Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lions and Tigers and Fionn, oh my!

We all went to the zoo yesterday, zoo yesterday, the zoo yesterday...

The weather suddenly remembered it was August and the sun scorched down from early 'til late, and the place was absolutely thronged. Only my second time there, Fionn's first, and he was absolutely thrilled. Big hit for him: the tortoises (although he insisted on calling them turtles); big hit for us: watching the elephants taking a shower on the Kaziranga Forest Trail. We also managed to get him take a nap in his buggy (a rare occurrence) which meant we had a whole day out and about. It makes such a difference not to have to plan to go back home for his nap, it feels like you have such freedom :)

He also had plenty of opportunity to find his feet, so, for the hardcore Fionn fans, a real treat lies below:

This is especially for the Grandad's who haven't yet seen much walking action from Fionn: Grandad Greg in particular is so enthused about walking that it inspired him to bring forth the following creation:

Thirteen months of growth.

Another epic journey,
A definite mile-stone,
When baby goes bipedal
And starts to walk alone.

On more than one occasion,
A single step, no more,
You’ve taken since your birthday,
But now you’ve taken four.

The date of this great journey
For historians to quote,
Was on Monday, July twenty,
After thirteen months of growth.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Irish Government on Twitter

I'm compiling a list of Irish government agencies/departments/semi-states/whatever on Twitter (surprised nobody has done this before?). Specifically looking at organisations here, rather than individuals (although I might make some exceptions). Anyway, so far I have:
Welcome any suggestions?

Updated: added a few more, with thanks to @caseyorla

Updated again: added another, thanks to @ruralnetwork. I may create a wiki for this, seeing as I have all this new-found free time on my hands ;)

Monday, August 17, 2009

On your marks, get set, get set, go...

So the thesis is ready for printing, and should be signed, sealed and delivered by the end of the week, which can mean only one thing: holidays!

The family are upping sticks and heading once more for la belle France, itinerary is below:

View grand_tour_sept_09 in a larger map

Thats 544 nautical miles (fun site for calculating shipping distances), 1,898 kilometres of motoring, and 18 days of sunshine :)

You can all start feeling jealous now...

This is what we will look like having fun in France:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Harnessing the Power of Online Marketing

I recently wrote an article for the August/September issue of The Market magazine, Enterprise Ireland's briefing on international market opportunities for Irish business (disclosure: if you weren't aware, I am an employee of Enterprise Ireland).

This article is drawn in no small way from my soon to be submitted dissertation, "Is Social Media Marketing a cost-effective tool for Irish SMEs?". I'll be publishing some of the results from the study here on the blog so stay tuned.

The Market26 Online

Friday, August 14, 2009

A sailor's life for me

Fionn and I took a dander out to Dun Laoghaire this afternoon to see what we could see: and we saw this:

Photo © xia08

Check out the guy standing on the dock at her bow to get an idea of how insanely big she is. She's the Cinderella IV out of Zwartsluis, en route to the Monaco Yacht Show and she is so amazingly amazing I think I'd like to steal her...</zaphod>

Anyway, good times were had on the West Pier. I tried taking some photos of the yacht, but the camera on the BlackBerry Pearl is woefully inadequate, although I did manage a few nice ones of the boy wonder, just to prove we were there.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Give me some time, I just need a little time...

Almost a month to the day since my last blog post, sign of the times. As per my previous post, my days are feeling a little full recently. This is coinciding with what has been Fionn's most intense period of developmental growth to date, so I'm forcing myself to take some time out and document it - this is the stuff you don't want to forget!
  • He's started using his index finger to point to objects we're talking about - his vocabulary is insane: fish, cat, ladybird, trouser, cup, train, bus, bath, duck, bubble... The list goes on and on...
  • His first spoken word was probably 'fish', or 'down'. He has since added 'purple' and 'tractor' to his repertoire.
  • He has developed a skill we call 'speed-crawling' - Fionn realised that by pushing a flat object (e.g., a book, DVD, Wii game) along the carpet and crawling behind it (with either one or two hands) he can get around much faster :P He's also smart enough to flip the object over if there's less friction on the other side - go science!
  • He has a wonderful range of animal noises: kangaroo, horse (hooves), duck (i.e., all birds), dog, snake, monkey.
  • Most recent trick: walking! He has taken independent steps on a few occasions since his birthday, but he's much happier toddling and wobbling along beside you holding on to one hand. I'll try and get some video up of him on two feet as soon as I can convince him to perform on demand :)
There's obviously loads more, but there's no point putting it all down here, as he'll most likely do ten brand new things before breakfast tomorrow anyway. It's been a wonderful privilege to see him develop and grow his personality, and he's so engaged and attentive to the world around him that sometimes you would swear you were having a conversation with him. As these photos will attest, he's a real little boy now: our baby is all grown up :')

