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July 2005 Archives

July 31, 2005

*screaming fangirl*

Diane Duane (who wrote one of the few books I took to China) is going to be in Glasgow this weekend for a Con.

Which means I can *meet her*.

And I don't have a single one of her books here!

Damn it!

10th

They discovered a tenth planet!

YAY!

July 30, 2005

Indecisions

My boss is going on vacation for two weeks (and kinda sorta not really leaving me in charge, because yes, I'll be in charge, but he's a control freak so anything he can possible do before he goes is being done. Like the rotation.), and I will have one day off this coming week (Thursday), and two as-yet-unspecified days off the following week (or so is the assumption, because someone has to come in from a different department to give me time off). I mention this because I've decided to do some daytrips, and I'm terribly excited.

I'm a bit torn on where to go, and I have to keep reminding myself that I'm here for a year, and most of these places have been around for a very long time, and aren't going anywhere. If I put off going to Saint Andrews till next month, it's not going to suddenly fall into the sea or be carried off by faeries.

One of the things that has really been throwing me in my life lately is the sheer amount of choices I have. I'm coming up on 30, and I feel like I have far more choices than I did when I graduated from high school. I tend to find myself paralyzed with too many options.

So, I'm not sure where I'm going to go, but I do know that I'm going. I've narrowed it down to either Stirling, St. Andrews, or Berwick-upon-Tweed to see Lindisfarne Abbey. Not that it really matters. What matters it that I can do any of them. *smile*

I'll be going to Paris later this month. I've already booked my three days off work for it. I am counting down the seconds, but trying to remind myself to live in the moment, and enjoy this place, right here.

{Wow, did that sound like it belonged in a greeting card. *grin*}

Surreality just got Funky

We have quite a few characters in the hotel this week because of the Jazz Festival. It's kinda interesting because the range of people is outside of our normal business travellers, American Tourists and Spanish Tourgroups.

A terribly stereotypical British Rocker Type Person came down (in barefeet), holding a cell phone.

Him: You're probably going to find this really strange...

Me: You'd be surprised.

Him: Heh. Well, I just got a call from my friend on my cell, and he appears to be trapped in a stairwell somewhere in the hotel. But I can't find any stairs anywhere to help him.

Me: ... Yes, I can see how that would have happened. I'll send someone to get him right away. Do you happen to know which side of the hotel he's on.

Him: No, I'll just call him. *dials number, gets voice mail* "Look, you're trapped in a stairwell, what are you doing that you're too busy to answer the phone?"

Me: I don't think I'd want to know.

Him: Me neither.

Well, I found the whole thing funny. The man was eventually found (wandering in the fire stairs), and everyone was happy.

July 29, 2005

The Drugs Don't Work

They have a nasty tendancy of playing the same CD obsessively at work, and I tend to get distracted and only catch parts of it. I have this song I barely know, "The Drugs Don't Work" stuck in my head right now, but only parts of it. On constant repeat. I am going mad.

Anyway. I wanted to blog about the Job Thingy.

After careful consideration I decided not to take the day job, which makes me feel terribly guilty (cuz my name is Anna Guilt Pearce. Don't let the L fool you), because all the actual direct advice I got (which was appreciated, don't get me wrong!) was to take the job. And it was good advice, for good reason.

But then I decided to discuss the issue at length (if by at length you mean 4 emails over the course of 30 minutes, only one of which had anything to do with the issue) with my best friend, who simply asked some very pointed questions about Long Term Goals And Stuff, and that was that. Being an experienced Night Auditor is something that will make it easier to get jobs night auditing at other hotels, and since I don't plan any permanent stays anywhere for the next few years, this seems like the type of job to "move" well.

Or so's the theory, at least.

It's been raining the past few days, which satisfies me on so many levels. It means it's cool, and it also means that Scotland is living up to its reputation of being all Rainy and Dank. (One of the ads on the buses here is 'It Scotland it rains 351 days of the year. By my calculation, we've had every sunny day we'll have this year since I got here. Bring on the rain!)

However, I've now damned myself with my coworkers due to this little gem.

Her: Dear god it's cold outside!

Me: No it's not.

Her: Yes it is! I had to wear a scarf today!

Me: Can you see your breath?

Her: No.

Me: Are the buses still running?

Her: Yes.

Me: It's not cold outside.

Her: Yes it is!

(repeat)

So, basically, I can *never ever* complain about it being cold in this country. But considering I remember winters where your eyelashes would freeze together if you closed your eyes too long, I don't think this will be a problem. (And these were less than 10 years ago...)

But, unrelated to that, I keep planning these little rants or comments or essays or somethings for my blog, start composing them in my head, and then something tends to happen among my circle of friends that makes posting it a Bad Idea, because I don't want anyone to think that I'm posting it about whatever is going on In Real Life. So I put it off for a while, other stuff comes up, I plan it out again, and something else happens that makes me decide to delay posting it.

Tomorrow I am planning on hanging out with the ORC people again, but there's a bus strike and I'm kinda leary on walking for an hour. Cuz I am lazy.

July 28, 2005

Drinking Games #1

Scotland, being a land of many strange and unusual people, has many strange and unusual drinks. I know this, because I hit the grocery store yesterday, and the drinks aisle (not including the alcohol) was much fuller than a similiar aisle back home.

I thought... hmm.... I have all these friends back home that want to experience Scotland in all its exciting glory. I should describe the cornacopia of drinks that one can pick up easily here.

So, without further ado, I present the first of what will become a regular feature on Anna Overseas, Drinking Games!

Irn-Bru

Irn-Bru is everywhere in this country, mostly on the sides of taxis. I think an add for Irn-Brue might have been the first thing I saw getting off the plane in Glasgow. It comes in a blue and orange bottle (of various sizes) or can, and it sells out almost as quickly as the Coke does at work.

The drink itself is a not-occuring-in-nature orange colour. I think it may glow in the dark, but I haven't actually tested this theory. It looks like clear orange soda, I guess.

I remember when I was flat hunting, the letting agent told me that Irn-Bru is the only thing that they can never get out of the carpets in the places they're cleaning up. They can get out red wine, blood, various set stains of other organic products, but not Irn-Bru.

