Seamus K - Irish tech industry expat living in Sweden.

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To water your whiskey or not?

The Washington Post has an article on the merits or otherwise of adding water to your whiskey. Most “whiskey drinkers” I know don’t. They take theirs neat. The article below goes into a detailed scientific examination of the pros and cons from a flavour compounds point of view.

Personally, though I don’t drink that much whiskey these days, I always water mine. Why? Because I used to work for Irish Distillers. There I worked with professional whiskey tasters (among other things they had the job of checking the newly blended batches against reference samples). One of the things I was told by them is you always water your whiskey. They didn’t have some fancy justification based on detailed analysis of the outputs of a gas chromatograph.

No, the reason is that undiluted 40% whiskey overwhelms your taste buds, so you can’t actually appreciate the flavours of the drink. The “purists” who drink their whiskey neat actually never get to properly appreciate what they are drinking because they have effectively concussed their palate!

Funnily enough the scientific analysis came the the same conclusion (it is better to water) but for different reasons.

Can we consider the discussion closed on this on then?

The best way to drink whiskey, according to science

Scotch drinkers say adding water makes the spirit taste better, and a new study shows why.

Source: www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/08/17/the-best-way-to-drink-whiskey-according-to-science/


Blasphemy –

Here is a list we can be happy that Ireland comes last on. But we should be a lot happier if we were not on it at all. Someone has taken the list of countries that have blasphemy laws – and then ranked them by the degree to which they are enforced. Regrettably Ireland is on the list, and will remain so until we are let vote through a change to the constitution. But at least there is recognition that the laws we have are token and not enforced.

Blasphemy is either:

  • An imaginary offence against an imaginary being
  • A real offence against a supernatural being who surely can take care of the punishment him/her/itself later when the blasphemer turns up in front of them after their death.

Of course it more usually is:

  • A way for one group to dominate and dictate to a weaker one within a society.





Gaming – without electrons

A friend has the motto “do more of what makes you happy”. In that vein this year I find myself playing loads of board games with people in Stockholm. Unfortunately I find I am not playing enough. I am part of a group that meets for 2-3 hours every 2 weeks. I have discovered that I have a gaming itch that needs to be scratched far more regularly!

I have been investing in games with strong solo player modes. Terraforming Mars is excellent in that way. But this evening it was Scythe. I picked it up a week ago and have been getting to terms with its very interesting mechanics.

The other thing I am discovering is that I want to make a few games myself. There is one or two in me. Perhaps they will see the light of day yet…


Swedish water sports

One thing I have been doing in 2017 is spending more time on the water. I have been out kayaking a bit and I really want to do a lot more. I like the freedom, the simplicity, and the self sufficient nature of it on the overnight trips.

The girls are a little young for it, but we have a local lake, with a canoe club, and a stock of canadian canoes. So down we went today. The girls acquited themselves well.

The problem now is that they are dangling club membership in front of me. Pay about €50 and never have to pay for rentals again. But I haven’t been a canoe club member before. Thats a line I am not sure I can go over…



Angela Merkel – woman of the people

Amazing photo of Angela Merkel from her early days as an elected representative. Contrast that with some of the other world leaders she shares a stage with.


What is the plan?

A little while back I asked myself why I was not using this site. I love writing and interacting with people online. So why did I drift away from blogging? The reason is that of course all the action is with Twitter and Facebook. Its easy to do it there. But the trend there is for short shallow content. Which is fine. I would like to have a forum for longer deeper stuff. I like writing and this is a good place to do that. But I also want to keep up the stream of whimsy as well.

So the plan is to make this my first port of call for posting. Most of the time posts here will be posted on to Twitter and Facebook. And sometimes I will use the short nonsense here as well.

In the next week I want to do some testing of how the integration between the various sites work. So expect to see weird results. Then I have a load of drafts I need to clear out. Some of them are very weird (consider yourself warned). 

Along the way I need to clarify what this site is for. What is the voice here. Who do I want to talk to with it and how. I have a few ideas. Lets see if they coalesce. 


Goal updates

I guess if I am back posting here the first thing I need to do is explain how things turned out with my great ambition to ice skate loads from back in January. Well this happened:


My Outdoors group on Meetup said they were going out at a city rink, and would help beginners get on their feet. I ran out. Bought skates. Turned up. And I was doing okay for the first hour. Then I fell clobbered used my hand to break my fall and that was it.

