in, I left for another shop. To my surprise just as I left this shop the owner had come by. I had expected a cool older gentleman, but what was before me was, for lack of a better term, a complete and utter c**k. Dripping from head to toe with over-sized and over-polished gold jewelry, designer sunglasses, that tried very hard to make you completely aware they were designer sunglasses, and a Ferrari polo. Needless to say a line came to mind: "A man with priorities so out of whack doesn't deserve such a fine automobile. No no, apparently you don't understand. Ferris. He never drives it, he just rubs it with a diaper..." But I digress, and must stop before the entire script to that movie is transcribed. Anyway now that the owner was in the car, he offered a girl a ride down the street, oddly she accepted and he took off, with a glorious V8 symphony of sound echoing off the ancient city walls of the Royal Mile. He shortly turned around and brought her back. And I'm pretty sure he spent the next few hours trying to pick up other women with the same tactic. Apparently the impression I got from his clothes weren't completely off base from his whole personality. But I had better things to do than watch a creepy man in a fancy car try to pick up loose women. So I departed, bought my bow-tie and returned home.

The Pin to match the Stewart Clan tartan

Friday, October 14, 2011

Is a Proud New Owner...

Of a full "Prince Charlie Kilt Uniform!" Having recently discovered that kilts were far more adjustable than I previously expected, I decided I would buy one now, that I could always adjust down as I continue to lose weight (down ~20lbs so far). Thankfully I managed to get one that fits nicely at one of the larger adjustment sizes but has about 5-6 inches of tightening left in it. The vest and jacket fit nicely now as well but should fit well even after some more pounds are pleasantly misplaced from my midsection. I do still need to buy a bow-tie as the ones in the store weren't very nice and were expensive, and I know for a fact I can buy a nicer 100% silk bow-tie downtown for about half the price. I also would like to buy a different kilt pin, the one that was included with the "package" isn't exactly what I wanted, but I know those aren't terribly expensive either. But I need to do some exercise tomorrow and walking around downtown getting those items will probably do the trick.

And allow me to say this. I have never been more comfortable in dress clothes than I am in this outfit. There are no annoying buttons that need to be dealt with, no zippers, and you've got to love not wearing any knickers. After all, how can you argue with a nice refreshing breeze. With all of that taken into account, I am totally going to wear a uniform like this when I get married. No doubt about that at all.

CLARIFICATION: No I am not alluding to anything with the previous statement. All allegations of me getting married any time soon, or having found a lass in this country are purely speculation and I assure you are completely false.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hello and Good Evening

Well I don't have too much to say currently, things are going well. School is keeping me busy, which I suppose is probably good. It's a nice way of directing traffic on the busy highway of thoughts in my head. A few of the cars have been stuck in a round about near the on ramp however. Mostly thoughts of home and family, day dreams of how nice it will be to be picked up at SeaTac airport on the 22nd of December. Another popular model is the thought of what I'm going to do after college. And after waking up at 7am on Saturday to watch the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix, and hearing the high pitched whine of an engine operating at 20,000 rpm, I think I have finally decided on that car's destination. In case the multitude of car alliterations weren't a major hint to you, I've began seriously contemplating going to graduate school in Michigan or California and studying further into automotive engineering. Nothing seems to capture my complete attention like the thundering engine of a beautifully designed automobile as it passes by on the street, not even the laugh of a beautiful woman walking in my direction. A situation I found myself in just yesterday on my way to a Tesco with a friend. As a Lamborghini Gallardo, rolled past my friend asked if I noticed the girl that just passed us, I was completely oblivious to her existence, as my attention was fixed on the sculpted lines of the orange super car and the idle sounds of it's massive 10 cylinder engine. Perhaps my priorities are out of whack but when push comes to shove evidently the car is what my eyes craved to look upon. Even in my thermodynamics lecture this morning, I found myself idly paying attention until the professor said the words "combustion engine," from that point on I wrote down every word that came out of his mouth until the lecture ended. This path will require some hard work however, as my knowledge of the inner-workings of an engine are less than professional, but I suppose that is why graduate school is offered.    

Well look at that, turns out I did have a fair amount to say.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Insane Weather

The Weather here is ridiculous. The rain has stopped and started, more times than an old man with bladder problems. And I don't mean rain in the sense of "damn I'm getting a little wet" I mean rain in the sense of "Good God find some cover!" Conveniently however this time I managed not to get stuck in it at its worst. I was caught in the tail end of the rain before the sun came out. Oddly enough the sun has stayed out since, which was nice. Until it went down, now its freezing outside.

I think I'm finally starting to get into the rhythm of this place, which is great. Starting to figure out the homework and class schedules, finding times to workout, but struggling slightly to find some down time to unwind. With the 3rd week of school, and 4th week I've been here, coming to a close, I'm filled with feeling of amazement, that a whole month can pass by so quickly. Feels like it was only a few days ago that I was struggling with the time change, and trying to find my way about town. Funny really.

