Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Forward

Gareth woke me up this morning with a promise of breakfast on the beach and watching the sunrise. It's pretty warm here today, about 43 degrees outside right now but very cloudy and will probably rain before the day is out. Its been awhile since I went down to the ocean and had a good look at where I've spent most of my life the last few years.

I've missed being out on the ocean and I've been struggling in my head when deciding to go back to it or do something else more safe. But this morning as soon as I saw the ocean and the smell and watched some ships go by I could feel it in my bones that I ached to get back out to sea. You want to go back out there Gareth asked me and I replied I did.

So I called my boss when I got home and told him I didn't want a desk job in the office, I wanted my old job back on the ship and he assured me it was still there waiting for me to come back. The new season doesn't start for a few more weeks, so I still have time to finish healing and get back to full strength.

Irish Farmers 2011 Calendar

You can purchase or checkout the rest of the calendar men here:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Really, Seriously?

Ireland has been hit with heavy snows and winds this winter season and after my reason illness I've been trying to avoid going out in the cold except when necessary. I did venture out yesterday to go to the grocery store, but came right home.

There is no real reason I can't go outside now as long as I don't overdue it and I dress appropriately with a coat and not just in a pullover. Its all psychological at this point. I'm just scared to catch the flu or anything like it because the doctors have told me until my body heals it will be susceptible to germs and I really don't want any setbacks at this point.

For awhile as I recovered the doctors put restrictions on me from doing any kind of physical activities, which was fine with me since I didn't have the strength to even sit up most days. I gave up the working out and have put on a few pounds. I couldn't go out to sea and was stuck doing a limited amount of paperwork from bed when I had the strength. Doing any kind of physical activity caused me to cough and sweat and it definitely put me out of the mood for sex. Heck, my little guy even stopped greeting the mornings with a salute as my body had more pressing issues to deal with.

As the days went by and my body began to heal and I gained some strength, my body started to come back to life again but not enough to go the distance. Instead, Gareth and I spent many hours just kissing. I've always loved kissing Gareth, he has very kissable lips, nice and moist and soft and I just love kissing him. But with me not having much energy at the time and him being a healthy male we were at two different stages. I was happy to just snuggle and be close to him and kiss him, but then he would press against me as we kissed and I could feel what he was thinking pressed against my leg or my hip and I would stop kissing him and say "Really, Seriously?" at which point he would roll over onto his back and sigh or jump up and say I'm hungry and go make something to snack on.

So now that I feel much better and I start to initiate something he keeps avoiding me and stating, "Really, Seriously?" This has been going on for a week now and it's really starting to get annoying since he is now adding "I'm not a piece of meat you can just take when you want" or "I have a headache" and then he wonders off snickering thinking he's cute.
So I told him, fine if you don't want to do it, I don't want to do it. Then he replied, if you don't want to do it, I don't want to it. I then said, you'll be begging for it soon. At which point he yelled I'll never beg for it and I said "yeah, uh huh." at which he started repeating "Yeah, uh huh".

So now we have this stupid competition going on, but we're both so competitive that neither one is giving in. Last night in bed he loves to put his leg over my leg and fall asleep. He did this and I yelled like the best two-year old would do "You're touching me." At this point he rolled over in bed and huffed and moved his leg away. During the night I must have snuggled into him during sleep and he actually tapped me on my shoulder and woke me up just to say "You're touching me".

One of us is going to have to be an adult and give in and state the obvious that this is stupid and we're not going to do it anymore. The other one will then become an adult again and admit that it was stupid and for most people that is where it will end. But with us, it will lead to the one who held out the longest quickly sliding back into kindergarten mode as he does a victory dance and yelling "I told you I would outlast you." At which point, the one still being an adult will ask "Really, Seriously?" and we'll have come full circle.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

All the stockings are hung, the presents are wrapped, the cookies are baked, the ham is ready for Christmas dinner and the spiked Egg Nogg is drank. There is a lot of work that goes into creating the special memories of a holiday, but in the end its all worth it to see the smiles upon the face of family and friends and two spoiled cats!

