Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And on the heels of my last post, I am SO APPALLED by THIS EDITORIAL in the Irish Times. I am beside myself that this disgraceful, disgusting misleading, and misogynistic pathetic excuse for humor made it into such a major publication.

Thanks to the blog The Antiroom for pointing it out.
I sort of naively thought that, Ireland being an English-speaking country, it would sort of be like living in a different state of the US, like moving to the deep south. I figured, ok, people will talk differently, act differently, in a quirky sort of way. But at the root of it, I didn't think much of how Irish values would differ from those I'd been brought up with, whether I'd grown to buck them or not.

However, the differences in the two countries' governments, I think, are really at the heart of what makes me truly, truly feel like a foreigner here, more than my accent or the fact that I say "Excuse me," instead of "I'm sorry," when I'm trying to squeeze by someone in a tight grocery story aisle, or that I still don't understand the differences between rugby, gaelic football, and football (aka soccer). First, there is the lack of separation of church and state. I know that America fails on this account sometimes, especially when anyone named Bush is in office. But it's there in our Constitution to fight for if we so choose. When I first arrived here, Mark explained to me a big news story about a woman who had been molested for years by the Head Teacher of the Catholic school she went to. She was recently taking legal action against the government for what had happened to her. The Church said it was nothing to do with them; it was the Department of Education's deal. The Dept. of Ed claimed no responsibility. But here's the thing: back home, if you go to Catholic school, it's because you paid for it. All public schools provided by the government are secular. But here, at the time of this woman's childhood, if you wanted a secular school, you had to pay for it. So this woman had no choice but to go to that Catholic school. If she didn't, she would have had a truancy officer coming to her house. To me, that is the most backwards thing I've ever heard, with or without the molesting Head Teacher. It went all the way to the Supreme Court. The woman made it clear that the case wasn't for money, but for someone to take responsibility for what happened to her as a child. Where is the accountability? But if the government takes responsibility and says, "What happened to you shouldn't have happened and you shouldn't have been made to go to that school," then it apparently makes a statement that they are unwilling to make. Which is terribly sad and makes this country look spineless and unevolved. And then do you know what they did on top of it it? They claimed damages against her for court costs. Talk about insult to injury.

Mark and I just finished listening to a radio program that completely incensed us both. It was about (what else?) the employment situation here and the amount of foreigners working and on the dole. Because of the high unemployment rates, people in Ireland and the UK are absolutely rabid about foreigners "taking up" their jobs. Never mind that the jobs they are "taking" are statistically for very specifically trained, higher-educated positions. Never mind that this is what being part of the EU is about. Ireland is part of the EU so that there *can* be a free exchange of the work force. Irish workers enjoy the like freedom to travel to other countries, which they do, and work there. Which is a point no one seems to bring up here. It's just conveniently forgotten about the thousands of Irish workers that go to other places and get work and benefits. The radio show featured a man from the Department of Social Welfare who cheerfully outlined how many foreign countries have people on the dole in Ireland, and specifically which ones have large numbers (and what those numbers are). What is the point of that? Just so you know who you can be angry at when you get the misguided notion that foreigners are bleeding all the tax dollars? He pointed out that the numbers of people with large immigrant groups coming here, from, say, Poland and China, have gone down by a very large margin. There was another man on there who was talking about how great it will be when Ireland makes it more difficult for people to immigrate here. Like that is going to solve all the problems. Some people here think that sealing off the country and keeping benefits away from non-nationals is going to solve the economic crisis. From what I've read in the want ads, not with the current work force it's not. And reading the statistics of how many Irish hold higher education degrees versus the rest of Europe, they need to do a much better job at educating their population if they want key industries to grow. People want the rules of the EU bent for them, just because things are rough. Well, it just doesn't work that way.

There's another case in the news of a woman seeking asylum here to prevent her daughters from undergoing genital mutilation in her country of origin. She already had one daughter undergo the procedure and die from it. Apparently after pleading for years, Ireland was just about to kick her out when the EU stepped in and said they couldn't kick her out until the case was reviewed by them. Of all the people who get to come here, here's someone with a legitimate reason for coming over, and they were just going to bounce her out on her ass. And so she's waiting and hoping. You would think that public support for this woman, who, by the way, is gorgeous, and so are her children, would be overwhelming. I think if she were white she'd have her own reality TV show by now. But because she's a black asylum seeker, no one seems to have the appropriate amount of compassion for her, in my opinion. It appears to be an inherent mistrust, or else she would have her asylum and be living comfortably by now without fear for future and those of her children.

