Saturday, February 28, 2009

In search of McDonalds.

There is a reason I have not posted in awhile. Not much has been going on to begin with, and there is this assignment that I am finally completing for this blog. I probably could have been done with it much sooner but I think Randy (Instructor of our CLAM class-one of the reasons I am Blogging) did not realize that one of his students was in Scotland and that it is very hard to find a proper McDonald's in Scotland (Burger King's on the other hand are plentiful). Basically, I was instructed to go to McDonald's and compare it to McDonald's in America, so Scott (he decided he was bored) and I went. The first MacDonald's we came too had a much more homey environment than any McDonald's I had ever been in before. upon realizing that it did not, in fact, serve food Scott and I decided to continue our search. We walked into the heart(at least its the heart of the city in my opinion) of Glasgow otherwise known as Central Station. We walked around inside the station but again the station was a fruitless search, just Burger Kings. We were finally rewarded upon walking around the outside of the station with what I thought was a true McDonald's. It wasn't till I bought an apple danish that i realized the food was WAAAAY to good to be a classic American McDonald's. So I took my Apple pastry and walked out, then down the street, stunned that something called McDonald's could serve something so terribly delicious. It was after another minute of city trudging that Scott and I came upon those horrible golden arches. There they gleamed in the non-existent sunlight singing a sorrowful song of woe. Their warning cry echoing off the dirty city streets. "Spend not your pounds here for too be found within are only grease, dirt and a full belly of unfulfillment." Scott and I ignored the wailing arches... this mission called for it. we boldly placed our orders. The prices would have made sense in American dollars...but being in pounds it seemed a bit expensive, perhaps this is just because it's downtown. We received our food (my sandwich had to much mayo on it but they have really good bread for a McDonald's...maybe they got it from the McDonald's Bakery down the street?)It was a two story so we sat upstairs. There was an adolescent with short spiky black hair, baggy blue jeans and skater shoes. But he/she was wearing a tutuish skirt on top of the jeans. This greatly confused Scott and I(Scott voted boy I voted girl...guess we will never know for sure). Here is a picture of the food I ordered. The frys were normal the sandwich bread was delicious but the coke tasted diet. And they have this McFlurry here called a was too rich (in a chocolaty way) for me, but I ate it anyway. Scott and I finished and left.
Another assignment down, another McDonald's found. There was a tile outside depicting the totality of McDonald's domination.

Oh one further development, Taylor (a fellow Clemson Student) has been playing the violin since he was five, he is a fiddle God. Anyway, we got together the other evening and played some sweet folk music it was really fun. I anticipate actually having decent background music for the video projects that will be coming in the future.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Another Excellent Weekend

