Friday, 30 December 2005


Having just returned from my xmas trip to Ireland, am feeling refreshed. It rained today for the first time—I’ll be arrogant and say Ireland was in tears at my leaving;) Saw quite a few places I hadn’t been to before, including Tralee, Doolin, Dingle, Killarney, Blarney, Cork and Cashel. The Blarney stone itself seemed like a load of touristy hype to me…I would imagine those who actually kissed it might have gone away with a few extra germs, yuck. Despite our tour guide leaving us behind at the last stop yesterday, the tour itself was quite nice. Before you gasp, he did return, after taking a vote from those on the bus, half of whom raised hands to leave us behind! In all fairness, we had walked a bit too far out at Glendalough, getting back at least 20 minutes late, but still. Later on that day, the bus was broken into, and the bus driver and one who protested loudly to leave us behind had some personal possessions (hence the title of the post…although I’m never glad to see someone get their things stolen). Met some excellent people and saw some amazing sites. We had a fantastic Christmas dinner cooked by one of the tour guides, while staying in a hostel/pub in a small town on the Dingle peninsula. Guess the villagers protested the pub being built, as it is right across the street from the church, and called the Randy Leprechaun;) Despite this, they tolerated the tour group going out to the beach with them Christmas morning and having a swim. Crazy feckers—I stayed behind with the newspaper and had a nice chill out. On the day after Christmas, which they refer to as St. Stephen’s Day in Ireland (Boxing Day in the UK), they have these Wren Day parades, in which the villagers dress up (similar to Halloween type costumes) and go in and out of the local businesses and pubs dancing and playing instruments, collecting for charity. This year, in Dingle, they were collecting for a new sports center for the town. Beats taking it out of the taxpayers pocket, hey? More later…

modified to add: description of pics—the wren in dingle, myself and a fellow traveller from my tour, cliffs of moher, glendalough, and…well, read my comment.

Wednesday, 21 December 2005

Happy Winter Solstice!

Happy Winter Solstice to all. Tomorrow is the shortest day of the year. As of the 22nd, the days will begin to get longer and we can all begin to look forward to sunlight and spring. Have copied a poem below in celebration.

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper
So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!

P.S. Loosely related…I lost my favourite, ‘born again pagan’ t-shirt somewhere…I’m guessing on the way to or from the laundry room. So sad:(

Sunday, 18 December 2005

Next semester's schedule

Or as the posh ones here say…, something like that. Anyway, I’m going to whine about something I know I’ll get no sympathy on. I have to start classes at 9am three days a week, boo-hoo, which means I have to get up at 7am. The classes switch from mostly tourism related to mostly management related. I’ll be taking Strategic Management, Human Resource Management, Research Methods, and for my elective, most likely, Eco-tourism. I shouldn’t even be thinking about all this now, as I still have projects to do for this semester. Spent all day yesterday writing an essay on politics and policy making and need a break, so I’m going to go out, somewhere, today, even if it’s just to the grocery store to get the fixing for fajitas and a magazine or two to read tonight, and maybe buy a cheap dvd (I miss TV this week). I could say the only disadvantage to living in a new place is not having enough people to do things with, but that’s not exactly true. I’ve probably been more socially active then I was at home; I simply notice the down time more;)

Friday, 16 December 2005

A possible dissertation topic

It’s about time to start thinking about a dissertation topic. Didn’t realize we had to choose very early on in the next semester, as one of the modules is Research Topics. I’m thinking about doing an assessment of the socio-cultural impacts of tourism (development) on the residents of Belfast. That would mean taking some time in the summer (?) or maybe spring to go interview people (will learn more about exact survey methods next semester). One of the aspects of the report I just finished for International Tourism & Globalization was to look at impacts of tourism—economic, environmental or socio-cultural. I chose the latter, and found it difficult to find information. Emailed the Belfast City Council, and they responded saying they had no data, as they didn’t have the resources to do a survey. Someone has to do it, right;)

And on the subject of writing, a special congratulations to my friend Matt for a recent publication:

Monday, 12 December 2005

Happy Christmas to All

Well, I am leaving for Ireland a week from Wednesday, so thought I would get a short xmas note off before then. The build up to Christmas has so far included a trip to the German Christmas Market with the expats, and tomorrow I’ll be having a small gathering at my place for my classmates before we head off to have tapas at a restaurant one of the girls works at. (Hopefully have some pics to post later). I’ve bought some Christmas crackers and drinkies for tomorrow, and put up a few decorations. Many of the classmates don’t celebrate Christmas, I don’t think, so it should be fun to share experiences. I’ve completed two of my assessments, so only four left:)
modified to add: If you’d like to see some pics of the city centre in Leeds:

Wednesday, 7 December 2005

You're the only one who can talk sh*t about your own family

I’m starting to find myself getting irritated by ‘outsiders’ making anti-US comments. The big ones seem to be that all Americans are fat and promiscuous, which I’m getting tired of hearing. On top of that, I’m weary of the fact that I have to keep apologizing for a man I didn’t vote for, as well as the stereotypical attitudes perceived of Americans by the rest of the world. The last straw for me was finding this article in The Guardian on-line last night, written by Lionel Shriver, who is all the rage here for her book, We Need to Talk About Kevin, which I refuse to read. (It is the first book the university book club is reading, which I had signed up for.) My limited encounters with the writing of this woman have left a bad taste in my mouth, and this last thing doesn’t help.

