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Funniest thing all day … July 31, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.
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Funniest thing I heard all day …

Two oul fellas standing at the doorway into a local cafe …

“Ah tis great wedder.  Sure you’d miss the oul rain all the same !”

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Web Developer Toolbar for Firefox July 31, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.
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Check this out all ye web developers out there.  A cool, add-on toolbar for Firefox will all sorts of useful menus and functions …

http://chrispederick.com/work/web-developer

Unsung Irish : Brother Columbanus Deegan July 31, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in The Unsung Irish.
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Brother Columbanus Deegan was a Franciscan friar well known around these parts who sadly passed away last week. Born in 1925 and raised in Dublin, he led a long, brave and interesting life and was very involved in community work and helping the poor.

Following the outbreak of World War II, and having lost family in action, he joined the RAF as a salvager and took part in the D-Day landings. He landed at Sword beach as part of the Allied campaign. His job involved rescuing survivors and stripping downed planes of useful parts. Later, at the end of the war, he would be among the first Allied personnel to enter the Belsen concentration camp and is quoted with saying “I couldn’t shake off the smell of death I experienced that day. I sometimes get flashbacks and the smell returns as if it was yesterday.” The experience was to stay with him the rest of his life.

When he returned to Ireland, he joined the Franciscan order in 1958 and was posted to Waterford in 1981, following spells in Drogheda and Rome. He did great work with the poor of the city and always had a moment to stop and talk. Other groups and organisations such as the Special Olympics and homeless services also benefitted from his involvement.

I remember the well known Blessing of the Animals which was held in the friary garden every year. We attended on at least two occasions and it was always an interesting event for young and old. What a strange scene it must have made to see a robe clad monk surrounded by adults, kids, dogs, cats and all sorts of other pets … tourists must’ve thought it crazy …

Franciscan Friar Brother Seán Columbanus Deegan. RIP.

The Irish Rover – live July 29, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Poetry & Humor.
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PS : Check out Christy Moore in the background ! and Gay Byrne’s legendary “Hay hay, ho ho” at the end !

Phrase of the Day #158 July 29, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Poetry & Humor, Say it like it is.
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“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.”

– From the “Mourning Bride” by William Congreve. The oft quoted latter part of this phrase is regularly attributed to young Bill Shakey …

The many scents of incense July 28, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Ireland & the Irish.
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Myself and TGW (The Good Wife) were most intrigued yesterday when browsing through a local shop – one of those shops that I call “smelly shops” but in proper terms sells funky, incense, smelly, happy-clappy New Age sorts of shite like candles and scented soap, hemp and essential oils ! I though Omega 3 was an essential oil but I was wrong – I don’t know what I did heretofore without Evening Primrose scented with early season Jasmine with a hint of Tea Tree !

Anyway whilst not paying attention to anything in particular,my gaze was drawn to the various different forms of incense sticks available. These, I believe, are the sticks that you set in an incense holder and burn the one end of … a terrific pong wonderful scent emits from them and brightens up the whole house – apparently ! Our house smells like dog and last night’s dinner, so I wouldn’t know.

So what hit me only Cannabis flavour ! Now of course, there were the Blackberry and Passion Fruit sorts and all the rest of it but Ganja flavoured incense ! Why not just spark up a bifter instead ? It’d be more authentic …

I got a clip round the ear ‘ole when I suggested that the Female flavoured one might be a scent one more normally associated with $%*^&* – I meant cooking of course, but I got a belt all the same !

Check out the shots below …

blackcurrant.jpg passionruit.jpg cannabis.jpg and then came female1.jpg

Poem for a Man with No Sense of Smell July 27, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Poetry & Humor.
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Poem for a Man with No Sense of Smell

by Kate Clanchy

This is simply to inform you:

that the thickest line in the kink of my hand
smells like the feel of an old school desk,
the deep carved names worn sleek with sweat;

that beneath the spray of my expensive scent
my armpits sound a bass note strong
as the boom of a palm on a kettle drum;

that the wet flush of my fear is sharp
as the taste of an iron pipe, midwinter,
on a child’s hot tongue; and that sometimes,

in a breeze, the delicate hairs on the nape
of my neck, just where you might bend
your head, might hesitate and brush your lips,

hold a scent frail and precise as a fleet
of tiny origami ships, just setting out to sea.