Since I did all the pre-holiday details I'm making Gareth cook the Christmas dinner. We'll be having Ham, Beef Barbeque, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Carrots, Rice, Irish Soda Bread, and Corn Bread Stuffing. For desert we'll have Pumpkin Pie, Jello, and whatever desert some of our friends will bring.

Some of you may not know this, but I was sick for most of the year. I apparently picked up a viral infection in Haiti and spent many nights burning with fever and sweating and getting treatments to clear my lungs. I am much better now, although very susceptible to colds and the cold Irish winds are something I try to avoid these days. There were times when I wasn't sure I would even see the end of the year. So more than any gift I will receive this year, I am most thankful for the friendships I have with those I love and hold dear to my heart.

Gareth, we pledged for better or worse, but I don't think either of us was ready for the worse so soon after taking our vows. I'm not the best person in the world to be around when I get sick, but you were always there for me whether it was sitting in ice baths with me when I was being a puss or lying next to me in bed as I fell asleep so I would know you would be there for me when I woke. Even now as I write this and I look back over my shoulder at you sleeping on the couch in your boxers and white t-shirt, unshaven for three days, bare feet propped up on the table and cookie crumbs on your chest after eating half a dozen cookies I can't help but think, well I'm actually thinking what a mess you are! LOL But you're my mess and I love you more than any words can ever express.

We always sleep under the tree on Christmas Eve, so its time for me to say Merry Christmas to all my friends online. I'll be thinking of you throughout the day and hoping this Christmas is full of many wonderful memories of your own. The cats are already snuggled on the mattress awaiting us, so its time for me to wake Gareth and settle down for our long winters nap.


Christmas Miracle 1914

It was still freezing hard on Christmas Eve. We had been detailed for what seemed to be a perilous fatigue in no man's land going out between the lines to knock in posts in a zigzag line towards the German front line. Around the posts wire was to be wound.

On this wire, hurdles taken from a shed were to be laid. Then drying tobacco leaves, hung on the hurdles (as the leaves had been in the shed), would give cover from view should it be necessary, in an attack, to reinforce the front line.

What an idea, I thought. It would draw machine gun fire. It was about as sensible as the brigade commander's idea for the December 19 attack across no man's land,f`or some men to carry straw palliasses, to lean against the German wire and enable men to cross over the entanglements. As for the knocking-in of posts into frozen ground, that was utterly wrong! And in bright moonlight, 40 yards away from the Alleyman!

After our platoon commander, a courteous man in his early 20s and fresh from Cambridge, had outlined the plan quietly, he asked for questions. I dared to say that the noise of'knocking in posts would be heard. There was silence; then we were told that implicit directions had come f'rom brigade,and must he carried out. We debouched f'rom the wood, and were exposed. After an initial stab of fear, I was
not afraid. Everything was so still, so quiet in the line. No flares, no crack of the sniper's rifle. No gun firing.

Soon we were used to the open moon- light in which all life and movement seemed unreal. Men were fetching and laying
down posts, arranging themselves in couples, one to hold, the other to knock. Others prepared to unwind barbed wire
previously rolled on staves. I was one who followed the platoon commander and three men to a tarred wooden shed, to fetch hurdles hung with long dry tobacco leaves,
which we brought out and laid on the site of the reinforcement fence. And not a shot was fired from the Ger-
man trench.

The unbelievable had soon become the ordinary, so that we talked as we worked, without caution, while the night passed as in a dream. The moon moved down to the treetops behind us. Always, it seemed, had we been moving bodilessly, each with his shadow. After a timeless dream I saw what looked
like a large white light on top of a pale put up in theGerman lines. It was a strange sort of light. It burned almost white, and was absolutely steady. What sort of lantern wasit? I did not think much about it; it was part of the strange unreality of the silent night, of the silence of the moon,now turning a brownish yellow, of the silence of the frost mist. I was warm with the work, all my body was in glow, not with warmth but with happiness.