Tuesday, 6 December 2005

Dark days and cookbooks

Well, it is starting to get dark here by 3pm and is completely dark by 4pm. Thank god the winter solstice is only 15 days away. And on that note, I will be leaving for my Christmas trip to Southern Ireland that day, going on a backpacker tour. Will have a day or so in Dublin on either end and can’t wait to get going. I haven’t been to the island of Ireland since I left last September, so this is the longest I’ve been away in over 3 years.

On another note, I’ve decide to submit a story and recipe to a cookbook an author I admire is planning on putting together.

Are you tempted to become self-employed…and is the USA an innovator?

According to a report from Eurobarometer in 2004, 46% of Americans are tempted to become self-employed, as opposed to 33% of the EU 15 and 32% of the EU 25. Why the big difference? Well, supposedly it has to do with the attitude of different countries/people in those countries towards the possible failure of the business. In my Tourism Politics & Policy class today, we discussed this and the tutor said it is the common perception that Americans feel they can pick themselves up, dust off and move on if they venture into small business ownership and fail, whereas in Europe, it is humiliating to fail and therefore, people may not want to take the risk. I’m not sure I agree with this generalization about Americans, but then again, I don’t know that I have the backgroud knowledge to make a completely informed decision. Any thoughts?

Also, during this discussion, I heard America referred to, once again as on many other occasions since I’ve moved here, as an innovator. All things start in America was a comment made by my GP the other week. I’m surprised by this. I guess it is true that we do initiate a lot of things, but we also are behind in some ways, I think, and we are such a young country in relation to the rest of the world. Can
we really have that many fresh ideas? If we do, why do we? It’s an interesting concept to me.

Monday, 5 December 2005

My new home

From my dorm room, I can see Kirkstall Abbey in the distance. Not a great pic, but you should be able to make it out.

I am also right next to the Leeds-Liverpool canal, and often look out to see people fishing in the morning, sometimes under huge umbrellas when it’s raining.

Have also included a pic of my tiny “home” for the rest of the year.


Sunday, 4 December 2005

One down, five to go

Well, I finished my first assessment yesterday afternoon, which was my essay on sustainable tourism in Northern Ireland. It’s not my best piece of work by any means, but it will pass, fingers crossed. Still getting used to the difference between an English essay and a US essay, and how much more research is involved here. It was such an interesting topic, but time and word limits only allow so much detail. So, by January 9th (unless I get some extensions, which I’m actually working on), I have five more pieces of work due:

-A 3,000 word formal report on Belfast, including info on market segmentation/demand, resources, and sustainability measures, either in regards to the economy, environment, or culture.-A 15 minute formal presentation including a 1,000 word summary picking a company in the above destination that operates internationally and methods by which they do so.

-A 2,500 word essay on a theory of political/tourism policy in a specific context (doing something called pluralism and relating it to tourism policy in urban areas of the usa, using chicago as a case study by analysis of the current and past govt/majors since the 60s and showing pluralism, which basically means that everyone has a say, somewhat, in policy, is what works for Chicago, as evidenced by successful tourist attractions such as navy pier and millenium park).

-Another 2,500 word essay for the same politics & policy class on the successful methods of partneships, again related to a particular context (no research done on this one yet)-And, finally…a 5,000 word formal report for my International Marketing Strategy module on a specific company (using the Northern Ireland Tourist Board), analysing their marketing plan and evaluating models of marketing (this one is a real head-banger for me…my right brained way of thinking is very challenged).

Ok, I have quite literally just given myself a headache. Of course, that could also be due to the fact that I got in about 3am last night after going out for drinks with a group of peeps, who are actually acquaintences of the old landlady. One of them is an American who just finished up a PhD here and is going back to DC next week. She’s been wanting me to meet him and this other fella since September, so I thought, what the hell. I was wanting a night out anyway after finishing that essay and cooking myself a nice dinner of sloppy joe, boiled potatoes, salad and a kickin coleslaw. It was actually a quite nice group of people, some of whom I found out later (I stayed after Paulette went home) don’t fancy the landlady herself very much;) So, I obtained the details on one of the fellas who P wanted me to meet…as she would say, that means I “pulled”. Still sounds dodgy to me (the phrase, that is), but you know how it is when someone wants to set you up…you think, how fugly and odd is this person going to be. Was pleasantly surprised…the lad was quite easy on the eyes. Anyhoo, I hope to be able to keep in touch with a few of them, as it was a nice group of people who I could escape from the uni thing with once in a while.