Monday, 25 January 2010

To A Haggis - Or Not!

Today is Burn's Night in Scotland, and last year I had planned on celebrating today with the wife at the Utah Scottish Association annual Burn's Supper. But then I made the mistake of eating what passes for haggis in these parts at the local Scottish Highland Games which was held back in August last year. That 'haggis' was the most vile over priced sausage with gravy I have ever had the pleasure of eating and was enough to make me rethink my plans. It just wasn't haggis. Not even close.

So instead of introducing my wife to the Burns Supper I am instead making Chilli.

I had actually meant to try and sneak some authentic haggis (it's actually banned here) into the country so that we could have our own celebration but the day snuck up on me and I forgot all about it - not very patriotic of me. I will of course try and remember and do so next year. If I can find a way to get it delivered and get it past the sniffer dogs that is.

A Peek Into My Life / Mind / Thoughts/ Something / Whatever

Gillian, one my followers, over at A Peek Into Our Lives has over the past few weeks started a new guest slot in her blog to help introduce a male perspective to her largely female blogging audience.

This week its my turn to participate. Was I nervous? Yes, but I don't like questions I can't study months in advance for. Thankfully though I didn't have to do any such studying as after 12 years of no schooling I might be out of practice.

If you want to see how I handled the interrogation spotlight check it out at here, after reading it you can then check out Gillian's blog - you may just find yourself having someone new to read.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Blue Sky Whore

Growing up in grey dreich Scotland has meant that I have learned to appreciate blue skies, especially so if its been cold for a few days.

To the passing Mexican its probably safe to presume that I look a little strange seemingly aimlessly pointing my camera to the sky while I walked in the Spanish speaking part of town. But for me although Utah has its blue sky days frequently I'm still of the mindset I might not see another one for a week, or two.

Another thing I am still getting used to is the abundance of American flags everywhere. Patriotism in the US is rife, you'll find the flag displayed outside stores, on Church land, on cars, and in back yards. It's nice to see positive patriotism in action, but I sometimes wonder what might happen if I were to get a couple of flagpoles of my own and displayed the Chilean and Scottish flags and happened to have the wrong type of neighbour. 
I suspect I wouldn't have much problem from the occupants of the building above but I'm not so sure about the red, white and blue mail box further up the road I'm small enough that I might just disappear in that old oil drum with a push.
And what's with the size of that satellite dish across the road, do they like their television or are they searching for extra terrestrial lifeforms across the galaxy?

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Darwin's Theory Of Evolution Does Not Apply To Sport

No book will tell you this because its a little known fact but I'm going to let you in on a secret - the Scottish sports fan is not so distantly related to the wildebeest of the Serengeti.

Specifically the stupid one that doesn't run with the herd. That one you always see on the wildlife documentary, the one that doesn't even know its a wildebeest because nobody has shown it a mirror. It thinks it just hanging out with its wildebeest friends for the day, its seems to think 'I'm not a wildebeest I'm one of those big buggers over there, with the tusks and the trunk, pfft, 4 lionesses don't scare me, I'll stay right here.'

Most of the time the stupidest of the wildebeest die off, survival of the fittest and all that. But enough of them have survived through the generations to spawn the Scottish sports fan. The fan that believes, when everything should be telling him otherwise, that this is the year that Scotland is going to qualify for the football World Cup (nope fucked again), that this is the year that Scotland is going to win the rugby Six Nations (nope fucked again), that this is the game that Glasgow Celtic is going to score one goal more than the opposition (nope fucked again).

The Scottish sports fan is just like the stupid wildebeest that we see in the nature programs, unfortunately they carry on breeding at a faster rate than wildebeest because there is a shortage of cannibals or predators out there that find the Scottish sports fan easy to digest. And so with the link between the survival of the fittest and the evolution of the homo sapien being broken the Scottish sports fan goes on believing in fairy tales.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Suggestions In A Postcard Please

I hate that day before we go do the grocery shopping. I probably hate it more than I am not sort of Gordon Ramsey miracle worker that can see potential in the last of the last unused food that remains behind in the cupboards and fridge before that shopping spree. Dinner is sorted, we have pork, potatoes and some frozen veg so something can be made from that lot.

Lunch though is an issue that my tiny mind can't solve.

In the cupboards there is hot sauce (good - if there is a chance of using it I will). And Pinto Beans, lots of them. Probably more than what you are imagining right now. I'm starting to see why the wife has been called 'Aztec Princess' in the past.

In the fridge we have cheese, cheese and more cheese (thats good I see the potential in cheese). Two onions. Some cabbage, and yet another piece of cabbage. Any other time we buy just one piece of cabbage its gone before we can say tacos, what I wouldn't do to swap one piece of cabbage for something else right now. What else? A Pear.

No eggs. We always have eggs. I've never ate so many eggs in my life until I met the wife. I'm sick of hard boiled, fried, and scrambled eggs. Right now I'd love an egg or two. I could make a cheese omelette, with hot sauce.

