Arrivals

I have arrived in Scotland safe and sound with all my luggage, which is really all a girl could ask for. Here are some of my thoughts on Edinburgh so far.

Pounds

Is that the name or just how much your wallet will weigh? The bills are pretty straightforward. They have yet to go over to the plastic system. The coins on the other hand are a nightmare. Why are they so heavy and why are there so many of them? I have not missed the penny and think less change is better. Now there is a one pence, two pence and fifty pence on top of what you usually get. I will have to make an effort to bright a large amount of small change with me to self-checkouts. This may seem sacrilegious but when I was living in the States I loved the one dollar bills. They are so light and easy. I always had perfect change. Why can’t there be more bills and fewer coins people?

Jaywalking

The jaywalking here is rampant. Everybody does it all the time and it makes me think there must be a lot of pedestrian injuries and deaths. It also seems like cars don’t stop for pedestrians so that’s weird. I have reservations about joining in on the jaywalking partially because the rules of the road make little sense so far and partially because it seems quite dangerous. In two days I’ve already seen some near misses. This is a good way to die.

In Calgary people don’t really jaywalk. If there’s no traffic or the next crosswalk is too far they will but it’s not a constant. The rule for the record is you can cross anywhere where there is at least one corner.

In Denmark they absolutely do not Jaywalk and if you do you are supposed to feel like you are ruining society like how you feel if you eat on the DC Metro. You can if there are no cars anywhere near you but it is discouraged. One of my friends on exchange was from New York and I asked him if he ever thought he’d give up jaywalking. He said it surprised him how quickly he broke the habit because nobody did it.

In DC I had to make a swift adjustment from no jaywalking to jaywalking all the time. I chalked this up to being because people were busy and important (or at least thought they were). I was not busy or important and found it hard to get behind the rush everywhere culture. I would hate to drive there. You have to assume that some human being is flailing themselves into an intersection in spite of the don’t walk hand.

Vancouver is a pretty chill place except when it comes to transportation. Then people became rude and self-absorbed. They develop a weird lawless system where people do whatever they want and are quick to anger at anyone who they perceive to have wronged them (the only times anyone swore at me there were on the Skytrain or Seawall). I like to compare the roads there to Hobbes’ state of nature: people do whatever they want whenever they want to because they want to. There are no laws or at least they don’t apply to you. Stop signs are optional and pedestrians cross whenever they feel like it. Drivers are terrible. At least everyone sucks equally. Either everyone has to follow the rules or you get anarchy — as a note for the anarchists out there that is what anarchy is like. It’s not a patch sewn on a punk jean jacket. It’s like crossing the street or driving in a place where everyone thinks the rules don’t apply to them or they act like the don’t exist all together. Life may not be brutish but it’ll probably be shorter.

Here there are rules, many of which make no sense to me but the drivers and pedestrians follow. I hope to learn them in time. I wish people could just wait their turn. I will wait for now while I can’t safely figure out the systems for judging when to jaywalk. I have started dashing across whenever locals decide to do so. When in Rome. My visa gives me NHS coverage if I do get hit by a car.

This is a fire door

People in the UK take fire safety very seriously. At the very least they really like to put stickers with a circle and sans serif type informing people that a door is a fire door and must be kept closed. Given that most doors are fire doors and must be kept closed wouldn’t it be safer to just have everyone assume that all doors must be closed because there may one day be a fire? It’s like steeped tea. The tea is inherently steeped by being tea. Since all doors need to be closed we could just skip the fire door label. It seems unnecessary.

I will commend the fire preparedness here. Tofino can’t even order a tsunami warning system, there are no tick signs in the Rockies (not even areas like Jasper that are known to have active ticks) and everyone in the Lower Mainland is woefully unprepared for the big earthquake that looms in their future. It’s better to be over prepared than under.

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