Friday 5 October 2012

Old posts

Was just looking through my drafts folder there, wow there are a lot of half baked memories with cobwebs on. Like when I went for

Saturday (I think the 5th March 2011):
Skype morning with Steve, Rory etc. (while they were in New Zealand!)
1:30pm dart to Odette's,
hung out,
watched Dark Knight
set mouse traps.. emptied a mouse trap.

Came back from Odette's on a dart at 9am after leaving her off to work.
Apt was empty, cleaned my room a bit but wasn't arsed to wash the windows like I planned. Met Kevin and helped in the market, arranged a games night with Fern & Sean for 7pm. Helped Kev and Silke pack away the cheese from the market at 5pm and went back to the apt with Kev, by 6:30 I was wrecked, wanted to crash out and sleep. Josh texted me then asking to call him ASAP about a crane in danger on Wood Quay.
This crane in danger turned out to be a cormorant which wasn't able to fly running back and forth on the road. Luckily I'd brought a really big fabric shopping bag, a beach towel and some water for the "crane in danger". After some running around we ran at it in a pincer move and I caught it under the towel (after it gave Josh a nasty bite on the arm through his jumper).
Just then, perfectly timed with me kneeling with a massive bird under a towel on the side of a major road the Gardai turned up (apparently a passing car had phoned in earlier about the bird). They said they couldn't do anything for us, no cages available in the station and their dispatcher said they couldn't give us a lift to what we had then found out was the only open vets (thanks to our mother who Josh was on the phone to after I nabbed the cormorant), UCD Veterinary Hospital. The DSPCA weren't answering their mobile weekend number so we took it upon ourselves to hop a taxi to UCD and the two Gardai wished us well.
We flagged down a taxi even before the Gardai had left (it was the quays after all) and I managed to lift the struggling bird bleeding and in a towel into the large bag (all the while holding firm and covering it's eyes. Remembered these tricks from some animal program, TV educations are the best).
I don't think the taxi driver was too pleased with the idea of the bird on my lap (hur hur) but we were in the car before we warned him. He got us to UCD anyway, we rang the doorbell and were greeted by a young nurse who knew we were coming (again thanks to our mamma).
She lifted the bird out of the bag and out of the bloodstained towel to examine it, after a game of hide and seek behind the vending machine (and a nasty bite on the hand for me, cover the eyes people!) she ascertained that the injury was on its leg and its wings seemed fine. She took it into the back and after a short while she returned and said that it couldn't stay there for the night. So we were given 2 choices, they could put it down then or give it to us and we could ring the DSPCA again in the morning...
So of course we said we'd take it, the poor confused thing. After a quick bit of food, water and some antibiotics they returned it to us in a box then, the doctor showing a nice big scrape down his arm (they had put a rubber band over its beak to stop bites.. the hook on its beak proved effective enough!).
We got the bus back to town then from the main stop at UCD, the box placed carefully on the luggage rack by the door.. with clear sounds of movement inside.. and the occasional shuffle of the whole box. I don't need to tell you the driver was giving us some funny looks!
We got off on Westmoreland St. then and walked to the apt. where we met Una and inside met Fern and Seb who'd been waiting on me for something like 2 hours after my organising a games night! What a shit host I am, glad Kev was in haha. We put the boxed cormorant in my en-suite shower, it being the quietest room in the place (what with the nightclub under us being on that night too haha).
We had our games night then after Josh & Una left.

In the morning then Josh came over, from his place on campus in TCD, at about 9:15am and we called the DSPCA. The box was shuffling around plenty so clearly the sedative had fully worn off and this bird was ready to fly (with any luck!). The woman from DSPCA arrived at around 10:45am to collect our recovering comrade. We handed over the box and were told it would be off to a fowl sanctuary in Wicklow, I said "That's not very nice, why can't it go to a pleasant one rather than a fowl one"... no I didn't I wish I did though. Then she'd had said "They don't get on in pheasant company" and we'd have been married the same day... Oh what could have been! Cormorant, that lady and I!

