Wednesday, May 25, 2005


I can't believe that they won, coming from a three goal deficit, to equalising the game, to a scoreless extra time, to winning on penalties. More to the point I can't fucking believe I was in my office, reloading The Guardian match report , instead of sitting in the pub watching the game. See my blog engtry below this one. Work-life balance, me arse. I am perfecting the art of quiet celebration at the moment. The world's first Zen football fan.

Listen to My Wife - New York Times

I'd never heard of, nor read anything by, Matt Miller, until this morning. He is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, and is filling in for Maureen Down on the New York Times Op Ed page. He has written a very thought-provoking article on work life balance, particularly how it applies to women. I love this quotation:

"As scholars have asked, why should we be the only elites in human history that don't set things up to get what we want?"

I have been thinking about his. I am the Director of a 24/7 world-wide Technical Support organisation, for a small but rapidly growing software company, which has developed a killer solution for monitoring J2EE applications. I work a standard 9-5, or in my case 7- 4 day. But this really doesn't need to be. My work is not bound by certain hours, and I don't need my work hours to be contiguous. I can do it anywhere, any time. Technology can free us from these kind of restrictions. With my Treo 650 and a laptop, I can manage my organisation from anywhere with an Internet connection - so why do I need to be in an office for eight hrs a day, with the constrictions that brings - the commuting, politics, and the need to be seen as being busy? The way we do things runs contrary to the basic human need for a balanced life style. Despite technological advances, old habits die hard.
Yesterday morning I had my yearly physical exam, and while in the doctor's waiting room, I could answer email and instant message my team. Afterwards, I grabbed a coffee, and sat outside in the glorious sunshine while continuing to work. I was much happier than being confined to my office, and maybe even more productive, because the freedom made me feel enthusiastic about my job and my life, and I was free from interruptions. I am lucky because my company has progressive policies and as long as I am doing my job well, no one really cares how I look, or what I wear, or where I am, (as long as I answer my phone and email).

The article is here:

Listen to My Wife - New York Times

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Claude Letulle is alive

One of my January posts was about Claude J. Letulle, a holocaust survivor, whose bio I was given on a tour of the Holocaust Museum. I had this email in my in box this morning:

"John, I read your comments on Claude J. Letulle, whom is my grandfather, and I thought I would let you know that he is still living in Louisiana and planning a month long visit in June to France. He has dreams that one day his book will be made into a movie. "

Made my day. I love the Internet!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


"Oh, that died a terrible death," said my father. He wasn't referring to a family friend, or pet, or even the terrible violence lately in Iraq. He was referring to the rapid demise of the delicious, handmade, cracked pepper Edam cheese we had bought at the Saturday market. I love the way my parents' generation use language. The Irish have been mangling the King's, (and Queen's), English, to delightful effect, for centuries. The name of the blog is an example. It was the punch line to a friend's story about a man whose car was stolen while he was in the pub. "I came out of the pub, and there it was - gone!" (it seemed an appropriate title for a blog, given that blogs are often a commentary on things that are fleeting). A critic once wrote, when reviewing Brendan Behan's "Borstal Boy," that the English save words like misers while the Irish waste them like spendthrifts. Based on my voluble English collegues, I'm not sure if the former is true, but the latter is a fact!
A chatty Irish friend once said to me, "I hate Americans. They actually listen to me when I speak." There's much truth to this. American conversations are about communication, Irish ones are a form of guerilla theatre. You've got to time your attack and get in while the other person is taking a breath. If you don't, you can be on the receiving end of a masterwork of conversational improvisation, with multiple themes, topics, and punch lines. The conversationalist will think nothing of diverging from the main topic at any time to elaborate on any interesting side themes that become apparent. Linearity, conclusions, and even truthfulness are not required. Once there are more than two people involved, you might as well throw in the towel and enjoy the ride.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Old Friends

I am currently back in Limerick, en route to London on a business trip. I brought my son, Shane, who will remain my parents for the week. After 12 hours flying with a 3 year old I deserved a pint! I met my friend Dave Irwin, in Tom Collins pub. Limerick greeted me with a rare sunny day, so we decided to imbibe al fresco. Dave is a musician and used to live in San Francisco. He played bass with my old band Stride. He has also recorded two excellent solo albums, which are unfortunately now out of print. He has give me permission to put one of his songs on the blog. Click here to download "So Slow Writing". We didn't know each other when I was living in Limerick. We met when I searched to see if there were any other Limerick musicians uploading songs. We exchanged e mails and in one of those freak coincidences it turned out that Dave was moving to San Francisco. He remained there for a few years before returning to take up his musical career in Ireland.