And maybe this is something I understand, being from a place that is part of a union -- you live in a State, a part, that is a piece of the whole, the Country. The negotiation between the two is awkward sometimes. And sometimes the larger governing body decides stuff that the parts don't jibe with. But that's the way the cookie crumbles if you want to reap the benefits of being part of the larger mass. But Ireland should give its rampant bigotry and racism if it wants to be accepted by the international community.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

'Im taking a little break from working on my novel, since I'm stuck (what else is new). I haven't updated much because I haven't been doing much of anything, to be honest. I'm in the strangest kind of purgatory. I'm still looking for jobs, and sending my fashion design portfolio, which is now finished, out to local designers. So far I've only received one response, which was very complimentary, but she does not employ any staff. I offered myself as an unpaid intern but haven't heard back. I'm just going to keep trying to find out where the apparel companies are, and sending them my work. It's hard to figure out who the wholesaler/distributors are and who the start-to-finish design houses are, but with research you can get an idea.

Dublin Fashion Week is coming up in March. They haven't announced the designers to be featured this year, which is annoying because otherwise I could email them and offer myself as an intern for last minute sewing/errands/whatever. Because it's an industry event, tickets are on the pricier side, and being broke, I won't be able to attend. I had sent an email to the webmaster asking if there was a way to volunteer in order to gain access to the show (the way you can do in theatres as an usher), but I never heard anything. It's kind of a bummer. What's more of a bummer is not having my sewing machine. I could be making stuff to sell on etsy right now. Not the ugly crap I was making before, but inspired objects. Ah well. What can you do? Maybe St. Patrick will buy me a used machine for my birthday.

I'm going to try to tackle two questions I have been getting lately from friends back home:
1.) How are you liking Ireland?

People don't realize what a difficult question this is for me to answer. Of course if life were simple, ultimately I'd like to say, “Great!” And in a lot of ways it is great. But life being great doesn't have much to do with my country of residence at the moment. Feeling like you have a great life is a state of mind, no matter where you are. So, I have enough to be thankful for and to keep me in good spirits most of the time. Ireland hasn't been so cruel as to squash that!

However, am I doing what I would like to be doing? Am I with the people I'd like to be with? Well, let's see. Since coming here, I have had the time to finish a decent portfolio, which in two and a half years since I left school I hadn't managed to do, so that kicks ass. And I'm with Mark, which is of course entertaining – mentally and intellectually challenging every day, the most necessary ingredient to fun. And I am unspeakably happy about getting to know his family, an opportunity I never thought I'd have a chance to get. So those are all really good things.

The frustrating things are of course not feeling like a contributing member of society because I haven't been able to get work, and the resulting financial troubles that come with no income. I desperately need to call Sallie Mae, but knowing that I have nothing to give them, I haven't. My credit card is overdue. At my age, I know these things shouldn't be happening. But I also know it's only temporary. It always is. And it's only money, after all. When I'm dead, no one is going to be like, “Oh her! She's the one that let her school loan go 46 days overdue that time.” But I can sense that not working the resulting frugality is keeping me in the house. I know that going out and walking around, or going for a bike ride is free, but for some reason I'm making the very poor decision to stay in a lot of days. I can't make up reasons to leave. If I were in Boston, I could call any number of people up and say, “Jesus I gotta get out of the house. Let's do something,” and that's all I'd need. Here, it's like hmmm....another lonely journey into town... At least it isn't raining every day, the weather is warming up, and the days are getting longer though. I can't describe how much of a difference that makes. The daily rain was starting to get seriously aggravating.

