Factgirl

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How Not to Look like an Asshole when Visiting Dublin

March17

The people of Ireland are some of the best, most fun, friendly wonderful people in the world. They will welcome you with open arms, even if you make some of the mistakes below. For real, they need the money around here, but do you want them to serve you with a smile while they think to themselves “What an asshole!” No. No you don’t.

1. Just wear the feckin’ green on St. Patrick’s Day. Really, join in the fun and leave your political/religious message (that you obviously have no clue about Irish History) for another day.

2. Don’t order a Black and Tan or an Irish Car Bomb. You might just get yourself tossed out on yer arse.

3. Your Irish accent isn’t as good as you think it is. Save it for your community production of Finian’s Rainbow.

4. Subjects to avoid in the Pub: The Troubles.

5. Also at the Pub, if sports are on, cheer for the team everyone else is cheering for or shut up. I have a friend who spent two hours listening to a rugby match in the car because she made the mistake of cheering for England.

That’s it! Now go out there and make Bono proud!

Bono

Cambridge Day One

July6

Here I am, in a tiny dorm room at a tiny college in Cambridge University. I woke up way too early, 6:30 when breakfast won’t be served ’til 8 so I thought I’d give a little update.

I am traveling with Sarah, another student at in the Purser-Griffith program at UCD. She turned out to be a lovely driving companion and the music and chat made long journey fly by. The drive from Dublin was pleasant and we were lucky more than once, first in upgrading ourselves out of the poorly-behaved-child hell of the Irish Ferry, and secondly in finding excellent food along the drive from Holyhead, Wales to Cambridge.

We stopped at a Welsh castle, a good old ruined one just how I like em,  old and ruinous. I will post pics as soon as I have a moment to upload them to Flickr.

The weather in England has been very hot and muggy and we arrived in Cambridge just in time to make a quick dash (and get lost) to the electronics store to pick up a fan for the tiny dark dorm rooms. There is nothing better than the white noise of a fan to fall asleep by in an unfamiliar place.

Last night was the reception and welcome dinner. We were able to meet the directors of the program - one who seems to be channeling Stephen Fry - which made much more sense when he confided that he was originally an Oxford man. There are only 43 of us in the program so I expect we will get to know each other well before the two weeks are up.

Today we have class from 9:15am - 9:00pm (there is a lunch and dinner break in there somewhere) so you wont probably hear another peep from me until morning. I will try to get some pics loaded in for the next post.

Snake Free and Lovin’ It!

March16

SSSSSSSSSSSSsssssssssssssssssssYep Ireland is snake free thanks to St Patrick. Bear, lizard and decent burrito free too. All you Ireland-haters out there will think of this post one day when you are in California getting eated by a Black Bear. (not a typo. Eated is much much more funner than eaten.)

So, St Patrick’s Day. There are so many solomn traditions associated with this special day, each signifying a part of St Patrick’s life. For instance:

LEGEND: St Patrick was kidnapped from Wales as a boy and sold into slavery in Ireland. TODAY: We watch a parade and drink Guinness.

LEGEND: St Patrick escaped to France aboard a ship carrying Irish Wolfhounds. He paid for his passage by keeping the hounds quiet while on board. TODAY: We avoid dog poop on the sidewalk (seriously, Dublin has nearly as much as Paris) and drink Guinness.

LEGEND: St Patrick became a priest and returned to Ireland. As he camped in Slane, he enraged King Laoghaire by lighting his fire before the king had lit his. He was arrested and when they tried to put out the fire, no one could (because it was so holy and all). TODAY: We thank the Irish government for banning smoking indoors in pubs and restaurants and drink Guinness.

LEGEND: St Patrick showed the Irish the concept of the Holy Trinity by showing them a shamrock. TODAY: We wear green and drink Guinness.

LEGEND: St Patrick stuck his staff into the ground and either a well sprung forth or an ash tree grew. TODAY: We drink Jameson and then drink Guinness.

Well, I hope you found this little lesson in history and tradition edifying. I would like to thank Jelly for his excellent recall of his 4th class St Patrick project last year, and Helly for playing outside and leaving me in peace to write this.

