Ireland 2018: Day 9

Our ninth day in Ireland called for another lazy day, but little did we know how lazy it would end up being!

We slept in and decided that we would grab some lunch, head to Mallow to see their castle, and then take a long walk in a nearby park.

The sun was streaming into our little apartment, what could go wrong?

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Our rental car had other ideas, it would seem. We climbed in to find that the right rear tire had a slow leak in it. A couple of days ago it warned us of low tire pressure, so we filled it up. Today it was very low indeed, so it was clear we needed to do something about it.

We headed to the park, and then called the rental company to ask what they’d like us to do. We were hoping they’d tell us to go to the nearest office and swap out our car for another. They didn’t. They did, however, offer to send out roadside assistance to fix the issue for us. They told us it would take 2 hours to get there, which is enough time for a good walk. We gave them our number and headed to the tea room for lunch.

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The Doneraile Wildlife Park is a very nice park to wander about:

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We even got a little cutesy:

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And then Marisa became one with a tree:

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After 2.5 hours we hadn’t heard from the rental company and no one showed up to fix our time. Marisa gave them a call and they said, “We’ve been trying to call you for 2 hours! We keep getting a busy signal.” Turn outs they wrote our number down incorrectly, which was a bummer. They promised they’d send someone out right away and a few minutes later I got a call from a man with a heavy Irish accent who told me he would be at the park in either 15 minutes or an hour and 15 minutes.

Luckily, he showed up in 15 minutes and fixed the tire in 10 minutes. He also said to us that most people would have just ignored the issue and kept putting air in the tire.

By this point we were done with our day out, so we went back to our apartment to eat dinner, read, and watch more Great British Bake-off.

All in all, not a bad day.

I didn’t take a huge amount of pictures this day, but I did take several more than appear in this post.


Ireland 2018: Day 8

Continuing our theme of visiting important Christian sites day 8 found us headed to the Rock of Cashel which includes a cathedral and church (though the church was closed for restoration).

We went on another tour, and boy was the wind really blowing. It was difficult at some times to even hear what the guide was saying. However, while it wasn’t exactly sunny the weather made for some good pictures.

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The size of the ruin was impressive:

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Of course there was a model:

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Of course the Irish seem to like to turn ruin sites into graveyards:

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This tomb was very large, and featured a huge Celtic cross which fell off 40 years ago:

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And they just let the pieces lay since the site is technically government land but the grave stones are private property:

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The main action is up on the Rock, but there is also a ruin which is part of the complex a short walk away:

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Assuming that most people wouldn’t want to take a short walk we headed over to find the ruin mostly empty:

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And the views back to the Rock were very nice:

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And after all that walking we needed some food so we headed to this tiny tea room near the car park (as they say). It wasn’t fancy, but it was very good:

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And you know I took lots more pictures. Check them all out.


Ireland 2018: Day 7

I do enjoy visiting a fort, and Kinsale offered up not only Charles Fort but some good fish and chips (or so the Internet told me).

Off to Dino’s Fish and chips for lunch, and let me tell you it was tasty. Plus I got to eat lunch with this cute lady:

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After we ate lunch we wondered around the town and popped into a few of the bookstores. This bookstore had a door into another universe:

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And then took a look at a model of the town as it was many years ago:

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And admired this noble dog who was waiting for his human (and ignoring us):

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We decided to walk to the fort via the Scilly Walk, which I recommend if you’re ever in Kinsale. It is an easy walk, except for the final bit that gets pretty hilly… though it is still paved so not very difficult just harder than the start. Anyway, you get lovely views of the fort:

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Oh, look! Another model. This time of Charles Fort:

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We joined a tour group composed mainly of other Americans which made me want to apologize to the tour guide for all these Americans not paying attention. I did get pretty good pictures of this fort (which failed during the only time it was in battle):

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Once we were done I wanted to walk all the way back through town and then to James Fort, which is a ruin, but Marisa was up for just going home and chilling. Since she was doing all the driving I thought it only fair that I not drag her to another fort, so we spent the evening watching the Great British Bake Off on an iPad and reading.

If you want to see all my pictures of the day check out this album.


Enjoying Ireland with less of me

I'm wearing an XL t-shirt! 😱

When last we were in Ireland I was a different person. Well, not really, but I was a heavier dude. Like, over 100 pounds heavier.