I've been really strangely shy about making friends here, even with people I'm somewhat acquainted with. I can't figure out why. But I need to email some people and just ask them to hang out. I can't stay in every day and night. I know it's not good for me, even though I don't feel especially in a panic or anything. But sometimes, I do get a little sulky and homesick. And I get a sort of child's voice in my head that says, “I wanna go home!” But I just know that there are people here who I could be good friends with. It's a big enough city! It's just a matter of first meeting them, and secondly getting to know them. I tell you though it's hard when you get to a certain age and you don't have college to do the friend-making for you.

2.) How is it being vegetarian in Ireland?

It's kind of a pain in the butt, to be honest. First of all, there isn't a wonderful array of fake meat products here in grocery stores. All those great morning star strips and the crumbles, and the fake ribs, and the variety after variety of veggie burger, not to mention chick'n pattie? Not available. We can't even get Tofu or Tempeh in the grocery store at the end of our street; we have to either go to an asian market or the really big grocery store like a mile away. As far as I can tell, Vital Wheat Gluten is just flat out not available in Ireland, so making my own seitan is out of the question. One thing that you can get rather easily is Dried Soy Mince, which, when you add boiling water to it, is essentially like TVP crumbles. Thanks to Linda McCartney, you can get vegan sausages in most stores. As far as restaurants go, it's about the same. There are several vegetarian restaurants in Dublin, so that's cool. People seem to understand the word “vegan” here and don't mock it like they do in the States. For those vegetarians who can't stand fake meat, then you're all set here I guess.

The other weird thing is that the nutritional yeast doesn't taste the same. It doesn't have as strong a flavour. I asked my sister to send me some from the US! There are stores around town that sell what we need, so we get by just fine, but it takes more effort. And I sure miss Market Basket's prices!

That's it for now I suppose. I am going to try to go back to my “real” writing. I'm trying to take advantage of my time off while I have it. But sometimes I must admit that it's easy to get caught up whiling away the hours on the computer, chatting with friends from back home.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

So here's my extremely extremely simplistic summary of politics in Ireland. First of all, the country is headed by this guy, Brian Cowen, who bears a striking resemblance to Boston's mayor, "affectionately" known as Mumbles Menino. Here's Menino:

And here's Menino talking

The Taoiseach (pronounced like "tee-SHOCK"), Cowen, looks like this:

and sounds like this

Cowen is getting SO much flack right now, and I'll be amazed if he doesn't have to step down. From what I can discern, he used to be the finance minister and apparently he kinda messed some serious shit up. Well the other politicians are like DUDE WTF DID YOU DO? And he's like DOH. And they're like NO SRSLY. And he's like UHHH I WAS JUST PROTECTING THE PEOPLE. So now everyone is really P.O.ed because of course no one believes him.

Also the EU is like UM, Ireland, your plan for getting yourself out of your economic K HOLE is not cutting it, therefore you aren't getting funding until you figure your biz out. Ireland's like that dude who thinks he found the character that is both a T and an F on the true and false questions. Like uh..... here's our "plan" for economic growth! mumble mumble mumble...tada! The EU literally said "this is too vague." Like, F. It's sad but entertaining at the same time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday may be a little late for a weekend re-cap, but oh well! Here it is.

So I've started socializing, just a little, and it feels good. Interacting with humans: good. On Monday I went over to Seomra Spraoi to help them set up their new space, which is less than a ten minute bike ride from our apartment. I was a little surprised at how uh...unfinished it was! A bathroom was being constructed, and a kitchen area. The floors are cement, and the place was more or less in disarray. I rolled up my sleeves, and was set to work planing and sanding the corners of the posts around the kitchen so they'd be nice and round and smooth to avoid injury. An Italian woman, Sabrina, came by, and she and I worked together. We didnt' talk a whole lot, because the planing and the sanding was quite loud, and we had dust masks on. But we made some conversation. People stopped in and out to help and do other tasks, and it was just nice to be out doing something among people. My arms started to ache, and my hands and feet were freezing cold (there was no heat in there and the door was wide open) but I stayed until the job was nearly done. Sabrina and this other guy, Mark, talked to me about how hard it's been for people to find work of any kind. I felt sort of comforted that it's not just me having a hard time with it. After a few hours of work, when I felt that my poor post-surgery shoulder had had enough, I went home covered in saw dust and quite satisfied with myself.

