28 May 2010

Not Enough Time In London

We added some time in London onto the end of our Scotland trip. We had to go through Heathrow anyway, and it was pretty easy to get a 24h layover.  We arrived at the airport around 10. We had to collect our bags, then catch the train to the city. There were two trains going into the city, and the difference was about 15 minutes at twice the price. Needless to say, we took the cheaper train (Heathrow Connect, for those of you who might need it one day).

27 May 2010

Holy smokes

I'm not usually a compendium of YouTube videos (not usually) but this also came up in my training and I'm bound by genetics to love anything with Dueling Banjos in the soundtrack.

The music somehow makes him seem even stupider. How is that possible?

We did the pool training with immersion suits today. It was fun, we put on the suits, jumped in the pool, and climbed in and out of an impossibly small 4-person life raft. The zipper on my suit split and it filled with water. Thank God we weren't doing this exercise in the Harbour. The split was from my chest up to my neck and the instructor couldn't get the zipper down over the split, so he whipped out his pocket knife and said, "Do you trust me?" As if I have any choice not to trust the man with the knife to my neck. He cut me out of the suit.

Tomorrow we're supposed to play with fire extinguishers and flares. Fire fun!

26 May 2010

My favourite email scam at the moment is one offering compensation to email scam victims. Oh, so delicious.

I'm taking a marine emergency training course at the moment. It's the entry-level emergency training, so it's all pretty basic and tomorrow we get to play with immersion suits in the pool. I'm starting to think that I watch too much TV, though, because when he asked us to brainstorm marine emergencies all I could come up with were pirates, terrorists, and giant squid. 

I also learned about the existence of this. It's funny.

23 May 2010

Isocline of Death

"At the tide line a woven mat of weeds and the ribs of fishes in their 
millions  stretching along the shore as far as eye could see like an isocline 
of death. One vast salt sepulchre. Senseless. Senseless."

A few weeks ago I read Cormac McCarthy's The Road for one of my book clubs. I hadn't picked up a McCarthy since a failed attempt to read All the Pretty Horses years ago. The Road has been drifting around on my mental to-read list though, because I knew it was post-apocalyptic, and I tend to love stories that take place during and after the apocalypse. The notable exception to this is the horrible piece of "writing" that is The Last Canadian. It was a weird bit of synchronicity that as I was reading The Road I got a comment on this blog from someone who had found my Last Canadian review on my old angelfire site (that review was from 2003! I keep meaning to take that site down). That message served to remind me of how bad this genre can be in the wrong hands. Fortunately, McCarthy has the right hands.

21 May 2010

Scotland Day 10: Last Day

I didn't actually take any pictures on our last day in Scotland. It was a glorious day - hot and sunny (hot by Glasgow standards, which is warm by most standards). In the late morning we had coffee with a friend of C's who was a natural born Glaswegian. His accent was a little hard to understand at times, but he was so nice and funny. He also had one of those scary-breed dogs, a boxer I think. I don't care how many people tell me that they're gentle and sweet, I can't help buy picture those scary-breeds snapping and attacking. Give me a good, calm Golden or Lab any day.

Coupland, Munsch, McDonald

Douglas Coupland basically cleaned out his basement and donated the contents to UBC. Apparently he’s got a touch o’ the hoarder and decided it would be healthier to give it way than to eventually die from some disease caused by the gaseous chemicals released when comic books decompose. He got a tax break for it, and I’m really curious to find out how they appraised all his stuff, and how much they deemed it worth. Some of the stuff would clearly be worth some money (handwritten first drafts, unpublished books(!!!)), but other stuff merely holds interest for the most obsessed of fans (grocery lists, post-it notes). I don't think the intention is to make a Coupland exhibit right away, but when they do I will totally do see it.

Robert Munsch is a manic-depressive, recovering alcoholic and cocaine addict?! I'm betting he wrote I'll Love You Forever during a depressive phase, because that is the saddest kids' book ever written. Unless someone's written a kids' book about puppies dying, this book is sadder. I can't read it to my niece without wanting to cry.

Have you seen the McDonald’s commercial with the little boy in the wheelchair and he’s in a car playing with a toy shark? The first time I saw that commercial, I saw the shark and I heard the little boy say, “Are we going to help them now, or after we eat?” and I was so surprised that McDonald’s was getting into shark conservation. They’ve never really made any sort of environmental overtures before, so the fact that they were starting off with shark conservation made me really happy. It’s a very important cause, and the awareness that McDonald’s could raise would be considerable. Then a few seconds later I realized the “they” the little boy was helping wasn’t sharks, but was, in fact, sick kids. That toy shark was very misleading. Or maybe my mind just works wrong.

15 May 2010

Am I a bad person because I totally love those Ally commercials where that guy teaches cute little children the harsh realities of our world?

Scotland Day 9: Hill Walking

On Saturday, our second last day in Scotland, we went for a hill walk. Scotland is known for it's walks, and hill walking is a really popular pastime. It encompasses anything from low-level walks and mountain climbing. And, despite what Oz told me about Scotland being full of frustrated mountain climbers, there are mountains, called Munros.

11 May 2010

Scotland Day 8: Yes, there's still more to write about

Friday was another day spent in Glasgow. I woke up feeling 100% better, then I made the mistake of eating and by the afternoon I was feeling crappy again.

We went shopping a this huge pedestrian street called Sauchiehall (pronounced "sucky hall," as far as I could tell). I bought five books. Books there are so cheap, even after the conversion. And there was deals: buy one-get one, and 3 for 2! How could I not buy books? (I already read one of them, The Book Thief by Markus Zukas - it was fantastic, and sad but not in a soul-crushing way).

We had afternoon tea (aka, lunch) at The Willow Tea Room. I didn't take many pictures that day, but lucky for me Alej got a picture of lunch:

06 May 2010

Scotland Day 7: Fever and Nausea in Edinburgh

At some point, between Wednesday night and Thursday our whirlwind pace caught up to us. Alej got a fever and some sinus issues, I got nausea and sinus issues. We weren't going to let that stop us from going to Edinburgh. We took the subway to the train station. Glasgow has a subway system that is ultimately idiot proof. It's two big loops, going in opposite directions - so technically any train you catch will go to the station you want, but if you pick the wrong direction it will take longer.

The train ride from Glasgow to Edinburgh took about half an hour. I spent the journey alternating between sleep and panic that I would throw up.

03 May 2010

Scotland Day 6: Na[i]sm[y]th Day!

I've long considered my surname to be Scottish. This is mostly because someone told me it was, and the person in my lineage who first came to Canada came here from Scotland. And, in my defense, I did see it in book of Scottish surnames once, translated as "knife smith" - that's so not what they told me at the family reunion. Sadly, however, it's not a common enough name to be sold on key chains and shot glasses in the tourist shops. Too bad.

We walked past the public library on our way to our first stop. The library is in a beautiful building, complete with sculptures and pillars (Alej's picture turned out better, so I'm posting that one).