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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Eric Shatner's LiveJournal:

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Saturday, February 5th, 2011
4:34 am
Long article is long (but really, really interesting)

http://www.vanityfair.com/business/features/2011/03/michael-lewis-ireland-201103

An outsiders view of the situation we are in now. Obviously some of his sources are dodgy, but it makes for a very interesting read.
Thursday, December 23rd, 2010
2:26 pm
I Love Christmas
It's snowing. My tree is up. And I am listening to a Boney M Christmas album.

I'm sorting presents before bringing them home to my mothers.

I love this time of year.
Tuesday, December 21st, 2010
4:16 am
Epic Journey Commences
Got the standby flight so heading to Heathrow in a few minutes. I'll try and keep this updated as I progress.

Edit: Landed safely in Heathrow, to find flights to Dublin cancelled. Happily now on board a Virgin train to Bangor, North Wales, presuming that I'll be able to make it to Holyhead from there, to a prebooked Ferry at 2:40 am.... Total costs of misadventure are now running at about €180. Travel insurance will pick up the tab for atleast some of this (and they have already very kindly sent me a claim form). I also presume that I will be able to get a refund for the LHR -> DUB element of my trip. So apart for a continually increasing sleep deficit all is good. Oh, and I also picked up a young female sidekick from Kerry as a travelling partner :).

Further Edit: Virgin Trains get serious kudos as upon seeing us all standing in the snow on the platform in Bangor, they reboarded us and are taking us straight to Holyhead. Now for a 6 hr wait in Holyhead. Atleast there will be food (which it didn't look like there was in Bangor station)

Final Edit: I am home. The sidekick was also safely delivered to Heuston for her train to the interior. Snow, heavy cases and missing buses make for interesting adventures at Dublin Port. It was also heart warming to eventually get a taxi and know the taxi driver from the local Rathmines rank.
Monday, December 20th, 2010
10:08 pm
Vancouverbound
As in bound to Vancouver. My flights via LHR were cancelled yesterday, and so I patiently rang the number I was supposed to, waited over and hour and got the least helpful person in the universe on the phone, who took my number and suggested that I would be put on a list... And that was it. So, I got off the phone, booked the hotel I was in for another night (sans free internet, grrr..), and mailed my mother, my travel insurance, my physiotherapist and my local Canuck friends apprising everyone of the situation. But I was stressed. Real stressed. I do not like uncertainty at the best of times, and because of my current situation vis a vis career etc I am already suffering some background macro stress. So today, in search of certainty I have come to the airport and hounded a very nice Air Canada woman who has put me on standby for tonights flight. I am hopeful but not really expecting to get on this flight. I have another flight booked for Christmas day via Calgary & London, so hopefully things will be less bad by then. Sure we'll see.

Anyway there ya go, if anyone is wondering where I am, you now know as much as I do :)

Hopefully see ye soon and have a good christmas!
Wednesday, December 8th, 2010
9:08 am
Lime Juice Query
Does anyone know if it is possible to buy Lime Juice in supermarkets at home? You know, something similar to Jif Lemon except with limes?
3:57 am
Homeward Bound
Well, mostly...

I have started my trip back, with flights from Invercargill to Wellington and then Wellington to Auckland. Invercargill is 46.41°S, 168.37°E and that is likely as far as I will ever get from Dublin (53.33°N, 6.25°W). I will have travelled nearly 26,000 miles by air, and several hundred on the ground by the time I get back, enough that for next year, Air Canada will consider me a Prestige client!

New Zealand has been mildly interesting. It is primarily a geologists dream, with an incredibly rugged and active terrain, being both a fugitive land mass from Gowondaland, earths primordial great continent, and on the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area circling the Pacific tectonic plate that has regular earthquakes, volcanoes and other upheavals in the earths crust.

Of note, because there were no mammals here until recent history, the birds evolved to fill many of the niches left available, but this is not something that is apparent on the main islands anymore, as mammals (including humans) have run rampant. There are indeed many, many sheep too. And that's largely it.

It's sunny and it's christmas. There are maoris and pacific islanders. Oh, and it is expensive. Your average paperback novel here is about NZ$19, circa €12. Internet access here is sold in portions of 100MBs (at around €6 each). The best package I saw for mobile broadband was for 4GB for about €48, which compares against 15GB for €15 at home. A copy of Settlers will cost you between €55 and €65!

