Archive for December, 2009

Stuck in my head…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on December 22, 2009 by hotpoo

This has been stuck in my head all. week. long.

Hazey Jane I, by Nick Drake

Do you curse where you come from?
Do you swear in the night?
Will it mean much to you
If I treat you right?
Do you like what you’re doing?
Would you do it some more?
Or will you stop once and wonder
What you’re doing it for?
Hey slow, Jane, make sense
Slow, slow, Jane, cross the fence
Do you feel like a remnant
Of something that’s past?
Do you find things are moving
Just a little too fast?
Do you hope to find new ways
Of quenching your thirst?
Do you hope to find new ways of doing
Better than your worst?
Hey slow, Jane, let me prove
Slow, slow, Jane, we’re on the move
Do it for you
Sure that you would do the same for me one day
So try to be true
Even if it’s only in your hazey way
Can you tell if you’re moving
With no mirror to see?
If you’re just riding a new man
Looks a little like me?
Is it all so confusing?
Is it hard to believe?
When the winter is coming can you
Sign up and leave
Hey slow, Jane, clear your eye
Slow, slow, Jane, fly on by
Yeah. The guy that posts dead 70’s folk singer poetry. That’s me.
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Some fun beers. Or, How I gave up and became one with the Guinness.

Posted in Funny! with tags on December 17, 2009 by hotpoo

What’s the plural of Guinness? Guinnesses? Guinni?

Anyway, I’m back, but not quite into the swing of things yet. My body is still set in Derry time, and I’m having a hard time breaking the jet lag this time.

Oy… the Irish are brutal. I was warned before coming over to not try to keep up with them. Wise advice that I wish I would have heeded. I hurt myself Monday night, and was not doing so hot Tuesday morning.

Day 1 (Saturday)- I left Portland at 7:30am, and suffered through a 6 hour layover in Newark NJ. Got to see some snow, but that was the extent of my fun there. Plane was about 1.5 hours late leaving the terminal, as we were waiting for another plane. Ironically, 2 of the late arrivals were an elderly couple seated next to me. Nice folks returning to Ireland from a trip. Very chatty folks. I ended up getting a wicked neck and head ache, and was only able to sleep for about 20 minutes the entire time. Needless to say, I was a bit punch drunk when we landed in Belfast.

I picked up my car at the airport, and suddenly realized two things. 1) I could understand about 3 words in 10 that were spoken to me. More than half of what they said either sounded like mush mouth, or some sort of secret code. 2) I might actually kill myself or someone else on the road. The boy at the rental car place was very nice, and I guess I bullshitted well enough for him to give me a free upgrade. Originally, I was to get a compact with an automatic transmission. Instead, he gave me a full size sedan (Vectra? I think that’s right) with a manual transmission. Nice car, but probably too big for someone just learning to drive on the opposite side of the road. Let’s just say that was an interesting experience, as I managed to embarrass myself right away by stalling the car out 3 times in front of the cops). I managed to flub my way through the round abouts, and not hit anyone. Let me have my small victories!

Since is was still pretty early (about 9:00am), I decided to head into Belfast for some breakfast and a few pictures. In Ireland, shit doesn’t really open up on Sundays until 1:00pm. I wandered around the city center for a while, taking pictures of buildings and stuff. I eventually found a little eatery that was open. Had myself my first all day fry (lots of meats, eggs, beans, toast and what not), and a couple cups of coffee. Since it was bright, dry (i.e. patchy rain, not a deluge), cold, that there was fuck all to do in Belfast on a Sunday, I opted to drive to Derry. The drive was nice, and I didn’t get lost thanks to excellent road signs (and a bit of sanity checking ye olde googly maps). Flubbed my way through a few more round abouts (kept forgetting what side of the car I was on, and kept bumping curbs with the left side of the car… didn’t hit anything, thank the gods), enjoyed the scenic landscape, and tried desperately to stay awake.

I was bone tired when I reached Derry. I’ve never understood what that really means. Anyway, I got lost like a dress on prom night within my first 5 minutes in the city. 7 round abouts later (one was a near accident), I managed to find my way inside the city walls. This is the point when I though I was going to shit the proverbial brick. This car is way too wide (not really, but it seems that way on these roads), the streets are too small, there is too much traffic, and I’m too god-damned tired, I told myself. Since the inner portion of the walled city is pretty small, I lucked into the hotel right away. Found a place to park a few blocks away, and wandered over… and was still too early to check in. They were nice enough to take my bags, and told me there was a parking area “under the hotel.” I couldn’t find it, so I figured they weren’t speaking literally. I picked a random spot, parked, and decided to go for a walk.

I killed enough time walking, then did the official check in. Turns out there was a parking garage directly below the hotel, so I moved the car before it disappeared. This is about the point were I decided to piss in the face of common sense, and go check out a couple of the 90 some odd pubs I found in the last hour. Per reccomendation from my Irish mate at the home office, I opted to check out Peadar O’Donnell’s first. It did not disappoint.

