Wednesday, 8 December 2010

6 Things In The USA That Confuse Me

I'm a foreigner in these parts, and as a result I was brought up with a different mentality and way of looking at the world therefore I have a few things I am still trying to understand. This is a my list in no particular order:

  • I don't quite get how some of the followers of the same political party that is most against the destruction of a life before it is born can also be the same people that are most enthusastic for the death penalty and the right to have a gun.
  • Health Insurance. My brain struggles with what mobile phone and cell contract would be good for me but trying to work out what sort of coverage my wife should have left me with a headache. The US will never have a health system that is completely covered by the tax dollar, far too many profits and jobs in the health insurance industry for that, but that's a shame the average American would be financially better off. I would also have one less thing on my list.
  • What's so good about Scotland anyway? I love Scotland as much as the next Scot, but I was born there and have that connection. Why do so many Americans claim to be Scottish? If I believed every American who claimed to have ancestors from 'Scatland' I'd have to believe that a tiny little country with a population of 5 million exported close to 15 million to the States. Or we had a Genghis Khan like character who was very, very busy. Its not that I don't believe some of the claims but then there are others who seem so distant thats its been long diluted with other nationalities that might have a better claim. If I went back far enough I could claim to be African but looking at me I don't think you'd believe me. Its not like we are that special anyway, generally we are not that good looking, we are short (my wife might say short tempered) and personally I have a flat ass and so I don't even look good in a kilt.
  • I don't understand why the fear of some its citizens can lead a country which has made such an undoubted success from immigration lead the USA to having such a negative reaction to immigration. Unfortunately the USA's success will for a long time make it an attractive place to emigrate to for the world's poor but emigration itself itsn't a bad thing people have been moving since man first crawled out of the forests of Africa. It certainly hasn't been bad for the economy of the USA. I'm no immigration expert therefore I don't know whats a good and bad number of immigrants but I do know that making it hard for immigrants to become citizens isn't stopping people from coming here. It's an expensive and long drawn out business if you want to become a resident here but people are still coming here, maybe they want a piece of the American dream or maybe its better to be an illegal here than it is citizen of their own country. Whatever the reason the restrictions aren't working. Surely then it would be better to make citizens and not criminals from them. If it was easier once they got here to become an active participating citizen or resident, instead of being a criminal as soon as they put a foot on American soil, they could contribute to the prosperity of the country that they want to call home instead of a being a drain on its resources. If the 20 million or so illegals in the country could legally start a job or a business and pay taxes they could better help put the American economy right and make it grow, just like those who came before them. 
  • Finally I am confused about how some Americans define their rights. I think one of the best things about the USA is its constitution. The freedoms and protection represented by the Bill of Rights is a fundamental part of being an American and I wish every person in the world had something similar. Sometimes though I will look over at my wife's facebook page and see people arguing against some federal lawsuit on the news and its like some of those people who have those rights as an American citizen do not understand what it means. A lot of the time the argument seems to be that if 'these people get the same rights as me I will be surrendering some of my rights.' I don't understand the logic. You can not lose any rights as a citizen in this country if someone else is fighting in the courts to have the same rights, you still retain all the rights you had previously all you can surrender is the right to say I'm better than you, which I thought in this country was unconstitutional.
  • Oh one more thing I forgot, the World Series? Why not invite the world to play? Say what you like about FIFA awarding the World Cup to Qatar but at least the world gets an invitation to participate.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Best Laid Schemes

She was tossing. She was turning. She had read. She had put up with me finishing watching the basketball in bed. The noisy distraction had done nothing for her piece of mind. She was too hot to sleep. She was worried about the day to come. Stressing about the patients. Stressing about how much work she might have to do alone due to the snow. Then one of the kids had a nightmare. So much on her mind, so much to worry about, she would never get any sleep on this night if things progressed like this.

I had the answer. I knew that on such nights as these only one thing would set her at ease. I jokingly said I had her pacifier. She laughed dismissively. I warmed her up to the notion with my roaming hand. I could feel her relaxing. Sometimes I know her better than she knows herself. She was forgetting those earlier worries. I got on top. The only way to end the tossing and turning tonight was for her to orgasm. And she was getting close. And then, I did. First! Not a complete disaster, we could wait  a few minutes and try again. But then I felt my nose, it was wet, I was having a nose bleed.

I think we can call that one a big fat FAIL!!!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

What Are You Looking At!?!

I love her face 
Everything about her seems so worthwhile
I love her hair
I love her nose
I love the cute little dot on the end of that nose

In a State where women are getting themselves fake noses and fake tits I'm surprised that no one is getting themselves one of those
I love her full lips
I love her smile
I love the way she can be so shy and aware of my stare

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

For The Love Of....

Its funny how life turns out, had I not met the wife I probably wouldn't be sitting here today listening to Julieta Venegas. I always had a wide ranging taste in music long before I met her but despite having music from as far a field as Sierra Leone and Japan I had not been introduced to the music of the Mexican songstress until somechileanwoman showed me what I was missing out on. Now Julieta is one of my favourite artists, despite my piss poor knowledge of Spanish.

I, of course, introduced the wife to a new world in return. She loves movies so I made sure we got a copy of Dear Frankie, quite possibly my favourite Scottish film, and despite her 90's R&B upbringing she likes indie music so I slowly introduced her to all sorts of music that I thought she wouldn't have heard of but would enjoy including Aberfeldy's Love Is An Arrow.

Its in the world of books though that she has taken to more than anything. She probably reads more Scottish books than I do now. When I gave her a copy of Buddha Da I expected she might struggle with the Glaswegian dialect, apparently I got it wrong. She is now onto her 3rd and final Anne Donovan book all written in the very same dialect and she accusingly asks 'why don't you speak like that'.

For the love of God, if I spoke like that I'd have to repeat everything I said 4 times, instead of 3.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Not For The Weak Of Heart

Unable to watch the fitba or the rugby of back home I have been forced to take up new sport viewing habits. We tried to take in a Major League Soccer game a couple of months back by going to the home of Real Salt Lake. Throughout the game we were not impressed by the standard of play, its clear that Real are nothing like their Madrid namesake, but lets be fair we didn't expect that they would be.