For the rest of the day I worked from home on the transfer report. Dull stuff there.
BUT I made a Damn tasty spicy salad for lunch, should have taken a picture, but it's all in mah belly now. Cleaned the counter tops then and swept and mopped the kitchen and some of the sitting room because I didn't get to yesterday. Now back to the transfer report (sorry for all the past to present switching).have to laugh at past to present switching when this is only published more than a year on

went to college after lunch to sort out a circuit, helped Gearoid in the lab and ran into James and had a chat.

worked all morning on the transfer, 4:45 pm got a bus to Dave's for his birthday. Had dinner there, hung out until 9 pm and then got a bus back to town with Josh. Spoke to Odette on the phone then for a little while once I was back in the apt. and then went over to Olesya's Wine Bar with Kev & his dad (Lord rest his soul, what a great man). Had a few glasses of lovely red wines, a nice Italian, 2006 Masi Valpolicella Bonacosta, and then a nice Chilean wine, can't remember the name. We left after last orders and had to get Kev's dad out of Dame Tavern and into a taxi, which was hilarious and difficult. Headed straight back to the apt. then and spoke to Odette for a minute, it being her birthday for about 10 mins at that stage and then went to bed.

Woke up at 4:30 am thinking it was 7:30, washed my face and started waking up when a panic came over me, where were all the other pets I was supposed to have. My shelves were full of STUFF, no pets. What had I done with them, did I leave them somewhere? Oh My God, Odette is going to kill me, where are all the other animals, what time is it? Why is it 4:30 am? What other animals, I only have Nuvola (poor little Nunu, I miss her) and she is right there. Why am I shouting at myself at 4:30 am. Time for sleep.

I worry about myself sometimes.

8:45 am I got up then, pottered around, answered emails and such, didn't start college work until around 10am, breakfast now (11 am) and a quick semi update of the blog, plan to try fill up missed days in here later on.

That was the end of the blog I'd written back then, don't think I planned to "full up missed days" so long later haha. I'd literally just written bullet points, good enough to rebuild the days for a blog post.
I miss living in town sometimes, the apt. is a most amazing place and living with Kevin was great. I'm really happy I live with Odette now though, so happy in love and do like Blackrock and love the cottage we found. Crazy how much changes in a year and a half.
Back to work now. Very busy week next week.

P.S. all Italics in the main body of text were added as thoughts from now me, the rest is memories from past me. And they said time travel wasn't theoretically possible..

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Ain't I been saying it?

10 points to whomever can name the movie I mean to quote in the title.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before but I really like postcards, there is something nice about sending and receiving postcards. Doesn't matter what they say or where they are from. I think it's why I like personal blogs too. The stupider the better almost, just squeeze each thought off the tip of your tongue and onto the paper. Let it soak up that one moment and then post it off. I got a postcard from a young Italian girl (via postcrossing, I'm not off asking random kids to send me mail. Just to be clear.) a couple of months ago which I loved. It wasn't anything fancy, it was just a snippet of her life. What sticks it most in my memory was that she drew at the top what the weather was like, a little cloud half over the beaming sun (as you would recognise from weather forecasts) with the expected temperature for the day.
There's something about that, the idea that a moment, one silly little ineradicable moment is selected and the sudden thoughts are saved.
Now of course I'm not saying every postcard is like this, I know all too well that when writing postcards (especially on holiday) can be a rushed affair and you may say the same 5 key things on each one just like we did in school for our Irish, French, German, Spanish etc. classes. "A Liam a chara, taim anseo i merica creid no na creid..." and so forth. But I do enjoy those postcards too.

For the past few years myself and Master Powell have been exchanging postcards (oddly to the same address, as we lived together for a year and a half of it) from each place we would visit with the oddest things we could come up with, typically hinting at underground spy work or assassinations in the making. (Dear FBI, we are not going to do anything bold, we promise, kisses K & I)

If you want to get involved in this we are of course more than happy to post you a card of some sort anytime! I keep my stamps in my wallet, I'm not kidding. Zakerius at the home of of course. Or just join postcrossing, it's a lot of fun!

Listening to Modest Mouse - Broke (great song, great band, good times)

P.S. sorry all of the images take forever to load lately, I've switched back to using my server space and foolishly keep hoping that massive images will load quickly. I will go for smaller images in future most likely.

Thursday 20 September 2012

Nearly finished with September 2012 already

Isn't the world ending soon? I really do never get enough time to finish what I start..
I never even get a chance to start half the things I want to start really.