Suddenly there was a short quick cheer from the German lines-Hoch! Hoch! Hoch! With others I flinched and crouched, ready to fling myself flat, pass the leather thong of my rifle over my head and aim to fire; but no other sound came from the
German lines. We stood up, talking about it, in little groups. For other cheers were coming across the black spaces of no man's land. We saw dim figures on the enemy parapet, about more lights; and with amazement saw that a Christmas tree was being set there, and around it Germans were talk- ing and laughing together. Hoch! Hoch! Hoch!, followed by cheering.

Our platoon commander, who had gone from group to group during the making of the fence, looked at his watch and told us that it was eleven o'clock. One more hour, he said, and then we would go back.

'By Berlin time it is midnight. A Merry Christmas to you all! I say, that's rather fine, isn't it?', for from the German parapet a rich baritone voice had begun to sing a song I remembered from my nurse Minne singing it to me after my evening tub before bed. She had been maid to my Ger- man grandmother, one of the Lune family of Hildesheim. StiLle Nacht! HeiLige Nacht! Tranquil Night! Holy Night! The grave and tender voice rose out of the frozen mist; it was all sostrange; it was like being in another world, to which one had come through a nightmare: a world finer than the one I had left behind in England, except for beautiful things like music, and springtime on my bicycle in the country of Kent and Bedfordshire.

And back again in the wood it seemed so strange that we hadnot been fired upon; wonderful that the mud had gone; won- derful to walk easily on the paths; to be dry; to be able to sleep again. The wonder remained in the low golden light of a white-rimed Christmas morning. I could hardly realise it; but my chronic, hopeless longing to be home was gone.

The post arrived while I was frying my breakfast bacon, beside a twig fire where stood my canteen full of hot sugary tea. I sat on an unopened 28-Ib box of 2-ounce Capstan tobacco: one of scores thrown down in the wood, with large bright metal containers of army biscuits, of the shape and size and taste of dog biscuits. The tobacco issue per day was reckoned to be 5,000 cigarettes at this time, or 'L4 Ibs of tobacco. This was not the 'issue' ration, but from the many 'Comforts for the Troops' appeals in newspapers, all tobacco being duty free to our benefactors at home.

There was a Gift Package to every soldier from the Princess Royal. A brass box embossed with Princess Mary's profile, containing tobacco and cigarettes. This I decided to send home to my mother, as a souvenir. 'There's bloody hundreds of them out there!' said a kilted soldier to me as I sat there.

I walked through the trees, some splin- tered and gashed by fragments of Jack Johnsons, as we called the German 5·9-inch gun, and into no man's land and found myself face to face with living German soldiers, men in grey unif'orms and leather knee-boots-a fact which was at the time for me beyond belief. Moreover the Germans were, some of them, actually smiling as they talked in English. Most of them were small men, rather pale of face. Many wore spectacles, and had thin little goatee beards. I did not see one piclzelhaube. They were either bareheaded, or had on small grey pork-pie hats, with red bands. Each bore two metal buttons, ringed with white, black and red rather like tiny archery targets: the Imperial German colours.

Among these smaller Saxons were tall, sturdy men taking no part in the talking, but regarding the general scene with detachment. They were red-faced men and their tunics and trousers above the leather knee-boots showed dried mud marks. Some had green cords round a shoulder, and under the shoulder tabs. Looking in the direction of the mass of Germans, I saw, judging by the serried rows of figures standing there, at least three positions or trench lines behind the front trench. They were dug at intervals of about 200 yards. 'It only shows,' said one of our chaps, 'what a lot of men they have, compared to our chaps. We've got only one line, really, the rest are mere scratches.' He said quietly, 'See those green lanyards and tassels on that big fellow's shoulders?
They're sniper's cords. They're Prussians. That's what some Saxons told me. They dislike the Prussians. "Kill them all," said one, "and we'll have peace".' 'Yes, my father was always against the Prussians,' J told him.