On Wednesday I met a girl named Lisa, a friend of an acquaintance, for tea at Bewley's on Grafton Street. I was curious about Bewley's because I have sort of an "in" for working there, if I should decide to take it, because the catering company I worked for last year is owned by Bewley's. I just really didn't enjoy food service that much is all. But aside from that I was concerned because their uniform seems to be a short sleeved black t-shirt, and it's been my observation that tattoos are really not socially acceptable here in Ireland. And, well, there's no way around that except for a long-sleeved shirt for me. So I asked one of the waitresses about the uniform, and it seems like they might be flexible. But man I really don't want to degrade myself to working at Bewley's. Not with 7 years of college and all the work that I've done to get myself out of the working class. I don't mind working with my hands, I don't mind manual labor, but the service industry fills me with rage at this point, and the eras of my life when I've had to do it have been really miserable in a lot of ways (though I worked with a lot of great people while catering!) So we'll see. I'm just going to bear it in mind as a possibility, but hope that it doesn't come to that.

Anyways, Lisa was a real peach, and we had a very pleasant tea, and I look forward to hanging out with her again -- we talked about the fact that our respective partners don't enjoy girly things so girly movies and shopping and such will be in order. And she seems to be a music fan, so maybe we'll go to shows together as well. She lives in Smithfield, and Mark likes that part of town, so maybe we can go have some drinks as well. I think it will be good. And we have plans to go to the Dublin Co-op Flea Market on Saturday, which I am really excited about!

Friday I had a job interview, and it was for a job that I might have wanted to do -- a machinist (that's sewing machine)/Pattern Maker/Fashion Designer job. It was an ad I answered on Gumtree, and I had received a call on Sunday or Monday asking if I'd come in for an interview up in Swords. As long as I could get there by bus, I didn't care where it was! As it happens, the 41C to Swords swings right near the house. It was about a 35 minute ride, and a little stressful because her only directions were that it was in a community center next to a place called the Millenium Pub. The funny thing about Ireland is that everyone seems to give out directions based on where the pubs are. And I mean everyone. I had gone online and tried to find directions as best I could, but when you're on the bus and you're in a foreign place, and (as it turns out) the pub you're looking for doesn't exist, it gets a little hairy. I asked the bus driver for my destination about five minutes after we'd passed it, so I got off and hiked back. No big whoop. But when I got to the place, all I found was another woman waiting to be interviewed. She said she'd been waiting 45 minutes for her 3:15 appointment. She'd tried to call, but the phone was clearly off. We continued to wait, hoping for a break.

We waited another ten minutes or so, and then finally a middle aged woman with short, messy burgundy hair, missing teeth, and a baby stroller, walked in and told us that Jeanne, the interviewer, had been unexpectedly called away by a client emergency -- something to do with one of their biggest clients, so obviously it had to be attended to immediately, she sent her apologies, but we could leave our CVs and she would be in touch. I left my CV along with a CD on which I had burned a .pdf of my Portfolio. Then the woman and I walked over to the bus stop together to catch the bus back to Dublin.

She was from Germany, and seemed to be in her early to mid-twenties. I sadly didn't catch her name, but we made very nice conversation on the journey back to town, and I have to admit that I was happy again to be interacting with someone, and hearing stories of people's experiences. She told me about her Irish friends who are getting laid off, and how hard it has been for many people. I really feel like one issue making it difficult for me at the moment in finding work is my nationality. If I'm up for a job against Irish nationals, there's just no way, in this economic climate, that I'm going to be considered. People are very sensitive about non-nationals coming in and taking up Irish jobs. So I need to apply for jobs where my education and experience are a real asset and make me uniquely qualified. This is a challenge, but not impossible, since I do (finally!) have a decent CV.

When I got home, I was pretty grumpy and forgot all about the show at Seomra Spraoi, which would have been a fun time. Instead, I sulked at home all night. On Saturday I headed over to Seomra Spraoi to help cook for the opening weekend event. I was helping Damo, a very nice guy I'd met on Monday. The place looked much improved! The bathroom was finished, and the posts I'd worked on were finished in linseed oil. People were gardening out back, and there was semblance of order in the place with a bookshelf and a little 'zine library area. I was commissioned to make some signs, drank some delicious coffee, and ate Damo's perfectly spiced soup and salad. I sat with some really friendly girls -- one from California, and another from Galway. But once lunch was over I decided to go home for a bit.

