Archive for November, 2004

Long Way Round

Some truly inspirational television ended last night with an emotionally charged final episode. For several weeks I have been keenly observing Charley Boorman and Ewan McGregor travelling 20,000 miles around planet earth on BMW 1150GS motorbikes. From London, through Europe, onto Mongolia and far eastern Russia, over to Alaska, through Canada and across the U.S. to New York.

Over the course of the life changing journey, both men (and indeed their camera man) faced great adversity travelling on road, off road, on swamp, through river, back on road, into another river and even through brush fires in Alaska.

I, like I’m sure many others, have fantasised about setting off on that very same trip; around the world on a motorbike. No throwing caution to the wind however, there has to be and thankfully was for this TV show a full support crew travelling in four wheel drive vehicles with spare fuel, tyres, a doctor and a whole selection of recording and camera equipment.

Hats off to the two lads, they’ve done something I’ll probably only ever dream of doing. They even managed to do it without complaining when times got really hard. Well, not complaining too much anyway :)

The whole thing culminated in what seemed to be a rushed final episode last night with the pair travelling across north America, each being surprised along the way by their families who were strategically housed in an area along the planned route. They also met the ever moody staff of “Orange County Choppers”, who as I’m sure all bikers will know are currently the subject of a Discovery channel fly-on-the-wall documentary.

After watching the series, I have gained tremendous respect and admiration for both Ewan and Charley. Anyone that can take on such a task and come out the other side with all four limbs and an ear to ear smile deserves an award.

“Long Way Round” official website

One last pot of tea

As I woke in my Dublin hotel room this morning and turned on my TV, I wondered if it would be a realistic idea to have my one last pot of tea and slice of toast in either one of Bewley’s cafs. I had forgotten completely about the closure of one of Dublin’s best known landmarks until it hit me smack bang in the face at 7am this morning. The caf where I spent my first few anxious minutes trying to think of something possibly intelligent to say to a girl who would later that weekend become my girlfriend is now closed. Sorry about that sentance, it’s a bit all over the place.

Bewley’s Westmoreland Street (opened first in 1896) and it’s Grafton Street sister (opened 1927) are no more and will now more than likely revert to high priced clothes shops. Countless numbers have campaigned to keep the buildings open for business but with losses of 4m, it was plainly obvious what had to happen.

I didn’t have that last pot of tea; instead I sat in Naas traffic for an hour. I can only say farewell to what became an institution for any travellers in Dublin for the day. Where are we going to get the tay and hang sandwiches now?

Original and best: Band Aid

Far be it from me to bitch and moan about a charitable effort. So I wont. Instead I’ll bitch and moan about the song it’s centered around. Band Aid 20 is the new release of the original band aid “feed the world” song, which first hit the world back in 1984. Artists such as Robbie Williams, Dido, that prat from the darkness, Sugababes and some other boy and girlband members that I really dont know the names of. What makes me groan rather alot is the ‘rap’ they chose to insert into it. I mean… RAP?

Bono, being the grumpy old git that he’s become, fought tooth and nail to hang onto his “well tonight thank God it’s them instead of youuuuuu” line. Although it’s downplayed significantly, he sings it more like a diarrhoea victim than the ol’ rocker he should be. I protest against the new song. I’m opposed! Damn damn opposed! And in the spirit of my opposition, I am allowing all the world to download, play and keep the original 1984 version of the band aid song. Not that I’m supporting piracy or anything. I will add that you all should still go out and purchase the new single. Dont listen to it, just buy it. It’s for a good cause.

Download the original and best. (You might want to right click and click save as. Mac users do what you normally do… it’ll all work out in the end)

England follows suit

It’s nice to see that the smoking ban, following it’s MASSIVE success in the republic, could soon been extended to England under controversial new plans. Could those be the same controversial plans that were put into action in Ireland? Anti-smoking groups have hopped on the plans and come out the other end looking for an outright ban whereas the pro-smoking people (which I can only assume is mostly comprised of smokers) are whinging just like they did when the Irish ban was coming into effect.

Of course Scotland has already made such moves, albeit up a step. They’re leaning toward a blanket ban. I predict border crossings between the two nations will increase ever so slightly if said blanket ban comes into effect. The BBC poses the following question;

Should smoking be banned in public places? Does the plan for England go far enough? Is the country being turned into a nanny state?

Predictably enough, it has spawned all the usual replies from Joe Public. Some of them make for slightly less than interesting reading.

