Bits and bobs

Random thoughts about random things by a random person


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Day 14 (Sept 25/19): Charlie has been seen. It is done.

The weather is better today than yesterday. Still quite wet and grey, but not nearly as windy. The sun even poked between the clouds around mid-afternoon. It’s raining again now, but it was still nice to see the a bit of blue if even for a moment. 🙂

I went out earlier with the last bits of rubbish from my stay and then went to see Charlie. Well, his statue. Unfortunately, he was being mobbed by tourists and, while I waited a few minutes to see if I could get a pic of him on his own, I eventually gave up and just snapped a pic of him with a couple of strangers.

Statue of Charlie Chaplin, Waterville, Co. Kerry, Ireland

I should, perhaps, explain what this is all about.

Charlie Chaplin started coming to Waterville in the 1950s as a vacation spot. He loved it so much, he came back every year for 10 years. Not sure why he stopped. Perhaps age? He would have been well into his 70s by then so making the annual trek might not have been as appealing as it used to be.

At any rate, the fact that he loved Waterville has become quite a claim to fame of the place. It’s, honestly, not hard to see why he loved it. It’s a fabulous place. 🙂

They even have an annual Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival.

So, while I am not a huge CC fan, per se, it seemed important that I take at least a bit of a gander at the statue before I leave.

Oh…I also finally figured out why I had passed by it several times and never saw it. There has always been a tour bus in front of it!! No wonder I only ever saw it before at night from behind. 🙂

After my pseudo-visit to Charlie, I went to the Beachcove Cafe again for lunch. The regular guy who I’ve seen there wasn’t there, which was a bummer as I had wanted to tell him thanks for all the great meals. But the food was still great and I decadently treated myself to another slice of that walnut coffee cake. Man, it is sooooo yummy!!! No food photo today, though!

Then I came home and have been catching up on emails and starting to pack since then. The bus to Killarney is 7 a.m. tomorrow so I have to get the packing done today. If I can get at least most of it done now, I can have a relaxing dinner out this evening. And I will have to go out for dinner tonight because all my leftover perishable food has been taken out in the trash!

So this is likely my last post from Waterville. Boy, that went fast!

I have truly enjoyed it. I am going to seriously miss being able to look at the sea from wherever I am and especially being able to hear it.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the ocean has a very rejuvenating effect on me and I feel very connected to it. That has made this holiday exactly what I wanted it to be. 🙂

Next up: Killarney Part 2!


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Day 9 (Sept 20/19): A Friday night learning about the ecology of Lough Currane

Remember yesterday when I stumbled on the community garden?

Well, when I went online to find a link to Tech Amergin for the post about it, I poked around on their site and found out that tonight there would be a talk about a nearby lake – Lough Currane.

Snip from the Tech Amergin website, explaining the talk this evening

I fully realize that this is not most people’s idea of a fun night out on a holiday. But I was quite excited to see it! What an interesting way to learn about a place!

And it was. Quite interesting, in fact.

A bit of a downer, though. It wasn’t so much a presentation of the environmental history of the lake as it was of scientific evidence of the increasing levels of phosphorous in the lake – starting around the 1970s.

The lake provides a lot of income to the area, so this can have quite a devastating effect on the economy.

As Dr. Treacy presented possible causes, I half expected people in the room to dispute them – to kind of defend themselves if they were in one group or another. But nobody did. Of course, I have no idea what the make up of the group was.

In any event, it was really interesting and I’m really glad I went. 🙂


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It’s “About Time” – My thoughts on the movie

As I am wont to do, before I headed out on my travels last week, I downloaded a few things from Netflix. I always download more than I will likely watch en route because you never know when or where you might get stuck or delayed.

One of the things I downloaded was “About Time”. I won’t go into what it’s about – if yo’re interested, you can read a quick IMDB summary here. I’m just going to tell you what I thought of it. I won’t give any spoilers, either, so feel free to read on without any worries about it being ruined for you if you decide you do want to watch it.

I’m not normally one for chick flicks, which this definitely seemed like it would be. It also had a potential “Groundhog’s Day” similarity and I realllllllly don’t like those movies where a character relives the same time over and over again, so that was strike 2 against it. In fact, both those reasons are why it had been in my Netflix list for a while now without me actually watching it.

“Then why did you even bother with it, Lucy?”

Well, I really like Domhnall Gleeson and Bill Nighy. If they weren’t in it, it never would have ended up in my list at all. I downloaded it for the flight et al because I thought that even if I didn’t like it, it would at least be a bit of fluff that didn’t require much brain engagement.