For our first MLS game we could probably have chosen a better game to attend than the boring game against Colorado not helped by the tactics of the teams playing. The game only livened up in the final 10 - 15 minutes when it looked likely that Real were going to lose at home for the first time of the season. Finally the players found some urgency and seemed interested in playing directly towards the opposition goal.

Then came an incident in the box. The whistle goes. Its a penalty! The home fans are ecstatic. Right on the stroke of full time Real can score and keep their home record intact for another game. But no wait its not. It must be a corner! No. That can only leave a goal kick then. But no, the referee pulls back the players. The fans are confused. The players are confused. And so is the referee! He chickens out of making a decision and throws the ball up in the air and tells the players to work it out.

I've seen that happen in basketball, its part of the game. But in all the 27 years I have played and watched football I have never seen a referee do that. I was livid. That decision or lack of decision by the referee makes the current Scottish refereeing controversy look lame by comparison. It spoiled the game for me completely, the fact that Real got angry and went on to score a goal in injury time didn't improve my mood or opinion of Major League Soccer any.

We've tried going to the baseball, its the national game after all but the best thing about it seems to be the hotdogs and the end of the month fireworks display. Even the fans who go regularly don't seem to pay much attention to the game, they mostly seem to chill, hang out, talk with old friends and eat and drink.

I've tried watching football of the American variety, but even during the Superbowl my stamina levels have waned by the 3rd quarter. Too many breaks and my attention goes else where.

For me its in the NBA where the excitement is found. Over the past couple of seasons I've taken an interest in the Utah Jazz.

I wasn't holding out much hope for this season when they let two of their better players leave in the summer, and seemed to have no interest in spending money improving the squad when other franchises were showing just that level of ambition. Then preseason started and I was preparing to eat my words. 8 preseason games and 8 victories, including one against the LA Lakers which traditionally seem to have the help of a voodoo doll when it comes to playing against the Jazz. It was starting to look good.

Then the season started proper, with 2 losses from 2 games played. Ouch. But then they steadied the nerves with a couple of victories. Then promptly lost again. The jazz seemed to have no rhythm or fluency to their game, with one home game to go before four road games in five days things were not looking good for the season, and it was early yet, if the Jazz couldn't find some rhythm before they flew to the east coast the season might well be a write off before it had even begun.

The home game against the LA Clippers if played last season would probably have held no fears for the fans but this was a new Jazz side seemingly struggling for confidence. The Clippers took full advantage of this, getting ahead by as many as 18. Then the Jazz found some spirit and tied the game at the buzzer. Then Double Overtime resulted in a victory. It should have been an easy bankable win but I was left scratching my head trying to work out whether it was lucky or well deserved. In the end I was just relieved, The rest of the week was not looking good.

Miami was the next game on the agenda on Tuesday. Miami unlike the Jazz spent big in the Summer recruiting the likes of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. And again Utah seemed to struggle getting baskets. Miami turned up the heat and built up a lead of 22 points in this one. But then it happened again. The Jazz found their rhythm, baskets were being made where earlier in the game they had been missed and it wasn't the big three from Miami that was destined to make the headlines in this game but Paul Millsap of the Jazz with a career high of 46 points including 3 threes in the last 30 seconds on the way to another astonishing nerve wracking comeback.

Utah couldn't enjoy that game for long as Orlando was waiting for them the very next night. Miami might have been the big spenders of the summer and they might have been having a good start to the season before the Jazz came to visit but Orlando had started the season with an even more impressive record.

The previous night's exploits seemed to take their toll on Utah, Orlando quickly built up a lead and the Jazz seemed powerless to stop it. They were down 18 points this time but then they came back again, to win by 10.

The Jazz became the first team in the shot-clock era to win three straight games in which they trailed by at least 10 points at halftime.

Two days later they had to fly to Atlanta. And this time they had a comparatively mild 11 point deficit to overcome.  It was starting to look like it was a tactic to give the opposition a false sense of security before hitting them when they sleeping when they went on to win this one too.

Three unlikely victories on the road but at least the following game the next night would be easier. The Charlotte Bobcats weren't having as a good a start to the season as the previous three teams. But for the Jazz this was the fourth trip on the road in five days and the Bobcats took full advantage by building up a lead of 19 points in the 1st quarter. Yet again the Jazz had a fight on their hands if they were to get the win. And win they did, by 1 point with 0.8 of a second on the clock.

Is it any wonder I'm a basketball convert? But I'm starting to wonder if this isn't a young mans sport. There are still 70 odd games of the season to go and I'm aging by the day.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Living Is A Problem ...... Because They Are Already Playing Christmas Songs On The Radio

There is a still a major holiday to go here (Thanksgiving) and they are already jumping the gun.

Bah! Humbug!

Its not the only thing that's messed up.

Lately the weather in these here parts has been getting its freak on. Last week I'd wake up to a cold early November morning only to find that by 3 in the afternoon it would be getting close to a balmy 22 degrees Celcius. Back in the home country I'd be lucky to see that in the middle of August.

Its been quite frankly a weird fall. Even though the leaves fell from the trees a couple of weeks back in the canyon where we live, in the city, a few minutes up the road, they have been hanging on like there has been no hurry to hibernate. Its been nice to see those autumnal colours stretch on but at the same time its been a pain in the derriere to cut those old fruit trees back when the leaves are still on the branches. I had been contemplating putting that kind of work off for a couple of weeks but living in Utah I wasn't sure that was wise, sure enough yesterday, just two days after the mercury hit 22, it snowed. It could have waited until we went to Vegas in a week a half's time!

Ah well I suppose its given me the time to finally figure out how Jango works. No Christmas music until December 20th, thank you!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

My Apple Dilemma

On Sunday we finally had some a few hours to ourselves, time that wasn't taken up by work, peoples parties, or sabotaged by cars that that like to play broke too damn much. It gave us enough enough to go on a shooting spree (photography shooting that is, I'm not that American yet).

