Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ooh shiny!

I finally got round to formatting the blog a bit and making it slightly more presentable. Still a ways to go yet but I'm all geared up for a return to sharing my thoughts with the soul-less void that is the internet in the new year, as well as hopefully going back and filling in some of the blanks from the last twelve months.

Stay tuned! I say as if anyone is still reading this...

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Palin Interview I Want To See...

Palin managed to look pretty pathetic against some light-weight American interviewers - little girls who blink too much and old men who didn't want to offend her. Even when Fox had to put words in her mouth she hardly set the world on fire.

There is one man I really want to see interview this Creationist-Believing Anti-Choice Polar-Bear-Hunting Witch-Doctor-Attending moron... This man...


How would Palin fair against that type of onslaught? Luckily enough there's a video around that answers that question too... A lotta praayin' for Serra needed doinah...

So Jebus is obviously on Palin's side. So what we'd end up with is a Paxman Vs. Jebus debate...

"Are you the son of God?"
"It is you who say it"
"Excuse me, Mr. Christ you aren't answering the question. Are you the son of God?"
"The Angel of the Lord declared on to Mary and I simply..."
"Well we have a whole book here brimming with fanciful stories, many of them suggesting you are the son of an omnipotent being who created the universe. Are you the son of God and if so, what number am I thinking of?"
"I think we'll leave it there, shall we."

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Top News - Nasty Storm Hits US, while Nothing Happens At Republican Convention...

...Meanwhile in some non-English speaking countries - everything is F***ed!

Looking through the 24-hour news stations in the past few days they are dominated by the Republican Convention which isn't happening and Hurricane Gustav which isn't really happening. Little fuss was made of course when Gustav was killing a hundred people crossing Cuba and the Caribbean - even then the focus was hyping the hurricane up to be "The storm of the century" that was going to destroy New Orleans again.

So basically nothing is happening, (another tropical storm/hurricane hitting Haiti in the course of one week doesn't apparently count) queue a video of journalists standing outside in New Orleans and surprisingly being blown around a bit - compelling stuff!

Meanwhile, the Indian Monsoon gets a bit of a mention gets an occasional brief mention but the medias main contribution to this seems to be to take up room on the tiny boats being used to evacuate people - it seems like pure idiocy! View for yourself here and I'm sure I saw worse on TV, where the clip actually showed them making a pic- up and the boat nearly getting swamped.

Anyway, the emphasise put on tragedy or even potential tragedy in the developed world over the developing world seems ridiculous to me... that's all. I know I'm hardly breaking new ground here but this week's examples have just been too blatant for me to that I couldn't ignore them.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Joys of Air Travel

Earlier this week I was drawn into a debate over whether Michael O'Leary is a genius. Anyone who knows me, and/or my history with his airline should be in no doubt as to my stance on this man.

So as I sit in terminal 2F of Charles de Gaulle waiting for my Air France flight to Dublin, I feel once again reassured in my choice to consistently fly with a proper airline.

When I arrived at the terminal I walked past a hour long queue for check-in and went to the business check-in and checked in immediately. I was given a plastic bag to protect my back-pack that I'd checked in and I walked through security with a minimal delay.

I was hungry so I had a few sandwiches while I checked my emails in the business lounge. Now I'm just about to board and I'm reading through the selection of free newspapers that I've picked up.

And what massive premium did I have to pay for flying Air France? €10 at most - screw you Michael O'leary! I'm looking forward to my mediocre sandwich and Perrier on board too!

Update: ...And then i got bumped up to business class - foie gras and champagne all the way. Screw you all, peasants!

Monday, July 28, 2008


I saw Rocky the other day... no, not the sixth instalment of the films following the life and times of Rocky Balboa, but actually Rocky in person - Sly Stallone. He was as close as you are now to your computer screen reading this... well depending on how far you sit from your screen.