Have a great St Patrick’s Day and remember the most important tradition of all: THE HOLY DESIGNATED DRIVER.

Lovely

This is What Happens

March7

Wow - so much for writing a little something every day. But I’m not apologizing. First, everyone who blogs she swear off the “sorry I haven’t updated in so long” post. Blog when you can, I have your RSS feed and will be glad to read when you get around to it.

Now for my excuse (even though I’m not apologizing) : you will notice that my last post was way back in September. This coincides with my returning to school at University College Dublin to study the History of European Painting. And study I am. The course is amazing and difficult and rewarding as I dreamed. I have been using every spare moment to study and try to retain what I can for exams.

I really want to start posting regularly again though because I have some exciting stuff coming up that I hope to share here. This year is my 15th wedding anniversary, and two days later my 40th birthday. So how to celebrate? Leave!

I’m taking two weeks to study Modern Painting at Cambridge University. Yes, I will miss my husband and my birthday will be spent in a dorm writing essays, but this felt like a once in a lifetime deal. I have to go and am so lucky to have fhwrdh and kids so willing to send me away….HEEEYyyyyyy….

So instead of celebrating our 15th around my birthday, we are going to make fh’s birthday our fakeiversary. We will go to Bray, England and eat food and look at old castles and stuff.

Our last travel adventure was a weekend in Spain. It was a total last minute trip caused by my long lost sister emailing to tell me she had a timeshare and would we want to come down and meet up for dinner? Four Ryanair tickets later (NEVER AGAIN RYANAIR!) we were in Marbella enjoying sunshine and my sisters cute daughters and seafood paella.

We rented a car and drove up to Madrid with a stop in Toledo, which was full of American students trying (and failing) to read maps. One of the best parts was hot chocolate and churros for breakfast. It wasn’t like American creamy hot chocolate, it was like a bowl of melted chocolate bar. And the churros weren’t like Disneyland, they had no sugar dusting so you dip them in the cocoa. mm mmm

Finally, I changed the blog layout again. The three column layout was too much, and the ads were getting out of control. If you are an advertiser and you are sad because you miss your ad on my blog AND you have a non-obnoxious ad that I don’t hate then email me at factgirl-at-factgirl.com.

So that’s the scoop. I will set a goal for myself for one blogpost per week. As long as I feel like it.

Latest haps in Factopia

September4

Hey readers! August was such a fun and busy month. We did some traveling and eating and exercising hmmm where to begin….

WiiFit

I bought myself a WiiFit for my birthday but didn’t pick it up until just this month. I. LOVE. IT.

Yes thats right, I all caps love it. At first I was totally offended when I stepped on the WiiBoard and it said I was overweight, I ran dramatically crying to my room where the full length mirror confirmed WiiFit’s opinion. Sure I carry it well, but I will never make it be America’s Next Top Model all jiggling out of my jeans.

So join me, won’t you as I try to lose some weight with my Wii! I will update, as always, when I damn feel like it.

Travel

We took the kids to The Netherlands and Belgium. We started in Amsterdam, which shocked one of the friends I told. To some people Amsterdam is a big red light district peppered with pot-sellin-coffee shops, but I have to say, it was one of the best kids cities we have visited. The people are super friendly and seem to never be put out by speaking English (which they all seem to do really well).

We took a fun canal boat cruise, ate pancakes, and visited Nemo, a super-duper kids science museum. The Van Gogh museum was like a greatest hits collection of all the paintings you’ve seen in books. It was exciting being so close and seeing how the paint is layered, making an almost 3D effect. One part of the trip I particularly enjoyed was taking the kids to the Anne Frank house. We read a book about Anne Frank so they understood the story but it really made an impact on them to see how they hid and how quiet the family had to be every minute.

muscles and beer in BrugesIf you ever go to Belgium don’t miss the little town called Bruges. Though the main industry has been tourism for over 100 years, you wont find just souvenir shops and tourist traps. There is a great little brewery called the Halv Maan (Half Moon) and they brew the local nectar, Bruges Zot.We took a tour of the brewery and stayed for lunch and beer. Even the kids tasted a little beer but didn’t like it. Whatever, at least they can always say their first beer was in Belgium!