One of the small Saxons was contentedly standing alone
and smoking a new and large meerschaum pipe. He worespectacles and looked like a comic-paper 'Hun'. The white bowl of the pipe bore the face and high-peaked cap of 'Little Willie' painted on it. The Saxon saw me looking at it and taking pipe from mouth said with quiet satis- faction: 'Kronprinz! Prachtiger Kerl!' before putting back themouthpiece carefully between his teeth. Someone told me that Prachtiger KerL meant 'Good Chap' or 'Decent Fellow'. Of course, I thought, he is to them as the Prince of Wales is to us.

A mark of German efficiency I noted: two aluminium buttons where we had one brass button on our trousers. Men were digging, to bury stiff corpses. Each feld grau 'stiffy' was covered by a red-black-white German flag. When the grave had been filled in an officer read from a prayer- book, while the men in feLd grau stood to attention with round grey hats clutched in left hands. I found myself standing to attention, my balaclava in my hand. When the grave was filled, someone wrote, in indelible pencil, these words on the rough cross of ration-box wood: Hier Ruht In Gott fin Unbekannter Deutscher Held. 'Here rests in God an unknown German hero', I found myself translating: and thinking that it was like the English crosses in the little cemetery in the clearing within the wood.

I learned, with surprise, that the Ger- man assaults in mass attack through the woods and across the arable fields of the salient, during the last phase of the Battle for Ypres, hadbeen made by young volunteers, some arm in arm, singing, with but one rifle to every three. They had been 'flung in' (as the British military term went) after the failure of the Prussian Guard, the elite Corps du Garde, modelled on Napoleon's famous soldiers, to break our line. And here was the surprise: 'You had too many automatische pistolen. in your line, EngLische friend!'

As a fact, we had few if any machine guns left after the battle; the Germans had mistaken their presence for our 'fifteen rounds rapid' fire! Every infantry battalion had been equipped with two machine guns, of the type used in the South African War of 1902; with one exception. That was the London Scottish, the 14th Sattalion of the London Regiment, which had bought, privately before the war, two Vickers guns. These also were lost during the battle. Another illusion of the Germans appeared to be that we had masses of reserve
troops behind our front line, most of them in the woods. If only they had known that we had very few reserves, including
some of the battalions of an Indian Divi- sion, the turbanedsoldiers of which suffered greatly from the cold.

The truce lasted, in our part of the line (under the Messines Ridge), for several days. On the last day of 1914, one evening,a message came over no man's land, carried by a very polite Saxon corporal. It was that their regimenta(equivalent to our brigade, but they had three battalions where we had four) staff officers were going round their line at midnight; and they would have to fire their automatische pistolen, but would aim high, well above our heads. Would we, even so, please keep under cover, 'lest regrettable accidents occur).

And at 11 o'clock-for they were using Berlin time-we saw the flash of several Spandau machine guns passing well above no man's land I had taken the addresses of two German soldiers, promising to write to them after the war. And I had, vaguely, a childlike idea that if all those in Germany could know what the soldiers had to suffer, and that both sides believed the same things about the righteousness of the two national causes, it might spread, this truce of Christ on the battlefield, to the minds of all, and give understandingwhere now there was scorn and hatred.

I was still very young. I was under age, having volunteered after the news of the Retreat from Mons had come to us one Sunday in the third week of August 1914. Our colonel had made a speech to the battalion, then in London, declaring that the British Expeditionary Force of the Regular army was very reduced in numbers after the 90-mile retreat which had worn out boots and exhausted so many, and was in dire need of help.

And now the New Year had come, the frost was settling again in little crystals upon posts and on the graves and icy shell holes in no man's land. Once more the light-balls were rising up to hover under little parachutes over no man's land with
the blast of machine guns, and the brutal downward droning of heavy shells. And the rains came, to fall upon Flanders field, while preparations were in hand for the spring offensive.

Henry Williamson

The Irish Polar Express

Guiding Santa

St. Patricks Mass

Silent Night

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Endlessly - Duffy

One of my favorite songs of the year. I can't wait for the CD to get released on November 29th.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kareem Is Free

Kareem Amer is free!

November 16th, 2010 Kareem Amer was set free yesterday’s night, Monday 15th of November 2010, after spending 1470 days in prison.

