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Christmas Greetings Around the World December 26, 2007

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Just a quickie to shout out some Christmas Greetings to my mates around the globe …

Nollaig Shona do mo chlann agus chairde in Éirinn – grá um Nollaig is go deo.

God Jul – til våran Svenska storfamilj …

To the Russians, even though you’ll be here with us … Rozhdestvom khristovym

Frohe Weihnachten alles in Deutschland …

To all Down Under, a very happy, sunny and BBQ filled holiday to you all … see you soon !

Happy Holidays to Erica, Rob and all the rest in the US of A …

and to the readers of this excuse for a blog, wherever you may be, thanks for visiting and thanks for your own blogs … have a great holiday …

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Oh Holy Night … December 25, 2007

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Oiche Ciúin December 24, 2007

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Happy Christmas everyone !

A Flying Man December 22, 2007

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This is nuts !

Also check out this link which explains more about the phenomenon …

“Modern suit design features tightly woven nylon sewn between the legs and between the arms and torso, creating wings that fill with air and create lift, allowing for forward motion and aerial maneuvers while slowing descent. As the suits, which cost about $1,000, have become more sophisticated, so have the pilots. The best fliers, and there are not many, can trace the horizontal contours of cliffs, ridges and mountainsides.”

End of work … December 21, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Poetry & Humor.
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Christmas is almost upon us and I have 35 minutes or so left in this working year …

I’m so happy it makes me feel like the kid in this picture … Peace all !

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Phrase of the Day #196 December 21, 2007

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“Many are stubborn in persuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal.”

-Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Planxty December 20, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Ireland & the Irish.
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Anyone who’s a fan of Irish and folk music and especially loves a tune to get you tapping your foot, will lovely Planxty. The band originally formed in the 1970s are themselves all legends in their own right, each having gone on from the platform that Planxty provided to wider acclaim.

The original members were Christy Moore, Donal Lunny, Andy Irvine and Liam O’Flynn.

The group reformed for a short while in 2004 with sell-out concerts in Dublin and Clare. Thanks to the wonders of YouTube, audiences can listen to their music anytime they want …

IKEA fever hits Northern Ireland December 19, 2007

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It is with strong interest that I note the opening of the first IKEA store on the island of Ireland – just outside Belfast to be precise. Of course, we say “Island of Ireland” so the eejits in Dublin who have taken donkey’s years to sort out the planning won’t feel so bad that the store in Dublin is still some time* away from the first sod even being turned.

IKEA of course isn’t just all about flat pack furniture ! It has bedding, kitchenalia, toys, stuff like picture frames, complete bedrooms and toilets, garden ware … whatever you’re having yourself ! I defy anyone to go and not be intrigued and a little hooked ! A store that makes €28 billion a year can’t be that bad huh ?

They are also great shops to go to with kids – there’s plenty of activities for them to do and some of the bigger stores have playrooms where the kids can be deposited … you might even find swings and slides placed sporadically around the stores too. Interesting to note that they are all franchises too so standards could differ.

So go to IKEA – my Swedish wife can just about contain herself until the Dublin one opens … by the time that happens our one year old daughter will be old enough to drive us there !

* some time = years

The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam December 18, 2007

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Awake! For Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight;
And Lo! The Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultan’s Turret in a Noose of Light.

Strange the things we remember from childhood. My dear departed father made me learn these lines by heart when I was very young and delighted in showing me off in my precociousness to the friends and neighbours who would gather in our house.

It’s only recently I re-found the little red book containing the quatrains of Khayyam’s writings … it has spurred me on to learn a little bit more about this Iranian mathematician … who’d’a thunk it !

An Ode to sad Liverpool supporters December 17, 2007

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An Ode, in Limerick, to sad Liverpool supporters

There once was a Scouser called Rafa,
Who was Liverpool football team’s gaffer
When they were bought by a Yank, their fortunes just sank
And the whole club was sent down the crapper !

BOOM, BOOM

by the Rambling Man – an ardent, and suitably overjoyed Man. United fan !

Christie Hennessy – RIP December 17, 2007

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I was very saddened the other morning to hear of the death of one of my favourite Irish singers, Christie Hennessy. Christie was well known to folk and Irish music audiences for his unique vocal style and touching songs. He was also a great songwriter who wrote many songs which other artists recorded.

