The Queen is coming!

So we are expecting Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to arrive in Dublin tomorrow, 16 May 2011. Then on 23 May 2011 we will be visited by President Obama.

As a result of this, the Gardai (local police) have sealed all the manhole covers around Dublin with silicone and some paint in order to prevent rogue assassins from emerging from the underground. These measures are also serving the dual purpose of keeping the sewer alligators at bay:

Dublin manhole cover sealed

The Quaternian Investigation

This past Saturday was a truly historical occasion! On October 16, 1843 Sir William Rowan Hamilton, an Irish physicist, astronomer and mathematician, was walking by the Broom Bridge along Broombridge Road which crosses the Royal Canal in Cabra, Dublin, Ireland when an idea struck him. He immediately inscribed it on one of the stones on the bridge so not to forget it and carried on his merry way. There is now a plaque, commemorating this event, on the northwest corner of the underside of the bridge.

Since Broom Bridge is the ONLY Irish location that is mentioned in the Geek Atlas, I just had to have my pilgrimage. Even though I know nothing about quaternians except for the formula, on Sunday, 17th of October I went on my merry trip to visit the place.

The bridge is no Museum of Irish Mathematics, more like Museum of Irish Mattress Burning, but its significance in the sphere of mathematics is indisputable and my trek would make Sheldon Cooper proud!

You Know You’ve Lived In Ireland When…

I was waiting until I could add this feed to Google Buzz before posting this because, like a true sellout, I was craving a bigger audience!

So here you go, a list initially titled “You Know You’ve Studied Abroad In Ireland When…”, but since some of these items are lost on me and I ain’t no erasmus/exchange student, I picked a more generic name. If some of these items sound like complete gobbledygook, I will attempt to elaborate on the ones that make sense to me in a few posts later. By all means stick around ’till the end for a video treat!

