July 30, 2011

Continued random observations, this time from Scotland:

£. Neutral Observation
+ Positive Observation
–  Negative Observation
!  Uncategorized

£ Edinburgh is a city in transition. We are seeing it in mid-stream somewhere between a relatively isolated, old-school, regional, working capital, and an international destination for art, culture and history. There’s a sense of excitement and anticipation in the air. They seem to be managing the transition with a high degree of aplomb.

+ The Scottish seem to be capable of truly adult behavior. By way of example: yesterday we climbed one of the crags in Holyrood Park called Arthur’s Seat, a 750 foot high cliff overlooking the city. No litter (not a scrap) No graffiti (not a swatch) No signs, no warnings, no railings, no stairs, no security, no sponsors, no charge. You simply walk from the steps of the Scottish Parliment building, across a street and into the largest public park in Europe (a full square mile)

An enormous jutting piece of rock like this in America could exist only in one of the three conditions:

1.  Sponsored by Viagra or Cialas.
2. Fenced, roped, gated and supervised by park police.
3. A private park, owned by the ungrateful bastard who was awarded it in a lawsuit after he fell off the top in a drunken stupor. Now costing 10 bucks just to get in, and featuring a monster truck themed escalator ride to the snack bar at the top.

– There is almost no consideration of the handicapped in public places. Honestly, I considered categorizing this as neutral or even positive, but I can’t bring myself to do it. All I can say is: there are many more options available to the non-handicapped, when the handicapped are not accommodated. You guys categorize it.

£ Have not seen a single scooter being ridden by a morbidly obese person. Between London, Liverpool, Glasgow, Inverary, Inverness, and Edinburgh I have seen exactly ONE morbidly obese person, and perhaps one handful of noticeably overweight people.

– Smoking. Thera a lot of it. (Maybe this accounts for the lack of overweight people.)

£ Babies. Not nearly as many as The States.

£ Local people do the jobs that only immigrants seem willing to do in America.

+ Rather than developing OUTWARD and creating sprawl, planners seem to  focus development inside already established boundaries.

+ Towel warmers.

+ 1 pound and 2 pound coins rather than bills.

– Everything . . . I mean EVERYTHING in the grocery store is wrapped, boxed or bagged for individual portions.

–  Reminded that local people do the “menial”work because immigrants are not allowed into the country for work.

+ America is still the land of opportunity and we can still be proud that we allow people from all over the world to enter and give it a shot.

+ Saw a DaVinci, a Raphael, a Cezain, and countless other great works . . . again for free, just walking in off the street like a schmuck. Thanks for that, U.K.

! Found the homeless. All 4 of them; sleeping in a tomb in St. Cuthbert’s Church cemetery. (uncategorized because FINDING homeless people is not positive, but calling it negative seems out of place, and I can’t be neutral about it.)

– Really tempted to get a kilt in proper Campbell Tartan. But to do it properly means almost 400 bucks for the kilt itself, plus to wear one properly (with respect for the tradition) requires another 400 bucks worth of sporan, shirt, stockings, belt and kilt pin. Think of it like a tuxedo (you can actually rent a whole formal kilt get up in a lot of places). You can also get a “joke” get up for £100, but that’s like one of the tuxedos from “Dumb and Dumber”

£ They don’t take reliable wireless Internet access as seriously as we do in the States. It can be very spotty and quite expensive in places.

+ I think I mentioned this before . . . But I really like the fact that most products and services are NOT available 24 hours /day, 7 days / week. Things stop, or at least slow down and you have to say to yourself, ” I guess I can’t have whatever I want, whenever I want it.” It’s good to know that this is true.

5 thoughts on “July 30, 2011

  1. I’m bemused by your observations. I wonder if you are in the same country that I know and love… But then I remember you’re in tourist town and perhaps grocery stores really do individualise all the packaging. As for the smoking, Scottish law changed first in the UK and has driven smokers onto the streets from the various bars, cafes, restaurants etc. So now you see them gathered outside the front doors which makes the amount of smoking more obvious – more ‘in-your-face’.

    And Diane is right, if you are content with a second-hand item then that is by far the most economical way of making a purchase.


      1. But one thing I’ve learned from your travels… When travelling outside my own culture, never criticise a man’s plumbing…


  2. You can take the #5 bus over the hill and down and find second hand kilts that do just as well and are much less dear! (Or so the lady in the Army and Navy told me!) 🙂 A true scottish moment!

    It would be a harsh judgement that the Scots allow no immigration – remember Inverness! But, they have typically been hard done to for work, and so to ensure that as many as possible have jobs at all is a good thing – and they protect that. A hard working people, and none of the false pride that dictates that some jobs are beneath them says something, don’t you think? The s*** needs shovelling, and we all make it, so….. Having been oppressed by the English for many years, and hence given the jo jobs, perhaps the Scots are resisting the temptation to become the oppressor in handing off those positions to others?

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