Seamus K - Irish tech industry expat living in Sweden.

Category: General (page 1 of 10)

My (first) Swedish nemesis…

After a couple of years of DuoLingo, which has served me well, I have finally started Swedish classes. Three weeks into them I am happy to say I am making progress, but I have also hit a few speed bumps along the way. This morning I hit the worst one…
In the class I was asked to come up with a sentence using the past tense form of the Swedish verb – “att göra” which is “To Do” in English. I couldn’t. My first suggestions were wrong, and I drew a blank on alternatives. And funnily enough I think the Irish language is to blame.
Irish doesn’t have a clear yes or no like English, or Swedish. So “I am” or “I am *verb*” is often used to answer questions. e.g. “Are you going to town” – “I am going“. And people also use forms of “I do“. Like: “did you put out the cat?” – “I did“. This use of Do carries over into how Irish people can speak English. The most famous/notorious example would be someone saying “I do be going for the dinner later“.
So when I was asked to provide a sentence in Swedish with “I did…” I couldn’t. Everything I thought of using a form of “I did *verb*” was wrong in Swedish. And I couldn’t think of any other example, even in English. My brain was hurting. And it was only as I left the class I figured out that it was probably Irish that was causing me the problem! 😀

How hard can you push yourself, and for how long?

It looks like we have an answer – you can sustain 2.5 times your resting metabolic rate. And interestingly the constraint is your digestive system.




The 8,000 year old word

This was fun – what is the English word (present across many other languages too) that has been unchanged in meaning and pronunciation for about 8,000 years?



Best photo I have seen all day

This image of a dust storm on Mars is from last year. It’s amazing to think this is a shot of weather happening on another world!

Dust storm on Mars

Dust storm on Mars

It was taken by the ESA Mars Express craft which has been doing science over Mars for 15 years now. As a European citizen about €10/year of your tax money goes on space exploration and science. Which is bloody great value in my view.


Good food writing

I have come late to the Angry Chef, but I am enjoying his sensible writing on food, diets, fads, quackery, and swearing (he doesn’t write about swearing, he just does it a lot).

This bit from his post today made me smile.

Another thing people struggle to understand is that when the proportion of people dying from non-communicable diseases goes up, this is usually a positive change. Everyone has to die of something, and the only other ways to meet your maker are communicable diseases and violence, which are generally not preferred options. If you want to live somewhere where your odds of dying from an NCD is very low, move to Afghanistan, Syria or South Sudan.

I occasionally have to make this point to people (“OMG so many more people are dying of cancer, we need to do something about X!” Sliabh: “well actually”). He makes the point much better 🙂

If I get to it, I should write a bit about my experiences with food in the last 6 months. I decided I needed to make a change. And it has worked well. But it was something not done with any “diet”. Lets see if I can write that.


Brexit – what is it good for?

As well as providing a huge spur to the analogy industry, Brexit has been very good for educating a lot of people (myself included) on many aspects of law, international trade and so on. 

For your education today, here is an excellent article on the mechanics of trade negotiating. And how the pro-Brexit side’s approach of shouting a bit louder to get what you want – will get you SFA.


The Rock Climber song

I have no idea where this originally came from, but we use to belt it out on the bus to and from Wicklow hikes back in my UCD MC days. I found a version online, but the guy had mangled the last verse. And that cannot be allowed. So with some help from Valerie H, here it is in all its (original) glory*.

It is sung to the tune of the Wild Rover. 

I’ve been a rock climber for many’s a year,
And spent all me money on rock climbing gear,
Now I’ve no money and me fingers are sore,
And I swear that I’ll be a rock climber no more.
And it’s no, nay, never, (jangle yer nuts!)
No, nay, never, no more,
I’ll be a rock climber, no never, no more.
I went to a crag that I used to frequent,
And told my belayer my fingers were spent,
I said to her ‘lead on’, she answered me nay!
You’re the rock climber, I only belay.
And it’s no, nay, never, (handle the jugs)
No, nay, never, no more,
I’ll be a rock climber, no never no more.
I took a big friend from my climbing rack, 
And I stuck it in the off width crack,
I went to climb on but started to peel,
And the hard ground beneath me was all I could feel.
And it’s no, nay, never, (finger the crack)
No, nay, never, no more,
I’ll be a rock climber, no never, no more.
And now as I lie here with my broken leg,
I knew that I should have banged in a peg,
And all I can do now is talk on and on
About the time I climbed the Grepon.
* I am still not 100% happy with how some of the verses scan. Somewhere there is an old UCD MC song book that has the proper words…

Where did Hurling come from? No, really?

Origins of hurling in Ireland – image presumed to be accurate.

Unesco has added the Irish sports of Hurling and Camogie to their list of “Protected Cultural Activities”.  I am not sure what “protected” means here (and I am too lazy to find out – hey! Its nearly 2020, in the age of fake news, people don’t have to look deal with reality if they don’t want to. 

If you do want to explore a bit of reality though, there is a comprehensive look at what we actually know about the origins of Hurling here,  from Aidan O’Sullivan at the UCD school of Archeology.


Imperial vs Metric units

Jon Pratt this week at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Md. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

Today in Paris, the kilogram will be redefined in terms of the some universal constants instead of a chunk of metal kept under (several) glass jars. Its a bit step forward and one that future proofs the measurement.

For those that use imperial measures, there will be change soon as well. Under the 1957 US-UK “Greenwich protocol on weights and measures” the imperial foot has been defined based on the size of the King of England’s feet. However as the UK currently does not have a King they default to using a measurement based on the size of the US President’s feet (the idea that there would be a reigning queen in Britain and simultaneously a female president being preposterous). 

Early in his first term Donald Trump had his feet measured to set the new standard for the foot (which incidentally shrunk a bit as his feet, like his hands, were smaller than average). 

On the death of his mother, one of (King) Charles first tasks will be to take off his shoes and socks to be measured, and allow this important standard to be reclaimed by Great Britain from the USA.


Brexit = Gaslighting

I was looking at the lengthy, and depressing list of fake stories the British press ran on the EU for 20 years. 

It struck me that this systematically feeding nonsense to someone to manipulate their opinions and behaviour has a name – Gaslighting. 

The madness that is Brexit is a prime example of the gaslighting of an entire country. Politicans and the public driven to psychosis by a systematic stream of misinformation, deception, and falsehood.

Farage and his kind tick so many of these boxes, it is scary: “11 Warning Signs Of Gaslighting“. 

As I Iook at the collapse of the UKs credibility and reputation as a result of the shambles that is Brexit one of the things I would get most angry about is that these shameless manipulators will dodge most of the responsibility to the harm they have done.


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