I'm eager to have a look at the results of a day well spent but if I was to load the images from the card to the computer I'd fill up this Apple to the point that that it would refuse to do anything useful anytime soon. It's finally time I got around to buying something new. And so with that in mind its not worth me loading the images on to this computer when in around a week i'll be swapping all the images onto something new. Why give myself even more work to do? So I guess I'll just have to be patient and wait until I buy that new computer.

I'd love to buy another Mac but the Scottish in me refuses. On the one hand I love how Macs operate I've never had a single virus issue with a Mac whereas I have with windows based machines, I also love how they look, I think Apple products look beautiful, but those machines are damn pricey. And thats where my issues begin with Apple.

I really don't want to spend $1400 plus on a computer. I'm Scottish, its not that I'm stingy but I do like my money to stretch as far as possible. And with Apple it doesn't stretch very far. I don't like how Apple as a whole does its business. It seems they have a policy to take every penny they can from their customer. Its not just in the world of computers either where they build stylish but expensive machines that are twice of the price of their pc competition its in other areas too.

I've long been tempted to get an iphone since I first saw someone demonstrate to me how they were learning Japanese on it. I was smitten. I've always wanted to go to Japan and here was a seemly simple way to learn the language. But I had to stop and remind myself with the reality check that Japan is a notoriously expensive country to go to and live in, there's no way I could afford to go there anytime soon if I was paying $199 for the phone and $99+ a month for the service line. Now you could blame A&T for the service line, or you could blame Apple for keeping the price artificially high by only sharing their products to one phone company per sales region. Whatever or whoever is at fault it seems to me to be yet another demonstration of how Apple does not look after the best interests of their customers.

The product that Apple really should have had me hooked from the beginning is the ipod. I am a huge music lover I have tens of thousands of mp3 files, literally gigabyte after gigabyte of music stored on my hard drive. I get bored with cds very quickly so when the larger ipods started to get produced I was excited, I wanted one. Then I realised that Apple weren't satisfied with just selling the ipods themselves they wanted to make money from the selling of the mp3's from itunes too. Well that was me out. At that point I had a tonne of music and very few of which was downloaded with the help of itunes. I really didn't fancy having to start my collection again nor did I want to go to the trouble of hacking into a brand new ipod and breaking its code so that I could play what I already had.

It seems to me that Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, has a a very old American West attitude to business. He spots his customer approaching from a far and can smell the notes in the wallet and he wants it all, but he once he has emptied that wallet he wants them to keep paying him afterwards too, until there is nothing left to give.

Whether its through itunes or apps there seems to be endless ways for Apple to continue to get your money once they have sold you the machine that you just couldn't do without. Most people don't have an issue with this I admit, I certainly seem to be making a mountain out of a molehill when there are a lot of happy Apple customers out there but it does leave me looking in at the Apple showroom window with drool dripping from my chin at all the shiny magical looking products that I know in my heart I would love to get my hands on but my head says a big fat loud "nawwwww."

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Craigslist We Love You

Looking back on how this year, and then even further back, has developed it's fair to say that without the invention of Craigslist the lives of Scotsman and Some Chilean Woman would have gone on quite different paths.

For us it all started over two years ago. Back then I was looking online for some cheap second hand camera lenses, trying in vain to get something for my Sigma, in desperation I tried looking on Craigslist for the first time. Craigslist you have to understand isn't really big news in the home country but I tried anyway. Unsurprisingly though as the camera I have is in very few hands I looked in vain. However before I logged off that day I looked at the personals out of curiosity, and there little did I know I found Some Chilean Woman who was looking for a guide for a holiday that she was planning. Rather than ignore her I instead gave her crap for the wordage of her advert suggesting to her that she may want to reword it if she wanted to get the right type of response. I didn't expect to hear back from her after that but rather than ignore me she seemed to like the asshole like response. A few months later instead of her going to Scotland, I instead made my way to Utah. Less than six months after that , I returned to Utah permanently. 3 short months after that I found myself getting married and all thanks to a chance encounter on Craigslist.

Before then I was skeptical of anyone finding love on the internet but having been converted first hand I started to wonder what else I could use Craigslist for. I soon found out that it had more than one use. My first job on US soil was found on Craigslist. Sadly it didn't last that long.

Earlier this year I started to place adverts for landscaping services, skeptical of its possible effectiveness.

The last time I started a business was back in 1998 and the internet was not as widely used. Then I mostly got my clients from flyers I delivered locally, people I knew and from word of mouth. In 11 years of working for myself I had never once got any work from the internet. In truth though I had never tried. This time around though we had little spare money for flyers, nor did I know enough people here in Salt Lake City in order to get my first few customers. Desperate times though called for desperate measures, I blindly put out my first adverts on Craigslist more in hope than anything else. In all honesty I was surprised to get my first response. But gradually bit by bit I got more and more customers from the adverts I was placing.

This allowed us slowly to transform our lives. No longer did Some Chilean Woman have to do all the working on her own, I was at last able to make a contribution. Soon after I was able to match her dollar for dollar, and it was all thanks to Craigslist bringing in the work.

Six short months later we were able to move into a new place. We looked on Craigslist, but to no avail, this time it couldn't take the credit. Piece of crap website!

But when we did find our new place we needed some new furniture and so we found a cheap dining table and chairs that might have needed some work but were still pretty much a bargain at the advertised price. As was the $60 exercise bike last week.

Love, work, and cheap exercise I've found it all on Craigslist and its safe to say that for us life would be quite different without it.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Here's to 30 more and then some

So the car couldn't have broken at a worst time for our dreams of San Francisco, but you know what I ain't going to shed a tear. It's better it did what it did now than in the middle of the Nevada desert because you know I love the Proclaimers as much as the next Scotsman but walking 500 miles to a mechanic in that environment would make me one cranky butt. 

Let's just take all the goods from all the bads. I'm not going to worry about money, or the 'what could have been's' because birthday girl I have you lying next to me in the mornings and that makes me happy. With you there morning and night I'm happy and I don't much care for whatever else the universe may throw at us, certainly not that car that's always hated me anyway.

