Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Quick Update

I haven't been able to check email for a while, but I'll get to it tonight. Sorry for not replying! By the way I cannot access while in Bangkok so use my address instead.

More updates coming soon, all about Bangkok.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Bangkok #2

I'll be departing on Saturday morning for my week in Thailand. Very early Saturday morning! I won't be back until Sunday. Tomorrow is my last day in the office until Monday 4th of October. If anyone needs to contact me I'm pretty sure my mobile will work in Bangkok: +353 86 8055814

I sent an email to The Dubliner Pub but they never replied. I still don't know if they will show the football final on Setanta or not. I'm sure they will, I'll just go there on Sunday night and see. I arrive very early Sunday morning, I hope the hotel lets me check in early so I can get a few hours sleep. I might not have any energy to watch the match.

[ Click here to check the Weather in Bangkok ]

To do:

  • Pack
  • Book taxi
  • Iron shirts...

Sunday, September 19, 2004


I'm going to Bangkok for a week, to work "on-site" with a valued customer. Never having been before, I'm looking forward to it. I'll be working during the day but I have evenings and some of Saturday free, so I welcome suggestions of things to see there.

So far I've received the following:

  • Khao San Road

    Apparently the spot where tourists and backpackers hang out in bars and restaurants.
    There's an Irish bar there also called The Shamrock.

  • MBK (Mah Boon Krong) Mall

    A huge shopping mall it seems. I'll be looking at electronics and computer gear I expect.

  • Sky Train

    It is an elevated train. Not an attraction to the people living in Bangkok I'm sure but I like trains, and any working form of public transport is a novelty to anyone who lives in Dublin.

  • The Dubliner Pub

    This place is recommended by the Irish guys who've been to Bangkok. Most importantly they are listed on Setanta as having that channel. So I'm hoping they will be showing the Mayo vs Kerry, GAA All Ireland Football final. I really can't afford to miss it.

  • Pantip Plaza

    John recommended this as the place to find tailors, food stalls, electronics and DVDs. (I actually don't want illegal DVDs or cheap copies of Hollywood films, I'm actually looking for Anime for Andrea that she can't buy here!)

If you have any suggestions for a place I should visit, please
let me know!

Electric Lizard

I drank a few too many of these last night, thanks to Andrew and Alison. A light and fruity combination that goes down easy and then sneaks up behind you with a hammer...

(Correction: I previously referred to this as a Green Lizard, thats an entirely different drink! - Anyway, now you have links to two different on-line cockail books...)

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

UEFA Champions League #2

Arsenal 1 - PSV 0

On the way...


Boring weather post... The temperature in Ireland dropped suddenly on Sunday. I actually felt cold just sitting in the living room and considered turning on the heating for the first time in five months. The weekend before it was nearly 28 degrees centigrade outside! Now there are lows of 8 and highs of 12. Thats a big change in one week. Especially when you consider the average difference between Winter and Summer here is probably only about 15 degrees. So what does it mean? Well at this time of year it means the Summer is over for us. It had a good run. The chances of another warm day coming along diminishes with each week.

I've just realised how unlikely it is that anyone outside Ireland reads this, so what's the point me telling you stuff you all know?

Learning Portuguese - Part 2

I decided on Marino College in the end, because it is only 40 minutes away. I enrolled today and I'll be attending on Tuesday nights, 6pm to 8pm, for 10 weeks. They seemed a bit disorganised during the enrollment, there was a big crowd though, they have dozens of courses, everything from "cooking for everyone" to "bioengergy healing" to "how to build a partical accelerator in your shed". I still don't know anything about the Portuguese course. Also, it looks like I'll miss the first day due to a business trip (more on that soon). Maybe I should supliment the course with a language CD-ROM or something?

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Learning Portuguese - Part 1

I've spent the last two months phoning more than fifty language schools and translators in the greater Dublin area. I just went through the phone book.

I want to learn Portuguese.

Thinking at the start that I would be spoilt for choice, I wanted to learn Brazilian Portuguese from a native Brazilian, preferably a Carioca (someone from Rio), so I'd have the right accent. As it stands I'll just be learning regular Portuguese from Portugal. They aren't too different and I don't really have a choice.

The trouble with the hundreds of language schools in Ireland is that the majority of them teach English. Not to Irish people though. I'm not a great speaker or writer of English myself, but the fact of the matter is that the Irish all but own that language now. They are the teachers, not the students.

The language schools here teach English to adults and teenagers from all over the world. It is a thriving industry, an enormous invisible export. The massive population of language students is very visible on the streets and transport network of Dublin for most of the summer months.

