Posts tagged ireland

Globalisation in an O’Briens Irish Sandwich Bar

Going through my archives, I found this post written from an O'Briens Sandwich Bar in Singapore. My dad and I had taken shelter in their Jelita branch after a particuarly nasty monsoon swept across the island, and we were more than a little fearful about driving on the increasily river–like road near Ulu Pandan. Another blog post from that time has some pretty unbelievable photos from that event.

When I went back to Singapore in 2011, that branch had long since closed shop and moved on. In fact, much of the Jelita shopping centre looked completely different. I can still recall having birthday parties in the Pizza Hut upstairs. Sometimes after school, we'd get a cool drink at the 7-11, back when the Australian International School had its campus nearby. Then they moved the school again to Lorong Chuan, which we dubbed the biggest traffic island in Singapore.

Last year, a bunch of us from Anime@UTS found ourselves at North Strathfield. Craving a bite to eat, we found an O'Briens Irish Sandwich bar, and proceeded to chow down. Despite being thousands of kilometres away, it tasted so good, and surprisingly familiar.

I'll admit, part of me loves globalisation just because I can relive some childhood memories in a completely different part of the world. Even locally, if a branch of a store meant a lot to you, you can always go to another if the original closes shop. Sure, its not entirely the same, but nothing ever would be.


Today on #PunWatch: Golfers

Given journalists' overbearing penchant for bad puns, I've decided to start collecting them. It was time.

How golf entrepreneur landed in the rough
Francess McDonnell, Irish Times, 2012.01.10

There have always been people in the North who have quietly thought that Treacy was a little mad to sink that kind of money into a purpose-built golf resort in the rain-drenched county of Fermanagh.

Haven't read another on par with that.


Ripping ratings agencies a new one

Remember my recent post about Ireland's economy, and how I rated as junk the ratings agencies themselves?

Unsurprisingly, Rob Delaney said it much better.

[Ratings agencies] maintained AAA ratings for companies run by abject criminals who knowingly, consciously, and systematically lied to US citizens and citizens of the world at large. Thus, they are culpable in the collapse of many banks (my own included) and their actions, among other things, drove thousands of families from their homes. As such, their opinion is worthless to me and it should be worthless to you.


Nothing but fantastic Irish economic news!

So let me get this straight, because honest taxpayers like Neal O'Carroll have been so generous in shouldering the burden imposed by the bankers that got them into this economic mess… the bankers are getting an investment.

(Photo was taken by me during our Europe trip in 2010. Random street in Dublin during a snow storm, with a bank ATM to the side. Kinda made sense given the subject matter!)

At least it’s not Moodys

(Reuters) – Positive news from Ireland is prompting a growing number of investors to look at the troubled euro zone economy, said billionaire Wilbur Ross, who this week invested 300 million euros in its largest lender.

Billionaires know all! After all, it wasn't billionaires that got us into this mess.

Ross said the deal was fueled by positive news from Ireland [..] These include the government’s announcement it was ahead of target to bring its budget deficit under control, lack of protest against a harsh austerity program, and the European Union’s decision this month to ease the terms of an 85-billion-euro international bailout.

Harsh would be the understatement of the century. Well to be fair this century is only 10% or so over, so perhaps more like the understatement of last century.

The power of accurate observation…

In any event, nothing says fair like giving the people at the helm a bailout, then demanding the middle class repay it in the form of reduced services and higher taxes. I looked up the word "austerity" in the thesaurus, and the word "fair" was right there.

Oh but wait, we haven't got to the truly fabulous bit yet!

A key development was a euro zone deal that eases the terms of Ireland’s bailout and positive comments from the International Monetary Fund that Ireland’s program is on track, assuring investors that Ireland had virtually guaranteed funding through 2013.

Ah, the IMF. So the economic hit men got what they wanted. Does that mean they can take their plundered riches and leave my Irish friends alone now?

Ending on a positive note

Although Ireland is mid-way through an unprecedented eight-year cycle of austerity, social unrest is almost non-existent and unlike Greece and Portugal, Ireland is expected to return to growth this year because of a vibrant export sector and the flexibility of its economy.

So there you have it. As long as the Irish can continue to be as creative and resourceful as they've always been, their economy will eventually pick up again from the mess the bankers got them into, and said bankers will be there to profit from them once more.

Have a Guinness on me guys and girls!


My dream house

Topic #198: Describe your dream house. Where is it? What rooms does it have? How would you design the floorplan? Would you do in the layout and style of the house if there were no restrictions on expense or location?

I've had enough to discuss that I haven't needed to consult the WordPress team's Post A Day 2011 challenge site, but this suggestion was just too cool to pass up!

