Monday, January 09, 2006
On this day:

There Isn't Enough Time

I dunno, but I never seem to have enough time to get things done. For the last while, I've been really busy, even though I'm not that busy, if you get me. Even though I think I don't have that much to do, I still can't get around to doing it all.

A perfect example of me not being able to do everything I want to do, is keeping my blog up to date. When I come home from work, the last thing I want to do is spend another while browsing around and blogging. I get home from work at about 6pm or so, and stay awake until at least 12am, sometime even as late as 2am, but I still can't do everything I want.

I guess the biggest thing that I'm not getting done is reading. I have a big problem when it comes to books. I CANT go to a bookshop without buying a new book. Even though I know I have about 15 books at home ready to be read, I still buy more. And I'm not even making a significant dent in the books I already have.

I'm actually joining the gym at work tomorrow. When I first started work in July, I had a month where I could join with no joining fee. I didnt join then because I knew I wouldnt have anytime with hockey and all. And since then it's been £100 to join, on top of £22/month for off-peak membership. So as it's New Year's resolution's time and the gym recently changed management, I figured that there is probably some deal to encourage more people to join. Last Friday I enquired about the fees, and what do you know, the joining fee has been waived until this coming Friday. Am I a genius or what?

I've made a health screening appointment tomorrow for 3.30pm, so as of then, I'm a member. It's handy because I can join with a months notice. If I find myself not using it, I can just quit. It'll be nice to be able to go for a swim or hop in the jacuzzi during work if things are getting a bit much. I work on the 2nd floor and the gym is on the ground floor, so it's really convenient.

I also want to do some weights on top of my fitness I get through hockey. And I can try my hand at squash too. The lads I live with and those at work all play it, so I can now play. The courts are free to members.

Anyway, I am confident of making a go of the gym. While there are loads of people joining the gym around now as part of their new healthier lifestyle, I am not one of those to pack it in after a week.

So it remains to be seen how I fit in the gym too, but I should be able to work it in.

Friday, December 23, 2005
On this day:

Its Almost Christmas

T-2 days (or so) Things here at work are really slow. Firstly, there's practically nobody around. Most of the people on my team are on holidays or are working from home. Of the few of us around, we're just waiting out the clock until it's time to go home. It's the first time I've been around an office on the last working day before Christmas, so I'm not sure when I can take off.

The stock exchange is already closed, meaning that a huge chunk of people are already gone home. It just feels like everybody here is already on holidays, except they're physically at work. Added to this holiday (as in time off, not in a "Happy Holidays" sense) atmosphere, it was the Children's Christmas Party today at work. Loads of people brought in their children and had them running around the office. This totally made me do no work.

Anyway, just researching the best way to Stansted airport tomorrow. I'm going to get the DLR to Stratford and then a bus to Stansted. I'll have to be leaving my apartment at 8.15am tomorrow to make the 9am bus, which will get me there for about 9.45am or so. My flight isn't in until leaving until 11.30am, but there's no way I'm missing my flight home for Christmas (unlike my diaster going to Chicago, which I still have to blog about). Stansted is probably going to be mental, so its a good idea to get there early and relax. Based on my experience with airports recently, something is bound to go wrong!

So Merry Christmas to all my readers. I'm probably not that sad to blog on Christmas Day, but you never know! (Depending on how long I'm at work today, I may blog again)

I already know my New Year's Resolution: Blog more frequently!

Monday, December 19, 2005
On this day:

The rest of Chicago

My holiday to Chicago was really good. I had a great time there, even if it was freezing everyday. Seemingly it was one of the coldest starts to December Chicago has had in quite a while. Funny thing is you actually get used to it. Just put on about 3 layers, a scarf, gloves, a hat, a jacket, a good pair of waterproof shoes and you're laughing. The killer is when it's snowing and driving into your face, but other than that, it's all good.

On my way home, instead of sleeping as I should have, I thought about the things that stood out from the week. Things I noticed in Chicago and the holiday in general are as follows:

  • ATM machines in Chicago say "Sure" and "No, Thanks" instead of Yes and No
  • The Chicago Bulls are a crap team now
  • Ice Hockey fans are great fun and love shouting abuse at players
  • Chicago is cold (did I mention that?)
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art is worthless and not even worth the $1 donation I made
  • Penny's Noodles is a probably the best take-away I've ever had (I recommend the Red Curry and Chicken Satay)
  • American Airlines can be real idiots at times (more later)
  • My hockey team don't really need me (they won both games while I was away)
  • I sat next to a really nice guy on the way home, who is a full-time bingo caller!
  • I bought more presents for myself than everyone else combined
  • Ice-skating is quite different to rollerblading
  • The architecture in Chicago is amazing
  • No one recycles in Chicago
  • I saw Dublin city from 37,000 feet on my way home, which was cool

Overall, I had a great week with my friend Kellie in spite of the cold. I'd highly recommend going to Chicago, but going in summer is probably a good idea!

