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|Wait a minute. Where's me jumper?|
It's TWELVE YEARS!!!
I registered the day after Douglas Adams launched H2G2 on Tomorrow's World's on April 28th 1999. Back then, the only colour was Goo, Peer Review was totally in the hands of the editors, the BBC thing had not yet happened and user numbers (ahem) were still 5 digits..
I managed to get about 32 edited entries completed before I eventually sublimed. Today I am something of a ghost, more an occasional lurker than an active contributor. With the new changes, you might see a bit more of me in the future...
I am more likely to be found blogging these days over at Sunny Spells and Scattered Scattered Showers on Wordpress. I'm also on Twitter, and you can also catch up with me on Facebook. Feel free to drop by and say hi.
Have fun, and watch out for falling whales.
About meI live in Cork, Ireland, a 43 year old father of four amazing children. I am an IT project manager, or something.
I have a big interest in Astronomy and Science. I am the co-founder of Cork Skeptics, a local skeptics group in Cork. We meet monthly in Blackrock Castle.
Woodpigeon Edited Entries
I have authored 32 entries in the Edited Guide. Here is the full list.
It says it all
A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
- Douglas Adams
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Welcome to this Researcher's Journal. If you'd like to comment on anything they have written here, just click the relevant 'Discuss this Entry' button.
3 Weeks Ago
Is the anniversary of my joining H2G2.
That was fourteen years ago.
I still have my hair and most of my teeth.
Here's to another 14 years.
Dec 31, 2012
As years go, 2012 was pretty good. A couple of ups and downs, but overall, a good one.
The big news was C's purchase of a new house. It happened quite quickly once she set her mind to it. It's a smashing place - the house of her dreams. It's out in the country with a view to die for. We are only 1 mile away from the sea, looking out over Ballycotton Island. It's still amazing to me the variance in sea-scapes. Each morning, day and evening seems different. The house was in top condition, and within days it looked as if it had been our home for years. C soon got some pet rabbits and 4 cats - all rescues - including one cat who is 16 years old and has one eye. C is incredibly sensitive and perceptive when it comes to these animals.
We had a lot of problems in the old place, with the previous landlords. Always a lot of tension when they were around, and a good deal of spite and nastiness after we had moved out. I still feel angry about it. I'm glad we've moved on.
C lives in Cork, but works in Dublin. The year has been very tiring for her, but lecturing arrangements last semester meant that she only spent one night in Dublin each week. This is nearly as good as you could get in the present situation. Jobs in Cork are few and far between.
A couple of big "coming of age" occasions with the boys: Communion and Confirmation. Even though I don't really go along with it, it's a rite of passage for them, and there's nice food involved in it. In some ways it was a difficult time, given that I am in a different relationship, but with so many connections to my previous life. I could write a book about such things, although I doubt if many would find reading it worthwhile...
My kids did extremely well on the sports fields this year. The boys are natural athletes, picking up copious medals from a number events over the summer. My eldest won an All-Ireland relay medal, with the twins narrowly missing out on a medal in the relay event. They are all super-fast. I've stopped counting the occasions I felt proud and happy for them over the last year. This coming year may be the best year for them yet.
My eldest also moved into secondary school. He's thirteen years old, and nearly 6 foot tall. When I joined H2G2 he was not yet born. Those years go fast. Don't anyone tell you different. The job of finding a secondary school for my daughter now starts.
My daughter is very creative - she spends most of her time in her room, reading or drawing. She's outgoing and friendly, yet introverted, and blessed with a raw intelligence. I see a lot of myself at that age in her. Her high point last year was getting a book review published in a local newspaper. I need to keep those creative sparks going in her!
No big trips this year, in fact I hardly took any holidays at all, just a few long weekends. We did the charity cliff walk, went back to the Saltee Islands, trekked the Gap of Dunloe and took a weekend away in Cavan. I also brought the twins to London. Since our summer was so wet, hill walks were few and far between. A walk with the twins to Cruachan in Kerry was very memorable though. It was like walking through Narnia, at times.
Work was busy, with me changing roles during the middle of the year: concentrating more on training and employee development. I'm happy in this role as it gives me a chance to meet new people and give people useful knowledge when they join. I also got a major surprise during the year - a windfall, if you like - which has greatly helped to ease some longer-term worries that I had. It won't transform my life, or anything like it, but it has gone a small distance to help me fund my kids education. The years ahead promise to be costly ones...
I had some chronic sleeping problems this year, so I took it upon myself to lose some weight. In the course of 3 months, I lost a stone. The following 3 months have proven to be much more challenging. I'll give it another shot in the new year.
My skeptics' club is still going strong. A couple of interesting speakers this year and a lot of new friends. We had Steve and Ben over, with a great talk on alt-med. Later on in the year, I did a 15 minute talk on critical thinking for culture night. It's all been great fun, but I have had much less time to dedicate to it due to work commitments. During the year, I also finished my terms as president of two Toastmasters clubs.
I went to QEDCon in Manchester last year, managing at one stage to get locked in a stairwell. Overall it was a lot of fun. I'm hoping to return to Manchester for the third QED this April.
That's about it for the year. A lot of laughs, a lot of living, everyone in good health, no deaths. In my book, as good a year as you can get.