College term is beginning again, final year of my PhD, the start of my 21st year in education, my 8th year of graduate physics and coming up on my quarter of a century.
More than this, much more than this.. (hur hur) one brother is starting his leaving cert courses (5th year), another has moved to San Diego for his PhD in UCSD, one sister is starting schooling (5 years old) and another is going to be moving to England to continue her graduate level architecture. Really crazy to think, I find it hard enough to believe that little Alannah is 5, let alone that Josh isn't going to be living in Ireland for at least the next 5 years. Feels very odd indeed.

Listening to Interpol on my headphone in the office, just G and myself in the office at the moment, I like Interpol sometimes. What do you like to listen to when you're working? Do you not get to listen to music when you work? I hate it when that happens, I never work right without music. I remember my first job, it was just a summer job in a primary school (1st level of education) near where I was living. I had just finished my leaving cert and my dad sorted me out with a few weeks repairing and upgrading the computers he had sold them years before. I spent about the bulk of it just formatting machines, fresh install of the latest Windows and all that.
I would walk down to the school each morning, stop off in the shop and buy an Irn-Bru and a pack of Crispy M&Ms. I had brought a set of PC speakers (the same set I have in my office now, had them for about a decade [harman/kardon HK195]) and was blasting Eagles of Death Metal while I worked alone in the computer room. The school was basically empty except for me and the odd teacher who was dropping by to grab this or that from their rooms. Just me, spinning on office chairs and checking the HDDs, dusting out machines and replacing power supplies that had lived their lifetime. Was a fun couple of weeks considering I was getting paid to do it.
I like that memory.

Tuesday 18 September 2012

My brother is gone D:

    All the way to San Diego, 8363.86 km away (give or take). I really hope he is settling in well over there, in those 40 degree highs and 20 degree lows. With the sunshine, and the sandy beaches. Getting paid to be a student, doing maths (well, he likes that.. that wouldn't be for me). That bastard.

Recent (iPhone) photograph, taken in Blackwater, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford (Aug 2012).
My two brothers, Daniel and Josh (L-R) scoping the fields ahead for dinner.

    But I really miss him, even if we didn't see each other every day it's hard to think he's not even remotely close by. I mean, it's nearly the other side of the world (well New Zeland is really the other side of the world to Dublin [nearest land mass anyway]). But I'm really happy he has found somewhere which will look great on his academic CV and also give him a great chance to explore and grow as travel only can (not to mention give me another handy holiday destination for the next 5 years).

    As for everything else in life I will sit down and finish blog posts and organise images eventually. I enjoy writing blogs because it feels like having a journal you can access everywhere (or a log book, draft blog posts allow more control than draft emails for sure). It's nice to collect moments in time and to have somewhere to share things as everyone who writes personal blogs knows.

Childhood photograph, taken in Blackwater, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford.
From left to right are my nana, Shauna, Josh, myself and my grandad, rest his soul.

Back to work with me now, preparing a poster for the 2012 International Workshop on EUV and Soft X-ray Sources and getting a general talk ready for the postgraduate seminar I have to give in October.

Listening to Ben Prunty Music's songs from the game FTL (which is an epic game btw, worth well more than the $9).

Thursday 28 June 2012

June is Ending

View from Sandymount/Sydney Parade across Dublin bay towards Howth head.

I just saw Terry Pratchett, watched a live stream of his talk at Science Gallery and then went over for a coffee at, funnily enough, the exact time he was leaving. Oh how coincidental, you'd swear I planned it >.>
Unfortunately I didn't bring the Discworld book I'm currently reading for him to sign but I wouldn't really have wanted to bother him, he was already surrounded by fans anyway.

Same old life other than that, data analysis, finding and reading papers about Z-pinch experiments, the latest EUV results and the odd few laser ablation papers with novel setups. So many papers, my Mendeley (highly recommend for citations, paper arranging and backup etc.) is ever stocking up. Somehow I've managed to put 9,841 scientific papers, books & manuals on my office computer... Luckily with Mendeley I could sort these and so not get perpetually lost in information when trying to cite someone specific.