Hopefully time slows a little bit before I have to leave this place.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I hope this finds you well

It's been another couple of days since I've written anything here. As it turns out I'm actually pretty busy with class. Most days are spent shuffling to and from class and doing homework. But every so often I get a little free time. On Sunday for example I spent a few hours looking for kilt vendors, trying to find the best deals for my inevitable purchase. Which was actually kind of fun. I did find it odd however that only one shop of the several I went to had Scottish people working there. Incidentally that one was the best, but also the most expensive as everything was made custom to your needs. A bit out of my price range to say the least.

Anyway, as this week limps forward, due to injuries sustained in a fight with my exhaustion, it has occurred to me that I have almost been here for a whole month. Which is bizarre as it definitely hasn't felt that long. Which as I have recently discovered is kind of like relativity, well sort of. I read a quote a while back from Einstein, that I think is applicable to this case of "warped time view."

"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it feels like a minute. That's relativity."

Which I suppose means I am likening school to a hot stove, which seems about right, and Scotland to a pretty girl, which while weird I suppose also makes sense. I have learned that all of my finals, save for one, are in May, which is nice I guess. This means that I will be able to enjoy a good deal of December with no classes to tie me down, no hot stove to ruin my time with this "pretty lady." That will be exciting. I've also caught wind of a weekend trip to the highlands next month, put on by the international student organization, which should be a fun trip. Perhaps I'll be the one to find proof of Loch Ness Monster...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Foggy Trip to the Craigs

Before dinner I meet up with some friends who wanted to go the Craigs to see what they were like in the heavy fog that settled in. I was planning on doing just that after dinner, so we all went together. Allow me to first say that never before have I found such peace as sitting on a rock near a ledge where all you can see in front of you, below you, and above you is grey fog. It is like sitting in a cloud. If the rain hadn't started to fall I probably would have sat there for hours. In fact the next time such fog comes in I plan to. With your visual senses dulled by the fog, you can hear the breeze moving through the long grass and the light rain drops gently landing on the rocks surrounding you, and a sense of ease and peace descends upon you, like a reassuring hand on your shoulder.

I managed to get some pictures from up there, as we moved through the fog to the various high points.

Scottish Weather Has Arrived

I was planning on golfing again today if the weather continued to be as nice as it has been the past week, but when I woke this morning I was disappointed to see that the sun has retreated behind the soft blanket of clouds. Which is actually not all that bad, I was starting to wonder when the Scottish weather would arrive, and this odd heat wave would dissipate. The clouds looked a little dark so I figured I'd be responsible and check the forecast before I close the door on golfing for the day. As it turns out the "heavy rain" is expected to hit right before my round would begin and the fog is supposed to come in during my round, followed by another "heavy rain" as my round would likely end. So I'm going to pass on the golf today. I refuse to be the victim of another monsoon. Took me a week to dry off from that last time... I also think that golfing in heavy fog would be damn near impossible. This means I will have to come up with something else to do today. There was talk of also going to a beach nearby (I know a beach in Scotland, crazy right?) but I'm going to assume that those plans will likely also be canceled. If the rain holds off for long enough maybe I'll go up Arthur's Seat again, and see what Edinburgh looks like under the veil of fog. And hell maybe if the rain doesn't hold off I'll do it anyway.

I went out to a club last night with some people from my building which was a interesting experience. I'm not much of a club rat, mainly because I don't understand the premise of standing in a crowded room while a DJ uses mostly poor music as a weapon of audio torture, as your ears contemplate suicide. Perhaps if your ears are ringing you won't be able to tell how awful most of the music is? I'd much rather sit in a bar or a pub and drink and talking normally to a person, not screaming into their ear. Regardless of my feeling of clubs I did have fun. I bought a drink at the bar, which I bought purely out of fascination that I it was served a in a plastic yellow bucket (pictured below). A little sweet and light on flavor for my tastes but I was amused by the unique container. Tasted like drinking the liquid manifestation of a hangover. Which made me feel bad as I watched people accumulate their fair share of buckets, as I knew they were going to have a rough Saturday. This is where the talk of the beach came in as we realized we should try to keep some of these buckets for sand castles or something. So we devised a plan to take some home in one of the girls' purses. Which worked out pretty well. We stayed at this club until about 3am, before we decided to call it a night, which could not have come sooner for me. I was eager to leave this deafening sardine can, as it were. We walked about half way back before one of the girls confessed she was too drunk to continue the journey on foot, so we took a cab. Which her boyfriend payed for, which was nice of him. Overall it was a fun night. Nothing quite like going out with people 3 years your junior and watching them struggle with their new legal experience of drinking in public. And struggle they did. But it was entertaining, and that's what its all about right?

Interesting right?