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Mr. Thursday
13 October 2010 @ 09:56 pm
Why hello there, oh dusty neglected blog of mine. How are you? Have you been well? I know I have! I've left you all alone for a good month and a half, but I swear it's for good reason! You needn't worry about me simply forgetting about you, not at all. My life has simply become so frantically busy that it has taken me a while to become adjusted to it all. Let me fill you in on what you've missed.

The last time I wrote here, I had just gotten my hands on a fresh job, visited the Viking festival, and was getting ready to start my shiny new job. Allow me to confirm that my new job has been AMAZING. I honestly LOVE my job, I really do, more than any job I've ever had in my entire life. I know I spoke of it before as a banking call centre, but to be honest I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I assumed it was essentially a call centre, except I would be taking transactions instead of talking about products, and I've since learned I was wrong on all counts. While I may be taking phone calls, I am in every way a Banker. As in, the guy on the other side of the counter at a bank. I deal with transactions, with bill payments, with fees and customer's problems and everything you would expect in a bank. I give people their balances, I help them figure out what's been payed and what's left to come off, I even sell them mortgages and savings accounts and life insurance.

Before I started taking calls at work, I had a vague idea of what my job would entail. Now that I'm actually doing my job, however, I realise that what I'm doing is much more Bank than Call Centre. I'm pleasantly surprised, to be honest. I didn't like the idea of being a call centre worker, even though I loved the idea of workng, and now that I feel as if my job really isn't that I feel much better about everything. I've been going through training for four weeks or so thus far, with more training for another three weeks, and then I'm done training and I'm thrown into the fray to do my full job. As it is now I tend to take calls part of the day, or to not take calls at all and spend the day in the training room learning about different products or procedures.

I really didn't expect to enjoy my job the way I have been. The days fly by, the calls are actually FUN to take, always different and interesting. I don't dread the calls, I actually look forward to them! It's the complete opposite reaction that I expected to have. I'm not great at selling people on things, or handling customers on the phone, but somehow I actually love this job! It doesn't really make sense, but that's just how it is.

I'm tired now, a feeling I've been carrying with me most nights since I started working, so I think I'll stop here for now. Getting up early takes a lot out of me when it gets to nighttime, which is why I've been so absent lately blog-wise, but here's hoping I can keep up a better rate that one post every two months.

Stay classy, blog. I'll be back soon!
 
 
Mr. Thursday
05 September 2010 @ 11:05 pm
I finally got around to putting some much-needed pictures onto my Facebook recently, an act which no doubt pleased my mother seeing as I've been promising such things since early July. Putting them up there doesn't necessarily mean people here have seen them, but I won't put them all up here again. I'll share a few of the good ones, and for the rest you can look elsewhere. Part of the reason I'm hesitant to throw them all up here is because I have some much nicer pictures to share of something much cooler than a trip to a museum (though the Kelvingrove WAS pretty amazing) or my new glasses (those are pretty cool too).

Yesterday Lorna, her mother and father and I all went up north to see something called the "Viking Festival" in a town called Largs. It was about an hour and a half's drive away, but we all piled into the car anyways and headed up there around four in the afternoon. It was easily one of the best times I've had since coming to Scotland, and I can't express just how cool it was in writing. The Viking Festival is an annual celebration in Largs which features games, carnival rides, a battle re-enactment, the burning of a longboat and finally a fireworks show. Yes, it's as cool as it sounds.

While I was excited to actually see all the things I just described, there was one huge part of the day that I completely neglected to think about: the journey there. The drive up to Largs gave me a chance to see some of the most breathtaking scenery Scotland has to offer. Because so much of Scotland is hills and valleys, it's completely different from living in a place like Montreal, where mostly everything is flat (in the area I lived certainly). Here, you can look out your bedroom window and see for a mile, the whole town right in front of you. It was like that driving to the festival, but ten times better. At times we would reach the crest of a hill and see for miles in every direction, see the water and the hills and the towns spread out all across the land. It was absolutely amazing, and I have never seen anything like it in my entire life.

While we were partway there, we stopped on the side of the road at a monument to Free French soldiers who fought during World War 2, even after the French surrendered to the Nazis. You can see a picture of the memorial here. That is exactly where we were, leaning against the railing and looking down at all that beautiful scenery. In fact you can see a picture of THAT here. Lorna's dad took a lot of pictures during our day out, and all the ones I'll be using as examples here are ones taken by him.