So anyway if you are some sort of culinary genius with that combo of ingrediants get your answers in a postcard, nay, the comment box (I'm hungry dammit).

Saturday, 9 January 2010

This world has too many....

...different toothbrush designs. How many times must the common every day toothbrush be redesigned and the adverts for which be shoved down our throats every year? Surely its about time a company was able to stand by their product and say enough is 'enough we believe we have designed a great product and from this point on we are not going to redesign it further just because we can.

And for that matter why do why we have so many tin openers? Or corkscrews? Surely these are the sort of products we don't mind if there was a monopoly of. They are inexpensive and if only one existed that did the job very well I don't think many of us would grudge someone making a lot of money from the design and manufacturing of such a product. But instead there always has to be some clever clogs who comes along with a new design that nowhere near works as well as the one that sat in your mother's kitchen drawer for years.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Reasons I Couldn't Be A Mormon

When I first started talking to my wife and she told me  that she was an ex-mormon I have to admit I was a little ignorant about Mormonism. About the only things I knew about Mormons were that they were Christian, and that Mormon men used to have a lot of wives, but even then I wasn't so sure that I hadn't got Mormons mixed up with the Amish.

When I moved to Salt Lake City I thought it was only right that I shed myself of some of my ignorance of Mormonism and got to know what they were really like. But the more I've learned about the Mormon religion the happier I have become with the fact that my wife came to a decision to no longer be a member of the church long before I came into the picture. These are my reasons:

  1. Spending 3 hours in church on a Sunday does not appeal. I've been in a Mormon church on 3 occasions each for an hour at a time (once to help clean it -how that happened when I'm not even a member I still do not know). That was long enough. Hopefully I don't have to repeat that experience too often.
  2. Tithing. I'm Scottish. The world expects me to be scrooge-like when it comes to my money. The very thought of giving 10% of my income to an already very rich Church makes me shudder. No matter how much I earn I just don't see me ever wanting to freely had over 10% of my wages to any religion, no matter how devine it may be. I can almost, I said almost, see the need for a tithing rate of 10% back in the day when Mormons were few in number and a church had to be built and paid for but now that Utah, the chosen land has so many churches and Temples in every direction I cannot see the need for such a a high burden to be paid by its followers. Especially now that there is so many more followers of the LDS faith than there was 160 years ago surely it is time to modernise the Tithing rate downwards to perhaps 2% or even 1% unless of course the church want to continue building its fortune and property portfolio in the heart of Downtown, Salt Lake City. All this whilst congregation is going through hard times just keeping a roof over their heads and paying the electricity bill. Of course each and every one of them has the option of not paying the tithing expected of them, but do that long enough and they aren't deemed worthy of going to the Temple - not a very Christian attitude.
  3. Fasting. I'm sorry but I'm a greedy bastard when it comes to food and so is something I wouldn't be willing to go through at the best of times, but then to make that thought worse by making along with the Fast a donation of yet more money to the Church for the privilege of fasting - what? Again I'm Scottish, come on! Ok so any such donations go to the needy, this I get and while I think it might be a good reason I can't help but think if the Church gets so much money from Tithing they might be in a better position to pay out than those who are fasting.
  4. Polygamy. I thought the LDS Church had reformed its views on polygamy, and to an extent it has. The LDS Church no longer approves of multiple marriages amongst its members. You would think that this might be an area I could agree with the LDS Church. I thought so too. Until I found out that it only believes that this law should only be applied on earth and not heaven. Although the LDS Church now believes that a man can only be married to one woman at a time on earth this doesn't apply in heaven. If a man remarries many times in his lifetime he gets to keep all his wives in heaven. This rule does not apply for women. A woman can only be tied to one man in heaven. Seems a tad unfair to me. If I was lucky enough to go to heaven after I died I might be a little upset to find my wife with her ex.
  5. Testimony Meetings. This is the only hour I have been a witness to in a Mormon church so I could not tell you what goes on during the rest of a Sunday meeting but that one hour is enough to make me cringe. During this hour a few songs are sung and the Elders say their words of wisdom to the ward and by on large I don't have much problem with this first half of the hour. But the latter half of the testimony meeting is made up of people standing up before the congregation giving Testimony. As a non member of the LDS Church its a chore to get through it, I suspect its a chore for believers too. As far as I can tell there are a few types of Testimony.
  1. The Crying Testimony. Some people seem to be so hormonally impacted by the LDS Church that they begin crying the moment they reach the stand and so you can barely understand what they are trying to say. Everyone that is watching then gets to sit uncomfortably through a 10 minute emotional break-down brought on by the truthfulness of the Book Of Mormon.
  2. The Trying Times Testimony. Anyone who has recently had surgery, an illness or just felt that they had a tough week will get up to tell you all about it. They will then go on to tell you how the Lord either blessed them to overcome the challenge or is showing his love to them by how much He is trying them. Such a testimony seems to often start with "This past (week, month, year) has been a really difficult for me . . . "
  3. The Gratitude Testimony. This seems to be the opportunity that some Mormons like to thank the Lord for finding the perfect partner or having the perfect family. It's a sweet idea when it sounds like its heartfelt but all too often like as with the other types of testimony its sounds rehearsed or worse like they are doing it because it is expected. 
I've found watching the testimonies ever so slightly creepy because far too often when people get up to speak they are repeating what the last person said at the stand. It starts to feel less about about the speaker's love for the LDS Church or Christ and more like a brainwashing exercise for those of us who are sitting down listening.  A good testimony that is genuine has the ingredients to make a non believer of the faith want to believe. A bad testimony (and those unfortunately in my experience are those which make up the majority) is like watching Invasion Of The Body Snatchers.

