I’m being shipped off to Aberdeen to do some work-related training all of next week. I actually leave via Dublin on Sunday. Anyone been there and want to recommend places to go eating and drinking? I’m staying in the city centre. I’ve been told to prepare to be cold.
Aberdeen for most of next weekTuesday, November 21st, 2006
At least the Brits are doing something about online engagementTuesday, November 21st, 2006
Tony Blair’s advisor gets all “sky is falling” with blogs and the web. As a result, UK bloggers were not amused.
“We have a citizenry which can be caricatured as being increasingly unwilling to be governed but not yet capable of self-government,” Mr Taylor told the audience.
Maybe then you create systems that allow self-governance? “unwilling to be governed” , er maybe unwilling to be governed by you I would think? I’m sure the people want more input into what their tax money is being spent on and where their country is being steered to. It almost sounds like a civil servant from Yes, Minister in the old boys club giving out about the public wanting to live in a democracy. Something Sir Humphrey would say to a colleague.
“The internet is being used as a tool of mobilisation, which is fantastic, but it only adds to the growing, incommensurate nature of the demands being made on government.”
And….? It is the Government’s job to address the needs of the population and to also communicate to them why decisions are made which both satisy and do not satisfy the demands of the population. This guy is digging a hole for himself and the Government.
“At a time at which we need a richer relationship between politicians and citizens than we have ever had, to confront the shared challenges we face, arguably we have a more impoverished relationship between politicians and citizens than we have ever had.”
How about the notion that the web has highlighted the fact that people are pissed off with the current system be it left or right inclined? That finally those slightly or wholly disillusioned have found a voice and have found others who feel the same?
But at least in the UK they have the Hansard Society, WriteToThem, TheyWorkForYou and so many more organisations, many funded by the Government. The Government itself has e-democracy initiatives and not just press releases about winning numerous e-Government awards.
What is our e-Minister doing?
25: Five give five startup tipsTuesday, November 21st, 2006
I asked five people I know and who have their own business to share 5 tips they’d give people when starting out. Below are the results.
- Find a business partner: Startups are lonely work and there is lots to do, a business partner will keep you sane, shoulder half the work and help stamp out some of your more loopy ideas
- Ensure your financial security: Most businesses take at least 1 year to get to a point where either a) you start to make money or b) you can raise investment. Its very difficult to focus on your business if you don’t know where your next meal is coming from.
- Don’t consult full time: Many people imagine they can start a new business while consulting full time, but its practically impossible to do this unless you are some kind of superman. Its just to hard to do both well. You either get fired as a consultant or end up with a lousy business.
- Ask everybody for advice: Most people have useful feedback and will give it graciously if asked in a genuine way.
- Meet your customers : The best validation of any business idea is obtained by meeting customers. This should be job one for any entrepreneur. At least three of my business ideas have gone down the crapper after meeting several customers who slipped into a stupor as I told them how I was going to change their lives.
- Don’t give up your day-job.
- Do try to attend conferences – bonus points if you can demo your software at said conference. Do try to network – (if you believe ‘network’ should never be used as a verb – at least mingle).
- Stay lean. Bootstrap for as long as you can. Sales is the best type of funding.
- Give something away. Make a free version of your product / service – it will get people talking about / linking to your site/service which will help your page-rank which will help your sales.
- Be personal. Don’t put on the airs of a big company. Being small means you can be more personal and human when talking to customers and potential customers. You can also offer better support than a larger company would. Customers really appreciate this.
- Do something you love and are completely kknowledgeable about.
- Think of how much funds you need and double it.
- Just because you work 20hrs a day don’t expect others to be as committed.
- Google and YouTube are the exceptions rather than the rule.
- You won’t be driving a Bentley this time next year
- Talk to as many people who can advise you as possible both in and out of your business area. Most people are happy to help and advise.
- Planning is important but don’t fall into the analysis paralysis trap. If in doubt, just do it. Carpe Diem.
- Have a strong vision but be prepared to admit you are wrong. If the market doesn’t bite, you are the problem, not them.