We failed the flat inspection, but being the American I went and had a conversation with the lady who inspects and after much pleading she let me clean out the fridge and checked us off (vs. paying 30 pounds per person in the flat). To be fair Cyprian came along to complain and cleaned off the ceiling of the microwave (Crisis Avoided!). I'm pretty sure if any of my flat mates had taken action (with the exception of Mike) they would have just gone and yelled at people and never gotten out of paying for cleaners (yea! for begging skills).
Then Friday night we (at least 12 of us Americans) threw an American party...we really just took over the Australians lobby. The Australians brought some fries and a few of them out drank the Americans. I enjoyed my first game of beer pong which Mike and I lost horribly. Just as most of us were getting loud and obnoxious, Lena (previously mentioned German girl), who always brings at least two beers to every event I've been to yet, came for about twenty minutes, said "American Parties are different" and left shortly afterward. This had a strange stomping effect on my evening. I have since learned that stereotypically Germans can out drink anyone and never get noticeably tipsy...I think I Idolize that. I left a short time later as people got louder and stupider, not really my cup of tea.
Saturday was awesome! Rob (A coworker of my uncle's) took Scott and myself and several of his coworkers who had just arrived from the states to the Rangers vs. Kilmarnock soccer game. Some of the security people were on big draftish sized horses. Kilmarnock scored the first goal which made the game really intense for a few minutes until the rangers rallied and scored 3 goals in about 5 minutes. We had the good fortune of sitting on the Kilmarnock side during the first half (which is when everyone scored) so we got to see some excellent goals. One of which came off of the corner kick pictured here. One cultural facet that I noticed was that instead of serving hot dogs they served meat pies such as this one being enjoyed by the die hard Ranger fans in front of us (note soccer pictures courtesy of Scott...I accidentally left the memory card for my camera in my computer on Saturday).
Rob took us all to the horseshoe pub after the game and bought us each a pint of a very tasty locally brewed ale. Then Scott and I left because the conversation was leaning towards business and we walked back to the University. That night I introduced Mark, Mike, Scott, and Christy to the card game "up and down the lazy river". Christy beat us all , but I think the game is a hit we've already played it once since and everyone is still enjoying it.
Mike and Scott didn't go anywhere the weekend before this one, so Sunday Mike planned an excursion to Inveraray. We (Mike Scott and I) got up early and caught a bus to the small coastal town. We got to see a beautiful very full rainbow on the way there. The town is very small and compact but pretty because of it. It definitely makes money off tourists but because it was Sunday (lots of stuff was closed) we didn't go to the ship museum and we avoided the historical jail, although I did try to break in...actually I just wanted a picture with the flag but the climb proved to much work for just a photo.We ate a fast cheap breakfast in the George inn which turned out to be the best thing we could have done. The place had the perfect atmosphere, it was built in the 1700's so it was mostly stone, they had a real fire going and the food was very good. We left The George and went exploring. We came across a "new" castle built in the 17th century. Apparently some 10th duke of something still lives there. What fascinated me most was a Canon in front of the castle that was salvaged from a wrecked ship that served in the Spanish armada.
We went from the castle up a local hill/mountain that had on top of it a watchtower that served the area back in the day. The hike was not to bad compared to other things we have already done, however we decided to go off the path and strait up the mountain side...probably not a wise decision but it turned out OK. The views from the top were incredible. We stayed up there for a while because it wasn't too cold and was way too pretty to leave.
We did finally packed it up and headed down the mountain and on our way down we came across the ruins of what I deduced to be a farm. There was an ancient silo, house and what was possibly a barn (barnish building pictured with mike taken by me from the top of what might have been the silo). We also went on a very long "nature walk" which didn't turn out as pretty as we had hoped, but we got to see lots of sheep and some highland cattle. We also passed the ruins of a mill. The area was surprisingly similar to areas of the Appalachians I've been in. With the exceptions that everything here is covered in a green moss, there are fewer insects, and it feels older...I think this is mostly the fault of the moss that covers everything, but I'm not entirely sure. When we got back to the town we realized that it was low tide so we took our weary feet out to the lock's shore (most my prompting) and took a look around. I picked up a shell from between the seaweed because I though it looked pretty (kinda a purple shade). As we walked back into town I looked at the bottom of the shell to discover a very small pearl (can you see it? Its the pimple to the right of the guitar pick.) I doubt it is of any value but I haven't removed it from the shell yet...I think it's kinda pretty.
Anyway we ate dinner back in the George Inn and enjoyed the cozy fire from a distance as the place was pretty busy. They had wonderful tartar sauce that went really well with the fish and chips...very abnormally flavorful tartar sauce. We caught our bus and slept on and off as best we could on the ride back (less than a 2 hour ride home the whole round trip was only 12 pounds).
Today (Monday) was again back to the drag of going to class. Some people in my value theories class think companies should account(aka record in financial documents) for every piece of the environment they pollute. I think this is ridiculous unless there is actually a risk from lawsuits. I guess the environmentalism is a "welcome to Europe" the tree huggers at home are weenies compared to people here (thank goodness). Not saying I think companies should free willy pollute everywhere, just that their accountants shouldn't be stuck with the responsibility of dealing with it unless it impacts profit, that is all.
Oh one other side note. I bought "Highland Tea" and have combined it with this strong organic orange stuff (to thick to be juice to thin to be pulp) added a little organic fair trade sugar granules and it has turned out super delicious. I shared it with Christy cause she was sickly, even made some for the guys when we played cards, so far it has been a hit!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Wee Update