Next year, I have to concentrate on closing a chapter of my live that has been overdue for a long time now. I'm also planning a road trip to Germany later in the year, and hopefully a few interesting walks in the locality. After that, not a clue how it will turn out.
Wishing you all a happy new year, full of life and rude health.
Jan 6, 2012
I'm off to Manchester in March to attend QEDCon, a meeting of sceptics and critical thinkers from around the UK and elsewhere. It promises to be good: Robin Ince will be there, as will Steve Jones, Edzard Ernst and a host of other sceptical folks that I have come to know over the past few years. It will be a great chance to meet people who have set up Skeptics in the Pub clubs and to share our experiences.
Jan 2, 2012
2011 came and went for me without much incident. It's not to say 2011 flew by: it didn't. It was a curiously slow year by any standards. The year did not bring too many surprises, and not a small amount of pleasurable moments.
I spent a lot of my free time involved with my newly formed skeptic's club: arranging speakers and coming up with a wide range of introductory presentations. The club has been quite successful, I think, with subjects ranging from ghosts and moving statues to childhood developmental disorders to nuclear power. I have a small number of speakers lined up for 2012, but I badly need to get my act together here. It's been huge fun, made better by the different people I have met throughout the year. Many of the talks are online now. I'm hoping to start expanding our area of interest to more science news next year, as a lot of the focus of the club last year was concentrated on various different type of delusions and charletanism.
I was also very heavily involved in Toastmasters this year. I was the main organiser for my local club, and I was heavily involved in setting up a club at my workplace. I am currently the president of both clubs. It's been a lot of fun. During the year we had competitions, joint meetings and a charity speak-a-thon, so I was kept busy. My terms end in June of this year, so I imagine I will be kept busy until then.
Closer to home, my eldest son finally eclipsed me in height. He's in his final year of primary school and a good bit of energy went into figuring out where he would go for secondary school. It was quite an odyssey. He and his brothers are turning into quite good hockey players. They also picked up a few medals at athletics events throughout the year. My younger two have also acquired a taste for hillwalking.
My girlfriend had a third operation which turned into a nightmare for her. In the course of the op, an incision was made into her intestine, necessitating emergency surgery and the immediate cessation of the intended procedure. It took a long time for her to recover from it, but fortunately no further operations were required.
In the course of the year, I travelled to Germany twice. The first trip involved a visit to Stuttgart's Wilhelma Zoo, and during the second trip we visited the Bodensee and Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain. The second trip also involved a long car journey between Ireland and Germany, where I nearly drove into a motorway crash barrier, we got completely lost in Brussels and we suffered breakdown in a forest in the middle of nowhere.
We also visited Brow Head (Ireland's most southerly point on the mainland, Spike Island (a prison in Cork Harbour), the Saltee Islands (a noted Irish bird sanctuary) and the Waterford Tall Ships Race. One trip in August involved the inspection of a beached sperm whale in Dungarvan. Other than this, it wasn't a great year for hillwalking.
We also took up cycling, travelling to a few local beauty spots such as the Old Head of Kinsale and Clonakilty. Hopefully we will explore a few more places around Ireland when the weather improves.
So, now onto 2012. As usual I am uncertain as to what this year will bring. I face a good few challenges that I've been putting off for years now, and they're not going away until I deal with them properly. I have an enjoyable trip planned to London in two weeks with my youngest boys (they've never been on a plane before), and I have a few skeptics meetings planned (not half enough), but otherwise it's an open book.
Here's wishing everyone a promising and fulfilling new year.
Nov 27, 2011
I participated in a "Speakathon" over the weekend in aid of the local Marymount Hospice. Toastmasters clubs around Cork each got an hour long slot, and each member got a few minutes to speak on any topic they wished to discuss. Because I am president of two Toastmasters clubs, that meant I needed to come up with two speeches.
In the evening session on Friday night, I spoke about how I had entered into a DNA study that will help determine where Irish people originated from. All my great-grandparents come from the same part of Ireland, so I would be an ideal candidate for such a study.
In the morning session the following day, I spoke about how you can improve your presentation skills by applying some very simple techniques. I hate traditional Powerpoint "bullet point" templates. By adding some images and animation you can bring any presentation to life.
In the evening I hosted a Cork Skeptics meeting in Blackrock Castle. We had two talks. Síle Lane, from Sense About Science spoke first, and talked about what her organisation was doing to address misinformation in the media. The efforts here have been admirable. Sense About Science have recently kicked off a campaign called "Ask For Evidence" which seeks to encourage ordinary people to request peer reviewed evidence from companies when presented with extraordinary claims.
The second speaker was Brian Hughes from NUI Galway. He is a lecturer in psychology and a prominent sceptical blogger. He spoke about how normal people are particularly bad at statistical reasoning, and how we tend to consistently overestimate our abilities and ignore data that contradicts our world-views. He discussed some interesting studies that indicate that depressed people can often be more realistic in their estimation of themselves, and suggests that fantasy and misconception might be an evolutionarily necessary condition for humans. Quite fascinating stuff.
So, a busy and thoroughly enjoyable weekend. A lot of time spent on my feet, talking and thinking about things that interest me.
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