At any rate, as you know, I didn’t end up delayed anywhere so I didn’t need it on the flight or any of my other subsequent travel legs. Last night, though, I was in the mood for a movie, so I put it on.

Quelle surprise!! I thoroughly enjoyed it!! The time travelly bits (not a spoiler – that’s part of the plot snippet for the promo) were not constant or overdone, like I thought they would be. Or at least was worried they would be. And while, yeah, it’s about Tim finding his true love, it’s only partly about that.

It is, as the title says, about time. About how we spend our time and how we value it.

I laughed out loud and I cried. Any movie that elicits both of those reactions out of me is a winner in my books. In the interest of full disclosure, it’s really not hard to make me cry when watching something…it’s the laugh/cry combo, though, that’s the key bit.

In looking for the link for you above, I saw that “About Time” is from the creator of “Love Actually”, so really, since I loved that movie, too, if I had known that before I likely would have watched this sooner. I can even see me watching this again and again, as I have “Love Actually”. It’s a definite feel-good movie.

All that to say, if you are looking for something to watch, I definitely recommend giving this a go! (If you do, I’d love to hear what you thought of it…)

Note: For those interested, it’s rated 14A. I assume that’s because of the occasional smattering of “colourful” language and some semi-nudity/sex-related scenes. If you know me well, you know I don’t like movies that are a constant blue streak of swearing or full of graphic sex scenes. This movie was definitely not that at all. 🙂

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Day 1 (Sept 12/19): On my way continued – the Dublin flight

This post was written on Sept 12/19, just after boarding the Dublin leg of my flight.

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I just boarded Air Canada flight 818 to Dublin from Montreal. I boarded early as my seat is in Zone 2 – one of the special zones. Not zone 1 – I seriously couldn’t afford that – but still: Zone 2. We had our own special line and everything and were able to board when the folks with little children could! Whuuuut???! We even had our own path and entrance to the plane. Livin’ the life, I tell ya. Livin’ the life.

Mind you, I’m in row 1. There isn’t anything in front of me besides the loo, kitchen stuff, storage and the cockpit. So I don’t even know what Zone 1 could have been.

I know there was one because they called out for Zone 1 people and 1 guy came forward, showed his boarding pass and was let on. But I have no idea what he paid extra for.

I remember (from booking my ticket) it was double what I paid. So I’m definitely glad I didn’t go for that. Maybe someone comes to his seat and rubs his feet or sings lullabies to him. It is an over-nighter, after all.

You know what it doesn’t have, though? The twisty-turny air blowy thingy. I love that thingy. Oh well – I’m sure I’ll be fine. 😉

And in any event, it was fun to trot up early.

I normally wait till the very end to board – when most of the squishy, crowded hoohah of “Excuse me. Pardon me. Uh. Oh sorry.” has subsided. I also usually get an aisle seat, which is even more reason not to board early and have to play the get-up-sit-down thing as the people in the middle and window seats by me arrive.

This time, though, I got a window seat. It’s a red-eye, as I said, and I wanted the wall to clean against. I didn’t want to be the one climbing over someone or making them get up so I boarded early. Plus, I knew the seats would be bigger and more comfy – more so than the airport seats – so I boarded as soon as I could.

I will add now that I thought the seat next to me was going to be empty, but a woman came and sat there a few minutes ago. Sluiced in perfume. Oh joy. But maybe it won’t give me a horrible headache and sinus congestion this time – I mean, a 6-hour flight will just zip by, right?

There was a glimmer of hope that she’d move when her travelling partner (spouse, boyfriend…?) came up and said there were two seats together in the back.

She didn’t even hesitate in her refusal. And, really, who could blame her? I don’t think there’s anyone I could possibly love enough to trade “up front” comfy seats for “in back” cramped seats for 6 hours. If our relationship couldn’t survive 6 hours apart, well, that’s even more reason not to make the comfy-cramped trade.

So, while her perfume (which is a lovely scent in and of itself) is rather irritating, I definitely gotta give her serious props for sticking where she is.

Ok…the flight attendant just took my order of beef tenderloin (like how I just slid that in there?) and I’m going to read for a while.

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Day 1 (Sept 12/19): On my way!! (Or…What am I forgetting…?)

Normally, I’m a pretty organized traveler. While I don’t start packing in advance, I have my lists ready wayyyyyy ahead of when I need them.

I am a bit of a list queen, I have to admit. Not because my world would collapse if I didn’t have lists. But because I would forget everything if I didn’t have them. I have discovered this from sad experience.

Enough experiences that you would think I would learn.

