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What we did while Mom was gone. (part 1) by lily10q
March 31, 2010, 10:33 am
Filed under: Dublin, Uncategorized

Hello, Our mom is in mn. We have done some things while she was gone. 1) We went to the national leprachaun musem. When you walked in there you went through a tunnell that was like supposed to make you feel like you shrank in to leprachaun size. Then you walked under the giants causeway. Which was cool only a little boring. Then you went to this room with GIANT furniture. It had a giant love seat and giant table and chairs that you could climb on. Then this room with a map of ireland and told like where in ireland faries lived and so on. then you went through the rain room. This room was a little cheap. It was just a room with umbrellas stuck everywhere. then the rainbow. This was a hallway with multi colored strings hanging from the ceiling that you ran through. Then of course the pot of gold at theend. Which was a tiny pot of gold painted rocks. Then an orange room. It was like a celtic tiger room or something. Then a hallway with a story on the wall and trees on the otherside of the wall. Then it ended with a room where they told stories and you could draw pictures. 2) We also went to my dance recital. It was it Johnstown (my school). 3) We have seen LOADS of movies and flown tons of kites.4) Ate at a restaraunt called seapoint which has the best french fries ever!

Mississippi River super high by Ann Treacy
March 29, 2010, 12:37 am
Filed under: St Paul

The River is as high as I have ever seen it. I tried to take some pictures. I really took pictures for the girls back in Ireland so I took pictures of things that I thought they would recognize. I don’t know that the pictures are super impressive if you don’t know what the River usually looks like in these places. They were expecting near record-breaking heights (or would that be depths) for the River – but the River crested on Wednesday, a foot short of expectations in St Paul.

The amazing thing is that despite the high levels of water there has been little to no damage. Rover Road is closed near both downtowns but we walked by these areas are they seem OK. The bridge in Stillwater was closed the other day.

Long journey (almost) home by Ann Treacy
March 22, 2010, 9:25 am
Filed under: Chicago, Dublin

OK this is a big long rant – but since I had the platform to say how feel about American Airlines I thought I would use it. (Most regular readers can probably skip it – if anyone with a connection to American Airlines happens to see it, you can know that I will happily pay more to avoid your airlines and I’m very sad that I have two more overseas journeys scheduled with you.)

I left Cabinteely at 6 am on Sunday to go home. When I got to the airport I waited in line for 2 hours because the plane had been delayed for 5 hours. It sure seems as if they could have emailed or texted that info out to people. It sounded as if the plane hadn’t left Chicago so they knew it wasn’t going to arrive in time. (We heard multiple excuses for the delay – starting with maintenance, which is something I hate to hear. If there’s a problem with the plane – please use a more trusted plane!)

Because the flight was delayed I missed my connecting flight from Chicago to Minneapolis. They could find me a flight to St Louis – but I had to point out that wasn’t very helpful since I was going to the other Saint city. I did get an 8 euro credit at the restaurant. A breakfast is 9 euros – it’s that kind of attention to detail that really puts American Airlines on the map. Luckily for me I had plenty of euros and dollars – but the plane was 90 percent Americans. I suspect many of them left the last of their euros at the pub the night before! What I didn’t have was an adapter. I had calculated that with 7 hours on my laptop battery that I should be OK to leave the adapter behind for the kids (with my Irish cell phone). So I had a computer for half of the day.

Also American Airlines flies small planes overseas. They are turbulent and no private computers/TVs in the backs of the seats ahead of you. For folks who don’t travel overseas often this may sound petty – but it makes a long journey to try to watch a tiny TV from the window seat 8 rows back.

So you’re probably think getting from Chicago to Minneapolis would be pretty easy. That’s what I figured. What are there – 40 flights a day?! Nope. They could get me nothing. I am still in Chicago. (I left Cabinteely 27 hours ago.) I have a flight at 11 am. That’s 7 hours from now.