Thus begins my new weight gain diet. Guaranteed to work, or your money back.

If  you are ever in the area, I highly reccomend going there. After a few of those, I wandered around for a bit more in hopes of finding a pub that served food. I did find one that claimed to have the best pub food in Derry. Alas, they stopped serving food at 4. A couple of pints later, I wondered if I was just going to have to live with a liquid dinner.

Good for what ails ye, as long as it's only sobriety you suffer from.

After a bit of chatting with the locals, they pointed me in the direction of a little pub eatery at the bottom of the hill called Ramsey’s. A real greasy spoon kind of place. In it, I found my new hearts delight: battered sausages! With chips and curry sauce! I could practically hear myself getting fatter.

Oh god... I've just been orally satisfied by a sausage. And I liked it.

Yum.  Back to Peadar’s for more beer and atmosphere. It has more brick-a-brack than your grandmother’s house.

Bricka

Bracka

Abracka

Brack?

Lost count of the pints at some point (was beginning to realize that this was going to be a very long week), but did end up crashing about 8:30pm. That was a mistake. Should have just stayed up later.

Day 2 (Monday)- Woke up at 3:30 completely confused as to where I was. And hung over. Nice work, Bill. Nothing a little water and Advil cannot fix. Got up again a few hours later feeling a wee bit better, and had a breakfast I can only describe as epic. Sausage, bacon, eggs, mushrooms, toast. I passed on the baked tomato (not much of a mater kind of guy), and tried the blood pudding hockey puck of death. Didn’t really care for it, but at least I tried it.

Took the cab to work, and discovered that training was going to be a bit more complicated than we were informed. No surprises there. Made due with just one on one sessions, and limited access to the tool. It’s pretty dry stuff, so I’ll spare you the details.

After work, I went back to Peadar’s for a couple of pints. Pubs in Ireland stay pretty quiet until later in the evening… like 10pm. I went down the street and had another delicious sausage supper. Man… I could eat those things ever day for a year. After a bit of soakage, I went back to the pub. Big surprise there. I chatted with a local for a bit, and offered to buy a shot of whiskey. When I asked for a Bushmills, he practically exploded. Turns out the Bushmills distillery has a history of not hiring Catholics… until recently. Like I’m supposed to know that sort of thing. So we had a shot of Powers instead. He and  I were pretty much alone with the bartender for about an hour before a group of girls showed up. One of them was already tanked… apparently they were mourning the loss of one of their friends. I chatted with them for a bit, as the pub slowly became more busy. After a hour or so, all of them but one left as well as my more than intoxicated new friend. I ended up hanging out with the straggler (cannot remember her name) and another group of young men. We had some entertaining conversations… one of the young men had a giant scar on his arm from a gangrene infection. Nice.

By that time, it was about 10pm, and the pub was really hopping. I chatted with another group of young men and women, and met a young schoolteacher named Roisin. I bounced back between the 2 groups for a while, and ran into my drunken friend again. We had an odd exchange:

“Bill… see those blokes over there? They are going to beat the piss out of me.”

“Why?” I ask.

“Because, I’ve been looking at them funny.”

I walked up to him, palmed the top of his head, and shook his head back and forth violently.

“Stop doing that,” I tell him, then walk away.

Back to group #1, I ask if I can buy them all a round of shots. The girl decides she wants to pick the shot, which none of us argue with. This is what she delivers:

Dear god... what is that thing?

Sorry for the poor picture quality. My phone doesn’t deal well with low light. It’s something called a TriColor. It’s actually very colorful, but the pic doesn’t show that. It was quite… minty. After a bit, they decided to go to club called the Metro. I opted to tag along. Another pint or 2, and I was spent. I said my good byes, and stumbled back the hotel. I think it was about 1am…

Day 3 (Tuesday)- For the love of Pete… tasted like a cat shit in my mouth. And I still feel drunk.  I set my phone for 3 repeating alarms, starting at 6am and going to 8am. I guess I turned each one off in my sleep, then crammed the phone into my armpit and went back to sleep again. I woke to a perfect imprint of the phone and the power cable etched into my side.

Had to pass on the epic breakfast, and just buzz into work… so to speak. As soon as I walked in the door, the boys started to laugh at me. Guess I looked as good as I felt. Gave some more training, and felt a little more human after lunch.

As could be expected, I returned to the pub after work again. A couple more pints, then another nice dinner at Ramsey’s. I mixed it up a bit by having fish and chips this time. As I was leaving, a grizzled little old man was trying to get into the eatery. Looked like a piece of driftwood, and must have been in his 90’s. He had a can of Guinness in one hand, and was drooling profusely from his toothless maw. I asked him if I could help him with the door, and he responded with “Mwaaarg farrrg blaarg phaw.” I told him to have a very merry Christmas as well, and bounced back up to Peadar’s.