- There is plenty of state help out there. Engage with them as early as possible. Don’t wait until you are “ready”
- It is as stressful as hell but you should still be enjoying it. If you aren’t, then question your motivations.
Contracts! For added emphases I will say it again, contracts, contracts, contracts!
Treat the good ones well as they are the best advertising source you will ever need.
3. Finding an employee.
Nothing I can ever advise would be better then the gold contained within this article. If you are looking to hire someone read it. It helped me find two of the best guys I could ever hope for.
4. Cash flow
You have heard it a million times but Ryan Carson put together a practical example. Use it!
5. Design (of course I had to mention it )
Do you want your business to look like the BMW it is or to stick the BMW engine in the shell of a Lada. Both will get you on the road but which pulls the ladies. Look like the business you want to attract.
If anyone else has additional tips they want to suggest, then leave them in the comments.
Fluffy Links – November 21st 2006Tuesday, November 21st, 2006
There really are some dumb people out there. Yes, jumping out of the car is wise.
Oooh and: What’s gay today?
France taxing countries that don’t like Kyoto. Australia is pissed.
More wisdom from Semper Idem.
Make “Gold” by Spandau Ballet the UK National Anthem.
Via Jason Kottke: Human beatbox Lasse Gjertsen makes a song and video by sampling bits of a video of him playing the piano and drums.
Exploding laptop batteries. This is why the Dell recall was so big:
Shiny Happy People getting BBC dealsMonday, November 20th, 2006
I’ve been a subscriber to the ShinyShiny blog for the past while and the take on gadgets by some UK girls is quite refreshing compared to the stateside gadget blogs. I was delighted to read that Susi Weaser has been hired by a BBC production company after a producer read the ShinyShiny blog and watched the one minute reviews that they post on Youtube. Well done Susi!
I wonder will we something like that here in Ireland? Maybe the Beaut.ie ladies will be regularly seen on our TV screens soon?
New blogs – November 20thMonday, November 20th, 2006
More new blogs listed on Awards.ie.
Meanwhile I’d like to point out another one I found: The Radio Eireann blog:
a small archive of photographs taken in and around RTE Radio’s Features and Current Affairs (FCA) department
Well worth looking at.
10 minutes – What 10 minute slice of your life would you re-live?Monday, November 20th, 2006
A while back Salon had a piece asking people what 10 minutes from their life would they like to live again. So I emailed a few people and asked them what 10 minutes would they re-live if they had the chance. A bit like groundhog day, but it’s not about going back to change anything but going back and being there and re-experiencing that moment for the second time.
Some people asked for anonymity and some were happy to have their names associated with what they said. In no particular order:
The time I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.
MJ from Infurious:
Only 10 minutes? Okay, the 2 minutes at the birth of each of my kids. Obvious huh? I can’t think of a whole 10 minutes espcially so I’d like essentially 10 minutes made up of little snippets of their lives. The first time they said Daddy – that about a minute between them so Im up to 3. The first time they fed themselves – another minute. That’s four. The first time they took their first steps. The first time I changed their nappies. The first time I held Jake and he pee’d on me. The first time Meggan stood in the snow and shouted “Look, Daddy, nodes!”. The first time they said they loved me.
I’d like to relive those in a “Strange Days” kind of fashion. Oh yes.
It would have to be the birth of my son 🙂 Corny I know.
One Sunday at around 2pm, I spoke to my brother on the phone briefly about inane silly things like what I did with the car keys and the fact that he was up early that morning, unusual for a Sunday. He committed suicide, we think, two hours later.
I could have that phone call back.
Naturally I should say getting married to my wife and the birth of my four children but actually I’d love to see see Mach 2 in Concorde again as I did for my 30th birthday. I managed to do a supersonic snore after too much booze. And no, we didn’t pay Â£5000, we got airline staff rates. Not much hope of that happening again in my lifetime.
Ten minutes I would like to do again
Itâ€™s probably a clichéd post for a Mum but of all the moments I would do again is the time just as my daughter was born until the moment sometime later (probably about 10 minutes) before the doctor began to stitch me up.