Once we actually got to the Viking Festival, we found that it was a lot more popular than I thought. The amount of people already there by the time we arrived was obscene, so we found a spot as close as we could with a decent view and waited there. When things finally got started, it was pretty impressive. Here's a great example of some of the costumes we saw at the battle re-enactment. Unfortunately we weren't able to get any pictures of the battle itself, because we were so far from where it was happening, but it was a re-enactment of a battle between Scottish and Viking warriors, and it was actually pretty impressive. I've never been to something like that before, with men and women in costumes with weapons and shields and banners and everything. It was narrated as well, and though we didn't have great seats, it was very cool to see, especially for the many children that were at the show.

After the battle, the warriors took out bows and arrows, lit them on fire, and used flaming arrows to light a longboat on fire (small but similar to the kind of boat vikings really used). Jim (Lorna's father) took a great photo of it, as well as a photo of one of the fire-eaters they had at the event as well. To top off the whole night, there was a massive fireworks show. It was the perfect end to a great day out.

Finally, as I mentioned earlier, I wanted to link a few photos relating to my trip to the Kelvingrove Art Exhibit from earlier in the summer, as well as my new glasses.

Some examples of the things we saw at the Kelvingrove: here, here, here and here.

Lastly, my new glasses: just them, and also me.
 
 
Mr. Thursday
30 August 2010 @ 10:28 pm
A few days ago, Lorna and I watched a program on television that was really interesting. It was a part of a series of documentaries called 'Cutting Edge', which focuses on all sorts of issues and incidents in Britain. I've only ever seen this one episode, but it really impressed me, and I'm hoping to catch more of it as time goes on. The episode we watched was called "My New Brain", and was about a 20-year-old man named Simon who suffered a twenty-foot fall one night and woke up from a coma weeks later with no recollection of who he was at all.

It was...very strange to watch. This was a guy my age, no older than I am now, who was out drinking one night when he made a stupid decision (climbing a fence without realizing that the drop on the other side was very far) and destroyed his whole life. He was in a coma for weeks, and when he finally woke up he had terrible brain damage. He couldn't remember who he was, where he was, or what happened. He could barely remember how to speak, how to dress himself, anything. He had to go live in a special center for people with problems like his, and was a completely different person altogether. His sense of humour changed, his attitude changed, and he could barely remember anything short term OR long term.

It wasn't easy to watch, but it was very interesting. Seeing this guy, this guy just like me with the exception of one unfortunate accident, learn to live again, really shook me. With therapy and a great deal of effort, Simon began to get better, but none of it was easy. His own mother could barely accept him anymore because she just wanted her old son back, and when he was able to stay with his family for weekends or nights it was almost up to his two younger brothers to take care of him. They were much more accepting of him, not that I could really blame the mother for having trouble, and helped him dress himself and remember how things were before. One of the big changes that they really had trouble adapting to was Simon's...lack of tact, I guess you could say. Because he didn't really understand how to act with people, what was and wasn't appropriate was difficult for him to grasp. Sometimes he would go from laughing to screaming in the blink of an eye, and other times he would say cruel or somewhat sick things without understanding why people chastised him for it.

Eventually things started to change for Simon, and he began to get more and more of his short-term memory back. He was able to remember how to do things he had already done, remember what he ate the previous day, etc. He still couldn't remember anything before the accident clearly, but he still started to heal, mentally. But he still wasn't his old self, and he never would be. A year after his accident, Simon was healthy enough to move back home and live with his family again. He was a different man, and he would never be the same guy again, but he was healthy enough to learn to lead his life again, and to rediscover who he was.

I know this whole post has been a bit odd, and completely unrelated to most of the things I write about, but watching this documentary really made me think. This was a perfectly normal guy whose entire life was wiped out in one night, who had to rebuild everything he was and had. His friends didn't know him anymore, he couldn't do his old job properly, he couldn't go to University anymore, nothing. And that really made me think about what that would be like, to lose everything and everyone, and even worse, to not even remember having those things. To have no memory of any kind of any part of your life, as if you woke up one day a newborn baby at the age of twenty. I don't know about you, but that idea scares the hell out of me.
 
 
Mr. Thursday
29 August 2010 @ 01:40 am
I'm eager to be brushing the dust off the blog today, extremely eager, because I have an announcement to make, one I've been hoping to make for sometime now.

I have a job! Yes, a real, honest to god job! Since arriving here three months ago I've been job-hunting relentlessly, trying to find work of any kind. I've applied all up and down town, I've been checking the local job website for weeks, and until now nothing. Nothing at all. Until recently I barely even had an interview, but all that changed in the past two weeks. I'll get into that shortly, but first let me say a bit more about this job.