With you lying next to me, even when things aren't going right, I've got a good feeling. Its been just 2 years we have been together but the distance we have traveled this year alone feels like it could have been a lifetime. Today though you turn 30, we still have more than half a lifetime to write. Let's make it a story worth reading. Now put a smile on your face for freaks sake.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Headaches Are Made Of This

It's the good wife's 30th at the end of this month. So I was thinking I should organise a party.

Then I realised I'd never organised a party before.


Nevermind I set forth with my planning.

Should be fairly simply to inform everyone of date, place, etc I thought.

Then I remembered we lived in a canyon with poor cell coverage.

Shit, Again.

Then I realised that every party needs a game. Preferably something frivolous, silly and with little point.


I settled on a mass game of Subbuteo between the invited guests thinking that a knockout game would involve a few laughs but then I remembered that this party is going to consist largely of latinos and latinas, a combustible prospect at the best of times but factor in the fact that the only 2 guests who might enjoy such a game (the father and step father) don't exactly like spending time with one another and its probably not exactly going to be a great success.

This might be the only party I ever arrange.

I should probably just hope that the subbuteo gear doesn't turn up on time. Or that noone gets the invites.

Its probably just as well I wasn't in charge of our wedding.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

This Is The Life!

Its been a while, almost 5 weeks since we moved. We had been looking for a new place to rent for a few months. Without having much luck. For various reasons none of the places that we were looking at felt right.

Then for some peculiar reason I decided to look outwith our agreed ideal areas. I came across one property that just seemed to suit our lifestyle. But it was right at the upper echelons of what we wanted to pay for a rented property, and it wasn't just outwith the areas that we were previously looking at, but way out, neither me, nor the wife had much hope that we had found the place to move to. Until we got there.

The drive into Emigration Canyon, with the wooded hillsides and narrow twisting roads is seriously beautiful. When we arrived at the property I think its safe to say that we both fell in love with the place. It had everything that we wanted and more, we had been expecting to have to make some compromises here and there, but then we found everything that we wanted in the one place. In it we found a decent sized kitchen, which as we are both foodies that was important to us. A spacious living room area in which we could entertain the wife's family and friends. Ceiling fans to make those hot August Utah nights comfortable. A wood burning fire to make those long months of winter cosy. A garden to call our own, one where we can grow our own potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, peppers, etc and yet more space to entertain in. A safe place for the kids to play, no traffic to worry about unless you include the cyclists that like use the canyon as their playground.

It even came with its own bomb shelter in case Al Qaeda took a dislike to the Mormons of Utah.

A 10 minute viewing and we were ready to sign up there and then. Unfortunately there were a lot of people interested in the property and so we had a one to two week wait where we dared not dream that we could get it, and yet were were sick to the stomach in case we didn't. Fortunately, here we are 6 weeks later, living the dream.

In the summer it feels like 10 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than elsewhere in the city, and for someone who comes from my part of the world that makes a world of difference. Its so peaceful and quiet and unlike the rest of the city that its a joy to come home from work. We finally have that place that we can be proud of, I love hearing my father in law say "I freakin' love this place", he's been here 3 weekends already despite the fact it takes him over an hour to get here.

I would go outside and take a picture of the paradise that we live in but its raining. I'm telling you, its just like home!

So here's one from 15 minutes down the road, taken a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Pigeons & Rock Don't Mix

If you were reading nowriterjustanoverthinker at the tail end of last year you may remember that I made a list of positive resolutions that we had to work our way through for the year, well finally we are finding the time to do just that. We have also invested in bikes for each of us which was not part of the list.

Since then we have bought tickets to go see Bell X1 in San Francisco, which helps us to tick off two items on the list in October. Last Monday we got around to seeing our first gig of the year at the USANA ampitheatre in Salt Lake, a great venue for a hot summers night, and a great band in Kings of Leon. Thankfully they stayed the course and somechileanwoman and I had a good time. I didn't realise how lucky we were until I read the bbc news site yesterday that the Kings were forced to abandon another gig in St Louis due to pigeon poop.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Sometimes I forget....

....That I'm the foreigner. It must be the sun it does funny things to my brain.

Its funny little things that remind me I'm not in Scotland any longer.

Like when its 84 degrees outside at 9:23 in the morning and the kids are saying "I'm cold!"

I'm already cursing how hot its going to be and how much I'm going to suffer and they are putting on another layer of clothes - what the freak!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Its been so long I forgot how to write

Since the time when the snow stopped falling, work has been good. Far busier than I dared hope for. It hasn't allowed much in the way of family time, watching the world cup, or blog writing but it has allowed for family piece of mind time.

As good as that feels its feels good to have a day off from working. Scottish people probably shouldn't work in the desert we just aren't designed for it. Much like the worms in these parts that spend a couple of minutes above ground I pretty much suffer in anything above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, thankfully I can get by with the little help from diet coke (sadly there are no 750ml glass bottles of Irn Bru available here), and lots of sun tan lotion.

The worms here aren't so lucky. In sympathy I spend a lot of time reburying any worms that I accidentally dig up, back in the home country I wouldn't bother its wet enough, and cold enough, that the worms could last for hours on the surface of the soil but here they die quicker than the Robins can catch them.

Well most of the time.

One thing I have been enjoying while working outside here is the different varieties of wildlife. I would never have seen a hummingbird back home, nor dragonflies as big or watch my wife scare the crap out of some quails. Unfortunately I've never had the camera on hand to photograph the quails or the hummingbirds I have seen this summer, I am getting paid to work after all, but I have captured some of the slower moving wildlife.

Friday, 18 June 2010

It's Not So Shite Being Scottish

Scotland might not have been invited to the party (again) but at least we don't have to listen to those vuvuzela horns.

Not that I have seen many games myself (be careful what you wish for working 50 - 60 hours leaves little time for blogging or watching the fitba). Although I have managed to record every one of them on the dvr I have only had the time to watch just two games thus far.

