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Sunday, August 29, 2010

*THE BEST PLACE IN THE WORLD: Scotland and Ireland (Part 15, Section A)

The following continues the serialization of the last chapter from SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity.  This section will be in two parts, as the next entry will report on a hilarious series of incidents at St. Andrews Golf Course.

         Scotland and Ireland


Why am I reporting on these two countries? First, because they are among my favorites. Second, these two countries serve as the backdrop for a story I just had to share, which follows this section.

August is the finest month to visit Scotland. Make it the only good month. The Edinburgh Festival (largest cultural event of its type in the world, ending on September 5 this year), single malt scotches and the home of golf make for an idyllic combination. Let me, though, write Scotland off with two words—too cold—but, still provide an entertaining story featuring Professor Grant Burgess, favorite son of Edinburgh, who when this tale occurred a decade ago, was the biotechnology expert for Heriot-Watt University located in his home town.

When a small group of us first visited that campus, their vice provost, or something similar, welcomed us into  his capacious conference room, and this being the late afternoon, wheeled out a cart of six single malt scotches. He proceeded to provide some background of each, from the lightest up to Lagavulin, a peaty 16-year old malt, which soon became my favorite. We came to talk marine biotechnology, but never got around to that subject.

Grant later took us to his office, and pointed out that his two neighbors were the Scotch Professor of Scotland and a biology faculty member who, while also a specialist in malting and brewing, had a membership in the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews. Dr. James Bryce had a single digit handicap and took us to his home course on occasion.

I’ve challenged Carnoustie, the home of the Open in 2007, and even toyed with the Old Course of St. Andrews, or, make it the other way around. Anyway, will come back to Scotland later, but one day, Grant Burgess, Mayumi and Tadashi Matsunaga and I golfed at the Royal Dublin Golf Course, in Ireland, which was on that other island to the West.  Ireland is a favorite of many, and the town of Dublin has terrific character, with a good many bars and a lot of artworks consisting of painted cows. There’s a reason for this, and I’ll need to Google the reason. Anyway, the day I landed, I had transferred through Heathrow, and London had, for the first time in recorded history, hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with Dublin at 98°F. The major news item was a warning to place sun block on cow udders.

Of course, I thought about protecting myself, too, so I went to a department store but couldn’t find any for humans. After much scurrying around, I finally was able to purchase a small tube of Johnson and Johnson for a ridiculously high price. It went on fine, although it seemed to stain everything white, but just wouldn’t come off, even with soap. I think I bought something for cows.

Well, back to the Royal Dublin, Grant and I each rented a golf set, while the Matsunaga’s had brought theirs.  We were going to buy golf balls, which were very, very expensive, but Tadashi said, we could use his, for he brought a lot of them. We teed off, but by the fifth hole, were down to one ball each. The rough grass just consumed our balls, and Tadashi had not brought that many, maybe only 35. Well, anyway, the more interesting story occurred at St. Andrews, where golf was invented. But I eliminate Ireland from contention because it also is normally too cold and you’re never quite sure about some terroristic threat, although that is, really, in Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom. Ireland is its own nation and deserves a top ten standing.

What has this got to do with Scotland and being the best place to live? Nothing much, but serves as a link to the next story.

Wow, there are now six storms over our oceans:

1.  Hurricane Danielle in the Atlantic is still at 80 MPH, but moving east.

2.  Hurricane Earl looms to become a Category 4 storm:
However, while the Carolinas and Cape Code could be threatened, odds are that he will turn east before getting close to land.  However, you just don't know, for at least one computer model has it hitting land.

3.  There is another storm tracking Earl, but does not yet have a name.

4.  A disturbance popped up in the Central Pacific, south and west of Hawaii.  It does not loom as a threat.

5. and 6.  However, there are two in the West Pacific.  First, Tropical Storm Kompasu, already at 65 MPH, will become a Category 2 typhoon, and appears to be headed somewhere between Shanghai and Cheju Island.

Next, Tropical Storm Lionrock, at 45 MPH, will make landfall on Wednesday north of Hong Kong.

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