How did I get talked into trying this? At a bar, of course. No alcohol was involved, but the whole thing had a feeling of a dare.

For the purpose of this article, I went out and bought a 2 liter of the stuff. (As though I don't get a can whenever I'm needing a quick pick-me-up at work.)

It smells like... like... ripe creamsicles. A little too sweet.

It tastes like... like... carobonated creamsicles. Not as sweet as it smells.

I do drink this stuff two or three times a week at work, because I like the kick it gives me.

Irn-Bru is apparently available somewhere in Canada, but I've never seen it.

Related Links:
Irn-Bru on Wikipedia
Irn-Bru's Official Website (warning: flash animations, and that manamana song)

Lemonade Shandy

I picked this up because it looked a disgusting shade of brown and it was 60 p. for a 2 liter bottle. Considering that a can of Irn-Bru at work costs 60 p, I figured this could be an interesting investment.

According to the lable, it's a "Carbonated drink made from a blend of lemonade and beer with sugar and sweetener", and is "Suitable for Vegetarians and Vegans." (It also gives its stats per serving size in 250 ml, whereas Irn-Bru gives it in 100 ml.) It has a Caution box, warning that it's a "pressurized container", and has an advice box. "Advice to Parents: Frequent drinking of sugary drinks and fruit juices may lead to tooth decay and poor nutition. Try to restrict these drinks to meal times and replace them with sguar free drinks or water. Avoid giving sugary drinks or fruit juices to babies. Remember it is important to brush teeth reguarily. Best served chilled." It also informs me that it contains glutens and no more than 0.5% alcohol.

It smells like... beer. Fancy that.

It tastes like... really good sweet beer. Complete with that strange little after taste you get when you drink beer. It's surprisingly good, and I think it's totally worth the 60 p. I spent on it.

I couldn't find any links on this stuff, but there's a link for Shandy on Wikipedia.

Juicy Juice

I picked this up at a corner store when I was craving juice and they didn't have any.

It's a different type of unnatural orange colour than Irn-Bru. It looks more like a slightly ill orange juice.

I no longer have the bottle, unfortunately, but I couldn't give up the opporunity to tell you all about the Juice So Sweet It Crunches, but still tastes sour.

This stuff was awful. Just atricious. It was so sugary it should have crunched when you drank it, but still had this awful taste to it. I tried adding water in an effort to make it any better, but all that did was make it a different shade of sickly orange.

I think I may make it a test of courage for all daring to pass my door. "You must drink this glass, and drink it down, and if you survive, you may pass."

Conclusion

Irn-Bru is my friend, even if it's not made from real Glasgow Girders.

Lemonade Shandy is just so weird, I want more.

We will not speak of Juicy Juice again.

Blue Revolutionist

Attention Friends of Don M.

Although normally a very clever man, Don is less than able when it comes to the intarweb.

I pointed out to him several weeks ago that his email account still had a reply to: field that lead to an email address that he cancelled at the beginning of June. He meant to fix this, and apparently failed.

If anyone out there has replied to an email of Don's without changing the email address in the reply to: field, he hasn't gotten it. He's not just ignoring you, he probably thinks you're ignoring him. (Okay, not anymore, because I just reminded him *again* that he hasn't changed it, and this time he swears he has. Really.)

IOW: Don is not being a jerk, he's just having troubles with his email.

(Raven, could I trouble you to post something similar on your blog? You know more of Don's friends than I do, and I'd feel bad if they thought he didn't care.)

July 27, 2005

Slow

I'm feeling terribly out of sorts today, and intimately aware of what time it is back in Edmonton, what time it is here, and what I'm doing right now, which is as close to nothing as to be hardly worth the difference.

I hate having days off, sometimes, because I never know what to do with myself the next day I work.

Basically, I slept away as much of the afternoon as I could, then woke up and realized that I really shouldn't go out and do much of anything at all, because I should sleep if I can and eat or something, which means I'm just *sitting here* and trying not to go slowly mad, with no one to call. I'd call someone at home, but it's the middle of the day, and most of them should be at work, or busy, or something.

It's really strange, and I hate it, but it's not like things would be so much different if I were at home. It's always strange, working graves. I never quite know what to do with myself.

Which of course leads to my current ponderings. I have a job interview on Friday for a job that pays slightly more than this one, is full time days with weekends off, and is working in a university setting. (Doesn't that make it sound much more interesting than registering students for school?)

Of course, with my current job, Kenny and I write the schedule together, so I can have whatever days off I want, a good chunk of the night is spent doing whatever the hell I want, because the audit only takes until 2 a.m. and I'm paid till 7, and I really do like my coworkers.

Oh well, it's just an interview, it's not like I have to make a decision right now.

Semi Mythic

I didn't mention it earlier, but I've finally made it to the Semi-Mythical Only Gaming Store In Edinburgh. It was no where near where I thought it was, and it's a bit of a question if I could make it back there again (without assistance), but I did make it in.

Basically, I've hooked up with a group here called Orc, and two of their members were willing to take me there last week. Orc itself is interesting... not quite what I was expecting in a gaming group, but part of that is because it's summer, and a lot of people aren't around. I had a lot of fun last week, testing a game called A|State and talking to the game designer about it. It was nominated for quite a few awards last year at GenCon, and this year the publisher is doing demos.

{Dear Friends Going to GenCon: Please check it out. Malcolm is very fun and full of energy, and you'll get a sexy kewl poster. Hugs and Kisses, Anna.}

Anyway, after being lead a long long way by two of the guys at the club, I finally got to the semi-mythical Black Lion Gaming Shop.

And there's one really important thing to say:

Oh my god, it's a gaming shop where the owner *likes gamers*.

I know, I'm shocked and awed, too.

PS: And they carry Brawl! And will bring in Girl Genius! *dies*

July 26, 2005

Seven

I walk home from work every day, and on the way, I pass seven churches. It takes me about an hour, give or take, to do this.

Not all of the churches are currently being used as churches, though. One is an art school, another is a theater, and I know of several other former churches in the city that now have other uses. One is a sort of tourist information booth, for example.