I suppose I do learn. But I also forget. (Does forgetting negate the learning?)

There have been too many times when I’ve convinced myself I could swing it. Lists are for sissies!!!

Yeah, well…that’s never worked out for me.

Serious kudos to those of you who can keep everything up there in the ol’ grey matter and access it whenever you need it. That is a gift.

But it’s not a gift I have. So I make lists.

This time, though, I only half sort of started a list a few days ago. And put it aside. In fact I couldn’t even remember where it was so this morning I started a new one.

Did you catch that? THIS MORNING!!!

I didn’t start my list in earnest until this morning. The morning of the day I am travelling.

Man, I am living on the edge!!! (I so don’t live on the edge. I can barely see the edge…And I like it that way.)

Anyway, I got the list done, did all the last errands I had and, right down to the wire, got the packing done.

Hmmm…actually, I was so late packing….yup….there it is.

I was so late packing, I forgot to run through my list to see if I had forgotten anything. And, as I wrote that last paragraph, sitting here at the airport waiting for my plane, I remembered that I forgot my hair dryer.

I had thought about it several times. And even headed off to get it a few times. But as you may recall, I get distracted easily and now, voilà – no hair dryer!!

Oh well!

I’m pretty sure (I say, chuckling at my likely delusional optimism) I didn’t forget anything else…

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What’s that whirring sound? (Or…Am I going to have an expensive plumbing bill?)

I put a load of laundry in the washing machine a couple of hours ago. I live in an open-concept condo so the laundry closet is within easy hearing distance. Most of it isn’t at all distracting or disruptive – it’s just the final spin that requires the volume to go up on the TV.

So, as you can imagine, I’m quite familiar with the sound of the various stages it goes through.

Tonight…well, there was a different sound. There was a new, high-pitched, whirring sound. It wasn’t super loud or anything. It was just … there. And it’s not usually there. So it caught my attention.

The first thing I thought was, “Dang it… I filled it too full.”

Being the queen of efficiency, rather than having to do two separate, small loads, I put everything into the one load. I thought, then, that I had maybe filled it a titch too full. Not crazy full. But more so than I usually do and a friend and I were recently talking about flooding washing machines and such, so my mind couldn’t help but go to a place of “Uh oh…”

I tried to talk myself out of it for a while – “It’s fine. You’re being paranoid. Don’t worry about it.”

But, after about half an hour, the whirring eventually won out and I got up to go check.

I opened the doors and listened. I could hear the whirring still, but it wasn’t coming from the washing machine. It was coming from behind me – the spare bedroom.

I can’t quite say if I was more relieved that the washing machine wasn’t about to explode and flood everything on the even of my much-anticipated trip to the Emerald Isle or more confused as to what the heckledy schmeckeldy could possibly be making that noise in the spare room.

I turned around and looked in. There are no “machines” to speak of in there – the router, a telephone and a TV. Nothing “whirrable”. But the sound was most definitely coming from there.

Huh.

Then I looked further in. The window was open. Ahhhhhh yes.

There was a lovely cool breeze this evening and I had opened both bedroom windows to get a nice cross breeze going – something other than AC air for the first time in a couple of months.

But I had forgotten the windows were open. Oops!

So, yeah…no explosion. No flood.

Just somebody doing some work outside, with what sounded like maybe a circular saw, oblivious to the state of anxiety and confusion they had innocently caused.

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Now I lay me down to…read all night and not catch a wink?

It’s 3:13 am. I have to get up in 2 hours and 44 minutes. I went to bed 4 hours and 46 minutes ago.

Apparently, tonight is not a sleeping night.

I gave it about 45 minutes and then gave up. I’ve been reading since then a blog about sailing from New York to Ireland. The writer skipped what happened after she left the boat so I stopped reading.

At this point, I probably could fall asleep, but now it’s almost too late. That’s the worst with sleepless nights – if I sleep now, I’ll be in seriously rough shape come 6 am! I have a day full of meetings tomorrow, too, so really not fun.

Weird, too, how this never happens except when I have to work the next day. Some kind of sadistic Murphy’s Law?

There are a couple of upsides, though.

First, I’m writing another post! That’s 3 in about 10 hours! That’s gotta be a record for me.

Secondly, I’m writing it in the WordPress app on my tablet. I haven’t done that before so it’s an interesting exercise. Probably not the best idea to do something new when you’re totally baffed, but of all the things an exhausted, sleepless individual could do online when randomly awake in the wee hours of the morning, this is probably just fine. 🙂

And now that I have identified the silver linings of the nocturnal debacle, I shall bid you adieu and decide on my next steps:

To read or not to read

That is the question

Whether tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous exhaustion

Or take arms against a sea of sleeplessness.