This is David with his latest E-Bay purchase, a leather bound Telecaster!

Sunday, May 08, 2005


Friday, May 06, 2005

I heart u

I heart u

Seven years ago, before we were betrothed, Tash lived in the Castro, a straight woman in the gayest neigborhood in the world. One night we passed a freshly poured concrete slab. We couldn't resist the age old urge to scrawl some romantic graffiti.
Our closest Cingular store is nearby, and todayI had to go and argue with them, (they somehow managed to change my social security number to something other than mine, which means I can't access my account - but thats another very LONG story). Anyhow - while in the neighborhood we took our fifteen month old daughter to visit the scene of our crime, and I moblogged it.

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Irish Blogs

I noticed in my website stats that I started getting a lof of hits from the Irish Blogs website. They have started listing me. So, a big shout out to the guys and girls over there. Check them out, they list some great blogs that are Irish related.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Mystery Train

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

No training wheels needed

I love bikes. There are 4 of them in my garage at the moment. I remember my first bike, a green one with the requisite training wheels, (or stabilisers as we called them.) It was nothing like this. Starts out as a tricyle, as speed is built up the back wheels come together effectively creating a bicycle, but if you slow down they separate again, preventing Skinned Knees Syndrome. This is cooler than.................something very very cool indeed. - No training wheels needed - Apr 29, 2005

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Liverpool 1 - 0 Chelsea

Wore my Liverpool 60's reissue jersey to work. Just for luck, (as a rule I hate the fashion of wearing soccer shirts.) I then caused myself severe finger strain by hitting reload on the Guardian website every few seconds for 96 minutes. Finally a team I support in a final!

The picture is the first time I have Moblogged.

Moblog 'Pool jersy

Guardian Unlimited Football | News | Liverpool 1 - 0 Chelsea (agg: 1-0)

Monday, May 02, 2005

White Trash Planet

Like most Irish men my age, college educated or not, I did my fair share of menial jobs, usually involving physical labour. There were no part-time jobs in Ireland back in the 80's, in fact there were no jobs of any sort. It was the standard for students to leave Ireland during the summer, and work in Boston, New York, London, or Munich. If I ever wrote a book, and the publisher stuck one of those little biographical blurbs on the inside cover, mine would read:

"John is married with two children, lives in San Franisco and prior to writing his first novel, had worked as a barman in London, a dishwasher in Munich, cleaned airplanes, painted motels, worked as a chamber maid, and landscaped in Cape Cod, and dug up gas pipes during the renovation of the Tudor hotel on 42nd street in New York."

When I first moved to the U.S., (as opposed to my student summers spend in NY and Cape Cod), I landed in Rhode Island, bought a seven hundred dollar 1980 Chevy Monte Carlo, made my way to the Cape, and spent the summer landscaping. Landscaping can be a draining job, with long, hard days in the blazing sun. A week spent mowing lawns, building walls, cutting and planting trees and pruning shrubs wipes you out. We worked for the super-rich; everyday we saw how life was lived by those at the top. Beach houses with pools, Jaguars and Mercedes in every driveway, gated communities backing up to private golf courses, and the leisure time to enjoy it all. Everything had to be perfect. Lawns had to be mowed in exactly parallel patterns, (a technique I still use in my own tiny back yard), flowers planted in precise rows, and hedges trimmed within an inch of their lives. At the time, I really felt like I was at the bottom of the pile, and the top was an uimpossibly steep climb. Me, with my degree and postgrad, and my middle class life in Ireland to return to - should all fail. I worked with people who did not have these options. Several of them commuted from New Bedford every morning. We started at 6:30 which meant they were on the road by 5am. The younger guys were always sullen, almost unfriendly. You could spend a day working with them, and not pass more than a few words. It pissed me off, but I could understand the resentment. For me, this was a short detour on the way to the rest of my life. Mine was a life that offered choice, and it was up to me to either make something of it, or fuck it up. This was their whole life, landscaping during the summer, welfare for the winter. It was a good lesson in what life can be like if you feel that you have no other options than to work at low-paying jobs, with your daily life governed by petty mundanities.

The guys I worked with belied the idea of America as classless. Although they didn't live in trailers and were from Massachussets, they could still be labeled as "White Trash." I understand why people like them could feel pissed off, misunderstood and reactionary. If you are an educated, urban, coastal dweller in these here United States of America and whether you be liberal, conservative, or, of non-commodifiable political beliefs, you should read, which has some pretty radical views, much I don't agree with, but this particular article is thought-provoking.

A Guide to the White Trash Planet for Urban Liberals

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Ocean Beach graffiti.