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A general observation

January 27th, 2006

There are too many things to be done, and too much time to do them in.

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No where near getting there

January 23rd, 2006

I had a nasty awakening today that brought me down to earth as regards Irish railways.

Dublin-Sligo (or vv.), a distance of 135 miles is timetabled for three hours. That’s an average speed of 45 mph.

It’s nothing short of an outrage, with the line having been upgraded to continuous welded rail (CWR).

Sure the line may not be nice and straight and allow say, 90+ mph running. But I am reasonably sure that simply better efficiency and timekeeping would surely bring the speed up a huge amount. In any case, nothing less than 60 mph average should be acceptable.

Hah – actually, our premier service (Dublin-Cork) is only 60 mph average now. It should be 70 mph at least.

It should be noted that times have been steadily getting worse, with journey times increasing in recent timetables. Even a decade ago some journey times were better.

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New Year’s Resolution

January 3rd, 2006

I have but one New Year’s resolution: to purchase an armchair (or some form of unbulky comfy seating).

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Neverland

December 17th, 2005

Fun happenings in Northern Ireland, things don’t get much more bizarre than the recent few days [1] [2] (BBC). I think for once, Bertie Ahern speaks for most people when he says “I tell you, it even stretches my imagination at 4am in the morning”. This isn’t just an odd and amusing incident either, Ahern also points out that “This was a huge case, it doesn’t get much bigger than bringing down democratically elected institutions that people have voted for” [3] (Irish Times – eircom.net).

The mind boggles as to what’s likely to happen next. Perhaps an inquiry, but I think it’s quite unlikely anyone, Republican, Unionist, or Irish Government is going to find out just what on earth the British were up to. It doesn’t look like the British are going to tell us just what Sinn Féin were up to either.

It makes McDowell’s recent actions [4] [5] (RTÉ) look entirely ordinary and straightforward by comparison.

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Rails to Midleton

December 15th, 2005

Some interesting posts on the railway forum I frequent, Irish Railway News (msn groups unfortunately). Some photos of clearance work on the railway line from Glouthane (Cóbh Junction) to Midleton. Good to see work commence on this project, even if it is preliminary.

The railway line to Youghal was closed to passengers in 1963, and to goods in 1978. The last passenger special (rail tour) to Youghal was in 1987, and to Midleton in 1988.

The line has never officially been closed, and the current state (waterlogged and rotten track, trees and shrub cover) is the result of no weedspraying or drainage works (when the gulleys, ditches and drains block up, the ballast goes bad and falls apart, and the track rots) in almost 20 years. The track was poor anyway in some places, as CIÉ were so cash starved that they replaced worn mainline track with the good track on this branch. There’s actually two miles of missing track between Midleton and Youghal.

The line is being rebuilt with new track and modern signalling (mini-CTC). IÉ have had to apply for a railway order in order to allow them to fully clear the track and re-assert their control of the land in question.

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In somewhat related news, IÉ ran a track inspection car on the Western Railway Corridor from Claremorris to Athenry to Ennis. This section of line is currently disused but still navigitable. Last “real” traffic was ballast trains from Athenry to Ennis for the work on the Limerick-Ennis line.

As regards Ennis, IÉ published their new timetable. Among many changes to routes all over the country, services to/from Ennis have increased on a Sunday. This means the service is now 8 trains a day each direction, 7 days a week. Almost all connect to Dublin, with only one change at Limerick or Limerick Junction (and in one or two cases, no change).

One can now be in Dublin for 08:30 when travelling from Limerick or Ennis with the new timetabling.

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London

December 10th, 2005

London is a really neat place to visit. Well, more particularly, there’s a novelty to visiting a really big city for the first time, that having only been here three days, hasn’t worn off!

So far I’ve seen the market in Camden, which was labyrinth-like, and had clothes for just about any type of person, to suit any fashion, any era. Possibly aliens would find suitable clothes to wear at some obscure stand. Not really being interested in clothes, I didn’t actually attempt to shop for any, but nevertheless found the bewildering selection fascinating!