Ok…a little poetic licence there, but that soliloquy does talk about sleep, so I think I can be forgiven. Plus it’s now 3:34 am – a body can’t be expected to be at its literary best at this hour. 😉

I will, however, take my leave of you – you who are, hopefully, nestled in a pleasant world of dreams!!


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Happy birthday, WWW!!

I had my introduction to the World Wide Web (WWW) somewhere, I think, in late 1994 or early 1995.

I was living in Calgary, AB at the time and one of my friends was dog sitting for friends of hers. They had Internet access and told her she could go online while she was staying there. They gave her some instructions (how to dial up, for example) and told her if she ran into any trouble, she could just call the brother of one of the friends. Easy peasy, right? Uh huh.

Before I go any further, I should say that I know that the WWW and the Internet aren’t the same thing. At the time, though, it was all the same to me. Those were the days of Netscape Navigator and MetaCrawler. Ahhhh the memories! In any event, my first Internet experience was also my first WWW experience.

She was staying there for a week or two and was allowed to have friends over and we were pretty excited to check out this Internet thing. The first time I was over, we thought we’d give it a go. We were pretty excited – we had no idea what this thing was, but it sounded pretty cool. Looking stuff up without books or paper? WHAAAAAAAAT?!?!

We were big movie buffs so the first thing we searched for, after the beeeeep-boooopedy-beeeeeeeeep of dial-up got us online, was movies. Specifically, because we were in our mid-twenties and single, I think we included “hot men” in the search field.

Well, if you weren’t online much “back in the day”, you may not be aware that there was very little by way of search filters. You REALLY had to be careful what you searched for because anything and everything pretty much brought up porn sites. (There’s a little bit of foreshadowing there, in case you didn’t catch it… 😉 )

In retrospect, we probably shouldn’t have searched for movies with hot men. Nowadays, you could search for “movies with hot men” and you’ll get regular movies. In 1994/1995…not so much. But we didn’t know. WE DIDN’T KNOW!!!!

All of a sudden we found ourselves on this page with this naked man behind a chain link fence, some sort of sign or something strategically placed over his “we weren’t looking for this” bits.

We went through a few quick reactionary stages. We were surprised, shocked (really, we had no clue) and then we cracked up laughing. It wasn’t what we were looking for (we were in a Hugh Grant/Four Weddings and a Funeral phase) so yeah…porn wasn’t what we were looking for and we found it hilarious.

But the people who lived there had kids so, before we did anything else, we wanted to make sure that the page we landed on was deleted. We hit the back button, thinking that would do the trick. Then we hit the forward button to make sure the porn page was gone.

You know how the forward button works, so you aren’t surprised when I say that the page was still there. The nekked man was still behind the fence. Eek!!!! We didn’t want their kids to accidentally stumble onto that page. For that matter, we didn’t want her friends to think we hopped online to scour for porn. (Mind you…”scouring” requires wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy more effort than porn searches require online, especially back then…)

We tried the back and forth thing a few times and even closed the window and opened it again. No matter what we did, the nekked man was still there.

We talked about calling the brother, but we didn’t want him to think we were porn dogs, either. My friend didn’t even know him. “Um…hi…I’m dog sitting for your brother [or was it sister?] and I…um…accidentally ended up on a porn site and don’t know how to get rid of it before they come home.” We could only imagine his reaction.

So yeahhhhhhh…we didn’t jump at that option. We tried all the things we had already tried several more times. Needless to say, they never worked. Ultimately, the fear of the kids landing on that page outweighed the feeling of stupidity and, with much trepidation, we made the call.

The brother, who worked in IT, reacted pretty much how we expected. He laughed. A LOT. And loudly. But he helped us.

After that, we refused to try again. We walked a wide berth around it. It just wasn’t worth it.

In the fall of 1995 I went back to university to get my education degree and I was “properly” introduced to the Internet. I was taught how to use it and to be careful of the dangers of porn showing up in your searches. By the time I started teaching, I had a clue. Finally…I had a clue. 😉

And the rest is history!!!


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Star Trek: The Next Generation theme song with lyrics

I just saw this on Wil Wheaton’s page… it’s funny! Have a listen and let your inner geek (or outer geek…we don’t judge here!) have a moment to shine!! (Allan: I’m posting this for you in particular – I think you and Matthew could make a lovely duet out of this!)