Above you’ll see the thinner me wearing an XL T-shirt I bought at the Giant’s Causeway. If Marisa hadn’t been with me I would have bought an XXL because in my mind I’m still that big… but the shirt fits so nicely! As do the 4 XL sweaters I’ve bought for myself while here (just in time for the Philadelphia summer, though with the way the weather has been behaving perhaps they will come in handy during a July snowstorm).

A few other things have changed on this trip as compared to last:

  • I bought a scale while here so I can continue weighing myself on Fridays (the scale has stones as the primary measure with kg much smaller. I can’t recommend the scale, but it was cheap).
  • I packed my running shoes and have actually gone on a few runs. I even went to the gym after going for a 5 mile hike.
  • I decided to walk 20,000 steps a day whilst here, to counteract my less stringent adherence to my daily Weight Watchers points allotment. And it seems to be working.
  • Flying for 6 hours in coach wasn’t that uncomfortable. Something that was never true when I was 100 pounds heavier.

Ireland 2018: Day 6

After our full day on Day 5 of driving and sightseeing, a laidback day 6 was on order. This was helped greatly by the previous night’s discovery that while in Ireland several seasons of The Great British Bake Off are available on Netflix (in fact, as I type this we’re watching the season 2 semi-final).

We decided to sleep in, go to a farmers’ market in Midleton and do a little shopping and walking around in Cork. I didn’t take a huge amount of pictures, because we really didn’t do all that much… and it was wonderful.

We started the day off petting Flicker, one of the Ballymaloe House resident dogs:

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We saw this memorial in Midleton:

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And this one in Cork:

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And I really liked this awesome Church. That’s a Jesus I can get behind:

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Oh, and I bought a book at the very cute Midleton Books:

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See all my Day 6 pics here (though there aren’t that many more to see!).


Ireland 2018: Day 5

The day began with the gentle rousing rays of the sun, filtered through an omnipresent pearlescent cloud cover, waking me in our little bubble in the woods:

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What a wonderful way to kick off our last few hours in Northern Ireland. Before too long we would hop into our little rental car and drive 5 hours south to our next accomodations, with a quick stop to see a 1500 year old monastery (as you do).

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Shout out to Marisa for doing all the driving on this trip (and in our life!). She opted for a manual rental car, and I had my worries that it would stress her out.. but she’s been doing a fantastic job.

5 hours is a long time to say in the car, so we split the trip up with a stop at Clonmacnoise, one of the most important sites of learning in the early Christian world. Ireland has an interesting history with Christianity in that it is one of the very few areas of The World that gave up their “pagan” beliefs and accepted the Church without any wide scale bloodshed. This was mostly due to the fact that the Irish were a pragmatic people and just took their existing beliefs and added some Chrisitan flair.

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Monasteries were basically large towns in Ireland with Clonmacnoise covering something like 10 acres of land with churchs, houses, and the like. Most of the orginal buildings were timber, so they aren’t around any more but an impressive number of 1000 year old stone structures remain (thanks to the Vikings for encouraging the people to build round towers so as not to be slaughtered!).

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The Visitor Center at Clonmacnoise also comes from another time: the 70’s. However, it was seemingly set up so you could take some very nice pictures of the important stone carvings that they took out of the weather and sheltered here. Like this rather impressive Celtic cross:

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No one really knows why the ancient folks decided to put a circle hear the top of their crosses. Some time it might be an reference to a halo, or perhaps the circle of life. I think they thought it looked cool.

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This stone features ogham script:

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See what I was saying about the lighting:

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I was really impressed by the carving on this one. Good job, long dead carver!

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And then we made our way outside to view the ruins.

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Clonmacnoise is a ruin, an active cemetery, and a site where they still hold services from time to time. They built a glass enclosure for holding mass, and decorated it with… what else?

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That round tower would serve as a refuge from the people living here when the Vikings came along to try and take their stuff, their lives, and their bodies:

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Arches:

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Lots of detailed carvings to be seen:

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I was looking around to turn my head to see Marisa waiting for me to notice her fitting into this doorway exactly. A picture was called for, and a picture was taken.

