So I’m back from my first big trip. All of a sudden, I’ve got a rhythm. I have a relatively set schedule. Weird. Still, I continue to do new things, and maybe you’d like to hear about some of them.
I got back around 2pm on Sunday. I didn’t mention this in the last post, but I bought a new voltage converter, from a different store this time, and the highest capacity so it won’t die like the last one. But, the new one hasn’t worked yet either. Bum. I’m going to have to talk to someone about that. I want to use my speakers, darnit!
Monday evening I went to People & Planet, an environmental/general activism group on campus. They were having an extra-ordinary meeting, with three presentations instead of one theme. I went to the one about non-violent direct action, which was nice, but poorly organized and not extremely educational. Met a few people there, and there was one guy who had done a lot of direct action stuff, and he interjected a lot of experiential advice (I also think he was high at the time). Apparently there’s a thing in Scotland now that a lot of people are protesting: Faslane, a naval base or something, contains all of the UK’s nuclear weapons, and people are blockading it every day of the year. Or something like that. I’m not going to be here long enough for it to be that important to me.
The second meeting I went to was about media stuff (the one I didn’t go to was on anarcho-feminism). It was actually not in the same building (Potterow), but rather across the street in the Forest Cafe. This place was intense. I was reminded of one of those scenes in Forrest Gump where the camera is weaving through the drugged-up hippy crowd with whom Jenny is hanging. In the front is a small coffeeshop or something, then behind a curtained door there is a bigger space with couches, a bar-like place, and a small stage (there was a little concert going on when we went through). We went down some stairs to the basement, where there was a little room entitled “Info Seed”, a hub for independent media in the city. There were all sorts of smoky, dreadlocked 20- and 30-somethings all around. Anyway, in the workshop we learned about press releases: what they do and how to write them. It was interesting. There were a few more than ten people at this presentation, and a few less than ten at the first. I left the media one when the guy said “All right, now I’d like you to practice writing a press release.” Ick like school. Also, at that moment a girl who had been at the other presentation, and seemed nice and decidedly less sketchy than a lot of people there, left. I walked with her out and back down south. Her name’s Rosie and she was born in Wales (Snowdonia) and grew up in Shetland. Wacky. She’s studying environmental protection, is heavy into juggling/fire-twirling society, and I think she’s a first year. Anyway, when we got to about where her flat was, I left in a Pollock-ward direction.
<-This is the completed version of my picture. Hope you like it. I like how it turned out.
At dinner, one of my connections here, Liz Finlayson, had accosted me (not in a bad way) as I was leaving the dining hall. We arranged to hang out tonight. As I was in as good a mood for it as any while returning from P&P, I gave her a call, and met her and her friends at The Crags. The Crags is a pub that’s right across the street from Pollock Halls, and has wonderfully inexpensive drinks. It was packed when I got there, all with students. I found Liz and her friends, and sat with them for a good while. I had a sip of her friend’s drink, a VK, which was lovely. From my perspective, the best kind of alcoholic beverage is one in which you can’t taste the alcohol. And it’s only a pound there. I may get one in the future. Anyways, I hung out with them for half an hour to an hour, and then left. It was too comfortable to really be awkward, but too awkward to really be comfortable. A decent time, though.
Oh, so I forget if I said: I lost my passport (well, misplaced) sometime between arriving in Edinburgh and recently, and it was beginning to worry me a lot. I looked all over my room, and couldn’t find it. But Tuesday morning I looked in the last place, and there it was, under my suitcase on top of my bureau. It honestly made my day; I was in a good mood for a good portion of the rest of Tuesday.
Tuesday night I went to see FilmSoc’s showing of Good Night and Good Luck. I unfortunately got there after it had started, so throughout the movie I felt like I was catching up. It was also not quite what I was expecting, though I don’t know what that was exactly. Perhaps when I think George Clooney I think Ocean’s 11 and Syriana, not 1950s journalist (not even the main one) in black and white. Regardless, I’d like to give the movie another looksee sometime.
