30 May 2012

philosophy of Jam Everywhere, et addendum

So--I've got another vlog episode up! check it out, folks.


Yeah, it's a bit rough, but practice makes perfect, so.

In other news, tomorrow is my last day at work... I'm not sure I ever wrote about this job on this blog yet. Basically I work for a mobile phone insurance company, with offices right next to the Baggot St. Bridge over the Grand Canal. I started out working for them as a temp through Julia Ross, and after a month of that they offered me a five month, part-time contract. Then, after two months of that, they added a month to the contract and brought me on to full time. o_o

When my supervisor first wanted to talk to me privately, when I was still a temp, I thought she was telling me that my temping time was over. I went in super nervous and afraid I hadn't been doing well. When she offered me a job, I didn't know how to react. I asked her if I could sleep on it, then said YES PLEASE OMG THANK YOU the next day because they were offering to pay me basically twice as much as I got paid as a temp, INCLUDING things like annual leave days and paid sick leave. It was amazing. And just like that, I became a salaried office worker starting in December 2011.

Everyone in the office is super lovely and even-tempered. While my job was not exactly the most exciting--I was basically proofreading insurance documents, filling out endless spreadsheets, and scanning things--I had a great time working for them and really felt like part of a team. I mean, I had my own work email address and everything! And I was regularly corresponding with people in, like, Belgium and Germany and stuff.

But, of course, all good things must come to an end, so tomorrow it's over. Just in time for summer, though, which is perfect. I sold back my days of annual leave to the company and got a small pension on the last few months of my contract, so with that, my last paycheck, and what I've been saving from the start--the rest of my summer is entirely funded by this job, without my having to touch the savings in my American bank. I also bought a 1200 euro bicycle, insurance for said bicycle, quite a bit of cycling kit, some quality camping equipment, and a ton of other things with this job. I'm super stoked about all the travelling I get to do from here on out--I'd better start planning it for real, I suppose!

For being my first "real" job, working at NTI/MTIS was a really good one. Good for the resume, I'm sure, too.

Gonna go out for drinks with my colleagues tomorrow after work. Then, the summer starts fer me...


26 May 2012

spring cleaning

Today is the sort of day when Mama used to open all of our windows and doors, letting fresh, sun-soaked air filter through the house. Birdsong echoed in the corridors; the sounds of cars, neighbours, children playing, settled in the rooms. Then she'd break out the vacuum, the mops, the dusters, the toilet bowl cleaners, some music and an apron, and get to work.

She'd put us to work too, of course. She'd write up a list of chores what needed to get done and my sister and I would divide the list in half according to type of chore and get going. I hated dusting the most. I'm not sure what Jenn always tried to avoid.

The only reason my flat is in a halfway-presentable state right now is because my friend Aisling is coming over for the weekend. Otherwise, I'd still be living in a pretty terrible mess--the carpet covered in little bits of crumbs and other detritus, every available surface covered in clothing or clutter, the bathroom layered in soap scum and spiderwebs. The kitchen... haha. Pretty much the only time I wash dishes nowadays is when I need to use one that is already dirty. Luckily, all the dishes I own fit in the sink with room to spare, so it doesn't get TOO gross. You can only make so much of a mess with three bowls, six spoons, two pots, one pan...

Mama might not believe this, but when I was in university I was actually a pretty clean person. When I had a kitchen, I cleaned it either every day or every other day, and was extremely intolerant of dishes festering in or near the sink. I'd tidy my clutter fairly often, and even wash my bedsheets and pillowcases from time to time. I'd even clean up after my roommates or apartment mates if they didn't clean up after themselves.

Nowadays, I don't clean jack. I keep things hygienic (no mould, mice, or bugs plz), but that's about it. I think that when I was in school, cleaning was a type of procrastination for me. It was much easier to potter around in my room organising my piles of clutter than it was to sit down and read a boring textbook or start writing an essay or something. And washing dishes is something that I tend to do a lot when I'm depressed or otherwise lacking in mental energy... something mindless that doesn't tax the brain but at the same time is productive and necessary.

