Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

That Media Training thing – August 6th in Dublin

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

This media training for startups I mentioned will take place in Dublin on August 6th. City centre venue will be announced soon. I’ve emailed everyone that put their names down for it and the response rate has been quite low. Perhaps it got thrown into the spam folder? 🙂 If you didn’t get my email about it, let me know.

There may be upcoming sessions for those that want the legal basics for starting a company and if enough tech companies attend, specifics for tech companies might be covered. Anyone interested in a legal bootcamp for startups? It won’t be done by me, obviously.


Sunday, March 9th, 2008

Blogging is going to be pretty slow the next week as I take some time off and disconnect from the digital world and maybe try and read a book like those normal folk do. I’m hoping to start and finish Twenty Major’s book too. Everyone should buy it and get a blogger to number 1 in the charts. See you all in a while.

On why Fine Gael as a party can go fuck themselves

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

There are two members of Fine Gael in UL who have been harassing me, stalking me and as a result damaging my health with their antics. Fine Gael and particularly Simon Coveney’s people have been contacting me about their broadband campaigning and seeking help and today they got told where they can go since their party is breeding these type of people. I am very fucking hostile to Fine Gael over this and that will not change.

It seems that two members in particular have nothing better to do with their time than stalk and harass me online. Whether it be suggesting they are going to get me done under incitement to hatred laws or whether it is emailing the Marian Finucane show and probably other shows and trying to stop them from having me on the air or going through the list of nominees at the Blog Awards and contacting them and telling them they are not entitled to be nominated. Any time anyone mentions me online it seems these people come along and leave comments about me or spinelessly infer things about me. One of them hasn’t got the balls to sign his own name. It’s gotten to the stage where I have had to mark my Twitter account as private as these two people are watching every word I type and logging it and using it to try and damage my character and cause further emotional stress. Completely excessive and obsessive. I no longer feel comfortable or safe being transparent about my work or my travel details because of these two people and I worry for my safety with this obsesssiveness.

But it’s not ending there. I will be seeking legal advice, I will be contacting the employer of one of them, I’ll be conacting UL and I will decide quite soon on whether to call the Gardai on this. Nobody should have to put up with this shit. I’m sure this blog post is giving them the attention they are desperately craving but it’s reality check for those that think blogging is all niceness and full of genuine people.

Note: If I’m contacted either via the comments here or privately by a member of FG in UL, I will consider that a furtherance to their attacks on me and I will in turn act accordingly.

A post that’s been in draft for about 2 months…

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Yesterday, after I finished up at the brilliant (they’re reading my blog now) UCC Journo soc conference, I told my family what I’ve known since December 23rd but didn’t want to tell them until all the test results were back. (I got them just before the conference started) It seems the hiccups with my health, the numbness and pins and needles on my left side and headaches were as a result of a Multiple Sclerosis attack that I got in late November and which went rather crazy during the Paddy’s Valley tour. There’s a strong to good chance that I may not get another attack and the rest of my life will be fine and I can still cause as much trouble as I normally do. It’s a relief in a way to tell them as it was hard keeping something like this from them but I didn’t want to spoil their Christmas when they had about 85% confirmation and then have them pray for two months for that 15% to prove the world wrong and then have their hopes wrecked when the final confirmation came in. That would have meant twice the shock really.

I have a very good neurologist and the staff of the Mercy hospital have been nothing but fantastic. I’m fine, I just have to not do so much and watch out for wearing myself down.

Mmm. Tasty brains.
Photo owned by Shiny Things (cc)

I got advice from the specialist and some other friends who know MS first hand about considering avoiding telling people about it because the minute some people think of MS they picture you as ending up in a wheelchair or you are somehow less of a person. I’m not the expert in this but there are many variations of MS that go anywhere from nothing to a single attack ever, to it coming back again to the really strong one but as usual the wheelchair being the most dramatic is the one that sticks. Being honest if I was told someone got MS I’d have been ignorant and thought they’d be in a wheelchair within years. I do think it is a risk in telling people as people have their own ideas on things but I think I’ll wager that risk.

