30 August 2008

It's That Time of Year Again!

Anyone who knows Mark knows he's a huge University of Georgia Bulldog's Football fan. And we aren't talking UK football...oh, no, this is good 'ole American college football! Mark (and maybe even his wife!) is mourning that another season has started and he isn't going to be in the US to watch the games. It is a conundrum, since UGA is ranked #1 (in both polls, thank you very much, as I was just told!) this year. Mark's searched high and low for free ways to listen/watch the games, but to no avail. Instead he is getting real time updates on-line and reporting them to me every few seconds. It could be a long night! Nonetheless....let's go BULLDOGS!!!

28 August 2008

The Return of Two Friends!

This past week has brought the return of two "friends." I have missed them both and am glad to have them back in my life nearly daily.

The first "friend" is the school crossing guard I pass as I walk to work. He is the friendliest, smiliest (yes, that is a word in my vocab) Scottish chap! He almost always waves and greets me (and many others walking/driving to work) each day. Some days I see him on my return trip home too. I love when he says "lovely day we've got today." My favorite moment was the day he saw me bundled with my hood securely fastened against the wind, and my umbrella up. He proceeded to stick his palm face up to check for rain, as if to say, "it's not exactly raining at the moment, at least not enough for all that get-up" :) In my defense, it had just moments prior started drizzling and coming down harder. I was preparing for the worst, I guess! This crossing guard just amazes me that he can stand out in the Scottish weather for pretty much all of a school day and still smile at everyone who passes. Some days I'm scowling at the world before I'm even in the elements! I'm still working up the nerve to ask if I can take his picture. He is such a cute old man with silver hair, a long bright yellow crossing guard jacket, a black cap like a police man, and a very tan face. Wish you could meet my "friend" too!

The other "friend" to show his face this week was the crown on top of King's College Chapel. It's been under renovation since around March. The scaffolding has been coming down revealing the crown jewel of the campus once again! I love walking to work and seeing this "friend" looking down as I pass. What a joy that both of my friends have appeared again to greet me as I venture to work each morning! It's been a long summer.

(Thanks to Mark for the photo taken in the hallway near his office) :)

24 August 2008

Heard Around the Office

For some time I have wanted to write some Scottish phrases/words I've learned while working, but have just now gotten around to it....mainly because I keep forgetting what they all are when I sit to blog. So, the past couple of weeks I've been jotting down words/phrases at work as I hear them so I don't miss any!

Fab=short for fabulous, to show approval of a matter being discussed
Ace=as in tennis? Again, to show approval
You're a star=kinda like "you're the best"
Aye=Yes, to answer in the affirmative
Nae/Nae bother=no/no problem, to answer in the negative
Dinna ken=I don't know (this and the below one are examples of the local dialect known as Doric. For more great words/phrases that we may encounter, go here and scroll down. Take a look, it really is a different language!)
Pal=good friend, can be used when speaking of either girl or guy
Give it a go=try it out
It's very unusual, is it?=Often questions end with "is it" or "does it" instead of isn't it? or doesn't it? (that or I just can't hear the "n!")
I'll chase that up=I'll track down the person/thing mentioned
I'll come through=I'll meet up with you/come to your desk
Miss it out=skip over it
Bin it=put it in the trash
Ta=thank you, good bye
Cheers=thank you, good bye
Do you have your brawley?=I'm not sure how brawley is spelled, but it is an umbrella.
Back of 10 (or any number on the clock)=I still don't know what this means! I can't tell if it is a different way of saying 9:45 or 10 o'clock, or something else entirely!

The past 3 weeks I have taken a ton of phone calls, many of which have involved writing down names and addresses. I honestly am not good at this in American English. I have always had a really hard time with listening and quickly writing what is being said to me. I am forever switching numbers/letters, etc. I despise people who rattle off phone numbers with no pauses. And here, they often say "double 2" or "treble (triple) 4". My mind REALLY doesn't handle that well! Just tell me 0-1-2-2-4, not 0-1-double two-4. I start to think, what number starts with "d"? Anyways, I digress as I talk about my probable mild dyslexia that runs in the family!

You might imagine the challenge it is to spell names that I can hardly recognize when spoken, or spoken with a thick accent. I am fairly used to the Scottish accent, but throw into the mix someone from Ireland or England and it's even more challenging! I did find some mild comfort in the fact that one of my Scottish co-workers was bemoaning the fact that we were about to get a bunch of English callers. She doesn't understand their accents too well either! :) Plus, we aren't as used to place names in England or Ireland...and I'm still learning Scottish ones.