I am completely overawed by churches. At least, the types of cathedrals that they built here. I walk inside, and it's a struggle for me, a non-Christian, to not fall to my knees in appreciation. The high vaulted ceilings, the stained glass windows, the overwhelming sense of presence that I get. It's just something that always has moved me.

Today was an amazing day, full of the sorts of things that I've been wanting to do since I got here, but kept putting off for various reasons. I spent the day poking around the High Mile, going into any little shop that interested me and just generally being all touristy. So far, I've fallen in love with several chess sets (and had to remind myself that Tom does not need an alcholic chess set for his birthday, no matter how pretty all the shot glasses looked), some lovely scarves, and at least one sword. I bought only postcards, though, and I'm rather proud of myself for that, even though I only bought those because that's all I could afford. (Yes, the problems with the bank continue. Yay, toast.)

I started out my day at the Tron Kirk, which used to be a church and is now more of a vistor information center of sorts. It has a lot of information about the various walking tours through the city, a lot of which I intend to go on. Hell, I intended to go on one today, but 5 km of walking (I swear up hill both ways!) was enough for me, thanks. But, I'm very interested in a few of the historically based tours, as well as the various ghost tours. I do love that sort of history just as much as I adore dead Kings and Queens.

After that it was a lot of gazing longingly at things I won't be able to afford (oooh, 300 pound chess sets!) and generally avoiding the large crowds of people until I got accosted by a monk.

Or, someone who claimed to be a monk, and he was just odd enough that I'm inclined to believe it, although I'll admit to thinking at first that it was a scam to pick my pocket my distracting me.

This guy who was very very odd wanted to know if I was... what was it... into boogie juice or something. It was weirder than snake skin shoes. And then he tried to explain it, which was even odder, and involved words like jiggy and stuff. Anyway, he was trying to sell his CD of Monk Rock, which was rock music with their chanting used as lyrics. Which I totally would have bought but I didn't have any ready cash.

The whole encounter was just too odd to put into words, really.

Anyway, then I hit the Police Museum Thing, which allegedly has a wallet made out of human skin (which I didn't see, but I didn't go looking for either), and definately does have a very cool map of The Dark History of the Royal Mile. Lots of murders and crazy people and, of course, Deacon Brodie.

After that it was down the hill, poking in shops and making Shopping Lists For When I Win The Lottery. It's a very long list, most of it gifts for other people. Eventually, I made it all the way down to Holyrood Palace, which was closed because the Queen was having a Garden Party.

(*goes into spasms of glee because she is a closet monarchist*)

I consoled myself with a Terribly Expensive Royal Chocolate Bar and a postcard of the Queen for Joe, and went back up the Mile.

I made some stops at the Museum of Childhood. According to my guidebook, it was built by a man who hated children, and originally had a stained glass window of King Herod on the front. I have no idea if this is true -- I went looking for it -- but it looks like the place has been recently revamped for its 50th Anniversary, so it may have been true in the past.

I had so much fun there! There's an old player piano that you can put money in and it actually plays; there's this thing that is a "haunted house" that shows ghosts and ghoulies in this animitronic thingy that I can't describe at all because I've forgotten English; there's an actual Punch and Judy doll set; and {absolutely best of all} a Bible Board Game, where you go through the books of the bible in some sort of way. The winner gets to Revelations the fastest, I'd guess.

And that's just on the first floor!

Upstairs there's some lovely dolls, of which my favorite was the set that one was to cut out and sew together. They had four of them that were uncut. The "chinaman" was wearing blue, and had blonde hair. The "Canadian" was wearing a white outfit of some sort with a bright red sash. I was duly impressed that they had Canadians, but couldn't think of what the heck that poor little doll was supposed to be wearing.

Wish I'd gotten a pic, but no photos are allowed.

I spent time in two churches today, Saint Giles Cathedral (and yes, my Buffy fangirl loving heart did have to keep reminding myself that this was irrelevant) and Cannongate Kirk. The Cathedral had the most amazing architecture, with beautiful stained glass windows and a private chapel for the Order of the Thistle, but the Cannongate Kirk had a lovely graveyard. (As at least one person knows, I do consider graveyards to be a fun date. Then I get to spend the rest of my day debating what I want on my tombstone. Because I'm that type of girl.) I spent quite a length of time in both of them, being overawed for various different reasons. I fully intend to return to both, and have some plans involving cameras and graves. Because, again, I'm that kind of girl.

After that it was mostly just avoiding the scary monk (who I ran into *again*), not spending non-existent money, not spitting at anything referring to John Knox, and just being content with the world. Lots of buskers were out today (oh look, it's almost August), and the streets were busier than I'd want them to be. I was pretty sore on the bus ride home, but getting back here and finding that my internet was up and running was wonderful.

I wish I had some nice and signifigant thing to wrap this up with, but instead I think I'll just go have a bath and try to ignore my sore legs....

July 24, 2005

Book Meme

Did I mention that I get very bored at work? Right now, Kenny is doing the audit, which leaves me with.... um... nothing.

So, Meme!

It's about books, which is a subject dear to my heart right now because I have so few. *pines after her beloved book collection*

1. How do you organize your collection?

Oh, does that fit here? Excellent. Next book, please.

Basically, I cram as many books into a space as I can, since I tend to have limited bookshelf space, and many many books. Right now, I have all my books (so few *sobs*) sitting in a stack on top of my bookshelf.

Oh, I tell a bit of a lie. I like to keep my RPG books together.

2. What books or records do you keep separate from your collection for easy access?

Whatever I am currently reading, basically. Right now, I've got my HP books next to the bed, my copy of Truth Until Paradox in the bathroom, and The Time Traveller's Wife in my purse.

3. When you take down a book for reference, how long after you finish with it does it take you to reshelve it?

It usually stays down until I get around to cleaning the house. Which, since I am lazy, is as rarely as possible.

4. What resource do you keep separate from your collection because you don't want anyone to know you have it?

...

Because I'd totally post that to my blog.

I tended to keep the Knights of the Dinner Table stuff away from my main collection, partly cuz Kris and I were constantly reading them, and partly because I hate to admit that I'm reading something so poorly drawn. Cuz as much as I like KotD, it's really poorly drawn.

Oh, and my copy of Faery Meat.