In an odd way I’d feel dishonest if I didn’t inform people via this blog since I already blogged about my health issues here, so I’ve started down the disclosure road, I won’t turn back and I’ve received so much private feedback from people that an update was required to let you all know. Now that’s just me and I over-share anyway, I certainly don’t think people should disclose whatever they have, be it MS to those rashes that that blonde girl gave you. It is still a private matter for most.

This is meandering. I don’t want to spend too much time going on about MS on this blog and I don’t see myself as now being an advocate for any group because of the test results. Any yes I’m fine. No need to email me. Or ring. Yes, I was a little scared and upset when I got the first wave of news but I’m fine now. Marking this post as personal too. February is afterall the month where I write that yearly personal post.

So, I did say Fuck You to 2007, I don’t think I’ll be saying the same to 2008. So far, even with this news, 2008 has been good.

So there, no sympathy or any of that fuss please. Although if you want to buy me a pony…

Book week: Interview with Fiona from The Waiting Game

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Fiona McPhillips blogs over at The Waiting Game and has a book out in March about fertility issues. The book is called: Trying To Conceive. Fiona will be one of the people on the panel discussing blogging and writing a book on the afternoon of the Blog Awards. She was kind enough to answer some questions I sent to her. As well as being nominated for the Blog Awards, her blog has been shortlisted for the Digital Media Awards on February 7th. Best of luck to her. (Transparency: I’m judge for the DMAs)

Tell me a little bit about The Waiting Game, why did you start the blog? I sometimes blog as I find it thereaputic and sometimes I feel I have to blog to get the word out about something, almost like I have duty to inform people. Do you feel the same?

I started the blog after I had my first miscarriage in September 2005. I called it the Two Week Wait because that’s how long I thought it would last. The “two week wait” refers to the time between ovulation and when you can test for pregnancy. It can be a very long two weeks and your mind can go into overdrive imagining pregnancy symptoms. If you google “two week wait symptoms”, you get hundreds of thousands of pages of women discussing symptoms and potential symptoms and trying to work out if they are pregnant. The idea behind the blog was that I would document my two week waits for a couple of months until I became pregnant again and then someone else could take over and so on until we could build up a good resource of bona fide two week wait symptoms for others to obsess over.

Well, two weeks came and went, and another two and another two and before I knew it I had unwittingly documented the slow descent into infertility. Most infertility bloggers start out at this point but mine begins in a much more hopeful place and slowly slips into despair.

I didn’t tell anyone in real life about it for a long time. I mentioned it on parenting and infertility boards and that’s where most of my traffic came from at the start. Then I started reading other infertility blogs and we swapped links. There’s a great network of support around the world and some brilliant writers in infertility blogland. It’s not a subject that people ramble about indiscriminately and I think that most bloggers tend to choose their words carefully, which usually makes for interesting reading. And of course there’s the soap opera element of month in month out fertility treatments, doomed pregnancies and fraught personal relationships with the outside world. The lack of understanding of the fertile world is often something that is turned into comedy by bloggers and, despite the difficult subject matter, infertility blogs make me laugh out loud a lot of the time.

When I got nominated for the Irish Blog Awards last year, I started to mention my blog to close family and friends. I was also going through an IVF cycle at the time and realised it would be easier to explain myself in writing than face to face most of the time. It really has worked. Most of the time when you try to explain how you feel, the reaction is something along the lines of “Oh, it can’t be that bad, you can’t possibly feel that bad”. Followed inevitably by “You seem very stressed, maybe you just need to relax”. Stress does not cause infertility any more than it causes diabetes or myopia. That is because it is a medical condition that needs to be treated or cured. But popular opinion tends to believe otherwise. As does the media. So you tend to get a torrent of advice (or assvice as bloggers prefer) every time you mention the subject. Writing a blog means that you can say exactly what you want to say without the fear of assvice. And when you say it often enough and consistently enough, it starts to sink in. I get considerably less assvice today than I did a year or two years ago. Maybe people still think I need to relax/get over myself/move on/be thankful for what I’ve got but they no longer say it to my face so that’s good enough for me!