Half empty or half full?

And another one bites the dust.

Beginning to see a pattern here?

I then met up with a gentleman from Cork. Very odd fellow. He was a chef by trade that was following a band around Ireland. After a few drinks, he convinces me to go to the concert with him. That Petrol Emotion, or some such thing. I had never heard of them. Before we went to the show, we stopped by the pub next door to have another drink. I ran into Roisin again, and her parents. Everyone was going to same show apparently. Roisin’s dad worked at Seagate (where I was training), so we talked shop for a bit over a fag. I love that. Smoking a fag.

The concert was interesting. Not really my type of music, but worth going to anyway. It’s funny, the little differences between countries. In America, everyone crushes to the front of the stage, and you have to be willing to get sweaty and close to get close to the stage. In Ireland, it was just the opposite. Everyone was in the back, with a large open area in front of the stage. Sure, there were a  few people against the stage, but I was basically standing in a large open area in the front almost by myself.

Aging Guitarist

Aging Lead Singer

Aging Band...

I was a good boy, and made it back to the hotel by midnight. Didn’t even feel that tipsy, but I was beginning to feel the Guinness becoming one with every cell in my body. And in my bowels… good lord. I thought I was shitting solid loaves of bread…

Day 4 (Wednesday)- Woke up on time, and not in pain. Nice. Passed another Guinness loaf, and had another wonderful breakfast. Made it to the site on time, and training went without incident. Even with the lack of time, training material, and access to the tool we were still making good progress. The regional sales manager was in the area (Gwen), schmoozing Seagate into buying more tools. She stopped by with her team to chat for a bit, and I got a ride back to the hotel with them.

Once again, settled into my evening routine. Pints, eats, and more pints. There wasn’t much going on that night and no one was really interested in chatting, so I decided to call it an early night at 9. 30 minutes later, Gwen is calling and demanding that I go down to Peadar’s with her and the other salesperson for some pints. No was not an option… she actually called me a pussy. How can I resists such sweet talk? Away I go, to a now very crowded and noisy Peadar’s. An Irish folk band was playing, and everyone seemed to be having a very good time. Once again, I ran into Roisin. I poked her in the arm, and accused her of following me. She laughed and told me it was the other way around.

2… or maybe 3 hours later, I stumbled back to the hotel. I literally felt like I was breathing Guinness at that point…

Day 5 (Thursday)- Damn you Gwen. Woke up feeling like I shat in the cat’s mouth, and it returned the favor later. Blerg. Was pretty sure I was still drunk again… perhaps my body is simply storing the Guinness and releasing it into my body every few minutes.  Doubled up on my protein, and headed into work to get laughed at again. Sure sure. Laugh it up boys.

Gwen took the entire team out that night to dinner. It was a nice little place over the border in the Republic called the Fire Box. Good eats and good drinks, but really slow service. We didn’t get our orders taken until almost 10pm, and didn’t actually leave the place until well after midnight. We went down to the Metro after that, and laughed at Graham hitting on everything with breasts in the place. What made it truly comical was his jacket… visualize a grey plaid girls jacket (complete with big buttons and a wee belt around the middle) that is one size too small on a tall man. He kept asking every girl in the bar, “What do you think of my jacket.” It was hilarious watching him get shot down time after time. We figured the law of probability would win out eventually… we were wrong. In fact, the ugliest man in our group was the only one to walk away with a phone number that night. It’s not about how you look… it’s all about personality.

At one point in the evening, a fight broke out in front of us. Gwen took my arm and said, “The women are beautiful here, but the men are ugly. And I’m not just talking about looks.” She’s right. It’s a great place for fighting, if that is your thing. They definitely seem eager for it most of the time, and almost every one of them had some sort of story that involved either a run in with the police or beating the tar out of someone.

We closed the place out at 2:00am, and headed back to the hotel. I had to fold and go to bed, but they apparently stayed  up all night drinking. I was beginning to suspect that none of them actually had a lower colon. Instead, the lower abdomen was simply a large filtering device. I tried to keep up, and failed miserably.

Day 6 (Friday)- Ended up just sleeping in on Friday. I didn’t figure anyone would be in very early. When I got to work, the only one there was Graham… looking more than a little green. Not much was going to get done today, I was certain. The other two (the third took a vacation day) wandered in at about 1pm. Both looked ill at best. We did a bit more training, then called it a day. They invited me to a holiday party for the vendor team area (all of the third party support people were in a specific area), and said we were going to go out drinking again. Lovely. I needed to completely destroy my liver before I could get a new one anyway.