A quote from his website eulogizes him better than I could :

Christie’s song writing was about life, dreams and the reality of the people in them.
He was never one to go down the easy route of writing a song with good music and empty lyrics. Christie takes you on an emotional awareness that life can also be painful and lonely.

He was a man who wrote with honesty and feelings from his heart and soul.
He is the ultimate storyteller of our time.

May he rest in peace. Check out his music here – a lovely tribute on YouTube.

Phrase of the Day #195 December 16, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Say it like it is.
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“If we would please in society, we must be prepared to be taught many things we know already by people who do not know them.”

-Sebastien Nicolas Chamfort

New Road Safety Authority adverts December 16, 2007

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While driving to work the other morning I tuned in to a radio interview on Newstalk 106’s Breakfast Show where the hosts were interviewing the brother of one of the tragic victims of a road traffic accident …. he was there, joined by Gay Byrne, speaking about their experiences of the RSA‘s new road safety adverts which first aired on RTE Thursday night.

Go and see them on Newtalk’s website and judge for yourself.  They are not horrific in their make up but certainly have a big effect on your thoughts and heartstrings.

It’s not a shock and bang set of adverts with actors and mocked up gory crashes but relatives of the victims speaking candidly and from the heart about their awful losses.  It puts a human face on the tragedies which occur every day on our roads.

What we really need now is the Gardaí to be properly resourced so they can enforce and for their pervasive reactive attitude to change along with it.

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways December 15, 2007

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How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise,
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints -I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! -and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

For my daughter and wife, in equal but different measure …

Go on … indulge me ! December 14, 2007

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In keeping with the “we’re all children at heart” theme – see Flirty – and taking advantage of the piss poor search service provided by the Golden Pages, here are some of my own devious concoctions ! Check it out for yourself !

1.gif

or how about …

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and then I thought, this search is great … it knows everything !

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and there also was …

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but then I knew it was flawed when I found …

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Too much time on my hands … hey it is Christmas party day like !

Movies I want to see December 14, 2007

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If I don’t see these movies reasonably soon I think I’ll go mad …

American Gangster
Everyone’s talking about it – sounds like a great story and I’m a big fan of Denzel.

Atonement
Much as though the constant open mouthedness of Kiera Knightley annoys the hell out of my wife, I think this could be a good one. 13-year old Irish actress Saoirse Ronan (try get the Yanks to pronounce that !) has been Golden Globe nominated for her role – definitely one to look out for …

Michael Clayton
This sounds like my kind of film and George Clooney is supposed to have put in a great acting performance. It’s also written by the writer who wrote The Bourne Ultimatum (Tony Gilroy) – a favourite movie of this year.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
This is one I’ve wanted to see for a long time. Casey Affleck has been nominated for Golden Globe in the lead role and Brad Pitt gives a great performance too by all accounts.

We Own The Night
This is a gritty cop thriller with Jaoquin Phoenix and the lovely Eva Mendes … one which I know little about but which cannot find itself quickly enough into my DVD player !

Unsung Irish : Christina Noble December 13, 2007

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Christina Noble is the founder and director of the CNCF – the Christina Noble Charitable Foundation – which is a charitable organisation which helps homeless and poverty stricken children in Vietnam and Mongolia.

Christina herself came from a poor background. She was born on hard times in Dublin in 1944 and after an horrific childhood in institutions of the state and having suffered a variety of abuse, she escaped to England and married there. Still suffering abuse in her marriage, and at a low point in her life, she had a “dream like no other” in which she had a calling to help the stricken children of Vietnam – a country ravaged by war at that time.

She went on to found her organisation in Ho Chi Minh City in 1989 where the work of the organisation aims to give the children of that place back their childhood and as she herself says “to let them know what it is to be loved. “ Projects that Christina and her foundation have undertaken include the building of schools, clinics and educational support services. She is a great ambassador for this country and an immesurable help to the children of Vietnam.

One could do worse than drop by the website and donate a few bob in their direction.