This one is just for you Foley-san...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ode to a grandson

Almost a week late, but been busy with the thesis, work, life, the universe, everything and all the fish...

Anyway, first of a few posts related to Fionn's first birthday last Saturday, here's his birthday poem from sean-athair Greg:

Fionn's first - June 09

Pictured on your daddy's blog before being one week old,
Celebrated journeys penned in verse,
Video recording of your first attempt to crawl,
Two steps forward one step in reverse.

Giving voice through baby sounds at barely three months old,
Sounds like you were really trying to talk,
How we marvelled at the lengthy stories that you told,
Wondered could we teach you how to walk.

Getting in the swim of things while suited like your dad,
Twelve month anniversary of birth,
Family and friends around you showering you with praise,
Celebrating your first year on Earth.

Monday, June 1, 2009

At swim, two Scanlons

After a hot afternoon spent strolling around the city admiring the tall ships (and not purchasing any of the over-priced tat), what better way to finish the day than a quick dip in the sea?

Those of a nervous disposition may wish to avert their eyes, these photos contain copious amounts of pale man-flesh...

Fionn quickly lost any sense of propriety, and decided that sitting in the waves was the only way to go. He would have been in head first if he had his way :)

Water was lovely, although Greg and I did suit up. It feels very strange to be floating in Dublin Bay, watching the ferries leave the Port, and the Dart passing not 50 metres behind you. Good times, hopefully it'll be a regular feature of our summer!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Catholic Church in Ireland

The recent report on the horror and depravity visited on children by the Catholic Church in Ireland has gone some way towards bringing the issue to the public's attention, but personally I feel more needs to be done.

I am not happy that much needed tax monies are being spent by the State (via the Residential Institutions Redress Board), shouldering the brunt of the culpability of the Catholic Church in Ireland. Yes, the State (and especially the Department of Education) have some share of the blame, but the Catholic Church have been shown to have wilfully manipulated the system to maximise their own gains.

I am not happy with the response of any of the leaders of the political parties - where is the outrage, the moral indignation? The pathetic attempts at an apology from the Christian Brothers are a complete insult, both to survivors and to the rest of the Irish people. Where is the response from the Archbishops, where is the response from the Vatican?

I'm not happy to let this issue just die away, briefly discussed in the Dail, then forgotten about in the ugly rush to polling day. I wrote this post to highlight the atrocities committed by the Catholic Church in Ireland, and if anyone reads it and feels the same, I would hope that they would do likewise and spread the word.

P.S. This is one of the most tragic and bravest things I have ever seen, institutional abuse survivor confronts Minister on Q&A.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Huggin' up the big Munster man

A brief post, more of a vehicle for showing the world what a marvellously handsome son I have than anything else.

By the way, this face in this jersey will make future generations of Leinster players quake in their high-heeled boots...

All of these pics are from our trip home to Clare last weekend, which we spent shuttling between Ennis and Moymore. Good weather (mostly), good food, good times - apart from the minor issue of a certain rugby result, which I don't feel so bad about right now as I just found out that Shannon beat 'tarf :P

Fionn on his new birthday bike:

Fionn keeping the Scanlon g'parents entertained in the cottage:

Fionn with a selection of lady admirers - Sarah, Granny Colette, and Aunt Julie & Granny Jean :

I've loads more photos from these sets, if you want to see more drop me a line in the comments section :)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A brief update of Fionn

Been a while, first post this month. Shame.