Just a quick update. Sorry I still don't have any new pictures, but I'll remedy that this weekend hopefully. The flat checkers come back tomorrow because we failed the initial "is the place clean" inspection. They were incredibly picky last time (like a spot on the mirror got us in trouble sorta picky) So everyone in our flat has spent some time cleaning things this evening to avoid having to pay for cleaners to come do it.
Anyway Mark, Scott and I went to open mic night. I planned on playing my guitar and singing to get a free beer which I intended to give away to whomever filmed it. However, we got there and they didn't open till later, but they told us there was a ceilidh dance going on upstairs and said I should join the band up there. We gained free admission cause not enough people had shown up to the dance. Scott left but mark and I danced a few with some Scottish girls. Mark is from Nebraska and he seemed to really take to folk dancing, plus some girl was really enjoying dancing with him (you must understand that he is a 6'4' city kid, so I found this very entertaining) We went back downstairs later and I played in front of 20ish people, got mark a fosters for filming it and am now back here doing some treasury management homework that I need to have done for tomorrow. If any of the video from tonight turns out well I will include it in one of the videos I have to include in this blog (so far uploading video from my room has failed anyway).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


*Disclaimer...the following story is a continuation of the depressing saga of human depravity, I just figured I would keep it real for those thinking about studying abroad and for people wondering what it is really like in Glasgow*
OK, so tonight I had a very strange experience.
The Set up: There was a party on the third floor because Pablo (from Spain) turned 26 today. There were cakes baked (one of which had the words "Too Old" spelled out in marshmallows) and at least 14 people crammed into the kitchen of the flat. So we cleared the couches out their Kitchen/living room to create a mini dance floor. I taught a few girls some swing moves and Lena (a cool girl from Germany) taught me some basic Samba dance steps.
The middle: After dancing and cake the whole group decided to go to international pub night. We got there and talked it up for a little less than an hour before the place closed, and we ended up back outside. Then the group decided to head back to the flat.
The Event: OK so somewhere before we get back to the flat this guy slides into the group. He was wearing dark makeup had a lip piecing and went by the name "James". Everyone kinda assumed that someone else in the group knew him. So he managed to slide his way into the 3rd floor flat before we discussed that fact that no one knew him. Then he just kind of sat in the group trying to make conversation with a few people.The rest of us sat around discussing how to get rid of him (*the comment following this warning is not for little eyes* comments were made by him and it was understood that he was gay and wanted some, he was also most likely drunk or high out of his skull). So we are all sitting there trying to figure out how to get rid of him and who would be willing to be the bad guy. Then my Hero of the evening Ola (Olga if its a formal setting apparently) took him to show him where the "bathroom" was and threw him out of the third floor flat(possibly catching his fingers in the door on his way out). So he kicks at the door several times, then with whatever brain he had left he pulled the fire alarm. He then sprinted down the flight of steps and pulled it again next too my flat door(1st floor). Then he apparently tried to break into our flat. Cyprian (I finally can spell his name) opened the door and realizing that he was trying to break in punched him multiple times (at least that's what he told us) So James is crumpled on the floor fake crying and we have to go outside because of the fire alarm so we throw him outside (so he can't go rob us while we are standing around). But our crucial mistake of the evening is that we failed to sit on him so he laid on the ground sobbing then as the Fire Patrol people show up he hops up and dives threw a bunch of thorn bushes rolls out back onto the sidewalk and takes of down the street waving his middle finger at us. We meanwhile had been telling the campus security people that it was him. But as he takes off down the street they just stood there with their hands in their pockets.
Anyway we were informed that Flats A and C (I'm in A) will have to pay the fine for the fire department coming out.
The Lesson: Never let go of the crook, and be a jerk on occasion and figure out who people are. Oh also if you ever have authority in a University Setting don't put fire alarms in communal stairways and only make fines that make sense.

Other thoughts: What would Jesus have done? I mean he loved on the scum of the planet(including us/me)...but what does that look like in this situation? (aka is there a better way to deal with the situation once we realized that he didn't belong?)

I'm sorry for not having camera lens got dirty and I haven't taken the time to clean it appropriately (there for I have not carried it with me).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Random Joke

A joke I just got told by an Irish Student studying here:

Q. What happened to the Irish car bomber who went to blow up a bus full of tourists?

A. He burned his lips on the tail pipe

Not to much has gone on the last two days. Finally did laundry and got charged a fortune (5.80 pounds for 2 loads of laundry, that was a wash and dry). And I still have a grass stain in the rear of one of my jeans from falling down a grassy hill at Edinburgh Castle....oh well. Classes seem to be going well. At least I think I know what I need to do to do well on the exams. Oh! also some tall skinny guy from Athens Greece moved in to take the place of the kid from Arizona who left on like the second day here. Unfortunately this means that we no longer have a guest room. We had successfully jimmied the lock open and been using the room as needed. Well really the only person who used it at all was Mike who locked himself out of his room at 4 in the morning and made use of the bed in the (at the time) guest room till the housing office opened (so he could get a spare key).
Today I missed a CU meeting (Christian Union) because I thought it was at 830 when really it was at 530. I met some really cool people who were still milling around though and it was nice to find natives who loved God.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentines Day 09