July 23, 2005

Updates and Ramblings

(In no particular order)

The Paycheque:

I continue to not be able to cash my paycheque, but I at least seem to be receiving them now, which is good. The amount deducted this time was different than the amount deducted last time, in some strangely arcane way. I don't understand where they get these numbers from.

But the fun part was when I went to the Post Office to cash the thing. (Post Offices in Edinburgh -- is there nothing they can't do?) Turns out my paycheque is what they call a "cross cheque" here. Written perpendicular across my name is "can only be deposited into the account of the receiver" or something similar. So I can't take it anywhere and get it cashed, I can only take it to the bank to deposit it into my non-existent bank account.

So I caved and got a cash advance this morning, because otherwise I would have been walking to work. It's so frustrating -- I have money, I just can't spend it. But, I have money now, and I'm doing much better.

The Flat:

To make a very long story short, I got a flat.

To make it a bit longer, I borrowed a great deal of money from a friend, who was gracious enough to agree that I could take a year to pay it back instead of the Incredibly Reasonable 6 months, as it was 6 months of rent, plus DD and the whole dealy. It ultimately came down to close to 9000$ CDN. I don't think I've ever seen that amount of money before, and I'm glad I wasn't carrying it around or I would definately have been murdered.

The flat is... beautiful. I've never deeply loved a place to much. I called the letting agent about 50 times in the week before things got sorted out with the money in order to make sure he wouldn't rent it to someone else. It's got that faux-hardwood flooring, huge window seats (window seats -- my childhood dream! *squee*), a lovely kitchen with the Tiniest Oven Evar, and it comes fully furnished. A lovely big bed (ah, so nice after staying in a hostel!), a lovely big dining room table, two lovely big couches in lovely colours, and lots of Really God Awful artwork. *wink* It's got the perfect setup for gaming, too, with the couches surrounding a large wooden box-like thing that doubles as the coffee table. It's hollow -- perfect for storing gaming stuffs. Not that I'm, you know, going to start gaming again. Totally not.

Really.

I have almost fallen out of the window twice now, because I keep forgetting it doesn't have a screen, and run to the window when I hear the ice cream truck coming. It does have a little guard thingy, but the windows open right up, and it would be very easy to fall out. Luckily, I've managed to prevent myself in time, but I still haven't managed to actually see the ice cream truck. The echoes in the neighbourhood are really strange, so it could be coming from anywhere.

It's nice and close to a major landmark (the Royal Britannia), which is nice when I'm getting lost on the way home.

The Bank Account:

So, you'd think having a signed and sealed flat lease in my hand would at least get rid of the problem with the bank account.

But it didn't.

According to the bank, it's the wrong kind of lease. I need a utility bill to get a bank account. Which is all fine and dandy except they bill quarterly, and I can't expect to see a utility bill for three months.

Plus, they don't accept mobile phone bills (makes sense) or internet bills (wtf?).

So, I went out to get a landline, and they'll be sending me something I can use. Plus, I'll have a net connection setup. With wireless! Yay! That will be in next week sometime, but I'm really worrying about the damned bank account. I'm collecting useless pieces of paper here.

(What confuses me the most is, my passport is good enough to get into the country, but apparently not good enough for anything else. Has anyone else had these problems when moving?)

I heard a horror story yesterday from Sharon, who moved here from Ireland. (And man, does she have a sexy accent. I want to move to Ireland. Lucky for me, it made the Short List of Places To Go.) It took her a year to get an account.

Lovely.

The Job:

I'd love to tell you what's going on at work, but once again, I can't for Actual Legal Reasons. Watch me turn into a more feminine version of Cam. *wink*

Seriously, my job is good. I'm bored, but that's really to be expected. It's night audit work. If you're good (which apparently I am, which always surprises me), you get things done quickly, which leaves you the rest of the night to stare blankly into space and curse yourself for forgetting a book to read. I've been writing postcards. Hopefully I will buy stamps tomorrow (with my illgotten cash advance) and be able to send them, but there's enough postcards that I could be broke again after that.

(I really need to break the postcard habit. I bought them before the money issue became so tense.)

Speaking of Postcards:

The Moose!

The moose came today! The moose came today!

I got a moose card in the mail from Super Kewl People in Edmonton. I'd link to everyone's blog, but quite a few people signed it. I felt special! Thanks to Laura for arranging it for me!

I couldn't get it out of my mailbox because of the sizing of it, so I had to ask the mailbox person to do that for me. He grinned, and told me he though it looked "adorable with it's little head sticking out of all the mail this morning."

For the various people who offered to mail themselves here, I have a space for you to sleep now, so that will be cool. But don't mail yourself to my post office box, because I only get in there every couple of days.

And Crash: I have already begun looking for a kilt for you, better have my reward ready!

My Thoughts About Scotland:

I love it here.

July 22, 2005

Things I Learned On My Birthday, a list, by jo

Things I Learned on My Birthday, a list, by jo

1. They don't use shotglasses when pouring drinks here, and man, are they powerful.

2. When your workplace lets you go to a show of Scottish Stuff and says there is "free, unlimited wine", it's actually vinegar in an ugly bottle. Trust me.

3. Scottish dancing looks a lot like ballet.

4. Be careful who you point that out to, not everyone likes it.

5. At any one time, there are likely more Americans in this hotel than any other nationality.

6. Badly made haggis really does taste like buffalo.

7. Did I mention they don't use shotglasses when they measure the drinks here?

8. Deep Fat Fried Mars Bars are scary looking a national practical joke way too sweet but strangely addicting Really Really REALLY good! Honest!

9. You can have a really good time and still have enough busfare to get home.

10. Did I mention they didn't measure the rum?

All in all, it was a fun night, but I really want to shoot Kenny for saying I had to go to the Scottish Night Thingy Stuff, cuz damn, internationl floor shows do not interest me. But, it was free, the drinks were cheap (and really strong), and there were, in fact, cute boys in kilts.

No sheep, though. Will keep you posted on that front.

July 20, 2005

It's My Birthday! (Where's my Presents?)

A few minutes ago, my staff (who are wonderful, and entirely Polish right now, which can be very surreal) called me into the back for something "very important". Since Pavel, who I adore with a passion but who makes "high strung" look like an understatement, was the one saying this, I figured it would be something about a fax, or whatever. Something Important, but not End of the World.