Blogging is also useful for answering the Sunday supplement type reports on infertility and miscarriage that raise their ugly heads periodically. Whenever such a lifestyle piece is published, you can be guaranteed that come Monday morning, you will get several emails telling you the good news that going on a cruise or drinking red wine or playing tennis will indeed help you conceive. Infertility is not taken seriously as an illness in the media and a blog is a useful outlet to answer back with scientific facts when necessary. I have a reasonable readership (400-800 hits per day depending on where the soap opera is at) so I hope that someone somewhere is persuaded every now and then. I get a lot of googlers, often asking the specific question I am addressing, i.e. “does swimming cause miscarriage?”, so I hope I can be of some help to them too.

I find your blog a tough read at times, there’s so much to deal with. What kind of reaction do you get from friends, family and strangers?

I generally get a really positive reaction from people that mention that they read it. They are usually very sympathetic and supportive and nearly always mention that they had no idea how difficult infertility/IVF/miscarriage can be. That is the most satisfying part of writing the blog, that I have managed to get the word out about what one in six couples goes through. I think that’s one of the ways in which blogging is truly revolutionary – the fact that you can now get a first-hand insight into how certain events and situations affect people’s lives. It’s a job that was previously left up to authors, playwrights and scriptwriters and that usually meant compressing the information into a specific format. Now people can read about almost any issue, no matter how difficult or personal, as it happens and in whatever format or style the author wishes.

On a personal level, it means that I don’t have to explain myself all the time. If we are going through a particularly difficult time, then friends and family can have a look at the blog and decide for themselves if it is a good time to call. I think it has helped them deal with me and vice versa.

How big an issue is fertility in this country and in the developed world as a whole? Is it one of the many unseen, yet common issues of modern times?

It affects one in six couples and this figure is rising all the time. Everybody knows somebody who is going through it, whether they know it or not. Some people prefer to keep quiet about it, others try to talk about it but whether or not they are open, everyone comes up against the cruel, thoughtless comments that are bandied about on a daily basis. “Maybe you weren’t meant to have children”, “You’re so lucky you don’t have kids, mine are a nightmare”, “Why don’t you just adopt, then you’ll get pregnant”, “It’s because you drink wine/drink coffee/exercise/don’t exercise/work too hard/obsess too much/live in the city/are too fat/are too thin/don’t eat meat/eat red meat/don’t eat fish/need to relax that you haven’t conceived yet”. You really have to have an answer for every thoughtless comment and after a while, you gather quite a portfolio.

The bottom line is that it is a very, very common medical complication and it is rarely spoken about very misunderstood by the fertile world. It’s bad enough that you have to watch your friends and family have so easily what you would literally give your right arm for, without having those same people betray their lack of understanding with an insensitive comment. You’d think, if most people know how much joy a child can bring, that they would understand how much pain not being able to conceive or carry a child might bring, but no. There needs to be a lot more discussion about how stressful it is (studies have shown infertility patients to have stress levels equalled only by cancer and AIDS patients) and how family and friends can support those suffering.

So the book. How did that come about? Did you consider writing a book for a while? What else is there out there in this area?

I thought about writing it when we had been trying for about a year (I thought I knew it all then – ha!). Then I got pregnant by IUI and everything seemed to be going well and the book fell on my list of priorities. When I miscarried again at three months I thought, right, I’m going to make something good come of this mess and so started to write a proposal. That was October 2006. About two months later, I sent the proposal to four publishers and two got back to me straight away. I spoke to both of them for a couple of months and eventually signed a contract with Liberties Press in March 2007.

The book is called Trying To Conceive. It’s a guidebook that takes couples through every step of the process, from the heady early days right through to IVF and beyond. It’s not autobiographical but I do offer a lot of insight into all the processes and suggest coping mechanisms for everything that infertility can throw at you. Coping with infertility involves about 10% of going through the motions of treatment and 90% of dealing with the emotional side of it, something that is not discussed much in other books or in society in general. There is nothing else out there like it, and nothing at all written from an Irish perspective.

I didn’t get the book deal because I have a blog but it certainly helped to have an existing profile, an audience and a substantial body of work. It is also a useful means of publicising and verifying my status as someone who has been there, done that.

What’s the work ethic for a book? Make a plan, do it, chapter by chapter or gather all data and then sort it all out?

I got some great advice from a friend who was about a year ahead of me in the non-fiction writing process. She had done a huge amount of preparation before sending in a proposal and suggested I do the same. I already had most of my data in my head so I did some market research, wrote detailed chapter plans and a substantial amount of background information, which all went into the proposal. I also wrote one complete chapter. When the time came to write the rest of the book, I didn’t deviate much from the original chapter plans. There was a certain amount of research to be done as I wrote but the main story didn’t change much.

