30 April 2010

Good-bye, Mr. Computer

I decided a week ago to get a new laptop. My laptop has been dying a long, slow death for about the last three years. But now there's lines on the screen and I just can't take it anymore. It's bad enough that only one speaker works and that the letters have rubbed off the keys so none of them are labelled anymore. I could deal with it's plodding slowness and the CD-ROM drive that only sometimes works. But lines through the screen are the last straw.

Here's the weird thing: I think my laptop knows its days are numbered and is in revolt. Since I decided to get a new one, this one has gotten even crappier. The internet browser has taken to opening itself up in dozens of windows, causing it to crash. And my downloading speed has dropped from "Lame" to "It'd be faster to write and film my own shows."

Of course, now that I've written this, my laptop knows that I know. It's on to me. The screen could snap shut on my hands at any moment, crushing my phalanges.** Well, listen up Mr. Computer: this infantile behaviour only makes it easier for me to get rid of you, so it looks like your little rebellion has failed, you five-year-old obsolete piece of plastic. 

** That will totally be a scene in the inevitable and anxiously awaited for (by me) remake of Maximum Overdrive. 

29 April 2010

Scotland Day 5: Road Trip Day 3: The Rain Gods Hate Us

Tuesday was the only day where I can honestly say the rain got in the way of our plans. However, it really only ruined one thing for us, so it's not that bad.

We had breakfast at the B&B. I tried blood pudding. It was salty. After breakfast we put on our rain gear (because, being past/present field biologists, we had all brought rain gear) and walked down into Oban for a coffee and to take some pictures. Alej did most of the picture taking since her camera is waterproof, whereas mine is merely pretty. I asked her to take a picture of this for me:

28 April 2010

Slow News Days in Small Towns

I'm no stranger to small town newspapers. My mom works for one and when there's no real news to write about, she usually writes about really old people and the things they've accomplished, like playing the piano or having big collections of things. That's what's great about small towns: there's an over abundance of old people (and pretty much nothing ever happens).

I was on a course last week in a summer town in New Brunswick. The instructor was supposed to come from London, but was unable to leave the country because of the volcanic ash. Instead he taught the course via internet video conference. On the second-last day of the course, a photographer from the local paper showed up to take our picture. I didn't get a chance to see the story, but I did get a copy of the picture.

27 April 2010

Scotland: The Motion Pictures

I swear, since I got back from my trip, Blogger has not been giving me the upload video option. Suddenly today the option has reappeared (along with the spellcheck option which I was sorely missing).

So, here are some videos I took in Scotland.

The first is a waterfall near Loch Lomond.

The second is  panoramic view of the mountains:

And some scenery near Loch Cluanie

Scotland Day 4: Road Trip Day 2: Lochcarron to Oban

I forgot to mention that we had dinner in Plockton on Day 4, and Alej had the haggis. I should also mention that there were appetizer portions she was eating. It wasn't like every meal she had in Scotland was haggis. I had a taste of them all. The one in Plockton was better than the one at the Stag's Head.

The B&B we stayed at in Lochcarron was run by a really nice lady named Kirstie. She put hot water bottles in our beds. What a sweetheart. There's nothing nicer on a chilly night than a hot water bottle. I'm a total hot water bottle convert now. I'm going to buy one for myself.

Monday morning C had to do some sampling for her work. That worked out well because it was raining and we wouldn't have wanted to be outside anyway. We had lunch at an awesome little Bistro in Lochcarron. I had the best squash soup I have ever had (and they say nobody goes to Scotland for the food. "They" obviously never had squash soup at that little bistro in Lochcarron whose name I can't recall).

22 April 2010

Scotland Day 3: Road Trip Day 1: Glasgow to Lochcarron

Our road trip began Sunday morning. We started in Glasgow (A on the map below) and our final destination was Lochcarron (G). Along the way we stopped in Fort William (B; such a disappointing Scottish town name), Loch Ness (C), Kyle of Lochalsh (D; now that's a Scottish town name!), Isle of Skye (E; we were there for only a few minutes, but it counts), and Plockton (F).

View Larger Map

This trip took us past Loch Lomond again, and much further north into the proper highlands. I admit, I had the highlands pictured all wrong. I was really expecting it to be more on the hilly side, not so mountainous. I was pleasantly surprised by the landscape that greated us  - snow capped mountians!

Like any self-respecting mountain highway (and I use that term in the 2-lane, no shoulder, warning signs that say “On Coming Traffic In Middle of Road” sense), it had lots of look outs and random monuments, more often than not populated by tourist buses. Aspects of it definitely reminded me of driving through the Rockies. The highlands, of course, can’t be compared to the Rockies. The highlands are breathtaking in their own right, though.

Scotland Day 2: Loch Lomond

On our second day in Scotland we drove up to Loch Lomond, which is just north of Glasgow. All the guidebooks said this loch would kick Ness's ass in a Loch-Off, so that's saying something.

View Larger Map
The drive up the Loch was pretty quick, the roads (as I've mentioned before) were tiny, and in some places, tight bends in the road were light-controlled because there wasn't enough space on the road for more than one car at a time.

20 April 2010

Mis-Reading Of The Day

I misread "propane fireplace" as "profane fireplace."

That's my kind of fireplace!

Scotland Day 1: The Arrival

My first day in the UK began at about 3am Halifax Time, when Alej woke me up to tell me they were serving breakfast on the plane. We took an overnight from Halifax to London. That's good, because you can sleep away the long plane ride, but bad because they serve you breakfast about 2 hours before you land, so you really only get - at most - 3 hours sleep before you start in on UK Time. But whatever - it was my first flight across the Atlantic and it's not like I couldn't buy coffee in the UK, right?

14 April 2010

Hello Jet Lag!

My recent lack of posts has not been due to laziness, as it usually is. As some of you know, I've been on vacation. A proper vacation, full of flight transfers and foreign locals and people who hate tourists. I didn't write while I was away because I'm not one of those people who likes to advertise on the internet when they'll be out of their home for extended periods of time. Call me crazy.

Anyway, I'm fresh off 11 days in Scotland and 1 day in England. It's 5:15am local time and I'm wide awake. I'm only four hours ahead, but apparantly that matters to my body. I suppose it could be worse.

Eventually I'll write all about my trip, but for the moment just let me share something with you. In Scotland and England they drive on the left-hand side of the road. This is common knowledge, and I've seen it on TV and movies, but a small part of me always suspected it was one of those things made up by Hollywood. Like, one day, someone decided that the UK wasn't different enough from North America, so they were like, "let's say they drive on the wrong side of the road! It's like instant-Bizarro world!" But they really do drive on the wrong side of the road! It's not a myth like the Lemmings!

And, in Scotland at least, the roads are tiny. You could easily reach out the windows and touch passing cars, or the hedges along the side of the road. There's no shoulder really to speak of, and some roads are one track, so you have to pull over for oncoming traffic. And these aren't backwater gravel roads, but paved and maintained coastal arteries. With bridges! One track bridges!  I tried to get pictures that would show the smallness of the roads, but I don't think they really capture the claustropobic atmosphere.