Unfortunately I have to learn Portuguese while staying where I am (that's a whole other story). Of the schools which aren't exclusively in the business of teaching English I have found two which are going to run Portuguese courses this year: The Sandford Language Institute and Marino College. Plenty of schools do German, French, Spanish, and Irish (Gaelic), but after that the choice gets very limited.

    The Sandford Language Institute
    Address: Milltown Park Sandford rd, Ranelagh, 6
    Telephone: +353 (0)1 2601296
    14 weeks, 1 night a week, €250 total

    Marino College
    Address: 14-20 Marino Mart, Fairview, Dublin 3
    Telephone: +353 (0)1 - 8530940 / 8332100 / 8334201 / 8339342
    10 weeks, 1 night a week, €66 total

I know a lot less right now about the Marino college course, they don't post out written materials, or answer questions over the phone. They rarely even answer the phone! If I need to know more I have to go there tomorrow to find out and also enroll if I want to. I can only enroll in person and only on that night.

For all these reasons my preference now is to go for the Sandford course. They have good references, better service, always available on the phone, posted me out details, provided info on course materials, and they specialise in language training.

The problem is that although Sandford institute is much closer, Marino is actually easier and quicker to get to because it is on the DART line. I think I'll go to the Marino enrollment tomorrow night and decide then. I'll give them one last chance.

The price difference doesn't matter, if anything it favours Sandford as I'm more likely to take it seriously. Both are very cheap, especially when compared to the price of private tuition from Berlitz which would come to about €1300 (though that includes some good course materials). I will consider the Berlitz course for a later phase, after I've finished one of the evening courses, I can use it to retain interest and maybe accelerate the learning.

Only one problem left...

I have this irrational belief that I'm a dunce for languages. I blame the Irish educational system. They had me for thirteen years and utterly failed to teach me Irish. In five years they failed to teach me more than a smattering of French (much better than Irish though). I'm not an idiot, I did well in everything else. Either it is their teaching methods or I'm an idiot for one specialty, language. Certainly An Spailpín Fánach has no problems with Irish, but he's an exception, Irish people speaking Irish are a rare sight. He also pointed out (over lunch last week) that the concept of being bad at languages goes against the current thinking in linguistics and psychology. We are all well equipped to learn any language. But yet I doubt myself.

So a few demons to shake loose... wish me luck!

Recipe : Stir Fry Beef Andrea


1 table spoon of olive oil

1 table spoon of teriyaki sauce

1 teaspoon of sesame oil

2 teaspoon of chili sauce

(e.g. tabasco, jabanero, etc. - whichever one you prefer)

ground black pepper

200g of fillet beef


1. Cut beef into small strips

2. Mix all other ingredients in a bowl or dish to make marinade

(add plenty of black pepper, don't add salt - already too in the teriyaki!)

3. Add beef & stir around until the marinade coats it all

4. Leave sit for at least one hour

5. Stir fry on preheated hot wok for 5 to 10 minutes

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Urban Legends

At you can find the Urban Legends Reference Pages. I heard about this yesterday, these people investigate the incedible emails ("this is a true story..."), the mad stories you hear ("this happened to a friend of a friend of mine..."), the chainletters ("forward this to as many people as possible..."), the photographs which can't be real, and some of the dubious material printed by gullible news paper editors trying to fill space.

Just as entertaining though are the stories which you didn't believe, or assumed were jokes, which subsequently turn out to be true, like the 6lb beef burgers...

Friday, September 03, 2004

New Passport

"Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State Requets and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all these whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass free without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary."

So it says on my new British passport. So now I have to adjust to being a Mayo man and British at the same time. A very odd set of events. I doubt wearing union jack shorts under my Mayo jersey at the All Ireland is the way to go.

Speaking of which, anyone know where I can get tickets?

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Embarrassing movie

A couple of years ago we had a Karaoke. I got up and sang. I can't sing. I tried to mask this fact by singing in a Scottish accent. I can't do a Scottish accent. The result is quite embarrasing enough even without the bad dancing and my hair, what was up with my hair? Anyway, Marcus made a video and I only got my hands on it last week.

Here it is, but for a short time only. Unfortunetly it is only in Apple QuickTime format, and it is big, about 13.3MB, so it'll take some time to download. If you've only got dialup access I wouldn't bother, it's not that funny! [Click to Download]

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

UEFA Champions League

Why does a Mayo man care about anything other than GAA right now? Well, I don't know. I've never been a football fan but we run this football pool game in the office so I thought it might make things interesting if I had a team to support. Anyway there are 16 of us so we picked two teams each. I got Arsenal FC and Paris Saint-Germain FC. Are they any good? No idea. I'm like that guy from The Fast Show, Roger Nouveau Football Fan. I know I have a better chance with Arsenal so, since I stand to win some money, I'm an Arsenal fan for the duration of the competition (or until they get knocked out).

Go Arsenal!