I convinced Mark to finally visit Seomra Spraoi for their "Fancy Dress Party" event, and I'm so glad I did! People were dressed festively indeed, though we weren't out of place in our jeans. Even some of the men were in their fancy party dresses, which I loved. That's true commitment! There was a party game going on in the center of the main room -- musical chairs -- in preparation for a slapdash "makeover" featuring secret identity designers and rules that I couldn't follow, but it looked like great fun. I enjoyed watching it, because it was so unlike anything I'd ever seen back home. We don't have party games; we stand around lamely with our drinks in our hands and try to look like as indifferent as possible! I loved the spectacle of a game in the middle of the room with people drinking all around, and music, and people dressed up in crazy outfits, and pots of paint on a table for face painting, and funny hats, and a young girl as the MC who would occasionally break into Irish, even if most of the people didn't understand her.

We decided to move on, however, probably just as the night was gearing up there, and we headed over to Fibber Magee's, Mark's favorite local joint. It's where he metal dudes go. The first time he told me the name I started laughing because it sounds like a joke. Like, seriously? Fibber Magee's? But we headed over there for a couple of drinks. On our way out, we were flagged down by a group of people looking for Seomra Spraoi, and it was a great coincidence that we were coming from there, so it felt good that we could give good directions. I felt a little regretful that we were leaving, but felt confident we would have a good time at our next two destinations. For me it's a people watching experience more than anything. Just as we were getting our first pint, a band was going on. Their first song was actually quite good, but then the second one was sort of meh, so we went back into the bar. We had a nice chit chat and of course critiqued all the outfits in the room (and believe me, there is always a lot to critique when PVC is involved), and then moved on to our third destination.

It was a bit of a disappointment, because Mark had seen an online flier that said that it was free admission to the evening's Goth night at Peadar Karney's, but apparently it was at the door man's discretion, and I think that we weren't dressed festively enough for him (ie we don't dress one bit gothy) so he charged us each 6 euro at the door, which was kind of bullshit. But, whatever, he had some lame excuse and we didn't argue. But admitedly the music was of a much more industrial bent than the last time we were there, and there wasn't one song that inspired us to dance. And to be honest, hardly anyone else wanted to dance either. There were a few "hits" that got people up there, but it just was not my thing -- a lot of new stuff that I didn't know and I didn't get into. I guess I can't get into new goth, especially if it has an industrial tinge to it. And I remember when "goth" meant something entirely different anyways. But I digress...

However I was still quite satisfied with our evening. We stopped into our favorite kebab shop for late-night falafel and tahini fries, and had a nice bike race home (I won). I think I crawled into bed finally sometime after 4:30.

You're probably wondering when will this end....

Sunday, when we woke up, it was time for more Seomra Spraoi! Mark and I headed over there for a scrumptious vegan meal. Holy moly it was so good I couldn't get over it. There were like four different dishes, and each was a culinary experience. My mouth is watering just remembering the food. After we ate, there was a gathering of about 30 people and a person from each of the group that use the Seomra Spraoi space gave a 3-minute talk about their group and its aims. There are lots of really interesting things happening there -- people doing good work. Good, but hard, and probably discouraging at times. I definitely want to get involved with some of them though, and will keep my eyes open for happenings. Maybe I can be active here in Dublin in ways I never got off my duff in Boston.

Sunday night we went to the pub to meet Mark's parents, and had a great time as usual. They are just so very pleasant. Even if I am in a sour mood before we go see them, they always manage to make me laugh.

Jeez. Well I have more I could say, but I have to do something with my day besides write in this here blog. People often ask what it's "like" here. I'm not sure I'm describing it adequately. But I guess over time I'm hoping it will start to become cumulative.