Anyway, there it was the highlight of the Summer so far... oh dear, I need a holiday. I can now declare this season a success though, I feel and move on with renewed hope to the new one.

I won't be fencing at all in August, my first break of over two weeks from fencing since a wrist injury in Autumn 2005. So I feel it is somewhat justified. As I approached the end of the season and the Europeans I was feeling quite burnt-out and was struggling to find form - and eventually this was reflected in my results over the last month or so of the season.

Now the mission is to draw a line under that and start afresh in September, after a serious burst of fitness work over the course of August.

Next season I promise to return to updating this blog regularly aswell - bold words I know - considering there is a huge gap in this blog from around August last year. That was due to extenuating circumstances though, as anyone reading this probably already knows.

Anyway... season over... time to reset... as of the end of this sentence here.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My Mind Working Against Me...

I set my alarm for an unspeakably early time this morning to go for a swim... two alarms in fact and placed them out of reach of my bed.

When the two alarms went off, ten minutes apart, I managed to get up on both occasions and then went immediately back to bed and dreamt that I'd gotten up and gone to the pool. I suppose it's probably a sign I was still too tired. Ah well, off to the gym instead.

Monday, May 12, 2008

How Many More Times?

Yes, it's come to that point again... I'm left pondering once more. Left floundering in the cold bisque of my conscience and wondering how many more times? Yes, how many more times will I ever need to visit Iceland?

I've been trying to organise my travel arrangements for upcoming competitions. I have a particularly busy month in May - Warsaw, Madrid and then Padoa. I bought the flights back in January when they were a bit cheaper but this has caused some anomalies. For example, for some reason I'd booked to fly back to Paris from Warsaw ( a thoroughly boring place) on Monday morning. Luckily enough that flight was changeable so problem the first solved.

In Madrid, I had thought that a friend was to be joining me that weekend. The competition starts on Friday since it is a Grand Prix, so I'd booked from Thursday till Sunday evening. Now it seems I shall be spending a second year wandering around Madrid on Sunday on my own as my "friend" has chosen a holiday with his wife ahead of a weekend with me. What's that all about?

Padoa should be interesting. I fly into Venice as that is the nearest international airport, on Thursday. Get the train to Padoa. Compete Thursday and hopefully Friday. Then get a train back to Venice, wander around the most romantic city on the planet alone (used to this from Paris though). On Monday morning I'll be getting up at around 4.30am to catch my bus to the airport. So spare a thought for this poor international fencer.


So that is the rest of my May wrapped up in a little package but what to do with myself in June?

I was considering a return to Iceland for the satellite competition there and there's also a refereeing course on the week after the competition. Back to my old stomping ground where it all began all those years ago - see Geysur and Gulfloss and see how they are getting on and then swing by the Newcastle satellite on the way home. Newcastle though I'm not quite sure about yet.

Anyway, back to searching flights and jobs to pay for them while I'm at it.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Zombie Movie Paris

5am - Mo Nation

They hadn't even opened all the gates to the station when I arrived. Eventually, I found one that was open. As it happened that gate didn't give direct access to the RER; in fact it couldn't have been any further away. Got to walk through all the completely metro platforms though, since the metro isn't even open yet - kind of eerie for a space that is always teeming with people.

Anyway, what am I doing up this early? I'm going home. Why this early? I have no idea. I'm writing this to fill in time while I wait for the RER.

If anyone ever reads this and if they happen to be in Ireland this weekend maybe our paths will cross.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Which do I hate more? [Part II]

... this week - Leaners or the EDF?

In the second instalment of the Which do I hate more? I look at two Parisian phenomena which have recently pissed me off.

I'll start with the EDF since that is the easiest to explain. The EDF is the electricity supply board of France. Like every organisation which the French government has any control over directly it is a heaving sweating bile-spewing lump of bureaucracy. Anyway, now and again an embodiment of this organ in the form of a technician has to inspect your meter. Fair enough, standard procedure in any country. I routinely manage to miss these visits though for whatever reason and I thought it was acceptable to fill in the form they leave with the level of the metre and get on with it... but apparently not.

