Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Limerick Skyline

You'd swear Limerick was surrounded by mountains from this photo. I was about two miles away in my folks' house, so the zoom lens pulls the background in close. I like it, it gives a totally different perspective on Limerick. The picture is not as blurry as it appears above* - click on it to see the full size. I need to figure out why it is getting so blurred when I upload. It's at full zoom and I did take the picture though a dirty window, but still the original is much sharper than above. Any of the photogs out there know why?

* Update. I posted it on flickr, seems to have solved the blurriness problem. This only occurs on blogger when I post cropped photos using the blogger interface.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Birthday Boy

Shane is five today. I can't believe its been five years since his birth.* This picture was taken last week when we were in Ireland. Drinking Nash's Red Lemonade on a hot summer's day was a rite of passage for every Irish kid when I was growing up, and Shane discovered it all by himself. He saw another kid with it when we were home last year, and asked me if he could have some. He doesn't get sodas back in the States, but was indulged in Ireland, and was delighted when someone would suggest going to the pub. He knew the deal: pub = crisps + red lemonade.

He actually starting referring to the red lemonade as his "pint." At one stage I went up to order and he sidled up to me, "Daddy, can I have more red lemonade?" "No, I think you've had enough for now." "But Dad, you're on your third pint and I have only had one..." "Well, it's differ... oh all right."

Another Irish habit he has picked up is meat. And more meat. It became his rallying call around mealtime. He could eat his way through a pig farm's worth of bacon and sausages. My father was only delighted - of his four kids, three are vegetarians. Shane became his BBQ buddy. The weather was so good that every meal was barbecued. For dinner, himself and Shane happily burned some fine steaks to a crisp on the BBQ, while sausages and rashers were routinely carbonised for breakfast. Much bonding was had. The interesting thing is, when he is back in the U.S., he never asks for meat as he seems to only associate it with Ireland.

I passed a Dad rite of passage myself last night: assembling a kid's bike, replete with misguided instructions. Its a cool, BMXy kind of bike, with Spiderman pictures all over it. He'll get it when he gets home from preschool today.


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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Easter Sunday in Kerry 2

This is the same location as yesterday's photograph, taken from the beginning of the hike.

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter Sunday in Kerry

I am in Ireland at the moment, and I spent the long Easter weekend in Kerry. Only friggin' gorgeous it was. Californian weather. My brother announced he was going to buy a fleet of SUVs just to egg global warming on a bit - he hopes this will increase the likelihood of Ireland's weather trending towards the balmy side of the thermometer.

Yesterday some went to mass, and some ate cholate eggs, but we took blue-sky advantage and hiked up past Annascaul Lake, and, to my surprise, Shane (who came to Ireland with me), made it to the top and down. I was sure his five year old legs would get knackered at some stage and I'd end up carrying him down. There was a small trick involved, though - my sister informed him that Gruffalos * lived at the top of the mountain, but probably weren't there as they were taking their annual holidays to China.

Half way up, he proved his city slickerdness and asked my brother-in-law how many more blocks were left to go.

*If you aren't a parent, it's a fantastic childrens' book, if you are a parent and haven't heard of it, go buy it.

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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Comments turned back on

I inadvertently turned them off for the previous post.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Bad Things Come in Threes, Don't They ?

First off, apologies to all those who commented on previous posts over that last week or so, I have only just now gotten around to replying.

It was an eventful week, during which, it seems that I have offended the God of Gadgets, Cars, and Technology (the individual deistic departments, Cars and Gadgets & Technology, were amalgamated during the last celestial cabinet shuffle. God decided, given the convergence in both areas, a single cabinet position would be beneficial to all). I got slammed with some techno calamities - it must have been the post on Public Atheism that did it.