Phrase of the Day #157 July 27, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.
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“There’s a mighty big difference between good sound reasons, and reasons that sound good.”

– Burton Hillis

Happy Birthday to us ! July 26, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.
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Happy Birthday to us ! The Rambling Man blog is 1 today ! Sure it only seems like yesterday when the thought came into my head and I’ve been here spouting shite ever since …

16,547 hits, 507 posts, 708 real comments, 6807 spam ones, a few rows, more than a few laughs and a whole lot of blogging goodness. So there you go … onwards and upwards as they say … once more into the breach, dear friends.

Erm, yes, I’m on my 6th provisional July 25, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Ireland & the Irish.
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Much coverage has been given recently to the fact that in this country of ours it is possible to pretty much never have to take your driving test, but all the same be a regular, legal driver.

There are apparently, drivers out there on the roads of Ireland who are on their umpteenth provisional licence.  You see, foreign readers, in Ireland you can get behind the wheel of a car without ever, ever, ever having had any sort of driver training whatsoever … all you have to do, if you were so inclined, would be to pass the Driver Theory Test, which anyone could soak up just for the exam.

And it gets better – the rules governing provisional licence holders are nuts !  Pure and simple.   On your first provisional licence, you must, according to SI 352/99 Road Traffic (Licensing of Drivers) Regulations 1999, be accompanied by a fully qualified driver.  On your second, you don’t have to be … but on your third and any thereafter, you do !  And I’ve had a Guard tell me that “I’d be fierce unlucky” if he pulled me for the “non-accompaniment” rule … and it’s true – how many L plate drivers do you see on their own in cars ?

And the best bit … if/when you fail the Driving Test, they issue you a new licence anyway (3rd or more provisional) … and you can drive away from the Test Centre.

Great little country if you could only roof ‘er …

If you’re not Catholic, then Foxtrot Oscar July 24, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Ireland & the Irish, World Affairs.
46 comments

I attended a remembrance mass recently, on the occasion of my late father’s 11th anniversary. I am not a regular church goer but do have my own beliefs … the problem is unfortunately, that every time I attend a Catholic ceremony or mass, my faith in the church into which I was baptised, rapidly diminishes … last weekend I was deeply ashamed.

The reason ? Well the Pope has published a document entitled “Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church” (the link is to the Vatican’s website). In it, he asserts that other churches i.e. ones other than the Catholic Church, “cannot be called churches in the proper sense” … so in other words, the Catholic Church is the one, true church and provides the only means of salvation.

Horseshit, Horseshit, Horseshit ! How can any church reserve the ultimate right to be right ? OK, so the Catholic Church believes one thing and the other Christian denominations believe another … listen people, God is not the personal property of any church ! God, if one believes in that higher power, is there for every man, woman and child on the planet …. Catholic, Muslim, Jew, Protestant, tall, small, fat, black, white, yellow, dead or otherwise …

How dare someone claim the right to God ? I do not want to be part of a church that doesn’t recognise the validity of, for example, my wife’s claim to be part of her own “church” … ah sure she’s one of them Protestants – sure they’re not in a real church at all !