Since I've not had my metre read in a year a technician must call at this hour (which is completely inconvenient to me) and check your metre. If you want to rearrange the appoinment - you'll have to pay! This is three weeks in advance of the appointment and I have to pay €30 when if they could come 30 minutes later than the stated time I'd be fine! Anyway I'll be spending the hours of 14:00 to 18:00 waiting around for the technician on that date. Exciting stuff.

I think the winner of who I hate more is fairly clear though as even as I realised I was coming to the end of my previous point I began to feel a tension across my shoulders thinking about the Leaners.

Imagine if you will a crowded metro carriage in the morning rush-hour. Not completely packed to the point where you are pressed against other but crowded enough so that everyone is standing and fairly close to each other. If there is a sudden jolt of the carriage you'll surely give a should to the sternum of one of your fellow commuters, so most people are holding on to the poles in the middle of the floor for support as this is what they're there for.

Now imagine five people are holding on to this pole when some twat decides that they want to lean on it. Where they are going to crush your hand, press it into their sweaty back or have your fingers moulded into the abundant fatty tissue of their ass. They don't care, they're going to lean on the only source of support in the fricking carriage!

Vainqueur - Leaners!

Special mention has to do to DHL who are really pissing me off right now!

What's been going on in France lately?

April is a relatively quiet month for me in terms of travel anyway, with all my competitions in Paris or it's environs, so I'm taking the opportunity to enjoy Paris a bit and take in the atmosphere of what is still my favourite city in the world.

A war is raging in Paris at the moment, or more accurately in the miles above Paris, as the biting winds, snow flurries, hail and downpours compete with burst of exquisite sunshine and crystal blue skies. It seems though that the Spring and late the Summer will likely win out though and finally I'll be free to walk around in my shorts and sandals like the hippy bum I was born to be. Hoozah!


I've been taking intensive French classes in the Alliance Francaise for the last few weeks, an investment I hope will stand to me when I eventually get a proper job in this place. The classes are good and I can feel the jumble of awful grammar that I have in my head starting to unravel and make sense. I've picked up some bad habits in French over the last year of speaking the language but never really studying it, so hopefully this will get me back on the right track.

It's nice to meet new people as well and with the weather starting to improve and relatively light month for competitions this month, I'm sure I'll find time to have some more fun with my classmates.


In terms of my training, I've been training intensively in the club but also trying to seriously hit my fitness this month as I've perhaps let it slide slightly over March. I've headed back to the gym and the pool in a big way. Need to buff up a bit before surfing holiday in the Summer anyway.

Last weekend saw the quarter final of the French team championship. I was selected for my clubs second team, a step up from the fourth team last year. In the end, my team ran out fairly easy victors against Chatou - 45 - 25. We have a return leg to fence next weekend on the 19th in their club and then hopefully it will be on to the semi-finals.

Our women's team that fenced that day also claimed a convincing victory against Chatou's women's team but unfortunately our men's first team dropped their match against Orleans in Division 1 and will have to get a victory in Orleans next weekend in order to force the fixture to a decider.


Anyway, I hope the sunshine will keep up for the weekend (even if the forecast which is never accurate) is for showers and thunderstorms. At the minute I'm waiting impatiently for a delivery from DHL which I was promised would come between 14:00 and 18:00 [Thanks, DHL!]. One of these days I'm definitely going to update all that I've missed over February and March and then after that I'm going to go back and update everything from August to December (well, maybe not everything).


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Angry Morning

I woke up angry this morning.

Not a particularly pleasant state, perhaps induced by not having a big enough dinner last night perhaps by wasting time over the last 24 hours or perhaps by some sort of dream, which I now can't remember. Anyway, here I am awake at 8am and pissed off... what am I going to do with this?