  1. You know what “craic” is and that it’s not a drug.
  2. You’ll pay 4-5 euro ($8) for one pint and not even bat an eye.
  3. You know what the “off-license” or “offy” is.
  4. It’s not “good” it’s “grand.”
  5. Hurling does not mean throwing up.
  6. Going to the pub between classes is not unusual.
  7. Rain is a way of life.
  8. You begin to end your sentences in “like” like.
  9. You’ve washed your clothes in your sink because laundry is about 12 US dollars.
  10. The biggest going out nights are Sunday and Thursday.
  11. Everyone carries around their own bottle of alcohol.
  12. A “rebel gig” is not a stray carriage.
  13. Drunken roommates is just the beginning…
  14. You’ve said “Cheers!” in place of Thank You back home and gotten odd looks for it.
  15. You know what “slainte” means and you say every time you take a drink now.
  16. You’ve sung Galway Girl in a pub.
  17. Penny’s is AMAZING!
  18. You know that Supermacs (or Superdine if desperate) are the places to go after a night out.
  19. You know the difference between a naggin, shoulder, and litre.
  20. You don’t think it’s weird to drink cider, especially druids!
  21. You’ll pay 20 euro ($35) for a large pizza.
  22. You get all pissy when you go to a “pub” in the states and they don’t pour the Guinness right.
  23. If the idea of leprechauns now makes you roll your eyes.
  24. You survived Stab City! (AKA: Limerick)
  25. You start saying “Erasmus” instead of “study abroad” because everyone you met that wasn’t from the US looked at you funny.
  26. Legend = Cool / Der = There / Dat = That
  27. Father Ted is your new favorite comedy.
  28. When you’re back home you find yourself forgetting that you can actually grocery shop past 6:00.
  29. You get Ireland sick at home much more than you got home sick in Ireland.
  30. You feel like never eating chips (french fries) again!
  31. You suddenly became a “lad.”
  32. You actually end up moving to Ireland permanently just to continue the dream…
  33. Dunnes is amazing. :)
  34. Your voice goes down instead of up when asking a question.
  35. You go to a cafe and ask for a cup of tea and get REALLY confused when they ask “What kind?”
  36. When a three mile walk takes you 10 minutes (walking Irish style).
  37. You can’t walk barefoot anymore, cause the kitchen floor is sticky, or has other hazardous objects on it!
  38. When make up, mini skirts and high heels don’t have the same meaning back home!
  39. When the sun finally show up, you cant do anything else than “nothing”, and the insular can’t do anything else than playing hurling or football in the streets.
  40. When seeing an Irish buy an ice cream in the middle of January from a petrol station doesn’t seem weird!
  41. You spent HOURS on the bus and walking trying to see every piece of the Island. Of Course, Bus Eireann or JJ Kavanagh and dear Son were your best friends.
  42. When you at least waited once for a chicken roll or a smoothie at Spar and juicebar!
  43. When you wanted to party all night long, but last calls in pubs were at 12pm and in clubs at 3 or max 4am!
  44. When you went up and down the stairs eyes closed at Blarney’s Castle to make a wish, and kissed this cold dirty thing, head down, or when you obviously imagined yourself falling from the cliffs of Moher (and took …a picture across the sign saying “you can’t go further…)!
  45. When at least 4 times a week the Facebook of your Irish friends or/and Erasmus friends was saying “i am totaly hammered”, or “Big hungover, i should stop drinking”!
  46. Back home you went several times on the wrong side of the car, and looked several times on the wrong side of the street first before crossing a road!
  47. When u say Jeeeesus!!!!! after being surprised.
  48. You love gingers!
  49. When it’s normal to skip classes and to have a guard asking for your ID before entering your village during rag week.
  50. When you love eating a hot chocolate muffin at Supermac’s!
  51. When you discover FRED and now, love them !
  52. When you know what “Garda” is and cross your fingers that they don’t show up in your party!
  53. You have to pull a string in the shower to get hot water.
  54. You have to take a cab home anytime after 11pm.
  55. When Tesco only sells mac’n’cheese in a can.
  56. You cannot do anything business-related between 12 noon and 1 p.m. because everything is closed for lunch.
  57. You don’t think twice after seeing a speed limit sign that says 120.
  58. You start to believe that a traffic light is really nothing more than illuminated advertising…
  59. You come home 10 pounds heavier and don’t know why until you look back at your pictures and realize that you drank every night of the week.
  60. You jump into the river Liffey…and lived to join this group!
  61. When going to bed when it’s light out is not considered strange anymore whether it be at night or in the morning!
  62. When you see new people you don’t know in your own house you wait a couple of days before ask “do you live here?” and then know that they’re actually your housemates and not the usual unknown random people that for some reason are just wandering around the house.
  63. You desperately tried to find an outlet in the bathroom and then finally realized that you have to blow-dry your hair over your notebook.
  64. You put a pot on the stove to cook then walk away for 20 minutes and when you return to check on it you realise you forgot to turn the wall switch on.
  65. Half-nine = nine-thirty.
  66. You get up at any time of the (late) day and the first thing you drink is a pint of Guinness.
  67. You started to say “rubbage bin” instead of “trash can.”
  68. You’ve had to make s’mores with digestives.
  69. You’ve watched your friend, drinking all the way thru Rag Week, sit at the table and make a tin foil helmet to protect himself from the “alieums.”
  70. You find yourself saying feck instead of the other one…
  71. You were stressing about studying for exams whilst being ‘social’ over a few pints, you often heard the phrase “she’ll be grand” or “it’s grand” and decided feck it, drink now cram later!
  72. You now understand the following: gaff, your one, it’s grand, the “tea-shock” is a muppet
  73. It now seems perfectly normal to spend half the night drinking and dancing with people you’ve never met before, or have invited you out during a random encounter (you were on the same bus, you walked past their on-campus window etc).
  74. You stocked up on goodies from Carrolls before going home so your parents think you did more than drink when you were there.
  75. You’re still trying to work out why that one soap opera stops halfway through to let people watch the other one on another channel.
  76. When cigarettes that cost less than 5€ are “cheap” Everyone knows real cigarettes cost 8.40€.
  77. When you come home you get completely baffled by your friends who say that cider would be something girly.
  78. You know that the real off-license of Dublin is Lidl and it’s the place where you buy in BULK. Excelsior here I come.
  79. You know who Jedward is and you know how much better than American idol x factor is.
  80. You came home askin’ for some crisp!
  81. You hear the entire country is paralyzed by two inches of snow, and could totally see that happening.
  82. You can cook 100 different types of pasta, and have, just for variation.
  83. You’ve seen Ireland winning the Grand Slam in a crowded pub and you know you won’t feel that atmosphere at home.
  84. Taco fries at 3am….perfect!
  85. You love Citylink and its 1€ tickets.
  86. You’ve seen hundreds (if not thousands) of people gathered in Cork City Centre just for a Hillbilly’s breast in a bun at 2 a.m.
  87. The name Patrick Dempsey has so much more meaning.
  88. You get asked by an Irish friend if you “scored ’em” and need to ask for clarification.
  89. Getting a “ride” from someone only has ONE meaning.
  90. When the sugar in your morning coffee is now replaced by Jameson.
  91. You get to your host families house and within the first hour you’re offered a Bulmers.