After the movie, I went to the FolkSoc Burns Supper! Honestly, there’s not much that’s more Scottish than a Burns Supper. Really. Think of something Scottish, likely it’ll be present or thought of at a Burns Supper. There was an old guy there with a bagpipe. Both he and Paul (did I mention Paul?) were decked out in full kilted regalia. Paul was a president of FolkSoc, has a university folk radio show, is still somewhat socially alpha in FolkSoc, has long, straight hair, and a yummy Scottish accent. If you know CurrentTV (and Conn people, you should, channel 17), he looks (aside from the long hair) kinda like Joe Hanson, who does the Joe Gets stuff. Wow tangent. Anyways, people were just kinda bopping around, and then the haggis was done heating up in the microwave. The old guy played for a sec on the bagpipe, as Paul processed with haggis held high around the center of the room, setting it down on a stool. He then recited Burns’ “Ode tae Haggis”, in a suitably theatric and comical yet reverent style. We applauded, then queued up to get our haggis, neeps, and tatties. (That’s turnips and potatoes for you silly American people). I was kinda full, but it was good food. Haggis is actually really good, as long as you’re not vegetarian (although there was a veg-haggis option). It’s just like spiced ground meat. Tasty. And if you eat meat, you’re not thinking about what it is you’re eating anyway, right? So who cares if it’s got gross origins, as long as it’s tasty? QED all meat eaters should like haggis. Wow I’m a philosophy geek.
Anyways, after the food was finished, there was some stuttered tune playing. There were a number of Burns poems and songs (Oh, that’s Robert Burns if you didn’t know, Scotland’s national poet and hero…hardly comparable over here, but kinda like Pushkin in Russia). I sang a Stan Rogers song, and was beat to two other songs, (Tatties and Herrin’ and Is There for Honest Poverty) because I was chickening and was too slow. I can’t decide whether it’s good or bad that I didn’t sing them, because both songs were sung much slower than I’m used to. Oh, I also sang another song later. Yay FolkSoc. The highpoint of the night, however, was shortly after the haggis, when Paul recited the Burns poem Tam o’ Shanter, with much gusto and great storytelling theatrics….”Weil done, cuttysnark!!”…
Today (Wednesday), I woke up early for class at 9, and had great difficulty staying awake. I succeeded, but it was a struggle, let me tell you. I’m going to have to look to that, staying up late Tuesday night before class the next day. May not work so well all the time. It’s certainly not pleasant, the sort of class I had today. Anyways, after class I came back to my room and took a three-hour nap. Woke up, went to dinner with some increasingly-close friends: John, Emily, and Laura, all here through Arcadia. I think I mentioned them before, no? Last night (Tuesday) we had dinner as well, and beforehand Emily, John and I watched cartoons on the internet (so much fun) and talked about politics. Who would you vote for first, McCain, Clinton, or Obama? Now, for those more politically informed than myself, I know that there are other, more likely or suitable candidates perhaps, but these are the three we were talking about. Tonight, Emily told me about this website where you can watch whole movies for free online, albeit in segments most of the time. And I found the quality wasn’t that great; the sound was pretty much fine as I watched Ocean’s 12 tonight, but the picture skipped constantly. Oh well. Probably the soddy internet connection here. Let me tell you. It’s complete (toast). Ick poo.
So, other things: I bought Salsa Celtica tickets, and the guy at Queen’s Hall box office remembered me, after a week and a half. I started using Google Calendar; it’s nice, but we’ll see how long I keep it up. I started tangifying (like tangible?) my plans for my trip to London, and started thinking about places I want to visit during my spring break and before & after. Lots of places. See next post.
This weekend we have our homestays. I’m ambivalent, but I wouldn’t say that I’m dreading it. It’ll be a different experience, another adventure, and then it’ll be over. For good or ill. Hopefully it’ll be fun. Leaving at 5:30 on Friday, returning 6:30 on Sunday.
Oh, and just looking at my calendar, it appears there’s a philosophy society lecture tomorrow (“Quantum Sex and Conscious Robots”, one of the two of the semester that I want to go to), and also a FilmSoc movie, “A Cock and Bull Story”. Should be fun. And I have a shift at the ISC, as well. Busy busy. Seriously, it’s going to be a busy day. ‘Cause there’s also another P&P meeting. More than two extracurricular meetings in a day is busy. Tomorrow has 4. Fun times. Hope y’all are enjoying yourselves.