I was in the cast for a month. It came off just in time to go skiing. I returned from skiing on a Saturday. The following day, I was back on the ice with a wrist brace. I made a few trips out, and in the end I did about 12km of skating, but this is a goal that has evaded me. This year. I am determined I will do it next winter.

I found the skating was a great exercise. I have never been a runner/jogger, but this was something I could get into. The views are better, there is a great vibe to getting into a rythym which you feel you can keep up for kilometres. Of course it needs a totally different set of muscles to the ones I have used before. I found my ankles started to get sore after a few hundred metres and occasional stops were needed.

Still, next winter I will do the entire lake. I want to see other parts of Sweden from the frozen water. And as a bonus, the same bindings are used for the ice skates and for cross country skis. I will learn how to do that as well before the snows melt!


Testing, testing

This is a test. If this were a real post, you would be deal already.

After a considerable hiatus. I am returning.

For real! I swear. Posts to come later today.


Goal #1

I don’t really do “New Year’s Resolutions”. I prefer to pick up and pursue challenges as I go along. It’s a while since I have set myself a good one – something that will take a bit of effort to complete. But here it comes. – the first formal personal goal for the coming year.

The lake in (what I call) our back garden is Norvikken. It’s a decent sized freshwater lake north of Stockholm, about 7km long, and about 400-500m wide. It freezes in winter. And when it does it is supposed to be one of the best skating lakes near the city. The kommune even clear the path all around the outside so there is a 17km distance ice skating track.

Norvikken lake

My goal is to skate the full 17k before the winter is out.

To do this I am going to need to:

  • Learn how to ice skate
  • Get the right distance skating gear (including safety equipment) and get proficient at using it.
  • Find a person/group to do this with (never skate alone)
  • Do it.

I also need the lake to freeze again. It has ice at the moment, but a recent thaw has thinned things quite a bit.

I’ll keep you posted on how things go. The first step should be the easiest. Our little housing development has 2 small playing areas – bigger than basketball courts, smaller than a full astro turf pitch. In the winter they flood them and let the water freeze. This gives a safe skating surface for the kids. Once I get some skates I can go and embarrass myself there. I may need wrist guards, knee pads, a helmet and a dignity hiding bag as well though.


Debating lefties – No, I won’t roll in the muck with you.

We all know the moment. You are surfing on the ‘net and you see something you feel you just have to comment on. Maybe you have personal experience. Or a strongly held opinion. You jump in and state your piece. Quite often it goes nowhere. You might get one reply, or a like, thumbs up, or some other minor validation. If you are on TheJournal.ie you will come away feeling as if you swam in the raw sewage of stupidity, ignorance, and small mindedness. Occasionally you will have a good backwards and forwards. Sometimes you may even change your views.

There are certain dogmatists it just doesn’t pay to debate though – unless you are a masochist, or fancy some trolling. The sort of ones that hold their views regardless of evidence (true believers). Perhaps they have formed a world view so divorced from reality it is hard to know where to start engaging them (conspiracy theorists). And there there are the ones, who just don’t know how to debate.

For most of us, debate involves taking and defending positions, posing questions to your opponent, and using stuff like evidence to make your argument. I have not run into a Trump supporter online yet (they must be out there), but I do get pretty frustrated at a lot of the Left wing commentators you encounter. They just don’t seem to know how to have a discussion. The danger is that you don’t realise this, and you tie yourself in knots trying to engage them on their terms.

My most recent example was in a discussion online over Syria. The details are not important (they weren’t to him). This person kept describing anything as I said as being part of “the Washington Wall Street consensus” (I think that was what he called it). And then pretty much refused to accept it in any shape or form. I tried work with these parameters – understanding what was this worldview he held. And seeing how I could talk around it. This was a mistake. I was effectively letting him get away with whatever gobbledegook he chose to take as a given.

Frankly his position was childish – trying to dismiss a line of argument out of hand because of “stuff”. I was told that I had to go read 2 books so I would understand where he was coming from. Sorry that is not the way discussion and debate works. For their faults Right Wingers (I debate them as well), don’t tend to reject you with a “your view is just a restatement of the discredited flumpty goop position. Read Gruber and Jones to see how you are wrong”.

I don’t fancy going down that road again. So the next time see this behaviour I will be saying:

“No, I don’t know know what you are referring to. And no I don’t feel the need to complete your recommended reading list before having a discussion. Your argument needs to stand on its own merits. In the mean time please stop with the dismissive childish name calling, and debate like an adult”

Nah, nah, na, nah, nah! That will show them.

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