The document goes on to say that “Christ ‘established here on earth’ only one church,” – that may be true – He may have had a part in the establishment of one church but why does that then make it the only one worth a damn ? The arrogance of these people is unreal – horror stories from 1950s theocratic Ireland that my father and mother used to tell me about come flooding back …

Back to my father’s mass – to cap it all off the celebrant was what we might call in the locality “a strange priest” – now that normally means a priest from out of town … but in this case it had many meanings …

He preached a little on the documents that had recently been released and mentioned the Tridentine Mass etc. and then came to the crux of the document above … he explained why the other churches weren’t “real churches” and why we should agree with the Holy Father.  To top it off he said … “And in this country, other churches means the Church of Ireland” … you could hear the vitriol in his voice on the word Church. You could’ve heard a pin drop in the congregation and my mother had to hold me down, lest I walk out, which I firmly felt like doing – on him and his snide assumption of utter correctness and on the whole goddamn lot of them …

Someone said to me outside “Well sure the Pope said it” … to which I tersely replied “Well the Pope’s an arsehole … and if I met him I’d tell him so !”. I f*cking hate religious bigots. He’s only one step up from someone who’d strap a belt of semtex on himself, walk into a supermarket and flip the switch !

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A picture’s worth 1000 words July 23, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Sports.
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pad.jpg

Harrington wins British Open July 22, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Sports.
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My nails are shot to bits and my stomach feels like it’s done somersaults for a week, but hey it’s worth it – Padraig Harrington has just won the British Open at Carnoustie !

He beat another favourite golfer of mine, Sergio Garcia, in a 4 hole play-off.

Ireland has a new champion !

Phrase of the Day #156 July 21, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.
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“You know your children are growing up when they stop asking you where they came from and refuse to tell you where they’re going.”

– P. J. O’Rourke

Up and down for Irish at Carnoustie July 20, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Sports.
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It’s been an up and down sort of morning for the Irish gofers at the British Open this morning. Carnoustie is a real monster !

With his second round due to start at 3.15, Paul McGinley is best placed (-4) and has seen leader Sergio Garcia come back towards the field. McGinley now lies only 1 shot behind the Spaniard. The nearest challenger to these two men in USA’s Jim Furyk at -3 having just played the 17th.

Padraig Harrington has just double bogeyed the last hole to leave him with a 73 (+2) so he’s sitting on Level par for the championship.

Darren Clarke has yet to start his second round and is currently at +1.

After a great round yesterday, today hasn’t been so kind to Rory McIllroy who, having played 16, is now at +2, having dropped 5 shots today.

Graeme McDowell is half way through his 2nd round and is at +8 – he looks like he will miss the cut as do Justin Kehoe and David Higgins who are currently at +7 and +8 respectively, although Kehoe has yet to start his 2nd round.

Good luck to them all !

Phrase of the Day #155 July 20, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.
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“Don’t knock the weather. If it didn’t change once in a while, nine out of ten people couldn’t start a conversation.”- Kin Hubbard

via Betty the Sheep

Studying the Language July 19, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Poetry & Humor.
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Long time since I posted a nice “pome”, so here goes …

Studying the Language

by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin

On Sundays I watch the hermits coming out of their holes
Into the light. Their cliff is as full as a hive.
They crowd together onto warm shoulders of rock
Where the sun has been shining, their joints crackle.
They begin to talk after a while.
I listen to their accents, they are not all
From this island, not all old,
Not even, I think, all masculine.

They are so wise, they do not pretend to see me.
They drink from the scattered pools of melted snow:
I walk right by them and drink when they have done.
I can see the marks of chains around their feet.

I call this my work, these decades and stations —
Because, without these, I would be a stranger here.

Article from “The Nation” July 19, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in World Affairs.
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Read this and tell me that what the Americans and British are doing in Iraq is in any way good for “Freedom and Deomcracy” …

I love America but George Bush is one evil, dumb c*nt !

Tinnitus July 18, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.
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I mentioned this in a post a few days ago – I have tinnitus – a condition whereby I hear a humming sound in my head and sometimes in my right ear, despite there being nothing to generate that sound.

It fucked with my head for a long time but now I have learned to cope with it. So much so that it now does not effect me in any shape or form – except when I am as hungover as a dog and deserve a bad headache !