It's Happening Again

I'm letting my blog slip. Its been quite a while, almost 2 weeks since I've updated my blog, so I'm going to try and bring you up to date by posting a few smaller blogs, instead of one huge one. Maintaining a blog is actually requires some discipline, which I seem to be lacking recently.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005
On this day:

Well, its true!

Chicago in the winter time is cold! Well, let me rephrase, bloody freezing actually! I don't think I've ever experienced such severe coldness in my life ever! Bolivia came close, but considering I was at my coldest in Bolivia at 5am and 5,000m up and Chicago is just as cold, if not more so during the middle of sunny day, Chicago wins it on the coldness front.

Besides the weather, which has supposedly been one of Chicago's coldest starts to December, I'm having a great time. I've done some touristy things and went to a Chicago Bulls game against the Detroit Pistons (which was actually a little disappointing as there was no atmosphere). But I'm having a great time here in Chicago with my friend Kellie. I'm off to an ice-hockey game tonight, so that should be good.

I'll post more when I have time.

Friday, December 02, 2005
On this day:

Where Do I Begin?

It's been a while since I've posted here, so apologies to my regulars who've missed my cutting humour, excellent journalism and all round great blog!

Since I last posted, things have been really busy. On the hockey front, I've played 2 matches and won 2, so cant complain. In our game on the 19th against the bottom of the league team, we won, but did it the hard way. We were 3-0 up at half time. But due to some "questionable" umpring, their 1st and 3rd goal shouldn't have been allowed. So 3-3 with about 10 minutes to go, but thankfully we pulled it out of the bag.

Our game this past weekend, we also won 3-1 which I was very happy about. We only had a bare 11 players for this game that was played in sub-zero (well close anyway) temperatures. It was a bit of a trek away to the game, but it had to be done. I was hoping that it would be postponed so we could re-schedule and play with a full strength team. But we didn't need it. One of our player's girlfriends came along to watch and was "encouraged" (read forced) to umpire for us. We all played excellently and won comfortably. We should have won by more, but a win is a win.

As most of you know I play volleyball (well not currently). I've played with UCC Volleyball Club for a number of years and even though I'm in London, I still stay in touch with everyone. Since I joined the club in 2000 I have been to 5 intervarsities, which is the main tournament in Ireland for all the university volleyball clubs. They run from Thursday to Saturday in mid to end of November. They're always great fun.

A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail from the club captain asking was I going to the intervarsities this year in Galway. I told him I couldn't as I was playing a hockey match that weekend, and as I'm going to Chicago tomorrow for a week and missing 2 hockey matches, I couldn't afford to leave my team down. So with great pain I told him I couldn't go.

But it doesn't finish there. Because they're so much fun and I know so many people from the universities, who themselves are leaving university this year, I began to think about why I should go. It'd be a great night in Galway and I could say hello to everyone in UCC and the other universities. I'm good friends with the organiser in Galway so also wanted to see what he pulled off.

So Thursday morning I texted 2 friends in the club saying that if they could spot me a few pints and a bed, I'd fly in for the Saturday night. I could fly from London Luton to Galway with Aer Arann and out of Shannon Airport to London Gatwick with EasyJet. It'd cost a chunk of change, but not too much. They called me back and it didn't take much convincing of me to say I'd go. So I booked the flights and all was good.

However, the game I was playing was up by Stansted airport which would have been really handy, but I had to go back to my apartment, get my gear, drop the goalkeepers gear back to the club and get a train to the airport. My flight was at 7.25pm and I needed to get a 6.03pm train fom Kings Cross. I got there at about 6.03pm, got my ticket, and ran to the train. Thankfully the train was a few minutes late so I ran on. It didn't end there though. When I got to the train station, I had to get a taxi to the terminal. But I didn't have any money. So I had to run into the terminal and get money and run back in. (I did the exact same thing in Miami when I was rushing for my flight to San Francisco which I also nearly missed)

When I got into the terminal, there was no one at the check in desk for the flight to Galway. Now I knew that they close the check-in 30 minutes before the departure, but it was only 6.52pm when I got there. So I found someone and they got someone to come down and check me in. I didn't relaxe until I was on the plane.

Things got better from there though. Once on the plane I relaxed (even if it was a propellor plane). We arrived into Galway 25 minutes ahead of time into probably the world's smallest airport with a shopping conveyor belt as the luggage carousel. I called people who were at the hotel for the big dinner as part of the intervarsities, and the thing was only starting.

