Back from frosty Ireland

I spent the past week in Ireland for business again.  Last time was in June, this time it less green and much colder.  They got hit with a cold wave and snow.  Snow in Ireland has the same effect as snow in North Carolina.  Disaster.

None of these cars have snow tires (why would they?), so the treads are made for dealing with wet roads, not icy roads.  When they get on ice, they spin in funny little left-handed circles.  The daytime temps hovered around freezing, and at night it went below freezing.  The air was so humid that it felt much colder.  I seriously froze my butt off walking in Dublin.  Ofcourse, I left my gloves and hat at home.

The strangest thing was the frost on the trees.  Someone there referred to “frost-fog”, and I guess the humidity causes fog at night, but then it “dews” on the trees and covers everything with this frost.  It looks kinda cool actually:

I got a chance to drive for a while and it was very exciting.  Being on the wrong side of the road feels very strange.  I did hit the curb in town a couple times.  That might have led to our flat tire.  Sigh. This is a pic I took while driving, but managed not to hit anyone.

While someone else was driving, we managed to piss someone off in one of the rotaries.  He was thumbing his nose and pulled up next to us to yell at us and say he almost hit us.  We apologized but it didn’t seem to be what he was looking for.  He just kept saying over and over again that we almost hit him.  There must be some culturally correct reply that he was looking for.  Apparently, “We’re very sorry about that.” was not quite right.  Here he is, speeding away in disgust:

To be honest, he was driving very fast for such icy conditions.

I brought my Garmin with the newly downloaded maps for UK/Ireland.  I programmed in our hotel destination, but there’s a funny thing in Ireland.  No road names for addresses.  At least, none I could find.  So Karen (that’s Garmin’s name currently) could give us road names that we were on, but none of the street signs showed them.  And if you want to find some place, if its not something in Karen’s list, you will never find it, because there are no street addresses.  Just crazy!

Did I already talk about fixing the Garmin issues?  Well, the data I had is long gone.  Here is my apology letter from Garmin:

Dear Jon  ****,

Thank you for contacting Garmin International.

I’m very sorry for what happened, but if those favorites are gone, there is no way of getting them back. I am really sorry, but if the software update did do that there isn’t any thing we could do to get them back.

With Best Regards,

Joshua W.

Product Support Specialist

Garmin International

Thanks for the email.   Please fix your site so that all your other customers will know that updates to Garmin software will delete all your data.

I also needed to download the European maps, so I bought them online at Garmin’s site.  Sadly, my Nuvi comes with no memory.  Just enough to hold one map set.  You have to buy a separate mini-card to put in the side of it in order to extend the memory.  So, $20 later, I had my mini-card and was able to store the newly purchases maps in the Garmin.

I was searching through the options on the Garmin and found a selection for languages.  So you can change languages for both text and voices.  For example, if you want American English, you can select a male or female voice.  Strangely, there are Australian and British English voices too.  So picked an Australian English voice, named “Karen”.  The American English “Jill” was too robotic, and the British English “Emily” was too stuffy.  What I really wanted was the voice of Majel Barrett, who played Nurse Chapel on Star Trek but, more importantly, was the voice of the Star Trek computer in STNG.  Sadly, she left this world two years ago.  :(

So Karen took us around Ireland.  She did good the vast majority of the time, although she was horrendously lost in the Dublin Airport.  Too many turns and she was putting rotaries where there were none.  We switched her off and navigated the old fashioned way: by following signs.

I found myself having a hard time crossing the streets.  Still looking for traffic coming the wrong way.  In Dublin, they had handy little words painted on the road at the sidewalk’s edge, for foreigners like me. 

I wanted to buy gifts for folks again, but I couldn’t stand walking around in the cold in Dublin very long.  I managed to pick up a small trinket for my sister because I knew where the touristy store was.  I bought Mom and Dad some bread at a bakery in Mullingar where I had lunch.

I bought a fair amount of chocolate while I was there.  Among it all was a box of Lily O’Brien’s truffles.  Just a yummy truffle with a soft flowing center.  Fortunately, I took a picture before they were all gone.

By the way, sorry these picture are so big.  I don’t really have time today to go through and crop them all down.  Hopefully, the thumbs are big enough to see the picture well, without having to open them all.

I arrive home last night after a fairly uneventful flight.  I used US Airways this time, instead of Aer Lingus.  I think, US Airways is not as nice.  The plane was smaller, and people seemed crankier.  Although, it was nice to leave and return to the airport near my home, instead of Boston.  Nothing like coming home from a 7 hour flight, only to get in the car and drive for another 4.

My new shoes arrived while I was gone.  Asics Hyper XC spikeless.  I tried them on and walked around with the.  The toe pocket seems pretty roomy.  They are much stiffer than my Adizero PR’s.  A little heavier too.

After walking around, I decided I’m going to keep them and give them a run today.  I’m a little worried the stiffness will be a problem, but maybe it will be ok.  There are no removable spikes on these, but there are rubber nubs on the ball where spikes would be.   I can feel them while walking indoors, but its possible they will be fine on the road.  If not, I can cut them off without feeling badly about it.

So I will be going running today, the first time in about two weeks.  Life, weather, and darkenss has totally gotten in the way, and then travel completely obliterated my running.  I have gained about 1200 pounds now and am disgusted with myself.  Pants don’t fit well.  I need to get my fat butt back on the wagon.  I have today off from work, so its a good time to go running while I have daylight to do it.