A few weeks back, Natasha and I decided that a new car was in order. My five year old VW Jetta wagon had only 28k miles on it (due to cycling to work and car pooling), a fine price could probably be fetched for said piece of German engineering. We had wanted to switch to a more economical car, namely the hybrid gas/electric Toyota Prius, and a viewing of "Who Killed the Electric Car," followed soon after by "An Inconvenient Truth," sealed the deal. It helped that the tax man is demanding less of my ass that anticipated, or planned for.
My wife, who could bargain with a tribe of Arab nomads and come out the victor (its her Indian genes: they live to haggle), played two car dealerships and a car broker off of each other, and got an insanely good deal on a Prius. The broker, who won out, offered us less than half the price we could expect on the open market for trading in the Jetta, so we decided to do a private sale. The day we were due to receive the new car, I took the VW to be gassed up in preparation for the many test drives we expected. Upon turning the corner as I left the gas station, the car went "cthunk" and the whole vehicle shuddered. I checked to make sure I hadn't rolled over the curb, or a small child, but nope, all looked good. No dead child on the road. Then, I turned the next corner and it cthunked again, and again, and again. If you have ever ridden a bicycle with a buckled wheel, you'll know how it pops your ass in the air as the buckled part of the wheel hits the road - well, it was like that. Not very good at all. I pulled in at nearest garage, which happened to cater to German cars, and the long and the short of it was that the fucking transmission had gone - on a car that got top ratings from consumer digest and had only driven 28k miles! To top it off, the warranty on the drive train had just ran out. We are currently awaiting Volkswagen's verdict on the matter, the local dealership seem to be on our side, as they said it is highly unusual for this to happen with such low mileage. Suffice it to say, we were spitting bullets, and I can safely say that should VW be difficult about this, Tash will be on the next flight to the Fatherland to argue the point.

The very next day dawned sunny and perfect, and vehicular problems were forgotten as I drove my new auto to work. I reveled in my low gas mileage, and the cool, gadgety bluetoothiness of it all. My superiority as an advanced, environmentally friendly member of the human race was self evident. At lunch time, filled with the joys of spring, I decided to take my bike out and do a lap of San Bruno mountain. I am getting fitter and the steep climb was less tortuous than usual. I flew down the back side, but as I reached the bottom I heard the tell tale hiss - puncture. That's cool though, I am prepared. I not only have a puncture repair kit, I have an extra tube. I decide to repair, it saves me taking off the back wheel to remove the tube. It's then that I discover that although I do have a repair kit, somehow the glue has gone missing. Plan B. The wheel is removed, new tube inserted and some vigorous pumping begins.

Snap!... hiss.

My vigorousness is a little too vigorous it seems, and I have snapped the top of the valve off. However, I am resourceful, it's a very teeny tiny puncture on the old tube, if I pump it up a little, put it inside the tire, jam a patch between the hole and the tire, and finishing pumping, I can probably make it back to work. Rejoicing in my ingenuity, I proceed...


FUCK, SHIT, BOLLOCKS, WANK!!! I've snapped the valve again. I'm really going to have to lay off the steroids for a while. As the proverbial crow flies, I'm only about two miles from work, but at the bottom of a steep mountain pass, the other side of which is my place of employment. I retrieve my pump from the tree where it had ended up after I flung it during my temper tantrum, and I call one of my team members, have him go to the shower room, get my car key from my pocket, and come get me. He is only happy to drive the new car, and is kind about the fact that this is the second day in a row that he has had to rescue my stranded ass. At the next opportunity, I'll buy one of those patch kits that stick without glue.

The cliche is that these things happen in threes, so I begin to wait for the 3rd techno calamity, and sure enough yesterday it arrived. My iPod, the one that has already been replaced TWICE by Apple, rolled over and died. Despite my reservations about Apple's quality, I love and need my iPod. Luckily I am an old hand at dealing with iPod support, which is actually very good. My iPod is lying in state, awaiting a box to ship it to Apple. I told them I had no intention of paying for shipping and repair, and they kindly acquiesced.

On top of all of this, my parents-in-law were in town. We went out to dinner with an ex California state senator whom they know from way back when they were all much, much younger. Very nice person, great story teller. We got lots of opinions on Governor Schwarzenegger and San Francisco's young, dashing, shagging-his-best-friend's-wife mayor, Gavin Newsom. Unfortunately I can't say a damn thing about any of that in this blog...