My soul just won't catch on the firmament down here. I have been in places that would normally ellicit a surge in emotion, but for whatever reason it's just not doin' it for me. I think it is atleast partly linked to the fact that I have found it difficult to find like minded New Zealanders down here to talk to. I have been mainly engaging with other Irish people, or the occasional shopkeep that I corner. My attempts to find board gamers or non magic players have all met with failure. (Magic is huge down here, there are shops that sell almost nothing else)

I would come back, for love or money, but I don't think I'd come back for anything else.

I will be returning home at a leisurely pace, unfortunately missing some of the christmas festivities, but I will be back in time for the day itself.
Wednesday, December 1st, 2010
9:59 pm
Backbenchers
Just watching some daytime TV here in NZ. OMG.

There is a quiz show where 4 back bench MPs are quized on news items of the day... They didn't do that well, and were particularly rubbish at questions that had anything to do with international news. Seems to be aimed mostly at students. Looks like it was recorded in a pub... Awesome idea.
Friday, November 26th, 2010
6:58 am
Commercialism
Wow. I thought I had seen commercialism in Hawai'i when I had watched TV ads and gone to a local mall. Not even close.

Tonight I decided to walk around the outside of Waikiki along the canal as far as the zoo, and then came back thru the heart of the tourist area. The streets were thronged. And the stores were all (and I mean absolutely all) of the big name luxury brand stores, from the obvious like Ralph Lauren, Gucci & Louis Vuitton to the relatively obscure like a Ferrari shop. Interspersed were galleries, 5 star hotels and restaurants. All I can say is that to support all of these the amount of money spent here must be in the billions (and indeed wikipedia backs me up on this, $10bil in 2006, so I'd guess atleast $12bil now).

I feel poor.
Wednesday, November 24th, 2010
10:21 pm
Hawai'i
Aloha!

For those of you that don't know, I am currently in Hawai'i.

It's an interesting part of the world. Obviously VERY touristy, which isn't my bag really, and also consistently hot, also not really my bag, and yet I do like it here. My survival requires only thinking about going out in the early hours of the morning (for dawn) and in the evenings, starting pre sunset, and this means I now fully understand siestas.

One of the very interesting things is that it is Thanksgiving tomorrow, and the holiday period is in full swing. Tomorrow I will be having a classic thanksgiving dinner courtesy of one of the local eateries depending on how fancy I want to be. Xmas music is in full swing in the shopping centres (though much to my inconvenience many shops don't open 'til 9:30am, which is useless to me wandering around at 7:30 am!). And it doesn't sound weird. Mainly because it stays in the style of the pretty constant backdrop of female singing that you find everywhere in Waikiki (where most of the hotels are). In fact , in style, it reminds me of Disneyland, you know with that constant soundtrack, trying to create the idyllic moment. The ads on TV are for stores opening at 3am and 5am (Walmart is open all night and all through thanksgiving), and with 19" LCD TVs for $99 etc.

I may have mentioned my dislike for Whistler, a rocky mountain ski resort near Vancouver, and of course it would be fair to point out that I knew in advance that Hawai'i was also a resort, and that I should have expected to dislike it. But the reality of it is that they are 2 very different beasts, and that is why I like Hawai'i (or at least Oahu) quite a bit. Because there is such enormous US style commercialism here, it requires an enormous workforce, and an enormous workforce means that real people doing their everyday job live here too in great numbers, and this means there is real culture here underneath some of the over emphasised polynesian culture. (Not that that isn't cool, but it feels like theatre mostly).

Not that I have a good overview of real hawaiian culture or anything, I just am not going to be here long enough nor will I be able to interact with enough different people. And Hawai'i includes 6 other large islands that I am not going to visit on this trip.

That's it really. I had no real point to make. I like it here despite the weather, and the resort nature of things. I imagine that people who were more into either of these things would love it.

Other asides... The number of men in ads here is spectacularly low. It's gotta be atleast 80% women, mostly young, hot and not wearing very much. I also notice a startling lack of car ads on the TV (which makes some sense I guess), though the biggest shopping centre I have been to was invisible from every road because it is completely surrounded by an enormous parkade. And I had Hostess Twinkies yesterday, just in case there is a zombie apocalypse I won't be able to find any...
Friday, November 19th, 2010
1:04 am
From bastun_ie

The Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen authors (poets and comic book authors can be included) who've influenced you and who will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag everyone, because I'm interested in seeing what authors my friends choose.