It was Birthday Cake!

(Well, it was a chocolate and strawberry Birthday Tart! with a strawberry on top.)

They sang me Happy Birthday, and I felt very special.

Last year at this time I had been back from China for a couple of weeks. I was just falling back into old friendships and meeting interesting people. I felt very out-of-place in dealing with people from Edmonton. On the one hand, I wanted to talk constantly about China. On the other hand, I hated being asked constantly about China. It was a really strange feeling. It was like I should be something, rather than actually being something, if that makes sense, which I suspect it doesn't.

This year, even though I'm in a foreign country, far away from the people I'd like to be sharing this time with (Damn it, Crash, why am I not hanging out with you and your woman today?), I'm feeling a lot more comfortable in my skin this time around. I mean, what's there to prove? I'm the latest in a long line of foriegn people working for this hotel. My entire regular staff other than Kenny are from overseas someplace. The only thing people here ask me about is why I would want to see a castle so much. I don't feel the need to be anything here, like I did last year.

Of course, it was a conversation this time last year that lead to the whole "I wanna go to Europe" thing. My favorite Rapscallion had taken me out for Gilato. I can't quite remember how we got there, but a promise was extracted that I would get Gilato in Italy on my birthday at some point in the next few years. And it's so much easier to get to Italy from here than it is from Canada.

My big plan for my birthday was to go to Paris, but due to the Bank Account Issues, I'm not going today as planned. I'll still be going to Paris for my birthday, just not on my birthday. Instead, I'll be going to a Scottish Evening thing at work (for free, so I can sell the thing), which involves haggis and lots of free wine. And lots and lots of pretty pretty boys in kilts.

Which is, of course, the whole reason I came to Scotland.

(Well, and the sheep.)

Don't forget, you can send me really cool presents and postcards (and apparently mooses) to:

Joanna Pearce
Box 225
12 South Bridge
Edinburgh
EH1 1DD

(Hmm, the people leaving the hotel just wished me a Happy Birthday. Yay!)

July 19, 2005

Paycheque

I will leave the squeeing over my birthday for a few minutes at least. *wink*

So, my paycheque, and why I am having trouble getting one:

It seems that Head Office, which is some mythical location Somewhere In The UK (maybe), has decided that my maildrop (aka post office box, that place where everyone should be sending me super-kewl birthday wishes) is not a good enough address for me to receive a paycheque. Yes, that's right, I need a flat in Edinburgh before I can get a paycheque, which I also need before I can get a bank account, which I also need before I can get a flat.

It's giving me a very nasty headache.

So, Super Amazing Super Kenny (and I'm not just calling him that because he occasionally reads my weblog, really) did something, I don't know what, and I do have a paycheque, along with a notice I need to fill out with an address that is not a maildrop. Because apparently it matters so damned much where I live in this city.

The new problem became cashing said cheque. Because, of course, I need a bank account to cash the cheque (with a 5 day hold on it), and I need a flat to get a bank account and it all goes around in a lovely circle from there.

All is not lost, of course. Through a complicated twist of events, I do actually have a street address now. But I'm rather pissy that I'm supposed to be paid weekly, and the whole thing is getting held up because I listed my pre-paid for six months box number as my address. It was good enough to get the job, why is it not good enough to get paid?

We'll see what happens Friday. If I keep getting jerked around like this... well, this isn't the only hotel in the city by any stretch of the imagination, and I keep getting this rather odd job offers for call centers that I haven't actually applied for.

July 17, 2005

Castling

I totally intended to make a post Thursday night about my Super Amazing Great Plans for Friday, but was distracted by actually having to do *work* at *work*. I was very sad.

Instead, I shall just gloat about what a Super Amazing Great Day I had Friday.

I had three things I wanted to accomplish Friday: seeing the Castle, eating a deep-fat fried Mars bar, and getting the new Harry Potter book. (I had vauge plans of hitting the Harry Potter party-type thingy that was going on along the High Mile, too.) I only actually got to accomplish two of these things, but I'm very satisfied with them both.

The first, and most important, was The Castle.

The queue was about half an hour long, which gave me about 30 minutes to have spasms of actual fangirlish ectacy. I was actually biting my hand to keep from making "squeeing" noises. I'm a history fiend, and seeing this place... god, I can't describe it. It was very overwhelming, and that was before I even got inside!

I'm not quite sure how to describe it from there. It was a lot bigger than I expected it to be. I mean, intellectually I'm aware that castles attempted to be self-sufficient for seiges and the like, but I guess I was expecting it go be all big walls and turrets, not with large open spaces, a graveyard for dogs, and several outbuildings. There were at least two restaurants that I noticed (plus several people selling ice cream), and at least two book/gift stores. I was inside for three hours and didn't see all of it.

The views were amazing.... I got some good pictures of the city, the sea, and of Arthur's Seat.

There were two things inside that really moved me. The Scottish Crown Jewels, and the Scottish War Memorial. The Jewels were beautiful, and included the history of the jewels (such as we know), how the jewels were "lost" and "rediscovered", and quite a bit of information on Scotland's royal history.

I felt the museum around the jewels was one of the better ones I've seen in recent years for making history a very real thing. The displays related the stories of people, which is something I think a lot of history books and museums skip over. It was a simple museum, but one that really made the story of the jewels come to life.

The War Memorial was incredibly awe inspiring. I've never seen anything like it. From the outside it looked like a midieval church, with the huge stained glass windows. Inside... I'm not really sure how to describe it right now, but I found it very moving. It was one of the few war memorials that I've been truly moved by.

I am totally going back on another day. It was so worth the half hour wait and the 9.80£ charge. (The ironic thing being that the lineup in the afternoon was basically non-existent.)

It's been interesting for me because I told everyone at work that I was going, and they all told me I'd be terribly disappointed. But, they're all either from Europe (grew up around castles) or from Edinburgh, and only remember that they had to go as school kids. But for me... wow. I saw a castle! A real castle!

The deep fat fried Mars Bar search continues, but I've been given a good lead on a place not too far from work, apparently. I guess I must have passed it on the way home countless time, but I've not been paying attention. My directions are less than ideal.