So a quick beer in the car on the way to the hotel and things were very much looking up. I arrived with a few minutes to spare before the main course was served. I was greeted by loads of friendly faces and immediately someone was dispatched to the bar to get me a pint! Talk about service with a smile.

I also was in time for the awards cermony. I even got a thank you from John, the tournament organiser, (a good friend of mine) for travelling all the way over from London for tonight. It was really nice even if half the people there didn't know who I was. But the people I came to see did, which was fine.

Unforutnately neither of our teams won anything, although our ladies team lost the cup final to UCD by 2 points in the tie-breaker. That made it 5 in a row for UCD ladies and the 3rd time of those 5 that were against us. As before, our ladies got a bigger cheer from the other universities than the winners. Guess people don't like to see that domination, but you have to appreciate a good team.

Also as part of the tournament, they announce the Most Valuable Players (MVP's). They give an award to best setter and best hitter for men and women. The UCD setter won the best setter (for the 3/4th time in the last 5 years), even though everyone on our team said that our setter deserved it. Tough to topple someone who's won it for the last few years.

But UCC had our time. Another Megan on our team won the best hitter award. When I heard it, I actually jumped out and left out a big "YESSSS!" Thankfully everyone else in the club joined it (0.5 seconds later) For 0.25 of those seconds, I thought I had made a fool out of myself by being the only one to shout out, but I was safe.

Afterwards we had a great night and left the hotel at 2am and went back to the hostel. I hadn't a bed, but just walked straight past the reception, no questions asked. I ended up going to bed for 6am and woke up at 10am. Nice!

So without wanting to write a book on the weekend, I'll fast forward to Sunday afternoon. My flight was from Shannon at 8.20pm and I got dropped by the team at 3pm on their way back to Cork. Usually the team would go to the beach for a bit of a drive, but everyone was so tired, they jsut wanted to go home. So I had to amuse myself for 5 hours before I left. Bought myself some duty free. It wasn't too bad actually.

I got home to my apartment at about 11.30pm and collapsed in bed. The end of an amazingly busy weekend, but it was totally worth it.

Now roll on Chicago! I'll do my best to keep you posted.

Friday, November 18, 2005
On this day:

Can't Beat A Bit Of Friendly Banter!

Banter is an essential part of any sports club, and my club, Wapping Hockey Club is no exception. A perfect example is what happened recently after my last hockey match.

Last Saturday, my team, Men's 6ths, of which I am captain played against the Men's 5ths of Wapping Hockey Club. Both of us are in the same division, so it was a very big intra club match. The M5 were pretty confident of a victory. They even brought a stereo to play "Eye of the Tiger" as they warmed up before the game. Compare this against us, the M6's who were playing in only our 3rd game together. The M5's haven't lost a game in over a year.

To cut a long story short, it was a big game and it ended 2-2. We were winning 2-1, but they pulled it back. It was a very good result for us, even though we should/could have won it. In the pub afterwards, everyone was in great form, all taking part in a good bit of banter. I guess 2-2 was the best result, as both teams can hold their heads high.

During the week, I posted a match report here giving my biased view of the game, purely just to stir things up. And it worked. The M5's posted this report completely trying to mock us. Even if you don't know any of the background, they're worth a quick look.

I especially like this bit:
Side effects may include overconfidence, an Irish accent, and an inability to clearly remember things that happened on Saturdays.
It's better reading the M6 report first, followed by the M5 report. Hope you enjoy! I did.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005
On this day:

I Love My Company

I got an e-mail yesterday, which was sent to the entire company telling me that I can take a half day to go Christmas shopping! I can take it anytime from now until December 16th. Talk about a sweet deal! And then today, my manager who's in NY for the week, e-mailed me encouraging me to book the half day soon!

So it's a long weekend for me 16th December. I'm taking the Friday afternoon off. But obviously I'm going to go shopping from my bed that is!

It Pays To Complain!

A few months ago I set up a bank account with my flat mates to pay bills and stuff. They got their debit card within a week, but it took about 2 months to get mine. It took so long because of a load of mess ups on the bank's part.

I wasn't just going to let this one slide, without finding out why. So I wrote them a long letter telling them how they had screwed up, and if they didn't give me a valid explanation, I would "re-consider my relationship" with the bank. I got a letter back from them a few days later saying they would look into it and get back to me soon. But they never did.

However, when I logged into my account last week, I was nicely surprised to see an entry for £50 with a description of "Compensation"! I still haven't received a letter from them explaining it, but I'm assuming they gave me £50 for my troubles!

Nice eh? I guess it does literally pay to complain!