Brussels was a bit of a disappointment, but mostly because the hop on hop off tour company we bought from the hotel was horrible. Brussels is not so much a tourist city, evidenced by the fact that the main attraction is a fountain of a little boy peeing.

Another of Brussels fine attractions is called Little Europe. You pay 15 euro to walk around little dioramas of famous spots in Europe. At each diorama there is a button to push that plays the nations national anthem… yeah good times.

Thats it for now - I plan on posting a big old write up on Electric Picnic soon - my brain is buzzing and I cant wait to share; but I gotta go have lunch with muh gals! Later potaters!

I’m Busy

July28

I thought I posted this way back in March, but it has been sitting in my drafts folder. I thought I’d post it anyway, especially because I’ve had my ingrate kids home for the summer and am so sick of Super Smash Brothers and Hannah Montana I could scream. Really. Save meeeeeeeeee.

_____________

March 30, 2008

Hi everyone!

It was Spring Break these last two weeks (or Easter Holiday if you are from Ireland. I looked so forward to having my offspring home for a couple of weeks. I imagined we would sleep in, hang out, and maybe squeeze in a trip to someplace in Europe we haven’t seen yet.

That was pretty much how it went, a little sleeping in, a trip to Denmark and Sweden, and hanging out. It’s been great. Really. so. great.

BUT ONE MORE DAY WITH THESE CHILDREN IS GOING TO DRIVE ME MAD. GET BACK TO SCHOOL YOU LITTLE INGRATES!

Arne Jacobsen ChairsAhem. Where was I? Ah, yes tip to Denmark and Sweden. We flew into Copenhagen (pronounced CewpenHAgen) and found the trains to be prompt and clean. A direct line took us from the airport to our hotel, the jewel of CewpenHAgen according to our tour guide, the Radison SAS Royal designed by Arne Jacobsen, the father of Danish modern design. The hotel is a throwback to 1960’s martini-swingin-fabulousness, but with a recent refurb was exceedingly comfortable. The beds were like clouds.

At first I thought we were going to have to cancel the trip altogether. The day before I had a monster headache that progressed into a sore throat and cookie tossing that night. Not to worry, the hotel doctor came to the rescue once we arrived with a phone diagnosis of strep and a prescription for some penicillin. I was right as rain the next day.

Now, to start, a warning: most people don’t, and should not, go to CewpenHAgen over Easter. Not only is the famous Tivoli Gardens closed, but the Danish take Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday off, leaving you with no shopping and a deserted city for most of the weekend. Of course this was no problem for the fact family, as the male half of us hate crowds.

We geocached a little and took a lovely little tour to Sweden where we got to drink hot chocolate at anGeocaching in Copenhagen! outside restaurant with blankets on our laps.

I would love to go back to Copenhagen again one day and see the Tivoli Gardens. Even closed, it looked spectacular.

Princess BirdI leave you with one more vacation pic of Birdy trying on a 1600’s princess costume at the castle in Fredericksburg, Denmark. You can always find pics of our adventures at fhwrdh’s Flickr photo stream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fhwrdh/

Open The Floodgates!

July26

It’s been a crazy month!

hsm.jpg Little Birdy and I started with a girls trip to London to see the premier of High School Musical Live. The day I bought the tickets I sat at my laptop hitting REFRESH until good seats popped up. When they did, (third row!) it turned out that it was for opening night. Birdy and I arrived to a red carpet, cheerleaders, paparazzi and stars! The only one I recognized was Kate Moss - the rest we from Eastenders and other UK shows I don’t watch. I was prepared for the show to be boring and sacharine, but it wasn’t so bad at all! The cast was the oldest group of high school students since the film cast of Grease. Anyway, Bird and I had a blast and she has a program and a little charm bracelet to remember the night.

After running around London with my baby girl, I had a five day rest before it was time to ditch the kids and travel with fh for our anniversary. I told him to surprise me, and he did. Back to England! We stayed in Maidenhead near Windsor, visited Windsor Castle, drank too much with a handsy Scotsman, ate lots of rich food, and spent the last day back in London at the Victoria and Albert museum.