And finally... Happy Birthday to my dear, beloved Father. I miss you always and think of you every day, constantly! I am so lucky to have been raised by such a caring, intelligent, funny, unique person. There's no one in the world like you, and you inspire me always to push myself and be myself, and to be proud, and also, to be a little ballsy too. ;)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This post is for the cat lovers, and people who are fans of my cat, Gypsy. Here she is hanging out on the window sill, enjoying some sun:

In our last couple of places, she always had things she could scratch her claws on -- a carpet, a sisal mat, heck, even our chaise lounge! But here, there is a whole lot of nuthin'. I bought her this little door mat, hoping she would take to it. I even sort of held her paw over it and scratched it, like, "See? Scraaaatch." But she just walked away and looked at me like, "What's your deal?"

Then several times a day she was scratching at the doorways, as if she were trying to literally climb the walls. I had sort of half heartedly looked in some pet shops for scratching posts, but it wasn't until I saw some punctures in our leather couch that I realized girl really needed to scratch those claws.

So online I went, and found a really good deal on a 60cm tall scratching post with a little mouse dangling from an elastic. The funny thing is that she had NO interest in the mouse, or the scratching post, until I replaced the mouse with a real fur mouse -- the only toy that she has ever actually played with in the 3 years we've had her. All of a sudden she was attacking and scratching that post like nobody's business. Our walls and furniture can breath a sigh of relief. Here's the killer in action:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Mark brought a flier home from the Dublin food co-op yesterday for a reading at this place called Seomra Spraoi so I looked it up. It's actually not far from our apartment, and it reminds me of sort of a Lucy Parsons Center-type space that could be a nice thing to be involved in.

From their website: "Seomra Spraoi is an autonomous social centre in Dublin city centre. It is run by a non-hierarchical collective on a not-for-profit basis. It hosts workshops, political meetings, film screenings and lots more. The centre seeks to be a hub of positive resistance, in a city and society where public spaces have been eaten away by consumerism, property speculation and the culture of the car."

I'd like to go to the film they are showing on Tuesday, Manufactured Landscapes. If nothing else, it'll get me out of the house.
I'm just going to go ahead and say that yesterday was a very bad day. But I'm going to share it because I think it's a mistake that anyone moving from one country to another country with a different electrical system could make.

When I came to Ireland, I brought only a handful of electronic items with me: my rechargeable toothbrush, my hair dryer, an heating pad, my macbook, and my sewing machine. I bought one of those plug adapters. I noticed that both the hair dryer and the heating pad ran a little hot, even at their lowest settings. No big whoop. The toothbrush seemed fine. For the macbook I bought an actual apple adapter, so that was ok, but even before it arrived it worked a-ok with the adapter. And I didn't use the sewing machine until yesterday. It has a normal-looking two-prong plug. I figured I could do like all the other stuff with my handy adapter.

I was wrong.

Finally inspired to sew my way out of the week's disappointments (no job, no cash, cold miserable weather, no local friends), I carefully pinned this silk top I'd been working on for years that I was determined to finish yesterday. I got out my machine, took off the cover, gave it a dusting, then opened it's little drawer and lovingly organized its contents. This machine has been my pride and joy since I bought it six years ago. I have often said that my sewing machine is cooler than I am. She is run by a micro-computer and has three different language, stitches over 360 stitches, does embroidery stitches, and has a 50 stitch memory. Aside from my bike and my cat, it's the only object I sent over that really, really mattered to me, because I've never been without a sewing machine since I started sewing over 20 years ago.

I plugged in the machine to the wall, threaded her up, and flipped the switch. There was an immediate, loud POP that made me jump out of my chair. I quickly turned the switch to off. I knew right away what had happened. I had just fried my machine. I got on G-Talk to a friend of mine and confirmed my worst fear. By looking on the back of my machine, I realized that although the plug looked like any old plug, the voltage was 110/120v and would have required a voltage converter to be used in Ireland. This voltage converter, he said, would weigh in the ballpark of 70 pounds. Basically, I never should have brought my sewing machine to Ireland. I should have sold it in the States, saved the 100 dollars I spent getting it cleaned before I left, saved the 100+ dollars I spent shipping it, and then taken that money and bought myself a nice sewing machine here.