I had a very difficult and drug-free as it turned out labour. That wasnâ€™t my intention at all, if things got bad I wanted pain relief. However events conspired that by the time things got so bad I wasnâ€™t able at all to vocalise that I needed something, anything, drugs, strong ones, besides at that stage I think the labour was so far along they wouldnâ€™t have been able to give me anything anyway.
I had been in labour since I woke up with pains every five minutes at 7.30am on the Thursday morning until her birth at 12.15pm on Friday, some 29 hours. For the main I was able to handle the pain and having gone to hospital at 6cm dilation (check the medical sites) with nurses telling me I was a champion with an obvious high pain threshold I thought I would hold out on drugs/epidural until things got bad. I thought I was and could continue to handle it.
By the time they pains became too much sometime around 7.30am on the Friday, it was the pushie pushie stage and nothing and no pain relief would have done helped. I thought I was going to die, I really did. I remember lying back thinking â€˜this is it Iâ€™m dyingâ€™. Obviously I didnâ€™t and the labour and my experiences is something I would like to write about but it is probably not a post for the squeamish and will deal with some horror parts and nasty doctor moments.
Like the moment I was squirming and writhing in pain between the labour and the appalling cramps in my legs due to the stirrups they put my ankles dangling in which meant I had nothing to push against, when the doctor smacked my thigh telling me to put my bottom back on the bed. Or the fact that I had been handling the labour well on my side, when they put me on my back to help the medical team and not me my pain intensified to levels I never thought possible rendering me incapable of speaking and knowing nothing except the intense pain that was going to kill me.
Maybe I will write that post and maybe not.
But what this is all leads up painting a background to is the 10 minutes when I finally pushed the Young Wan into the world enabled by forceps. They kept telling me â€˜one more push and then another straight awayâ€™ over and over again and I felt I didnâ€™t have it in me.
When she was pulled out from me I remember the pain almost instantly stopped and she was held up in front of me and it was like she was shining in a dazzling-white Zeus-like glowing God way. I remember the umbilical cord, itâ€™s beautiful blue and other luminescent colours, twisting and coiled leading up to her tummy and then she was placed on my tummy.
By the time I worked my arms up to hold her, she was swiped away to the corner where they did whatever on her.
I remember she didnâ€™t cry, I remember the midwife (one of two who were both absolutely wonderful unlike the b*stard male doctor) saying â€˜oh she is very laid-back – the very thing I love about her and the thing which drives me bloody mad to this day). Her dad told me later that she wasnâ€™t dazzling white at all, she was blue and the umbilical cord was the â€˜most minging thingâ€™ he had ever seen. Must have been some kind of pain-induced hallucination from me. Then the doctor began to stitch me. JESUS CHRIST – the pain the pain.
He also had the cheek to tell me it couldnâ€™t possibly hurt. Tell me that when you have pushed an 8lb8oz baby out from your body, ya big b*llox. Just because I have managed to push an 8lb8oz baby from inside me without pain relief does not mean I wonâ€™t feel someone push a needle over and over again (I apparently had â€˜layers and layersâ€™ of stitches – big ouch) into torn skin and thread it through. I wonder if he would have felt me kick him in the head?
Afterwards the Young Wanâ€™s dad ate my toast and drank my tea, all I wanted to do was doze while not being in pain. Some women talk about how wonderful that tea and toast was, I can tell you how wonderful not being in labour anymore was. At that stage the demon doctor could have sat on me having that culinary delight and I wouldnâ€™t have cared a tosh.
When her dad left to make all the phonecalls, I remember lying resting in the calm of av labour ward side room, with just herself and me in the room, which was so welcome considering there was a doctor, two midwives, a student and an student inspector as well as her dad when I had been giving birth. I remember lying spaced out in wonder just staring at this gorgeous strawberry-blonde (which developed into a beautiful head of redhair) baby girl in the cot beside me staring back up at me.
We called her Gorbie in those first few days because the forceps left marks on her head which more than resembled Gorbachev.
So to recap the 10 minutes I would have again are between when I finally pushed her into the world until that demon doctor started to stitch me up, obviously. Unless of course I had 8 minutes of the post delivery moments that could fast-forward to 2 minutes of the beautiful calm moment in the labour ward.
