Monday, December 29, 2008

Banned? Aw, come on...

Chrome (yes, I'm still using it, more on this at a later stage) has found a new friend:

This gets my vote for "least friendliest error message of the year". The site is FishingFan - I'm not sure how or why I stumbled there, but I think I'm glad I'm banned...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A "Don't F**k With Me" look on his face

I've just spent the past 25 minutes walking the floor of my in-law's spare bedroom with an 8 kilo bag of demons clutched tightly against my chest. 

Fionn has had an eventful day, travelling West, home for the holidays, and his regular sleep pattern has been disturbed. You just try and put me to bed Dad. Hands-on at the best of times, this evening's nap has quickly escalated into a battle of wills. Enraged with tiredness and a deep sense of injustice, my only tactic is to hold him close, using shush-pat and soothing words to try and get him to relax enough for sleep to take over.

As I pace, sweating, back and neck beginning to spasm, I think back on all the times I've been driven close to the edge by him - all the times he refused to sleep, refused to stop crying, all the times I came close to giving voice to every parent's dark secret: sometimes, just sometimes, you could almost convince yourself that you hate your child, that you are the victim here, that they are being so unreasonable...

I keep pacing, and before too long he let's go and drifts off. It's the very least I owe him. Goodnight Fionn.

Shout out to my crew


A big Christmas hello to the eBU - you know who you are....



Sunday, December 7, 2008

And I wish it could be Christmas...

At the IIA Social Media WG on Friday, listening to Roseanne talk about her blog reminded me that the reason I got involved in this in the first place was to post about the young fella. So here's the update: he's 90% sitting by himself, his favourite noise is coughing (himself or other people), he likes butternut squash and porridge (not at the same time...yet), dislikes baby rice, and he cut his first tooth today.

Some pictures of the tyke getting into the Christmas spirit follow:

Our tree, which Fionn didn't so much as lift a finger to help decorate...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Come on kids

Last night, lying alone in bed, I did something I hadn't done since I was a teenager...I put on my headphones and listened to some music before falling asleep.

I listen to/hear a lot of music throughout the course of the day (19 tracks a day according to Last FM) - on my commute, in the office (I can't work without tunes in the background), having dinner with S. Thinking about it last night reminded me of the "No Music Day" article in last week's Ticket, how we all have music forced on us as we go about our normal activities, be it elevator music, ringtones, hold music. They advocate a complete ban on music, but that's a bit extreme for my liking. Last night I was able to give the music my full, undivided attention, and it was a revelation. 

I listened to the titular track from Radiohead's vastly underrated 2003 Kid A. When it was finished, I listened to it again, just for the sheer unadulterated hell of it. I heard every note, every twist and nuance: the brooding atmospherics of the xylophone, the distorted cajoling of Thom's vocal, the stacatto rhythm driving the whole piece forward. It was an amazing experience - everyone should try it tonight. Pick any song, I'm not going to pretend that Radiohead is eneryone's cup of tea, but give it a go.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mix-um gather-um

I like mixtapes. The Expert of MJEX fame has a cracking one over at The Slate, and some others I'd recommend include Hot Chip's DJ Kicks (a seriously ecletic collection of party tunes), and Superpitcher's Today (Kompakt-flavoured minimalist-techno goodness). Thing is, I can't scrobble the individual tracks when the mixtape is stored as a single MP3 file - if you really want to create a record of each of the songs you're listening to, you need to slice up the master file using something like Audacity, save the individual files, and then craft the ID3 tags by hand. Yes, I actually have done this - now you know what I did with my time before I became a parent.

Anyway, it'd be great if it was possible to store the ID3 tags of n songs, (maybe their start/finish position?) within the file data. I remember reading somewhere about a French company who've released a new music file format that stores the individual "modules" of a song (drums, lead guitar, vocals, etc.) within the file, as well as the song entière itself. Something like that would be cool. I'll post the link to that article here if I can dig it up.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

IIA Net Visionary Awards - RHK

Got to put on my glad rags and party 'til the wee hours last week (well, after midnight anyway) in the salubrious surrounds of the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham.

Some pics below, may be some more to follow...

From iia_netvis_301008

From iia_netvis_301008

From iia_netvis_301008

That was the only drink I had all evening, I swear...

Cheers to the IIA for a great night out, and congrats to the winners.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hiccoughs

Fionn chatting, being frightened, and getting over-excited at Brion & Roisin's, all the while wearing the world's deadliest t-shirt - nice one Steve!

video

It's oh so...

...tiresome. Picasa 3: it's uber-pants. Turns out it won't import video. Fair enough, I presume it's a beta release (tomorrow's news: Google in non-beta release shocker!!), and it's focussing on what it does extremely well, which is handle photos. Fine. But why the hell does it block access to the camera from any other device? Ubuntu has some automatic camera recognition, which I remember Picasa asking to annex when I installed it...but, guess what? Picasa doesn't provide an option to release that control back to Ubuntu...So I've uninstalled. Kerpow, Google!

And uninstalling it was hardly a breeze either, running dpkg from the terminal? Hardly user-friendly...

I'm still going to re-install it of course...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Can't touch this

Speaking of the young fella, here he is appearing in his latest presentation, "Tummy Time"...



Full album is here...

