Generation Emigration and the Irish Abroad

I’m not entirely sure when but at some stage during the last recession, the Irish Times started running a regular feature called Generation Emigration.

I was living in Ireland at the time, as I did for all of that recession, and I was mildly annoyed with them. Firstly, this was hardly the first generation to have emigrated in mass numbers and the previous lot were less than 10 years previous. I emigrated in 1994. A lot of people I know did. And secondly, emigration can either be mourned, but you’ll be more successful if you see it as an opportunity and an adventure rather than a complete imposition.

I’ve no doubt the Irish Times did this because it paid them to do so but having read a bunch of the pieces, I found it all mildly depressing, and perhaps that was the angle they were aiming for. They’ve since renamed the section The Irish Abroad which I suppose is a little less depressing.

I don’t know that it was the label Generation Emigration that made it depression. It’s just I read enough pieces talking about people missing home that even though I was in Ireland, I was starting to climb the walls, and then when you got the pieces about people who had decided to Come Home it was really depressing.

I did all this. I did the emigrating in 1994, and I did the Coming Home in 1999. One of the things I knew then and still know now is that having lived elsewhere changes you and there will always be things that you miss. Certainly, Lidl and Aldi alleviated a lot of those things over time and eventually Tesco started stocking couscous as well. But nowhere in Dublin did hot chocolate like they do in Italy and only in that small village in Germany where I was working for a year could you get that really nice Mohnkuche. The years after coming home from Brussels were spent desperately missing street waffles. And I couldn’t get a decent haircut for love nor money.

The biggest problem when I emigrated the first time was tea. You couldn’t get that very easily at all or at least, you were stuck with Liptons Yellow Label which is the equivalent of hell for the discerning tea drinker; that is to say, someone for whom Barrys is the top level of tea. But there wasn’t much else. When I got back though, there were lots of things. Stroopwaffel (Lidl helps now and again), Parma Ham (took a few years but everyone eventually caught up), Butter with salt crystals (take a bow, and quite a bit of money, Marks and Spencer). Your horizons broaden and then, when you go back, they narrow again a little. I read a lot of pieces from people coming home that just made no sense to me because they focused very much on how everything was going to be perfect in Ireland this time. There never seemed to be any consideration given to the idea that in fact, being away changes people and well, with it, comes a little bit of longing. Of homesickness for a bunch of different homes.

Emigration now is different. I emigrated again last November. When I left the first time, I wrote lots of letters. Now, we have email, Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook. Phone calls don’t cost a fortune any more either. Ryanair makes a lot of journeys a lot easier and a great deal less expensive. Aer Lingus have seriously upped their range of routes. It’s all, in practical terms, far easier than it used to be.

It’s just, for some reason, I read a lot of pieces in the Irish Times that suggested emigration was really hard, and coming back was a lot easier. For me, it really was the inverse. Leaving wasn’t so hard. IN a way, it was an adventure. Coming back left little pieces of me in Finland, France, Germany and Belgium. Maybe not so much in London. And yet, I knew this would be the way it was. I sometimes wonder if the current returning ex generation emigration are set up to face this.

Of pencils and pens

In a mad fit of tidying today, I have sorted out *some* of my mechanical pencils, *some* of my ball points and *some* of my fountain pens. They are now neat and tidy in things which Veritas sell as embroidery thread holders but which are gloriously well useful for storing pencils and things.  On the other hand, I haven’t found them as useful for storing embroidery thread. Strange that.

I have quite  a lot and even that bout of tidying didn’t deal with all of any of them given that there are pencils and pens committed to other special use pencil cases and the like.

I’d like to know why I am addicted to buying them. The problem of it being School Rentrée here in Lux has lead to an enormous selection of “yerra it’s only a tenner” on the fountain pen front. But I can’t account for the fact that I have loads of Uni Shalaku pencils, not to mention all the pencils that are Pilots, Pentels, Faber Castells and Caran d’Aches. I have really no idea why I think I need them. And yet there’s something about mechanical pencils, even the cheap plastic Stabilo ones that cost like, 2 euro, that speaks of luxury.