Kareem Amer is now free, a close friend to Kareem reports.

Kareem refused to talk to anyone at the moment, however he reassures all his supporters worldwide that he’s fine. The brave man wants to have a little privacy for a week before he can say anything.

We totally respect Kareem’s wish, and that’s why we ask you, if you’re a journalist or a blogger, to respect Kareem’s wish too, until he chooses when to speak up.
Let’s celebrate Kareem’s release right now!

Read The Full Article -

Westlife - I Will Keep You Safe

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tiger Meets the Celtic Tigers

Tiger Woods is in Ireland to play in the J. P. McManus Invitational Pro-Am two day event in Adare as he prepares for next week's British Open. By the time he gets back to the states he may no longer hold the number one ranking in the world.

His rival Phil Mickelson, who is the second ranked player in the world at the moment, is participating at the PGA-ranked Scottish Open this weekend.

In an event that takes place every five years, celebrities, Pro Golfers, and Irish Business leaders participate in the event to raise millions for various Irish charities.

Irish singing group Westlife and Ireland's top golfer Padraig Harrington join this year's celebrity golfers which include actors Michael Douglas, Samuel L. Jackson, Hugh Grant, Aidan Quinn, Kyle MacLachlan and Peter Gallagher; English Premier League football coaches Harry Redknapp and Martin O'Neill. Other Irish celebrities include Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.

Like Woods, Harrington's skipping the Scottish Open but plans to head straight to St. Andrews by Friday for at least two weekend practice runs.

It All Depends On Ireland?

Ireland is either the poster child for austerity, or the best argument against it. Take your pick.

The reality is that Ireland has emerged as a sort of Rorschach Test through which supporters of economic austerity measures and those who advocate additional stimulus spending are projecting their dueling positions.

All of this is, of course, a proxy for the debate in the U.S. over whether the economic recovery will be stalled if the austerity movement currently sweeping Europe gains traction in the U.S.

That debate is only going to intensify given Friday’s disappointing U.S. jobs report, which provided further evidence that the economic recovery is in fact stalling. Advocates for additional stimulus will certainly view the dismal numbers as fuel for their argument.

As the charter member of Europe’s fledgling austerity club, Ireland has been at the center of this simmering debate for months.

In short, the proxy battle over austerity can be summarized thusly: success in Ireland ostensibly bodes well for success in Europe, which bodes well for success in the U.S. Conversely, if austerity in Ireland is a failure, it will fail in Europe and the U.S., as well.

The Wall Street Journal, whose editorial writers have long argued for less government spending and lower national debt levels, recently dedicated half of its editorial page to a column titled, “The Irish Example,” essentially a call to arms directed at European nations (and undoubtedly U.S. fiscal leaders) to follow Ireland’s lead in addressing its untenable finances.

At the other end of the spectrum there’s Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman, a virulent opponent of austerity, elaborating on what he describes as the “Irish debacle” in a recent blog: “All that savage austerity was supposed to bring rewards … But the reality is that nothing of the sort has taken place: virtuous, suffering Ireland is gaining nothing.”

The argument for austerity holds that reduced government spending on things such as public wages and benefits will free up money to cover sovereign debt loads. Financial markets will theoretically reward nations that take this path by freeing up credit, making borrowing cheaper and easing the path to renewed economic growth.

The flip side of that argument is that austerity will lead to higher unemployment and reduced consumer spending, which will only serve to stall growth and scare off investment, ultimately blocking recovery for the foreseeable future.

Ireland decided early on that the only way it could avoid defaulting on its sizable sovereign debt load was to start cutting spending. And that’s exactly what it did. Nearly two years ago, as the rest of the world was just starting to realize the scope of the global economic crisis, Ireland’s leaders began scaling back on the wages, benefits and pensions of public employees. Many of these labor contracts had been negotiated during flush years on the Emerald Isle, the period between 1994 and 2007 during which the Irish economy was known as “The Celtic Tiger.”