It was in Heathrow on the way back to Dublin that we decided to have a bite to eat. I suggested this place near the back of the terminal, and I could tell fh was a little annoyed that we walked so far when we could have eaten at the bar/deli a little closer to the gate… until Philip Glass walked in. We tried to eat and not stare or listen in too much - he was with some other musicians, one of which was Wendy Sutter, and she had her cello with her. If you click through to her website, be sure to listen to the beautiful album she just recorded of music Glass wrote just for her, thats love!pg.jpg

So we geeked out and finished our meal and headed over to the gate, and who was there? Glass and his crew! They were on their way to Dublin! That is when I vowed to find out if he had any public performances and get tickets. When we got home I did a quick Googlydoo and found he was playing just a few days later and about an hour’s drive away. I snapped up tickets.

The concert was pretty wonderful. Some local artists played some of Glass’ compositions and then Glass himself played. The only things that would have made the evening better would have been if the concert hadn’t been in a 300 year old church with the most uncomfortable seats ever, and there would have been at least one restaurant in town that was still open afterwards. (Don’t worr, we stopped at Eddie Rockets in Donnybrook and had some diner food at midnight).

Last week I got a pop up IM window with a link from fh and who is coming to town in September? Kraftwerk! But September is such a long way off. What will tide up over?

ep.jpgElectric Picnic! Yes, my children’s first camping trip will also be their first rock show. I had so much fun telling my parents I will be taking their grandchildren to see the Sex Pistols. I am especially excited to see Sigur Ros, Grinderman, The Silver Apples, and The Breeders. Yay for summer festivals!

***Finally I want to give a shout to one of our own who has been dealt a rough blow. Last year Slayre had a stroke. His rehab has been long and slow and he hasn’t been up to playing his favorite game. Stop by why dontcha and give him some encouragement. Hang in there Slayre! ***

posted under music | 2 Comments »

Radiohead: June 7, 2008 Dublin Ireland

June8

 Dear Security,

Why even bother? I could have smuggled a bomb full of cocaine snakes in my bag with the check you did. Just let us the hell in.

Your pal,

Facty

___________

Dear Bat for Lashes,

You guys did a very great job as an opening act. Your lead singer girl is very pretty and charismatic and sounds a lot like Bjork; a little too much for Fhwrdh, but he still liked you ok. I particularly liked your stage costumes. You just may bring the poncho/smock (smoncho?) into fashion.

The part of your show I liked the very best was when you started playing the big drum and the tamborines.  At first I was a little upset because it sounded like you were going to play Venus in Furs, but you didn’t. Then Jose and Fhwrdh started singing Baby’s got Back to the beat and I just about laughed my head off.

Thanks for being a sweet opening act.

Facty

_____________

Dear Guy who used the Port-O-John before me,

I am going to call you Drippy O’Splashy. Did you even get any pee IN the toilet?

Stay gold,

Facty

____________

Dear Radiohead,

You made 2008 the best year of the decade. In fact, your show was so good, it improved the entire aughties!

The train to Malahide  took about an hour, and looking around at our concert-commuter-mates Fhwrdh and I were a little worried about the Dublin crowd. Were they going just for the outdoor summer festival venue? Would they just be screwing around, talking loudly on their mobiles, holding their stupid girlfriends on their drunken shoulders, pissing and throwing up in inappropriate places?

I needn’t  have worried. Not a bit.  The summer crowd was in a great mood.  There were smiles and thanks and pardons.  Cameras were held up for a photo and put down again so no one was blocked for the whole show. Dancing drunk guy next to us didn’t pick a fight with anyone. Everyone moved to the music, not like in LA where everyone folds their arms and dares the band to make their head bob to the beat. These people were glad to be there, singing along, dancing.

From the opening song, 15 Minutes, I had goosebumps. I was amazed at how great the sound was. Not just the musical-melody parts, but the SOUNDS that make a Radiohead song so multi-layered and interesting.  I could have enjoyed the entire show with my eyes closed.

I am glad I didn’t close my eyes though, because the stage setup was so amazing. Little cameras set around the stage gave a close up view of each of you on the giant screens behind and on either side of the stage. Thom never forgot that he was performing, and his performance was riveting. I felt like the entire band loves the music as much as the fans do, which I think is especially wonderful after so many years playing.