I think it has something to do with pencils costing 10p when I was at school. But there are so many different mechanical pencils too. I own a bunch of 0.5s and a bunch of 0.7s, and a limited few 0.3s. It’s the unending range – I mean, I just looked at the Uni Kuru Toga range on Cultpens and I want them all. Actually I’d like a couple of their 0.3s.

The fountain pens are somewhat more controlled – the overwhelming majority of them are Lamy Safaris in a vast array of colours, with some specials. Most of my pens, I love. Unlike a lot of people, I write daily. I was a developer for more than ten years, and I still work in IT although not as a dev any more (for which I am grateful as I’d had enough of development). But I keep a handwritten workbook, a handwritten planner and at home, I keep two journals and occasionally still write letters. And of course, I draw.

Today, I tidied most of the mech pencils and all of the fountain pens that are not CdA or Lamy. I like to think that this will have an interesting impact on my choice of writing interest on any given day – I can find stuff more easily.

 

WIP – Aeropostale and other needlework concerns

I used to go to the city of Lyon quite a bit some years ago. I don’t like to count but certainly ten years ago I was going there often. Once, I found a needlework store in the 2nd Arrondissement and I wandered in, and came out later with less money, clutching 2 tapestry canvases which I carefully tended back to Dublin and kept stored in a poster roll for about 10 years, It wasn’t intentional but a career as a kitesurfing photographer distracted me for a while as did a nightmare of a project involving embroidery silk that took about 5 years of my life. I then did a couple of lighthouses, and finally, reached a point where I had no works in progress and had to choose between 2 or 3 different options for Next Big Project.

So I chose this one.

Aeropostale still in progress

For me at the time, it was an unusual project to have bought seeing as it:

  1. wasn’t a lighthouse
  2. wasn’t set in Brittany
  3. had a human being in it.

Pretty much every other major canvas I had bought by choice featured a lighthouse, the sea, or Brittany, or occasionally all three. I picked up this one because at the time, I had a liking for Antoine de St Exupery, and he had been a pilot for the Aeropostale service, and had written a book called Vol de Nuit. As a nice piece of symmetry, the airport in Lyon is called St Exupery. He’s obviously best known for writing and illustrating The Little Prince. He disappeared over the Med during WWII.

I’m not certain when I started this but it’s probably 2 or 3 years ago. It got brought with me when I moved house but it occasionally finds itself deprioritised in favour of twitter. So it’s not going as fast as I had hoped. But I have days like today when I get a notable bit done and there’s some progress since I last photographed it in July.

I’ve also joined the needlepoint group on Facebook which has provided added motivation on one front. It has also been educational on a few other fronts. I’ve generally done needlepoint alone for the last 12 years.

I started doing tapestry in 2005. I did a postgrad between 2003 and 2005 and when I finally got out of that, I wanted to do something different, something more tangible. So I went to craft shops and I signed up for crochet lessons in the evening school at the comprehensive in Ballymun. The classes were given by a great lady whose name I don’t remember but I do remember hoping that when I was her age – ca 90 – I’d have the same get up and go. Anyway, the crochet and the tapestry stuck but I didn’t know anyone else at all in the world who did tapestry. It was like my secret hobby. There are upsides to that (no one tells you what to do) and downsides (supplies are thin on the ground as is gadget news and access to blogs). For years, the only websites I could find selling tapestry canvases were in Australia until I found a site in France.

Anyway, via the FB group, I’ve come across the fact that other people do lots of different stitches. I do have half cross and that’s all I ever have done. They have deep and meaningful discussions about thread selection – I chose the DMC 4 ply as recommended by Royal Paris or whoever printed the canvas. The American stitchers are big into handpainted canvases. I haven’t seen these much in Europe at all but the ones in America are eye wateringly (and understandably) expensive. I couldn’t afford that hobby in the US, I think.