I'd like to say that my excuse for not cleaning often is because I'm so busy doing awesome things and hardly spend any time in this flat. I am working full time and go out on the bike a lot, but I spend most of time here, on my computer, watching youtube or whatever. Sitting in my mess.

Ah, well. I've got the window open and I can hear the birds and it smells like spring. Summer, even. Too bad the minute I open my window my room fills with directionally-challenged flies.


22 May 2012

Cycle4Life writeup

All right! I'm trying to start writing about cool things I did RIGHT AFTER doing them, rather than weeks or months later, so here's my little bit on the Cycle4Life!

EDIT - the error with picasa web albums was finally fix'd by google on 4 June, so I'm finally adding in the pictures below.


May 19th -- first annual D.I.D. Cycle4Life in Dunboyne, Co. Meath!

I woke up with JUST ENOUGH time to spare. I quickly got dressed, then made a breakfast of scrambled eggs and hemp protein powder. They were green! Unfortunately, I had no ham.

When I arrived in Dunboyne, it was SUPER COLD. I was wearing my horrendously mismatched cycling clear (see last picture below), and coated in a light layer of sweat from the 15 km cycle from Dublin. I had meant to take my windbreaker and a light balaclava/headband/kerchief/multi-purpose thing I'd bought specifically for cycling trips, but of course I forgot them at home. Sat on a bench and spent 30 minutes mentally kicking myself for not bringing them.

Kickoff was at 9:15. Place was packed with people gearing up for the cycle!

[picture depicting a road jam-packed with cyclists, the starting line consisting of a yellow arch in the distance]

I started off somewhere near the middle of the pack. I was alone, but didn't mind too much. I decided to just talk to everyone along the way and enjoy myself. The first person I struck up a conversation with turned out to be my cycling buddy for the rest of the day. His name was Paul.

[picture of a middle-aged dude in cycling gear, with sunglasses and bleached hair]

He was on a rickety-looking hybrid, and I thought at first that I was gonna outrun him fairly soon, but the guy moved at a much faster clip than I thought he would. I was faster than him on the uphill portions of the course, but he always caught up to me on the downhills. I do think he was more destroyed than I was at the end of the day, though, but considering the bike he was on he was doin' pretty well. (If you're readin' this, Paul, 'twas fun times.)

We averaged about 18 kph and talked about stuff 'n' things. He gets an automatic 20 degrees of awesome for thinking Captain Picard was the best Star Trek dude. (side note: yes, I measure awesome in degrees. There is a science behind this.)

As fer the cycle, everyone was talking about how the hill of Tara was gonna be SO HARD, and I'm used to cycling up Howth head so I was expecting something, like, Howth-sized or bigger. The hill of Tara was like half of Howth, haha. It was a bit steep toward the end, but I geared down to the granny ring in front and managed to cycle up it without stopping or having to stand up out of the saddle to grind. I did feel super fit and a bit smug when I passed a whole bunch of people walking their bikes up the hill. XD ...at the same time, I was kinda "cheating" 'cause my touring bike has lots of super low gears for towing trailers and stuff, but I wasn't weighed down by anything at the time. (There were lots of people grinding really huge gears the whole time, though; idk how they didn't wreck their knees doing that. If you're not getting at least 70-90 rpm on the bike you're not doin' yourself any favours, that's for sure.)

Here's a the view from the top of the hill:

[picture of green fields and trees stretching off into the distance, with some kind of stone tower in the middle. on the left side of the frame is a guy carrying a camera past me; I guess he was taking advantage of the scenery too]

We stopped for some bananas and some coffee at the top. Then I remembered that my little sony camera has video capabilities and asked Paul if I could make a video for you guys to showcase his cool accent. While he grew up in Ireland, his dad's British, so he's got like the perfect "received pronunciation" thing going on. Click below to watch:

The rest of the day wasn't all downhill, but it wasn't all uphill either. The sun even came out for a little while, and it was never cold as long as we were movin' on the bikes. The countryside of Meath was gorgeous. I love the smell of farms, I love the fields of cattle and sheep, the green of the grass, purple wildflowers, trees and hills and little creeks and bridges. Cycling through all that makes me super excited for my July cycle tour of Ireland!