I've been busy...

what with college, work and baby, so haven't had much time to post. Right now however, I am waiting for the stinking piece of software that is Picasa 3 Beta (ffs) to transfer files from my camera to my Ubuntu desktop. Why does Picasa suck so badly at something that is part of its core functionality - and on an OS that generally out-performs the hell out of Windoze?

Speaking of - I love Ubuntu to bits. I especially love Amarok, the superb music player/organiser...it's actually worthy of a post of it's own, so I'll hold off.

Another amazingly fun feature of Ubuntu was the ease with which I could set up a file share between the desktop and Sinead's notebook (also running Hardy). In fact, I'll go a step further: I was able to attach an NTFS external drive to my desktop, and stream music to the notebook over the wireless network using Samba, and it took all of 3 minutes late on a Friday night to install and configure. Sweet, sweet, sweet...

Get it. There are no more excuses...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fly like a?

So Yves Rossy took the easy route, and flew across La Manche instead of swimming it.

I caught a quick interview with him on The World: Technology Podcast - he summed up his future ambition with the phrase "smaller wing, bigger engines"... legend :)

Monday, October 6, 2008

The ivory tower

Wasn't that where the empress lived in The Neverending Story?

Anyhoo, first day back on campus today. I returned with a mixture of trepidation (loooooooong days: up since 6am, work until 5.30pm, classes from 6pm - 9pm), and excitement. This year we'll be developing a business plan for the Innovation module (Patricia O'Sullivan is the lecturer), and writing a dissertation...

I calculate that college work will take up all the free time I'm currently using to update the blog, so this is me signing off.

Yeah, sure....

Thursday, October 2, 2008

And now for something completely different

While slurping down a bowl of unfeasibly tasty porridge (with honey, mmm) in the canteen this morning, I was delighted to see the following article in the IT:

POPE BENEDICT will this Sunday lead off a non-stop, six-day, seven-night televised reading of the entire Old and New Testaments in a Bible marathon that will bring the pontiff together with stars from the worlds of football, cinema and opera as well as more than 1,000 Italians from all walks of life.

Wow. What a marvellous idea. A bunch of celebrity Catholics talking at one another in a week long festival of self-congratulatory back-slapping: lots of talking, not one millisecond of listening.

BTW, I wonder which lucky celeb will get to read this particular pearl of wisdom?

If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.

Deuteronomy 25:11-12

Man of Science

My brother, Paudie, is doing something fun with lasers in Cork, and he now also preaches good science to the masses from his ambassador's residence.

Way to go lil bro!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A new departure

So I'm the proud owner of a shiny new-ish machine running Ubuntu 8.04, connected wirelessly to the web via my definitely-new Linksys USB adapter. Sweet.

Things are going to be different from now on...

Upgrades, redux

So Picasa 3 caused me no small amount of agony and frustration yesterday. Picasa is very good at finger-snapping easy photo editing for those who can't be arsed learning to use the Gimp, but I have come to loathe pretty much every other aspect it, in particular the rubbish way it handles file/folder management, and most of all the lack of control it offers users trying to change their web preferences.

It is impossible to change the way Picasa connects to the web - from trial and error I discovered that it just inherits whatever Internet Explorer is set to. For a product from a "web" company, that is approaching criminal neglect. Most notebook users will float through a variety of different networks, some requiring proxy access, etc, - the only way to make Picasa realise that you've changed your connectivity settings is to...switch it off and switch it back on again. Rubbish. It is the most un-Google Google product I've used.

Also, since I'm ranting - Firefox updates: good. Firefox updates every second day, which randomly disable my beloved add-ons, so I've nary an idea which is working at any given time: bad.

Dave, very much in conservative, change-is-bad mode.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Podcamp push

So Podcamp Ireland was fun, in lots of unexpected ways.

I met John McGuinness, Minister for State at DETE, and was very impressed with his outspoken support for blogging within the civil service. Just checked out his site there, and I seem to have missed the media storm from last week surrounding his comments on the civil service. Go get 'em John...

I also got a hug from Grannymar: the evidence is here, but a certain young Bohanna needs to share his photos properly! Keith - sort it out!!

Finally, I was immensely impressed with the first speaker I saw, Simon McGarr from Tuppenceworth, who spoke with passion and eloquence of his quest to improve the levels of media literacy and critical thinking of the nation's teens. I promised him I'd give his ideas a push, so check out his thoughts here.

Updated: Me and Grannymar!


Photo property of Keith Bohanna

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Open source music?

Radiohead are asking fans to create remixes of their brilliant track 'Reckoner'; by releasing the various 'stems' or strands (mine is better) to the tune, e.g. vocals, drums, guitar, they want ppl to come up with their own version. This is apparently to help gain 'Reckoner' air time, which would be an easier task were disk jockeys to take their collective heads out of big media's asses, and try actually listening to the track.

Get the bits here.

Ughhh, apple....

Might as well face it

What an incredibly beautiful morning. I think I could possibly become addicted to light. Watching the sun rise over The Bay as the fog swirled around Poolbeg's stacks, listening to the waves breaking gently on the beach, as all the while Thom Yorke and crew crooned softly into my ear. Magic.

There was an old lady....on the DART across from me, reading her scriptures in Latin. What a waste of cognitive power. Hasn't she heard?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Open, social?

So the organisation I work for has upped and moved sticks to the North Bay Area. Shiny new building (albeit a little cold right now), and all open plan, from the CEO down, although he's not here yet afaik.