Pre Christmas Rant #1

Bloody long time, no bloody update. It’s now almost half way through November. Twelve days since Halloween and another ahh shit I dunno how many till Christmas. It’s not like I’m too pushed about it anyway. Anyone that’s known me for any length of time at all will know that more than well. So, crimbo is on the way! The mad rush for all the shops to erect (there, I said it!) their displays began on the first of the month after all that Halloween crazyness was over and done with. After all, everyone knows that no self respecting shop manager should even consider displaying any kind of fishmas related paraphernalia before the scary season has come to a successful close. There were, as always, one or two exceptions to this rule. One I can think of straight off the top of my head is Woodies; they had one solitary stand of santa dolls rudely thrown into the middle of their Cork outlet in September. I mean September! That’s just nuts. Its true what the biddies say, “It’s getting earlier every year!”

Read the rest

If only more applied some of it…

in tel li gence (n-tl-jns)

n.

1. The capacity to acquire and apply knowledge, especially toward a purposeful goal.
2. An individual’s relative standing on two quantitative indices, namely measured intelligence, as expressed by an intelligence quotient, and effectiveness of adaptive behavior.

Some have it, some dont. Others have it but ignore it at crucial times.

100% Irish Beef

Ahh alas the phrase that donned every eatery from Donegal to Dingle has now taken on a different meaning; to me at least. During the mad cow disease outbreak in the UK a few years ago every restaurant, bar, cafe and takeaway in Ireland assured us that the dead cow portions they were serving were 100% Irish. Some went even further, announcing that their beef can be traced right back to the farm it came from. That kept us all happy for a while.

Happy indeed munching down steaks, burgers and other cow related munchies until the news broke that a case of variant CJD, the human form of mad cow disease, has appeared in an Irish hospital. The first totally Irish case of vCJD too I might add. The patient, who isn’t going to be named by the media apparently, hasn’t given or received blood. That means only one thing, he must have ingested infected beef.

In some effort to stop the meat eating public from completely freaking out and turning vegetarian, it’s been pointed out that recent cow products (after 1996 to be more accurate) are ‘perfectly safe’. That means Mr. Unluckly vCJD victim must have eaten something pumped full of steroids, hormones and seemingly quite mad prior to the 1996 cleanup. With an incubation period of anything from 10 to 15 years, it kinda makes one wonder; how many more of us have vCJD? I guess if by the end of 2011 I’m still alive and healthy, I can presume I don’t have it. Like many others, I think I’ll be following the paranoid masses and staying temporarily away from beef… Just for the moment anyway. It’s not like I’m going vegan or anything.

A couple of related links from major news sources

RTE – Irish beef controls adequate says Ahern
UTV – What is vCJD?

Bush back in power

Well, to be frank, that’s us fucked for another four years! George Dubya has been re-elected for another term in the white house after John Kerry threw in the towel earlier this evening. It was an election ‘too close to call’ for the past few weeks as both candidates campaigned furiously and brought out the secret weapons; ex-president Bill Clinton, Bruce Springsteen, Arnold Schwarzengger (spelling anyone?) to name a few.

Kerry may have been an indecisive and even hypocritical possibility for president, but as far as I and millions more were concerned he was certainly the lesser of two evils. If he turned out to be another Mussolini he would have still been the lesser.

What will the next four years bring? With Bush now having even more power than he did in his first term, how worried should we be? Will the next few months see “The War on Terror” jump into overdrive? One can only presume that once he is satisfied that he has killed enough innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan where will he focus his deranged and misguided efforts to? Northern Ireland? China? Should ETA be quaking in their boots? Once he has the oil his family are so crazed in their demand for, will he mysteriously stop looking for Osama Bin Laden? Shur he’s in for another 4 now, he doesn’t need Bin Ladens help anymore.. Well, until 2008 anyway!

How long is it going to take him to appoint some supreme court judges that lean so far to the left that they have trouble standing up when they get out of bed in the morning? Will homosexuals still have rights in Mr. Bush’s religious democracy? A man that was elected primarily due to religion. I have to wonder, will us praying to the same God that he does actually help us over the coming years?

This really is insanity to the highest degree. I hope all the people out there that voted for Bush live to regret their decision. I, like I imagine many others do at the moment, fear for the safety of the world.

The last stand of sanity

Vote John Kerry. You know it makes sense! (Unless of course you’re one of ‘those’ people)