But they’ve also brought me into contact with the modern world and tools. Tools which are actually manufactured here in Europe.

Specifically, they introduced me to magnets.

Tools

This photograph includes a brand new Prym scissors. I’ve already written extensively on scissors here, so we will skip over the scissors. The other two items are magnetic.

I have lived my life surrounded by fridge magnets and yet it never occurred to me to use them to corral needles while I was doing needlework. The oval thing there is magnetic. I think I bought that in a craft shop in Brussels the week before last – it’s probably way bigger than you’d think but it’s somewhere to keep the active and spare needles while you’re stitching as opposed to having them stuck somewhere awkward in the canvas.

The other thing is called a needle twister. It’s the simplest idea going. There’s a magnet in the bottom which attracts the needles, and the white bit twists so that the inside of the thing is pushed up exactly like you would be twisting out a lipstick. It is the handiest way to keep needles under control and so far, I haven’t lost any. As I typically lose full backs of needles at a go, this is quite great. I bought that in a craft shop here in Luxembourg. As a gadget, it scores top marks. Now I’m just looking to get a few in other colours, probably on websites that have canvases that I never knew I wanted but now I have to have…but that’s the nature of every hobby I’ve ever had. Gadgets proliferate.

Holliers in the mountains

I discovered rather too late that the school holidays in Luxembourg ended two weeks’ later than every other country in Europe which means that those two weeks where I had time off work, chosen because “shur all the schools will be gone back” were extortionately expensive to get to Spain with. Plus, bad and all as it was to get to  Spain, it was profoundly bankrupting to actually get home.

So I had to go somewhere cheaper instead and I chose Switzerland. The irony is not lost on me here.

The easiest way to go to where I wanted to go in Switzerland is usually fly into Geneva, have lunch with a friend and get a train and a couple of buses. However, that was too expensive because only Luxair flew into Geneva, and only Swiss flew into Zurich which left not-terribly-obvious option three, fly into Milan with either Ryanair, EasyJet or Luxair. In the end, I flew into Bergamo with Ryanair.

 

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You can see the mountains there. In fact, since we flew over them, you could probably have seen them from the aircraft. I had an aisle seat and could see nothing.

I had to overnight in Milan with a really early morning train on a Sunday morning so I picked somewhere near Milano Centrale. Milano Centrale is a great building.

It’s massive.

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It screams delusions of grandeur and when you realise Mussolini had an interest you kind of understand why. It’s a stunning building.

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with lots of halls and massive high ceilings.

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and art.

I could spend a day in Milano Centrale and probably go bankrupt in the shops there.

Growing up in Ireland, the train network is kind of limited to Ireland, and doesn’t seem terribly exotic.

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Continental train stations on the other hand…Mine was the EC 32 at 8:23, destination Geneva.

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It was a Swiss train. It takes a fascinating and stunning route into the mountains via Lake Maggiore.

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…and then the landscape starts getting a bit pointier.

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and pointier.

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The last stop before the border with Switzerland is a place called Dommodossola. This is a good warning to switch off your data roaming because in Switzerland, there is no Roam Like Home and even the phone calls come in at 1.72 a minute.

We don’t do snow capped mountains in Ireland much, never mind in summer.

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Switzerland does.

I was staying in the Valais.

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The mountains are full of character.

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I got off the train in Sion and had an early lunch.

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Surprisingly, there were a couple of shops open, including a bakery. This was unexpected since it was Sunday.

From Sion, I had to get two buses to Ovronnaz. The next change was in Leytron.

This is vineyard country.

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So lots of vines on practically vertical terraces.

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Leytron was kind of quiet.

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But it was Sunday morning.

And the land was a bit pointier than I am used to.

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Despite McGillycuddy Reeks being a formative part of my life

I got on the second bus.

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That’s Leytron as we started winding up our way an eternal number of hairpin bends. I don’t know that we would send buses up there if it were Ireland to be frank Some of the turns were nervewracking and we frequently met enthusiastic traffic coming at us. I’ve only been more scared in a bus once and that was in Fuerteventura.