England and the USA game was even more boring than I had predicted. Too much hype and not enough desire by either team to win. In contrast the Chilean - Honduras game was much more interesting. Chile having enough chances to score 5 or 6 goals but were as inept at putting them away as any Scottish World Cup side. Looks like I married into the right nationality.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Daddy's Gone

I initially had intended to write this post after seeing the comments by Purest Green and Jimmy Bastard in reply to my previous post however life and work got in the way and so I just didn't find the time, hopefully I can make it make as much sense now as it did in my head at the time.

Both comments come from a different perspective but in their own way are both valid.

In the United Kingdom today there is sadly a large section of the population that are economically inactive, seemingly unnecessarily so. However for many there is a historical reason behind this.

In the 70's the UK was broke and drastically in need of a new direction. At the time there were a lot of industries that employed hundreds, sometimes thousands of men in communities in Northern England, Wales and Scotland that were no longer profitable. These industries consisted of coal mining, steel manufacturing, car manufacturing, ship building, and in the case of the town that I grew up in cast iron casting. These industries had supported the livelihoods, hopes, and dreams of a large percentage of whole communites of men for decades. In a lot of cases sons, fathers, and grandfathers would all of worked in the same company. But in the 70's a lot of those industries were struggling against new competition from afar, mostly eastern Europe at the time. Those new competitors had a cheaper workforce, more modern machinery and working methods and probably more importantly Britain had exhausted its raw materials to such an extent that anything that was left was that bit more expensive to reach. Sadly the decision was reached at this time that Britain could no longer afford to support these dying industries and so huge numbers of working proud men lost their jobs.

Communities had the heart ripped out of them when very few of those men could find a new job right away. Men who were used to working 5 - 6 days a week to put food on the table would have to stay at home on unemployment benefit while they waited and retrained for a new place in the modern slowly changing Britain. At the same time they'd have to watch as their wife, who maybe previously stayed at home watching the kids or had a part time job would now do two jobs to put the food on the table.

Most of these men would slowly find a new role in the Britain of the 80s but not before a generation of kids saw their dad being unemployed through no fault of his own. I suspect some of those kids today don't work not because they can't, but because they won't. There is a generation of young people today who won't work if its not advantageous enough for them to do so. However you only have to look at the number of Polish people that have found jobs in the UK today to see there could have been enough work for any British person who wanted one.

My own father is one them. He did not work in the redundant iron casting foundary making red phone boxes and railings, he was lucky enough to work in a stock broking office. He wasn't one of the brokers but when the brokers had a good year he got a share of the bonuses. He easily made twice what my mother made, but without my mother nagging him to go into work in the morning he would have been happy to stay at home. Despite his income it was usually my mothers wage which paid the mortgage, the bills and got the food in the cupboards. All too often his wages would disappear on the bet of a horse or a midweek drinking spree. As the song goes, all I wanted from my father 'was a kick aboot in the park', instead what I got was the sight of him with a beer in his hand watching Des Lynam talking about the football scores on Grandstand.

When my mother finally had enough of his fondness for a drink and the struggles of bailing out his gambling habits he lost his job within a week of her moving out. I was approaching 13 when he lost his job, I'm 20 years older now and in that time he's not made any real attempt to get himself another.

He's not one of those proud working men who found himself in the wrong industry at the wrong time he has just been supported by a system that is supposed to prop up those who are between jobs. I see no reason why he should have been supported all of this time because as far as I am concerned too much of a fondness for a drink or a gamble should not be a valid excuse for sickness capacity benefit or whatever it is that has allowed him not to work all this time.

Sadly it would be untrue to say that all of those who find themselves not working today are unable to do so there is a generation of kids who can work but won't work who are claiming benefits and are becoming fathers themselves, unchecked this could continue to perpertrate further  for another generation.

Whatever the reason for unemployment, I don't necessarily believe that we have a responsibility to our country as John F Kennedy might have suggested because I feel that countries can take advantage of such patriotism but I do feel that people have a responsibility to themselves, to their families and to their communities to want more for themselves than sitting on the dole.

Listening to: Glasvegas - 'Daddy's Gone'

Friday, 30 April 2010

A Week Of Immigration News Stories That Is Getting On My Nerves

In the same week that Arizona's new immigration law has been challenged in court by an Arizona policeman the British Prime Minister has had a tough week on the election campaign trail after speaking to a pensioner on the streets. It was all going as well as expected until she asked the question. “All these eastern Europeans what are coming in, where are they flocking from?” He intially handled the situation well by answering and then deflecting the question to another topic but forgot when he got into the relative saftey of the car about the mic attached to his suit where he said to his aides “That was a disaster. Should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that? She's just a sort of bigoted woman." Which inevitably lead to a pr disaster and grovelling apology over the following days.

But why? He was wrong to call the woman a 'sort of bigot' but I don't think he should have apologised for it. Instead he should have pointed out the fact that the vast majority of Eastern Europeans who come in the United Kingdom have done so legally as they come from countries that are part of the European Union and as a result have the right to live and work in any country in the EU including the UK and they have chosen to take up that option and we should for grateful for it.

I'm not entirely sure that the woman who posed the question is a bigot I just think she's ignorant of the facts and that she comes from a generation of hard working British people and all of a sudden over the past few years she sees a lot of foreigners in her neighboorhood. Having worked with Scottish and English people of my own generation I know that there are some hard workers out there, I also know there are too many that are willing to clock in and clock out at work doing the bare minimum to get by. I also know there are far too many Brits of my generation that don't want to work at all, especially not for the minimum wage conditions that Eastern Europeans are willing to work for. Having worked with both I would choose employing an eastern European worker over a Scottish one probably 8 times out of 10. Back home I had my own business and occasionally I looked into taking on some employees to help myself with the workload (this was before Poland became part of the EU). The first person I gave the job to didn't turn up for his first day, the second was a waste of space anytime I gave him something to do do the task I had set him unless I was watching over him and the third I couldn't get to stop using his phone when he was supposed to be helping me. I ended up deciding that I might as well continue working by myself. And I did so until I injured my back, and I stubbornly continued working until I did it some permanent damage partly because I come from a family that is hard working, my mother is a hard worker, and my grandfather worked into is 70s until 3 days before he died in his bed of pneumonia. Even today I still get a sore back if I am working on a repetitive action but I continue to work anyway, sadly that work ethic does not exist for every British person today.

