Archive for May, 2009

Having been in Scotland a week, here’s some observations.

  1. The thought of haggis is much worse than the taste of it. That said, you’ll probably never see “haggis-flavoured” anything on your grocer’s shelf. 
  2.  The people are wonderfully friendly and very accommodating. They’re bright, interesting and good conversationalists. Plus, they hardly ever sucker punch you.
  3. Many people speak with a “Scottish” accent. What’s with that? 
  4. Europeans require much less space than Americans. The cars are smaller, hotel rooms are smaller, houses are smaller. They are also gentler to the planet with eco-friendlier diesel engines and smart ideas like requiring your hotel key be placed into a slot to access electricity in your room.  BTW, if you’re ever in the U.K and have a chance to stay at a Dakota property, jump on it. High tech meets high comfort– I wish this concept would come to America.       

    Not all Scottish homes are smaller...

    Not all Scottish homes are smaller.

  5. Have yet to see anything “butterscotch” on a menu. Spooky.
  6. The Scots are very precise in their pours of their fine whiskeys. They use silver short stubby measuring cylinders and carefully pour the amber love to the brim, then into the glass ye go– and not a drop more! Pity they don’t pour more generously, but apparently it’s a legal tax-related thing. That reasoning for a stingy pour is no reason to a thirst man!
  7. To see a Scot wince, ask for ice to accompany your fine whiskey.
  8. I’ve seen men in kilts, and I’d sooner wear a fuchsia taffeta backless number that rode high on me thigh– I have adorable pumps for that get-up and can accessorize  perfectly.
  9. British is not synonymous with English. The Scots like the English about as much as the Irish do. Still, they’re all British and proud of it in war times (although a Scotsman told me a disproportionate number of Scots and Irish spill their blood in the cause).
  10. Although most pubs have Guinness, it’s rarely poured here. Tennents and Belhaven’s Best flow freely, however, and they drink right nice.
  11. The Scots are not terribly overweight, but the restaurants serve mammoth portions of foodstuffs. “Chips” are usually platefuls of sheer, utter disappointment– thick wedges of limp, under-cooked potatoes. Slabs of starchy mush. It’s time these good people cranked the heat on the deep fryer and gave the chips a longer bath to crispdom. The same goes for England and Ireland. How ’bout it U.K.– serve some crisp on your chips!
  12. Beans for breakfast? Is that any way to start your day? You do live amongst fellow humans, you know…
  13. Golf is a religion here and my game is agnostic, at best. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the courses, the people and endless challenges presented by wind, weather and trickster greens. 
  14. Many people here are actually from there. Last night, our waitress was from Pittsburgh. This morning, the waitress was from Poland. This evening from Budapest. You’ll hear many accents over here, some of them are even Scottish. 
  15. Edinburgh is one great city. It has an incredible history, stunning beauty and wonderful people. I’ll be back here, aye, I will.         

    Scottish Fields Forever

    Scottish Fields Forever

  16. The Scottish countryside is easy on the eye with gently rolling hills and fields of rape seed that are absolutely resplendent in the sunlight. You see them and imagine Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion running up over the hill.
  17. If you have an ad account in the U.K., call on The Union, an excellent ad agency in Edinburgh, and rest soundly. They’re smart, likable people who are quite genius at coming up with good adverts and such. 
  18. My ears cannot acquire a taste for bagpipes. Sounds a bit too much like cats being tortured.
  19. Although the Scottish golf courses I played were magnificent, Irish golf courses are more challenging. The roughs are rougher, the terrain more challenging and the caddies more caustic. Still, Scottish golf is hardly a walk in the park. For me, it was more of an endless hunt in the gorse.
  20. The basic food in Scotland is tastier than that served in Ireland (or London for that matter).
  21. Soccer is football here and Manchester United is the New York Yankees of football clubs (the manager is a Scotsman). There are Scottish teams, but most of the buzz was about “Man United.” People are also keen on their rugby, which I was told is a sport at the finer and more exclusive schools. A Scot told me there’s an old saying, “Football is a game for gentlemen played by hooligans, and rugby is a game for hooligans played by gentlemen.” I nodded my head knowingly not knowing anything about any of it.
  22. Scottish dance is like mad ballet and a perfectly beautiful punishment for naughty feet.
  23. I’ve become too reliant on the digital teat. I had shot over 200 pictures with my digital camera when suddenly it informed me I had no images on my SanDisk 2 GB flash card. I’ll see if this can be remedied in the States and I will be hate-filled if it all that shutterbuggery goes into the digital ether. I had so many great Scottish images caught, it’s a shame to leave them to my pathetic analog memory (the pictures above were taken with my iPhone). Has anyone else ever had this problem with digital cameras? Was it fixed? Am I digitally screwed?
  24. Although Robert Burns and Tom Morris are gods here, don’t you dare try and read poetry on a tee box. Ye won’t make many friends.
  25. If you’ve never visited Scotland, do so. There’s a reason it’s inspired so much poetry.