I was staying in Ovronnaz.

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Ovronnaz is at around 1200m, and it’s well known for thermal baths and skiing. During the summer it also gets a bunch of hikers. I didn’t actually take any pictures of the baths but what follows are pictures of mountains, quite a few of them.

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I think this one was the view from my apartment.

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and we were below the snowline.

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The place is stunning when the sun comes out.

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So I decided to take the skilift up to 2000m. This was still below the snowline.

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Apparently you can walk to the top of that. I didn’t.

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Yay. Snow caps.

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We don’t get a whole lot of snow in Ireland or indeed in Luxembourg so I find this joy inducing. Although I draw the line at doing those hairpins in a bus in the snow.

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This is the chairlift posts looking down. I didn’t want to take my camera out while I was hanging in midair so that’s really all you’ll get of that.

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But I loved it up there.

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Sunset one evening.

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Weather not so great another day:

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Sunset another day.

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View from my balcony.

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View from the front of the hotel.

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It rained the last night I was there.

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This was how it looked at 7.20 in the morning as I started the 12 hour journey home. The trip down the hairpins was sufficiently dizzying that I took no photos and I only had 60 seconds in Leytron to make the bus back to Sion.

The train from Sion to Milan was packed. This is what the luggage area looked like half an hour out from Milan

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Would I do this again? Yes, despite a few stupid mishaps (I lost a full swim kit including swimsuit, goggles and nose clip on day one) but I’d like to be a bit hill walking fitter. There is no actually horizontal piece of ground up there – you’re either walking up a very steep hill or down a very steep hill. During the snow season, there are buses moving people from hotels to skilifts and the countryside is dotted with skilift lines which leads me to think there’s a good few more than the one I got up to 2000m, Jorasse. Switzerland is not terribly cheap and the exchange rate is really not in the EU’s favour at the moment (but it was more than offset by the cost of flying to Spain). Ovronnaz is a hassle to get to from outside Switzerland but the buses worked out okay. The food was generally good. Plus, if you’re European, seeing the Alps really should be on your bucket list. You can also do it in winter (duh) and I did the Glacier Express in 2016.

Protecting ourselves…

I went  on a bit of a twitter rant this morning and screwed up the threading which is proof that when it’s longer than 3 tweets, you really should get up, have breakfast and write a blog post instead. Here we are.

I was on holiday last week but since Friday, my newsfeed from Ireland has featured the name George Hook in rather distressing frequency. I don’t listen to the guy’s radio show and have not for a very long time. He wasn’t entertaining as a rugby analyst but as a radio presenter, he annoyed me on a few levels. What did for me originally was a comment to the effect that if you were in a relationship with someone, didn’t you de facto give consent for sex? Well…no. Actually it took a while but even in Ireland we got laws against marital rape. Typically, for sex not to be rape, all participants have to have consented to the activity. It’s not that difficult to understand. Giving consent once is not de facto, consent for every other time a person might want sex, ever.

At some point end of last week, however, he made some comments about a high profile rape case in the UK, details of which I will skip, but in which he made a few comments on how awful the rapists were and then said “But -”

“Buts” like that are not really a good sign. They tend to go a good way towards negating everything that went before the “But”. The general outcome of what he said is that women perhaps have a responsibility not to put themselves in a position of getting raped. This is actually very difficult.

The case he described entailed drink, agreeing to have sex with one person, and somehow getting raped by a few more. Perhaps she shouldn’t have agreed to have sex with that one person, maybe should have drunk less.

I could, to some extent, take elements of that apart and point out that if you agree to have sex with one person, you don’t agree to have sex with all their friends later by default. And this would be still be true.

The thing is, I started wondering, how do you prevent yourself from getting raped. What can women do?

