19 November 2006

Snow in Scotland!

Today when I walked into our living room, I was greeted with my flatmate announcing "Snow!" Not snow in the city of Glasgow, but out on the hills/mountains. It is actually a pretty impressive sight in real time... afraid my camera doesn't do the effect justice. It's like looking at another snowy world from your window. Winter has come through the front door, but it hasn't quite settled in... it's not like it's sitting in your favourite chair and eating your cookies yet. I'm reserving judgement on how better/worse this is going to be from a Canadian winter - when the girl downstairs from Winnipeg is complaining already that she feels cold, you know that there's something to it.

Last week was super busy for me, catching up on labs I had to redo. On top of that it rained all week, with only brief respites of sunshine (with what little daylight we do get). Next week was shaping up to be a reprieve, but turns out we're scheduled in the lab all week doing another exercise. They have a habit of throwing us into the deep end with very few waterwings. But, that is probably the best way to learn.

This afternoon we're going to see Casino Royale, then going to a Chinese buffet. Tonight they are lighting up George Square... so if you're around at 1:30 pm Ontario time, check out the webcams (link to the right). There might even be fireworks.

Christmas is also just over a month away... though the lights in George Square have been up since the begining of the month. All the shopping streets are a sea of people, it's impossible to go anywhere and it not be busy. Just go with the flow and all that. I went and picked up some LED lights for my room... get a little colour in and add a festive touch.

Anyway, just a short post from me this week. I'm in the thick of it now and there is no end in sight until Christmas vacation! Might be headed up to Loch Tay around that time for a few days, but still have to finalize the details. Take care, everyone!

11 November 2006

Multiheader Miscellany

Remembrance Day/Armistice Day
Today is Remembrance Day and Armistice Day. I bought my poppy about a week ago. Whatever your political affiliations or beliefs, there are some things that are just worth taking a moment of quiet pause over. Tomorrow there's going to be a Remembrance Sunday ceremony in George Square that I'll likely go to.

(and the Young Ladies' Knitting Club and Terrorist Society)

TV?? Who has time to watch TV? Well, there are a few things on TV here that I make time to watch. I've been watching Torchwood - which whoever knows me also knows that I've been eagerly awaiting this Doctor Who spin-off since it was announced - which has turned out to be a big success. It takes off from when Captain Jack was left by the Doctor and Rose on Satellite 5 after they defeated the Daleks. Watch for it on CBC in Canada when they get around to it.

I've also been watching a new series called Robin Hood which is really really good. I don't know if it is ever going to make its way to Canada, but if it does... or if you stumble upon it otherwise... it's well worth watching.

So, as well as watching TV in some of my spare time I've been crocheting. My flatmate, Lesley, knits, so it's not uncommon to see us both out in the living room with our yarn and implements of construction. I'm crocheting an afghan right now because there doesn't seem to be a huge market for cuddly blankets over here. But, there is a big and wonderful knitting and crocheting section in John Lewis over at the shopping mall.

Look Ma! I'm in the paper!
Just wanted to thank Jerry Grozelle for the lovely article he wrote about me in the Highlands Courier. Here is a picture of it up on our fridge. I hope that us young folks from Minden keep venturing out into the world.

The Alarm Clock from Hell
Yesterday we all got woken up by the fire alarm at 3 in the morning. There is a klaxon in every room, so the sound is about the equivalent to what might rouse a coma patient. Anyway, we were back in the building in about 15 minutes. But it's a horrible thing to wake up to... not even because there could be a fire, but because the noise is just terrible... so a lot of people didn't really sleep good after that. Not fun if you have class/lab to do the next day.

When they told me that it rained a lot in Scotland, I believed them... but I don't believe this
Seriously, I thought, oh rain that's not so bad. But the rain in Scotland is of another breed entirely. There is something completely different about it. It falls in these massive drops, and I have a sneaky suspicion from the ground up rather than the sky down. Anyway, I walked out of the James Weir building last night into the gale and was soaked from the knees down in less than 10 steps. It was ridiculous. I've given up on umbrellas entirely. They just turn inside out and take up space. I'm all about hats and hoods now - much more effective. It is going to be interesting for our crime scene exercise in December. It is an all weather affair, so my game plan is rain suit and lots of sweaters.