I'll be working for a bank called "First Direct", which is a UK-only bank that is quite well known here, in one of their call centres here in Hamilton (the office is, no joke, a five minute walk from home). First Direct is actually a bank that doesn't have any branches, as in there's no bank you can actually walk into physically. Instead, they work entirely over the phone, online and via text message. It's actually something of a strange system in my opinion, something I'm not at all used to, but apparently it works very well for people. Anyways, my job would be two-sided: helping people with their transactions, their queries and that sort of thing (moving money from account to account, paying credit cards, taking out mortgages), and at the same time trying to sell them things such as credit cards, loans, and that sort of thing. I'll be working towards targets, which is a little nerve-wracking, but I'm not too worried about it.

This job is...well, it's pretty much everything I could have hoped for. I've been applying to every job I could possibly do, including McDonalds and other such places, but this job is above and beyond anything I could have hoped for. It's five minutes from home, as I said before. The pay is amazing and there's good benefits as well, though I've only been given vague details thus far. The hours are good (fourty hours over four days, which gives me three days off work) and based solely off of my pay Lorna and I could probably afford to move out (though we probably won't, because it's a whole lot easier when we both have jobs).

Getting this job has been a pretty stressful ordeal. It's the reason I've been completely incognito these past two and a half weeks, both via blog and via Skype. A little over two weeks ago I applied online for several jobs, much like I do almost every week, but this time I heard back from several of them. I got three telephone interviews from call centres, two of them banks, and I also got a face-to-face interview with a sandwich shop in town. I had all the telephone interviews over the course of the week, and they all went well, but I only heard back from one of them (First Direct).

I got a call back from First Direct almost right away, and set up an interview for the next week. I went to that one, which was a group interview with fake-telephone calls I had to answer and a tour of the whole building. It was actually really cool, but it also made me super anxious. There were five people at that interview, all going for the same job, and I was the youngest of them all by at least 8 years, and I certainly had the least experience, but I guess I impressed somebody because they asked me to come back for a final face-to-face interview, which made me feel better about how nervous I felt even just pretending to sell travel insurance to some woman over the phone.

I had my sandwich shop interview the very next day, which went well but apparently not well enough because I never heard shit back from them. Apparently having two years of sandwich shop experience wasn't what they were looking for. A few days ago that really worried me, but then I had my final interview with First Direct, and that went really well, but I had to wait to hear the result. I had no idea how many people they were looking for, or how many people had applied, and so all I could do was wait. I waited for a few days, and then got a call from the woman who interviewed me. She was missing some information about my previous jobs, and had nothing to tell me. I waited some more. A few days later, she called again. This time she needed some information about my time at CEGEP. I was getting super anxious by this point, because not getting this job meant I was back at square one, without a single lead or hope, whereas getting it would solve all my problems. Then, just when the woman on the phone seemed ready to hang up, out of the blue she said this:

"Alright Matthew, based on the information you've given us we'd like to offer you a job."

It was so unexpected that I was surprised I didn't say "...huh?". Instead I just thanked her very sincerely, listened to everything she had to say, and then thanked her some more. My training begins on September 20th, and I can't wait. I'm ready to start working again, and I'm ready to actually earn some money and start working towards the things that Lorna and I want and the things that Lorna and I need.

Speaking of things that I need, I've needed a change of glasses for a couple years now. I got the ones I'm wearing now almost seven years back, give or take a bit, and when I did get them they were only supposed to be back-up glasses for when I wasn't wearing my contacts (yes, I wore contact lenses for a few years), so I didn't really care about them when I got 'em. Now that I wear them full-time, however, I can't stand them. I really, honestly hate them. Very shortly, however, I'll be rid of them for good, because I'm getting brand-new glasses! I went for an eye-test last week, and the optician actually told me that my current prescription is so strong that it's going to cause me to become near-sighted if I don't get new ones soon. He gave me a better prescription, one that won't damage my eyes, and Lorna and I went to a store in town and we found a really nice pair of glasses for a good price. Plus, there was a two-for-one sale so I got a pair of prescription sunglasses as well for free! I'm picking them up on Wednesday, so I should be able to throw up some pictures then.

There were a few things I wanted to jot down here tonight that I still haven't gotten to, but I covered the important stuff and the rest can come later. For now, I think this post is plenty long enough, don't you?
 
 
Mr. Thursday
01 July 2010 @ 10:07 pm
I've got a blog going over on Blogger (http://scottishexperience.blogspot.com/) but it's something I've mostly been keeping separately from this blog up until now. To be honest, I want to share posts between my two blogs. The only reason I even have two blogs is so that my family can easily read my blog without going through any posts about RP or comic books or whatnot. Anyways, I'm copying my most recent blog post here, just for kicks. Enjoy!

The internet was going completely ballistic again this morning, much to my annoyance, but after a long day out and about it I've returned to find it's working fine now (nobody knows why), so let's just hope it holds out long enough for me to finish this post!