Well, I considered it this morning and concluded that the only way to reduce the risk of getting raped was to avoid men all together. This struck me as somewhat extreme, to be honest. I have a bunch of male friends. None of them have ever tried to rape me. I like to assume that this is more the general way of things because in general, my experience is that people tend to be decent rather than scum.

I just want to guard against those men who are not nice, whom I don’t know and who might rape me. Clearly, the best way to do this is to dress in a way not to tempt them and not to go out partying and have a few drinks. QED. Safe from rape.

Except. Or But.

The problem is personally, this is not my experience. I’m fortunate never to have actually been raped. But I have had a couple of experiences where I have been fortunate. The last one was relatively recent and the following were all true:

  1. it was about 6pm on a Friday evening
  2. I was standing at a bus stop
  3. I was completely sober
  4. I was wearing a pair of jeans.
  5. I was wearing a non-skimpy top.
  6. There were about 8 other people standing around waiting for the bus.
  7. I was asked for directions by a softly spoken person.

I feel very fortunate that there were 8 other people there because once I had given directions, I wasn’t left alone. Despite repeated comments that I was not interested, and I did not want him to touch me. He accused me of lying when I told him I was not interested in the activities that he was proposing. His operational mode depended on not drawing attention so the fact that there were 8 other people meant that walking away was an option. I’m not sure it would have been if there were no potential witnesses.

It freaked me out. I didn’t report it to the police at the time because it’s hard enough to get a rape complaint taken seriously and in this case, you know, I was lucky.

The only thing I did wrong was give directions to someone who asked for directions.

So I get antsy when I hear people talking about what women should do to avoid getting raped because sometimes, merely existing is a risk factor. I sometimes think a lot of men don’t realise just how much of a risk factor being a women is in terms of getting raped. Yes, men get raped as well and to be honest, it’s probably hard to figure out what the exact statistics are because rape is an notoriously under reported crime.

And it nearly always comes with either an overt or implied querying of what the victim did wrong. Did she wear the wrong clothes? Was she too drunk? Did he look a bit weak?

The implication that there’s some sort of an excuse. Something similar plays out with domestic violence.

I used to be friends with a woman some years ago who was with someone for a few years when he started battering her. I saw some of the bruises. He eventually got as far as threatening to kill her – there were a few more details to the threat which I really don’t feel like going into here – at which point she figured that between the bruises she couldn’t cover up any more and some comments he had made about her family, there probably wasn’t anything retrievable there.

But there is often a subtext of “What did she do to draw him on her” when a woman is being abused domestically, or “why is he so weak” when a man is being abused domestically. We call it victim blaming and the annoying thing above all else is that it effectively proffers an excuse to the abuser, the rapist, the attacker. It actually doesn’t matter what a woman is wearing – this does not actually give anyone a right to rape her. And yet, it gets used as an excuse. We need to stop taking those excuses seriously.

There is no given right to sex and yet some men seem to operate under the impression that they have an absolute right to it. It’s worth reading up on the Isla Vista killings as an example of what can happen when this gets taken to extremes.

Women already take precautions in a milion myriad little ways against the risk bad things happening from the moment they get up. Many women in abusive relationships spend their time working out how best to manage their abuser so as to minimise the risk of a blow out. Women walk out the front door, choose not to go certain places, choose not to talk to certain people. These are coping mechanisms which women come up with. But it’s not good advice for men to come together as a society and tell women how to behave because instead of that being safety advice, it is actually controlling behaviour. Instead of telling me not to go jogging in the park on my own, or on realising that I already don’t go jogging in the park on my own, the bestresponse would be to figure out how to make it safer for me to jog in the park on my own. This doesn’t just benefit potential rape victims – it’s good for people who aren’t likely to be rapists as well. They usually get benefit out of the improved lighting or the cctv.