After the European Union borders opened up allowing workers to work anywhere in the European Union I had the pleasure of working with some Polish people. I say pleasure because it was. They worked just as hard as me, they worked just as hard as my mother would. They came to work on time, worked hard throughout the day and were conscientious about everything they did. They worked jobs that few British people would want to do on crap wages, without any benefits, and they would pay their taxes and their national insurance and go home at night to a house usually shared with 5 or 6 oher Polish guys. Any spare money they had they would send home to Poland as quite often they would have left a wife and some children behind. A sacrifice I don't think I could make. Thats a work ethic and a scarifice that a pensioner who grew up in 40s or 50s Britain should be able to understand though. That's the kind of thing the Prime Minister should have talked about.

I am fed up reading about immigration as a bad thing whether its here in the States or in the news back home. Immigration built the United States. And Britain exported people and ideas all around the world its about time it tooks its fair share of immigrants in. Immigration should not be topic only voiced by the scared and the ignorant. When people move countries they aren't looking for handouts or benefits they want the chance to improve their lives. They want the opportunity to make something of their lives themselves. And by empowering them to do so they pay taxes just like any other worker and so they improve the country that they move to.

There has supposedly been an influx of around 3 million Polish workers in the UK over the last few years, that equals a lot of tax revenue. Where would the country be without that revenue right now, especially when you bear in mind the banking crisis of the last of the last 18 months? Personally I think the country would be right royally fucked! Excuse my language. Those European workers have done Britain a favour by choosing to come to the work in the country.

Same goes for all the latinos in Arizona, Utah or California or anywhere in the United States.

I don't buy the argument that Mexicans take jobs from hard working Americans. If a Mexican with poor English skills gets a job ahead of an American, there is either something wrong with the job or something wrong with the American's work ethic. And its about time people realised that. And its about time the people who write about immigration issues do so in a way that educates the ignorant. Not everyone who is ignorant is racist or a bigot, some just don't have the experience or the facts and just read the wrong articles, its about time journalists did their homework. They need to stop being on the side of the scared and actually think about the waitresses that serve them coffee in the morning or the nurse's assistant who cares for them after a sports injury or the builder that built their extension because that is the real story of immigration - hard working people who want to do right by themselves and the people they come into contact with.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

She's Going To Kill Me For This One

You would think my wife might have a spirit of adventure, after all there isn't too many Chilean/Scottish couples around and combining that passionate/stubborn concoction together was a risk. But when it comes to the great outdoors that spirit of adventure is lacking.

One reason for this is she likes her high heels and flip flops too much, sensible walking shoes are not really part of her wardrobe.

She's also a desert girl which means when I am struggling from what I think is high temperatures but willing to plow on she is complaining of being frío and wanting to return to the car.

Then of course there are inevitable obstacles along the way like a closed gate on a hiking path, I come from a country where the right to roam in the wilderness is well a right, she has lived too long in a country where the right to bear arms is a deterrent to trespassers. I could almost understand her reluctance to move forward when she was wearing the wrong shoes, and there were closed gates to cross. I can explain it away as being the Latina in her as she gingerly climbed the gate whilst checking from side to side looking for policemen or crazed latino hating gun totting landowners, but when she heard barks in the distance ahead and wanted to return the car in case there were wild dogs or wolves ahead and the barks came from this fella here I just had to share.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Utah is a beautiful State, its just a shame that Salt Lake Valley itself has been spoiled by endless advertising billboards, freeways, and ill considered permissible development, not to mention all those fast food eateries peppered throughout the valley that I probably am guilty of dining too often. I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to discover Salt Lake Valley before such development was allowed to take place because with the mountains to the East and to the West it certainly has the potential to be a lot more beautiful than much of it has become.

However it is fairly easy to get a picture of what Salt Lake Valley might have looked like about 150 years ago. It just takes a 66 mile drive out of the city and away from the freeway.

The weekend before last we took such a trip by making a point of visiting the Golden Spike National Historic Site. The site of the Golden Spike is the place where the Union and Central Pacific railroads joined their rails to make the first US transcontinental railroad in 1869. Anyone who has ever watched a Western should know the importance of the railroads in the shaping of the development and migration in the US, but its here (and I'm sure at many other points on the way) that you get to see how the land of the US shaped the railroads.

I'm sure as a land surveyor of the time before the railroads were built the undeveloped lands of the US screamed not only beauty but that of potential.

For the owners of the Central Pacific and Union railroads though it was nothing much more than an obstacle for a nice reward for whoever was able to complete the first transcontinental railroad. For the people who built it, mainly army veterans and Irish immigrants who worked for the Union Pacific railroad company and the Chinese immigrants who worked for Central Pacific it probably looked like something close to hell on earth or at the very least an impossible feat.

Although I can admire the way that such men managed to reshape the land to suit the purposes of their paymasters I for one am glad I was amongst their number.


Especially so when the railway station at Promontory Summit lasted less than 4 decades before being dismantled. The track seen there today was only relaid in 1969 to mark the centennial anniversary in 1969 and is actually only 1 and half miles long. Its actually original purpose has long had its day in the sun.

A finer more fitting monument for the work of the men might have been to leave the original track in place and have a working railroad on the site that so many muscles and backs toiled to build.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Why I Haven't Been Writing Much But Crap Lately

You might wonder why I haven't been writing as much lately. Well it seems that the online adverts for landscaping work took off. As soon as the weather turned for the better people started to phone up. The amount of interest from the adverts surprised even myself. I was expecting a slower but steadily increasing workload but no its really been gathering a head of steam the past few weeks. Last week was the best of the lot, I had enough work to make almost as much the wife, for the first time since I've been here. It felt good. I'm a man, I care about these things. We shouldn't but ego's are egos. I was thinking to myself a few more customers like this and I'll be making even more and then what happens, same week she's goes and gets herself a promotion and with it a pay rise, her second in a few short months I may add, to raise the bar again.