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Something that I’ve been thinking about is the concept of “legacy.” More specifically how much we try and make sure that people remember us when after we die. This reminded me that, for most people, that is a futile effort no matter how much stone you work:

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On the other hand, I may not know who carved this but I am thinking about it, and writing about it, hundreds of years later:

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Jesus Christ! I thought this was the neatest stone in the yard:

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As we left Clonmacnoise we popped into the gift shop, as you do, and noticed this rather dramatic ruin across the car park:

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We still had a 2 hour drive ahead of us to get to our little cabin (below) at Ballymaloe House. When I made the reservation for the cabin the person told me, repeatedly, that the cabins are “rather rustic.” I was expecting something, well, rather rustic. But we got a lovely little cabin:

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More important than the cabin was the setting on which they are sat:

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I mean, come on!

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Everywhere I turned it looked like I was viewing a painted landscape:

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Unexpectedly, there was a table open for dinner at Ballymaloe House, so we availed ourselves. Little did I know I was about to have one of the best meals of my life. A 5 course meal that included a magical “hors d’oeuvre buffet,” which I would like to be included in each of my meals from now on.

This rich meal meant that I really needed to get 20,000 steps.

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I was tempted to stop there, but I took one more step and then fell into a deep slumber.

If you’d like to see all the pictures I took (so many crosses!) check them out here.


Ireland 2018: Day 4

Before leaving Belfast we had to have breakfast. I am not known as a tea drinker, but this trip may hav changed that. Can you believe I’ve never put milk in my tea? Here’s proof that I’ve changed my ways:

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I love a good municipal building, and when I found out that one can tour Belfast’s City Hall I was in:

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The building is as impressive as one would expect from a building built at the behest of Queen Victoria:

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Marisa decided to try her hand at Belfast politics:

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The Titanic had a large impact on this city, and so we visited the memorial garden on the grounds of City Hall:

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We had a two hour drive to our next evening’s stay, so we decided to break up the drive with a visit to Crom Estate.

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It features a ruined castle:

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And lots of grounds to walk around and enjoy:

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And some moss:

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After our constitutional on Crom Estate we headed to Finn Lough so we could check into our bubble in the woods:

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Staying in a bubble was an interesting experience, and better than I thought it would be. The bubble was very warm, the bed very comfortable, and the bathroom more than acceptable for a bubble.

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Finn Lough did a good job of positioning the bubbles so it feels like you’re all alone in the woods. Sadly, our neighboring bubble was occupied by some rather loud people so that ruined the illusion of solitude. They did quiet down around 9pm, so it wasn’t a big deal but it kept us grounded in the reality of the shared bubble space.

Still, I enjoyed being a boy in a bubble.

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Check out all my Day 4 pictures here.


Ireland 2018: Day 3

When I started writing this post I was sitting at the coffee table in our hotel room as Marisa attempted to go to sleep (she’d been having trouble sleeping on the trip but that has cleared up). I went to bed in hopes of helping Marisa sleep, and then a handful of days passed. We didn’t have internet access in our bubble (more on that in a little bit), so this post has been delayed.

While we were in Belfast we stayed at the Merchant Hotel. We saw so many beautiful things in Northern Ireland it would be easy to forget how nice our stay was. The Merchant Hotel is just wonderful, and all the staff were lovely and helpful (they let us keep our car parked a little while after checkout so we could do some sightseeing without charging us. So nice!).

I don’t think you can truly visit Northern Ireland and not go to the Antrim Coast. As you can probably guess, that’s how spent our day today. Also walking. So much walking.

If you want to see all the pictures I took check out this album. Read on for the highlights!

When I told my friend Sarah that we were headed to Belfast she recommended several things to do. One of them, the rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede was on our list… but not very high up. Sarah’s enthusiatic recomendation bumped it up and I am very glad to have listened to her.

The entrance to the bridge:

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Here we are after having walked across the bridge:

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Somehow Marisa managed to lose her ticket on the 1 kilometer walk from the ticket booth to the bridge, but they let us cross anyway.

Fisherman orginally built this bridge, using only three ropes, so they could get to the island and fish using boats like this:

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I know I wouldn’t want to have to cross that bridge carrying anything. In fact, I didn’t particularly want to cross the modern bridge without anything in my hands…. especially when I saw some kid hopping across the bridge. I did it and you should too (if you get the opportunity).