Disclaimer: This post was not at all influenced by the fact that I had to frame and assemble 200+ pieces of Mormon wall art a day in the 2 and half weeks before Christmas.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Post That Alienates 9 Out Of 10 Of My Followers

Geez, crivvens, help ma boab. Putting pictures in any sort of order that you may want on your blog post is enough to make a man cranky. By the time I was done adding the photos to that last post I decided to abandon any thought of writing an accompaning piece.

You see it's that time of the month that I turn into an inconsiderate, grumpy fuck. The last thing I need now is for life to throw curveballs at me now. I might not be bleeding in my genitailia area, or suffering cramps or bloating or many of the other symptoms that women go through on a monthly basis for 3 - 7 or maybe even 10 days or more but nonetheless I get especially cranky, uncaring and insensitive for a part of the month. Why? Because I'm a guy. I roll that way. And I'm man enough to admit it. When I get "You will never understand what it feels like!" thrown at me every month all sympathy for the plight of all those who are suffering the effects of periods goes out flying out the window.

I didn't get the chance to choose to be man or woman when I was conceived. To my knowledge there was no specialist sperm in the nutsack with a clipboard asking my spermself "If you are jammy enough to reach the egg do you want to be male or female, you better choose now or I will choose for you?" As far as I know that didn't happen. It was a 50/50 chance of being of being born male or female and I didn't have any say in the decision. I just got lucky. I hold my hands up and say I got lucky. And I'm glad I have no prospect of having to produce a kid out of a pee hole. But that is not a reason to hold a grudge. I will not know what it is like to suffer from the cramps or the headaches or the bloatedness or having to buy tampons but its no walk in the park for me either. I have to hear all about it.

I know I should be more considerate and caring and I probably should not write this post as if all men are like me because there are probably some really nice guys out there that know how to react the way that they should. In truth I don't know enough about the rest of the male population to write for them but I do know me. I'm Scottish, that makes me part Vulcan, I might not have the pointy ears but I am emotionally stunted. I don't deal with crying very well. In my experience Scottish men only cry themselves when their football team has just lost the league title on the last day of the season or when Scotland wins the Six Nations rugby Grand Slam (actually that one hasn't happened yet), in other words they'll cry over the things that don't really matter. Things that they can get over quickly. The rest of the time we act like men made of rock. You have as much chance of getting tears from us as you have of getting a blood donation from a pebble.

We might not be much, but at least we are predictable. We expect our womenfolk to be the same. When they are having a great weekend we enjoy it, we expect things to continue in that vein. We do not expect a conversation to end up with her in tears. When those tears suddenly explode out of a random conversation we see mountains in the far distance and want to run away towards them. When we are able to fight that inner urge to flee the scene at speed and ask what is wrong we are genuinely concerned, we want to know what it was that we said so we can first of all avoid that uncomfortable moment forever more and secondly, this is more in hope than expectation, have a chance of fixing it. The last thing we want to hear is "I don't want to talk about it!", because when we hear that those far away mountains creep closer and call our name. They get closer still when that is followed up with "I can't talk to you!"

Its then that I turn from a concerned husband who is trying to be caring and considerate to his wife into someone who is a selfish grumpy ogre because its then that I realise I have to go through this every month until I am close to 50, and then just as the periods end I will have to listen to effects of the hot flushes". Oh joy!

And noone ever warns us when we fall in love that this is going to happen. Sure the warning signs were there from our mothers, but we were young, we were boys, that was our mother we just thought it was because we were being naughty.

And so we meet a beautiful, intelligent, woman who likes us for who we are and she isn't psycho and so we fall in love. It's only later that we find out that she suffers from periods of emotional instability. I can bet that not too many girls write into their diaries 'Today was a really bad period. Suffered cramps, headaches, and conflicting emotions but on the upside I met a boy who told me I was the most beautiful being on this earth. He says he already knows he wants to marry me.'

Why? Because guys like a simple, predictable life. Most
of us probably fall for the love of our life during the rest of the month when we don't have to stand on eggshells. It ain't no walk in the park second guessing what to say or do all the time. It's hard work. It's what makes me grumpy, uncaring and insensitive every month and I don't care to dress it up. It's not my hormones, it's who I am.

Not only have I probably lost the majority of my blog's readership I will probably now have a wife a who is no longer talking to me - this is the price I am willing to pay to give you something new to read.