Ay, ay, ay - its enough to make me almost want to break into a Mexican song.

Seriously though, life is good. The only downside, most of the work seems to be coming in from the other side of the city, the side we just moved away from.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Blue Skies And Golden Light

It was probably just a few hours before that I said to the wife that I miss the golden orangy-yellow colours of the gorse bush in full bloom in the Scottish countryside when we went for a walk as the sun was starting to set when Utah did its best to replicate the golden hues with the light.

There might not be any rolling hills of green grass, there might not be any fields bordered with dry-stane walls, there might not be any flowering gorse bushes in the distance here suggesting that a Scottish summer is on the way, but even though none of that exists and this picture isn't all that interesting to look at the light at sunset on a night like this in Utah is pretty impressive.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

It's Shite Being Scottish!

As I sit here stuffing my face with a damn good chocolate chip cookie I feel the need to appease the wife. You see she's get a little peeved at the fact that there is something in every day that reminds her that she is with a Scottish husband.

It could be as something as simple as watching a movie that just happens to have a Scottish character/Scottish actor/Scottish director/Scottish accent/Scottish song in it. Or we could be fast forwarding the adverts on the dvr and just happen to see a Scots Korean in full kilted regalia advertising Starburst or a Latino wearing a kilt for a wedding advert. Or it can be coming across a new young patient at the pediatric dentistry office in which she works called William Wallace. The Scottish links are everywhere and I think she's a little bit jealous of the fact that no one ever says to her "I have Chilean ancestry." I think she's starting to think that she lives in a MacWorld, and not necessarily one with ipads and iphones.

However the slow domination of the world by Scots has been a slow and painful one. So I'm going to steal an idea from Trainspotting and start a new mini series called It's Shite Being Scottish.

The inspiration for this series came from when in the film Tommy took his friends to the Highlands with the intention of them enjoying the great outdoors by going on a hike. He gets off the train and says "Doesn't it make you proud to be Scottish." Renton replied with "It's shite being Scottish! We're the lowest of the low. The scum of the fucking Earth! The most wretched, miserable, servile, pathetic trash that was ever shat into civilization. Some hate the English. I don't. They're just wankers. We, on the other hand, are colonized by wankers. Can't even find a decent culture to be colonized by! We're ruled by effete assholes. It's a shite state of affairs to be in, Tommy, and all the fresh air in the world won't make any fucking difference"

Now I don't necessarily go along with that but being Scottish isn't all that its cracked up to be and certainly hasn't been throughout history. There are plenty of blogs out there that show the nicer side of Scotland or being Scottish this series isn't going to show that picture. It probably won't be very regular, maybe once a week but more likely once a month but its going to show the not so great side of being Scottish.

Friday, 2 April 2010


I do not care where you live.

I do not care what car you drive. 

Or if the clothes you wear are this years must haves. I do not care if you have a trust fund that is unlimited or have minus seventy six cents in the bank. I do not care what phone you have. Or if you want the latest fad/gadget. I do not care if you have a facebook page or are jimmy nomates page. I will not be enticed by how many people you know or who you know, whether you are A list, B list, or I never heard of you list. I do not care what you look like.

I am only touched by the words that flow from your thoughts.

It's only that that keeps me coming back for more.

Wouldn't it be nice if life was like that a little bit more often?

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

The Story Of The 3 Chefs & Our TV

I was a little slow on the uptake on this but I've only just realised that our weekly tv viewing habit seems to have been slowly taken over by chefs with accents. If I were a more insecure man I might think my wife was trying to tell me something.

It's no secret that I love my food but I cannot cook. And its no secret my wife loves her food and loves an accent too.

I'm starting to think she feels hard done to by the fact that the country that gave the world Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares also gave her a husband that can't cook. Slowly but surely she's sneaked into our viewing habits chef's with accents into our dvr viewing schedules and I didn't even know there was a search button for that. I just thought we both liked Kitchen Nightmares for the same reason, mine was of course watching poorly run restaurants being transformed into profit making enterprises. 

I should have known something was amiss when we just had to watch the new series of Celebrity Apprentice because the Australian chef Curtis Stone was on it. I mean there's not even any cooking on that program, but I thought maybe she just wanted to see him doing some charity work. It didn't cross my mind that she was just waiting for him to say something or watch him being photographed again, and again, and again.

I didn't even think anything was amiss when we had to add Jamie Oliver's new program to our list of shows. That was until I saw the disappointment on her face when she saw him crying at his perceived rejection by America to his idealistic ways. I had to laugh then, because those of us brought up in the UK know he's a wuss. I have to say though I admire his gumption and his ideals though he seems to have learned nothing from the time when he tried to do the same thing for school lunches in Britain. And judging by one experiment he tried he might have an even harder time of it going by when he made some chicken nuggets from skin and bones. He had all the kids going "ewww thats disgusting" and yet when he was done every one of the kids wanted to have one. Jamie was left scratching his head wondering if his ego had bitten off more than he could chew.

And another thing, all the chefs are blond, what the hell is wrong with that picture? She gives me crap for Michelle Pfeiffer for heavens sake.

2 Blogs in one day, I think I might need some chicken soup. What do you think?

Beating The Drum Once Again

I feel like I've said this already but I'm ready for a little bit less of this

And a whole lot more of this.

Its about time the skies allowed me to make some real money, dammit.

It seems like every time it looks like a little work might come my way a snow storm blows in and says not today.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

"Ah say boy....Ah ain't no chicken! Ahs a rooster!"

Sometimes I forget where I am before I open my mouth. As a result the words come flying out my mouth like a bow on a fiddle playing a jig. Sometimes its only when I take a breath and see the glaekit look of confusion on the face before me that I realise that I might need to slow down a little. However slowing down what I say doesn't come easy to a man like me. I do try to remember where I am and adjust my the pattern of my speech but that usually only lasts as long as I don't get myself excited.