I remember reading a fascinating piece which I have no chance of tracing any more on the question of all the advice that women got given to avoid being mugged, raped, assaulted, murdered. It amounted to a serious amount of activity limitation. Don’t go out after dark, don’t drink, make sure you get home at a certain time, ring someone to tell them you’re safe. The piece operated on what it would be like if, given that most rapists tend to be men, we advised all men to effectively curfew their lives so that the risk of any of them carrying out rapes was minimised to zero. The response was very different. This was seriously limiting, how could they live like this? And yet, that is often what we expect of women. To shut themselves away to some/a lot of extent to reduce the risk of someone else doing something awful to them.

I don’t think it’s all that helpful.

There are a couple of things which I think need to be understood.

  1. you cannot always identify a rapist in advance of being raped
  2. there is no distinct way that you can behave which guarantees that you don’t get raped.
  3. instead of limiting the horizons of women who might get raped, we need to reinforce a value in society that raping women is wrong

In many respects, that’s a peer education thing and in other ways, it’s an enforcement issue. I wrote to Alan Shatter when he was Minister for Justice while I was living in Ireland on the question of rape sentencing after we had a bunch of very questionable sentences on rape/sexual assault conviction.

Rape is a violent crime. That it typically is visited upon women does not make it less violent or less of a risk to society, and when you bear in mind that men who are victims of rape are even less likely to report than women are, you can see the poison that it sows in a society when we don’t treat rapists seriously. This means no excuses. She wore a short skirt? So what. She’s allowed to – you don’t get to rape her just because…we’re not in the business of forcing women to dress a certain way to prevent men from behaving a certain way. She had a couple of drinks? Well why didn’t you wait until the morning before having sex with her? Oh she didn’t know you, why did you invite her back to your hotel room for sex if you didn’t know her?

The questions we ask of victims, we need to ask of rapists. Ask them to account for their behaviour, what they have done, take responsibility for what they have done.

Bodycamming your way through lifelogging

First of all, Seamus has this here and that’s why I’m writing on my own site.

Back in the mists of time, ie, around 2014, I did a couple of university modules on adaptive personalisation and collective intelligence. This saw me playing with recommender systems and fighting with people about whether Duolingo was great or not. I continue to take the view that Duolingo is not great for all sorts of reasons including their own statistical summary of why it works (despite a near 90% drop out rate, yes, quite).

One of the things which came up in those modules – can’t remember which but it was the same lecturer – was some research some guy was doing, I think in DCU, about life logging and the fact that he had cameras going the whole time. I hated the idea. I was out of step with the lecturer concerned, who voiced wonder about how the guy’s girlfriend had turned up in his films a few weeks before he actually met her and hooked up with her.

I hated the idea. I hate the idea of CCTV anyway and already, I have severe issues with the fact that you can randomly turn up in a film which someone shot of where you were despite you not asking to be in their film. I hated the idea that just because some guy wanted to record his entire life, parts of my life got recorded as well. I did not then, and still don’t see the point. I’ve lifelogged for the past 25 years using that high tech system called “pen and paper”. From practice, I can tell you it’s faster to check something in pen and paper than searching through a youtube video for it.

In practical terms if you just want to remember stuff writing it down works. Sometimes words on a page evoke a feeling and a memory far better than a photograph ever does.

I still don’t understand why anyone would want to record everything if they haven’t worked out whether or not they would want to re-watch it. Recording stuff rather than writing it misses context – it misses the context of what’s in your mind, how you feel, how you think about something. Memories are a whole lot more contextual than the external film that plays. For thsoe who do want to do it though, they need to consider how that desire impinges on people who do not want to be recorded into their film, to have their moves recorded by a third party who may mean nothing to them.

If I’d met that guy who was lifelogging away 3-4 years ago, he and I would not have hooked up because I would have found it as creepy as hell.

Snowflakes don’t want to live with their parents (and rightly so)

I don’t live in Ireland at the moment but Bank of Ireland got into a bit of trouble over the last day or two over some advertising campaign whereby they had Orla moving in with her parents so she and the other half could save money for a deposit. There was war and rumours of war. The ad got pulled.

There seems to be broadly two trains of thought: a) this should not be normalised and b) this is normal and what’s the problem.