So I took a romantic (this is a mostly sarcastic statement) trip with the mountaineering club for Valentines day weekend. One of the girls drove us in a mini bus up the skinny mountain road for the greater part of the three hour drive. I was very impressed that she knew how to drive a manual and that we did not die or suffer any traumatic road experiences. We arrived at Roy Bridge Inn, a pleasantly quaint three story hostel located just outside of Fort William. We spent Friday night there then packed up and left for separate expeditions. I went with three other guys to conquer the backside of Ben Nevis (two other guys went rock climbing and everyone else went halfway up the tourist trail that leads to the top of Ben Nevis). Ben Nevis is the Highest mountain in the entire UK. The climb up actually starts very near sea level making the journey much longer than other mountain peaks. Prior to departure I was issued a Ice Axe/pick, helmet and crampons (awesome spiky things for the feet) that we fitted to our boots Friday night. I made one fantastic mistake a long time ago, that is buying a backpack that can carry way to much. In order to keep it usable(if its not full enough everything hangs around all dilapidated and it doesn't balance on the back well) I filled it with some excess cloths before this day trip. The extra weight in comparison to everyone else just about killed me on the way down.
OK so we headed off on a trail and I lead almost the whole way up into the valley. This made me smile because the trail was snow/ice covered and I'm from South Carolina. We slogged it out way up the valley to this really cool mountain house (the backside of which is pictured...apparently its undergoing renovation) that in order for people to get a bed in, they have to book over a year and a half in advance(some world famous French climber comes here every year for a week or more because the area offers some of the best climbing that can be found anywhere).
From this point we made a short, but painful trek over lots of small loose rocks up to the base of steep cliff face that was covered in several feet of frozen snow. We broke out our ice picks and I got a lesson in how to fall properly. If you ever fall down a steep incline and happen to have a ice pick on you then the proper technique is to bring the butt of the pick into your shoulder(bringing this to your mouth will most likely result in missing teeth), flip onto your stomach falling feet first then dig the ice pick head into the snow very firmly. I was made to practice this by running and sliding on a lesser snow covered incline.
Anyway, we made it about a fourth of the way up the cliff face using ice picks and making huge foot holds in the snow, then the snow got crazy hard and we had to apply crampons to our boots to get grip. I found that taking my boot toe and smashing it into the side of the mountain to make a grip/foothold with the front four spikes was thrilling. I became responsible (instead of the mountain) to make sure I had a footing before moving on, but at the same time I could create a footing just about anywhere I wanted. The safety trick in getting up the incline is smashing your ice pick handle first into the snow then using it as a hand hold and making footholds with your feet. We inched our way up the mountain side this way, it took us about an hour. The top of the mountain side turned out to be a long and very narrow(some places were just over 12inches of path that had sheer drop offs on either side) ridge that led up the side of Ben Nevis. Somewhere on the way up the mountain side we entered a cloud and we never saw anything in the distance more than 50 feet away till we were well on our way down. we hiked along the ridge until it widened and started to angle up steeply again. The wind at this point continued to increase in speed and ferocity and things got bitter cold at least they did if you stayed still for too long. We climbed the steepening ridge until it finally plateaued out. At this point the other guys were pretty much waiting on me to catch up. Then they surprised me and turned out to actually have a lot of skill as they consulted their maps and compasses (we couldn't see more than 20 feet at this point) and we walked barely 20 paces to our left and found the ruins of the observatory (basically the top of the mountain). The observatory(pictured...barely) was built in the Victorian period as an experimental weather watching facility, it is now just a pile of mountain top ruins. We found a survival shelter on top of the mountain and dug the snow out of the doorway to get inside so we could get relief from the weather and eat some lunch (mine consisted of granola bars). The trip down basically stunk for me. Everything from my lower back down hurt, it was really cold, I couldn't keep up with the other guys so they kept stopping and waiting (they didn't seem to mind too much though). They did do an excellent job navigating back to the main tourist path. The problem with crampons is that if you step on rock with them they don't keep level like a boot will. instead one spike will stay on the rock while the rest find the lower ground causing your ankle to bend in all kinds of ways it wasn't meant too. All that complaining though to say that it was totally worth it and I'm so glad I got to do some real winter mountaineering.
There were some absolutely gorgeous views on the way down, that is of course after we got low enough to get out of the cloud. The snow turned to rain and the we barely made it back to the bottom before the sun set (at the bottom I found this sign which I thought was hilarious...especially the "can't see stone = foggy") We spent another night in the Roy Bridge and then I decided that I wanted to catch the Ranger vs Celtics game back here in Glasgow instead of put my legs/feet through another hike (although it would have been a much easier one) so I caught a ride this morning with a few other mountaineering kids in an automatic (the first one I have seen here) Ford Focus. The game was fantastic...except neither team scored and it's not the playoffs yet so they just left it that way 0-0. I've decided to pull for the rangers, I like the team name better and I think Scott and I have tickets thanks to Rob for their game next weekend.