I like it here, even if network issues are blocking me from Twitter, and the proxy is blocking any Firefox traffic over SSL, which I can't even begin to understand the cause of :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Teeth and tears

So we passed the 12-week milestone, and, ahead of schedule, Fionn is showing all the signs of teething. I'd like it added to the court record that none of us is best pleased about this. Most of the time he's grand, he's either showing off his new trick of blowing bubbles, or simply stuffing both fists into his mouth. However...

This evening was a particularly low point, made worse by my stubborn refusal to give Fionn some Calpol - I try and avoid taking painkillers myself, so why would I inflict them on my son? Bad logic by yours truly.

We were trying to put him down for a sleep at the time, and a mixture of pain and tiredness had him in tears for over an hour. Bad parenting by yours truly.

Within 10 minutes of S administering the Calpol he was asleep. Poor little tyke.

A trilogy in n parts

Eoin Colfer (he of Artemis Fowl fame) is going to write the 6th part of the H2G2 trilogy.

Please, please, please, please don't mess it up.

And, if it's great (and I have great confidence in you, Mr. Colfer), can you please write a new Dirk Gently when you're finished?

Disconnect

Eircom is killing my DSL: http://www.irishisptest.com/forum/utv/1582-contention-ratio-bandwidth-suckage.html

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Supercollider

Well, the world didn't end.

Although they haven't actually started shooting the beams at each other yet.

On a lighter note, does anyone else think Dr. Brian "Things can only get better" Cox looks a lot like Irish actor Cillian Murphy?










Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hmm, upgrades

So my new (ish) work laptop has DVD R but not W, and following on from my external HD fiasco I decided to purchase an external DVD burner. Yes, I have accounts with Picasa, PutPlace and Live Mesh, but once bitten, twice shy, and I'm not going to lose a single byte of data ever again. Guaranteed*.

I bought a Lite-On IT EZ-DUB burner through Elara.ie (still a great store, despite the outcome of this particular sorry tale). I assumed when I bought it that I would get a simple plug-and-play external drive, that would just mount in a manner similar to a USB pen drive. Turns out that the burner is USB, but you need to install proprietary software to write files to a disc. Annoying, but manageable.

The infuriating thing is that the EZ-DUB proprietary software depends on Nero 7, and only Nero 7, to do the writes - it won't even load with any subsequent versions of Nero. This is the height of rudeness and lazy coding - Lite-On are basically giving you two fingers, and damning you to an eternity of being lumped with a particular version of the software if you want to do anything crazy like, I dunno, use the hardware for the purpose it was intended. I wonder if Nero know their software is being used in this manner? I can't see them being too happy that Lite-On have effectively blocked a whole swathe of customers from Nero's intended upgrade path?

Disappointing. Hopefully someone somewhere has hacked this...

* Not actually a guarantee...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Late night chuckles

Fionn apparently learnt to laugh today. He just woke up a minute ago with the biggest smile and laughing with his full voice, for apparently no reason at all - we actually both thought he was crying at first :)

Long may it continue.

Shout out to Greg, get some sleep pop.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Chrome

It's a pretty silly name, but Google's new browser looks good(ish) on first glance.

They really have done a great job with the UI, they've given every last inch to the page display (although I'm not sure about the incredible disappearing/reappearing status bar...). And it's really disconcerting not to have the familiar old 'File' menu option in the top right-hand corner! It makes it feel like some malware app that's trying to full-screen me into submission.

Btw, Picasa 3 (beta) is also out - do Google release anything past Beta at all these days? :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

More Fionn goodness

It's been a while since I've posted on the wonder of nature that is my son, so here goes.

Fionn, at the FoWC, stylin...


Swinging in Moymore...


Chilling with Pops...


Fionn "Bolt" Benn Scanlon:





He's up to 6.4Kg now, so we're rapidly approaching double his birth-weight. He also greets his parents every morning with huge gummy smiles (see below), which makes it all worthwhile.



Evolution is clever: babies develop an extra layer of fascination, some new facet to their personality that appears just when their parent's level of frustration/exhaustion is about to peak - one smile from Fionn can negate any amount of torment, and completely wipe out any memories of 4am feeds :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The weather - a great excuse for everything

I was reading an interesting (if subjective) piece in today's Irish Times about the widespread flooding last week, and especially the complete inability of our road network to efficiently handle large amounts of surface water. The journalist (Tim O'Brien) particularly castigates the National Roads Authority (NRA) for it's "one-in-50-years" coping strategy, arguing that in Barcelona (a far, far sunnier clime than we're used to), the storm drains are capable of dealing with flash floods of up to 400mm - Dublin airport recorded 76.2mm of rain between midnight on Friday 6th and midnight Saturday 7th of August, the period when the worst of the traffic problems occurred.

Here's my take - Ireland gets a lot of rain. Anecdotally, I would say it's rained here at least every other day since the start of the year. We can pillory the NRA until the cows come home for their lack of foresight, but at the end of the day they are just another underfunded, poorly serviced, public sector behemoth, to whom innovation and decision making are concepts that send staff scurrying for cover like church mice in a thunderstorm.

