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Cinnamon patrol

Mr and Mrs Lili Wedding

 

The Real Ireland

I found this photo by Eve Arnold in my email yesterday. I don't know where, or how long ago, it was taken - but for me it really captures something of the real Ireland.


The daughter with striking red hair and (almost certainly) a hand knitted cardigan making the soda bread conscientiously and in the traditional way (the pan is then baked in the open hearth). The father, simple, content, and looking on proudly & the young boy, sullen yet mischievous, in the background - also red haired and befreckeled. And all of it in a simple, practical rustic setting that is somehow deeply satisfying.


It's a great shot!

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Bertie down but not out

It's wrong to laugh an another's misfortune, but there's something genuinely funny about this photo of Bertie (former PM) isn't there?



Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern with boys from the Palestrina Choir, at the launch of their CD, Christmas with the Palestrina, and the announcement of their Christmas carol service in the National Concert Hall on December 4th. Photograph: Eric Luke

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Edinburgh

We were there last weekend. Up at 4.00am ish for a 6.30am flight. We were at our hotel by 8am and amazing they had a room ready for us (it wasn't a good room and we had to move but anyways. Also the greeting: 'I'd like to welcome yous to [hotel name here] was not befitting of the establishment.)

It's a nice place, historical like. The castle reminds me of the Acropolis - like the LP says: the massive piece of rock, on which the castle sits, looks like it has been flown in and placed there for dramatic effect. But wow!

The eatings were good and well priced and the weather was mild. The Euro being at yet-another-all-time-high against the pound, we thought it was a good time to buy a Nintendo DS (ostensibly to help with all the long flights coming up - the other night I played space invaders against a random opponnent on the internet - amazing!).

The only complaint I'd make is that there is no river: there is a large valley with bridges spanning it to connect the old city and new city. But the valley is barren and features a train station. I understand that in ye olde times, the valley was flooded with a lake / loch (man made or natural?) into which all the foul effluences and pustulances of the city were poured. Slideshow here.

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It wasn't originally what I wanted like, but now like, this is all I want to do like.

See this clip (just the first minute or so) for a good example of a pleasant Dublin accent (I would say Co. Dubiln north of Malahide, but I'm no expert). Notice an interesting language feature: the continual repitition of the word "like" to add emphases and join phrases together.

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Garden of Delights

As Lisa Loeb said:

I see the lights move on the ceiling
And I see the stars up in the lights
I see the moonbeams on your forehead there
And I think about the Garden of Delights


And although that has nothing to do with food per se, I would be lying if I told you I wasn't excited about the eating prospects back in the old AK of NZ.

Dublin, bless it, has really come a long way in things gastronomic: one can get decent sushi from at least 3 places, there are a number of good and reasonably priced Italian outfits (complete with good Italian winelists and Italian staff), there's good French-style cafes with excellent pastries, there's a we'll-custom-make-you-a-sandwhich place every 20m (hardly an exaggeration) and of course it's a fush and chup lovers heaven.

But sushi aside, Dublin's biggest deficits are in Asian food and in the "relaxed cafe"-style type places (think P'Rd or Kingsland). The neighbourhood Chinese greasehaus is more foul than I can describe and it has been scientificly proven that > 2 helpings in one week will immediately give you diabetes. I've been to a popular noodles place (in a Chinatown-like area) where a portion of the noodles was crunchy and uncooked - which becomes even more disturbing when you realise it was intentional and I've been to a Korean place where you can have rice or chips with your main. Ew ew ew.

As for cafes, they are here but the coffee is generally awful (a British Isles phenomenon), the food mediocre to bad, the ambiance lacking and the service poor (then again, you could say the same about a lot of cafes in Paris).

There are exceptions to the above. EaST does fantastic authentic & tasty Korean and the weekday lunch is well priced. Ukiyo's (Korean / Japanese) lunches are also well priced and right tasty. And Zaytoon's kebabs outstrip any Auckland kebab hands down. Brasserie Sixty Six does a mean brunch, usually with great service, and we frequent it often. And the previously mentioned Bald Barista (who seems to have moved a few doors down BTW) does great coffee.

