Sunday, December 20, 2009

This is how we'll save newspapers.

I've seen the newspapers offer free pasta, free tea, and free cookies with each copy sold. But this?

This is so much more awesome. Way to tap into the spirit of the season, guys.

Friday, December 11, 2009

You know what's better than waiting in line at the post office (or bank)?

Waiting in line at the bank (or post office).

Fortunately, the Scots managed to combine the two: the post office doubles as a bank. I've seen people in line purchase a book of stamps, mail a package, deposit a week's worth of employee receipts, and withdraw £200. You can imagine how insane it is, and how annoyingly slow it can be.

This alone did not warrant a blog post. Nor did the fact that my local post office/bank reduce 50% of its line space to also become a convenience store. (I'm still serious. I walk in, pass a man at a newly installed counter selling chips and candy bars, only to stand next to a cooler of Coke and Irn Bru.)

What's now supremely weird is that the post office may have been purchased by Argos, as the post office/bank/convenience store now boasts advertisements how purchases from the Argos website may be picked up at your local post office/bank/convenience store, often within 24 hours.


I should post some more bizarre photos soon.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

And in the same vein...

Things you don't see in Glasgow: Color-safe bleach. Seriously. Thus far, it's been impossible to find. Is it so much to ask for a cleaning agent that can also be used to get stains out of laundry? The answer is, "Apparently so."

Things you see in Glasgow: This.

Like myself, they admit to not being from around these parts, hailing instead from a colder clime. Beyond that, I got nothin'. Other people came up to snap pictures and they began posing again.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Deceased conquerers are for kids!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Goods & Services

Best name for a pet store I've ever seen. The end.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Foreign Service

There aren't many Americans in Glasgow. Or, perhaps, I simply haven't found the American enclave, the secret town of hot wings, real football, and people who drive on the correct side of the road.

What this means, beyond the fact that I'm now the one with the cute accent, is that I get a lot of questions, about both Presidents Bush (the recent) and Obama (the only, thus far). I have people asking me what I think of the eight years under Bush and the last year under Obama. And I'm cool with that; when someone's curious and they meet an American, why not take the chance to question him, see what he's like, size him up against preconceived notions? I hope I dispel some of the stereotypes. (Although, today, I was questioned by the shopkeeper where I was ordering a bacon cheeseburger and fries. Ha.)

More interesting is that I have a lot to listen to. As if I'm some conduit to the public zeitgeist, people enjoy sharing their opinions of the United States with me. The shopkeeper today, for example, an Iranian with a solid Glaswegian accent, exhausted his questions in a minute or so and spent the next 10 minutes telling me his views of America. He went on about what he likes about President Obama, what he disliked about President Bush, and what he fears from the increasing polarization of political and religious zealots. He went from Farsi phrases to discussing the web of power in America that stretches across the world, influenced by so many elements.

The important bit, though, was his smile. He seemed happy that he found an American and, moreso, one who was open to listening to him. Honestly, I agree with a lot of what the shopkeeper said, though I don't think that mattered to him much. The thrill of having my ear seemed to be enough.

And his burger wasn't bad, even if it was British bacon.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Contrary to popular opinion, I am not dead. I simply haven't updated. But I have things to update about! I just need to sit down, edit photos, and explain why Tizer is a strong contender for Worst Soda Ever.

And I'm including Cranberry 7 Up and those God-awful Halloween edition Jones sodas in the competition.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Scottish Experience

I went outside last night to smoke a Cuban cigar. Finishing that, I went into the pub next door and ordered Scotch on the rocks. Next to me at the bar was a man who looked to be in his mid 40's, thinning hair, glasses, completely lit, demanding I make it a double. Then he went on a two minute cussing streak before his head went down on the bar for a short while. When he came to, he began singing Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from Monty Python's Life of Brian. I finished my Scotch and left him there, serenading the football game on the television.

Monday, October 5, 2009

This is what Glasgow looks like.

Saturday night, my flatmate and I went into town to the movies. We saw Surrogates, the "Bruce Willis really hates remote-operated drones" one, and it was alright. But that's not the point. The point is what I saw.

These two shots are a bit hazy and blurry because they were taken behind glass from my phone on the fifth of the movie theater. The Cineworld theater is tall. Very, very tall. We rode escalators for nearly five minutes just to get to the correct floor for our movie. It's also quite an astounding view out over the east side of Glasgow. A pity I can't point anything out to you. Perhaps when I go during the day, I'll be able to orient some of the landmarks.

