Saturday, 31 August 2013

Pop Culture Made Me Want To Travel

During a conversation about possible travel destinations with a friend - yes, I know. I actually have one of those! - I realized that a lot of my desired travel destinations are inspired by movies, songs and books from my childhood. This is just a small sampling of such destinations.

Petra, Jordan - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

The Last Crusade was the first Indiana Jones movie I saw. When I saw it, I assumed the temple at the end was created for the final scenes. While the inside was a sound stage, I was really excited when I learned that the outside facade actually existed. Jordan quickly found itself at the top of my travel list, if only so I can stand in front of the Treasury (pictured above)  and say:

If you haven't seen the movie, both these things happen.

Also... I'm totally buying a fedora for that trip.

Paris, France - Les Miserables

I was 11 when I discovered the music of Les Mis. Within the year, I had read the book (and not some abridged version, the whole massive book) and you better believe I saw the live stage version when it came to Vancouver! It became my travel goal to wander the streets of Paris while listening to the soundtrack. When I backpacked around Europe in 1999, my trusty Walkman and I did just that.

We won't talk about the Les Mis musical movie version. My issues with it is a post unto itself.

Meteora, Greece - For Your Eyes Only (James Bond)

I don't remember exactly how old I was when I saw this particular Bond movie, but I do remember we watched it because my brother convinced my mom to rent it. Much of the film is set in Greece, but all I really remember was near the end when they went to break into the mastermind evil dude's house and Bond had to scale one of the cliffs of Meteora while fighting off a henchmen because... of course! While childhood me was disappointed to learn that the buildings on the top of these hills were monasteries, not the secret lairs of international ne'er-do-wells, I still want to visit it.

And if I happened to meet someone who looked like any of the Bonds while I was there, I'd be okay with that!

Prince Edward Island, Canada - Emily of New Moon

Confession time: I don't like Anne of Green Gables. I read it around the age of 11 or 12 and just didn't get the appeal. I reread it in my 20's and I still don't really get the appeal. Despite this, I got Emily of New Moon out of the library and loved it! I raced through all three books and then reread them almost immediately.

Combine this with that fact that PEI is known for its potatoes - my favourite food, what can I say? My family's Irish - and was the epicentre of the creation of Canadian democracy - what can I say? I'm a giant dork - and it created a longing in me to visit the small island. Now, if only it wasn't so f*$%ing expensive to fly across Canada. *sigh*

Casablanca, Morocco - Casablanca

I stumbled upon Casablanca on TV one night when I was babysitting. It instantly became (and still remains) my favourite film of all time - I watch it at least once a year - and kicked off a huge habit in my life of watching old films. While the movie was not filmed in Casablanca, this small fact didn't stop me from dreaming of some day going there. Over the years, this desire has morphed more into going to Morocco than Casablanca specifically, but regardless of where in Morocco I end up I fully intend to look at my travel partner and say:

Yes, Humphrey, we always will.

Love that man!

Istanbul, Turkey - Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

Whether you listened to the original The Four Lads version or one of the many (MANY) re-recordings, who doesn't know this song?

I am not ashamed to admit it; I want to go to Istanbul simply to say I've listened to this song there.

Tunisia - Star Wars (A New Hope)

I couldn't very well claim to be a nerd and not have a Star Wars reference travel destination on my list. If the above photo looks oddly familiar...

The buildings in the ground that made up Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru's compound are also in Tunisia and part of it has been turned into a hotel! YOU CAN SLEEP IN THE STAR WARS SET!! Plus Tatooine/Tunisia is where we met this lovable rogue:

The chance that another one of him might be kicking around is reason enough to go to Tunisia, right? ;)

Question: Any travel destinations inspired by pop culture?

(All photos are on my Pinterest with links to the original creator. All gifs and video were stolen appropriated from various internet sources.)

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Sunday Snippets

Being the anniversary of Elaine's disappearance, I took Thursday off work. The last place I wanted to be was surrounded by people who a) didn't know about her and b) I didn't want to get emotional in front of. It turned out to be the right choice as I cried twice before 10:00am.

I spent some time with my dad, went blackberry picking with my mom, and then baked a blackberry pie with said berries. All in all, it was a much better way to spend a day remembering Elaine then feeling alone and weepy in a soul-crushing cubicle. (This is not a commentary on my work place specifically, all cubicles are designed to be soul-crushing. In fact, I'm pretty sure the word 'cubicle' means 'four wall soul destroyer' in Sanskrit.)

