And Thus Ends 2013

There were new contracts. There was a wedding. There was stolen oil. There was a 30th birthday. There was a trip to France. There was a short film made. There was a whole lot of theatre produced. There was a laptop, camera and iPad stolen. There was a laptop and camera replaced. There was the Arts Festival. There was the Fringe Festival. There was Galway, first for theatre, then the stag. There was catching up with friends over dinner. There were new restaurants. There were no penalty points, accidents, or incidents on the road. There wasn’t enough cycling. There was a wedding planned. There was a new band. There were great gigs. There was Springsteen. Fleetwood Mac. There was this and so much more.

2013, it’s been swell, but I’m gunning for 2014.

Happy New Year.

D-Day June 26: Driving Test

It wasn’t all that long ago that I applied for my driving test (could have been Easter) but yesterday I finally received notice of the date – June 26th, smack bang in the middle of Trainspotting no less.

The test too has been outsourced to SGS who will be in Kilkenny on the day.

Has anyone had any experience with testing instructors from SGS or notice anything different in tests outsourced to independent testers or instructors?

I must say though, I’m quite looking forward to it. Between work, music, theatre and the increasing frequency of drives to and from Sligo, I’m spending more and more time on the road. While I’ve enjoyed almost two years on a provisional license, turning 25 at the end of this month and having my insurance up for renewal in August places the test at the right time, financially anyway.

All I need to do now is pass the thing…

It’s Been A Busy Week, And Weekend

Well it’s certainly been a busy week, and weekend. I’m judging that partly on the fact that for both Saturday and Sunday (today) I find myself up and about pre 7am. No such thing as a lie-in here I tell you.

It has been a week of revelations – one that has taught me interesting things about close friends, current and future clients as well as highlighting the notion that everything has the chance to surprise you when you least expect it.

I also spotted once again that the iSight does, in fact, rock when it comes to Online Meeting Rooms 😉

It has also been a rather productive week. Despite knocking out 50 hours in the office, I also managed to squeeze some day time hours out of my week to plan a return trip to Canada towards the end of the summer, record some podcasts, assist two people in the setup of new podcasts, get involved in the running of two shows at the Rhythm & Roots Festival next weekend, sign a few cheques and contracts in relation to the performance of Trainspotting in June, meet and talk to all the cast and crew, finalise a PR strategy for an upcoming nationwide music tour in July (one Irish, one Australian act) and while I wait on the kettle to boil, I’m currently prepping for a 12 hour video shoot today in Kilkenny.

The video shoot should be fun.

But this trip to Canada – or anywhere else for that matter, can’t come soon enough!

Internet Silence For The Weekend

Kayaking TrioJaiku off? Check. Twitter off? Check. Internet profile on phone? Still deleted. Last.fm Radio? Nowhere to be found. Paddle? Check. ProTools? Check. Boots? Check. Bike? Check.

I’ve been waiting for March to hit for ages, this stretch of ten days or so to be more precise. It’s close on two months since I’ve had the chance to get up to Sligo but come lunchtime today I’ll be counting down the miles to the lake, all in the hope that I’m getting a head start on the bank holiday traffic.

I’m imposing internet silence for the weekend. Twitter and Jaiku mobile updates are off. There’s no broadband connection in the house above – which surprisingly suits me this weekend – no dial-up connection and mobile coverage is sketchy at the best of times.

The lack of any decent speed internet connection doesn’t sway me at all at the lake. I know if I drive 7 miles up the road that I can get a wireless broadband connection. I know if I make the trip into Ballina (Mayo, we’re pretty close to the border) and could bring my laptop with me, enjoy internet access and coffee in the town, but I choose not to. There are enough natural distractions in the area to enjoy as opposed to spending even MORE time logged on.

Barring one appointment I’ve got on Saturday I plan on getting back out on the lake, tackling some more of the waves at Iniscrone (I’m guessing we’ll have the weather for it though I must look up the surf reports), cycling the mountain roads until my legs fall off and if I’ve enough energy left, flesh out an idea on paper that’s been bubbling away in my head the last two weeks (good bubbles) and I’m NOT leaving until I’ve got one new track recorded for delivery on MySpace next week.

If you’re emailing me, DMing me or looking for me in general, don’t expect to find me until Tuesday – or maybe Monday night, depending on what happens on the 17th.

Yes, some of us still believe that St. Patrick’s Day and it’s traditional Irish activities should take place on the 17th and not a bloody Saturday.

Then we’ll do it all again next weekend for Easter.

Some Blog Updates

I’m doing some blog updates tonight so appearances might be sketchy here and there. I’ve been working on a change of theme for the blog, something simple and not so pink (it’s been pink since October, time for a change!).

There’s also a wordpress upgrade due, some plugin upgrades and the eventual change of theme itself which will have some “live updates” over the next 2-3 hours or so while I tweak a few things.

Just a heads up!

Update: Monday 22:35

I’ve posted the first draft of the theme, to give me an idea of what needs tweaking. Of course, my internet connection in general is damn slow tonight so that doesn’t help much.

Any feedback, thoughts, comments, errors spotted etc. let me know! I’ve ditched a lot of the small chicklets, removed the pink colour, the background image, the flash-driven Jaiku updater and overall I’ve gone for something a little more straight forward, hopefully quicker loading and a little tidier. Plus, it’s widget-friendly in comparison to the previous theme.

The sidebar varies a bit depending where you are in the blog – the homepage displays a mini profile (which will be rewritten and updated at some stage this week), recent blog comments, a blog roll and some links; the single pages display one adsense block, latest posts blog-wide and some different widgets…

So far so good.

Focusing On Fitness Makes It Easy To Focus

Personal blah alert. For the last few weeks I’ve been on a healthy eating kick and it’s doing me wonders.