The holiday dinner was amusing. The guys in the group were fucking cracking me up the whole time. Talk about a country full of potty mouths. We ate too much, drank too much, and paid too much… no one told me beforehand how expensive this would be. Oh well. Graham wore his little girly jacket again, and was also wearing… wait for it… a sequined tee-shirt. I dubbed him “Sparkles.” Afterward, the lot of us walked to a bar called DaVinci’s. Think of it as a meat market for the 30 – 50 somethings. One of the guys walking with us was a gentleman from Scotland. Shorter than me, and built like a fucking keg. The man spoke like he damaged his voice after yelling out the largest crap of his life. Never in my life have I met a man that could use the words “fucking” and “cunt” so eloquently, and in so many different combinations.

The bar was chaos, as everyone was out for their holiday parties as well. I drank as hard as I could, but could come close at all to keeping up with they guys. Eventually, I succumbed to the siren’s call of sleep, and took a cab back to the hotel. I had to wade through an ocean of drunken men and women (mostly older women) to get into the hotel. Looks like everyone was out with holiday party groups.

Day7 (Saturday)- Took my sweet time waking up and having breakfast. I had scheduled a tour for the morning with one of the ex-prisoners. He was going to take me on a history tour of the city walls, and through the area of the Troubles (i.e. the bog side where Bloody Sunday occurred). I met up with Seamus at about 10:30, and we began our tour.

View of the outside of the city walls, with the Tower Hotel in the background.

We walked around the walls, and Seamus gave me a breakdown of the 130 (180?) day siege of Derry. Interesting stuff, even if Seamus was a bit of spitter. Hell… they all are. Every conversation I had with an adult male in Derry thus far ended up with me receiving an unexpected saliva shower. Good times.

Some Protestant building. Gathering hall?

Awww... pretty...

My illustrious guide, Seamus.

From the inside, looking out.

From the outside looking... up?

Eventually, we wandered down to the Bog Side, and went on the formal Derry tour. It’s good history to know, and I would encourage anyone visiting to take one of these tours. Terrible things were done, and people were treated badly. Still are, to a lesser extent. Hopefully, our children can do better.

Just another Bill at the wall.

After the tour (I took many more pictures, but this is getting a bit long winded anyway), we drove up to the Derry cemetery so I could take some more pictures. The day was cold, but dry and beautiful. Any picture I put up won’t do it justice, so I’ll just leave it at that. At this point, I think a part of my heart fell out. I realized that I had fallen in love with this little city, and didn’t want to leave.

After the tour, I decided to do a bit of shopping. Nothing terribly expensive, as the dollar was pretty weak here. I did manage to find a couple of trinkets for presents and what not for the family, and checked out their mall. It was a… mall… albeit a very compact one. I screwed around in the hotel room for a while, and went to have a couple of last pints at Peadar’s. Had one more delicious battered sausage dinner, and a few more pints. I ran into a social worker I had met earlier in the week, chatted over a few more pints, and got his email address. I called it a day at about 10, finished getting packed, and hit the hay. Or, tried to, rather.

As I mentioned before, this is the height of the holiday party season. I should have just stayed up instead. As it was I woke up about once an hour to shouting, screaming, doors slamming, or the sounds of loud rutting. I think I woke up at 3 some time to someone breaking bottles in the streets, and again at 6 for the same reason.

Day 8 (Sunday)- I should have gotten out of bed at that point… stupid. Instead, I slept in util 8, and had to bust ass to get out of there and on the road. It was a frosty, foggy, frozen drive, but I still made good time. I missed the airport, and ended up at some other airport in Belfast. By the time  I got on the right route again, fueled the car up, got to the airport, parked the car, dropped off the key, checked in, got through security, and got to the gate, the plane was almost finished boarding. Yeesh. Cut that close.

Leaving was depressing. It’s been a long time since I’ve been someplace that seemed to fit me so well, and felt so right. It made me a bit sad to leave.

The flight back was long, and tiring. I watched a couple of movies, and read for a bit. Getting through customs at Newark took forever. I had another 6 hour layover there, and then another 7 hour flight back to Portland. By the time I got home, it had been about 24 hours since I had seen a bed.

The trip was wonderful, and I hope I get to go back some day. I still feel like part of me (and not just the jet lagged portion) has been lost to Ireland. At least I got to bring a little of it back with me. Most of the Guinness has been passed by now, but I still feel a bit clinging in the lower recesses of my bowels…

Going to Ireland

Posted in Work with tags on December 2, 2009 by hotpoo

Ha! Eat my shorts! I’ll be wandering through the pissing rain from pub to pub, trying to replace my bodily fluids with Guinness and Bushmill’s. I’ll be thinking of you all while I do it.

*wriggles*

I do actually have to work for most of it, and it’ll be nothing but rain and darkness when I’m done. However, I have an extra spare day I wasn’t expecting, so I’ll be able to wander around Belfast and Derry for a little while. Much drinking will occur, I assure you. I’ll take some pictures of the debauchery…