According to the Irish economist Constantin Gurdgiev, government spending rose by 138% in the decade leading up to the 2008 economic crisis. At the same time Ireland’s economic growth was humming along at a much lower rate of 72%.

To head off defaulting on its sizable debts, Ireland in October 2008 started cutting: since then some public employees have seen their salaries cut by 20%, welfare benefits for children have been cut by 10%, and a range of other social programs have also fallen under the knife. And Irish lawmakers didn’t stop with cuts: they raised taxes, as well, targeting minimum-wage earners while leaving corporate taxpayers alone, a controversial strategy.

The truth is that it’s too early to say whether Ireland’s austerity measures are a success or a failure.

But what’s significant right now is that Ireland actually followed through on the austerity measures it said it put in place. That will go a long way toward building credibility in financial markets and among potential lenders.

Unfortunately, the same thing can’t be said for the other so-called PIIGS of the European -- Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain -- all of which have also made vows of austerity in recent months.

Axel Merk, president of Merk Mutual Funds and an expert on foreign economies, provided some insight into the credibility of European countries that have also made vows of austerity. According to Merk, there is considerable doubt that Greece can implement the policies its government has promised given the widespread threat of public unrest if lawmakers act on proposed salary and benefit cuts. The governments of Spain and Portugal, while more credible than Greece, also invite skepticism because the groups pushing for austerity are in the political minority.

Elsewhere in Europe, France also suffers from credibility problems because, as Merk noted, traditionally, whenever the government proposes cutbacks in spending, French truck and tractor drivers block highways and the government backs down.

Germany and Finland, meanwhile, are widely trusted, according to Merk.

So the most important thing “regarding Irish policies is that they are credible,” according to Merk. “You may like them or not like them, but you can trust what you hear coming from Irish policy makers. And trust, of course, is at least as important as whether the policy is good.”

By Dunstan Prial

Irish Cricket

After a slow start, the Ireland cricket team beat Afghanistan by 39 runs in their 2nd match of ICC World Cricket league.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Wayne Rooney PFA Player Of The Year

Wayne Rooney was named the Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year on Sunday night.

"It's a great feeling to win the player of the year award because it's voted for by the players." said Rooney. "It's something I'm really proud of and it's a great honour. I remember coming here in 2005 and 2006 to win the young player of the year. I saw the players winning the main one and it's something I've aimed for since."

Saw The Hurt Locker

Very good movie, almost too intense sometimes. Jeremy Renner is going to be a big star.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Back For A Quick Visit

I got home late last night and didn't realize how exhausted I was until my butt hit the couch. Gareth was already asleep and I decided to eat a bowl of cereal and watch some telly. Before I knew it I was asleep on the couch and didn't wake up until this morning when Gareth leaned over and kissed me on the forehead as he was heading out the door to go to work.

After getting some breakfast, a shower and a shave, I packed a lunch and went to meet Gareth for lunch at his hospital office. One of his co-workers joined us for a bit and we had a good time with lots of laughs. After lunch when his co-worker headed back to work, Gareth closed his office door and pulled me to him and we kissed a bit and just enjoyed having a moment to be close. But soon his pager was going off and he had to get to work. With one quick kiss and a nice pat of his ass I sent him on his way and headed to do some grocery shopping so Gareth would have plenty of food while I'm at sea.

After arriving home and putting the groceries away, I sat down and watched some shows I taped while I was at sea. With that done I decided to come on here and post a few things before getting a shower and packing my bags to head to the ship tonight. We're back to sea tomorrow morning and my cats sense it and are hanging on me loving me up right now. Hope everything is going good on your home front. I'll see you in a few.

Golf Season

After seeing these guys golf, all I can say is "Tiger who?"

Cougar Town

I've been away at sea for a few weeks and I'm getting caught up on all the television shows I've taped. Just watched a couple episodes of Cougar Town. When I first starting watching it, I didn't think it would be anything funny and probably only last a few weeks. But everytime I watch it I find myself laughing out loud. Even Gareth laughs at this show and he is hard to please with his TV shows. So I recommend giving it a shot if you havn't watched it yet.

A Must See Story