Das ist Schade Haus

We have a terribly unfortunate German last name! But I digress. Before we attempt to answer this terribly fun question, it it would serve us well to define what they mean by house specifically. According to Dictionary.app on my Mac:

house noun |hous| a building for human habitation, esp. one that is lived in by a family or small group of people.

If they’re referring to a free standing structure on its own plot of land I’m out of luck, but if we use this more liberal interpretation then I can talk about it!

Fact is, having grown up in houses and apartments, I far prefer the latter. They’re usually in more convenient places, meaning commuting time is far less. They take far less maintenance. If you’re lucky, you can get a really great view. In large cities with urban sprawl, they’re more sustainable. I find suburbia depressing. But enough of that!

Singapore panorama by SomeFormOfHuman on Wikipedia

Okay fine, what’s your dream dwelling?

I’m a simple person, the following would suit me just fine:

A fancy apartment, not a condominium
I lived in rich expat condominiums in Singapore growing up, and I can count the number of times I used the pools, tennis courts and other facilities on one hand. Not to mention I always felt as though I wasn’t dressed for the occasion when I’d enter the foyers, public transport card in hand, my colourful backpack with badges on it and a smile and a handshake for the tired security guards who usually get ignored. A nice apartment would suit me just fine.

Small, but not tiny
I’m not as bad as my old man, but I hoard stuff. Those giant expat houses and apartments enabled this bad habit to an extreme. A small (but not tiny) place would force me to collect less junk, and to help me live within my means. Our tiny new house in Sydney has already helped my family with this, so it shows it’s possible!

Efficient furniture
I suppose this is related to small, but having less space would really encourage creativity in making the most efficient use of space. I absolutely love looking through IKEA and coffee table design books at all their ideas.

Colourful Microsoft Bob-iness
I’ll admit it, I had an obsession with that program growing up, and loved the colourful and futuristic design of their Postmodern rooms; they’re the source of the screenshots you see here. I want it to look like that!

Good connectivity
One other advantage of apartments is they’re often wired up with cable TV connections. I don’t watch TV, but I sorely miss my cable internet and would love to have it again! I’d also love two separate phone lines for voice and fax/data, and some of that flexible but more stylish wall tubing that could be used to wire through some Cat6 goodness, clean up cable clutter and allow for future upgrading. Finally, plenty of powerpoints.

Close to public transport
But not too close that I can still hear trains with double glazed windows! If I were living in the centre of town though, being near an underground metro style station would be schweet.

Frasier-esque view
In our first apartment in Singapore we had a view of almost the whole city skyline from our loungeroom window, in our second I had an amazing view of a park from my bedroom. Either would suit me just fine!

Location

Ultimately though while all of this would be wonderful, for me it's not so much what my dream apartment would be, but rather where it would be. I've realised Singapore is my de facto home, but having never lived in the same place for more than few years has rendered the idea of settling down somewhere permanently absolutely terrifying!

Therefore I'd trade a gigantic apartment of opulent decadence for smaller ones in lots of places!

Singapore
I’d be happy with an HDB. Seriously! Somewhere in a newer estate near an MRT station and friendly aunties and uncles next door would be just wonderful. That said, I wouldn’t be adverse to a fancier place in Outram Park, just saying :).

Perth
It’s a long way from the rest of the country… a blessing in many ways! It’s also easily my favourite Australian city, and it’s the same timezone as Singapore and only a four hour flight away! And they have DOME!

Dublin
My sister’s and my favourite city in Europe. Beautiful place, super friendly people, and easy access to the rest of Europe. Would love to show solidarity given all this bullsh*t economic hitman-ism. A close second would be Munich, and third Frankfurt am Main. Es ist gut so!

Damansara
I don’t see myself staying there for too much of the year, but it grew on me living in Kuala Lumpur for a couple of years and I’m a hopelessly nostalgic fool!

Toronto, BC
Haven’t been there personally, but would be my base for visiting friends in Canada, Alaska and the Lower 48. If it had to be in the US, I’d love a pad in Portland, OR, or Boston, MA.

Kyoto
Haven’t been there personally either, but my old man claims it’s the most beautiful place in East Asia, and judging from his photos I can agree with him. Would be great base for visiting friends in Japan and Korea! Ooh, a place in Seoul overlooking the Han River or the redone Cheonggyecheon would be great too. Wow, this list is just getting ridiculous!

Vulcan
In the original Star Trek timeline of course! I imagine it would be a delightfully tranquil and lucid place to spend some time meditating and programming.

I suppose all that would be left would be to have a flexible enough telecommuting job that I could do from anywhere, though I suppose that's outside the scope of the original WordPress team's question!