So in my attempt to repeat back to the poor students (who have gotten stuck with an semi-dyslexic American taking their call) to verify I have taken down the information correctly, I started saying things like "A" as in "apple." I know there is an official code for this, Alpha, bravo, charlie, etc, but I rarely can remember what they are in my desperate attempt to understand someone. Besides, those are official. It seems in America there are the lay-person ones, like "F" as in "Frank." So, I was using those. It was often meet with silence on the other end, like they were trying to process what I was saying. Not exactly clarifying the situation! It was later as I kept getting "F" as in "Friday" or "s" as in "sugar" that I concluded the lay-people here must have their own code that differs from American-lay code. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think I'm on to something here. They don't seem to have so many Frank's around...maybe that's why they go with Friday instead?

21 August 2008

Does it Still Exist?

I am beginning to wonder if the sun really exists since we haven't seen it in ages. Can someone please verify this for me?

Today at work (while I was bored out my mind alphabetizing papers for a couple hours) I had an invention idea. My co-workers and I had, of course, been discussing this disgusting weather we've been having the past 3 weeks. I began to wonder if we could invent a large tube/pipe that would run from our office ceiling, up through the roof, through the varied levels of clouds, right up into the blue skies and bright sun? We'd then channel all that goodness right back down to our office (and hey, why not get one for the house too?), cover the windows with lovely pictures of tropical paradise scenes, and actually enjoy summer as it was meant to be....

Anyone interested in 1) Taking this on American Inventor? 2) Marketing this idea?

Need.Sun. Please.Send.ASAP.

14 August 2008

Clearing Madness

Well the weeks I've heard about at work for months have finally arrived. Last week we were busy, but not as much as I had braced for. Today was a different story. If I've ever had the desire to work in a call center (and I don't think I have), or if I ever will have the urge in the future (and I don't think I will), today's experience will override any thoughts of such a job--I hope! We currently have open a "clearing hotline" of which I am most privileged to be one of the first on the list to answer calls for. Clearing is a time when students who don't yet have a place at a university call and try to find one. The English A Level results (differing for the Scottish Highers) came out today. I am so thankful I didn't have to to go through the agony that many of these students go through! Throughout the year they are only to apply for 5 courses total in the UK (either 5 unis or just all at 1). Many student's acceptance is based on what grades they achieve on these A Level or Higher exams--and those exams alone, nothing else. Before they know their grades they have to choose which 2 universities they'd like to go to based on what they conditions they were offered and what results they think they will get. If they do poorly and don't make the grades, they have no university to go to! And to top it off, they don't know until 6 weeks before university starts! Thus, the need for clearing. It's a last minute scramble to find a university still offering places in the course you are interested in. If that doesn't make your head spin, I don't know what will :)

By far the most popular course asked about today: Medicine. Unfortunately for them (good for us as a University) the program has been filled for months with a waiting list.

The best call I took was the first one of the day. The guy was upset because he hadn't made his grades and thus didn't make our conditions set out, so thought we had rejected him. I was in the process of gently "rejecting" (which we deem as being "unsuccessful") him again, saying they don't reconsider, etc, etc, etc. (not a fun part of the job!), when I typed in his details to our system and realized we had gone ahead and offered him the place (he must have been close to the grades we were asking for). I got the joy of then telling him he was accepted! A huge thanks and sigh of relief then came over him. Too bad they don't all have that happy of an ending!

And the most unusual call I took today was from a school counselor wanting to let us know about the death of one of their students so we could take them off our system. A bit sobering in the midst of the madness.

11 August 2008

Before More Time Passes

I thought we better quickly recap our trip to Edinburgh a week and a half ago since I have failed to do so yet. We took the bus down Thursday morning. It even arrived a little early, which is always nice! We quickly looked up the Tourist Information Centre so we could figure out what to do and how to get there. We opted for an early check-in at our hostel (my wise husband's idea!) so we could drop off our backpacks. You may or may not believe me when I saw we each only took ONE backpack each! That was including 3 meals for me and about 6 snacks :) Believe me, we haven't ever travelled that light! Mark grabbed lunch at a local take away place and I brought my salad. We wandered until we found Hunter Square where there were steps and people gathering with their lunches. The pigeons and seagulls were also gathered to beg, swoop and kill for their lunches as necessary.My goal of lunch was to 1. Not get pooped on and 2. Get the gulls flying mid-air. Finally accomplished that! :) We also enjoyed seeing various street performers shortly after lunch. The Edinburgh Festival was about to kick off, but the "Fringe Festival" already had, so there were lots of people/activities/concerts, etc. After having our first taste of street performers we headed to the National Museum of Scotland to enjoy their free exhibitions. We were about to leave when I saw they had a 7th floor viewing garden. So up the "lift" we went where we were offered a great view of the city (and even some sunshine). Below you can see Edinburgh Castle in the distance.
By this time I was tired out and needing a nap. Mark wanted to check out the University of Edinburgh's divinity library, so we parted ways. For dinner we headed to Friday's for a small taste of home. After MUCH walking my ankle was bothering me (Edinburgh is incredibly hilly with multiple steep roads) so we headed for our room. So much for a night out on the town. Friday morning brought more fog/rain, but we had already bought tickets to take a bus tour of the city and planned to go at 9:30am, so we hopped on the bus.
Above the right hand tree is where the castle should be...Thankfully, the weather broke the longer the morning went on so that by the time we actually go up to the castle that afternoon it was mostly sunny :)
The view from the castle looking down onto the city with the Firth of Forth in the background was pretty incredible. It was easy to see why they built the castle where they did!
Towards the end of the day we spent some time in the Princes Street Gardens near the Sir Walter Scott Memorial.
And I got to try to capture the beauty of the multitude of hydrangea bushes!
Shortly after dinner time we headed back to Aberdeen by train. That was a new and fun experience for both of us. We both really enjoyed Edinburgh and hope we get the chance to go back while we live here.