I've decided that I actually like cycling up hills, too. I used to dread hills--I liked hiking trails but hated the uphill parts; workout machines like stairsteppers just seemed evil to me. Now, after doing Howth a few times, and even carting full panniers around Achill island, I like hills--I like the sense of accomplishment you get when you top the rise, y'know? And all I know is that I'd better get used to hills 'cause I'm gonna move back to Colorado before long, and them thar's MOUNTAINS...

Anyway, we spent a little longer at the food stops than the other people so we ended up finishing a bit later than them. Actually, toward the end we got LAPPED by some of the lads who were doing the 140 km cycle--yeah, they started an hour before us or something, but they were going TWICE AS FAR! And when they passed us they must have been going like 45 kph. I tried to keep up with them for a sprinting finish in the drops but lasted like 10 seconds. :(

We reached the finish and cycled through together, a real team. It was great. (Total time on the bikes: 3:40 over 67 km--not too bad really.) After, we stopped to pick up our goodie bags--I got a stuffed seal, some gummy bears, cheese crisps (which I promptly gave to Paul), some headphones, and a kids' movie? Um, ok. I'm on the lookout for a kid to pass the stuff along to--Aisling, don't you have like little nieces/nephews/cousins? lemme know...

After that Paul and I parted ways and I made a little video (click below) that makes no sense out of the context of this blog post. WARNING. I swear in this, because sometimes I forget that "shit" is actually a swear. I'm becoming Irish apparently.

(from description of video on youtube: Anyway, yeah, the maths on this video don't seem quite right, do they? 67 km + 15 km doesn't equal 100 km, Jam!

no. but it's more like 17 km to my home, and I cycled out there in the morning too, so 17 + 67 + 17 = 101. There. Pwned.)

And that was that! I felt pretty good at that point, like I could keep going all day, but about halfway through the 15 km cycle home I realised that I was actually knackered and had hit my limit. Made it home at like half three or something. I laid in bed for the rest of the day watching youtube, iirc. I even decided I'd earned the right to eat dinner in bed so now I have buckwheat cracker crumbs floating around in the sheets, haha...


So. I want to thank my generous and amazing sponsors for their contributions to the Temple Street Children's Hospital on my behalf. All in all, I raised 325 euro--FOUR TIMES my original goal of 80! I couldn't have done it without you guys; you really are the best. I was super excited and proud to be able to hand that money over to this wonderful charity. Too bad I won't be around for the same thing next year--I'd do the 140 km route that time, and maybe keep up with the crazy lycra lads with the aerodynamic helmets and carbon bikes this time! (or not)

Finally, here is a picture of my getup on the day in question:

[picture depicting me wearing the blue and white Cycle4Life jersey, with orange bib shorts, purple tights, black arm warmers, and red gloves--nothing in the ensemble matching whatsoever. Also, I've got my sleek new surly long haul trucker bike! OMG I LOVE HER.]

p.s. -- Keep on checking back here for more posts and updates. Below I said my goal would be two posts a month, but I want to post once or twice a week if possible. If I don't, feel free to hound me in the comments until I do!

19 May 2012

Cycle4Life -- SUCCESS

Hey all,

 just a note to say that I'm back from my Cycle4life, and I had a great time. Total distance was 100 km: approx. 70 km loop starting and ending in Dunboyne, Co. Meath, plus 15 km from my house to Dunboyne and back. I'll write a bit more about it later and throw some photos up when I'm not so knackered and ready for a nap.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL THE DONATIONS. I ended up with 365 euro in the end, which I was so proud to be able to hand over to the Temple Street Children's Hospital. You guys are awesome.


16 May 2012

giving vlogging a try

Hello Mama. And possible but unlikely other people who happen to read this blog.

I've decided to give vlogging a try. My youtube username is "jameverywhere". Feel free to subscribe if you want, but at your own risk: my inexperience and lack of ability is painfully apparent here.