"It's across the street from a church."

Yes, that's very helpful. So is most of the city.

Anyway, then I dozed at home until Harry Potter Party Time! This was fairly boring, except for the bit where I got into a lengthy conversation with a girl from Arkansas about who we thought the Half-Blood Prince was (we were both wrong), and a discussion about fan-fic with a couple from Edinburgh. The demographics when I hit line were interesting -- lots of people in their mid-twenties or so. It was the ones later in line that had the kids. There were cheers when the bookstore opened to let us start filing in. I was reading the book before I got out the door.

It was funny, I was winding my way past the line (not walking into any holes, yay!) when a kid stopped me to ask, in a very earnest voice, "Is it any good?" And I had to answer "Yes, definately."

(What else was I going to say, I was 4 pages in! *grin*)

The bus driver didn't want me to say a word, because he was picking it up after his shift. I curled up to try and finish it before it came out in Canada. But I fell asleep in the middle of a sentence, and only woke up again when the book fell out of my hand. It had been a busy day. I did have it finished by around 1 p.m. the next day.

(I'll leave my opinions of the book for another post. But I don't think it's too spoilerific to say that I don't think *anyone* should be calling Narcissa "Cissy".)

I really did have a great day, and I will admit to greatly enjoying calling various people in Canada to gloat about not only seeing a castle, but getting the new Harry Potter book hours earlier than they could. Cuz I'm just that type of person, some days. *wink*

July 14, 2005

Vampires Rock

Someone help me decide to go to the Vampires Rock musical playing on the 27th.

July 12, 2005

Anna Fall Down the Hole...

Note to self: Just because a boy is pretty (and he is definately pretty), it does not follow that he can make food. I think Eduardo is trying to kill me.

Of course, I occasionally think a lot of people are trying to kill me.

Long time readers of my blog may recall that, when I was in China, I fell into a hole. This is much worse than it sounds - I fell almost up to my hip, and there was nothing beneath me yet. I had bruises still for at least three months, and I must have really damaged something because I can still feel the spot I hit when I run my hands over my thigh. It sorta became a joke, though, because what idiot falls into a hole in the middle of the street?

Well, here I am, in Scotland for just about the same amount of time, and I fell in a hole.

Not nearly so bad this time, and all I have is a scraped knee to show for it, but the whole thing is just silly.

Espcially when you factor in that I fell into *another* hole yesterday. (Okay, stepped into a hole. This one was a square hole that I would assume one would use to put up blockades on a road or something. It was nicely in the middle of the crosswalk, and I stepped into it and almost fell. It's not a big hole, just 3 inches square, but I managed to find it with my stupid feet.)

I guess I'll have to wait till I hit a third country before I find out of this is a pattern or not, but it strikes me as being very appropriate. It's like "Ah, yes, this is home now, because I fell down."

The rest of this entry is me ranting about work. Feel free to ignore it, as I just need to rant.

Continue reading "Anna Fall Down the Hole..." »

July 11, 2005

Alcoholism at its Finest

I'm having one of those nights at work where I totally appreciate the fact that the bar up the street opens at 5 a.m. Bloody hell, what is it about being on your first solo shift that means everything will go wrong and stuff that never comes up when there's someone else around will always come up?

My understanding from Kenny is that bars here can serve till 1, and that pubs serve till 3. There must be 4 hours between your closing time and your opening time, and during the Festival, the bars are open till 5 a.m., and the pubs open at 5 a.m. (or is it the other way around?). Basically, you can drink your way through the entire festival. (Dear Tom, thinking of you, hugs and kisses, jo. PS: You can totally come visit, but I'm not paying for the alcohol. *grin*)

Of course, being from Canada and totally uptight about my liquor, I'm thinking this is a bad thing, but I'm still really tempted to pop up to the bar after work.

Let's see, you can get alcohol from Take Aways until 11 p.m., after which you can only buy cases from there. Licensed convience stores only sell alcohol in bottles (and I guess cans) until 11 p.m. as well. After that, they just tell you they can't sell it to you.

This whole country seems to be run by people very fond of their right to alcohol. *grin* (Dear Ralph Klein: As much as I like this country, you'd fit right in. Wanna be exported? Hugs and Kisses, Anna)

And dear lord, is wine ever cheap here. I'm not a big wine drinker, but it makes it tempting to pick up a bottle or two to have. If anyone wants any wine back home, let me know, I'll bring it with me when I come visit next year.

I'm finding the differences between here and Canada really fascinating. Some days it feels like I'm still back home, since I'm not as stand-outish as I was in China, but other days, when Kenny says something is knackered, or that someone is pished (which is not a sluring of pissed, but means the same thing), I get totally confused.

My favorite example of this is from my mistake in asking Kenny and Laura if there were any 24-hour convience stores in Edinburgh. (Kenny says there are 3. Not chains, stores. I think there were more than that within two blocks of my place in Edmonton.)

"Well," said Laura, "There's always the garriages."

"Garriages?" I repeated. As in, rhyming with carriage.

"Petrol stations," she replied.

"Gas stations," Kenny said, giving her a look. (He thinks he has to translate everything into Canadian for me. I must remember to tell him about poutine.)

"Oh, you mean garages!"

"No, garriages."

I confirmed the spelling, they do mean garages, they just say it funny here.

I was talking to a friend of mine and he said I'm already beginning to pick up the accent, which strikes me as funny because until I started working I barely spoke to anyone Scottish. He said it's just word choices right now, but that he figures I'll be sounding a lot more Scottish by the time I come back for a visit. Which just makes me think of Crash and his wallaby stories.

July 10, 2005

Birthday Countdown

It occurs to me that my birthday is coming up (July 20th), and if I want presents I should probably give my address to someone other than my mother.

Joanna Pearce
Box 225
12 South Bridge
Edinbugh
EH1 1DD

I like postcards. A lot. And boys in kilts. *wink*

July 9, 2005

Back to Reality

I didn't see anything going on around town today, and I was out and about for at least a few hours in the downtown, so I'm going to go out on a limb and say things seem to be calming down. I did hear that there was a bomb scare in Birmingham, but I haven't heard any of the details, and I'm almost afraid to check online.