I’d like to experience more of my first life before I start asking for replays. 🙂
Off the top of my head, the only things that spring to mind are the encore at the first real concert I went to (Feeder, before their Coldplay-phase. They played ‘Just a Day’ and it was awesome.) and getting my good leaving and/or junior cert results, which probably marks me down as a huge nerd.
I do not do regrets and I do not reruns.
The past is like a foreign country that you don’t have a visa for. You hear a lot about it, and people are sometimes interested in hearing the story, but you can’t go back there.
If it were possible I’d like to go back to my first ten minutes of being self-aware or just coming into this world. That would be quite an experience I would think.
In 1988 I went to Lourdes with my school. I found myself at that young age of 12 to be at total peace while I was there. It is a strange feeling. Hold up, this kind of has a story behind it too.
Growing up when your parents haven’t two pennies to rub together isn’t easy. I come from a family of fifteen (eight boys and seven girls). My father and mother were settled members of the Travelling Community. There I said it.
Anyway back to me father. He made a living through music. He used to always say that a musician will never be poor. “If the big multinational sacks you, you can go down to the main Street with a fiddle and belt out a few tunes for a few bob. Busking is the most honest profession one can have.” he used to say. Anyway as you can gather, life was hard growing up in the 1980s when you had nothing .
As a student of St. Joseph’s School for the Visually Impaired in Drumcondra, I had the opportunity to go to Lourdes in 1988 with the HCPT (I am visually impaired).
Now I was no more religious then than I am now. The only thing that would get me into a church is either a friend’s Wedding or a relative’s funeral.
But there was one night, a Thursday night actually, standing on some sort of incline near the basilica, looking down on a river of candle light processioners all singing some him in a multitude of languages, I really felt at peace. Gone were the stresses of trying to impress the richer people in school, the worries of what people would think of my family and my background. All of it was just gone. It is one of the few times in my entire life that I have felt totally relaxed, happy, glad to be where I was at that time and place.
I have several 10 minute segments worth rewinding. But the first one that sprang to mind started at 1240 on a sunny afternoon of June 24, 1983. I was in a powder blue Karmann Ghia proceeding due south on a section
line near Enid, Oklahoma. I was en route to the Enid General Hospital to witness the birth of my first daughter. So focused, I ignored the road works signs that announced the road was closed. No worries–I had flown over the same stretch of road an hour before and knew nothing would be in the way as all the road construction trucks were off site. From the air, the road looked straight and inviting. It was a virgin stretch of tarmacadam that terminated a mile from the hospital.
Shortly after weaving around the warning barriers, I noticed the tarmacadam was radiating a heat layer into
the summer sun. Three hundred metres down the new road, I felt the car slowing down, as though I was driving in snow. It took more than a half hour to extricate myself from the furrows I had laid in the fresh road surface. I couldn’t turn around so I just ploughed forward, marking the road with six inch deep wheel marks.
Once through the road works, I stopped and tried to clean off the mess the tar had made of the car. I shouldn’t have stopped because I was late for the hospital.
And because of my off-road experience, I missed the Caesarian section that brought young Catharine into the world. I wish I was there for that moment and if I could replay the minutes leading up to my road works incursion, I would heed the signs and take the main road into the hospital.
Probably the last ten minutes where myself and my dad had a good relationship with each other and enjoyed each others company. We fell out with each other and have never made amends and things have happened so we never will.
For me it would be the last 10 minutes of climbing the Cosmiques Arete up to the Aiguille du Midi above Chamonix. It had been an amazing 3-4 hours of snow, ice and rock climbing, but my climbing partner and I were practically ecstatic by the time we reached the summit. Added to the great climbing, and the stunning views we were applauded by Japanese tourists on the Mont Blanc viewing platform when we climbed over the railings in full mountaineering gear at the finish of the route. For a few minutes we felt like celebrities.
I spent the third year of my university degree studying in a town in France, called Troyes. When I arrived I thought it was going to be easy, after all I’d studied French all the way through high school and again in university – but boy was I wrong, I could barely string together a sentence at the start of the year and it was nearly impossible to follow the rapid-paced French being flung at me.