Also my, I say my because it's the laser I've used most for the past 3 years and I love it, Surelite Nd:YAG seems to be fixed once again. Looks like it was just a faulty flashlamp, I had replaced it as pretty much the first response to the initial failure but it looks like the new flashlamp wasn't up for the task. In any case it looks to be working now, will run it again later on and tomorrow to make sure it's functioning, maybe take an energy measurement and burn pattern too. Will need it working perfectly for my next experiment in August.
There are lots of other things I really need to sort for this experiment too, fingers crossed I can get it all to slot neatly into place. If anyone knows who that guy I talked to at a conference about the cheap EUV filters his group made was, please tell me. It's this reason everyone should make up business cards (not that I have any), I can never remember names.

Honey dressed up for the day by her fabulous stylist Odette.

Odette & I had the lovely Honey as a house guest for this last weekend gone, a big dog in a small cottage. Could be a good book. The accursed Irish summer weather in all its undependable glory meant we didn't take her on a walk at all (the poor pup) but we did dress her up! That makes it so much worse right! Hahaha. Odette got better pictures of Honey sat in an armchair with a beret on, she really is a patient dog.

Otherwise I don't have a huge amount to report, I am loving Post Crossing and trying to get more people to get into A Show with Ze Frank (and the Finishing Stamp mission). Cooking with Odette lots, she has restarted her cooking blog and is continuing her YouTube channel. Kevin has started an instructional cooking blog too.
'Tis the season I guess! (whatever convinced me to get back blogging at the same time)
I feel like this post looks like a very poorly edited wiki page of someone's conversation to the demons in their head.
Send help.

View east along the Liffey from Grattan bridge showing the Millennium bridge & Ha'penny bridge.

View from the bridge over the duck pond in Saint Stephen's Green.

Tide in at Sandymount/Sydney Parade (not exactly the same location as the 1st image).

All pictures from now on will be mine, do with them as you will, pretend they are yours, email me a picture of you and I will photoshop us both into them and we can say we once hungout in Dublin... with Elvis.. and a llama.

Monday 18 June 2012

A lack of blogging

So, this is where I left you off, nearly a year ago and the beginning of a huge experimental investigation of our Laser Triggered Vacuum Arc lamp (LAVA-lamp). I haven't as yet published any papers on this work but have presented a couple posters. Here's one poster, presented at the 2011 International Workshop on EUV & Soft X-Ray Sources, 7-9 Nov, UCD (N.B. font went a bit bonkers, save the page and open pdf to see it properly). I won best poster for it actually (modest as ever I am), was absolutely chuffed.
But yes, the experiment went really well, gathered a huge amount of data, was wonderful to work alongside Larissa on it. That work finished up in late October due to other deadlines and the analysis is ongoing (due to the volume of data and other engagements). Over all I have to say the last 3 years of PhD have flown by, it's a little shocking really, but I have loved it. I'd recommend any physics student who enjoys working on interesting and challenging projects to get out there, contact groups who's work you find interesting. There's always an intern position somewhere and it's such a great way to learn what research is like (and earn a bit of money sometimes too).
One more year left myself now, the big thesis write up to do and a whole pile of papers and theory to brush up on. Practise makes perfect but re-reading is Always a bonus, you'll never keep exactly the right time without checking back every now and then. It's scary but it's fun and I'm so lucky to have fallen into such a good group and such an interesting project. Plasmas are all around us you know, every day, most of the universe is in a plasma state, everything came from plasma too in the very beginning. Without our local massive globe of plasma our planet wouldn't support life. It's nice to be able to try grasp these things sometimes, forget any real physics and just think about what we are. Those immortal heart wrenching words We are star stuff. You have to admit it's fun to think about that, and if you don't think so then I'm sorry you can't see the wonder in the things around you. Wonderment is the most important thing in life, without it what's the point.
Anyway this is getting ranty and that wasn't my point for this post. I just wanted to write something because life is flying by! So it's good to have a record of where I once stood and what the air was like, how were the natives, what was the view like. The biggest news I have in life is I've been living with my lovely Odette for just over a month now in a pretty little cottage. Really loving it, it's going to be a fun year full of adventure I'm sure. I hope everyone else is well out there, lots of hardships but I hope there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Until nextime I guess.

View off Killiney hill, looking south towards Bray head.

Blackrock baths looking north west towards Dublin city centre.

Hanko finishing stamps for one of Ze Frank's missions.