But what about our private industry? We have the environment (by the bucketful :) - why aren't Irish engineering firms the world leaders at building roads that thrive (as far as roads can be described as thriving) in wet weather? Why aren't our materials scientists (I may have made that term up) producing dazzlingly brilliant products that, I don't know, deflect rain water, or gather the water from the surface of umbrellas and use it to generate electricity (patent pending).

There are opportunities here, yet we mostly see the problems. We could be world leaders at the production of wet weather materials and products: instead we are world leaders at feeling sorry for ourselves and complaining.

Yes, I am fully aware of the irony of that last sentence.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Barber's Dry Hands?

I miss my old barber. The new barber has certain advantages (the barbershop is across the road; he's cheaper; and he's quick - he certainly doesn't let trivial things like ears get in the way of a good fast hair cut...)

But I still miss my old barber. He was cool. His barbershop was cool - I looked forward to going there, even if it meant having to wait up to an hour before getting in the chair. And what chairs....

My new barber listens to 2FM: my old barber had a CD jukebox in the corner, and thought nothing of stopping in the middle of a grooming to go and change the CD, sticking on new and groovy tunes. My old barber recorded an album with his band in the basement of the barbershop. 'Nuff said.

I'll spoil myself one of these days and head into town, revisit the scene of happier haircuts, get a full wash and cut, relax and not worry about losing an ear...

Friday, August 15, 2008

subject?

guillermo del toro is directing the hobbit. omfg

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Conspiracy 101

The Irish summer has struck again. Or has it?

Our ceiling has started leaking again in the past day or two. While obviously a minor incident in the greater scheme of things, it's been a right pain in the neck as the water got in to the food storage cupboard, and we had to chuck a bunch of stuff. Forecast isn't great for the rest of the week, so I expect we'll have to keep the bowls and basins under the leaks for a while yet, at least until the management company get around to fixing things.

Which got me thinking: the Irish construction sector is going to do very well out of all the clean-up operations, a timely fillip given the current economic climate (see what I did there?). Is it too much of a stretch of the imagination to suppose that the construction bigwigs had a little tete-a-tete with the Chinese weather controllers, and politely asked them to dump 40 days & nights of rain on our fair isle*? Coincidence? I think not.

* Normally, it never rains here. Honest.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Origin of the Gaps

Saw the first part of Richard Dawkins' new series, The Genius of Charles Darwin over the weekend (Channel 4 have some clips, or stream it in crappy quality on Google, and you definitely, definitely shouldn't download it for free).

I thoroughly enjoyed the show, being, as I am, a card-carrying Dawkinsphile (we need a better word...). I was fascinated by the description of Darwin's thought processes that sowed the idea of evolution by natural selection, especially his reading of Charles Lyell's works on geology. Imagine that moment of realisation, that all the evidence you can see points to an old Earth, one exponentially older than that put forward by the Bible. It must have been, if you'll forgive the pun dear reader, an earth-shattering moment (Wikipedia tells me that as a devout Christian, Lyell himself struggled with this new found realisation). I would love to have been there at that point in time: I imagine he fell off his chair and exclaimed "Egad!", or "Gadzooks!". Victorian scientists talked like that all the time y'know.

Found this, good stuff, but watch out for pirates!!

A quiet time

My grandfather, Jim McInerney, died last Thursday, aged 83. He was buried yesterday in Limerick, where he spent nearly all of his life.

He was a good, kind man - a carpenter and shipwright by trade, whose passion for his craft led to the publication (at the age of 80) his book on a local type of fishing boat.

I have a lifetime of memories of him - but in particular I remember the hot dinners he used to bring me in Fanore. I was lifeguarding the beach in June 2000, and he would walk from his caravan with a dinner that Alice had made, carrying it on a plate covered with tinfoil. It was a selfless act, taking food to a cocky young grandson, too self-absorbed to really appreciate what was being done for him - an act that highlights all that was great about him, and everything that he will be missed for. I wish I had seen the love that he was showing me then for what it was. Life lesson learnt.

I'm so glad he got to meet Fionn, his fourth great-grandchild, for he was truly a great grandfather.

Jim McInerney

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dave recommends...

Microsoft eh? Hard to escape the hegemony, and tbh it's mostly ripped-off, poor quality bloatware that is nigh on impossible to customise to do what a user actually wants it to do. For example, trying to get rid of the "Security Bar" on IE7. Joke.

But, I stand (er, sit) here today, and doff my hat to Redmond. Can't remember what exactly brought me to it, but stumbled upon (ha) the Bird's Eye view setting in Live Search Maps (what an awful name, wtf is wrong with Microsoft Maps?).

Anyway, the detail in the view, and the ability to swing 360 in most cases is mind-blowing. Check out Thomond Park under construction. Of course, as I'm blogging this, I've spotted a slight drawback (slight as in the foreskin of an elephant): you can't embed the maps in page, unless you're blogging via Microsoft Live Spaces. Crap. Sort it out before you head Bill.

Verdict? Unbeliveably satisfying for those "I can see my house/office/pet dog from here" moments, but useless for sharing.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Traffic Managament 101

Dublin City Council unveil their new traffic calming/management strategy:



It's certainly a far cry from this.

Spotted at the Merrion Gates at the weekend.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Gymini crickets

We visited the beautiful shopping district of Carrickmines at the weekend, where a large sign informed us that we were "only overlooked by the mountains". Clearly they were mistaken: there was also some sheep on them thar hills.