On the way to Camden, we walked through Regent’s Park. I’m not sure if it is the London park that inspired the Park in Mary Poppins – perhaps not, but in any case it was an insanely delicately planned out horticultural wonder. It was actually truly awesome in the morning mist.

In my EIGHT HOURS of walking yesterday, I also got to see Leicester Square (got the tube there from Camden), the giant Forbidden Planet shop on Shaftsbury Avenue, and Oxford Street. Oxford Street was a bit crazy really – it had far more people on it than it deserved. It was the usual culprits for highstreet shopping, except bigger and posher stores, and repeated every two or three blocks (there must have been at least three HMVs, Dixons, Boots, etc.) The street looked pretty enough, but there being traffic on so many of the London shopping streets really spoils them.

Yesterday evening was random house party evening, where I got to meet some folks studying at Amber’s Uni, as well as her boyfriend Gustavo. It was a fun night, involving some alcohol drinking by some of us, and much much more alcohol consumption by others. London rocks for having buses at 4 am. Hah – and the streets look little different to 4 pm (similarly dark, similar amounts of people).

Anyways, after walking around the sightseeing area (Westminister, etc) and down to Kensington for a really good Indian meal (I haven’t had better yet), I’m pretty tired. Some stuff is more expensive here (CDs, DVDs, electronics, clothes) – but food is either the same (in the central areas) or a fair bit cheaper.

On a final note – London’s traffic cones are Irish Republican. Yup – green white and orange. Not joking, pure green base, and orange cone with a white band. Any Ulstermen in London will definitely be rubbing their eyes.

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Destination London

December 7th, 2005

So away to London I go, with little idea what the next few days hold. And actually, it’s a really cool way to have it.

I suspect that “spending lots of money” is definitely on the itinerary.

The most important thing though is I’m meeting an old friend again, and have two and a half years of stuff to talk about and catch up on 🙂

Here’s hoping it’s a nice weekend.

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Passing time

December 1st, 2005

I’m still reading more journal papers.

Still. Just like last week. And the week before. And…

Next week however should be a nice break from the ongoing routine (which probably has been relatively unchanged since MidLAN). Going away to London for a few days (first time to that city, or England for that matter) to visit a friend from the States. I haven’t met her in over two years, so I’ve no idea how things will turn out!

The routine I’m in is worrying comfortable actually. I shall have to ensure I continue to leave Limerick every few weekends just to remind myself there is a whole world out there. It’s amazing how insulated an existence just three weeks solid of not leaving Limerick is (if I have been outside Limerick in the last three weeks, despite thinking the contrary, that probably says something worrying about my current mental state).

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Brain fodder

November 26th, 2005

This past week has been particularly productive, with my getting stuck into reading some very interesting papers. Admittedly all a quarter of a century old, but hey, they’re worryingly relevant (perhaps more so than much recent stuff I’d been reading).

The Skynet talks today were great. I shouldn’t have started into reading more work stuff when I got home though, it’s not like I needed to! Annoyingly interesting research!

Amazingly I’ve gotten more fiction read in the last week too, despite fitting in Civ4 playing and three evenings out.

Hmmm… I’m losing track of days again. Perhaps this week and last week have merged together for me. I should do my Christmas shopping soon, I’m liable to forget/postpone it until really late otherwise.

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Amusing things

November 18th, 2005

And so the latest in the Sony DRM rootkit saga is it’s apparant copyright violation. Apparently code by none other than Jon Johansen (guy in Norway, wrote stuff to more flexibly play DVDs – i.e. circumvent DVD DRM) was used by the First4Internet folk. It’s all getting a wee bit crazy at this stage. I almost feel sorry for Sony. Oh, wait… no I don’t.

And now to politics, where the Northern Ireland secretary (the British government minister who essentially does the job of running NI under direct rule from London) declared that the North’s economy is not sustainable in the long term and only an all-island economy can work. I’m laughing so much at the absurdity of such a person bluntly declaring this, but the Unionists really aren’t laughing at all.