Chapter’s book store December 12, 2007

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Just a quickie to tell people about the new Chapter’s book store.  For a long time it was the refuge of many’s the bargain book hunter and book worm (myself included) at it’s rickety old store on Middle Abbey Street, Dublin.

Glad to report that the store in its entirety and then some, has moved to a spanking new premises on Parnell Street West, just opposite the entrance to the Ilac shopping centre.  Go and check it out – its so big , you could fish in it !  And now the books are new (as well as a large second hand floor) and a reasonable amount cheaper than its main O’Connell Street rival.

Phrase of the Day #194 December 11, 2007

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“Pale Death with impartial tread beats at the poor man’s cottage door and at the palaces of kings.”
-Horace

A Young Lad in America #4 December 10, 2007

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Part 4 – Long Island

We pick up the story as the “tourist thing” has been done, I haven’t been murdered by the radio seller and I set out for a summer of debauchery on Long Island …

Our destination was Montauk, right out on the eastern tip of Long Island – at least it was the destination of some of our party. I still had a couple of days to fill and those greenbacks were burning a hole in my pocket ! I had a job prearranged at a country club which I estimated was “close enough” to Montauk but which in reality was actually closer to Washington DC (almost !) …

Having wound our way through Grand Central Station and caught the LIRR – the Long Island Rail Road – we set out for the end of the island and passed through towns with some great names like Mineola, Babylon, Hicksville and passed close enough to the legendary golf course Shinnecock Hills – nobody but me seemed impressed with the facts that I reeled off about the great things that had happened there.

Montauk didn’t strike me as anything more than the end of the island where New Yorkers came to holiday and drink beer on the beaches … I much preferred the Hamptons but never, I’m afraid, made it to any of those fabulous parties seen so regularly nowadays on reality TV. The only real experience I had in Montauk was my first American diner experience, served by the typical waitress in short pink skirt, hair in a bun and chewing gum as she poured watery coffee for us.

I ordered eggs done some special way or other and was quickly asked “Howdeeya wannem kid ? In their shells ?” I quickly realised that she wanted to know what way I liked my eggs cooked ! I suppose the fact that in Ireland the only way you get eggs is fried, wouldn’t have had much impact on her. I also remember having to shell out $50 dollars for a motel room when one of the “friends” I went with said, right before bedtime, that in fact I couldn’t stay in his house and I could make my own way, thank you, bye now, door closed – all in one action ! Ronjoe’s was the name of it and it was a dump as far as I remember … next morning I set out all alone for Garden Ciddy City with all I had in the world in a worn rucksack with a teddy bear good luck charm hanging out of one of the zips !

I certainly wasn’t in Kansas anymore … [sic]

I wonder does God know ? December 9, 2007

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I always knew you could do anything on the Interweb …

Now God himself has got in on the act … so go on, Reserve Your Place in Heaven

I mean, for the love of God people !  Fools and their money are most definetly easily parted !

Super Cake December 8, 2007

Posted by Rambling Man in Ireland & the Irish, Poetry & Humor.
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READ THE STORY FIRST, THEN LOOK AT THE PIC OF THE CAKE...

Keep in mind that this actually happened !!
Okay so this is how I imagine this conversation went:

Employee: "Hello dis Superquinn, how can I help you?"
Customer: " I would like to order a cake for a going away party this week."

Employee: "What do you want on the cake?"
Customer: "Best Wishes Suzanne" and underneath that "We will miss you".

Employee: "Dat all ? Okay, Bye."

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Only in Ireland …

Give an old fart a break ! December 7, 2007

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I was quite amused by both the tone and content of this story on the BBC’s website. It’s reported in such a stiff-upper-lip matter of fact kind of way, despite its subject being rather funny.

Go and have a read about poor 77 year old Maurice Fox who has been banned from his local Sports & Social club for farting too much ! Some of the quotes are hilarious …

Phrase of the Day #193 December 7, 2007

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“You can believe in God without believing in immortality, but it is hard to see how anyone can believe in immortality and not believe in God.”
– An interesting concept indeed from Ernest Dimnet

The Dogs of My Childhood December 6, 2007

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With a hat tip to the very funny Liars & Lunatics for the idea …

What a nice thing to write about – the dogs you remember from your childhood … and bearing in mind the few I’m going to relate to you now, it’s surprising that I didn’t develop a rabid fear of all things canine – just the opposite in fact.