Next, the very reason we came to Nothern Ireland in the first place: The Giant’s Causeway. I wanted to go to the Giant’s Causeway when last we visited Ireland, but it is all the way at the north of the island, and so it wasn’t meant to be. This time around I made sure we included it on the agenda, and it didn’t disappoint.

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Instead of just going to the Giant’s Causeway we decided to hire a guide and do a 5 mile hike ending up at the Giant’s Causeway. When we arrived at the visitor center (pictured above) and met our guide and found out we were the only people who had signed up for the hike. We also learned that our guide seemed rather dubious about whether we’d be able to do the hike. She kept saying things like, “You know there’s mud” and “This is a 5 mile hike!” And we were all like, “Let’s go!”

And off we went. Here we are at the start of the hike (thanks to our guide for taking the picture!):

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The views, as you might expect, were stunning:

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And despite her initial thinking that we were not the stuff of 5 mile hikes, our guide was very good. And the hike itself wasn’t all that tough. The path was well laid out, and the grade was pretty level, plus there were stairs for the steep bits.

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I remembered about 1.5 miles into the walk that I could track the hike as a workout! So I did, and here’s the hike we took:

The Giant’s Causeway itself is a rock formation made up of these columns of volcanic basalt which were thrust up through fissions millions of years ago. They extend for miles underground, but you don’t usually see them becuase they’re covered with lots of dirt. Here you can see the cliff we’re walking along is made of the same stuff we’re walking to see:

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The Giant’s Cause itself is mostly covered with people these days. It is an amazing site, and I’m glad so many people visit… but once we got there we were doubly glad to have hiked. We encountered about 3 other people on our 5 mile hike. We found all the people at the end of the hike:

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This did make getting pictures without people in it difficult, but our guide managed to take a picture with these two jokers:

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I did get a bunch of pictures without other people in them:

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The pictures don’t do the place justice. Well worth a trip to Northern Ireland. Plus the visitor center makes a mean bowl of Irish stew (one of my favorite things).

Now, since I don’t want to gain 40 pounds on this trip I’ve decided to walk at least 20,000 steps a day. So far, so good but Day 3 was a banner day:

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Ireland 2018: Day 2

Day 2 started with me thinking I had lost my camera and freaking out a little bit. It could only get better from there, and it did (and, as previously noted, I hadn’t lost my camera at all).

Our Day 2 stop: Belfast!

You can check out all the pictures here, so see the highlights below.

We decided to take the scenic route which involved a ferry:

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It wasn’t super clear, but the view was still nice:

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The scenic route continued with a drive along the Mourne Coastal Route (very pretty). Along the way we had to stop to use the bathroom and ended up stumbling across the Bloody Bridge trail (which I recommend to you):

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Behind the public toilets is a nice trail featuring views like this:

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And this:

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And some lovely rocks:

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This was an unexpected delight of the day.

It was a bit after stopping here that we realized we were in Northern Ireland (duh), which means the speed limits are posted in Miles Per Hour (the Republic of Ireland posts them in Kilometers per Hour). This explained why so many cars were passing us.

Armed with this information we headed into Belfast where we were able to check into our hotel a few hours early, which meant we could rest up before having mid-day tea.

The tea was lovely, but all the sweets were too sweet for Marisa (I ate all of mine):

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Fortified with tea sandwiches and a pot of Earl Gray (did you know tea tastes much better with milk? It does!) we headed out into a moderately heavy rain shower to one of Belfast’s biggest tourist attractions, the Titanic Belfast:

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It would seem the very modern building gets mixed reviews, but I think it is great:

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And it is well marked:

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I wasn’t sure what to expect from the museum, but it covered way more than just the Titanic. It used the Titanic as a lens to cover the growth and development of Belfast as a city. Though I thought it glossed over the very real impact class distinctions had on whether you ended up a victim of the Titanic or a survivor.

Though they do have the gates of the shipyard in which the Titantic was built, so that’s cool:

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Also cool is this model showing the position of the shipworks when the Titanic was being built, along with a movel of the museum itself (and the gantry where the Titantic was built stood right outside of that window):

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You can also visit the Nomadic, though we ran out of time:

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I was more intrigued by this other object that was in the same berth as the Nomadic:

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I don’t know what it is, but it did allow me to take my favorite picture of the day:

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Ireland 2018: Day 1

When Marisa and I were discussing where to go on a vacation I couldn’t help but suggest we head to Ireland… again.

