Matt's blog

The story of me, an American in Edinburgh, Scotland finding my place as a musician, a husband, a father and a Christian.

I Hate to Say This

Firefox 2.0 sucks. New tabs and spell check are cool, but the browser randomly freezes and often maxes my CPU. This renders the browser unusable. Unfortunately, poking around just a bit on the internet confirms that this is a widespread problem , which isn't confined to this 4 year old lappy. I spent about 15 minutes just trying to post a comment on Drew's blog before I broke down and did it with Internet Explorer. I'm posting this from IE7. Once Mozilla gets the kinks worked out I'll switch back, but for now I'll be using IE7 for my web-ventures. I never thought I'd see the day.

What A Ba-Frikken-Zarre World We Live In...

...that one could even make the statement that battery operated penises are more socially acceptable than battery operated vaginas.

Context available on request.

More Fun From CUKAS!

Knowing that it's part of my official title certainly makes me feel more secure in my masculinity.


Just thought you might want to know. I won't go too deep into detail about my existential crisis du jour, I'll just say it stems from the fact that I'm now applying for the master's program at RSAMD and their application is asking me things like this:

I don't really know what benefit this master's degree will bring me if I decide to go through with it, gaining future occupation-wise. Most days I feel like I want to be a stay at home dad or a church musician and I don't know if this degree is really necessary for that. Anyway, I decided tonight, with the indispensable help of my beautiful wife, that I'll go through with the application process. Assuming I'm offered a spot, this gives me a full year to decide if this is what I want to do.

Also, Jeni and I are going to have kids, probably some mix of adopted and biological, but not right now. Not at least for a year and a half, depending on what I decide about this master's degree.

Some Photos!

Sorry about the lack of posts of substance recently. My excuse isn't that nothing has happened worth posting about, it's that so much stuff has been going on that I've found myself somewhat overwhelmed. What's going on right now is that Jeni and I are sick, so I'm using the down time to put up a few photos we've taken recently that I like. Here they are!

Look! A castle!
We were out walking the other day and the castle peeked out from behind some trees so I grabbed a pic of it.

Swan 3
I think this swan pic has already been on the blog, but I like it so it's going up again.

Another beautiful day in Edinburgh!
I took this snapshot of Jeni while we were waiting for a bus on Princes Street to go out to the zoo. Dumb luck and an excellent subject turned this mindless snapshot into a great picture.

Eagle close up
One of the Edinburgh Zoo's sea eagles.

Sea Eagle looks right
I think these guys are pretty gorgeous.

Cute Penguin 437
One of a zillion penguins at the zoo.

Here's the zoo's polar bear Mercedes who was out basking in the late afternoon sun.

River Otter 3
River otter! These guys are beyond cute. The zoo has about 8 of them who wriggle around in a squirming pile of cuteness while squeaking like newly hatched chicks.

In other news, anyone who has gotten to know me exclusively from this blog might think that I'm a generally fun loving and cool to be around kind of guy, but I assure you that if you knew me in real life, you would know that unfortunately that's not the case. Today I stumbled upon this comic which I think sums the real life me up pretty well.

The Best of "" - The Next Four Months

November 2004 to January of 2005 compose what may be considered the start of the Golden Age of Today's best of excerpts are presented with links back to their original posts so that they may be enjoyed in their entirety, which is especially important for gems such as the 'Kerry Got Rocked Dragon."
What if she was saying Shredder, not shredder? What if she was offering me a life size replica of MASTER SHREDDER?!?!?!?!
The Kerry Got Rocked Dragon!!!
Today, in Roger Graham's Mass communication class:

Student: The Scarecrow wanted a brain.
RG: What'd he end up getting?
Student: A diploma.
RG: Sounds like some of you!
Does Moby have a blog? Does he apologize for any of his music on it? Is it very well presented but incredibly boring?
Isn't that weird how they had a black guy in the early episodes called Spearchucker?: Those 70'’s man'… crazy times.
I go to open the jar and…

Ferret carriers, with their intended cargo, are legal airline carry-ons.
Can you get cancer of the hair?
I think of all the great injustices and pains that I have faced in my life, the greatest was inflicted by my very flesh and blood. Not a parent, or a cousin, or a distant relative with no personal relationship, but my very own brother.
She is not usually so cloaked in shadow, but she does indeed love the toast!
(Use this link to view the Ghetto Blog reffered to.)
Join us again next time, as we continue through the best of

The Interweb

So, on the ol' interweb today I clicked on this link:

And was taken to this page:

They're Coming...

Jeni and I are members of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, which means that we can go to the zoo as much as we want! Edinburgh Zoo's claim to fame is a great big (maybe the largest in the world) penguin enclosure. Every afternoon they have a penguin parade where some of the penguins come out of the enclosure and strut their stuff for the zoo's visitors. Sounds like a lot of fun, right? Well, click the video below to see a trailer for an upcoming documentary about the penguin parade and see for yourself.

Penguin Parade on Vimeo

A Pretty Decent Birthday All Around

Today had its ups and downs, but it ended with an up, which is always a good thing. I spent most of my day wrestling with an experimental ice cream cake. Perhaps in a day or two I'll come up with an embellished and obfuscated version of the events and post them as a short story that touches on the core struggles and truths of our shared human existence. For tonight I'll merely say that having the right ice cream is essential for making a good ice cream cake.

I also spent much of the day going stir crazy, staring at the wall, fidgeting in my chair, wandering aimlessly on the internet (mainly, etc. I really need to get started with my studies at Glasgow. I've worked for as long as I can with no outside direction and my screws are starting to come loose. In just a few short days I'm sure I will wake up and get out of bed only to stroke lovingly and speak tenderly to our herb garden until it's time to go back to sleep again. Really people, I'm coming apart at the seams here.