So, some good news regarding Fionn and his allergy. Last Tuesday we went to see Dr. Paul Carson who carried out a skin-prick test to ascertain the severity and range of Fionn's allergies. We had to bring our own melon (apparently they don't test for it very often), which we forgot, so I had to tear up to Tesco in Stillorgan (while the school-run traffic was pouring out of Oatlands) to purchase a fresh cantaloupe. I came back to the clinic to find Fionn stripped to his nappy, tears pouring down his face, and full of distrust of the strange man with the needle :( As it turned out it was worth the (brief) upset: Dr. Carson was able to tell us that based on the severity (or lack thereof) of the reaction to the peanut extract he didn't feel that it was necessary for us to have to carry adrenaline auto-injectors. This comes as a huge relief to us: although it is likely that Fionn would still have to be hospitalised if he comes in contact with a peanut, it will be because he is massively unwell, as opposed to being in a potentially life-threatening situation. It seems a small thing, but we don't have to worry that unknown food might now kill him, which was making weaning the less than fun experience it should be.

We also found out that Fionn has a very mild allergy to eggs (it's almost definitely what's causing the eczema), but apart from that Dr. Carson gave us the all-clear, which meant that on Thursday afternoon Fionn was happily tucking into cod and pasta in a cheese and garlic sauce :) Happy days.

So apart from all the drama surrounding his allergies, Fionn is progressing in leaps and bounds. He moved out into his own room last weekend (following a <sarcasm>great</sarcasm> trip to Ikea), and seems to be settling in quite well. He loves his new mobile (thank you Aunt Róisín): he can only reach it while being held in our arms, and he spends his entire time either trying to pull it down from the ceiling or blowing at it to make the planes spin around :)

He can pull himself up on anything that doesn't move (or even one us if we stop moving for long enough), which means that any items we have left on top of lockers, chairs, side-tables, etc. have been making steady progress away from his reach as he gets taller and taller. We're coming to the realisation that everything within two feet of the floor is now unequivocally his - he has already attempted to eat small wooden blocks, soil, newspaper, Sinéad's wedding ring, dried fennel, my driving licence, and a €50 note:

He's also become so much more aware of what's going on around him: he responds to the word "book" by going over to his box of books and picking out whichever one he wants to have read to him; any time he sees a duck (be it in the park, a book, or his bath) he makes a good attempt at a Donald Duck quack - although he also does this for swans, pigeons and waterhens :) On top of all this, the child is an out-and-out flirt, and a narcissist: check him out here practising his camera face:

I'll get in trouble if I don't put up a nice photo of him after those two beauties, so here he is chilling out with Grandad Greg in Moymore at Easter:

That's all for now, hopefully won't leave it as long again before posting next time, although the dread dissertation looms large. I'll finish on a sad note, my grand-uncle Noel Quinn passed away on Friday. We'll all remember him with great joy and affection: Noel was a wonderful man, and I'll always think of him when I hear someone sing "Old Man River". Thanks for the moments Noel.

Monday, March 30, 2009

All-singing, all-dancing...

Saturday morning, Fionn telling us it's definitely time for breakfast.

Video in two parts, mindful of everyone's bandwidth :)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

You take your car to work

I'm a hopeless romantic when it comes to the sea. I guess it runs in the family: the brother takes epic oceanic photos (here); and the grandfather wrote a book about his love for traditional boats (here). My heartrate goes up and I get mild goosebumps whenever I see a ship entering or especially leaving port - even if it's just the decrepit old rust-bucket that is the MV Celtic Star, which I know is only heading for Liverpool, and carrying nothing more exotic than a bunch of underpaid Romanian sailors.

I feel lucky that my daily commute to the office (whether by DART or the car) takes me past some of the most captivating views Dublin has to offer. From the car on Strand Rd, or the DART south of Sydney Parade, I'm afforded glimpses of sometimes breathtaking scenery, from the hills of Howth to Killiney, and every grain of sand and drop of water in between.