Here is episode one!

p.s. -- the youtuber with the beautiful eyes is Wheezy Waiter. He also has a beautiful beard. He's also hilarious and extremely entertaining, but it took me watching like three of his videos before I could see anything besides his eyes D:

14 May 2012

letting inspiration die

I've been doing a lot of that lately.

One of my biggest vices is definitely sloth. I used to be rather sickly, with constant headaches, unexplained fatigue, and really crappy sleep--so being lazy was a survival instinct. Now that I have more energy than ever before, I so easily and quickly sap it away by watching youtube constantly or reading blogs and comics or otherwise consuming other people's creativity while sitting on my ass doing nothing myself. And the laziness, which was a learned behaviour, continues.

One thing I am doing more of, which is good, is exercise. I'm out on the bike for long spins two or three times a week, and do a mini workout two or three times a week targeting the arms and back along with the physiotherapy exercises for my knees. My pushup count is slowly but steadily improving, and I am piling the miles up behind my new bike--easily throwing down thirty kilometres in less than two hours and still feeling up for more afterwards. My charity cycle is this Saturday and I've decided that I'll cycle to and from the event, as well, turning the 70 km loop into a 100 km journey total (15 km each way to get to Dunboyne and back). I have exercise goals and while it took a really long time for me to actually exercise on a consistent, regular basis, I'm almost there.

That's not enough for me, however. I keep sitting around watching and reading about the cool things other people are doing and then getting super inspired--ready to write something of my own, or draw something or at least make a blog post about my travelling in Ireland--but then... I don't. I just keep reading what these cool people write or watching what they make. Feeling jealous and wishing I was as awesome as they are.

I read Wil Wheaton's blog and follow him on tumblr. He's always talking about people getting excited and making things. I need to get excited and make things, too!

I also watch Wheezy Waiter on youtube. Not only is he a hilarious dude, with these inexplicably gorgeous brown eyes, but he makes videos like three times a week--and is pretty inspiring, really. For example, one day he decided he wanted to be able to do a handstand, so he started doing handstands against a wall every day, working toward his goal of doing a proper one. He also just MAKES stuff and DOES stuff and puts it out there.

I also fell in love with Platoon of Power Squadron by Pineappleboy Films. There's only five episodes out, but they get better and better from the first one and it's just someone's project that he went out and did.

These people are all, like, my age, roughly. Well, Wil Wheaton's like halfway between me and my parents, and Wheezy Waiter's got like eight years on me (...what is it with me and these W. W. dudes? I don't even know), but still. I know I'm in Ireland and all that but I'm hardly writing anything. I've taken shittons of pictures and have barely put any up anywhere.

I want an audience. But I don't have anything to give to an audience.

So here, I'm going to make some creative goals right now.

- At least one blog post every two weeks. Once a month, it must include pictures and be about travelling somewhere or doing something cool.

- Thirty minutes of writing a day. Or, at the very least, staring at a blank page/computer screen with the blinkety text cursor on it. Doesn't matter if it's a new project, old project, poem, or blog post. But thirty minutes of it.

- One bike ride out somewhere new per week, with camera or videocamera in tow.

- Stop being afraid of sounding dumb or long-winded and just WRITE. You can edit it later. Or not. But you can't edit nothing.

We'll see how well I do with this bare minimum of stuff. I have a LOT of projects on the back burner right now. That's okay since I'm in Ireland and all, but I should at least make documenting my travels a priority.

One thing I did do is buy a small video camera that's on its way in the mail now. Probably because I've been watching all these cool youtubers do their thing... I don't know jack about filming or editing things, but I thought I might be more likely to create video travelogues rather than text 'n' pictures ones. At any rate, it's one of those small, indestructible sports kinds that attach to bikes 'n' helmets 'n' stuff. I realised after cycling from Westport to Achill that when you're going at a good 25kph clip on the bike, you don't really want to stop and get out of your groove to take pictures... so if I could just press a button and start filming the scenery from the bike, it might be more convenient. idk. Also, can become a skiing cam when I get back to Colorado :D

So yeah, if I can't hack it as a vlogger or a blogger, then, whatever. You have to try and just put stuff out there. So that's what I want to do from now on.