Things I learned recently thanks to this trip (finally hanging with the Scottish)
  • The word "pants" does not actually refer to "trousers" , but rather to any and all forms of underwear (with the exception of boxers) I was informed that this also included the frilly ones. For example: When I said "I ripped my pants!" What they heard was "I ripped my underwear" to which the leader of our expedition smiled, shook his head and said "No you mean you ripped your trousers" .
  • You do not want to be any place where things are "going pear shaped" This means that a situation is going to get much worse. This might be extra funny to any of my American friends who were on the setup crew during the pear lady episodes.
  • The Word "Cheers" is much more popular than the words "thank you"
  • If something is "Dodgy" you probably don't want to be around to dodge it.
  • If something is "quality" it is or was very must be careful as this is often used sarcastically as well. (as in "Oh! I've been there, quality restaurant that is!"...then everyone laughs because they know its crap)
  • They play a card game that in France that is called oncuelet (I hope this is horribly to its vulgarity) it is very similar to our game called(by many names): up and down the lazy river, crap on your neighbor, oh *&%$(poop), but the french have upped the vulgarity of the name probably to the most extreme level possible...don't try to translate it just trust me. (I do want readers to know that I dominated at this game and only lost one hand).
  • Half of their music is stuck in the 90's...or 90's sounding. And somehow Beyonce and Dolly Parton(working 9-5...I've heard it twice) followed me over here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Scotish Magic

Today was mostly typical. I went to class, felt slightly lost but not completely. I Stressed slightly about how hard the final is going to be....there are no mid terms here so it's just one big test at the end of the semester. And the problem with Finance is that there really is very little bluffing that you can do. Its not a social science where you can put down how you think and get an A for effort. I'll unfortunately have to actually know things.
Anyway after class Scott, Simpren (sp unknown still...I'll ask soon) and I went and worked out at the gym..which unlike Clemson was not included in tuition. Anyway now I'm back in my flat about to go get some grocery's so I can survive the weekend which should be in the mountains for me.
The story I really want to relay to everyone is an event that happened on the ski trip yesterday. Scott and I were still trying to catch the bus (this is just after to seeing the one we wanted go flying by us). and this skinny oldish guy wearing a goofy hat (long ear flaps, but not like any of the hats that are in style) was ...looking like he was waiting to catch a bus. He ended up joining our conversation with the other helpful man who had pointed out the bus that had left us. He (skinny old guy with a weird hat) muttered something about it being the bus he had wanted as well and he sort of joined is in the cafe' that looks out on the bus station( sort of = he went in at the same time we did and sat on the other side of the cafe'). He must have left the cafe' a little less than an hour before we did. I know he went back out to the bus station and stood there for a while, but I also know for a fact that no bus route 41 buses came by.
*Please note that all of this was just being processed in the back of my mind I wasn't paying that much attention to the people around me.* Ok so fast forward an hour, Scott and I get up and go out to the bus station and after about five minutes our bus arrives. Off steps the skinny old man with a weird hat and he walks off like he completed whatever he needed too do. I noticed this oddity but didn't pay much attention to it till Scott and I were on our way home that night(he noticed it as well and didn't say anything either). Questions in my head: Primarily, how in the world did he do that? (the next nearest bus stop on the 41 route is not within walking distance, and he had to have had time to get done whatever it was he needed a bus ride to go do.) Secondly why did he do that?...which leads to, what did he need the bus for in the first place? *best I can figure he caught a different bus to a common bus stop, took care of whatever it was with blinding speed and made it back to where we were in the hour time frame....if he murdered someone it would be a genius alibi time wise* I only really thought about it because he was back in the cafe' when we had finished skiing while we were waiting for our bus to take home that night.
I probably won't be able to post till after Sunday because this mountaineering trip is all weekend long but hopefully I'll have stories and awesome pictures to share.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