But it's the mystery and potential of the port that really captivates my imagination - it's a border, a point of transition, the place where the controlled chaos of human civilisation meets Nature untamed. Every time I cross the East Link bridge the scene has changed: different ships come and go - the Jeanie Johnston and Róisín to the West, the Jonathan Swift and Ulysses to the East - and the water has a different look: when I last crossed it on Friday it was fiercely blue, flecked white by the driving wind and sunshine.

It's my favourite view in Dublin, looking down the final few kilometres of the Liffey and seeing the open horizon framed by the docks on each side. I couldn't find any decent photos of it on Flickr, so I'll just have to take a leaf from Paudie's book and go shoot some myself :)

In the meantime, here's a pretty amazing picture of a pretty amazing boat, which was another good reason to appreciate the view from the East Link for a few months there:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The future is bright, the future is nut-free

On Saturday Sinéad and I went along to a parents support group meeting organised by the Irish Anaphylaxis Campaign. No kids allowed, so Fionn spent his time entertaining his more than willing baby-sitters (Roisin & Brion) by climbing up a flight of stairs three times. Good man Fionn.

The meet-up was excellent, with about 20 people attending, some couples but mostly parents attending by themselves. The stories we heard were very varied: the ages of the children with anaphylaxis ranged from Fionn at nine months of age up to at least 17 years old; and the allergens included everything from peanuts to potatoes. It was a really informative few hours, especially for myself and Sinéad, as we're obviously still very new to this, and we got some good practical information like names of experts in Ireland, and the kind of supports that were available (not much).

We also got to listen to peoples' own personal struggles, to hear about the kind of everyday stuff they had to cope with, and that we have yet to face: kid's parties; eating out in restaurants; transitioning to new schools. Parents sat there discussing the vital neccessity of having adrenaline shots (anapens/epipens) pretty much everywhere - in the home, at school, having the child carry two themselves - as well as making sure that as many friends and relatives were familiar with how the anapens work by asking them to practice with a training "pen". It all seemed a bit daunting, and one lady (who also quite recently found out that her son has anaphylaxis, although he's much older than Fionn) seemed to sum up my feelings quite well, saying that before she found out about the diagnosis she had never given much thought to allergies and allergic reactions; now that she knew, she felt that she had crossed some great divide, and that we were somehow separated from the general public, in that it is now all that we can think about, that we now have this huge extra responsibilty to remain vigilant on behalf of our children about what they eat and what they are exposed to.

This may seem like a doom and gloom post, but it's not. I came away from the meeting feeling quite motivated by the level of support from the others present - they've made it this far, and their success (in some cases in spite of much greater challenges than we face) is inspiring. The Irish Anaphylaxis Campaign is doing a great job of raising awareness in this country, and I'll be giving some of my time to empower the community by helping out with the website, as well as doing what I can to help with the drive to have the campaign become a recognised charitable organisation. I'd like to thank Claire and Fiona for organising the meet-up, as well as the other parents we met on the day, and look forward to seeing you again soon.

Oh, and by the way, Declan Kidney for Taoiseach.

Monday, March 9, 2009

BizCamp multimedia hoard

BizCamp was a fantastic success this weekend, and I'll post some other time about all the great people I met there, but just wanted to do a quick post to try and pull together the various media coverage from the day.

RTE news segment:

Campbell Scott, IGOPeople:

Caelan King, RevaHealth:

Keith Bohanna, dbTwang:

Fred at also has some photos from Saturday over at Flickr. Paul May of Front Design also has a set up.

I'm hoping to have the radio interviews up here shortly as well, stay tuned.

Update: 09-03-09 21:19

Slides from Paul Browne & John Magill's presentation on EI funding:

Aidan Kenny, who gave a great presentation on adding services to your existing business, has posted his slides here.

Update: 10-03-09 10:42

SiliconRepublic have a piece covering the event.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Nuts to you

We finally got the results back from Fionn's allergy tests yesterday, and, to our disappointment, we found out that he has a serious adverse reaction to peanuts. It's not so bad that he can't be in the same room as them (he's happily played on my lap as I devour peanut-butter and toast), but it's clearly bad enough that he had to be brought to hospital back in December suffering from angiodema.