How long have you been working on this?

Almost a year in total.

When do we get to see the fruits of all this effort? Has it been worth it, do you think?

It is due out at the end of March. It has definitely been worth it and I hope it’s going to help lots of people. At the very least, I hope it sparks some debate about infertility in this country.

Do you know how it will be marketed and promoted, will you be actively doing so?

I’m hoping to do lots of media when it comes out. It’s such an emotive topic and it’s rarely out of the limelight for long so I think there will be plenty of people willing to talk about it.

What’s next after this?

Well, I’m hoping to have a baby in May!

Fuck you 2007

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

2007 has not been a nice year for me. It took me months to recover after I got my heart broken. I really didn’t think I’d be so fucked up and depressed for so long. But I was. Then I had bouts of nasty chest infections throughout the year. In the same year I’ve had a lot of serious issues with my day job. And then there’s the cause of the numbness and pins and needles. I was on a blog and email holiday the past few days but being fully transparent the reason for it was that I was admitted into hospital on Wednesday. After x-rays, CT scans, MRIs and a lumbar puncture (yes they fucking hurt) they’ve discovered I have two inflamations inside my brain causing my left side to go numb and go all pins and needles-like. It will be another two weeks before they can confirm what it is that I might have but for now I’m to take solace that I don’t have an aneurysm, a tumour, HIV (they tested me due to my “lifestyle”, how nice), meningitis or the usual viruses that infect the brain.

Still, some highs in 2007 were being asked to write for the Tribune, running the blog awards, managing to get into 3rd year law by the skin of my teeth after an appeal, having a deus ex machina come in and wake me the fuck up around the end of July 🙂 and losing 30lbs in the past few months when I started to watch my diet and take care of myself. Paddy’s Valley was a cherry on top of the good aspects of the year. Overall though 2007 has been one of the suckiest years ever. Glad to see it gone. Fuck you 2007, roll on 2008.

Pause the fan mail

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Damien is away for a few days and won’t be checking his emails or updating his blog. The question is though, if you had access to a top blogger’s little corner of the internet and could play around with it in his absence what would you do?

The author of this post might even be open to bribes…

I’m back but so is

Monday, December 10th, 2007

This. Left side all pins and needles and numbness. Hmm.

A bit behind

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

I’m way behind on everything since last week. I’ve unanswered emails from last week, blog posts still in draft, an article to write for ENN, interviews to answer and more. Early last week I picked up some virus, or at least we think it’s a virus. It started with ringing ears on Wednesday and on Thursday I got pins and needles in my left hand and foot. This spread to my whole left side on Thursday and Friday and a nasty headache kicked in too. My concentration was wiped and I could barely answer a text message. By Sunday my whole left side was numb so I thought it time to see a doctor. Went to Southdoc and they told me not to worry, it wasn’t an aneurysm or anything so see my own GP come Monday. 60 quid for that. Cheers. Well it seems to have been a viral thing, which can’t be treated. As of today most of the numbness is gone and my concentration levels are going back up. Proper two-post-a-day blogging may resume shortly, once I sort out all the emails and other stuff.

Tribune Business Editor fired for … quoting a blogger?

Monday, November 5th, 2007

Richard Delevan is no longer Business Editor of the Sunday Tribune after being fired this morning. Rumours were going around today that staff in le Trib were told he was kicked out. Allegedly he was told sling his er hook over an an article he wrote about an auctioneer who couldn’t sell his own gaff. It’s all the fault of A Randow Walk. 🙂 (The post I linked to is gone now. Ooops) Also mentioned on Property Pin. (Being clear, I’m not actually blaming A Random Walk or Property Pin, I was being sarcy.)

Of course I’m biased on this. Richard gave me a job in the Tribune in January this year doing what I do on this blog, writing about things that interest me. I’ve never enjoyed myself more. Easiest person I’ve ever worked for and he’s encouraged me so much and helped me improve how I write about things. It’s a shame I won’t be working with him as much because everytime we chat I’m more enthusiastic than ever about technology. At least he can go back to writing his blog and book.