31 October 2009

Even Nature Celebrates

I've been holding onto this photo for months now -- since spring, so it'd be a shame to not share it. It is was one of my favorite photos -- until Mark said it looked like a ghost. I was mad at first because I liked the photo so much. Then I saw he was right. Then I was really mad because that was all I could see. Then I used my editing program and took out the "eyes." Then I liked it again. I guess this little guy was trying to scare off the photographer that day.

23 October 2009

500th Birthday!

(Two posts in 3 days - I know!)

Even after two years of being here I am still amazed that I daily work at an institution that has been around for over 500 years. And Mark's office overlooks the now 500 year old King's College Chapel. The first weekend of this month there was a big weekend celebration to commemorate the impressive birthday of King's. Also to mark this special occasion there has been a display in the Old Town House where I work from time to time. It's called "Images of King's: The artistic portrayal of King's College, Aberdeen." I've enjoyed looking at the very old paintings and drawings of how King's used to look "back in the day." The paintings are also some of the ones used in a the new book King’s College, Aberdeen: history, building and artistic portrayal and is now on my "to-get-before-leaving-Aberdeen" list.

The painting above is my favorite of the exhibition. Having learned this year that photography is all about light, I gather painting is the same. I love the light in this one!

If you are in Aberdeen and enjoy art, you should "come have a look."

21 October 2009

Wind Factor

Since living here we've discovered classifications of wind. Who knew they existed? On checking one local weather website (a nearly daily occurrance at our house, and more so when photo shoots are scheduled) we noticed they always categorized the wind speed with ratings like F4 or F5, and then a brief description of that wind speed. Our personal favorite classification (which we see far too often) is the F5 "Fresh Breeze." Take today, for instance, it is an F5. Friends, that ain't no "breeze" out there! Earlier I was walking to my car (yes, praise the Lord for such a luxury on a day such as this) from my office and was literally being pushed from behind by the wind. The wind was gusting so hard it put me into a brief jog. I do not classify that as a breeze. More along the lines of nearly a hurricane. And for the 3 minutes I was outside, my "trouser" legs were soggy. I need fully body rain gear with this wind/rain combo.

Up until about 2 weeks ago, I thought that perhaps Scotland (or the whole of the UK) had made their own classifications of wind just because there is rarely a day without it. Kind of like how I've been told the Eskimos have many descriptions of snow. They get it so often and with varying degrees so it needs to be explained just which one will be encountered on any given day. So that was my theory on wind speed ratings here.

But that theory was debunked when I discovered a website talking about the "F" numbers and the wind speeds, complete with each number's description as well.  Apparently these "F" numbers make up the Beaufort scale. Wikipedia's chart is exceptionally helpful as you can see the effects on the land, as well. Based on my observations we are more likely to be in the F7 or F8 category today. And for what it is worth, I'm not sure I've ever seen it at F1 during our time here. The F2 days are far too few, though are so very nice when we get them! (Incidentally, we miraculously had one on Saturday when I photographed 6 families outside. That was a HUGE praise!)

Other than just being a meteorological nerd, I often have my eye on the wind reports because of the loudness in our bedroom. Remember this post almost exactly a year ago? Yeah, it's been a long year of wind.  I can pretty much determine ahead of time now if I will need to sleep in the living room (my solution for getting some sleep on noisy nights) depending on the wind speed and direction. For instance, anything constantly blowing over about 25mph in a South or South-East direction at night (probably a good 10 times a month) and I'm pulling out our fold out chair for a bed because our slates are bound to be jumping. Last night it was so bad I even had a hard time sleeping in there.

All told, perhaps the thing I will miss LEAST about living in Scotland is the WIND (and our slates)!!

08 October 2009

This Week's Cultural Lesson

I have been exposed to yet another part of the British culture. Once again by way of a student worker (though techinically she's graduated and  is working with us as a full-time staff member now). Ayme came in wearing a Blue Peter Badge (more by way of a joke) and was proudly showing it off to me. Too bad I had no idea what it was!

Then came the 10 or so minutes of catching this daft American up to speed on this rather big children's program run by the BBC. Here is the BBC site where children can go and find out how they can earn the famed Blue Peter Badge. From what I can gather, children have to submit letters or do things to impress the "presenters" (hosts of the show). It seems it must be somewhat challenging to actually get a badge so that's why it was a big deal Ayme had received one. The awards have been given out since the early 60's so have quite a heritage by now. The coveted award also allows the under 16 children to gain free entry into some of the larger attractions in the UK, like Legoland. In searching the net to find out more, I uncovered a scandal with the badges from a few years ago. People were selling their badges on E-bay offering free entry into the attractions at a minimal cost! The BBC now also awards an ID card along with the badge to stop such falsifications.

The final thing my co-workers mentioned was all the bloopers that would happen on the show as a result of it being broadcast live. They specifically told me one of the most memorable occurred when they had an elephant relieve himself on national television. I had to look it up. See for yourself.

P.S. If you see any spelling errors (here or in the future) please ignore! I'm a terrible speller and since Blogger has "updated" some features it has decided to take this feature away. Grrrr....