21st Birthday!

I got offered a lot of drinks and food tonight and It was wonderful! But I still managed to stay sober for my 21st Birthday (A goal of mine...I like remembering things, being in control of myself and being a Christ follower I don't desire to end up drunk...however, while Paul said "do not be drunk with wine" it should be noted that Jesus did bring the best wine to the wedding for his first miracle. In my personal journey I've found that although a person is probably better off never drinking any it can be enjoyed wisely.). I told Jim (The international student Coordinator) at pub night tonight that it was my 21st Birthday. He later proceeded to embarrass me in front of everyone by singing happy birthday and making me blow out a candle (I kinda appreciate it). Several of the American friends I've made here threw a party in their flat as well(Shout out to Krit for helping celebrate on her last day in Glasgow!) . I actually had a good time...we all ended up singing songs into spoons at the top of our lungs and after hearing all of the drunk Scottish kids trying to sing karaoke at the union on Tuesday nights I think we were really good....although the singing seemed like a disappointment to the group of Australian girls who also joined.
The best part of my birthday was definitely yesterday. Scott and I went skiing above Fort William in the Nevis Range. It was simply gorgeous. The bus ride there was amazingly pretty even breath taking. I think it is finally dawning on me that I am really in Scotland. As decent a city as Glasgow is I'm definitively learning that I am not a city kid by any stretch of the imagination. Give me a mountain, wide open pasture land and a creek you can keep your clubs and noisy night life.
Scott and I got to Fort William(10:00 a.m.) and were trying to figure out which bus to catch to get to the ski resort. we asked a very helpful gentleman who said..."I think you want bus 41"...he then squinted his eyes at a passing bus and said ..."there it is". Scott and I watched it drive by in a speedy fashion. As we watched our bus fade into the distance we looked at each other and had to laugh.
There are several things to do in Fort William. Unfortunately the town is spread out like a line and non of them were within walking distance for us. So Scott settled for a cup of coffee and I got a "Flying Scotsman" breakfast at a strange cafe' that was attached to the grocery store which was more or less attached to the bus station. The next bus finally left at 11:55 so Scott and I got half day tickets and rentals and skied for cheaper than we thought. On our way up the gondola to get to the ski lifts we saw many sheep grazing/digging in the snow for food (whatever frozen plants the sheep prefer to eat...pictured...but hard to see).
The skiing was very strange. They don't make any snow themselves they just push around what they have to make some skinny ski runs. The weirdest part, by far, for me were the lifts...they had one chair lift. All the other lifts we used worked much like a stick pony. You'd grab this plunger looking stick that was attached by a retractile string to the main cable. Throw it between your legs, squeeze then pray as it caught tension and pulled you up the mountain.
Oh and um...Scott and I got to the top of he mountain and there was this sign that clearly said that all but two runs were closed in that direction....we tried to follow a skier and ended up dropping into some very rocky back country. What we found was Several feet of fluffy wet snow(not the best powder to ski in)...lots of huge rocks and an incredibly steep incline all shrouded in a cloud on top of the mountain. (note here that every time I went to take a picture of Scott he would wipe was kinda wipe out is pictured below) It probably took Scott and myself thirty plus minutes to maneuver our way back down the mountain to safe land. It was definitely beyond our skill level.
But we survived (story of my life). Oh another trick we've found is to buy a huge bag of trail mix and use it for lunch/snacks so as to cheapen the cost of the day.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I am American, hear me roar!