10 August 2008

The Lord Gives, and the Lord Takes Away....

....blessed be the name of the Lord.

Early this morning (UK time) the Lord chose to both give and take away his precious child, Asher Daniel. Please be in prayer with us for our friends, Dan and Casey, as they mourn the loss of their firstborn son.

09 August 2008

The Goodness of 08-08-08

I'm not a believer in "lucky" days, but yesterday did bring some goodness.

1. My mind didn't have to be confused about how to write the date at work. It was 08-08-08 in American date style and British. I think there should be more days like that. I'm a fan!

2. The Olympics started. I am also a huge fan of the Olympics. Thanks to BBC's iplayer I was able to catch highlights of the opening ceremonies this afternoon. I am desperately trying to figure out how I can watch gymnastics and other favorite sports on-line. No success yet. I hope BBC comes through for me. Even if they do, I already miss seeing/hearing the typical US Olympic broadcasters.

3. Summer smells. Last night we were invited to a Beach BBQ. Ironically, there was no BBQ sauce :) It wasn't until I got covered in that smoke smell that comes with a cook out/bonfire that I realized I missed this summer rite of passage. It might have been the coldest BBQ I've been to. Especially in August. When we got home the computer said it was 50F. Brrrr.....good thing I expected that and dressed warmly! Others in our party, however, were crazy and thought they take a brief walk in the North Sea. Can't imagine how cold that was!

I leave you with one final photo. We tried to get one where we are both looking at the camera, but alas 11 attempts and 11 blinks on my part. No kidding. I'm the blinking queen. This photo was our compromise. Though at this point Mark thought he'd roll his eyes and look away. Ah well, we tried!

08 August 2008

Wanna Flycup?

I sure haven't been in the blogging mood this week. More like I haven't had time to be in the mood! Besides working extra hours it seems like we've had extra activities all week long. Same for next week. I asked Mark how it always seems that everything falls on the same 2 weeks? In any case, we haven't been bored lately! There is a nice buzz about our lives again. We can tell many folk are back from holiday and wanting to hang out, and at work we are gearing up for the start of the new academic year (though technically it doesn't start until Sept. 23). I kind of like the energy buzz...but it's also draining!

One of our activities this week was helping to clean out a church building our church has recently acquired down the road from our current building. Our current church building has limited space, so when the other church closed down it left a vacant building. Our church will now be occupying it for new/continuing ministries. One of those ministries is the yearly Holiday Bible Club (like VBS) that kicks off Monday. So yesterday was an all day work day for those able to join in. Mark went all day (and got very dusty!) and I joined in after work.

When I arrived I was told, by a sweet lady who (to me) epitomizes "Scottishness," they were about to have a "flycup." Mark was also there and she said, "Do you know what that is, because Mark doesn't?" I took a good guess based on the context of my surroundings (and Mark's tip off they were about to have tea time)--and I was right! It's a cup of tea "on the fly." The lady said that it came from the workers working in the factories who had to have a "flycup" while the bosses weren't looking. Anyone for a cup of tea?

02 August 2008

Prayers for Friends

I was wondering if y'all might be willing to join us in praying for our friends, Dan and Casey Chappell? We knew Dan and Casey from Southeastern, the seminary we were at before coming here. Casey actually took our engagement photos (and wished we'd also had her do our wedding ones...but never mind why that didn't happen...poor planning on my part!) and used to cut my hair. We didn't see them often, but always enjoyed the time we did have with them.

A couple months ago they found out their unborn baby has Omphalocele with the possibilities of also having Trisomy or other defects. They're asking for as many people as are willing/able to join them in a day of prayer and fasting this Monday the 4th for healing for their child and all matters related to his/her health.

I'd encourage you to read the previous posts about their journey thus far as they seek to glorify God to medical personnel who have repeatedly asked them to compromise their belief that an unborn child is exactly that, a CHILD, not just a fetus. They have shared honestly about their thoughts/feelings in this faith journey and has already served as an encouragement to me many times. I hope it does the same for you.