The constant hum in my ear came as a complete surprise to me and although I have always been a bit prone to ear related infections, I never expected something like this to happen. I remember the night well. I had just moved into a new flat with TGW (The Good Wife) and I woke in the middle of the night thinking that the bathroom pipes were refilling or clanking. I woke my wife and both of us strained to hear this purring in my head. I remember thinking “Either it’s a helicopter doing the rounds at 4am or it’s something more serious!” … and so it was, that after all the scans and jabs and pokes a hospital could give you, they diagnosed me with tinnitus. They happily had a young trainee doctor hand me a leaflet about contacting some society for sufferers in New York and sent me on my way.

So there you have it – look after your ears. Hearing loss and stuff like tinnitus is no joke. Thank God I don’t suffer from it any more than I do at the moment. I have heard people say that theirs is like a jumbo jet landing in their head every 5 minutes …

While doing a bit of research on this is discovered that I am not alone – I am among a great list of sufferers including the following : Bono, Eric Clapton, Vincent Van Gogh (is that why he cut his ear off?), Leonard Nimoy and Barbara Streisand …

Sea sickness sucks July 17, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.
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I have just this past Sunday returned from our semi-annual family get together, where members of the Rambling clan gather from all corners of these islands to partake in many mindless activities and a fair few pints …

This year we decided to go fishing – not content with trying our luck from the local pier, we decided to hire a boat – a proper deep sea capable boat – and headed out from Youghal harbour on Sunday morning. Hell, it even stopped raining for a few hours.

Aside – I have a problem with tinnitus and it effects my inner ear apparently. This was to be a large catalyst in the disaster that follows …

To say that I felt the rumblings of unease in the pit of my person as soon as the boat left the relatively calm waters of the harbour would not be an understatement. From there on, the skipper let the throttle down and the 500 hp engine fired us out into open water, in search of a wreck 13 miles off the coast. Yes folks, 13 long and choppy miles. With each breaker and trough, the boat shuddered as it ploughed through regardless of the watery terrain. The horrible feeling grew and grew but I said nothing … some of my relatives had, after all, come from London for this very weekend.

After a brief stop to catch some live bait – I reprieved slightly when the fish hit – we were on our way again, weaving in and out of 6 foot swells. Then we came to a stop over a well known fishing hole and the crew started landing fish of all shapes, sizes and resistance ! I even managed to snag a 4lb pollack and a dozen or so mackerel, before succumbing to sitting on a gas canister towards the stern; my rod holding on to me for dear life.

Shouts of glee and “Well done!” were heard but all this time the haze in my head was growing … I knew what was coming and so did the other lads on my side of the boat. They kindly vacated the immediate area while I ceremoniously lost my breakfast over the side. I thought I would be a bit the better for it but alas no – that damn inner ear, balance thing. I got worse. I knew we weren’t returning to port for another 2 hours at least – everyone else (well, nearly everyone!) was loving it ! There were landlubbers catching 6 foot conger eels for jaysis sake !

The last thing I remember was slumping back from the latest heave over the side, shaking all over and someone making a smart comment about me sounding like a broken outboard motor. Then all was lost. Apparently I sat there, as grey as the water and gurgled loudly to myself.

To my great relief, my relatives took pity on me and decided to head for calmer waters an hour or so before schedule. They had all succeeded in at least catching some form of dinner or other. I will be forever grateful. I honestly can say that I have never, ever felt so truly horribly sick and nauseous in my entire life. I grew up around boats and love fishing … this has taught me just what sort of fishing I love … the shore based kind !

So to the 7 weary and charitable sailors who endured me this past weekend, I give thanks. Sea sickness is a bitch.

London, baby ! July 16, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.
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I think the previous 4 days is the longest gap this blog has survived without being updated. The reason for this is that I was away in London with work. London doesn’t have the Internet on computers yet. Except it had a dodgy version on a pay-by-minute PC in Heathrow airport from which I made the previous POTD post – the first ever, I believe, not made from a desk on these shores.

Anyway, being once a city I lived in and more recently a city I considered (briefly) moving to, I am glad that I will never have to return in any capacity other than a camera toting tourist or a family visiting sponger.