But the AK food guide awardsy thing in the NZ Herald has me hungry and anticipatory:
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=10543845

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So much to say, so little time

I don't know how other people do it, but I seem to lack the time to blog about stuff. Perhaps it's that I know David will blog anyway, so I'm free from the demands of blogging. Maybe it's that I seldom feel really inspired to blog at the moment, so I never try to make the time.

As usual, lots has happened since my last post. Important stuff like Michael Crichton dying, Barack Obama being elected as US president, the National Party winning the NZ election, and some dozy bird who is apparently Minister of Health (or equivalent) ditching the cervical cancer regime in Ireland. Boo, yay, and a huge boo x2.

On a more personal level, I've been having a rough time recently. Two of my close work friends have moved away in the past few months, and I'm having a hard time with it. I've barely seen my not-work friends due to all kinds of busy-ness (theirs and mine). And while I am not homesick, I miss the undeniable comfort of spending time with good friends who have known you for a long time.

Meanwhile, time marches relentlessly on. We've spent it fairly pleasantly with some travel (Amsterdam, Edinburgh this past weekend, and a trip to Frankfurt the weekend after next), as we simultaneously prepare for our 5-week-long "Let's avoid January in Ireland" trip.

I've knit. Some of it has gone spectacularly poorly, like the 5-times-cast-on sweater in a fabulous dark green alpaca. (The fifth attempt is still on the needles, but I've decided to give it some space.) Some of it is more satisfying, like the tunic I'm converting (successfully, one hopes) to a long top in some lovely Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. It only required some simple maths, and the serenity that results from churning out acres of stocking stitch on fairly fat needes with a soft, beautiful coloured yarn, is really astounding. Meditation has nothing on a nice hour or so of knitting.

The nasty flu-related lurgy that's been making the rounds has finally caught up with me. (Thanks so much, sick colleagues who refuse to STAY AT HOME WHEN UNWELL!) Given the upcoming travel plans and a challenging work schedule, I don't plan to be unwell enough to take any sick leave, but I see a day or two of working from home in my future. (Yes, working from home to minimise the spread of NASTY GERMS. It's what responsible people do!) If you get really lucky, I might get really sick, and be unable to work, and perhaps even knit, and I just might blog more.

But don't count on it!

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It's not often I read an NZ Herald sport's blog but...

I agree with pretty much every point he makes here and here.

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Halloween

It surprised me last year that Halloween was such a big deal here. But of course it is Celtic in origin and it was Irish immigrants that brought the tradition to North America. In the week leading up to Halloween there's lots of fireworks (obtained illicitly) and every school kid needs a costume (the conversation in the office sounds like "we've got one goblin, an axe-murder and little Niamh is really too young but we dressed her up like a ghost anyway". There's pumpkins, trick-or-treating, bonfires, and even a special Halloween baked-good called barmbrack.

It's also around this time of year, often on Halloween night itself it seems, that the temperature drops and Ireland starts freezing over for the winter - it certainly makes more sense as a festivity in the northern hemisphere - it's cold (very actually), really dark, and a bit misty.

There was a ghoulish parade through the city that ended in Smithfield and culminated in lots of kids dancing. It was well attended by the local kids. I recharged my flash batteries and braved the elements to take some shots (slideshow here).

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Deleting the internet: deleting secrets about top secret hotels

Taking a break from politics (I think we all need it) I'll like to make the first post in my new internet-related hacking-for-everyone column which I have titled "Deleting the internet".

Today I'd like to show how you how to beata certain website which is popular in Europe (and elsewhere?) for finding top secret hotels at low low prices at the last minute (hint hint).

We were looking for hotels in Edinburgh last night and found a good top secret hotel - but of course, we didn't know what it was. And we really like knowing stuff. Specifically, we don't like paying for stuff and not knowing what that stuff is. Basically, get stuffed.

Anyhoo, you can sort the hotels by distance from popular locations. Laura gave me the idea by saying "oh, it's x.y kms from the zoo" and "j.k from the train station". I figured if I could find the locations in Google Earth, then draw circles of a diameter representing the distance, and if I drew, say, 3 circles, I could find the point of intersection and maybe find the hotel. And I did, and although there wasn't a hotel at the exact point of intersection, there were two close by. One didn't match the description at all, but the other did, and it was good. So we paid up, waited, and we were right! We'd used our best bestimate to guesstimate the top secret hotel (hint hint)!