We had such a wonderful time the first time that Marisa was up for a return visit (in fact I’m typing these very words in Belfast, Northern Ireland right now!).

Our first day (see all my pictures in this album) in Ireland found us flying into Dublin and hopping into a rental car and getting out of Dublin as quickly as we could. Last visit we saw the highlights of Dublin, so we didn’t feel the need to stick around.

We pointed our car towards Carlingford, where we were spending the night, by way of Monasterboice: Untitled

Now a graveyard, it was a monastery several hundred years ago and sports some of the largest Celtic crosses on the island (Marisa here for scale):

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The graveyard had some very sturdy walls:

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Off we went to Carlingford to check into our hotel for the evening and look cute in front of it:

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Then we ventured into the village and took a bunch of pictures. Of things like this arch:

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We visited another grave yard, as you do:

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And went down to the lake to take some lovely pictures of the vista:

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Saw a ladder into the water (hey, nice shoes!):

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Later that evening I needed a few more steps (gotta please that Fitbit) and took some pictures of the castle at night:

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And the last moments of the sun:

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Carlingford is a charming little town, and we had a lovely time. I only wish that my time in the town hadn’t ended with me thinking I had lost my camera on my night time stroll. I spent the morning attempting to find my camera by retracing my steps, only to get a text message from Marisa - she found my camera in my laptop bag. Hurrah for not losing the camera, but boo for me being dumb.

Next up, Day 2 takes us to Belfast!


100.9

100down

A few weeks ago I posted about my weight, and the fact that I didn't think I'd meet my personal goal of losing 100 pounds by my birthday.

And I totally didn't do it!

However, I hopped on the scale on Friday and it told me that I had lost 100.9 pounds. Woo! I wasn't too far off my birthday deadline, so I'll take that as a win (plus I had several slices of birthday cake, which I don't regret at all!).

That means I'm 127 pounds below my highest weight, which is crazy! Of course, since I am a big fan of round numbers I have decided I should try and get rid of 23 more pounds for a total of 150 pounds down... we'll see how that goes.


37 minutes and 24 seconds

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Today was unseasonably warm in Philadelphia, so I thought to myself, “I should go run outside instead of on that dumb old treadmill I’ve been running on for weeks and weeks!”

The last time I ran outside it was Christmas Eve, I was in Texas, and I wasn’t feeling the run at all. I ran 3,3 miles in 40 minutes and 48 seconds.

I wasn’t sure what to expect for my run today - actually, I expected it to slow and horrible. It wasn’t! Well, it was as horrible as running always is, but I ran my best 4 mile time (outside) ever and I mananged to run 4 sub-10 minute miles in a row.

Hurrah for me! 


1 Year, and 94.5 pounds, Later

Scott vs. Scott

A year ago I, somewhat on a whim, I signed up for Weight Watchers. I figured I'd give it a year and see what happened.

Now, I should say that I didn't think much would happen but I knew I needed to lose some weight and figured, "why not?"

See, I'd lost 100 pounds and gained 80 pounds back (though I managed to keep 20 pounds off, so that should count for something).

I dropped all that weight by not eating carbs and working out. That worked well, but it wasn't sustainable and so I turned to Weight Watchers.

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A year later and I've lost 94.5 pounds so far, and the craziest thing is that it wasn't really that hard. Sure, I can't eat whatever I want (and guess what? I generally want to eat lots of stuff I shouldn't eat in quantities that aren't advisable) and I go to the gym more often then I would like, i.e. more than 0 times a week, but overall it hasn't been that big of a change.

My biggest take-way from this last year is that I have no idea how to eat like a normal person. Most people manage to make sensible food choices every day with actively following a set of rules enforced by an app. I just can't do that, however, I'm really good at sticking to clear rules about food (which was way the whole "no carbs" thing was my first choice).

The fact that I can eat whatever I want, as long as I have the points to spend, makes me accountable with my eating. Intellectually, I know that having a doughnut from time to time isn't a big deal... but for me that "time to time" shifts from once a month to once a week to once a day in an astonishing short time.

Weight Watchers also appeals to a strange quirk of mine: I really like to know what I'm going to eat several meals ahead of time. Now I can leverage this oddness to plan out my eating for a couple of days and know what kinds of snacks I can have.