Say hello to my mom, the woman who taught me how to bake.
Home Ec Teacher Moms for the win!
I love to bake but living alone (and not having a dishwasher), I don't do it very often. When I do bake, I tend to keep one or two pieces of the baking for myself and then give the rest away to family, friends, co-workers and the employees of my favourite coffee shops and restaurants.

If you are a proprietor of such an establishment and you see me coming, you want to befriend me. So far this year, I have given out Sansa's Lemon Cakes, Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Bailey's Cream Cheese Icing, Zopfe (a type of Swiss bread), and Blackberry Pie. Plus, there's another round of the cupcakes already in the works thanks to a certain beloved employee's imminent return to Dublin. I pay you to serve me and I give you food... not a bad deal.

My younger brother is significantly younger than me. This means that for the releases of 'Shaun of the Dead' and 'Hot Fuzz', he had to patiently wait until they were available on DVD. With the release of 'The World's End' this past weekend, we finally got to a Cornetto Trilogy movie in the theatres together. We decided to forego a sunny afternoon outside for the confines of a darkened theatre in which we proceeded to laugh our asses off. According to my text messages, we made our plans to see this together on June 21st. It makes me happy to know I'm not the only geek in the family.

Thursday, 22 August 2013


On August 4, 1996 I became a hurling fan.

Visiting all the way from Canada meant that I got the 3rd ticket to the hurling semi-final between Wexford and Galway. As we disembarked from the DART at Connolly station, we joined the lively and jovial throngs of people headed towards Croke Park. All around us, the fans were decked out in purple and yellow for Wexford or maroon and white for Galway.

When we took our seats, I was sat in the middle with Frank Sr. to my right, his ear pressed to his handheld radio, and Elaine to my left. I had a rudimentary knowledge of hurling thanks to my dad - he had passed on bits and pieces of the rules of the game as he taught me how to pick up a sliotar (ball) from the ground using only the hurley (the stick) – but I did not know enough to follow the game that was unfolding in front of me, and that’s where Elaine came in.

While Frank kept his ear to the radio to update us on the on field calls we couldn't hear, Elaine broke down the game for me and pointed out the various rules as they occurred in front of us. She was knowledgeable and patient, obviously loving the topic we were discussing. I couldn't have asked for a better teacher to have sat beside me.

We were cheering for Wexford as Frank is from there, and they won 2-13 to 3-7. (That's 19 to 16 for you non-GAA people.) By the time the final whistle blew, I was mad for hurling. It was, as I have often described it, field hockey played by rugby players and I loved it. On my last weekend in Dublin, we all went berserk as Wexford defeated Limerick in the All Ireland Senior Hurling Finals.

On August 22, 2012 Elaine left her dad’s house, stopped to buy a packet of cigarettes, and then visited the park where her mum, my dad’s youngest sibling, is buried. Her car was found there the next day. She has not been seen or heard from since, nor has a body been found.

Elaine struggled her whole life with depression.

Every time I check my GAA app for hurling results, my heart aches a little.

I miss her.

Update: On September 17th, 2013 Elaine's remains were found dumped in the Wicklow Mts. After a year of assuming she committed suicide because of her history, we learned that she was murdered. It is an odd sense of relief to know that she didn't voluntarily leave her life, but it just leaves us with more questions.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Is It Only Tuesday?

You know those weeks where it feels like it should already be Friday but it isn't? In fact, if you're really unlucky, it's only Monday? At least I made it to Tuesday before I started ugly-crying about my desire for it to be the weekend already. During one of my meetings, we were talking about setting up review sessions for next week. Plans for next week?!? It must be Friday!!!

Lying bastards.

For my next (and last) meeting of the day, however, my coworker brought each of us one of these:

I totally stole this picture from Bon Macaron's Facebook page without asking. So, if you're in the Victoria area, please visit them and tell them Andrea sent you so they don't get mad at me when they find out. Or Jennifer. Or Claire. Any of those names should work.

I raved to my coworker about the awesome blackberry not-really-a-macaron creation from Bon Macaron during a meeting on Monday (my picture here). Obviously, my powers of persuasion are amazing if she bought three of the blueberry ones today! Best. Meeting. EVER!

(Just to be really clear, I'm getting diddly squat for raving about the macarons so when I say this is my honest opinion, this is my honest opinion.)