But the worst of it is how absolutely rude the American Airlines staff were. The folks in Dublin were just unhelpful and unapologetic. The flight attendants were fine – but I had a little room for them since I assume they were on overtime. (Of course they were being paid to be on the plane while the rest of us paid top dollar for the pleasure – but still I only saw one rude comment from a flight attendant. So that’s not too bad.)

The clincher really is that they made me line up *again* to get a standby ticket from Chicago – but they wouldn’t put me on standby. They would only book a ticket for the next day. So I have to line up in Dublin and Chicago for the same thing?! And the guy at the counter could not have been meaner. In fairness, I know I got the meanest guy. One of his coworkers moved the barrier ropes – and he started yelling at those of us in line for doing it! (Whacko!) Then when she admitted to doing it – no apology to us. He started by yelling at me for being in the airport on the wrong day. Remember – I’ve just arrived from Dublin. I pointed out that he was looking at my return info. (No apology.) Then he snaps at me because I have no ticket. The Dublin folks said to get one in Chicago. Finally he realizes that my problem was that the plane was delayed – I have not done anything. But still no apology, and no helpfulness. So then I kind of lost it, which always helps but I hate to fly and now I have to do it all over again in 7 hours.

Do you think American Airlines looks for the mean people or trains them for the wining American Airlines spirit?

Luckily Katie was able to get me and I am staying at her house. So it was a fun bonus to see the Lynchs – but I had 3 meetings scheduled tomorrow morning which I may or may not be able to reschedule. (That’s’ assuming I am able to get to home tomorrow.)

Crochet & Coral Reef by Ann Treacy
March 22, 2010, 9:10 am
Filed under: Dublin

A new exhibit opens at the Science Gallery this week: Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef. There are a couple of aspects of the exhibit. First, two sisters started the project sort of in homage of the coral reef. (Note: on my horrible trip back to Minnesota I met one of the sisters!) They started crocheting replicas. Some are very colorful – like healthy coral reef; some are white representing the coral reef that have bleached because they sense danger. The structures are kind of amazing. Then they invited more people to participate by sending in their crocheted coral reef and they had a big response from all over the world. We saw huge panels created by classrooms in Latvia. We saw luminescent coral reef crocheted by a woman who is in her 80s. We saw delicate doily-like structures and beaded structures.

The most geeky aspect of the exhibit is that crochet has served as a way for mathematicians to model a new type of geometry – hyperbolic geometry. It turns out that the kind of curved nature of coral reef and crochet can represent or demonstration a kind of negative geometry that takes place beyond three-dimensions. I’m going to attach the great TED talk where the curator talks about the math – rather than try my own feeble explanation. (This is the woman I met.)

So anyways, it’s very cool. Patrick and I went on the sneak preview night. Where they were giving out yarn and crochet hooks. I got one for each of the girls and at least two of them seem to have picked up an interest. I was never very good at crocheting, but it’s funny how it comes back to you. Sadly I was totally bust trying to crochet and drink at the preview when trying to balance the glass and crocheting my ball of yarn escaped and fell over a balcony – just missing someone’s head. (Super quick note – after the exhibit we had an amazing meal at Il Primo – put it on your fancy eating list if you’re visiting Dublin!)

Back to the Science Gallery, we enjoyed the exhibit so much we brought the girls back the next day. They loved it too. Trinity Science Students staff the exhibit and a young woman did a great job of explaining hyperbolic geometry to the girls. I know it wouldn’t make a ton of sense to them yet – since none have started geometry – but I figured someday they’d be sitting in a math class and it might come back to them.

Sheesh I nearly forgot to mention that the exhibit included two works by MC Escher. I think that may have been Patrick’s favorite part.

St Patrick’s Day Parade by Ann Treacy
March 22, 2010, 2:41 am
Filed under: Dublin

We went to the big St Patrick’s Day parade – with 600,000 of our closest friends. The parade in Dublin is great – but it’s a huge crowd. We sort of wrestled with trying to keep the girls on our shoulders or at least a head above the rest. Amazingly we did get some good pictures – if we were only as tall as we could reach our view would have been great. It is amazing to see so many people in town.

