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Senseless tragedy in Wexford April 29, 2008

Posted by Rambling Man in Ireland & the Irish.
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Senseless, gutless and so very sad … you just never know what’s going on with people …



Phrase of the Day #209 April 29, 2008

Posted by Rambling Man in Emigration, new zealand.

A brief introduction to Kiwiana … those funny things that the Kiwis say that makes you stop and go “Huh?”

2 per day I reckon – this one might run and run …

To give your ferret a run – means to have ones way with someone

To pack a sadmeans to cry or become sad or grumpy …

At last some pictures – Alcatraz April 27, 2008

Posted by Rambling Man in Emigration.
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The Poppy April 27, 2008

Posted by Rambling Man in Poetry & Humor.
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The Poppy
(Ne Gelincik)

by the Rambling Man

In my hand I hold a poppy
Not of stem and petal made,
but of linen. Red, and brittle,
like the sands of Suvla Bay and lives that hung to
roaring cliffs at Hell’s Spit.

Silent stones now lie where many men once stood;
Adorned with flowers, each with a tale to tell, of woe.
But once alive as you and me, and more;
Their history tells of a battle brave,
but men who fell, and those that never were thereafter,
stay silent in their grief. They know and we do not.
Poppy fields now cover soil, that once needed no flower to flow red;
and dark.

Ari Burnu, Gaba Tepe and Gallipoli – names we now all know
but at the greatest cost and yet the worst,
indeed, “We shall remember them” and think what might have been.
For they are fallen. And will remember no more.

The wind that moves the poppies carries far the heartbreak;
and moves through silent stones that lie
where many men once stood.

I am John O’Shea incarnate ! April 16, 2008

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.
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So I never usually reply to those multitude of silly requests people send on Facebook but yesterday I got one developed by an ex-pat in England and thought what the hell so I gave it a shot … it said it was scarily accurate and so it was !!

“Which Irish player are you ?” was its title and I’ll let readers Facebook each other to actually find out … suffices to say I am my fellow Waterfordonian (nearly) the bould John O’Shea …

Here’s what Faceboko had to say about Sheasie and me …

You are John O’Shea

John O'Shea

You are lazy, incompetent and unreliable. Whilst there is no doubting your talent, you are resting on your laurels and living in the comfort zone. you are possibly a teacher or at least work in the public sector as you do the least amount of work possible.

Now where on Earth did they get that idea ?

It’s the little things #2 April 14, 2008

Posted by Rambling Man in Emigration.

Continuing with the theme of things that tickle us in NZ – all in a good way …

  • the way they say “kaaysssh” when they mean ‘cache‘.
  • Pukekos … you got to see one to know … pr. Poo-kee-cos
  • the way people thank one another for riding in a lift with them … even though everyone gets in and out at random floors and nobody might know anyone !
  • the (slight) stigma people have about not packing their own bags in the supermarket – so much so that they won’t even shop there !   Come to Ireland folks … you’ll have to buy the bags first and then pack them yourself !!
  • Sushi with pizza strapped to it !
  • Free parking

Immelman wins the Masters April 13, 2008

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.
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South African, Trevor Immelman has just won the US Masters at Augusta, to become the first South African to win that competition since Gary Player in 1978. He shot a final round 73.

He wobbled a bit towards the end, putting his approach on the par 3 16th into the water, but held on to win by 3 from Tiger Woods.

Well done to him – it’s hard to lead from start to finish and he deserves it …

PS – Would whoever wrote or edited this piece on the RTE website about the above golf tournament, please edit it, correct the spellings and repost … for the love of Jaysis, you’re the national broadcaster and a supposed pinnacle of telecomunications !

It’s the little things we like … April 12, 2008

Posted by Rambling Man in Emigration, Ireland & the Irish.
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So we’ve been in New Zealand over a month and I’ve been seriously neglecting my blogging … suppose it comes with the territory of not having time to scratch myself in my new job !

It’s the little things we like … take for example, the (too) many times we’ve had to go to the doctors and hospital since we’ve been here … the health service, compared to the mess in Ireland, is just wonderful ! And we’re not even residents yet, let alone citizens !!

Take for example, the viral rash the baby got the other day … we walked in to the GPs surgery – they always have 5 or 6 docs on at the clinic … you go in and they have you on record … and guess what ? It links with the hospital records and any other doctors records you might have visited …. and as they assess and treat you in the room, they are looking at your history (on some new fangled device called a laptop ??) And so they knew what Anabel had and what to do …

And the cost ? NZ$ 5 !! thats €2.75 !! and thats about 20 times cheaper than at home where just to start, it’s 55 to get in the door ! And the medicine was free, the wait time less than 10 minutes and the staff friendly !

So there you have it Mary Harney et al. it can be done – and because it was a walk-in clinic and not just a lone GP in his office somewhere, most Kiwis don’t even rate that service !! The more we experience here, unfortunately the more we see what a mess Ireland is in terms of its infrastructure and services. There are things that are better and worse in both places, but in those important things like primary medical care etc. New Zealand is streets ahead.

Just a pity its not “home”, because home is where the heart is.

Today … April 3, 2008

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.

Today is the 4th of April … it would’ve been my Dad’s 80th birthday.  We miss you Da.

