Sunday, January 29, 2006

Happy Chinese New Year!!

Kung Hey Fat Choi!!

We wish our Chinese friends a Happy New Year. May God bring you much joy and peace and many blessings.

We were on our to get groceries after church when we heard some bagpipers and we also noticed a Chinese dragon in front of the theater. So we stopped to watch. They didn't appear to have a regular programme, just a dragon dancing to Auld Lang Syne played by Scottish bagpipers. Something you would typically find in China, ya? :)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Congratulations, Tom and Amanda!

After years of playing the waiting game with adoption agencies, they were finally notified that they would be the proud parents of a new baby. They met with the mother before she gave birth, they were there for the birth, they even named the baby. After months of visiting the foster home Baby "C" was placed in, waiting for the biological father to sign over his rights, something happened that turned their world upside down. The mother took the baby back out of foster care. This was just before Christmas. They lost their baby.

No, the story does not end there. God had a plan.

Just this week the father signed his rights over and the mother reconsidered and signed her rights over again.

As I am writing this they are probably filled with excitement as they are on their way to pick up their baby.

Wait, it doesn't end there. God had something else in store...

The day after they got the call about the mother and father signing over their rights, they got a call from another adoption agency saying they had a baby girl for them! As an adoption can be a costly thing, and of course there are other factors involved in adopting 2 children at once, they wondered if they could do it. They had one hour to decide. Well, they figured it must be all in God's plan and called the adoption agency back to say 'yes.'

What an amazing story! Congratulations, guys.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Chicago Style Deep-Dish Pizza!

I had a friend over last night and decided it would be fun to allow her to experience a little bit of Chicago. I had never made a deep-dish pizza before, so it was going against my rules to experiment on friends. I did some research and found some recipes. I never knew that they used cornmeal in the crust! I also never knew that corn meal would be rather tricky to find here.

So, I went at it. Of course, like always, I didn't plan very well and we ended up eating really late. Our cooker takes about twice as long to cook anything and for anyone that has been to Giordano's or the like, you know it takes them 50 minutes to cook the pizza. Well, when Sam walked in and saw the uncooked pizza she said, "Wow! Is that the pizza?" And throughout the course of the evening she kept saying, "Wow! This is fab!" It's so funny because after living in Chicago, deep-dish is the only way to go. Sam laughed at me as I took my first bite, sighed deeply, and said, "It's been so long!"

Sam also brought over some ginger beer, which is like ginger ale as I remember it, but a bit more gingery. It is so much fun to exchange a wee bit of our culture with friends.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Stirling Castle

Ta Dah!

The long awaited trip to Stirling. I told some of you that I gave Josh a trip to Stirling for Christmas. Well, he cashed in on his gift last weekend and we took the train out.

Stirling Castle is much like Edinburgh Castle in that it is on a high volcanic rock. It also has a rich history. Many kings had been crowned in Stirling Castle. This is where James VI (son of Mary Queen of Scots) lived during her reign. You can find more history here:

We also went out to eat! A very welcomed treat for us. We found a cozy lodgy sort of restaurant called Papa Joes and had great paninis for lunch.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Spring Semester


I started my second semester classes last week. It will be a little busier than last time, but I'm doing what I love, so I'm sure it will go by quickly. I'll be reading and discussing works from Ignatius, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius, Athenasius, Egeria, Gregory of Nazianzus, John Chrysostom and others in my Early Christian Writers course. This one has been a real delight so far.
In the second half of my core course, we'll be working our way through the Augsburg and Second Helvetic Confessions, Council of Trent and Vatican II, as well as the topics of biblical criticism, industrialisation, science, ecumenism, and BEM; considering the contexts in which they were formulated and how they interacted with and helped shape theology over the centuries.
Also for this semester, I figured I should learn a little about Scotland while I'm here, so I have a course that looks at the position of the church in late medieval Scotland (1400-1550). I've already had to do a fair amount of background reading just to be able to be a part of the discussion. I think I'll pick up a lot of good research techniques from this course. We'll be taking some field trips to some of the local museums and art galleries to familiarise ourselves with the period.
All of my classes have closed circuit blogs that we post on prior to class to try and get discussion going before we arrive. We take turns posting on a topic and then everyone else in the class adds their thoughts or criticisms. It seems to work very well. I also like how in the middle of our 2 hour class, we all break for tea and biscuits (cookies) and chat for ten minutes. It really helps make it a congenial and relaxed atmosphere.
So this is life as a student again. I think it is a little easier this time around getting 8 hours of sleep every night and having a wife who makes sure I eat right. De has been a big support and a wonderful sounding board for my wacky ideas.
I hope I haven't bored you, but just wanted to give you a little idea what this semester is going to look like. Thanks, everyone, for the occasional packages, emails, and cards--we appreciate it!