The only pet we had at home when I was a kid was a small goldfish called Jaws (!) – we had the same pet for the whole 17 years I lived at home – and a lá Trigger’s sweeping brush in Only Fools and Horses, we only changed the bowl 4 times and the fish just 6 !

My favourite dog when I was a kid was Blackie. Blackie lived up the road and was the dog of our neighbours and friends – he’s sit there every morning and evening waiting for us on the dog sized doorstep which was right on the sidewalk and wag his tail at you whenever you passed. We used to feed him biscuits which might have contributed to the fact that he never got off his arse to play with us – just waited to be fed. It might have also contributed to the fact that he died one day, suddenly, much to the disappointment of our school going coterie. You can still see his outline, worn into the granite step.

Further up the street was a vicious Kerry Blue called Satch. What kind of name is that ? Anyway, Satch was the successor to an equally vicious but non-moving dog called Prairie who guarded the same house. This house was at the top of our road before you turned for school and for the 5 years of my elementary school education we walked past one of these dogs each day … you could be assured of a nice leisurely walk home if Prairie and later Satch were not on their doorsteps … otherwise you had to keep your wits about you or you might get eaten alive ! Or so we thought, as both dogs were properly tethered to a gatepost and were only prone to serious barking and mock running towards us if they thought they could have some fun doing it !

They used to mess with our heads big time … I still remember the collective sigh of relief that went around our small village (350 people small !) when we learned Prairie had cashed in his chips … it didn’t last long however as Satch arrived soon after – and soon enough after that he was put down I think, for fighting with other dogs.

Further up the road, the school caretaker lived in a small house about 400 yards from the school gates – and he had a Yorkshire Terrier called Blaze. A rather inappropriate name for an annoying little shit of a dog who just barked for a living. Terriers love causing trouble and will bark at the drop of a hat – at falling leaves, at wind, at cars, especially at other dogs … so when Satch or Prairie started off around the corner, Blaze would be listening and there would follow a chorus of doggy barks all the way to school. Blaze, thankfully was never let out or woe betide anything that came near her.

After school was done for the day there were new dogs to contend with – the lazy ones who hadn’t been out at 8am that morning !

Satch and Prairie were gone at that hour – probably to annoy some other poor children – and once Blackie was passed and petted and fed there was Bella. She was the oldest and fattest labrador dog we had ever seen and she was grey in places … however she was more active than Blackie but looked like she would keel over at any moment. She didn’t really like the brand of biscuits we brought for Blackie and looked more like she’d been used to chicken stew and beef wellington ! “Pffff”, she’d mutter as she turned up her dry nose at our coconut creams “will these kids ever learn ?”

Our most favourite dog to rile and annoy was definitely Tom. Great name for a dog – just Tom and it so suited him – a dirty, white Scottish Highland Terrier. The three houses before ours in the little terraced row with whitewashed walls all had dogs and we didn’t. I remember Tom for two reasons – we thought it odd and great at the same time that Tom had white dog poo ! It must’ve been his diet but no other dog in the street had such excretions ! The second reason is that Tom howled – and not just any old doggy howl – he howled like an owl – and a drunken maniac owl at that. He’d sit on the houses’ pillar and the minute we came along he would start … much to the annoyance of his owner who would often run and make a wild swish at us with her kitchen broom.

Prince, our elderly next door neighbours dog was the only one who ever bit me and it was funny because I used to walk him and feed him and he knew me the best out of all us kids. One day when I had passed him by and was just at our gate, I felt his teeth sinking into my calf and yelled out at the sharp pain … my father wanted him put to sleep immediately but I wouldn’t hear tell of it – besides he was our neighbour’s only companion … the word from our neighbour (a real character) was that “my leg must’ve fallen into his mouth” – I’ve never told anyone that before today …

One by one the dogs died and more came along but it’s funny the ones you remember and the ones you liked or feared. Now we’ve got Molly – a sad eyed rescue dog who knows just how to play her cards right. Sure beats a goldfish !