(Picture is of an art museum in Glasgow)
So I had a weird experience in class today. I was sitting with my group in Value Theories (the class where we talked about the value of a cat). Anyway, we were discussing the love canal incident. The fast version for people who don't know is that a company located near Niagara falls put extremely toxic chemicals into the ground and covered them with clay...years later authorities encouraged the school board to build a school on the property. Soon after the school was built people started noticing trends in higher birth defects and illnesses from the area.
All that to say we were discussing whether or not the companies that sold chemicals to the company that buried them were at all to blame. Which led to us discussing whether the gun seller is responsible for selling the gun (They were very surprised that people could own handguns in the US). Somehow this lead to a discussion on sweatshops. To which I made the comment, "well at least the people have a choice as to whether or no to work in the sweatshop". To which a Scottish Student in my group said something to the effect of "That's a very American way of thinking" I'm pretty sure he meant it offensively, but I took it as a compliment.

Scott and I are going to try to go skiing tomorrow in Glencoe kinda as an early 21st birthday celebration for me...Yea!. For anyone wondering neither of us have class on Tuesday this week. My Birthday is Wednesday, but they(the mountaineering club) are putting together a mountaineering trip at 1 (aka planning out next weekend) and then rock climbing at an indoor facility in the afternoon, both of which I want to be around for.

Oh I also got to meet with Rob. He worked with my Uncle Greg and lives here in Glasgow. He introduced me to this marvelous combination that I would encourage everyone to try. It's bacon (pretty similar to our ham) cranberry sauce and melted brie cheese on panini bread. Delicious! Rob also offered Scott and I tickets to a rangers soccer game (sorry Celtic fans...gotta cheer ranger for now) for the weekend after next. Ever since mountain climbing near Stirling this trip has become a even better. I can't wait for spring to do some backpacking.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Stirling! (The silver part is still unknown)

At Last! We (Me, Scott, Ben, Mark and Mike) finally got out and did what I've been deeply longing to do since I perceived this trip was a possibility (The Highlands). Today we went to the town of Stirling.Things I learned today: Stirling is considered the "gateway to the highlands"as it (for centuries) contained the only bridge that crossed the river forth (which more or less defines most of the edge of the highlands). It was here that several deciding battles were fought. Probably the most famous was when William Wallace defeated the English. Hence the William Wallace monument was built here (1st picture). (Actually rumor has it that Glasgow and Edinburgh were fighting for the monument so it was built in Stirling which is sort of between the two). It houses William Wallace's sword...which we did not get to see today due to running a few minutes too late.
The bus fare was only 8 pounds for an all day pass and we used all 8 pounds worth. After arriving, on our way from the bus station to Stirling Castle we ended up passing by a very old looking grave yard (pictured right) so we went and investigated. The oldest grave I saw was a 1728, but that was out of the few clearly engraved stones that I passed by(If you have better graveyard games to play besides find the oldest stone let me know). We found Stirling Castle (pictured behind me), coughed up the entrance fee and went to see what it had to offer. We founds lots of great views, cool people and well built furniture (most likely replicated). On the way in we found Robert the Bruce...ok his statue, but we had to get a photo with him.
After we explored the Castle we made our way into town and found lunch at a pub. It should be noted that I am currently 2 for 2 when it comes to finding people in cities to hang out with. In Edinburgh we met up with Amber who I met on the plane ride over here. And it turned out that Devin, whom I also met on the plane ride over here, was hanging out in Stirling. She found us after lunch and took us to William Wallace's Monument which turned out to be closing as we arrived. So we settled for a group photo. And decided to conquer Dumyat (pronounced do-my-at) Mountain which is located behind the monument. The mountain and the Hike could not have been more amazing. We ended up once again racing the sun (this involved a lot of running when the trail was more snow,rock or grass than ice). I blame the sun racing on slow lunch eaters, but things still turned out pretty cool. I need to note here that a tradition (we learned this from Devin) on this mountain is the pick a rock up at the bottom and place it with everyone else's rock on top of the mountain. Scott's Rock looked like South Carolina and I decided that mine looked like New Hampshire. Mike Scott and I took off for the top knowing that the sunlight was waning fast (Ben and Mark started with us, but took their time and stopped 2/3rds of the way up). The Trail went from mostly dirt and grass with patchy snow to being snow covered and rocky. There were many streams to cross...but they were lightly frozen over so watching the feet became a full time occupation. The travelled upon snow had packed down and become Ice as well and the closer we got to the top the more we seemed to be slipping and nearly wipeing out. Mike and I accidentally went off course at one point (an absolute joy of Highland hiking is that the trails seem to be suggestions there is nothing to hinder anyone from making their own path) I realized we had missed the trail when I noticed that they snow was only broken by rabbit tracks. By this time we were halfway up the side of a steep incline and elected to punching holes in the snow with our tennis shoes so as to make new footholds as we navigated around a rock face. Our new path ended up colliding with the correct path on top of the ridge so we actually created a short cut (although it probably took more work). Mike and I reached the summit with about a minute and ten seconds of sunlight remaining, and Scott reached the top with just enough sunlight for a few photos. (Photos of the rock pile on top of the mountain and me, The Snow covered Highland mountains, and some sheep we met as we had hoped). After our wonderful hike we went back into town and finally got to sit down to enjoy dinner with Devin and some of her friends with whom she was staying. (She wisely elected to just lead us to the mountain, but avoid the hike in the winter weather). Everyone had a great time ...That is after sprinting over half a mile to try to catch the bus, (the last bus was the 9:15 and we were almost late for it) but we did make it and we all just about fell asleep on the bus ride home. If only they made the buses more comfortable.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Quick update before bed

