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


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