Being in Scotland has been a really interesting experience for me, in case you couldn't tell. It's hard to explain how different absolutely EVERYTHING is when you go halfway across the world to live somewhere new. The food, the weather, the TV shows, the celebrities, the music, the way people interact in the street and just about a million other things I can't be bothered to name right now. One thing in particular that I really have noticed, even more than most, is the differences in language. Sure, people in Scotland speak English, but it's not the same. Not at all. Even when I can understand a person's accents (most of the time, by now) there's a good chance that they're going to use about five or six words I've never heard of in each and every encounter. This can make speaking with some people very nerve-wracking, because I don't want to look like an idiot when they're asking me about the weather and I can't even mumble a reply for fear of being completely off the mark.

Thankfully by now I'm really getting used to Scottish slang. I rarely have any difficulty understanding people by now, something that I've worked quite hard at. Lorna and her family have been a huge help with this, simply by speaking to me normally and using all the same words they would with anybody. Seeing as I've picked up a large number of slang words, I figured it might be fun to share a few with you guys now! Let's start with a few random ones for today, just for starters.

Word: Chippy
Description: A fish and chips shop, or simply a chips shop.
Example: I'm heading to the chippy for lunch.

Word: Cuppa
Description: A cup of tea.
Example: Anybody want a cuppa?

Word: That's you!
Description: A term used to indicate that something (or someone) is done. Short for "That's you done then."
Example: That's you! Radiator's all fixed.

Word: Wean (pronounced 'Wayne')
Description: A child. Unrelated to the other use of the word (weaning someone off something).
Use: I hope you and the weans are well!

Word: Knackered
Description: Tired, exhausted.
Use: After being out all day I'm bloody knackered.

I think that's going to be it for now, because as I really AM bloody knackered after being out on my feet all day! Hope you all had a wonderful Canada Day!
 
 
 
Mr. Thursday
04 June 2010 @ 08:47 am
This is me sitting down, at last, to clear up a few things. Nothing that pressing, but I like sharing.

a) I'm in Scotland. I stopped RPing and updating my journal for a few days (or a week or two) while I was getting ready, flying over and then settling in. And by now, a week after arriving, I think I can safely say that I've settled in very comfortably. I'm very happy here so far, I'm currently looking for work and doing my best to start supporting myself. I'm staying with Lorna and her family, and they've been amazingly kind to me. I miss everyone I left behind in Canada, but I'm glad I'm here.

b) I'm going to start RPing again very soon, and updating like I said I would, and reading my f-list more often. I'm still getting used to being in this new place, but I'm feeling more and more like I'm ready to get back into some of my usual habits.

c) I've started a blog. This may seem odd, seeing as this is sortof a blog as well, but this is more private. This is personal. Most of the stuff I babble about here isn't the kind of thing that I want to bother my family with, and in some cases it's stuff I don't want them to know about, shifty as that may sound. Really, this is a blog for ME, and for the people I've met online and through RP. What I've started over on blogger.com is a blog about my experiences in Scotland. What it's like, how I'm adapting, the changes I notice and the things that I find interesting. You can find it here, if you're interested. I'll mention every time I make a new post (mention it here, that is) but otherwise I'm going to try and keep the subject matter of these two blogs separate. I've only just started my new blog, but I'm enjoying it already. Here's hoping I can keep it up.

d) Jesus, I feel like I've been away a long time. Tell me how you are, guys. Share with me. It's good to be back.
 
 
Mr. Thursday
02 June 2010 @ 03:30 pm
Quick update!

- I'm in Scotland
- I'm with Lorna
- I'm not dead.
- Planning on updating properly soon. Tomorrow?
- Many pictures to be had soon!
- New blog to unveil! :D

Missing you all! :)
 
 
Mr. Thursday
19 May 2010 @ 02:03 am
Wow, I really need a good Glee icon. Suggestions?

So for no particular reason, I've decided to post my thoughts on tonight's episode of Glee! I'm going to be writing my thoughts down as I watch, so expect a lot of craziness and disjointed ideas. Hopefully it'll be a good one tonight!

”Whee!Collapse )
 
 
 
Mr. Thursday
17 May 2010 @ 12:36 am
This is just a little bit of fanfic that I threw together at two in the morning a couple of days ago. We can all blame silverpenlight for prompting it, though I think her prompt was something like "Jack and Shepard getting drunk and shooting things and being ridiculous!", so I'm willing to share some of the blame for the more...odd elements of the fic.

I've turned on anonymous comments and left IP logging off, because the one thing I really appreciate is honest criticism, no matter how harsh. Nobody ever gets better without being told where they fell short, or where they could make some improvements! So please, comment if you read, and be honest. :)

Hope you enjoy!

Quality love advice from Jack is about as reliable as you'd expect.Collapse )