But now I have a dead sewing machine that I cannot get fixed until I bring it back to the US, no money for a new one, or a used one for that matter, and a feeling of discouragement. And all could have been prevented if I'd done a little research on electronics! I feel pretty dumb.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Yesterday I was determined to leave the house on a mission that wasn't about going to the Post Office or the Grocery Store, or on a shopping mission for something for the house. So despite the cold and the semi-slick roads, I bundled up and got on my bike. My destination was the Docklands, specifically the Grand Canal Square, because a friend of mine's wife had a hand in designing it, and it sure looked cool from the pictures.

Looking at my map, it seemed simple enough to get to. Except I didn't notice that one of the major streets I'd planned to take was actually a one-way going in the opposite direction. So as I was going along with the traffic, I was taken away from the direction I knew I wanted to go. So I pulled over next to Trinity to look at my map, to discover the error of my ways. No biggie, I thought! But biking here is still rather tricky for me, as I'm not used to this left hand side of the road business, not to mention that taking a right hand turn when you're all the way over on the left hand side on a two-lane one-way stretch of traffic is no easy task, especially when you don't know where the hell you're going. Also, it seems like the roads were always splitting when I didn't expect them to, and I was never sure which way to go. And you really have to make decisions in an instant because cars are coming as well as other bikers. So next thing I know, I'm totally lost and at Merrion Square Park, only I have no idea what or where that is, but it caught my eye, so I stopped. Here's what I saw as I biked past:

It was this pyramid shape, but you could see through the panes of glass that a real eternal flame burned inside. I hopped off my bike to take a closer look. Statues of four soldiers stood guard around the flame. I took a couple of shots, and I actually like how you can see the reflection of the trees in the photo, because that's very accurate to how it looked in person. In the second shot, you can see me in my bike helmet, which sort of mimics the solder with his hat:

My feet were starting to get really cold, so I thought if I was going to find my destination, I'd better stop exploring the park and get going. So I got back on the bike and headed for the Docklands. Although it's the home of a few well known offices like Google, the area is definitely mid-construction. It had a sort of end of the earth feeling, maybe even post-apocalyptic. I wanted to stop and take photos, but I was getting too cold and wanted to find a place to warm up. I'll have to go back again and explore the area. After overshooting it a bit, I decided to give up and turn back, when I spied just what I was looking for! But by then I couldn't feel my feet, so I locked up the bike and stopped into a cafe for a cappuccino. Once I was warm again, I ventured out. There's still construction going on, and it seems like the execution of the design of this public space could use some tweaking. From a design standpoint, it really is interesting. For example, these red poles that stick out of the ground look pretty cool, especially as it starts to get dark out, because they begin to glow. You can even see it in my photos because it was nearly dusk. Here's a photo, shot facing the water:

However, the birds absolutely LOVE these red poles. Here's a seagull sitting on one:

What you perhaps can't see in the photo is the bird droppings oozing out from the top of the pole. And on the surface below, the ground is covered in bird poop. It actually crossed my mind that I might get bombed myself while I was out there! But this problem could be easily solved by putting something on top of the poles to prevent the birds from wanting to hang out on them.

Anyways, I think this area will look pretty neat and might be an interesting events venue once construction is finished. I made a couple of collages for a more panoramic effect. As usual, they don't line up perfectly, but that's the charm of them:

Larger versions of the collages can be seen here and here.

On the way home I had an easier time finding my way, but still, I find myself getting confused in places I know I've been before!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I bring you another product that would never be marketed in the United States: the Ford "Ka." Ironically, pronounced the way a Bostoner would say, "car."

I think the reason you'll never see this product name in the States is that if you saw two of them together, you'd have Ka Ka. And no one wants that.

Monday, February 2, 2009

There's this tv ad being played relentlessly where you can text the word "FART" to get a fart ring tone for your phone. It's amazing. And on every fifteen minutes.
So listening to the radio, I heard a Public Service Announcement regarding "Sudden Adult Death Syndrome." Excuse me, what? In America, of course we have Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which is when children under a certain age die for unexplained reasons. And so, I imagine this is a similar phenomenon, applied to adults. I can't help but think it's more like Shitty Healthcare Syndrome. When you drop dead, it's not exactly a "syndrome." But I guess people die inexplicably enough here that they had to call it something, and then, as the PSA told listeners, create support groups for the people left behind.