Edinburgh Castle

Josh and I used some Christmas money that was given to us to buy a Historic Scotland pass today. It will grant us free entry to all Historic Scotland sites for one year. We went to the castle to purchase the pass with no intention of entering the castle. The lady gave us passes anyway, so while Josh had to leave to study, I did a little exploring! This was just a brief visit, so we will have more pictures when we actually take a day to visit. As always, more pics on the flickr site...

Midnight Alarm

We were jerked out of our sleep last night by some ungodly noise. I jolted up in bed to find Josh already up and rummaging around. I said, "What in the world is that?!" I looked at the clock which said 12:something, but it could have been nine or noon for all I knew. Nothing was clicking. Josh said I think it's an alarm. I lay back down as I thought he was going to check it out, but I realized he was getting ready to go outside, and I should go, too. The noise kept on so we found some warm clothes incase we had to stand outside for an hour.

I was suprised and how slowly everyone was heading down the stairs, but some of them were just waking up like us. I was also suprised how casually everyone was standing around on the building steps and in the courtyard. We had to push our way out. The fire brigade appeared and wasn't sure which building to enter. Our security guy took them into our building.

It still did not click that it was only midnight and some of these kids had not gone to bed yet. I walked out to see some girls with their hair done up and though, "What, did they do their hair for this?" Then we spotted some of Josh's classmates who said they were just returning from a midnight chippie run. It was then that I realized, we are old!

It must have just been smoke from someone's burnt cooking or something. A few minutes after the fire brigade entered the building they came out and allowed us back in. It was such a jolt out of sleep that it was hard to get back to sleep and it made Josh and I feel rather sick.

Ah! Dorm living...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Chinese New Year Ball

Just something I found funny. University of Edinburgh is having a student festival, showcasing a bunch of student groups while providing services for the students (dance classes, film and debates, etc.). One thing I found humerous was the description for an event put on by the Asian Friends Society for Chinese New Year: "The evening features a 3-course chinese dinner, ceilidh*, kung fu and much more!" If you don't get it, you can e-mail me. :)

*Ceilidh, pronounced 'kay-lee' is a traditional Irish or Scottish gathering where there is music and dancing (much like square dancing or country dance).

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

How Things are Different, cont.

I think this should be my last installment of my "Differences" series. :) They are sort of random, so I will just get through them quickly. I apologize if I repeat anything I already said. I just don't feel like going back to look at my other posts. Lazy me...

A band-aid is called a 'plaster'. Took me a while to figure that one out ('And WHY do you want me to put a plaster on my finger?')
Dessert is 'pudding,' but they don't really know what pudding is as we know it.
Eggs are left out of the fridge.
TV tax. I can't remember exactly, but it costs roughly $300/year/TV.
Grocery delivery. YEAH!!!
Universal health care.
A dumpster is a skip. So I guess rather than 'dumpster diving' one would go 'skip skipping'?
The windows don't have screens.
Write the date backwards. So today is 18/01/06 or 18 January.
A daily planner is a diary.
The cashiers at the grocery store get to sit.
Suspenders are braces.
Workout pants are joggies.
Tennis shoes are trainers.
The burner on the stove is a hob or gasser (even if it is electric).
Maybe texting has become more popular in the States, but anyone with a mobile phone does much of their communication through texting.
Boxing Day is a bigger holiday than Christmas Eve.
Most enjoy a big meal with family on New Year's Day. Everything is closed and going out for brunch is rather foreign.
There is only one store I can find Monteray Jack cheese, and it specializes in Mexican and American foods.

I have a friend who is getting married soon. Maybe I will have a list for different British wedding customs to come!

I meant to tell you, when you look at our pictures on the flickr site, you can leave comments for each pictures. Just click the comments button. It could help me in deciding if I should make cards out of any of them, though lots of the pictures are just for fun...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Arthur's Seat Again

We had another trip up to Arthur's Seat yesterday. Josh was excited because he just got his binoculars which he has dearly missed every time we go somewhere scenic. We were fortunate enough to have good weather for our hike, though it did look like some storm cloud were coming in! Don't forget to look at our photos link for more pictures.