As for what I will tentatively call real life, things are going surprisingly well. I'm beginning to get used to the buses here (I have finally ridden on the top of a double decker bus. I don't feel the need to repeat the experience again soon -- they sway), and work is at the point of being tediously boring for most of the night. I know, I quit my last job partly because it was boring, but I'm not nearly so bored during the day. I'm still squeeing to people that there's a Castle! In the City! That I can go to!

Tonight at work there was a wedding, which involved a lot of men in kilts. *grin* Kenny tells me that yes, kilts at weddings are normal here, and that yes, there will be a lot of weddings. Since I just came to Scotland for the boys in kilts (or the sheep), I'm a very content person.

Too bad I haven't been paid.

July 8, 2005

Protests

I think it was Tuesday that I started to really see the effects of all the protests in the city, but the days tend to lose their way when you work nights.

We were sitting around the hostel chatting about jobs and stuff when we heard this awful racket outside. Chanting and stomping and all sorts of noise, and we quickly ran to the window. You have to picture a Canadian, an Australian, a Kiwi and an American, all hanging out of a second storey window on the Royal Mile, trying to see what the heck was going on outside.

I finally saw this... "parade" of people walking down North Bridge. They were wearing black, and chanting something. We couldn't hear them very clearly. They were being followed by police officers.

Later on, I had to get down Princes Street. I was very lost in thought (and quite tired), so I was quite a ways down before I noticed there was no traffic except pedestrians. I had noticed the police at the head of the road, though. When I got far enough along, there was a huge crowd of police blocking off the sidewalk. They told me I would have to go around, but before I could get moving, they were all called away. There were sirens coming up, and I turned to see more police cars coming.

When I got past the police, I saw a bunch of officers on horseback, and an entire area of Princes Street Gardens cut off and surrounded by police. There were tons of people rubber necking around, and I will admit that I was trying to see what was going on. I never saw the actual protest, but I could hear some of what they were saying.

"What do we want?"

"Blah blah blah!"

"When do we want it?"

"NOW!"

I listened for a bit but I never did catch what they wanted. (As a note for my more revolutionary friends, please enunciate when you're demanding something.)

So that was Tuesday.

I found out that a lot of the police presence yesterday was because of two suspicious packages they found in the city. Neither one was a bomb, thank God, but the police squads were sent out to deal with it anyway. I'm given to understand both packages were blown up.

I'm not quite sure at the mood of the city, which is very frustrating to me. I genuinely like working nights, but I feel very cut off from everything. I don't see a lot of people at night, and my coworkers are either Polish or Kenny, who suffers from "I hate everyone" syndrome. I really must get around to reading the Edinburgh blogs that I have bookmarked on my laptop.

July 7, 2005

London

I don't even know where to start.

I slept in today, and only recently found out about the terrorist attacks in London, and everything here is on such tight alert you can't even move without seeing police. Earlier today, I was passed by two different convoys of police vans. Each can carries at least 6 officers, and there were 11 vans and one station wagon in the second one I saw. I was a little too much in shock to count the number in the first one. The sirens are almost constant, and I have no idea what's going on in the city in terms of protests, or if there even are any. When I was on Princes Street today, everything seemed quiet.

It wasn't until I got up to the hostel and saw the T.V. out in the lobbey that I had any idea what had happened. It had such parallels with September 11th, something I'm sure almost everyone is going to call attention to. But the silent T.V., tuned to the BBC with a ticker tape at the bottom talking about the various reactions and what happened, while everyone stood around it in shock. I didn't even know the hostel had a t.v.

I had other things to say, about the protests yesterday and the way the city has been shut down again, but I'm thinking that can wait.

July 6, 2005

Culture Shocked

It's funny, because I spent a couple of days this week thinking, "How odd, I'm not feeling any of the culture shock or isolation that I felt in China." I know part of that's because I'm sharing space with people who have a lot of the same experiences I have, because I'm surrounded by people who speak English, that I'm a lot busier and a lot better prepared than I was when I went to China.

But, yesterday, I got broadsided by the culture shock. It was one of those things where all of a sudden the only solution is to just pack it all in, go home, admit that you can't handle living overseas and spend the rest of your life living in an apartment alone until you die a bitter old maid.

(Yes, I considered this as a viable alternative to continuing to live in Scotland.)

It comes down to the whole issue of trying to build something akin to a life here.

I tried yesterday to get a doctor's appointment. I'm not deathly ill or anything like that, I just wanted to get something looked at. No big deal, right? In Canada, this involves either going to any of a number of walk-in clinics, or calling up your doctor's office and making an appointment.

This is not what happened.

I was given a doctor's address by the hostel, and went there in the early afternoon. I was still pretty tired, being that I work nights, but I figured it wouldn't be too bad. I could go in and either get in quickly, or get an appointment, or something.

What happened was, after finding the street (streets do not work the same in the UK as they do in Canada, but more on that some other day), I walked into the doctor's office, spent three minutes being told that I couldn't get an appointment there, they'd send me someplace "closer", and left again. The receptionist gave me a phone number of a place that wouldn't take me, and they gave me the phone number of another place that wouldn't take me, who gave me the phone number of a place that will see me a week from Thursday.

This isn't really a big deal, I know, and I just filed it away for future reference. No fast doctor's appointments, no big deal. But it sorta soured my mood, which made the rest of the day a huge trial that I didn't want to go through.

Which made the issues with the various banks that much more difficult to deal with.

My employer (Kenny, which I mention because he shares a first name with my brother, and I want to make it clear if I start ranting about Kenny, that it's not my brother) wrote me a letter with my address, the address of the hotel, and my rate of pay on it. He assured me this will help me to get a bank account. I took this letter to three different banks.

The first one told me it isn't good enough, that I need a council tax bill or an electricity bill or something that indicates that I'm a resident of this country. I guess working here and having a PO Box rented for a year and all of that doesn't count.

The second one would be more than happy to set me up an account. All I need to do is fill in a bunch of forms, mail them to the head office, and I should have one in two to six weeks.

The third only makes appointments to make new accounts every other Tuesday between 9 and 11 (okay, I exaggerate, it's every day from 9 - 11), and wouldn't accept a letter from my employer as proof of residence.