What's next?

When I signed up for Weight Watchers, as I said above, I wasn't expecting much but I did secretly hope that I would lose 100 pounds by my birthday. At the moment I am far closer to this goal than I thought was possible, but I'm certain I won't hit that soft goal (I've lost about 1.9 pounds a week on average), but 100 pounds is my goal, which I'm sure I'll hit sometime by the end of February.

After that... perhaps another 20 pounds? Sure, why not!


I bought a new computer!

About This Mac


I didn't really need a new computer, but that's never stopped me before!

When the new iMac Pro started shipping it made me think about when I bought my current computer. Turns out I bought it on Nov. 30th, 2012 (Gmail remembers all!).

5 years seemed like a good run for my iMac, so I bought a new iMac (not the Pro because I'm not a madman).

I really like it. The only difference I experience is that is much faster. It looks exactly like my old iMac, and all my stuff works with it so I'm a happy camper.

Though, really, that 5 year old iMac was just fine. But this is just finer.


TV Theme Songs

I wasn't able to join in the fun on the Incomparable's TV Theme Song draft podcast (mostly because I forgot to RSVP for it), so I thought I'd share mine here, because why not!

Here we go:

1. Golden Girls

When you say TV theme song, this is the song that pops into my head. I also enjoy a song that can be read dramatically, so bonus points for that.


2. Mr. Belvedere

Streaks on the china? Never met them before!

I watched way too much Mr. Belvedere and I really like the theme song.

3. 30 Rock

No lyrics, because they are for losers. This theme song is bouncy and fun... plus Marisa had a little dance she would do when it played on the TV. So cute!

Lightning Round. Action 6 News

I am not a native Philadelphian, but 6 ABC News has the best news theme song ever. When I found out it even had words I was floored. And tempted to move closer to your world.


How do you read so much?

I get asked that question, from time to time (especially at the end of the year when I share that I've read x number of books, 78 in 2017).

And interestingly, I notice that at the start of every year I see a bunch of posts/articles claiming to have the secret to how you can read more.

Here's the real secret: there is no secret to reading more.

That's it!

You just have to make time for it. You know that time you spend doing something other than reading for pleasure? If you spent that time reading instead, you'd read more.


I miss writing

As readers of this blog may have noticed, I didn't blog a whole lot last year (or the year before). And as the even smaller number of people who track my tech book writing have noticed... I haven't written a book in a very long time!

Don't get me wrong, I still write a lot but the vast majority of my writing is for ye olde day job. I seem to have fallen out of the habit of writing for pleasure.

EvergreeniconI was reminded of this fact by two related things. I decided to switch RSS readers from NetNewsWire (which I've been using forever) to Evergreen (which the original developer of NNW is working on). I did this for a couple of reasons:

  • I get the sense that NNW isn't really the top priority for the company who currently owns it.
  • The only reason to use NNW is for syncing across devices, and that just doesn't work well (nor does the NNW iOS app, which is a shame).
  • While Evergreen is very early in its development, I know Brent is going to keep on making it better and better... and his vision of what an RSS reader should be pretty much matches my own.

Moving my feeds into Evergreen gave me the opportunity to go through and do some feed pruning. I was clicking along happily until I came to my "Philadelphia" folder.

I discovered that most of the blogs in that folder have long been abandoned and I re-read this blog post Marisa wrote awhile ago bemoaning the lack of personal blogging in general.

Therefore, I'm really going to try and write stuff here (and maybe in other places, though I really doubt anyone is interested in paying me to write anything at this point).

I think the first thing I'll write is a post about why I abandoned my Apple Watch and embraced the Fitbit life. I'm sure everyone is dying to know!



My 2017 by the numbers

Yesterday I got it into my head to create a list of numbers representing my 2017. The list of numbers is fairly random, but it was fun to compile.

Here we go:

  • 5,016,653 steps taken as tracked by two Fibit devices (the One and the Ionic)
  • 2,503.4 miles walked/ran
  • 4,482 floors of stairs climbs
  • 1,452,961 calories expended
  • 215 work outs as tracked by my Apple Watch and then the Ionic
  • 91 pounds lost (thanks, Weight Watchers!)
  • 77 books read
  • 32 books by women
  • 28,781 pages all told
  • 6 pieces of Stickley furniture (none at full retail, and 5 ridiculously cheap!)
  • 59 podcasts hosted (spread out over Random Trek, Total Party Kill, and Vulcan Hello)

New Year's Eve

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Lots of people love New Year's Eve, and more power to them! I, however, do not count myself amongst their number.