At the start of the year we were split into 6 classes, so apart from people coming up and talking to me as ‘a foreign curiosity’ at the start of the year there were many people from the other classes that I didn’t come across again until the end of the year. A few weeks before our final exams we were taken on a day retreat to the most gorgeous little French village to give us time to relax and talk about our plans for the future. We were split in small groups and were told to note down our fears and hopes for the year ahead and then we would present them to the entire year group. When it came to presenting, my group decided to nominate me.
As with all university-aged groups, there were people in the class that were less interested in listening to the presentations as they went on, and more interested in gossiping through them! The lecturers tried to keep the group quiet, but they were struggling. I wasn’t looking forward to getting up and presenting, for even though my French was fluent at this point and my accent could even pass for a local for a brief period, I still wasn’t practiced at speaking in front of large groups and had a tendency to forget the words I was searching for…
My turn came and up I jumped. There was a small frisson of moaning in the crowd, as many of them thought I was going to struggle with my French and that this would be painful to listen to… And then the angel of fluency swept down and landed on my shoulder. Or something like that, because I began to speak with authority and confidence, the words just tripped off my tongue and something strange happened – the room fell silent as if people couldn’t believe what was happening. When I finished talking the room erupted into a massive round of applause and instead of asking questions people started standing up and complimenting me on how good my French had become – I couldn’t believe it!
It’s now 7 years since I left France and I rarely get to speak French these days, so I’ve lost the full fluency that I once had, but on days when I do need to speak French and struggle for the words I need, I just think back to that day and remember when it all went perfectly for me…
I’m a bit flummoxed being honest. It’s not so much a matter of experiencing something I’ve already been through. I don’t feel the need to. I’m not even sure that I would change anything about my life thus far – so why write this post?
I want to talk about experiences that I would like to watch my younger self go through. There are some very poignant moments that stick out in my mind and I wonder how I handled them. I would just like to be a neutral observer able to walk around freely. Some people would love to see incredible moments of history take place before their very eyes. I would like to watch a young guy try and navigate a life that strives for ideals in a cynical world that doesn’t come together the way he would like.
Have you ever heard someone say: “If I was in that situation I’d never have done that”? It’s a bit short-sighted really. During the Second World War it’s estimated that approximately 4% – 5% of the French people were active resistors and 2% – 3% were active collaborators. That leaves over 90% of people who just did nothing. People who just did nothing. It’s a particularly Irish trait to do anything except that which will have a tangible effect on their situation. Whatever a person says he/she cannot know how they will react to a situation until they are actually faced with that situation.
People react differently. People have different coping mechanisms to monumental events. I discovered mine on an autumn’s evening. I was at home alone with my three brothers. I’m the oldest. They’re my little brothers. It doesn’t matter if they become more successful than me or become richer than me or even become taller than me. They will always be my little brothers. It was my paternal grandfather who instilled this protective nature in me. I was the man of the house. It was my job to look out for my brothers and my family. He was a man who was over 6 feet tall, well built but had no problem in hugging those he loved. He always got up when a woman entered the room as a sign of a respect rather than for any foolish notion of inferiority. He was an ‘active citizen’ who was involved with sports and athletics. He was an example to follow.
When the phone rings in my house it’s essentially a battle of nerves. Among the children the winners are those who can wait the longest before cracking and rushing to answer the pervasive beckon call of modern life. On this occasion my brothers were watching TV so I answered the phone even though I was annoyed to be leaving my homework to do so. An aunt was on the phone. The Cork accent is always slightly faster and hushed when there’s bad tidings afoot. Her’s is no exception. “Steven is your father there?” “No.” “Is your mother there?” “No.” Somewhere in the world doubtless there was another boy realising he had to become a man today. “Is there any adult there?” “No.”
She proceeded to inform me that my paternal grandfather had been given a few hours to live by the doctors in the home he was convalescing in. She said it was important that my father be there as soon as possible. I told her that I’d take care of it. I put the phone down and made sure there was no change in the normal way my feet tend to run up stairs.