Anyhoo, we continued our spending spree, and Fionn once more came home with fun stuff, this time a playmat, designed to cognitively delight and challenge. I think he liked it.









Rest of the album is here.

Last one's pretty "arty" eh? :)

Friday, July 18, 2008

That old man is me

I met an old man the other morning, one of my neighbours. He looks to be in his eighties, and although a little infirm (he walks with the aid of a crutch), seems in good health, and is obviously in great spirit.

The following is an approximation of the conversation which arose during our encounter - to fully set the scene, read the old man (OM) lines as if you're partially deaf, wearing dentures, and have a thick, rich, west of Ireland accent. You can do any voice you want for me (ME), I'm not too pushed. Although, I think the actor most suited to portray my rich, cultured tones would have to be Jeremy Irons. Jeremy, are you free?

OM: HELLO [imagine he's shouting for the rest of the dialogue, OK? I'm not writing all his lines in caps]
ME: hi, how are you?

OM: i've just walked a mile!
ME: a mile, you were lucky not to get wet.

[points at my sandals]

OM: look at your shoes, will you not be cold going outside in this weather?
ME: yeah, i'm just getting something from the car, i'm sure i'll be fine.
OM: the car? are you going for a drink?
ME: no, no, i'm not drinking.
OM: sure you can drink tomorrow, tomorrow's payday!
ME: yes. right so, see you later.

[brief interlude while i go to the boot of my car. return to the elevator, find OM just about to enter the lift. we get in together]

OM: what number are you?
ME: one for me.
OM: i'm on three.
ME: three?
OM: yes, three, i'm higher up than you!

[this exchange is just ending as we reach my floor. it's a short trip.]

ME: ok, nice to see you again.
OM: yes, goodbye john.

John? This is strange, and there are a number of possibilities: either a) he calls everyone John; b) he calls everyone he doesn't know John; c) there's someone else in the apartment building called john who looks remarkably similar to me; or, d) he remembers going for pints on payday with his friend John from many years before, and feels like a good reminisce. Whichever it is, I hope he's happy. I'm looking forward to our next chat. I wonder who I'll be then...

Cry baby, cry

So Fionn is a month old, and I'm back at work. I completely miss the little monster - he was full of smiles yesterday morning and it killed me that I wasn't there to see it.

However, I was most definitely there last night when we had our first real crying episode - I think he choked a little, and got one hell of a fright. The screams would absolutely tear you apart - I think he was scaring himself he was so loud :S Poor little tyke. I hope we have thick walls. Sorry neighbours.

Being a 'Dad' means going grocery shopping at half-past eight on a Thursday evening. And being able to parallel park. Which is no longer on the driving test which I'm due to sit on August 5th

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Meet the Scanlons, and the McInerneys

So we left the Pale and crossed the Shannon, in search of Fionn's roots. Boy did we hit pay-dirt.

Four generations of Scanlon men!













And then on Saturday, we met the other side of the family...











Tuesday, July 8, 2008

New Adventures in Baking

Listen to me! I have made bread for my family!!









We broke the bread at lunchtime, covered it with rashers, hummus & rocket, and said "OMFG, this bread is fabulous". I may yet post the recipe...

Monday, July 7, 2008

Huzzah!

Just realised I've kept this blog alive for over a month. Sweet.

Of course, managing to keep Fionn alive for over 16 days has also been quite an achievement, although, of course, my good wife has had more to do with that than I have. By-the-by, we registered his birth on Friday: Fionn Benn Scanlon (sans hyphen!) is now a legal citizen of the Republic of Ireland.

Son, I'd have asked for an upgrade...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

And I'm free, free wheelin'

So I know it's a bad habit that will do nothing to help me pass my driving test, but my Picasso is unbelievably good for freewheeling (AKA coasting apparently). I get such a kick out of just rolling - it's "green" impact is debateable, but I enjoy just the same. It's certainly no worse for the environment :)

There's a couple of spots around the city where I've gotten some smashing runs: the first, below, is something of a Holy Grail for me, as I've yet to hit the traffic lights properly to allow me to coast out onto the Stillorgan dual-carriageway. I usually have plenty of speed by the time I reach the junction (60kph at times), and it is so annoying to have to brake at this point and throw all that lovely kinetic energy away :(



The next is quite close, a great straight run down from the N11 along Mount Merrion Ave, again this would be much better without the lights at the junction with Cross Ave.



Final one, and it's the daddy so far at 1.9Km, is again a run down from the N11, this time along Newtownpark Avenue.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Rotterdam or anywhere

It's pushing towards four thirty in the morning, and Fionn has just finished his night feed. Outside, I can hear the slow drip of the rain water falling from the terrace above our apartment. It must have been raining continuously since yesterday evening - the rain has that "settled in" feel to it, as if it knows it's not going anywhere else any time soon. An Irish summer.

I take Fionn in my arms, and wrap a woollen blanket about him. Opening the window, I step up on to the sill, and into the edge of the night. Curtains of rain fall steadily, driven softly through the trees by the breeze. The breath of the morning, I keep forgetting, the smell of the warm summer air. I stand there, inches from the drops of rain, and watch the headlights of cars make their way along the main road from the city. Taxis no doubt, ferrying sodden and exhausted revellers home to their beds, or on to the next drink.