I don't drink. I don't like being in large groups of people. And drunk people aren't my favorite either.

If you were to try to design a holiday that held no interest to me you'd end up with New Year's Eve.

That being said, there is one thing that I always to try to on New Year's Eve: eat some pigs in a blanket.

Why? Well, when I was growing up (and well into college), I would generally stay home on New Year's Eve and hang out with my mom. She'd always buy one of those variety packs of frozen hors d'oeuvre and we'd eat them as we watched Dick Clark ring in the New Year not so far away in Times Square.

That's why I ate 4 pigs in a blanket (pictured above) and thought of my mom.

Happy New Year!


My favorite reads of 2017

There's still a few days until Christmas, so what better time to recommend a few books that I think we well worth your time (or the time of your loved ones).

If you aren't tickled by anything on my list you should check out Jason and Dan's. Their taste is pretty ok. I guess.

Noumenon by Marina J. Lostetter

I do so enjoy a good science fiction story, and Noumenon has lots of stuff that I enjoy:
  • A story told across many, many years
  • Clones (who doesn't love clones?)
  • A generation ship
  • A strange construct in the stars that people want to investigate because... it exists

My favorite aspect of this book is probably a spoiler, so I won't share but... but it is pretty darned good.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan

A murder mystery involving people who work/hang around a bookstore? Of course I'm going to read it. In fact, I've read a few books that meet the same general description and Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore is one of the best.

Now, I will say that it suffers from the same problem that many mystery/thrillers do: all the pieces fit together a little too well. It isn't all that believable, but there is a reason this book is filed in fiction. You'll like it!

Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal

I know what you're thinking, "Another book set in WWI featuring psychics talking to dead soldiers!" but this one is good!

I will admit that I recall little of the story but Robinette Kowal is a great writer and I think this book has wider appeal than her other series (which is basically Jane Austin with magic... and of which I'm a big fan!).

Ninefox Gambit & Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee

The first two books in, what I assume, is a trilogy. The final book will be published in 2018, so now is the time to read the first two. And I have to tell you, you'll have no idea of what is happening for a good part of the first book... because I sure as heck didn't. But I loved it. So much. The second book is far more straightforward of a story, but it'll really make no sense if you don't read the first one.

Read them both and you'll thank me later.


Star Trek: Ships of the Line 2018 Calendar

A new calendar!

One thing that Marisa knows will also be a Christmas present hit with me is the Star Trek: Ships of the Line calendar. Every year, up until this year, Marisa has purchased this calendar for me and I loved it!

Last year was no exception! I unwrapped the calendar, knowing was it was, and tucked it next to the couch so I could bring it to work with me when my "Special Winter vacation" was over.

And that's where it sat until yesterday when I noticed it sitting there unloved, unused, and neglected. I pulled out it and showed it to Marisa. She said, "yeah, that's why you're not getting that calendar this year."

Or am I? Well, I bought it for myself (only 7 bucks!) but I did learn my lesson: I had it shipped to work where it is already gracing my cubicle wall:

Ready for 2018


Welcome, MarsEdit 4

MarseditI'm certain the vast majority of posts I've written here have been composedMarsEdit, and now there is a new version!

I happily paid to upgrade... now if only MarsEdit could somehow get me to write more!

Here are some posts I have been thinking about writing, instead of writing:

  • An update on my weight loss
  • The backlog of book reviews
  • Fibit Ionic review
  • Kindle Oasis review (usually I chat about this on my friend Jason's podcast, but that didn't happen this year... so maybe I'll write about it?)
  • Best books of the year read by me (I always feel like I shouldn't do this one until 2018, but then I think perhaps someone would want to buy the books I recommend. Then I remember that no one is reading this blog so it doesn't really matter what I do!)

And that's just off the top of my head! So why haven't I been writing? I dunno. Reading is so much easier, I guess!

Anyway, hurrah for MarsEdit 4.0. I dig the snazzy new icon