After the parade we walked about the city a while and ended up with lunch at Bewley’s. Unfortunately poor Kate was not feeling well. In fact on Thursday we ended up bringing her back to the doctor. She got a few minutes on a nebulizer, which I think made her very happy. Then we got her some good medicine and with any luck she’ll be breathing well again soon.

Big Walk by Ann Treacy
March 22, 2010, 2:12 am
Filed under: Dublin

One day last week Patrick and I walked to the mountains. We’ve been trying to get in at least one good walk in a week. I took one picture. We didn’t necessarily get to the top of the mountain – but we walked for about 90 minutes and got a great view.

Big Day Out by Ann Treacy
March 22, 2010, 1:56 am
Filed under: Dublin

After our scavenger hunt we were raring to go for fun the following day. Luckily for us there was plenty going on. The girls had their free ride tokens for the rides at the St Patrick’s Day carnival. So that was good. The fun house was the favorite. Then we watched some of the performance artists. I think our favorite was the solar-powered cinema. It was a converted caravan. It fit about 7 people. And we got to watch a quick flick. Then we liked the Dude Juke Box. It looks like a big juke box but holds a real band.

But the best part was that we were there for a Flash Party – a flash tea party. There were people dressed up in Alice in Wonderland type costumes handing out tea and cakes. Out timing was perfect. This was happening in the park (we had been hanging around outside the park) and as soon as we got into the park, the party started.

After the Big Day events we had lunch at the Odeon, where the show movies on the big screen on Saturday and Sunday. What a good idea. We didn’t have a the best seats but it was fun. Then on the way home we walked through the Iveagh Gardens.

St Patrick’s Festival Scavenger Hunt 2010 by Ann Treacy
March 15, 2010, 11:12 am
Filed under: Dublin

St Patrick’s Festival Scavenger Hunt is one of my favorite events of the year. This year 4 of us participated. Patrick stayed home to work, but that was good because he would just slow us down and the teams can only be 4 people.

I tracked the route on Google (today, that is not on race day). I must say, I did very well and our path was very close to the Google route. Google says we walked 7 miles and it should take about 2 hours and 22 minutes. It took us about 3 hours. I’m going to say we walked a lot more partially because I didn’t track out route from the bus, or include the diversions. (Never mind we stayed in town for 3 hours after the hunt walking around!) When we got back to home base they said we were in 30th place. Not bad! Along the route you can see lots of participants on the bus or in taxis, which is actually allowed although we think those people are wimps! We walk the whole way. Also few teams have a five-year-old.

I’ve included a map of out trails. We visited:

A. City Hall ->
B. National College of Art & Design ->
C. IMMA at Kilmainham Hospital ->
D. Lighthouse Cinema Smithfield ->
E. Hugh Lane, Parnell Square ->
F. James Joyce Center ->
G. National Library, Kildare Street ->
H. National Gallery Merrion Square ->
I. Number 29 Fitzwilliam Street ->
J. Wax Museum, Dame Street -> (this is actually wrong on the map)
K. Back to City Hall

We also had a diversion into Trinity and a few places along O’Connell Street to answer bonus questions. We had such a great time. The girls won loads of nice spot prizes – including free passes for the rides at the fun fair, which we planned to use the next day. (We found out that was about a €50 savings!) They got a silly hat, t-shirts, coupons, painted faces. They sang songs for the prizes. We had a little low point at the Georgian House (No 29) when we realized that in the thrill of winning carnival passes, we’d left our stamp sheet back at the National Gallery. So the girls got a few minutes to chill at No 29 and I got a chance to sprint back. They were well placed as there’s a café in No 29 and each visitor is asked to perform a party piece to get a prize – so they were well entertained.

We had visited most of the places before – but the Wax Museum was new to us – partially because it opened recently. I’ve added two pictures from the wax museum – one with flash and one without, so that you could see it as we saw it (without lights).