Thank you for playing my favorite, The Pyramid Song. I was so happy when you started it. With so much material to choose from, you could have played just as long a show without it, or National Anthem, or Everything in Its Right Place. I wouldn’t have even minded - the newer material is so great. But thank you for playing some old songs too.

You would have been really proud of  some people in the crowd. There was of course Coco, who was at her 100th show (it was really nice of you to dedicate a song to her) and Drunk Guy next to us, who was a genial and sharing fella, if a little on the staggery/bumpy side; Steve from the USA who came on a whim for his 40th birthday - used to follow The Grateful Dead and now has tethered himself to you; the couple form Denmark Street in London - see I didn’t forget; and finally all the fellas peeing in the forest on the way out. Way to save water!

In closing Radiohead, I would like to share my thanks to you for making my first show in a very long time one of the top three I have ever seen, ever.

Love,

Facty

____________

Dear Cab Driver from Dublin City to home,

I hope I answered all your questions appropriately. I couldn’t understand a word you said.

Slan,

Facty

Saturday Morning Ramble

June7

I already Twittered this but Fhwrdh and I lucked into Radiohead tickets for tonight and I am beside myself with excitement. I realized this is my first live music show since having kids.

Just for perspective, Jelly is ELEVEN.

_____

The other day Birdy was skipping around singing The Battle Hymn of the Republic. I noticed the words were different and remembered how we used to sing it when I was in grade school.

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the burning of the school. We have tied up all the teachers and we’ve broken every rule.

My goodness if you sang that today you would be brought up on terror charges! Anyway, I asked, “What are you singing?”

“The ManU fight song!”

Note: Manchester United is a very famous soccer team from England. Not only does my precious little baby not know she is singing an American Civil War tune, she is supporting ManU? Even when they aren’t playing Chelsea? Ugh.

____

Birdy has a new little post up over at her little nest. This one she typed all by herself! Yay!

posted under funny, kids, thinkings | 1 Comment »

Here we go!

June5

Oh wow it’s been a long time. Sorry for that but no excuses here. I blogs when I feels like it.

So much is going one this might ramble a bit. Firstly I will hit the poker update because I know that where my bread and butter and marshmellow is:

Poker. Is. Awesome.

I made a few final tables recently and was itching to blog them. Most notable was the $9,500 guarantee at Full Tilt.  I made the final table and just knew this one was mine. Though there was another great player at the table: Rex55. She is also a blogger so check her out - She is exactly the kind of player/blogger I admire. She has a lot of fun at the tables while wielding a ruthless game. She is cordial and had a LOT of railbirds. She ended up going out third or fourth but I totally thought is was going to be us heads up. My payday for winning the whole mess whas $3,100. Not too shabby!

I am feeling focused and ready to play with the intensity the game deserves. I will try to keep you up to date.

We are about to move again. Not back to the USA, just two miles down the road. While I will miss my view of Dublin Bay, we will save a little scratch and be closer to Fhwrdh’s work.

As I try to get the house ready for landlord inspection, I have used all my housewifely wiles and come up with a list of stuff you need in your house if you have kids:

Dryer Softener Sheets: If you get them wet, they will clean gum out of the dryer better than anything ever invented.

WD40: Not only will it fix the creaky car door, it will get Silly Putty off the carpet.

Ice: Freezes gum so you can scrape it off fine furniture.

A Tupperware Cake Holder: to throw up in.

A Lice Kit: A metal comb and some poison. Buy it now. Trust me. When you find your child has head lice will be Sunday at midnight.

Secret Chocolate: Hidden somewhere the children will never find it. For PMS.

Thats all I can think of now. Watch my Twitter feed for more.

I wish we were heading off to Vegas to be with the rest of you crazy bloggers. We will miss you way more that you miss us I’m sure! For my birthday/our anniversary (14 years!) coming up, Fhwrdh is taking me on a trip to… somewhere. No idea where we are going, though Fhwrdh keeps joking that we are going to Port Laois (where the National Prison is located). I am hoping against hope that wherever we end up is more romantic than prison.

That’s it for now - but I promise now that I can log in I will post and post and post. Unless I cant find my PMS chocolate.

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