I’ve never felt so hemmed in and claustrophobic in all my life. I attended a conference in London’s Olympia – one of the premier conference locations – which is in the borough of Hammersmith & Fulham. Its pretty streets are characterised by tall, stone buildings and long, straight avenues. It was the sort of place you’d have to know where you’re going. And I didn’t … I longed for the open spaces and squares of tourist London because it allows you at least to get some bearings. I could quite easily imagine people who live their lives on the tube – getting on at their home, getting off at their work and never seeing the in-between …. what was the phrase the French had ?

Anyway, when my conference duties were behind me, I shed my business attire and all the assumptions that go with it and headed, camera in hand, into the thick of the schmaltzy, humid and tourist thronged Leicester Square for a gander around.

It was a decent enough place to start my brief walking tour and I would recommend it as a base tube station … 5 minutes in either direction will bring you to Covent Garden, China Town and Trafalgar Square … so that’s what I did.

After people watching in Trafalgar Square, I wandered down the Mall to see could I see herself but she had a meeting that day with some bloke called Roderick Stewart. I settled instead for joining the hordes of Japanese bowing tourists taking pictures of a Scots Guardsman on his horse at the gates of Whitehall. As pathetic and all as it sounds, the claustrophobia of Chelsea and Kensington etc. was behind me and I immediately felt at ease – I could at least, see beyond the corner of the next street. The clouds weren’t partially blocked by – albeit pretty – buildings.

The highlight of my trip was a saunter through the National Gallery made all the more easier by the great computer system they have for picking out your route to the pictures you want to see. Outside, I noted the interesting current occupant of the “Fourth Plinth” – Alison Lapper – whose link tells its own story.

So London’s great – I could never imagine living there or even being there as anything other than a tourist. It’d be too hard to break into (and out of !) the well formed slick that is the real living London – hundreds of thousands of daily grinders on tubes, buses, bikes, walking … the lack of a tall double skinny, caramel mocha latte, frappachino wouldn’t bother me that much.

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Phrase of the Day #154 July 12, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.
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“If I were dropped out of a plane into the ocean and told the nearest land was 1,000 miles away, I’d still try and swim.  And I’d despise the one who gave up.” – Abraham Maslow

Unsung Irish : Ernest Walton July 10, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in The Unsung Irish.
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Ernest Thomas Walton was born in Dungarvan, Co.Waterford in 1903 and remains the only Irishman to have won the Nobel prize for Science. Walton, along with colleague John Cockcroft won the coveted prize in 1953 for (wait for it) “work on the transmutation of the atomic nuclei by artificially accelerated atomic particles” otherwise known as splitting the atom. I won’t even pretend to understand what that means but there you go.

Having been educated in Northern Ireland, Walton entered Trinity College Dublin in 1922 where he excelled in the fields of mathmatics and physics. To put the era into context, it was at around this time that Einstein was working on the theory of relativity and the field of quantum mechanics was just being born.

One of the most important areas Walton and his colleagues worked on was the area of atom splitting. In 1932 they did the first experiment that proved Einstein’s theory of E=MC² using a particle accelerator.

Walton later returned to Ireland and married. He died in 1995. Readers might look out for his poster and biography the next time travelling through Dublin airport departures. It adorns the wall, along with several other scientists, on the way to Gate A !

I’m over heee-rrreeee !! July 9, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.
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I recently bought 2 items on the interweb – one from the far off western shores of Americay and the other from just “across the wather” …

Two and a half days later, my package – a brand, spanking new golf club – arrived unharmed from the USA. Two weeks later and the book I ordered from good ‘ol Blighty still hasn’t been seen this side of Cardiff !

Think about it :

Big, long, awkward golf club in a huge box – 2.5 days
Small, relatively light book in medium sized padded envelope …. God knows how long.

Why, oh why is Ireland as a destination and a delivery point so hard to grasp for our friends in the UK ?  So we don’t have postcodes – deal with it !

Need I remind patrons about the bath from Homebase saga ?

Phrase of the Day #153 July 8, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.
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“It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” – Thomas Jefferson

Why can’t half the world take heed of this ?