After the scavenger hunt we hung out in town. We had our favorite lunch at the Meeting House Market Square – dumplings, brats and crepes. We checked out some of the art around Temple Bar, which included a stuffed cat with a stuffed mouse coming out of his back end. I use the term art loosely here, as you can see. I did love the cardboard washing machines. Then we headed to George’s Street Market, since the girls had seen that on TV earlier in the week. And then we sort of winded our way back home. Sadly we ended up on the slow bus home – but that was OK. (That’s a highlight we don’t’ talk about much, ending a 6 hour day in town with a 45 minute bus ride home.)

TEDx Dublin by Ann Treacy
March 14, 2010, 9:43 am
Filed under: Dublin

TED is an annual event where some of the world’s leading thinkers and doers are invited to share what they are most passionate about. “TED” stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. Maybe you’ve seen some of the videos – they are all available online and they are really interesting! TEDx is an independent TED event. We attended the third such event hosted at the Science Gallery. Apparently it sold out in 15 minutes! But I’m that good I scored us tickets.

Here were the live speakers (one presentation was a video of a past TED speaker (Ken Robinson); none were dead as I realized the last statement might imply):

  • Margaret Wertheim, The Institute for Figuring – She started a project crocheting coral reef. Apparently crochet is the perfect medium because of hyperbolic geography in both. We’ll be learning a lot more as that’s the next exhibit at the Science Gallery.
  • Luke O’Neill, Professor in the School of Biochemistry and Immunology – he talked about how immunology has changed in the last 15 years. How they have been able t understand that the “inactive” part of the immune system is actually more important than the “active” and how they are creating new proteins to help the immune system protect humans.
  • Mark Cummins, Creator of Plink – He created a visual search engine application. You snap a shot of a work of art and the search engine can tell you what it is no matter how crappy the snapshot is. Very interesting to hear how they are teaching computers to learn images.
  • Simon Berrow, Founder of Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Foundation – He talked about basking sharks and how they/he realized that you can get their DNA through their slime. Basking sharks are also called sunfish. They aren’t like sturgeon, but like sturgeon they are endangered and largely unknown.
  • Damini Kumar, Programme Director of Product Design at NUI Maynooth and Ireland’s Ambassador for the 2009 European Year of Creativity and Innovation – She created the drip-less teapot and talked about lateral thinking.

Each speaker has 18 minutes to talk about their thing. The focus, if there is one, seems to be on creativity and innovation. Or at least each talked about how they were able to be creative or innovative. I don’t know how interesting it is to have me paraphrase the talks, but here are a few things I noted:

  1. Each seemed to define creativity or innovation as a unique thought that provides value.
  2. One speakers said if you’ve failed, you probably aren’t being creative. It was remarked that America was more accepting of failure than Europe and that kids kind of get that freedom to fail knocked out of them in school.
  3. All of the speakers had a deep passion for what they did. Each knew the history, the science and the mythology of their industry as well as the ins and outs of their specific invention or innovation.
  4. They all started with research and motivation.
  5. Collaboration was also key. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel – but there may be ways you can make the wheel better.

It was a great night. All of the speakers were amazing. You’d think that given the jobs each had that there’d be some that were way more interesting to me than others – but each had that super passion that draws you in – even if you’d never really heard of a basking shark before. (Now I was to go to Donegal to see them!)

Rough week by Ann Treacy
March 14, 2010, 9:29 am
Filed under: Dublin, Dun Laoghaire

So we had sort of a rough week. Lily miscalculated a party. Patrick and I ended up at a lecture that was longer than we anticipated one day and missing a lecture by a friend the next. Patrick’s mom has had several friends with house break-ins. Subsequently both Patrick and I have set off the alarm here. We just kind of hit the end of winter blahs.

But we did get a tour of City Hall during the Festival of the Book.  We saw a rowing race on the Liffey (maybe UCD vs Trinity). Lily and I trekked around Stephen’s Green while Aine and Kate played in the park. We took some pictures there and we did sneak an afternoon in Dun Laoghaire – and we took some pictures there.

And as you’ll see in upcoming posts, which I’ll try to do today or tonight, things are looking up!

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