I went up to my room. I shut the door behind me. I lay my head on my pillow. I bawled my eyes out. I hugged the pillow close so that no-one could hear me. I can’t remember what thoughts struggled through the morass of feelings and maelstrom of emotion in my mind. I just remember getting up and picking up the phone. I had to make a couple of phone calls before I finally managed to track down Dad. He was in Galway. I had to tell my Dad over the phone that his father was dying in a hospital. The likelihood was that he’d be dead before he was able to be by his side. I then went into the front room and told my three brothers the news concerning their grandfather acting like a man of the house. I went back and finished my homework.
As it turned out my grandfather rallied and didn’t pass on for another 3 weeks. I didn’t cry beyond that time I spent like a little child mourning the loss of a man I admired and loved. Not at the removal. Not at the funeral. Not even when I was alone afterwards. It’s not so much a case that I want to experience any particular 10 minutes of my life again. But that is one of the times I would like to watch my younger self navigate the lot that life gave me.
If anyone wants to add to this leave something in the comments as anon or with your own name or blog about it and I’ll link you you from here
Fluffy Links – November 20th 2006Monday, November 20th, 2006
Via Seth: Your Name on Toast – the next Million Dollar Homepage? This one is for charity though. My main question is how do they burn the name onto the toast?
Vote via TiVo or your PC? We can’t even get e-Voting right, should Ireland just move to looking at online voting?
Biomapping. Map your feelings in a real world environment. Find areas of greatest stress and calm in your neighbourhood. Interesting idea.
Cool app for your website. Snap Preview. Allows you to see a small preview of the website being linked to without having to visit it.
Mike Murphy pranking Gay Byrne:
The Pogues and the Dubliners on the Late Late Show(Slugger O’Toole, drunk as a rule):
The Pogues – Rainy Night in Soho:
300k since June 2005Monday, November 20th, 2006
I think sometime around the end of June 2005 I started the statcounter for this blog. (See the end of the page to view the live stats.)
Sometime over this weekend the counter went over the 300k mark. I’d like to thank everyone that reads this blog and links to it and leaves comments on the blog. Thank you for years of feedback and for coming back again and again.
Below is a graph of visits to this site. Right now visits range from 200-1000 per day but the trend seems to suggest the upper point is going down slowly over time. Thanks also go to Blacknight.ie who have hosted this site for the past few years and dealt with all those lonely nerds who came to the site in their 1000s to find a girlfriend and put pressure on their servers.
A weekend of foodMonday, November 20th, 2006
Simon’s latest culinary post has motivated me to mention my weekend of food. Went to the Ivory Tower on Friday night and apart from the great company, the food was superb. This was my third time there and the first time impressed me a lot but I wasn’t so happy the second time. Third time was the charm.
Carrpachio pigeon was the surprise starter. Think serrano ham but done with a pigeon. Yeah, raw, rolled and spiced. The next course for me was Korean style bacon and cabbage. Gorgeous and really spicy. D got the duck and hedgehog starter. Yes, hedgehog. For the next course I got the miso oyster soup and then had baby Octopus for the main meal. Got a lovely fresh tropical fruit salad with a lovely lychee sorbet for desert. Whole meal was washed down with Brightwater Sauvignon blanc which the Ivory Tower gets from Bubble Brothers I would guess. They were out of sancerre. I was disappointed.
Treasa and myself went to Gusto on saturday for lunch (brekky for me). I got their Jamaican Jerk on pita. The coffee in there is better than most places in Cork. The tea is good too. Go visit if you are visiting Cork.
On Saturday I went to Rossini’s for a really good Italian meal. Service as usual in Rossini’s is dead slow. The pinot grigot in there was great and I had *cough* just a few glasses before my starter arrived. (They had messed up the damned order and I had to order it again about 30 mins after giving the order to the waiter.) I then moved on to a lovely red – Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (though the one Bubble Brothers stock is a diff vineyardI think) and had a few glasses of that with the Tris Ala Rossini dish, which is three types of pasta. The portion looked small but I was barely able to finish it. I managed the tiramisu after though. Today, all I want is more of that red wine and pasta. Possibly watching too much of the Soprano’s on dvd is making me like this.