Friday, 28 November 2008

Reflections on My Computer Crash

Computers are like untrustworthy lovers.

At first, your computer will be there for you whenever you turn to it. It will spend all hours of the day with you. You will see the world through its eyes. Life is easy and accessible in these early days.

Then, it will become a little cranky. "It's just not wearing its best face for me because we are so comfortable with each other now," you will tell yourself. Watch out. This is a lie.

Before you know it, your computer will mercilessly abandon you. You will come home to it one day and it just simply won't be there anymore. No contact details left. Gone. Without a trace.

But this is not all, because computers are malicious. It will take with it everything you cherish, your most valued possessions: all your family photos, crucial documents, everything you've saved.

I write this in the wake of my grief, after having recently been thus abandoned. Take it from me: Never trust a computer.

Thursday, 27 November 2008


As this is such an appropriate time to reflect on the things we are grateful for, allow me to kick-off the thanks-giving. (Sorry, I get to beat all of you in America to this with a six hour head start!).

Call it minor, but today I am so grateful for the canned pumpkin from the States I had stashed away in my pantry for a year! I was able to make pumpkin pie because of it. When you are far from home, sometimes it is really is the little things... A can of pumpkin, which I probably paid sixty-four cents for, can make the difference between a blue, homesick Grumblegiving and a happy, nostalgic Thanksgiving.

Trying to do Thanksgiving in a country that neither celebrates it nor carries the staple items needed for a Thanksgiving feast is a somewhat dislocating experience! At least, it reminds me that I am dislocated- not home. It is so funny the way Americans network here for those rarities like corn bread for stuffing, Turkey bags, those crunchy little fried onion things for green bean casserole, and, as you know by now, canned pumpkin! A black market Walmart would make a killing here. I have found one store in Edinburgh that sells some of the American basics. I blew a gasket the first time I went in to Lupe Pintos and saw Nabisco graham crackers, white marshmallows, Jiffy cornbread mix, corn tortillas, and, yes, canned pumpkin! I happily paid four pounds (then equivalent to eight dollars!) for a jar of chipotle salsa; though, I have to admit I was pretty annoyed when I saw on the back that it was made in Houston, Texas. (I'm hearing that old Pace Picante Sauce commercial in my head right now: "Made in New York city!") I paid eight dollars for a jar of salsa from Texas that probably costs one-fifty there!

Chad and I will be celebrating with another American family, the Thornberrys. I hope you share the day with some people you love as well.

I'll let you know how my pumpkin pie tastes!

Take a moment to share with us a few things you are thankful for. Your comments will post here for the readers to see.

Monday, 10 November 2008

A Few More Anecdotes on the Gales

Well, as you may have realized already, the poem below is about our bike trip to the office this morning in the infamous Scottish gales. For those of you who go to the Oaks, picture the Red Oak winds on crack. It's insanity. I posted that little video to the left to show you what some high force gales look like.

Chad thought I should tell you a few funny stories about our experiences in the gales to give you a feel for what these winds are like. I have several:

1. Last winter, Chad thought it'd be fun to go on a long ride to the ocean on the outskirts of Edinburgh. On this bike trip, we had the pleasure of riding through almost every miserable British weather condition imaginable: rain, sleet, snow, and gale winds. I was ticked, to say it politely. When we finally did get to the ocean, the winds were blowing so hard that we literally could not pedal ourselves into it any further. We were stuck. I imagined that movie from the 90s (?) about the storm chasers. We turned around to escape this torment and ride back home, but when we did so, we found we did not even have to pedal! The wind pushed us along. That is the only pleasant thing I can say about the journey that day.

2. A couple weeks ago, riding to the office again, I turned down a street in the city center where tall buildings line each side of the road, a situation that creates a wind tunnel. Thank God there was no oncoming traffic because I was forced into the oncoming lane! I could hardly get off my bike.

3. Chad's boss told him a story about a girl he saw get blown over on her bike by the gales. She actually chipped her tooth on the car she fell into. Steam is coming off my head just thinking about how I would feel it that happened to me!

Grrr... I'm getting angry writing on this topic! Let's stick to the amnesiac romanticization of the gales in my poem!

Cycling to Work, November 1o

She fought the gales
Riding valiantly on her metallic steed
Shield slung across her back
She did not hide her face
She pressed in
With courage
Towards her destination
The wind like the arms of a giant
Pushing her backwards, sideways
But she had to go forward
Until she arrived, safely
Where she would spend the day
Using the best of reason
In an effort to conquer riddles of intellect
Knowing full well that none of us will ever conquer the seasons

The wind humbles us
I ponder this with reverence
While outside the fortress of my window
I listen to nature's defiance
Against humanity's Napoleonic complex

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Al Anon

Left standing drenched and helpless again
In the wake of your violent, unpredictable waves
Slapping vengefully against the shore
The borderland where I can approach you, but go no further

Yesterday, I was sailing upon the water’s smooth surface
But today the sky is stormy, grey, silent
Except for the sound of your waves, beating down on top of each other
As if you were in a war against yourself
As if you hope to destroy yourself

I know not how to love you,
How to trust you,
Or even how to know you
You bear extremes within your nature
That have no regard for those who share this planet with you
I’m beginning to grow numb after so many cold, wet nights of being submerged in the tidal waves of your outbursts
I wonder at the invisible sources that agitate the dark expanse below your surface
The forces that conjure up the unforgiving fierceness of your rage

Long ago, Jesus spoke and the ocean storms subsided
I pray today that miracle will be repeated

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

International Adoption

In the past week, I've inadvertently stumbled upon two separate sources which have reminded me why I want so badly to adopt a child from another (low-income) country. Why am I telling you this? Maybe to simply share with you what drives me (and Chad) to do this; though, I must admit, before I knew the facts or started researching into this the desire was there. I can only explain it as something it seems God wants Chad and me to do.

Consider the following facts:
"The average under-5 mortality rate (possibly the best indicator of overall child welfare) in the low-income countries is 20 times what it is in the high-income countries. It is not uncommon in the poor countries to find rates of under-5 malnutrition of 30 per cent to 40 per cent--though it can be as high as 84 per cent (in Bangladesh) or 63 per cent (in India), which together account for about one in six of the world's population" (Charles R. Beitz, "Social and Cosmopolitan Liberalism," International Affairs 75.3 (1999): 515-29.)

Secondly, I share with you a short video of the adoption story of University of Georgia football coach March Richt and his family.

I look forward, with you, until the time comes.