Aaaaand, relating to #16 as promised:

The Cat’s Out of the Bag

Yes, the cat is indeed out of the bag. No, I am NOT gay, although I frequently exhibit such behaviour.

The big news is that I found a new job and started today. I’ve been keeping it low profile since the uncertainty of the terrible Irish bureaucracy was still upon me. Not anymore – I hold in my hands an employment permit for the next two years!

I am now working for an Irish company writing funky life insurance products and selling it in Italy. Because of that about 60% of the office people are Italian and I already downloaded Pimsleur Italian (actually it was on the shared drive at work for all non-Italians to use!) and am working on my Godfather accent.

To tell you a bit about the pain in the rear that was the work permit application process let me tell you that I am seriously starting to consider that I have superpowers. It can also be because I have been watching Heroes non-stop, waiting for the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment (DETE) to talk to me.

I applied for the Green Card (the local version of the employment permit, which is equivalent to the Employment Permit (note the CAPS), but also gives you the “fast track to the Irish residency”) on November 2, 2009 knowing full-well that it takes them around 4 weeks to process this thing. I was due to start on the 23rd of November. On the 17th of November I received a rejection letter telling me that I am not cool enough and that my nose was disproportionate to my face when I was a teenager and that I am a lousy poker player. Nothing new. Wait, what? I am good at poker, my nose is all matching my face now and some people consider me cool (hey dude!). PLUS, I need to have this darned permit in three business days otherwise I am, hmm, how can I keep this PG, IN TROUBLE!

I submit the appeal letter within hours of receiving the rejection letter and call the call centre to follow up, only to find out that it takes 8 WEEKS FOR MY LETTER TO REACH THE APPEALS OFFICER!!! Panic Mode, ON! It is now two business days until I need to have the permit otherwise I am in trouble. I run to DETE and harass the security guard, who in his helpless strive for survival from my death grip cries for help to the lady descending the stairs and apparently going to lunch. I practice my mind control tricks and charm the bejesus out of her and she gives me the two secret numbers, the numbers that noone in Ireland knows, to call and get my life back on track. I call and VOILA, one day later I have the permit! Mind you, it’s not the Green Card, it’s the Employment Permit. Everything’s the same, but no “fast track to Irish residency”. I will cry many nights over this!

I should also mention that a few weeks prior to that, when I realized that I may not have enough time to get the permit and thanks to the suggestion from my recruiter, I decided to contact a local MP, or TD, as they are called here. This dude’s assistant gets back to me and has a meeting with me, offering to write a stern letter to the DETE, telling them to do as I say. This was not necessary, but my hat goes off to the dude’s assistant dude, who was very helpful and understanding!!! Thanks, sincerely!

So here I am, one day in! Expect many tweets relating to this!

My Favorite Irishman

May I present to you, my favorite Chief of Operations, Miles Edward O’Brien! Although he is supposedly a Federation citizen, in the ad below he is exhibiting all the signs of being a Ferengi.

Miles O'Brien

At any rate, he was the first REAL Irishman who entered my circle of trust and it was very nice to see him on the pages of the Sunday Times!

All hail to the Chief!

Hellish Halloween!

Oh boy, so if you have been reading my tweets you know what was going on. 50+ people at our place with lots of floor scrubbing the day after. The event was somewhat documented in the following album, the rest is on facebook – look out for people tagging us if you’re interested.

Before we get labeled as a cross-dresser and a trailer trash let me explain – I was a Tooth Fairy and Alex was a little kid whose teeth I stole!