Perhaps it's the smell of the breeze, or perhaps it's the hint of dawn creeping along the base of the low-slung clouds, but I'm reminded of another morning, a morning maybe four years ago (has it really been that long?) in late Spring. I'm in Rotterdam, visiting an old friend, where we, along with a group of his acquaintances, have just piled out of a nightclub, giddy and noisy, high on life, techno, alcohol, or whatever else you're having. We make our way to an all-night eatery, where other buitenlanders serve us "Turkish pizza", which I'm assured is a local delicacy. It's hot, spicy and greasy, and washed down with a Coke I'm inclined to agree with this. We sit on our bicycles (this is the Netherlands after all), and wolf down the grub, shouting abuse or encouragement at various passers-by, and give some startled locals an impromptu rendition of God Save the Queen, before deciding that perhaps it was now best to head for home. As we pedal furiously, crossing the bridge that spans the Rhine delta, we are greeted by a red-hot, heavy-hanging sun, looking for all the world like it was lifted straight from the closing credits to China Beach. I stop my bicycle, push whoever I'm carrying off the crossbar (we've picked up someone on the way, or lost a bicycle, who knows?), and stop and stare as the early-morning mists begin to kindle and glow, setting the East aflame. I stand at the apex of the bridge, breathing hard, tasting the spices of the pizza, my sweat and the smell of the river, all mingled together. It is a good moment.

I look down at my son, fifteen days old and sleeping fitfully, and performing a remarkable impression of a cantankerous grizzly bear trapped in the body of a kitten. I wonder about the moments he will have during his life: the people, whom I do not know, with which he will share them; the places, that I have not been to, where he will have them. I hope the best for him, that he will find the world as mesmerising and perplexing as I have done so far. Not many answers, and an endless supply of questions.

The wind shifts slightly, and a little rain splashes our upturned faces: his turned to mine, and mine turned to the cloudy sky. I close the window again, and step down from the sill.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Especially for our PHN buddy

You know who you are...

Fionn's first adventure in a establishment licensed to sell beverages of an alcoholic nature: nortsoide!!

video

Fionn flood!





There's more here for die-hard Fionn fans.

More techy goodness

My new camera arrived!! Way too many options, and currently saving files at 3Mb per photo, but I'm sure I'll figure it out :)

First photo below, Fionn showing his extra 270g (most of it went to his chin tbh...)

Late

So it looks like all those feeds in the past few days have really paid off: we brought Fionn to the Blackrock health centre in the teeming rain this morning for his weigh-in, and he topped the scales at 4.04Kg (just shy of 9lbs). He's gained on his birth weight of 3.77Kg, so we're delighted that he's doing so well, and it's a great reward for S to know that all her hard work is paying off.

It's strange to watch him feed: I've never actually seen someone eat as if their life depended on it :)

I think I may have overdone it with the down-in-the-dumps post last night, so I thought I'd relate some of the more pleasant side-effects of having my progeny hanging about. One of the sad realities of life these days is that parents / guardians of children are extremely wary of having strangers (especially men by themselves) interact with their children. I can't count the number of times I've smiled at a small child at play, only to receive a look of instant suspicion, and even revulsion, from an anxious parent, who quickly ushers their child out of my vicinity. You certainly can't blame the parents (and now more than ever I understand how they feel), but it always left me feeling a little depressed, that there was a section of the human race that I, as a young male, was banned from interacting with.

Fionn has changed that: he's like my Golden Ticket to the world of the Little People. I get to smile at children at play, even talk to them, kids come up to look at him (especially if I'm wearing him in the sling). We also appear to have joined the Club of Parenthood: we just had coffee in *bucks in the village (smashing view, terrible coffee), and spent 10 minutes yakking to complete strangers who were there with their 6 month old daughter. The conversation was along familiar patterns: feeding, sleep deprivation, how quickly they change at this age - topics that might have left other people a little glassy-eyed - but I felt a wonderful sense of camaraderie. Golly, but things have changed :)


Thanks to Paudie and SteveC for the heads up on the XKCD...

Early

It's early. So early, it's still actually yesterday. It's so early, I'm cooking the dinner so we can have it for breakfast, and we can have a clear run of the day.

This is one of the most obvious side-effects of parenthood, getting to know all the hours of the day - that and the small, dried-in vomit stains on the 'O', 'L', '.', and ';' keys on my laptop. Don't ever try burping a newborn over any computer hardware. You live and learn. Hopefully...

Fionn had the mother of all feeding days yester/today, 10 feeds in a 24-hour period. We're fervently hoping that this is a growth spurt, and not the establishment of a routine...

News: The middle Shannon Scanlon has a blog and a gallery for his smashing pictures. Check it out, feedback to the designer. Ahem.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Now if only he'd smile...

Fionn doing his (almost) full range of facial expressions.


video

Live blogging, dénouement


Well, far from my greatest success in the kitchen. It may well look like a dogs dinner, but it tastes pretty fabulous.

I believe my mistakes lay in the fact that I took it out of the oven too soon (I panicked when I saw the burnt edges), and then didn't leave it enough time to sit in the baking tin. Onwards and upwards, my next effort will be magnificent!!

Live blogging, part one

Or, the "Domestication of Dave".

So just popped my first crack at baking into the oven, just ten minutes to go until I get to nibble on the sweet taste of my endeavours: flapjacks, recipe courtesy of here.