I’m of the (a) school of thought. For the most part, if I were ever to move in with my parents, I’d expect to be paying rent and upkeep. Fair is fair. I’m an adult. The model in the ad looked like she was in her 30s. I haven’t lived with my parents since I was 17. I think if I’d had to move in at the age of 32 it would have been extremely culturally difficult for all of us. And it certainly would not have been free gratis either.

The property market in Dublin is utterly crazy at the moment. There are a lot of reasons for this: the numbers of units which have moved from the residental market to the commercial short term let market via AirBnB is one contributor, the lack of building over the last 10 years won’t have helped either. The fact that there have been very high profile failures of regulation for property built in the time period 2000 – 2007 also won’t be helping.

But.

Normalising adults still living with their parents is socially a very bad idea. Doing it for money even more so. Parents should be able to expect their off spring to fend for themselves by the time they hit 21. Neither the offspring nor the parents should be having their style cramped by living with their parents.

This is the problem I have with the ad – that it normalises something which is probably not a great thing from a social point of view. That being said, it’s one of only a myriad of problems that are not great from a social point of view. The accommodation problems in Dublin have wider ramifications in terms of quality of life, people commuting from further distances, impacts on spatial planning, people will wind up trapped in negative equity again, and there will be problems again. I got out of Dublin because I could afford to neither rent nor buy and this is the reality for a lot of people working in the Dublin area. That’s not sustainable and a few people moving in with their parents to try and stash the guts of more than a year’s gross salary in savings isn’t going to fix that.

The simple problem is this: for property to become affordable, property values are going to have to halve again. And there are a lot of people yowling about the current snowflakes have it too easy and are entitled who are doing that yowling because they own the property and they don’t want to sell it for an affordable price.

Swimming Pool Review: Badanstalt (Luxembourg)

One of the swimming pools filed under “closed” for quite a bit of the summer was the city centre Badanstalt. It re-opened on 1 August apparently and I dropped in to have a look today. It’s ten minutes from where I live and the paperwork says it’s 25 m but reviews suggest not great for swim training.

The Badanstalt is a beautiful classical building ended by a lovely windowed hemisphere. From the outside it is gorgeous. Inside is a pool which yes, is about 25m long. It has 2 whirlpools, a couple of bubble beds and some water jets. I don’t know exactly all the facilities it has because I did not really have time to test them all.

What I do know, however, is that the Badanstalt really isn’t a swimming pool you can do much swim training in. It just doesn’t have a clearly defined lap you can follow – I swam some lengths but I can’t really say for certain whether they were 20 or 25 metres and anyway, it seems to me there is some sort of a current in the pool. I could do the lengths in 36s on one direction (suggests 25m) and 23 s in the other decision (suggests about 20 m). As my personal best for 25m at the moment is a paltry 33s, I’m doubting that I could do it in 23 unless a) it isn’t 25m and b) there was some support in the water as it were.

So I’m not really going to review this as a swimming pool – but I will say this – it would be a great place to go after you’ve been training. The water is a degree or two warmer than Bonnevoie but cooler than the leisure pools in Syrdall. The jacuzzis are very comfortable, and I liked the bubble beds as well. There are vertical jets at one end of the pool which may be eternal swimming pools except I was too strong a swimmer for that to work for me.

It is in a beautiful building, with a high ceiling and room to sit around the edges.  It is the kind of place I would love to go on a Sunday evening for an hour or two before the week starts again. I used to do this in Dublin – go to the water relaxation centre in ALSAA for a while to cap off the weekend and it’s a nice idea. The main problem with doing it in the Badanstalt is that it closes at 12. And they throw you out of the pool at 11.30. So I think it might work as a post work relation place – the pool is usually open till about during the week except Monday’s when the place is closed.

I’d be happy enough to go there again but more in line with going there after I went running (or something) rather than to go swimming. Full marks for relaxation, less so for pounding out the lengths.

 

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