      Apparently malls have different laws from the rest of the world; secret laws designed to ensnare innocents into their web of willful deceit.

     Case in point: me.

Crime scene?

Crime scene?

     Today I went to a mall that had one of those massage chair areas down from the Apple store but not quite to the Banana Republic (which I’m sure has its own laws). The massage chairs are in an open area with other essential kiosks selling hair extensions and watch batteries and electric eating utensils.

     I decide to try a chair massage. The massage guy gets a call on his phone and tells me he’ll be just a minute. “No prob,” I say and he turns his attention to his call. I start stripping to get ready for my massage. Toot sweet, I’m buck naked and easing into the chair like I’m praying at church. Then some lady starts screaming like crazy. I get scared and look up. The woman’s pointing at me! She’s holding the hand of a little girl who’s crying like she was sitting in Lincoln’s lap at Ford Theatre. I get up to try and calm them down but they keep screaming and crying and run away. I start chasing after them and the massage guy grabs me and quickly wraps a towel around my middle. I think he;s getting fresh so I slug him. He hits back. We rumble on the floor. More screaming. A crowd huddles around us and pretty soon a couple johnny laws are yammering me my mirandas and I’m getting fitted for some silver bracelets (they pinch, how about a couple sizes larger, officers).

     Word to the wise–– while it’s fine and dandy to strip down for a regular massage, apparently it’s against the law to do so at the hoity-toity Mall! 

    Tell you one thing, when I get out of this pickle I’m getting me a good rub-down.

 

Forget sleeping-- LIVE IT UP! The dirt-nap's coming soon enough, people.

Forget sleeping-- LIVE IT UP! The dirt-nap's coming soon enough, people.

  Not to be an alarmist, but the four horsemen of the apocalypse are charging on the horizon–– riding evil angry pigs to deliver a death sentence to the entire human race! You included!!!!!

    Yes, this year’s model of doom and gloom is the Swine Flu (H1N1), an oldie but goodie from the 70’s, has evolved and come back to tickle your nostalgia bone and send you to the boneyard toot sweet. How can you tell if you have this new and improved Swine Flu? Look for these telltale signs:

    1.  Your pig is achy and feels hot when you kiss its cheeks nightie-night-night

    2.  Piggie is not sleeping well and the bedroom floor is littered with spent Kleenex

    3.  Your pig is listless and its tail loses its natural bouncy curl

    4.  Poor porky requests chicken soup by the gallon

    5.  Your pig says it “feels like something the cat dragged home” and misses work wallowing in its own filth

    Once your pig is sick, you can get infected also.

    In order to protect oneself from Swine Flu, some people get all Lady MacBeth; washing their hands incessantly. Others play doctor and wear a mask over mouth and nose below their furrowed brows. And fear-filled fanatics hold their breaths in public and refuse to shake hands with anyone. Instead, they greet filthy, germ-ridden people with a cheery spray of gunfire, an action generally thought by etiquette experts to be not quite as cordial a greeting as a hearty handshake.

    Even though there have only been isolated cases of the Swine Flu reported worldwide, there is a full-on pandemic panic fueled by a flood of fear-mongering news reports. You’ve seen and heard the ‘bumpers’ on news shows before breaking for commercials:

    “Is your skin trying to kill you? We’ll tell you the disturbing answer of one large organ’s evil revenge after the break…”

    “Is certain death the least of your worries after contracting Swine Flu? Stay tuned and find out how one expert says Swine Flu can affect you in the afterlife… then Chip will tell us in his three day forecast if it’s going to be good weather for cemetery plot shopping .”

    “We all know the dangers of Swine Flu, but you probably don’t know that two common household items could kill you quicker and more painfully. We’ll tell you which ones when we come back.”

    You wait on pins and needles to discover that washing down fistfuls of Drano with a half gallon of bleach makes Swine Flu look like a warm hug and a wet kiss.

Woe is we.

Woe is we.

   It’s gotten so bad that The National Pork Producers Association is demanding that Swine Flu be renamed “The Delicious, Nutritious And Surprisingly Versatile Other White Meat Sniffles”.

    Medical officials at the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention in Atlanta have not returned phone calls to comment on this new name.

    Obviously they are all dead.

    Yipes!