Sodoyouwannadoit?

  1. First find your top secret hotel.
  2. Sort by distance for 3 points and jot them down (i.e. 1.25kms to train station, etc).
  3. Open Google Earth.
  4. Find the first point (e.g. train station).
  5. Right click and choose properties to get at the co-ordinates.
  6. Slightly annoying step - you have to convert the co-ordinates from whatever format Google Earth uses to decimal format. So go here, copy the longitude and latitude out of the Google Earth property window and paste them into the textbox, select "coordinate conversion only" for the output and hit "Go".
  7. You want to get the decimal coordinates from the results. These ones:
  8. Now go to this really cool KML circle generator, stick in your coords, and the circle diameter in metres:

  9. Hit go, open the resulting file in Google Earth and a red circle will automagically appear.
  10. Now repeat steps 4-9 for the other two points.
  11. You should end up with something like this:

  12. Now just fiddle around and look at the hotels in that area (using the Places of Interest | Lodging layer!)
Not so top secret anymore.

- Tschüs web surfers.

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Adjusted US election map

You probably all saw these in 2004. But still interesting.

As seen on TV and confusing because it looks like McCain should have won:
But after adjusting the size of each state based on its proportion of electoral college seats (which is in turn based on the population of each state) you see a more accurate picture:
Stolen from, and more info, here.

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Ohthankgod

I'm gonna buy myself an ice cream after lunch to celebrate.

No moose shooting!

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The Audacity of Hope

I can't help but feel we're on the verge of something amazing...

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Epic fail

This has probably already done the rounds in NZ, but for our other readers:

From http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/10/23/sickie_woo/


An Oz call centre employee has become an overnight net celeb down under after an email exchange between him and his firm's workforce manager regarding a "sickie" escaped into the wild yesterday.

The correspondence, currently doing the rounds of Aussie inboxes, concerns a day's leave of absence claimed by Kyle Doyle on 21 August. Read on...

From: Niresh Regmi
Sent: Wednesday, 27 August 2008 9:35 a.m.
To: Kyle
Doyle
Subject: Absence on Thursday 21st 2008


Hi Kyle,
Please
provide a medical certificate stating a valid reason for your sick leave on
Thursday 21st 2008.
Thank You

NIRESH REGMI
Real Time Manager,
Workforce Operations


From: Kyle Doyle
Sent: Wednesday, 27 August 2008 9:38 a.m.
To: Niresh
Regmi
Subject: RE: Absence on Thursday 21st 2008


Niresh,
1 day leave absences do not require a medical certificate as stated in my
contract, provided I have stated that I am on leave for medical reasons.
Thanks
Regards,


Kyle Doyle
Resolutions Expert -
Technical


From: Niresh Regmi
Sent: Wednesday, 27 August 2008 9:39 a.m.
To: Kyle
Doyle
Subject: RE: Absence on Thursday 21st 2008


Hi Kyle,
Usually that is the case, as per your contract. However please note that
leave during these occasions is only granted for genuine medical reasons. You
line manager has determined that your leave was not due to medical reasons and
as such we cannot grant leave on this occasion.

NIRESH REGMI


From: Kyle Doyle
Sent: Wednesday, 27 August 2008 9:43 a.m.
To: Niresh
Regmi
Subject: RE: Absence on Thursday 21st 2008


Hi Niresh,
My leave was due to medical reasons, so you cannot deny leave based on a
line manager's discretion, with no proof, please process leave as requested.
Thanks
Regards,

Kyle Doyle


From: Niresh Regmi
Sent: Wednesday, 27 August 2008 9:50 a.m.
To: Kyle
Doyle
Subject: RE: Absence on Thursday 21st 2008


Hi Kyle,
I
believe the proof that you are after is below




Brilliant. To his credit, the busted Doyle concludes:

From: Kyle Doyle
Sent: Wednesday, 27 August 2008 9:55 a.m.
To: Niresh
Regmi
Subject: RE: Absence on Thursday 21st 2008


HAHAHA LMAO
epic fail
No worries man
Regards,

Kyle Doyle

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