Once upon a time, I attended university in Freiburg, Germany and lived in a student residence called Ulrich Zasius Haus or UZH. The UZH had a magical Pepsi machine in the foyer/mailbox area. What was so magical about it, you ask? Well, two buttons dispensed Pepsi but the other six buttons dispensed beer! BEER, PEOPLE! Even more magical? It was cheap beer. Our building became the meeting place for nights out... which often became nights in.

My older brother and two friends came to visit.
They were also amazed by the magic Pepsi machine.
I was reminded of this fact while I stared at the Coke machine in my current apartment building. Sadly, all its buttons are for non-alcoholic beverages and no amount of fake spell casting would change that.


As much as I made fun of the UZH and called it 'the ghetto', I do miss some things about it.


I try to remain vague about my job for various reasons (not least of which because it's the professional thing to do when you work in my field and have a personal but public blog) which means that it's hard to explain why finding this picture online today made me so damn happy. Just know that it put a huge, goofy grin on my face for the rest of the day.

If you don't get this poster, click this link.
And then ask to borrow my DVD so you can watch the whole movie.

Now to figure out where I can put it up in my cubicle without it being noticed...

Question: Any work pet peeves of your own to share?

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Asking for Help Already?!?

Now that I've officially been blogging for a week, it seems only fitting that I'm already asking for help. That's how blogging works, right? "Look at me! I'm typing words, now give me ideas and shit!"

(If you haven't seen Despicable Me 2 yet, we have to have words.)
Around the same time that I stopped blogging, I was working on an idea for a (semi) regular series that combined a historical event with food. As clear as the difference between the Etruscans and the Romans? Example: a post about an event or period in Ireland's history could be combined with a recipe for Irish soda bread... and a comment that no one's soda bread is as good as my mammy's because every Irish offspring says that on a monthly basis, it's written in our genetic code.

I love this idea because I love history, I love food, and let's be honest, I love being a know-it-all. It's a match made in ego-heaven! While it was always my intent to use this idea on this blog, I decided to expand it to include politics because a) most historical events are political and b) of this exchange on Twitter:

And that, my dear readers, is where you come in. I've got a few topics already written down that I'm starting to do research on, but is there a historical event or a political question you've ever wondered about? Let me know in the comments or send me an email, text, tweet, dm, telegram, smoke signals, whatever. I'm hoping to do this roughly once a month and I want to get ahead of the game because the last half of my 2014 work year looks like this:

Need to have a few posts in the pocket before the jelly hits the floor! (2014 is not a typo. I don't normally know my workload this far in advance, but I know next year's because we have a massive project launch.)

I'm also currently playing around with possible titles for the series so feel free to pass along any suggestions. I'm not above letting you do all my blogging work for me.

And just because it makes me laugh, one more gif for good measure.

Saturday, 17 August 2013


Um, wow. I expected a bit of a response when I told my Facebook friends I was blogging again, but I got a few unexpected responses from people I didn't think even knew I was previously blogging, including a few DMs. (That would be a direct message, mom.) Thanks for making me feel so loved! All 10 of you!

Okay, so maybe that's a bit over the top to how it actually made me feel, but seriously, thanks.

In the process of starting this blog, I have learned a very important lesson: don't start a blog in the middle of the nicest summer your region has had in the last 5 years. Hot, sunny days are the biggest distraction...

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Welcome to My Corner of the Interwebs

After an unintentional break from blogging which has lasted just under 15 months, I'm throwing my sombrero back into the blogging ring!

Once upon a time, I had two blogs each with a different purpose. Slowly, they both morphed until I started doing something that I personally hated but couldn't find a way around, tracking back from one blog to the other one. I was debating ways to correct this issue - although I'll be honest, I wasn't trying that hard - when awesome things happened, life got busy, and I just straight up stopped blogging because of my crazy busy but amazingly awesome life.

After such a long break from blogging, starting a whole new blog just seemed like the narcissistic natural thing to do. I bantered about a couple of new blog names, even decided on one only to find out it was taken by someone who made one post in 2008, before a conversation about the trend of cool nerds led to 'Never the Cool Nerd'. Because cool has never been a good word to describe me.

I can say with some certainty, this is not the picture of someone who is cool.
This blog is just my little corner of the electronic world. While I make no promises to consistency of posting or even a central theme to this blog, I do hope that you what you find is both entertaining and educational. I'm big on both those themes in my daily life.

And cats. I love cats.

Thanks for stopping by,