On the up side, we finished up the night by playing a new game, Ticket to Ride Europe, with Rob and Emma, our upstairs neighbors. Basically you have a big map of Europe and get to build train routes across it. Everyone has secret cards with destination goals (such as to connect Berlin and Roma) which they reveal at the end of the game to get points. If you don't finish your goals, you lose points instead. It's really awesome fun and really easy to get the hang of. It gets my two thumbs up. We'll now have it in rotation with Settlers of Catan so we don't get burned out on either one. Risk: Godstorm is the next game on our shopping list, but it'll probably be a little while before we get that one.

Anyway, there's my birthday. Happy birthday to me!

Jeni, to Matt

New Video Blog!

The second post today! And this one's a video!!! Hooray!!!

Invasion of Privacy on Vimeo

The Haps in the World of Matt

Well, sorry I dropped off of the interweb for a few days there. I'm doing my best to get something up here at least every other day for to make me peoples happy. Here's a little update:

Even though we both still feel like foreigners, Jeni and I are starting to settle in Edinburgh. Now that each day is composed of more than just a frantic effort to survive to the next, we have found ourselves bored and in need of entertainment. Or perhaps I should say we've found ourselves board...

Anyway, how to entertain ourselves. Television is out. There are a few things on that would be cool to watch, but for the most part TV simply takes up your time and doesn't give anything back. When you add to that the fact that you need to pay a TV tax over here (in addition to the cost of buying a TV in pounds), TV's place in the not-an-option pile is secure.

If TV's out, than video games are also out. I know Jeni and I make fun of Drew probably more than is good for him, but we both kind of agree that the Nintendo Wii looks pretty nifty. It looks to me like it would encourage social interaction and even be (gasp) fun. I've spent enough time hunched over my computer screen, completely isolated from human interaction with nary a smile to be found on my face, to long for a time when video games where actually fun. (As an aside, the last time I found myself so involved was freshman year of college when I ended up dropping my English class because of Diablo 2. Since then I have nearly completely checked out of the video game scene and done little more but play the occasional game of Tetris on my computer or Burnout /Lego Start Wars when I'm back in L.A.) Ultimately because of the TV thing and the money required to buy a system and games, video games are out, too.

So what else do people do? Jeni and I are usually both working on at least one book, but reading for days and days straight can become tedious. We can't do anything cool, because we don't have the money and because around here 'cool' ends up leading to a pile of vomit on our steps, on the walls of uni buildings, in the doorways of shops, etc. How about something uncool? How about something decidedly nerdy?

How about board games?

Ok, so Jeni and I aren't total addicts yet, but it looks like we may both become gamers, in the board, cards, and dice sense, before too long. So far we have our old standbys Scrabble and Fluxx. We rediscovered a cool dice game which we were taught on a trip to Montana years ago. And of course, we have the Settlers of Catan. Settlers has become the big winner around here. Our neighbors love the game, to the point of unconsciously giving us the puppy dog eyes when we imply we might want to do something else for the night. We just picked up the 5-6 player expansion, so we can have Settlers ready for every situation.

Earlier this week we went out looking for a new game as a birthday gift for me (for me???). The guy at our local game shop recommended Carcassonne saying that it is the only game in his shop that he gives a money back guarantee on. Unfortunately, we will be taking him up on his offer. The game is pretty simple and at first looks like it will be nearly as mindless as Fluxx, which is good because we were looking for something to offset the intenseness of Settlers. It turns out that because of some weird scoring rules, Carcassonne gets weird and confusing. Once you play it 4 or 5 times you get the hang of it, but it is not a game that we feel we could just pull out to play with people casually. That's a plus of Settlers. Even though Settlers is an intense game, it is pretty easy to explain how the game works to a new player. The other downside to Carcassonne is that at the end of the game you need to score all the 'farms' which is a real mind numbing experience. After you've tallied up all the point you look at the scoreboard and say, "Oh, it looks like I won." Yeah, it's kind of anti-climactic.

I don't just want to bash this game, because I know there are a lot of people out there who love it. Unfortunately, Jeni and I have 4 mediocre games followed by one actually unpleasant one, and I'm afraid that has probably ruined the game for us. It'll go back to the store and get exchanged for something else pretty soon.

I think the experience has taught us about what it is that we like and dislike in a game.

  • Definitive win conditions. We like to know immediately when someone has won. Ambiguous scoring methods take away from the excitement and suspense of the game.
  • Constant involvement. We like games that keep you involved even when it's not your turn.
  • Chance. Chance is great.
  • Surprises. Much like chance, surprises are great.
  • The chance to take chances and set up surprises for other players. It's cool when you can pull something completely out of left field to win but do it in such a way that your opponents appreciate how awesome it was rather than just feel bad for being beaten.
  • Strategy. Even if it's just a little like in Fluxx, the strategic element of a game goes a long way towards entertaining your brain.
  • Being forced to make decisions or choose the lesser of two evils. I like the feeling of being caught between a rock and a hard place. It forces you to be creative and make do with what you have.
  • Negate everything on the above list.
  • Getting pounded mercilessly with no hope, not even a sliver, of salvation. That's a bad feeling. A good game should let you think there's a chance you could win almost no matter how far behind you are. Big turnarounds and underdog victories make for good gaming experiences.
That's kind of what's up with us in the non-serious part of our lives. Any other game ideas? We want games! Big ones, small ones, it doesn't matter. If you can think of any games we might like, let me know!

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