San Francisco … April 3, 2008

Posted by Rambling Man in Emigration, new zealand.

So I finally have a chance to sit down and catch up on a bit of good old blogging !  I had hoped to do it a lot sooner but what with the move, the opressive heat, new job and all sorts of shennanigans going on, this week is the only time I’ve had – “Don’t have time to scratch meself” as they say back on the oul sod (God listen to me – I’ve been a member of the diaspora for 5 minutes and I’m talking like some oul fella who hasn’t been home in 50 years !)

And to boot we still don’t have Internet at our flat and because in New Zealand it can take up to 3 weeks to get a connection, we’ll have to make do with keeping the $4 an hour cafe down the street in business …

So first was San Francisco … we left Ireland without much hurrah and that was the way we wanted it.  It would’ve been too hard otherwise – so a quick goodbye and “Till next time” to a few friends and family and off we passed, silently into the morning sky.  We were flying direct with Aer Lingus to San Francisco – partly because it was direct and partly because we wouldn’t have to go through the horror story that is LAX’s transfer area with small child in tow.  Looking back on it now I was quite impressed with Aer Lingus’s service and most importantly their leg room.  The baby fell asleep as we were boarding and slept for the first few hours which eased us into it.  10 hours later and we were on the west coast of America.  Security and that end of things was fine – you have to get fingerprinted and photographed but once the ‘American only’ lines had cleared we got to go through those desks which were much quicker than the ones where the guards had to explain to a multitude of non-English speaking people what finger to put onto the scanner and so on … Although I loved New York and New England from the moment I saw it, I knew I would feel just as good about being in San Francisco.  We were picked up by a cousin of a cousin but those sorts of relationship distances don’t matter to big Irish families like ours and we were made feel right at home.

I’ve always wanted to go to San Fran (which nobody in San Francisco calls it !) ever since hearing about the Birdman of Alcatraz and watching Pacific Heights and stuff like that as a kid – the sights of those police cars booming over the hilly streets … aaah I was in heaven !  So here I was for real and we weren’t disappointed.  Our friends had managed to get some tickets for Alcatraz and off we went the first morning.  As I said I’ve always wanted to go there – my late father always wanted to go there too, so I guess we were enjoying it for him too.  The weather was perfect, the sea was calm and even the baby realised I was about to fulfill one of my long held dreams.  What can I say about Alcatraz … it was amazing without being over the top and commercialised.  The area is now a national park and is treated with due respect including very well tended trees and wildlife.  If you’re ever there, get the self guided audio tour – only something like $4 – and take your time to wander through the cell blocks and detention areas.  Back when the area was a working prison, the inmates could hear people shouting or celebrating the short distance over the water on the mainland.  How frustrating and annoying that must’ve been … but then again they were criminals eh ?  They even had one of the old prisoners signing a copy of his book there but he was being mobbed by tourists asking for his autograph and stuff – felt a bit fake to me.  So we stayed on “The Rock” (and it is just a rock) for a couple of hours and caught the short boat ride back to the docks.  There aren’t any restaurants or anything there …

Afer lunch at Pier 39, we did the tourist thing for a while and took some pictures of the sea lions … grumpy bastards they are too … lots of them were fighting for the best places to lie and conk out in the sun !  And some of them are just massive – like over 12 feet long !

San Francisco is quite compact and dead easy to get around – if I could get my head around driving on the wrong side of the road I’d be OK but our friends were fantastic and drove us everywhere … the shopping was quite good too and we managed to get some good bargains, what with the exchange rate being in our favour.  Funny thing was, despite what everyone says about a lot of Americans being overweight and obese etc. there was hardly a big fella to be seen where we were.  That said, bigger jeans sizes and stuff like that were hard to come by because the people were mainly Asian and thus smaller … Asians don’t have big arses it seems …

Next day we went over to see how the other half live in Sausalito – an amazing place with million dollar homes hanging on cliff edges and wonderful vistas wherever you look … reminded me of the Amalfi coast, where we got hitched.

A trip to the Golden Gate recreation area should definetely be on anyone’s San Fransisco “to-do” list.  Its not much of a park but you can walk right up to a hill overlooking the bridge and mouth to the harbour and it is nothing short of spectacular.  The weather behaved itself and some of the views are just breathtaking … you can look right down and see the surfers and sailing boats at the other side of the harbour.  A great spot to do a panorama shot of the entire city as well as Oakland and other outlying areas … I attempted to do it with my new Nikon camera and the efforts should be on Flickr as soon as the broadband gets connected.

So we left San Francisco after 4 days and it wasn’t nearly enough – its a city you can feel quite at home in, after only a short space of time.  And all the people were so friendly – we can’t wait to go back.  The airport was a breeze too and although I’m guessing it was quite busy, just had a way of making you feel at ease.  And not thronged with mad people like Dublin at 5am !

So if you are going and have limited time, these places should be top of your list …

– Alcatraz, Alcatraz, Alcatraz …
– Pier 39 and a walk along the Embarquement; sea lions
– Have lunch somewhere on Fisherman’s Wharf and get sour dough chowder, in a bowl made of bread !
– Chinatown
– Twin Peaks
– Golden Gate Bridge park and viewing area
– Sausalito