Anytime I get excited I become more Scottish not less. Anyone who knows me knows that I love my food. That means any time I am ordering food I have to catch myself, or just let the wife order.

I also get excited when I'm having a disagreement with the wife, not that I enjoy it you see, just that I am a passionate person. And when the passion is aroused words come flying like the chords on an accordion. Anytime we have an argument the wife has a great deal of trouble understanding what I am saying, and keeping her face straight.

I've phoned up for jobs excited because I've seen an advert with the perfect opportunity to demonstrate my skills and carefully held back any Scottish words that would normally come in to my vocabulary only to hear "Speak English, If you can't speak English why would I give you a job!" coming from the other end of the phone. It took all my levels of control that day not to reply in perfect Glaswegian "fuck you in a pear tree by the way" because I realised then that guys like that don't want me to speak English, that is what I was doing albeit with an accent, they want me to speak American, a totally different beast.

It's guys like that though that make me not want to apologise for who I am, I am Scottish and proud to be so, but if I want to work in business here I have to control my excitement. When I am speaking with a potential customer I have to remember not to fire off my words like a Scottish reel. I certainly don't want to have to resort to faking an American accent. The only time I've managed it I sounded like a cross between George W Bush and Foghorn Leghorn.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Waiting For Spring

In a couple of months from now no doubt you will be able to scold me for my complaints about how I cannot handle the 95 degree fahrenheit weather but right now a little bit more heat would be nice. It's a beautiful early Spring day outside, lots of bright sunshine, but its deceptively cold. Winter seems determined to hang on by its fingernails here in Utah.

Back home in Scotland I would hate winter, because not only was it colder but the days were shorter which meant because I worked outside I would make less money, just when I had Christmas and the taxman to pay, as a result I'd be desperate for the dark days of December and January it always seemed such a long winter. By mid February though winter would be past its worst, the early bulbs would be long out and leaves would start to form on the trees. The weather here has been noticeably warmer now for the past three weeks, all week long it likes to kid you on that its Spring and but then it goes and snows at the weekend. Last week I had the kids to look after because they were on Spring break, finally Friday came and I was able to do a little bit of work. I started the day at 7:30 in the morning in Spring by 20 minutes to 8 it was a full blown blizzard and I was back in Winter.

In Scotland I would often be found wearing the wrong clothes because every 10 minutes the season would change, I didn't think when I came here that that was going to continue. Truth is though I don't mind the cold, I don't even mind the snow, but I really would like to see some leaves on the trees. It's almost the end of March and there's very little sign of Spring in nature here and I miss it.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Wemyss Bay

Even though I like the movie of the same name I'm not much of a train spotter. Even though I do like riding trains and would love to ride a steam train through the Highlands of Scotland with my wife by my side or a Bullet train in Japan I couldn't care much for standing in a train station scribbling away in a note pad writing down the numbers of the trains passing through. That said I do like the design of some of old train stations like this one found on the West Coast of Scotland.

It's a shame when so much was put into the architecture to offer something different for the weary traveller to enjoy that the same sort of thought couldn't be put into its upkeep in the way of regular paintwork.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


As much as I miss the sense of history of back home I love the fact that the US has such a sense a of geography. Now that I am living here I find myself wanting to see so much of it, from the Giant Redwoods of California to the Everglades of Florida and from the Grand Canyon to Yellowstone. I am lucky enough to have two areas of natural wonder right here on my doorstep of Utah in Zion National Park and Moab.

As of yet we have yet to make time for Zion but we surely will, we have however visited Moab. Perhaps next time we go we'll be able to swap the rain clouds of the approaching thunderstorm with the blue skies that are more common to Utah. And maybe I won't have any dust spots on the lens of camera.

Monday, 8 March 2010


Two of my favourite subjects at school were geography and history, along with maths, they were also among a select few classes that I was any good at. So it was a sad day at the end of my second year of my secondary school education that I had to choose between the two. Had I had my way I would have continued both and dropped French which I was beyond hopeless at, instead I chose to continue geography where my French lessons allowed me to enjoy the geography class trips to Switzerland and France. I can't remember exactly if it did or not but the chance to go on at least one of those trips may well have had a bearing on my decision, certainly I know I had no interest in going on the history trips to Auschwitz or Flanders both of which the thought of visiting these places, even today, makes my spine shudder.

I do know that at that age I wanted to learn about the world and if I was lucky enough get to see as much of it as I could but I also had an appreciation for history. I find it ironic now that I am getting to see some of the world from this side of the pond that I am missing some of the history that I took for granted that I previously had on my doorstep. I always loved visiting new places and learning the history behind it all and had an appreciation for the old buildings, gardens and stories when I lived in Scotland but I didn't realise until I moved to America how lucky it was that I had that amount of preserved history just a short drive away. The USA of course has its history too, but with it being such a huge country in comparison to Scotland and being much younger too its not so easy to enjoy what history there is to offer. It's especially difficult to enjoy history in this part of the country because anything that's not owned by the Mormon Church tends to last 30, 40 or 50 years before being demolished and rebuilt or made way for something new.

I was looking back on my old hard disk of photographic images that I brought with me from Scotland and remembered day trips that were just about an hour or two's drive away. One such trip was the Necropolis, Glasgow's version of the Pere Lachais Cemetery in Paris. Its the burial ground of the uber-rich of a country whose main population probably would have little thought about what sort of casket or headstone they might want because they were so poor that getting by from day to day was what occupied their thoughts.

 This tomb makes me thinks more of Morocco or Moorish Spain than Glasgow

In some cases even those who weren't buried there had a monument designed by one of the best Scottish architects of the day and placed in the cemetery looking down on the city just because they could. The ultimate pompous act of a dying inflated ego?

I find it remarkable that people would want to make such a statement about themselves after they are gone when surely contributing the money to say a hospital wing could do so much more good. Of course its easy for me to say that, as I am unlikely to have the kind of money lying around that could make such a contribution after I have kicked the bucket.

As much as I find it crazy that people would spend so much money on covering a few bones I also find it an amazingly beautiful if a somewhat strange legacy to leave behind for a city.