It's tempting to roll over and go back to sleep till 2pm and forgetting about the world for a little while longer but that's probably not the most productive solution. Getting up, getting some breakfast and doing something with my day would probably be the most sensible solution...

Right off I go...

Friday, February 29, 2008

The year in Fencing so far...

A new year... a golden year (I get to use the lounges with Air France now)... going to finally update what has been happening at comps so far this year.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

There Will Be Blood... Oh Dear

I've just come back from watching "There Will Be Blood" in the UGC in Les Halles. It's a truly bizarre movie in a lot of respects but thoroughly, well if not enjoyable, then definitely worth the price of admission. It's quite a long movie and follows one man over the course of his life - that's Daniel Day Lewis' character Daniel Plainview.

Like I said though thoroughly enjoyable and I thought it was a great movie but what is left me slightly worried is how much at one time to another I identified with the character Plainview. Anyway, go see it and then you'll probably think twice about talking to me again.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Good Morning World

The birds are singing, the sun is shining, all is as it should be...


And this is life.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I'm A Fidelista - Where Do I Get My Tracksuit?

I really really want one of Fidel Castro's Adidas tracksuits! Does anyone know where I can buy one?

Since July 2006, the last time the leader of the Granma invasion, was seen in public he seems to have only sported the most astounding array of Adidas Cuban tracksuits the world has ever seen. My suspicion also is that every time he has been seen on camera since then his tracksuits have been getting more modern. This suggests to me that Adidas have been sending him new ones all this time.

Anyway, I want one... people haven't seen me in public (outside of fencing competitions) in a similar length of time... and my rhetoric on the bourgeois Yankee devils is just as relevant!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Who doesn't love the Onion?

Nation Of Andorra Not In Africa, Shocked U.S. State Dept. Reports

Saturday, February 09, 2008

A stop-gap solution to a lack of posting

Amusing perhaps, if you play guitar...


Monday, January 07, 2008

Copenhagen and Getting Out of the Rut

The Universiades, despite being a fantastic and unforgettable experience, had been a disappointment in terms of fencing. This had been mainly because of a lack of training in advance of the competition. It wasn't from lack of searching that I didn't have training but with my own club closed and the international teams which I approached not particularly bothered with allowing me into their squad training. Anyway, that's something I'll go into in more detail when I eventually get round to updating that whole chapter of last year.

This was the culmination of a tough season with a lot of world cups where, while I felt that my fencing was improving massively, I had failed to transfer that into results in competition. So between that and whatever was going on in my private life from August and the months following, I hadn't been in the best of form and was finding it very difficult to turn things on at competition time. Moreover I was beginning to be frustrated by this situation and really pushing things to much while on the piste, which was only making things worse.

As I'd mentioned in previous entries I was feeling pretty down after a great christmas to be heading back to Paris but I was determined to make it a good year. I arrived back on the Wednesday 2nd and had a training session on the 3rd before leaving for Copenhagen on the 4th.

The trip to Copenhagen was to be uneventful. Copenhagen is quite a strange airport - it's more like a giant shopping mall that plains happen to take off from. I got into Copenhagen central station reasonably late. Stephen made up the other 50% of the Irish team for this competition and I was sharing a hotel room with him very near the venue.

We got a reasonably early night before the individual comp the next day after failing to be able to hook up my Ipod to the TV.


The next morning, we met the Finnish team at breakfast, and made the short but nonetheless freezing journey across to the venue, which was a nice modern sport centre maybe 100 metres from the hotel.

The first round of poules went all right for me (practice round anyway) but I dropped one fight against an Austrian. Woke up in the second round and won all my matches and was seeded second going into the tournament proper.

This gave me a buy through the first round. As it happened I was to fence the winner between Stephen and the ex-Scottish international Stewart Watson, who now lives in Copenhagen. Stewart was at 14-7 or something like it before Stephen mounted a miraculous comeback... but only to 14-all. Stewart took the last point and I was to face him in the last 16.