It will make some aspects of our life more difficult, and he will certainly face challenges of his own when he's older as a result of it, but I have absolutely no doubt that we will successfully manage this as a family, that we can give him the structures he needs now and the support he will need in the future. Ever the optimist :)

Fionn is of course happily oblivious to all of this, and long may it last. To lift the sombre mood of this my 80th post, check out the man in question and his oh-so-proud father on the swings in the park this afternoon.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


So my wife and child are ill. It's Fionn's first cold, and he has my heart broken trying to teach him how to blow his nose. He seems happy enough when he's awake just to sit and blow snot bubbles (nice...) but he's been quite upset at night as he's finding it quite difficult to breathe :( Poor chap. Well, one sickness in eight months is a pretty good return, I'm thankful we've gotten off so lightly.

Sinead's suffering with a head cold as well, compounded by lack of sleep (see above), so I took Fionn out for a walk (well wrapped up, for any Grannies reading this!!) to Dun Laoighre. I think I must have offended some Rain God somewhere, because the only cloud in an otherwise unblemished blue sky dumped it's load on us as we were sitting eating rusks on the West Pier - interrupting what was an otherwise idyllic father-son bonding experience... Although we do now have the shared experience of sitting looking like a pair of drowned rats on the DART home :)

Anyway, enough talk I hear you say, give me some media! First up, the obligatory clip of the nude child in the bath:

And the highlight of the show: Fionn crawls! It isn't the most graceful thing you'll ever see, and certainly puts one in mind of drunken elephants, but you can't fault him for determination :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mon petit homme vert

The promised deluge - Fionn as Ireland's 16th man, opening day of the Six Nations.

Yes, he's wearing a No. 13 shirt - he is, after all, technically from Leinster.

Reacting to another piece of Irish magic:

Halftime pep talk:

Getting ready to pack down behind the scrum - natural born openside:

Full album is here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Sink to the bottom with you

I've been following the continuing slide of the economy and the Wodehousian farce that is the collapse of the Irish banking system with a mixture of resignation and trepidation. As scandal piles upon scandal, it should really come as no surprise to us that there are senior figures within the business community for whom lying, cheating and stealing on a daily basis is a way of life. After all, the Mahon tribunal showed us that businessmen and women have been more than happy to bribe politicians for years - what made us think that they were not also merrily engaged in bribing and defrauding one another?

Commentators have been calling for "root-and-branch" change, which would be very welcome, but something I read over the weekend gives me a sinking feeling that a simple personnel swap will effect little difference. The problems endemic in Irish business go right to the core, right back to when the rules of how to be a successful businessperson are being laid out.

The piece I read was in the UCD alumni magazine Business Connections (I actually didn't attend UCD, they just haven't updated their mailing list in a while by the looks of things). In a celebration of the centennial of the UCD Business School, the issue was showcasing:

"...some of the leading figures in business, industry and public life who have graced the halls of the UCD School of Business over the years."

One of the "leading figures" they chose was Jim Flavin, the former head of DCC. You might remember Jim from the news in recent past: in 2007 he was found by the Supreme Court to have engaged in illegal trading of Fyffes shares (banana republic, ho ho ho), yielding his company €85 million in ill-gotten gains.

Nice one UCD: what a shining example indeed, a true paragon of virtue to hold up to Ireland's next generation of leaders. Behold! You too can cheat the system!

BTW, Mr. Flavin was also previously head of AIB's venture capital unit. Smashing. As I've said, I think it'll take more than a sweeping out of the old to see any real change in how business at the highest level is carried out in this country. Maybe the memory of the thousands and thousands of lost jobs will make us all a little less trusting next time. Here's hoping.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sneak preview

There'll be a Fionn flood arriving here shortly: I've been manfully struggling to get my photos and videos organised, battling against dying laptops (Sinead's old Inspiron is on it's last legs), and an ever-shrinking amount of free time, but I'm on top of it now...

Here's a photo of his lordship to whet the appetite (pun firmly intended)...