(In rough chronological order)
Captain WE Johns
Monica Hughes
Isaac Asimov
Mario Puzo
Orson Scott Card
Terry Pratchett
Julian May
Keith Giffen & JM DeMatteis
Mark Waid
Iain M Banks
CJ Cherryh
George RR Martin
Pat Ingoldsby
Ursula K LeGuin

Sunday, May 9th, 2010
6:39 pm
Small Proprietor Operated Businesses

I left breakfast quite late yesterday. Some might say very late. 4:15pm. And of course the place I wanted breakfast was closed. 15 minutes closed. But this is Canada, and this place is owned by a woman who has worked there every day, "except 3 or 4 days at christmas", for the last 13 years. She spotted me outside, and insisted on getting me what I wanted. She even remembered what I had ordered the last time I was there, 6 months ago.

Of course I don't expect this level of service, ever really. But it is the kind of thing that owner operated businesses are more capable of. I remember plenty of times keeping my shop open for customers too.

I would prefer a world with more of these types of businesses. A world that encourages self employment, and discourages takeovers, buyouts & mergers. A world where everyone has a chance to be their own man, and yet no one gets to be so far removed from their employees so as to become The Man.
 
For the record the business in question, which I would highly recommend is:
Lucky 88 Cafe
On the corner of Davie & Howe
In downtown Vancouver.

They make excellent breakfast from 7:30am to 4pm daily.
 


Saturday, May 8th, 2010
10:25 pm
Some thoughts and adventures...


Reading

I have been making an effort to read more, but today I am between books and as a result not 'into' reading, so I have been wandering about the place actually looking around rather than sitting with my nose in a book, and I realised that I missed being the silent observer. Not that I have not enjoyed the reading, or felt mildly accomplished because of it, but I like to look out the window or watch my fellow passengers or fellow coffee shop patrons. In many ways reality is far more interesting than fiction, even the most mundane sort of reality.


Adventure!

Yesterday I drove. A boat. It was pretty awesome. There is a stretch of water called the Indian Arm that runs in an L shape away from Vancouver up to the north east. For the last 2 years it has bothered me that I have not seen this part of the world. There are no roads, and the shape of it precludes a good view of it without taking to the water. So yesterday we did just that, rented a motorboat, and set off. I was largely happy to let Darcy drive, but at the furthest point up the inlet we had a mini adventure. We came across 4 dudes in a yacht that had lost power. Thoughts of drug runners and hidden guns came to mind as we approached the stricken vessel. But it was just some rich thirty something dudes out for an afternoon. Luckily they were close enough to a dock that it wasn't the most epic thing in the world to tow them to safety. However it required that Darcy take the time to do knot work and look after ropes, so I had to drive the boat. I think I mentioned previously that it was awesome. I was reasonably good at it too, safely bringing our boat and the yacht into dock. Of course then I wasn't giving up the driving seat, so I drove us most of the way back to Vancouver. A very enjoyable experience, and replete with further insights into rural British Columbia... more on ruralness later as on Monday I head off to the Okanagan, a wine growing area, further north and east.
 


Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
9:11 pm
I am in Canuck Land
Yes, indeed I am.

Yesterday I travelled about 500km through southern British Columbia, up mountains and along valleys. I got some great pictures. I saw frozen lakes, a BC Hydro Dam under maintenance, Lilloet, Penderton, Suzzum (all small rural towns/villages). I also went to Whistler again which was actually the main point of the journey. I was trying to give it another chance. We arrived, put $6 in the meter for 2 hours parking, and left bored out of our skulls after 40mins. It really is that dull. Ah well. (Though the Ice Cream was really, really good)

On the plane on the way over I watched The Men Who Stare At Goats. It was interesting. Funny, in a silly way. I also watched Up in the Air, which was excellent. Will definitely watch it again. And then I watched Sherlock Holmes. I fell asleep (which was useful anyway).

For breakfast I have been going to a local De Dutch (pancake restaurant), and getting a Denver Omelette. It's a omelette with peppers, bacon & onions in it. You also get Raisin toast, hash browns and salad. Yesterday, apart from a packet of crisps, I ate nothing else for 24hrs.