I suppose it's only fair to mention he was a bit ill but I was able to beat him in the 16 without too much fuss and book my place in the last 8. In the last 8 I was against a young Turk and while the match started well, I went to pieces after the break - the problems of the last couple of months crept back in and I was snatching at attacks from way out of range and wasting my preparations.

So I finished 5th overall (got my 1 FIE point - woop) but I got some good advice from Stewart during my quarter final match which I've really taken to heart since. He seems to be becoming an excellent coach. We agreed to fence the team competition the next day together - not that I was to be much use to the team as it turned out...


Going with hair-gel rather than a hat that night turned out to be a mistake. I don't know where that wind was coming from but it was cold.

We all met up in... ugh... an Irish pub near the city centre (I vaguely remember spending a very drunken night there two years previously). There was a good crowd out with the Dutch, Islandic, Finnish and erm... the one Scot and two Irish that there were in attendance.

After a couple of drinks there we went next door to a nice indian place. More beers... and curry! Fantastic!

When we finally left the Indian it had been snowing but for some reason I was feeling the cold as much...

First half-hearted snowball fight of the night and on to a small rocker bar nearby. I remember declaring "sausage factory" upon it and we didn't stay there that long. Maybe only one or two drinks. Ugh...

Another walk to another Irish bar... a real Oirish Irish bar aswell... another snowball fight on the way, I think. Straw on the floor, long benches and tables... the worst cover band of all time at whom I became more and more incensed as the night went on. Lost track of drinks, of what I was talking about. Met some Irish people I think. More drink. Talking pure crap.

Talking to some Danish girls. I think. Inability to walk at this stage also ruled out dancing but Stephen was well on for it. God knows what he was dancing to with that terrible band.

Left at closing time and embarked on one of the longest and coldest journeys home of all time. There were snowball fights, but not sure of much past that.


Woke up the next morning at around 11ish with my alarm. For several minutes was very puzzled as to the location of Stephen... until I remembered he'd left for the airport several hours earlier. With the serious business of the individual competition out of the way, the friendly competition was today.

I managed to drag my carcass over to the venue. My reactions were unfortunately slightly dulled that day. We were generously donated a absolute muppet by the German team, who couldn't fence. Between these to factors and Stewarts sickness the righting was pretty much on the wall.

Less said about the team comp the better although the final result probably flattered us that day - I can't remember what it was.


So, in summary, a competition with perhaps a slightly lower standard than French domestics and certainly proper world cups gave me the chance to see that I was capable of beating people and also gave me an opportunity to let my hair down a bit.

Sitting eating a steak in Copenhagen International Airport/Mall I felt a thoroughly content with the weekend.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Just back from the satellite competition in Copenhagen.

I finished 6th (seeded third after the poules) in the tournament and was reasonably pleased with my performance. It certainly was a boost to my confidence which I'll admit has been flagging somewhat lately.

Now though I'm absolutely shattered and need to go bed before I collapse on the computer.

A full report to follow shortly and don't think I haven't forgot about those missing months either...

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Post Christmas Blues

I don't think I've been as sad to leave Ireland in a good while.

I'm determined to make this year a good one, in my fencing, person life and profession but I feel like I'm starting from square one again leaving the majority of my friends here. This feeling is not unfamiliar to me. Normally when I go back to Paris after a few days in Ireland it takes a few days to readjust.

Everything is up in the air all over again. Will I be able to find a marketing job? How will my season progress? How long will I stay in France? Do I want to stay in France?

I was told that there's an ancient Chinese curse - "May you live in interesting times". What I did to be so cursed I'm not certain but I'm determined to enjoy the results as much as I can anyway.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A New Beginning?

The first sunrise of 2008. A friend's sofa overlooking Sandymount strand. Uncertainty is scary and the past brings no real comfort right now. At this point I'm not reveling in the thought of the return of this introspection in only 366 short days.

Happy new year! Time to make the most of it.

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