I liked swimming, so I swam

So I'm almost getting back into a regular swimming schedule. Couple of weeks in the water in TCD, and this week started morning sessions in Glenalbyn. Hope I can stick with it - watch this space.

On a similar note, my father Greg is attempting another long-distance swim this summer: he and the Channel swim crew will attempt to swim the River Shannon from source to sea. Check out the blog.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

They Don't Sleep Anymore on the Beach

How tired am I? I was chatting to S this evening over dinner about the upcoming BizCamp Dublin (disclosure: I'm involved with the organising of this worthy event), when S asked me what date it was on. I replied, with quiet deliberation, that it was taking place on February the 7th of March, and then couldn't figure out why she was giving me a look that was somewhere between concern and hilarity.

Sleep needed. Bed now. Swimming in the morning.

P.S. Seriously, check out BizCamp, coming soon to an entrepreneurial hotspot near you. If you can't make it, consider grabbing the badge on the right and help spread the word. FTR!

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Good, The Dabs, and The Ugly just lost a sale. I wanted to buy this, but the process of actually purchasing the thing drove me almost batty, so i stopped. Sucks to be you Dabs.

Three things they did wrong:

  • They made me create an account just to buy something. No, no, no, no, no...

  • They made me create an account just to buy something, even though they offer the option to purchase via PayPal. No, no, no, no, no...

  • They would only let me deliver to the billing address of the credit card used for purchase - this is for "security reasons" and is "in my interest". Really? Gee, thanks...

Epic fail Dabs. I wanted to give you my money, but you made the process so frustrating that I would rather go and trawl the Web looking for alternative sellers. That's a special talent, good on ya.

If anyone from Dabs actually ends up reading this (Hello!) I suggest having a read of this.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The things you don't expect

To be listening to French rap with your 7 month old son at quarter past seven on a Saturday morning.

The list of other unexpected things is as long as my arm, but this seems pretty outlandish :)

Now, time to make some banana porridge...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

We are (all) scientists

Y'all (well, the eagle-eyed amongst you) will have spotted a small image on the right-hand side of this blog, with a list of some random numbers and meaningless acronyms. For clarity, I've added the image again below:

my BOINC stats. get it!

This is my small contribution to the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) - a silly acronym, but a very worthy cause. BOINC allows you to take the spare processing capacity on any computer you own, and donate it to scientific projects from around the world. Simply download a small piece of software, select a bunch of projects you're interested in, and it pretty much looks after itself from there. You can choose to limit the amount of disk space / processor / bandwidth usage, as well as what day of the week and time of day BOINC will run at (I run at 100% 24/7, on both the machines I have it installed on - HARDCORE). I'm mostly writing this post cos I'm chuffed that I broke the 100,000 credits mark (you get credits for the amount of tasks your machines have completed), but I think it's worthwhile writing about such a tremendously useful endeavour anyway.

The projects that I subscribe to are a mix of very worthy causes: Climate Prediction, fairly self-explanatory; and Rosetta, a project looking at ways to combine proteins that will hopefully lead to the creation of new medicines), and personal quests: SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) - how cool would it be to discover the first ET transmission! Right now, the desktop I'm writing this at is also analysing data that was recorded by the Arecibo radio telescope on the 10th December 2008, scanning for patterns, signal amongst the background noise of the cosmos.

Make this your good deed for the day - download and install the BOINC client, and put your machine's spare time to good use :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

AEP: falling slowly

My AEP has dropped from 4.04 to 4.02. The reason? I would imagine it was as a result of scrobbling waaaay too many Christmas tunes over the holidays. Lesson learned: sign out of before over-indulging in Christmas cheese...

Must go and listen to some of the more obscure items in my collection to try and get back to the snobbish heights of 4.04 - anybody in the mood for some sacred minimalist dissonant modernist compositions? :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I'm a model if you know what i mean

To complete this evening's Fionn-flood, here's the boy-wonder rockin his new outfits from Eoin and Holly. Thanks guys!

Do the locomotion...

Fionn's first trick:

Oh good, now he's mobile...

Happy New Year to all my avid readers!