I'll let you know how it goes.

To keep everyone's mind off the suspense, here's some pics of my firstborn, and my darling wife.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A poem from Pop

The family laureate penned a welcome for Fionn: I give you Greg's ode to his grandson:

Epic journey.

Been getting ready for weeks now,
Putting the final touches
To my best suit,
Turning this way and that,
An occasional kick
To position my head
Towards the exit.

The softer voice had begun
To get a little more insistent,
“C’mon Baby, time to get moving”,
The other voice had got to Rivendell,
Sounds like a nice place,
After the terrors of the Hobbit journey. *

Sometimes the muffled noises
Are very loud as my head
Is being squeezed tightly,
And after what seems like years
Was it really only hours?
The pressure on my head eases,
Then quite suddenly
Way too much brightness
As I complete my epic journey.

* I read Fionn (then merely known as 'Bump') The Fellowship of the Ring during the pregnancy, hence the Rivendell connection :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

You, me, and baby makes three

So we're finally home. Fionn ventured out into his* big bad world just after midday today, and after an uneventful first car ride, he began to explore what will in all likelihood be his home for the next two years.

Just after he was born, I said to S that we were now immortal - I guess I meant that I could see our future line stretching out in front of us, and his arrival was the first step along that journey. Today, while reading an Anne Geddes book, I saw this quote from Alfred North Whitehead:

"Children are our immortality; in them we see the story of our life rewritten in a fairer hand."

I think mine was nicer, funny coincidence all the same.

Stay tuned, more videos, photos and poems to come.

* Yes, it is his world, we've just been minding it for him.

A face like a dad

Home again to an empty house I'm afraid. S and Fionn are overnighting once more in Holles St, although they at least have been afforded the dignity of a private room, which is a huge relief.

Things I completely wasn't expecting fatherhood to bring:

  • An irrational and overwhelming urge to protect my child - I have now twice suspected two perfectly lovely and helpful nurse/midwives of trying to poison him.
  • A trawl through the musical back-catalogue of my mind - Fionn especially seems to like Oasis classics such as "Champagne Supernova" sung to him while having his nappies changed. Odd.
I'm sure there's more, but it's far too late...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

And there he was...

Our beautiful boy, Fionn Benn-Scanlon, came into this world at 19:50 on Friday, June 20th, a healthy 3.77Kg. While not quite the natural hypnobirth we were hoping for, my beautiful brave Sinéad battled through, fought the good fight and both are now doing very well. Son, I'm so happy to have you with us at last...

video

I can't begin to describe how overjoyed and excited we both are - we're going to have a ball :)

Thanks to all for their messages of support and congratulations; I promise we'll let you all see him soon!

Monday, June 16, 2008

oh citroën

just a quickfire post tonight, no time for frills. S has been re-admitted to Holles St since Sunday afternoon, and she'll be there until baby has arrived. she's been moved to a semi-private room, so hopefully she'll have a chance to get a couple of good night's sleep. plan is for a possible induction on wednesday, so stay tuned. it's been a bit of a battle to try and strike a balance between the medical-intervention wielding doctors and what we had hoped would be a natural childbirth experience: although we've had some support from the community midwives team, I think it could have been nigh on impossible without the hypnobirthing training, and the subsequent reading S has done. go knowledge! S has been wonderful: she has maintained her dignity, strength, and beauty as the cracks have appeared in our hoped-for birth plan. she is an amazing person, and I love her very deeply for what she is going through for both of us. transmitting maximum love over the web, comin atcha....

our baby will, in all likelihood, be home this week. wow.

alas (and it's only a very very very small alas), I don't think I'll make it to my nude moment of fame this Saturday. spence, you'll have to make do without The Dave I'm afraid.

I did manage to get my ESA application off. rockin...

just a small note RE the post title: the headlamps failed on the car again this evening, forcing me to trek home (well laden, tired, and emotional) via public transport. André-Gustave Citroën, in my dreams, you're dying all tonight...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Victory!

A victory for selfishness. A victory for immaturity. A victory for small-minded nationalism. A (genuine) victory for "the marketing of fear".

We've just given two fingers to a noble human endeavour, a project designed to help the unique and wonderful peoples of Europe to join together and achieve good things in the world: embracing the arts, funding the sciences, providing a better humanitarian service. Instead, the 'No' campaign reduced this endeavour to short-term financial issues (will I lose my job?), and encouraged near mass-hysteria levels of fear (conscription, abortion, the return of Michael McDowell (wtf?)).

When I was born in 1981, the Republic was already a member of the EEC: I consider myself a European before being Irish. I would imagine that not many others share that view, and that many would call my "nationalism" into view. Up until today I was by and large proud of my heritage; I would, however, now cringe slightly if someone from the Continent asked where I was from.

I'm being extreme, and melodramatic, but heck, I'm disappointed.

</my_two_cents>

Return of S

Well we're home safe and sound after the thankfully brief sojourn in Holles St. With a little pharmacological assistance we're back on track for our hoped-for natural birth (yes, well aware of the irony of that), but S has hopefully been given the chance to avoid being induced and to keep things in her own hands - so to speak ;) She'll certainly do better in the peace, quiet, and familiar surroundings of her own home, instead of being stuck in the middle of Baby Central. At one point it seemed as if the entire ward was either having contractions, or sobbing quietly to themselves: I really felt as if we weren't pulling our weight...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

pregnancy update

My better half had to be admitted for 24-hour observation today in Holles St, so a bit of a crazy time.