This is precisely what it looks like: a dog and her copy of Flashdance on DVD. I don't know what more needs to be said, other than she wasn't treating it like a chew toy. No, she was calmly strolling down the road, owners in tow, proud of her new purchase. Good on you, dog.

Finally, this struck me for how very much like a Demotivator from the entire scene was.

That and getting friendly with my neighborhood pub made up my Saturday night. The end.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

In Memoriam

And so, the Grand Scottish Expedition suffers its first loss: my knife, Aggression.

I believe there are few reading this who don't understand how much my knife meant to me. I remember gramps and I going to Smoky Mountain Knife Works and buying it 11 years ago. Since then, I've had my knife by my side at almost all times, using it for everything from opening boxes to opening beer bottles to even fending off a small gang.

I'm almost certain it came out of my pocket yesterday, given that I walked at least 5 miles across Glasgow. The problem is where did it fall out? I didn't reach into my pocket much, so I've one suspicion where it possibly maybe fell out and where possibly maybe someone found it and turned it in; I'll certainly be dropping by there later today.

Otherwise, well. I suppose I should start looking for a new knife.

Weird; my knife's still in Tennessee. I completely hallucinated this whole bizarre incident.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I knew it was going too smoothly.

To make up for signing for a decent flat on the first day in Scotland, everything else is going terribly awry.

I haven't opened a bank account because most banks that should be working with my school, according to my school's bank letter, do not work with my school. Mostly, they've been telling me to piss off. That's getting old, fast.

I don't have internet access. After being told broadband via cable was available, we were told some ghost was already using an account in our flat. And the provider wouldn't cut the ghost off for a week. Now the provider's realized that, in fact, we do not have an active line in our flat so they've booked us for installation on October 9, a week and a half away, on a day when my roommate and I are both in class all day. Wonderful.

Fortunately, I've gotten a decent cell phone that has Skype built in, making calling the US much, much easier.

I'm eating well, downing a banana almost every day while cutting back on the junk food. Alcohol is cheap and plentiful but I've been avoiding it as well. I haven't gone running yet, but that doesn't bother me much since I've been walking 3 or 4 miles a day, going into the city center, trying to sort all of the rubbish out.

The class schedule changes weekly, which is odd. We have a field trip to a team-building camp called BlueSky Experience during the last week of October. Have any teams ever been built or solidified during one of these? Not from my experience. Finals are immediately after Christmas break followed by another week off. Odd.

The toilet is flushed by revving the handle, like revving a motorcycle. The water is heated by a little electrical box inside the shower that has two temperatures: mediocre and scalding. Clothes are washed in a washer but dried by hanging them on a folding rack in front of a radiator.

What else would you folks like to know?

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Internet is strictly rationed.

Well, not THAT strictly rationed, but it's scarce. I should have it in my flat early next week.

I was just told by the head of the Marketing programs that we're going to... Persia? Prussia? I can't quite make out through his brogue, but he did let us know that in addition to our official University of Strathclyde backpacks, we'll also be given official University of Strathclyde sleeping bags.

You may be asking yourself, "Why?" I'm asking myself, "Why?" He followed up by admitting the trip we'll be taking has us sleeping inside buildings, on beds, so who knows.

If that didn't tip it off, I'm sitting in orientation at the moment. Out of 65 or 70 people, it seems like a full third is from Taiwan or China. A lot of people from India and Greece. Individual representatives from Italy, Iran, Switzerland, the U.S. (me!), and I'm fairly sure I only heard Luxembourg once.

There's going to be a ceilidh, a big Scottish dance. The first speaker mentioned it, suggesting some local Scots wear their kilts. Only about 4 or 5 Scots in the program, but I digress. I know I'll be wearing my kilt.

So, an open shoutout, who has questions? What are they? Post in the comments and I'll try to answer whatever I can.

Edit: Okay, not Persia or Prussia, but Perthshire. A follow-up speaker mentioned the trip and we're apparently heading up to Perthshire, about an hour northeast from here. Rob, his wife, and I've been there already, having circled the island once this past week. Seems like a nice enough area; curious to see what it's like with 70 foreigners.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It begins!

I arrived in Scotland this morning. The Internet access at the hotel is weak, so I dare not type much more, but suffice, I'll explain my trip across the Atlantic, and the rollercoasters it involved, later.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

This is the first post.

Scotland, prepare thyself!