Still haven't been into Vancouver itself yet. I am probably going to spend every night in North Vancouver (just the way the Hotels are working out, but it's definitely not a bad thing). Going to wander over to the Aquarium now, in Stanley Park over the Lions Gate Bridge.

Need to find a second hand bookshop soon. I am actually getting reading done!

Gav
Monday, February 15th, 2010
10:49 pm
Comics Love

I know some people on my friends list will like this...

http://www.toplessrobot.com/2010/02/the_10_best_couples_in_comics.php


Sunday, November 8th, 2009
2:44 am
This Seasons TV
Just a few quick notes in case anyone is thinking of watching various new series.

Stargate : Universe is one of the best series I've seen in a while. Very dark. Robert Carlyle is excellent. The tension onboard the Destiny is palpable. Its not flawess, its constrained by TV running times and predictably the heroes have to get away, though there is a bodycount and I am always hopeful that that will increase.

V is pretty mediocre. Again probably not helped by the 41minute format. Morena Baccarin is hot though, and that helps. There has only been 1 episode so far, so maybe it will improve (it probably won't though, it just has that feel...) (there are actually posters in the bus shelters for this in Canada... V. CTV. 8 Tuesday..).

I haven't seen enough of the new season of Dollhouse yet to say if its an improvement over the first season though it shows signs of being. Its probably too late anyway. Its ratings in the US have been terrible so it might live out the season based on the fact that it is in a bad slot (friday night) and there is probably hope of strong DVD sales (a la Firefly), but I would guess that it will be gone then. Time will tell.

Conversely Flash Forward is the telefantasy ratings hit of this season. However it shares alot of resemblances with the first season of heroes in terms of a few dull characters and a meandering storyline. The premise is good and from time to time the execution is good, but overall I am bored already. This is one that it might just be worth reading a synopsis of.

That's all for now...
Friday, November 6th, 2009
1:06 am
Life is good...
I'm drunk. In Canada. Listening to The Bourne Supremacy soundtrack (for the first time in weeks). Riding the stupidly awesome, frequent and fast public transport system in Vancouver.  Can you imagine how all of these facts are coming together to release the greatest buzz since Mr. Lightyear?

Ok, I'm cheating a little. I'm back at the hotel as I type this. The hotel in question is a cool 50's, redecorated in the 80's, ex 5 star hotel with vaulting marble columns, reduced to 3.5 stars through lack of modernity, and costing me just over €50/night... Its in a really interesting part of town to boot, down on Denman, the restaurant district, and only a few blocks from Stanley Park, a huge city park 12km in circumference, all coastal walk...

Life is good....

:)

Current Mood: giddy
Sunday, September 20th, 2009
12:27 pm
K2-mas
I've just realised that it is closer to the next K2 than it is to the last one... Woot!

Current Mood: cheerful
Tuesday, June 9th, 2009
4:08 pm
Phoneless
I am currently phoneless in Dublin. :(

I imagine service will resume in a few days...
Friday, June 5th, 2009
3:24 pm
Satisfaction
Voting makes me feel good.

That is all.
Thursday, May 14th, 2009
12:59 pm
Mint


When I was growing up, my parents grew mint in the garden. This was used occasionally for making mint sauce for lamb and such like. Then down in the sweet shop there were Polo mints and XXX mints etc, and these tasted very different to what we refered to as 'mint' in the garden. There were also 'spearmint' varites of Polo mints and other sweet mint varietes. Later in life I discovered mint tea, but one mans mint was another mans spearmint or peppermint it seemed. So some investigation was in order.

 Peppermint (mentha x piperita) , probably the most widely available mint in "mint tea", is actually a hybrid of spearmint (Mentha Spicata) and watermint (Mentha Aquatica).

Spearmint seems to be what was growing in my garden all those years ago, the spear in the name coming from its pointy leaves. However spearmint seems to have some wide range of flavours depending on its cultivation. The mint I like these days and most closely recalls the mint from the family garden is called Moroccan Mint. From what I can gather it is actually a cultivation of spearmint called 'Nana'.

Minty taste comes from an oil called R-carvone, present to a greater or lesser degree in different varieties and cultivation of mints.

There are currently recognised 25 pure species of mint and 6 hybrids (of which peppermint is one).

There you go... Wasn't that interesting? :)

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