New Bus Eireann site review thingy

Singapore Bus by Mailer_Diablo on Wikipedia

The folks running the Bus Eireann Deals Twitter account asked people this evening to trial their new alert system and provide feedback. This post is a response to said request.

Let me just start by saying I'm so thoroughly disjointedness disappointed (dang this Firefox spell checker is hopeless!) with their service I could harpoon an Attitude Chicken. Wait, Bob Geldof is Irish isn't he?

I tried three buses, read that three buses and the service couldn't even find them, let alone give me timetable or fare information:

  • The 105 from Lorong Chuan to Scotts Road
  • The 75 from Holland Village to Marina Centre
  • The misleadingly titled Aeroline from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur

When we were in Ireland the weather was so bad we kept hearing how Bus Eireann were having to cancel services. We almost booked a bunch of trips with them, whew!


The Paris Métro IKEA advertising stunt

Along with all the talk about IKEA decking out Paris Métro stations with couches and lamps as an advertising stunt, there have been a ton of comments that pretty much follow this formula: "That'd never work in New York, the subways here aren't clean like the ones in Europe!"

As someone who recently zipped around in Paris on the Métro, the word clean wouldn't be one of the words I'd use to describe it! Intensely interesting, reliable, fast, affordable, comprehensive, yes. Clean? Eh, maybe not ;). The photo I took above shows one of the few good ones, but often there's litter everywhere and… certain odors which we won't discuss here.

As a matter of disclosure…

Punggol MRT Station The Munich U-Bahn

  • Everything's relative, expensive private hospitals in Australia seems dirty after riding the Singapore MRT.

  • I'm a self confessed IKEA nut because it's like Lego for adults, which allegedly means I'm a loser with too much free time. Yeah, thanks again Dave :P

  • On our latest Eurotrip we also spent time in Munich before heading off to Paris and the Munich U-Bahn is beautiful. I'll upload my own photos eventually, for now check them out on Wikipedia and see for yourself :O

  • And because it's St Patty's Day, don't mock Dublin's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luas">Luas system for its silly name (that probably means something which means I just made myself look like an arse), it's pretty cool too!

  • Oh yeah, and my father's side of the family is also German, which means I'm biased ;). I kid, Paris is amazing, but Munich is a nicer place. I think I'll stop now before I get myself intro trouble!

WWR artist of the day 04: Johnsmith

Request Johnsmith on Whole Wheat Radio

Because of my unexpected two day hiatus from blogging I missed two days of my seven day Whole Wheat Radio Artist of the Day experiment. I'm going right ahead and rectifying this by recommending one of my favourites, Johnsmith!

There's no point reinventing the wheel when someone else has already done a great job inventing said wheel, so instead of using my own mangled language I'll quote this part of his profile from his artist page which I wholeheartedly endorse with the Rubénerd Seal of Approval, if said seal existed.

Whenever you read or hear about the music of Johnsmith, certain watchwords always come up, regardless of the source. Words like uplifting, or integrity, heart, or soul. His songs and voice go straight to the heart, because that’s where they come from.

Given I know nothing about music and the language used to describe it, I feel as though I'm a wine taster using words such as "mmm tasty!", but Johnsmith's music is amazing, original, fresh, with great lyrics and an upbeat attitude, and as with Esther Golton it also helps that he's a really friendly person.

Well that endorsement was just terrible, please disregard! The first time I heard him back on the 18th of June 2008 (according to the page edit history) I felt compelled to add my Rubenerd Bagus tag to his artist page which even if I tag an artist with a bunch of five star reviews, I often don't do unless I've really found someone special. Was that a better endorsement? I think it was, let's pretend my attempt at describing music above didn't happen.

He also has an official website, on the internet of all places! Sometimes I worry I'm too funny, but that's okay because I'm the only one who thinks so.


Voting for Ray Foley for an Irish Meteor!

Today.fm in Ireland

Just a quick post to inform you all I voted for Ray Foley for the Irish Meteor radio awards! Not sure if international SMS text messages are counted, but budda diddly boom! "The Ray Foley Show… Today Eff Emm!"

"VOTE NDJ 4" to +353 85 711 4444

While we were driving around Europe we decided to flick through local radio stations, and by far our favourite DJs from the whole trip were Ray D'Arcy and Ray Foley from Today FM in Ireland. They're banter literally became a highlight of the trip, so much so that we'd often dordle in the car outside a major tourist attraction so we could finish hearing them ramble and rant on an idea before we got out.

"VOTE NDJ 4" to +353 85 711 4444

We noticed while we were there the Irish sense of humour is surprisingly close to the Aussie one… perhaps because of our common heritage of British oppression ;).


[Eurotrip] Weather shockness!

Weather dashboard widgets

When we get back to Singapore on Tuesday, we're going to die!


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