Friday, January 13, 2006

How Rude!

Amidst all of the wonderful customers we get at Starbucks, there are always bound to be a couple of rotten ones. Just one such customer came in today.

A little bit of background information first. First off, the Starbucks I work in is in a pretty wealthy neighborhood. It is not uncommon that we see a Rolls Royce or Porche parked outside while the owner runs in for their daily fix. Secondly, Starbucks (as many other cafes here) charges a slightly higher price to eat in. It is for VAT tax. Like for a muffin, it is 15p more to eat in as opposed to taking away.

Ok, so this lady comes in. She is looking at the pastry case, fidgeting through her coin purse, and huffing and puffing. She finally come up and says that she will have a fruity bagel bar. I ask if she will be sitting in or taking away. She says, "Well, I can't afford to sit in with THESE prices! This is really ridiculous!" I smile and say, "Well, you can phone Starbucks about that if you like." She goes on and on and finally says, "Well, it cuts into YOUR tips by charging so much!" I am standing there with my mouth open and my manager comes over and says in his booming, thick Glaswegian accent, "Thus us qualutay!" I agree that Starbucks is expensive, and it is twice as much here as it is in the States, but whoever takes out their frustrations with prices on the server is a fool! Really! And I don't think I am being to harsh. Here I am working a job below my means and qualifications, serving you with a smile and an enthusiastic, "hiya!" You do not even acknowledge my greeting, then you accuse me of personally charging you too much for a fruity bagel bar, which I would have to work about 20 minutes to pay for, and you, maybe 20 seconds. I continue to smile and make light of things while you proceed to tell me you will not be leaving ME a tip because I charge too much. And with a stunned smile on my face I say, "Bye, now."

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Gold Coast: A Little Taste of Home

I was so excited yesterday when my manager asked if there was a certain kind of coffee I wanted for my partner markout. 'Do we have anymore Gold Coast?' I quickly asked. 'No' she said, then, 'Oh, wait. Yes, we do.' Yeah! I made it today and was in heaven! Yes, this is coffee Chicago style. I also realized the Brits habit of putting milk in their coffee was not cutting it. I started putting double cream in it and noticed a dramatic difference.

Some drinks I miss that our Starbucks doesn't carry:
Raspberry Mocha
Valencia Mocha
Malt Mocha Frappaccino
Pumpkin Spice Latte
Iced Chai Latte

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Scarves Galore!

I have been getting so much wonderful yarn from mom to keep me busy. Hmmm...maybe e-bay would come in handy now.

Look What We Got!


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A New Wish List

I feel funny doing this, but I have had a few requests for things we would like.

Just a reminder. If you can manage to fit it in an envelope it should be cheaper than sending a box. We can wait the 4-6 weeks if you want to send it by boat. :) If you want to air mail it, don't bother with Global Priority. Mark it as a gift and don't mark the value over $30 or we could get charge VAT.

Jelly Bellies (esp sour)
pudding mix
Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce (not sure how well that will actually mail)
zip lock bags (I still have some from home which I am savoring)
taco seasoning
Quaker granola bars
instant oatmeal (I can make this, so not a must)
small bottle of hand sanitizer
cherry Andies mints
chili cheese Fritos (haven't found any crisps here we like)
dried berry fruit mix (mom sent a lovely one with rasp, blue, cherry, straw)
beef jerky
cookies and mint Hershey bars

As we have been adjusting we find that some of those foods we desired in the beginning can be replaced by other foods, or we can just do without. New things come up that we realized we miss (like those flavored coffee creamers!) or mom sends something and gets us hooked (like Jelly Bellies and cherry Andies). A couple of items have stood the test of time, like the Fritos and pudding.

Of course, one thing we would love more than anything is letters. It is funny how I miss getting junk mail!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

We made our attempt to experience Hogmanay. As we approached Prince's Street the crowd was so thick we could not move forward but the crowd behind was pushing heavily against us. We decided to turn and head back up the Mound and wait to enjoy the fireworks. We saw a nice display coming from the Castle mound as well as from Calton Hill and somewhere in the west. It is now 1am and we can still hear the celebration going on.