Status update, Mr. AK!

I realize that I have not been posting here for a while. I can’t really promise that this will change, but I will do my best to throw in a few cumulative updates here and there.

Before I begin let me ask you to do something. I got a letter from Val last week – he’s already in Afghanistan and is doing fine. I can’t imagine how it is for him there so I would like to ask you to drop him a line when you have a chance, I am sure he will appreciate it. Drop me a line and I will give you his new email address.

All right, where do we begin!

We saw the play The Birds a few days ago. Believe it or not, it’s on the same subject as Hitchcocks’s movie The Birds. Both are adaptations of the 1952 novella The Birds by Daphne du Maurier. However the story line is completely different and is basically the tale of a love triangle in the time of crisis, being the avian attacks. Very well done! One of the actresses is Alex’s classmate’s sister! There!

On Alex’s birthday we say Chekhov’s Three Sisters play, performed entirely in Russian with English subtitles. Another very well orchestrated production.

Not all of our time has been as cultural as above. There were plenty of booze fests, including the Ladies Night Out (can’t tell you much about that) and the Lads’ Night Out (the video is here).

Last night we got our eardrums popped by Billy Talent! Excellent show and an excellent birthday present for moi!

It seems that we are going to Galway in mid-November! Very excited about that! Will try to squeeze the last juices of our photo camera and take some decent pictures.

Argh, the problem with cumulative updates is that you cannot remember everything you wanted to write about!!! I guess I will have to blog more often…

On Irish Life

The issue of abortion is becoming more and more appalling  as we meet more Irish people here. Abortion is illegal in Ireland and in Northern Ireland, unless the pregnancy is in threat of endangering the life of the woman. One of Ireland’s best known abortionists was even famously sentenced to death by hanging in 1957 when one of her patients died. The country (the South at least) is very Catholic and we meet more and more people with many many siblings.

In the span of two days we met a girl with 11 siblings and another girl with 17! Yes, 17! Imagine being pregnant for almost 13 years of your life!!!

Here’s an interesting statistic from Wikipedia – A June 2007 TNS/MRBI poll found that 43% supported legal abortion if a woman believed it was in her best interest while 51% remained opposed. 82% favored legalization for cases when the woman’s life is in danger, 75% when the fetus cannot survive outside the womb, and 73% when the pregnancy has resulted from sexual abuse.

As a point of reference, divorce was legalized in Ireland only in 1995! Had Ireland been more in favor of the British, there would be no independence and divorce at least would be legal now…

A Day Trip to Howth

Howth - a Dublin Suburb

Howth is a little commercial fishing town, situated on the Dublin Bay and is technically part of Dublin. It has recently been developed as an upscale residential suburb and is a pretty little town with steep streets running down to the waterfront. Although the harbour is no longer the epicentre of shipping activity as it once was, the shipping business is prospering and tons of yachts are parked in the little harbour.

Among the prime attractions of the little peninsula are the Howth Castle, dating back to 1564, Castle Gardens, popular for its rhododendrons (which bloom in May and June), National Transport Museum, showing all different types of buses, vans and fire engines, Deer Park Golf Course and Ireland’s Eye, a small island right off the coast that is a scenic bird sanctuary. None of these we saw, well, except for the Ireland’s Eye, which can be seen from the shore.

Continue reading A Day Trip to Howth

Dublin Trek – Multicultiralism

Not my shot - John Byrne - Last Supper, Blooms Lane, Lower Ormond Quay on the North side of the River Liffey.

Not my shot – John Byrne – Last Supper, Blooms Lane, Lower Ormond Quay on the North side of the River Liffey.

When we first arrived in this beautiful city we only saw Irish everywhere. Can’t tell what the passerby is saying – must be Irish. Red haired dude on the bus – must be Irish. You get the picture.

As we get more accustomed to living here it is clear that to find Irish in Dublin is not that easy. Our IKEA delivery guy was Polish and openly invited me to talk to him in Russian. My hair dresser was Russian, so was the waitress and the neighbourhood Ashton’s Pub. Indian people run the convenience stores, even here. Chinese people run the dry cleaners. Our next door neighbours roast the herring on the weekends, what else is new.

Continue reading Dublin Trek – Multicultiralism