And at that point I marched back into the hostel, threw my files against the wall, and started raging at the injustice of it all.

I started ranting at the sweet girl from Finland, Saara, who just let me freak out for a while, assuring me that I wasn't over-reacting (I was) and that everything would be okay, that yes, this is strange, and that it's not like this where she comes from, and everything will be okay. She was very supportive, but we also exchanged stories about the number of hoops a "foriegner has to jump through to get a flat or a bank account. She told me about an agency who basically refused to help her in any way, even though she would have given them money to help her find a flat. It's all crazy.

She was very nice, and I calmed down pretty quickly, but the sense of frustration stuck with me all day. It feels very much like Scotland doesn't want people here. I have heard of that from time to time in the paper, but it's the first time in an English speaking country I've felt like an outsider, like someone who can't get in. It's a very strange feeling, and I haven't quite figured out how to deal with it.

But, I have the next two days off, and I think I'll buy deep fat fried Mars Bars, and try not to start yelling at random Scots about how much their country makes me want to tear out my hair and go home as a bald, bitter woman.

July 5, 2005

The Sound of Sirens

I got so used to the sound of sirens over the past few days that I can now sleep through them. I haven't witnessed a lot of the chaos myself, but I've heard some stories.

Apparently the protesters/anarchists/whatever were throwing large rocks at the HMV just behind our hotel. We have some rooms right above them, so the staff here decided to lock the doors before anything happened. I went past the HMV today, and only one of the windows is cracked. So, it's not as bad as it could be, I guess, but I'm glad I wasn't working there.

I heard from one of my coworkers that there were moltov cocktails thrown at a McDonald's in the city, but I haven't heard that from anywhere else, so I don't know if it's true.

The police here deal with problems by using their batons. The way they describe it in the papers is surreal, considering I'm used to something completely different. It's still a bit strange to me to consider that police here don't carry guns. But, police here "pull out their batons". It's interesting. And somehow more violent. The pictures in the paper have been very disturbing.

(Unrelated to that, yes, there are mostly naked women in some of the papers, but I can never remember which ones.)

I don't really know what is going on. There was a lot of tension in the air on Monday, but today was okay, nice and quiet. (I was out a lot today.) I understand there are plans for more protests soon, but I don't know what they are.

July 4, 2005

Works in Theory...

So, about two hours after my last entry about how everything was all quiet, my manager was sporting a black eye and a back bruised so badly he had to take pain killers just to function for the rest of the night.

However, to paraphrase a friend, I can't elaborate for actual legal reasons.

But I will say that it had nothing to do with all the marching around here.

I slept through the rioting today, but some of the girls at the hostel work not too far from it, and told me it was chaos. The police weren't letting anyone leave without getting their particulars (so a friend jumped the fence around the Princes Street Garden), and at least one building was in total lock down during the workday. I still am not sure what was going on, but I will say it was something to do with anarchists. (Dear Kris, thinking of you, hugs and kisses, Anna.)

And, unrelated to that, I may have found a flat.

This is not the good news it looks like on paper.

See, there are two ways of getting a flat in Edinburgh, and both require jumping through many very high hoops.

Way One means getting letters of reference from:
- your current employer
- your bank
- your former landlord
- a character reference

For everyone living with you.

In order to get a bank account, I need:

- proof of living in Edinburgh, which means a bill for power or a flat contract in my name.

I'm assuming you see the problem there.

Way Two involves paying six months rent up front. Which is about 4000 £ or 8000 $CDN. Let me just look in my wallet here....

Looks like hostel living for at least the next little while. But work pays weekly, and it is enough for rent on a flat, or getting a flat share, or even just staying in the hostel for the summer. There are options, I'm just not liking them as much as the lovely flat on the Leithe Shore that I fell in love with. (C'mon, it's a renovated whisky storehouse! It should come with a free bottle of whisky every month!)

July 2, 2005

All Quiet on the Scottish Front

The past couple of nights have been a bit surreal. I meant to post something last night about the Night Before the Big March Thingy, but got distracted by having too much work to do. Which is a good thing, some nights, but others, not so much.

Anyway, last night on the way to work, I saw bands of roaming police officers in groups of 12 - 15. At the corner just at the end of the North Bridge, they seemed to be escourting or watching or something as a bunch of kids that looked... scattered or bedraggled or something. Police officers here wear bright yellow vests, which makes them very easy to pick out of a crowd, or out of the dark.

I also was passed on the bridge by two full vans of police officers. They would have each been carrying at least six officers from what I could see. The whole thing seemed really... over policed, to me.

Then I got to work and they told me that was typical of a Friday night in Edinburgh.

Anyway, the night was quiet, all things considered, and I went home and fell into a very exhausted sleep.

The next day (which would be today, I guess), everything was eerily quiet around the hostel. I finally managed to get enough sleep, simply because the Royal Mile was closed off to most traffic, and so there was nothing to wake me up until the church bells started ringing at about 3:30. So, the question of whether I was going to go march or sleep was answered for me. Since every other morning the traffic or my room mates has woken me by noon... Well, I'm not sure if I'm disappointed or not.

Continue reading "All Quiet on the Scottish Front" »

July 1, 2005

Riot? Oh, why not, it's Canada Day

This might be a bit of a disjointed entry because I'm at work. Just waiting for some programs to finish their run, and hey, there's internet at the front desk! *grin*

It was kinda strange walking to work tonight. As probably most of you know, the G8 summit is being held in this area, and the Make Poverty History March is being held on Jul 2nd. There are quite a few protests planned for this coming week, and the city has this feeling of bucking down and waiting for the storm to hit.

Most of the businesses in the area I live in right now are closed for the weekend, one of them writing on thier sign "so our employees can go to the Make Poverty History March, and so should you". A few had already begun bording up the windows, and I suspect there will be more of that over the next couple of days. The hotels have all been warned of what the police expect, and my boss explained to me that when the UK police say they're going to take you down, they mean it. So I'm a bit nervous about the whole thing.

Part of me wants to participate, but the rest of me just wants to go to sleep...

About July 2005

This page contains all entries posted to Anna Overseas in July 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

June 2005 is the previous archive.

August 2005 is the next archive.

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