So tonight this guy named Mark found a casino that gave its first timers two free blackjack hands. So Naturally Mike and I convinced him to take us as well. I walked away with 10 pounds and never risked a penny of my own cash. Mike and Mark both walked away with 15. So together we took the casino for 4o Pounds. This is a very small victory compared to what they probably dragged in tonight, but still a victory none the less (troop moral is at an all time high). I also caught up with my friend Krit who is currently touring Europe all by her lonesome. She starts her job in June so she is currently joy riding across the world with her last gasps of freedom before starting a career.
Tomorrow (well actually today) we (Mike, Scott, Mark, Ben and Myself) are planning on heading off to see the town/city of Sterling (Castle and Wallace monument and hopefully some long awaited sheep filled highland hills). Hopefully some excellent pictures will follow. Oh Also it's seems to be constantly cold here, I'm dealing with it pretty well, but I am begining to miss the randomness of the weather throughout much of the states.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Its only my second week here but I've fallen in love. Shes got Western sunset tan orange skin, a beautiful body and she sings like very few can. Shes been in a previous relationship but that's fine with me because shes not a gold digger. I don't know weather or not the parents will appreciate her but shes thinking about coming home with me in four months.
Ok, so I bought this guitar (with carry bag) for under 100 pounds. I was getting kind of desperate and missing mine that I left at home. this beauty is a 12 string with a built in tuner and sounds pretty good (although tuning a 12 string is a pain) It was used and it wanted me so we are now friends. If it costs to much to bring it home I'm gonna pawn it before I leave. I also recently decided that I want to know what kind of money the street bands make so when the weather gets nicer I may head down to Buchanan street to sit and play after the shops close.
Not to much has happened the last few days. Just typical classes and grocery shopping. Scott and I finally went and saw "underworld revolution" in what is rumored to be the worlds tallest movie theater which consists of 7 stories of escalators and movie theaters. Each floor has a bar (yes serving alcohol) and ice cream shop. It was defintily one of the best theaters I've ever been too.
Oh, I also discovered on pub night that apparently no one around here knows how to really dance. It turns out that if you swing dance at clubs people think that you are amazing.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Snow Dance

Today was a pleasantly exciting day even for those who live here. The morning seemed to start out slightly more upbeat. Not just for me but even the conversations of students around me seemed more perky. I think it was because of the snow. (picture taken zoomed out from my 1st floor room window) There were of course one or two grumpy chaps who came late to class because the trains were slowed. It should be noted that I caught a snowflake with my eyeball because the wind was whipping the snow around quite quickly. A feat I will not try to repeat, but it was an excellent first time for me.
The weather has stalled any random excursions for today and probably tomorrow so we've settled for finding the movie 'taken' which is currently in movie theaters in the US but already out on DVD here (we have yet to obtain a playable version, but that is the goal of the evening). This is the opposite of American made movies such as '7 pounds' which just opened in theaters here at the end of January, but were out in the US last month.
I have finally begun to make some Scottish acquaintances in class. This is a relief as most of the people I currently know are foreign exchange students. Hopefully there will be more to befriend as time continues. (another similar picture from my room)