My bathroom is literally too small to swing a cat in
Which I only mention because I now know that the smallest room you can swing a cat in is 2.5 m x 2.5 m. That is according to Brainiac... which is kind of like MythBusters only far less structured and with... well... less of a point. But it still gives me my useless science fix.

05 November 2006

New Lanark

I was a little bummed out for a bit there, because I thought that with the hectic pace of my course, and winter setting in, that my travelling days were over until spring. Not so, however! My lab schedule has spaced out considerably, and this weekend turned out to be the perfect weekend to get out of Glasgow.

Lesley, my partner in crime, and I went on a trip to New Lanark with a group called "Friends International". They are a Christian group which plans tours and events for all the international students in Glasgow. Alot of the trips are day trips, and they are usually under £10. They are relatively unstructured, so you get to poke around yourself without having to see everything with a big gaggle of people. We also, by coincidence, met up with a couple of other students from our programme as well, so it was nice to hang out with some M.Sc. Forensic Science students outside of school.

New Lanark is a small village on the River Clyde that was founded in 1786, and built around a cotton mill. Robert Owen, a co-owner of the mill believed in social reform and philanthropy, and was unsatisfied with the living and working conditions of the workers. In response to this he built the worlds first nursery school, and made sure that the millworkers had access to education and medical care. Owen's business partners began to feel he was wasting money on these efforts, and in response Owen bought them out. He was able to run the mill profitably while caring for his workers, and the village became the epitome of utopian socialism. At the time the village housed around 2,500 people.

It was still very very basic living. Up until the early 20th century a family only got a single room to live in. When electricity became available in 1898 there was only enough to power a single, dim bulb - and this was switched off at 10pm. Indoor plumbing was only installed in the 1930's. After changing hands several times, the mills finally closed in 1968. People started to move away and some of the buildings were demolished. In the 1970's a restoration project began and now the village is a thriving tourist attraction. Around 200 people live there now in rented and private properties.

New Lanark is a very beautiful place, right in the middle of a conservation area (click on the picture up to to get a bigger look). The landscape looks an awful lot like Central Ontario, with cedar trees mixed in with fir trees and deciduous trees. There are a set of rapids upriver from the village which powers the mills, which is where we spent most of our time. Lots of fresh air, which was a needed change from the pollution of the city. The Visitor's Centre is in a building that was once called "The Institute for the Formation of Character."

From there you walk along a link to Mill 3, where they have set up a ride called the Millennium Experience. This was a sort of kitschy time travel themed tour through the principle behind New Lanark - but it was still really fun. You got into this pod thing with a track over your head and were toured through an audio-visual presentation involving everything from mirrors and video screens, to mannequins with moving faces projected onto them. After the ride you walk down catwalks gradually making it through the exhibits down to the bottom of Mill 3 where there is a gift shop and coffee shop.

Now, I wasn't planning on buying anything in New Lanark, but I wound up getting a very cool souvenir. New Lanark still makes wool in roughly the same way it has since it was founded. They sell rather large packages of it for £10, which is a pretty good deal for wool in general. One of the colours they had looks much like the colours in the picture above. So my goal, after I complete the afghan I am working on now, is to crochet something using wool from New Lanark - which actually has the colours of New Lanark at the time I visited!

After touring around New Lanark we got back in the vans and went to a church in Strathaven (pron. "stray-ven") for supper. Tonight is Guy Fawkes night, and all weekend people are celebrating with bonfires and fireworks. Straven had a MASSIVE bonfire (the size of which would be considered a major safety issue in North America) and some pretty impressive fireworks.

Tonight there are fireworks at Glasgow Green, which I think the entire building will be going down to see. It should be really fun!

Anyway, I am going to update my flickr account straight away with pictures of my day out yesterday, pop on over and have a look!