When we worked on Next Generation, Brent Spiner and I would sit at our consoles on the bridge, and make up lyrics to our show’s theme song. I vaguely recall coming up with some pretty funny and clever stuff, but nothing that held together as perfectly as this, from the weirdos over at meh.com:

via this is brilliant — WIL WHEATON dot NET


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And then there were four…

There’s a scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where Toula tells Ian about her huge Greek family. She says:

So, you have two cousins. I have 27 first cousins. Just 27 first cousins alone!

(Watch this 5-second clip to see how emphatic she is about it.)

My immediate thought when I heard that was, “27? Big whoop.” You see, there are 73 of us first cousins in my family, including me and my 3 brothers. Yup – 73. And no, we’re not Greek. 😉

Now, you might be thinking that to get that many first cousins, there have to be a lot of aunts and uncles, right? And you would be correct, but maybe there were not as many as you might think, since most of them had pretty large families themselves.

There were 7 siblings in Dad’s family (3 of whom died young) and 15 in Mom’s (4 of whom died young). All who lived to adulthood, except one, married, and all who married, except one, had children. So that’s 13 aunts and uncles (plus their spouses) who had families of their own, with a total of 73 kids – that’s an average of 5.6 kids each!

I thought that was normal. It wasn’t until later, discussing that part of the movie with friends, that I realized that my situation was actually the unusual one.

That said, I didn’t actually know most of my cousins on Mom’s side.  Geography separated me from most of them, as they were scattered across the province and country. Travel was very expensive back then and with the (obviously) large families everyone had, getting to visit with each other was not feasible. Everything I knew about those cousins came from occasional photographs, wedding announcements, and so on.

Then there were those who grew up in the same town I did, but from whom I was separated by age. Mom was one of the youngest of her siblings and she didn’t marry until the (then) ripe old age of 34. Her older siblings’ kids then, were much older than I was and had grown up and moved away by the time I was old enough to really get to know them. Most visited, though, for holidays and such, so there was still at least a closeness that we didn’t have with those who lived far away.

With Dad’s family it was somewhat different. There were still cousins on his side who were much older so that was still a bit of a challenge. But, while none of them lived in the same town where I grew up, they lived only a four- or five-hour drive away in or near the capital city of St. John’s. As such, we were able to visit them more regularly, especially as the highways improved.

Because of all of that, there were only two first cousins I actually grew up with. Out of 69, there were only two that I grew up with. Huh – I hadn’t thought about it in that way before! Bizarre.

Now, back to the aunts and uncles and the reason for today’s post.

Mom’s oldest brother, Roche, died (before I was born) of the industrial disease that left a couple of generations of families in the town I grew up in fatherless. When I was born, then, I had 26 living aunts and uncles (in-laws included). I’m now 48, so it’s no shock that, over the years, that number has dwindled.

Yesterday, I went to Burlington, ON for a memorial service for Aunt Nora, one of Mom’s sisters, who passed away last Sunday. She had moved back to Newfoundland for a short time in the late 1990s or early 2000s which enabled me to get to know her when I went home to visit Mom and Dad. We had kept in touch after she moved back to Ontario through phone calls and letters, as well as a visit a couple of years ago. She was funny and I had enjoyed getting to know her – I remember her with a ready smile and her fingers putting in her pin curls with a magical speed.  I was saddened by her loss and very glad to be able to go to the service.

While I was there, I reflected that of all of the blood-related aunts and uncles alive at the time of my birth, there are now only 4 left: Mom’s sister Flo, her brother Vic, and Dad’s sisters Lucy and Rita. It seems like one minute they were all there and now they are gone.

I couldn’t help but think in particular of Uncle Vic and Aunt Flo – of the 15 children their mother bore, with Aunt Nora’s passing, they are now the last two. Even though they haven’t physically been around all of their siblings for much of their lives, there must have been some comfort in knowing they were there – knowing they could pick up the phone, or before cheap long-distance rates, pick up a pen and jot down a few lines.

I realize that that’s the case with all loss – we can’t just pick up the phone or the pen anymore – I feel it with both my parents being gone. But, for Aunt Flo and Uncle Vic, I have this image of a large family photo where most of the faces have faded and theirs are the only two distinct images left; the others are more like ghostly impressions than actual images. It must be a strange sensation.

Or maybe not.

We all deal with death and loss in our own ways and, because they’ve dealt with the deaths of their siblings literally throughout their entire lives, maybe it’s not as impactful as I think it might be.

I should have some sort of clear conclusion here before I end, but I don’t. I haven’t reached a conclusion on this one. It has, however, given me something to really think about.

Thanks to www.wordle.net for the word bubble image of our family names (aunts, uncles, cousins).