We experienced a mixed bag of emotions: worry, fear, and surprise at S having to overnight, and the whole associated aura of "medicalness" that goes with a stay (hopefully brief!!) in hospital; I was also full of gratitude for the genuine warmth and care shown to both of us by the majority of staff we dealt with in there, especially given the conditions they have to work in, which brings us to; frustration!! with the appalling environment in which we are supposed to bring our child into the world :(

The ward S is in has exceeded it's occupancy: I reckon there was 20 women in a room where there should only be 14. This means that in some cases (like for S), there are 2 beds squeezed into a single bed space, which leaves very little room for manoeuvring, and even less for privacy. It doesn't look like S is going to get a great nights sleep, at a time when she needs more than ever to be focussing on keep herself and baby relaxed and well. The lady S is sharing with is in the late stages of labour, and was in audible discomfort with her contractions - she should be able to move around without having to ask S or myself to move, or worry that she's inconveniencing us. Herself and her birth partner were (IMHO) showing great patience, especially (and this is the killer) as there was a recently vacated bed directly opposite from us! When I last spoke to S, the bed had been free for over an hour, and there were no sign of any of the "doubled-up" mums-to-be moving into it.

I'm not going to go off on a rant about the HSE - many others are in a better position to do that than me. I will say that the level of maternity services on offer in Ireland can improve, and there are people like AIMS Ireland who are doing good work to make it happen.

On a more positive note, I got "exit polled" by a Finnish camera crew after casting my vote this evening :) That's the first step on the path towards world-renowned political punditry complete. I'd better start learning off some Minister's names...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

swim results, sandycove 07/06

The mens results from last weekends open sea swims are available here.

7th fastest time overall, which is nice :P

Looks like those early morning sessions in the pool with stevieD have started to pay off, although I'm currently experiencing a hiatus in that department as my TCD student card went AWOL during the exams last month, and I haven't been in the pool since :(

Sunday, June 8, 2008

T minus 14 days

Expected due date (EDD) is 22nd June. Things are certainly starting to come into focus now, what with practising our sling-wearing with teddybears as baby substitutes, and assembling nursery furniture (see below)...



I'm feeling quite excited - there's a tremendous sense of anticipation, that I'll finally get to meet this new, unique person: I expect to be awestruck, and completely bedazzled by their every unexpected thought. Running hand-in-hand with the anticipation is a small amount of apprehension: worries about the birth itself mainly, plus my complete lack of experience with regard to raising children of any age.

It actually feels a bit like being a kid on Christmas Eve: absolute joy & excitement with the thought of the presents, and a little bit of fear of Santa thrown in there as well. Joy, excitement and fear: a good way to know you're alive :)

Sandycove swim

Steeled myself to head down to Sandycove yesterday afternoon for the opening sea swim of the season. It was an incredibly sunny day in south dublin, and the water was fantastic - I was expecting it to be much colder following my two west coast swims last weekend.

Two things spoiled the afternoon: sandycove parking (or lack thereof), I'll leave the car at home next time; and I got stung on the mouth (as my darling wife says, it serves me right for kissing jellyfish).

I'll post my time/placing as soon as they're available.

radiohead

they should change their name to "the weather gods" or something similar. a heavy downpour after bat for lashes and a westering sun created a perfect double rainbow, which thom assured us would be there every night :)







set list as follows: (I'm 99% sure on this, the encores might be wrong, I was enjoying myself way too much)

all i need
there there
airbag
bangers & mash
15 step
nude
pyramid song
optimistic
weird fishes
national anthem
idiotecque
reckoner
everything in its right place

=> encore # 1

faust arp
bodysnatchers
videotape
the gloaming
you and whose army
myxomatosis
iron lung

=> encore # 2

Super Collider
just
paranoid android

Thursday, June 5, 2008

out of order or sort of unaligned

RIP media HDD. Your brief sojourn in my freezer was all for naught; you still clicked in agitation when all I ask of you was to hum in satisfaction.



Lesson of the day: don't destroy your originals. If I had wiped the HD on my camcorder, my happy wedding/honeymoon memories would be slowly condensing to form a puddle around my thawing lump of metal and circuit board.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Op. 1

So I brought my media box halfway around the country (in case of an entertainment emergency) but neglected to pack the zapper, so no Frasier over the b/hol unfortunately. just as well, the weather was cracking, esp in Crosshaven on Friday...

It was only on our return to B'rock that I realised that the over-priced widget that converts the red/yellow/white cables to SCART had become lost in transit somewhere between Cork & Dublin. Resigning myself to a return to the days of watching BSG on the laptop, I hooked the aforementioned HDD up via USB to see what eps I'm missing ... and the f***er performs what I like to describe as the "spin of death", whining away merrily to itself, and utterly failing to come anywhere near registering it's presence with my machine.

So that's it, my first venture into the blogosphere is to record my crankiness at the possible loss of my priceless film & TV collection.

It will get better - I hope to use this to record my experiences as my wife & I experience the birth of our first child. If I can drag my lazy ass down to the seashore, I might also stick up reports/pics from the 2008 Dublin sea swims ... although that's a big "IF" :)

So "Hello World!", and goodnight.