Plain and simple, the focus on fitness (getting fit and getting some way healthy through some cycling, weights and kayaking), has made it easy to focus elsewhere. By that I mean I’m more alert, more energy in the afternoons, able to work quicker, juggle a few more pins. Positive eating, positive thinking, clear focus. Of course, it’s not something that I decided to do on a whim, I’ve planned for a while to do it and now that I have there’s no turning back.

As much the recent change has allowed me to focus on my work, I’m finding more focus on hobbies – my photoblog for example has been given a new lease on life and my love of photography completely rekindled (after a dry spell), also resulting in Practical Photography reappearing through my door. Plans for other online and offline developments are taking shape

Working for yourself and working until all hours (I also run up to 30 gigs a year and I’m directly involved in running a theatre company) both in an out of the office meant some woeful eating habits over the years but even in the few short weeks a few changes have reaped benefits.

Nice how putting a direction on one small part of your life has an immediate (and positive) impact on other parts of your life.

Maybe I’m just going mad…

Or happy to know that it’s working…

No, I Can’t Sleep In Chairs

So I’m back from Germany.

Sitting in my office, 24 hours later than anticipated.

Having arrived back in Kilkenny 16 hours later than anticipated.

I now have it confirmed as a fact that I cannot sleep on chairs. That, or Ryanair designed Frankfurt Hahn airport so it is impossible to get any kind of decent sleep.

Having had a most fantastic weekend away in Bad Soden-Salmunster, namely here for two gigs, myself and my brother arrived in Hahn on Sunday evening all set to go home. It was a bit foggy out, no big deal I thought. We disappeared into the terminal, pretzels in hand and in search of some coffee before checking in. No more than five minutes in the terminal and a flight to Oslo or Stockholm had been cancelled.

A quick look outside the door and the fog seemed an awful lot thicker than before. But, the other half of the group (who were travelling from Frankfurt Main) had departed no problem, though I guess the bigger airports handle fog an awful lot better than Hahn. No sight or sound of a delay, no warnings from the ticket desk or check in desk, so we advanced through to “the other side”, strolled around the duty free, drank more coffee and walked to Gate 7 around 9:30pm Sunday, boarding due at 9:40pm.

9:50pm. 10:00pm. An announcement that a flight to Milan or somewhere else has been cancelled, delays going up on the board but Dublin is still good to go. Flight time comes, 10:10pm, 40 minute delay posted on the board. No problem I thought, just means we’re arriving back in Dublin around midnight.

We never reach the end of the 40 minute delay, an announcement was made – that all the German-speaking passengers understood – that Dublin was cancelled and we could fly out the same time tomorrow night. Bloody great. They were now also diverting planes away from Hahn to Koln, but Frankfurt Main was still in the clear.

This was certainly where the MaxRoam sim card came in handy, phone calls back to the family, phone calls back to the office, phone calls in search of flights from both Hahn and Main (no chance of me sticking around another 24 hours to risk the exact same thing happening again). We joined the hour-long queue at the Ryanair ticket desk, a phone call to John informing me that we wouldn’t have to wait until tomorrow (Monday) night, but we could get out of there at 10am for €150 or so, the same story from Frankfurt Main with Aer Lingus if we were so tempted.

People around us were making phone calls, arranging collections, hotels in nearby towns. When the queue went past the main entrance to the terminal you could see the hoards of people trying to get a room in the B&B Hotel across the road. Crowded lobby, queue around the corner – “I guess we’re slumming in the airport so” I’d said to my brother.

They were giving out notices on what to do when your flight is cancelled, what you can expect – accommodation, meals, compensation etc. except when the airline can prove that something exceptional, such as the weather, comes into play.

So we arrive at the ticket window, secure seats on the Monday morning Dublin flight and look to kill 10 hours or so. Some cokes, shite coffee, a bag of onion rings keep us going for an hour all while walking around aimlessly. We discover a ‘casino’ upstairs where it turns out we’re not too bad at the video poker machines, my brother taking 200 euro in a few minutes (having deposited maybe a fiver in change). That certainly lightens the mood. About 1:30am or so we look to settle down, any half decent open space in the airport taken or coated with some crazy dust that was turning our bags and jackets an odd sandy colour.

We instead opt for the restaurant upstairs thinking the chairs look big enough. For about five minutes sleep. Five minutes here, ten minutes there, slump across the table for ten minutes, back to the chair for ten minutes and so the pattern continues until 5am when we’re all hunted out by the lady opening up, who in turn also sells shite coffee. For all the effort I would have been better off staying awake for the night with the pain in my neck and shoulders yesterday.

American pancakes and bacon at 5:30am and eventually we arrive back in Dublin ten minutes early. I was convinced the pilot was putting the foot down all the way in on the landing, no sense of slowing down at all, hitting the runway with a slap before jamming on the brakes. Rough night, rough landing, last time we’ll be flying to Frankfurt Hahn for anything.

Getting through the airport in Dublin was grand, no checked in luggage, straight to the car park to grab the van, only to park on the M50 almost as soon as we hit it.

Of course, there were some good points about Germany…

  • The two gigs were awesome. We played some Seger Sessions stuff on the Saturday night to bring down the house. Some sketchy songs though on the Saturday night before all that…
  • The staff at the pub / hotel and everyone in the group were legends.
  • Got to day-trip to Heidelberg which looks better in real-life than it does in photos.
  • The pub served pizza until 2am and Jagermeister was only 1.50 a shot. We reckon Jager and Red Bull (or big pump) will end up on the menu as collectively we must have consumed about 4,000 of them, give or take.

But, bed beckons at 3pm and all is temporarily forgotten.

Until the phone calls start when I switch my mobile on in the bed at 7pm and I’m reminded that I’m back in the real world…