Thursday, August 24, 2006
Sunday, August 20, 2006
The amazing thing was even when I got up this morning I still felt really woozy and dizzy. I still am! I went to the Museum of Comtempory Art this morning which is just around the corner from the hotel. It was really cool, although when I stopped to look at a painting, it was always "Is it just me or is that picture moving?". It was me most of the time. There was great exhibits using lights and mirrors. My favourite was 36 oil barrels filled with water with 4 flat screen TVs hanging over them so the picture was reflected by the water. V cool! The other one I really liked was like a story this guy wrote about an insomniac who believed Chicago was being infiltrated by pirates! He had it all illustrated and numerous storylines going on at the sme time. Its kinda hard to explain it properly but thats the basics of it anyway.
Got some lunch after that and headed for the beach to watch the air and water show again. I only got to see some of it yesterday so I caught the rest of it today. They had all the stealth bombers and jets. It was really cool! So i'm just chillin now. Theres a reception thing I have to go to at half 6 and then we'll had out for dinner. Thats about the height of it. Headin to the King Tut exhibition tomorrow. Cant wait.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Haven't done a whole lot yet. Mostly planning the next few days. I've made a list of things I want to see and do and have started buying the tickets etc. Theres a exhibition of Egyption stuff on in one of the museums that includes King Tuts coffin thing and loads of other cool old things. I've been told to go see the Science and Industry Museum which has just opened a Da Vinci Code interactive thing. That should be interesting. The Museum of Modern Art is on the list as well. Our hotel is on Michigan Avenue so itskinda hard to avoid doing some shopping. It'll be tough but i'll do my best!!
We seemed to have come at a good time because beside from all those things, theres a big air and water show on today. We spent a huour or two sitting on the beach watching loads of military jets fly by and do twirlly things. Great fun, especially the old planes that do all the acrobatics like diving and looping and flying straight up and falling back down until he nearly hits the water!! Crazzzy!
Anyway gotta go so i'll post again soon!
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Had a good sleep in on Saturday morning and after a great breakfast we went for a walk along the canal that runs beside our hotel. It was really nice and really well kept in comparison to Dublins canals. From there we walked onto M street (such a cool name for a street). There were tonnes of really nice shops all along this street so we stopped and had a look around.
That night we went on a nightime tour of the city. This was a really cool way to see the sity and all the sights when they were lit up. We were taken to most of the memorials like Roosevelts, Lincoln, Korean War, Vietnam War and the World War II memorial. The only problem was that it was hard to take good photos at night. Anyway here are the best of the photos.
The Lincoln Memorial
Me and Dad inside the Lincoln Memorial
The Korean Memorial.
The Roosevelt Memorial was a series of waterfalls, fountains and ponds. It was beautiful at night when it was all lit up.
More of the Roosevelt Memorial.
Mum and I at the lake beside the Roosevelt Memorial. It was still about 90F at 10 o clock at night!
So the next day we went for a walk around the city. The White House was a short walk from the hotel so it was a good place to start.
We seen some intersting buildings along the way as well. There were so many big buildings like the Treasury Department etc that I lost track of which was which.
Later that day we went down towards Chinatown and stopped into the International Spy Museum. Unfortunatly I couldn't take photos inside sut it was a really interesting place. It showed all the gadgets and techniques they used during the two World Wars and the Cold War. They also showed the influence espionage had on popular culture in the form of movies and TV shows etc.
On our last day in Washington we took a bus tour to see the city in daylight this time. Our first stop was at my favourite statue. The memorial to the Marines just beside Arlington Cemetary.
When then moved onto Arlington Cemetary and luckily took the shuttle bus tour. 5 people had collapsed during the day from the heat while walking around so we were all for the bus tour!
Bobby Kennedy's grave
We were just in time as well for the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers. I really felt sorry for the guy because it was around 100 degrees and he was in full uniform. the tour guide said the tomb hasn't been unguarded since the 1920s through snow, hurricanes and 365 days a year. Not an easy job!
We then moved onto the Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial. We had seen these already only at night so we visited the two war memorials again but skipped the Lincoln Memorial.
Theres an intersting story to this wall. When the memorial was being designed, the creators wanted to have 38 statues of soldiers to represent the 38 degree latitude that marked the border between North and South Korea. However Congress wouldn't give them enough land to build on. So instead they built 19 soldiers and placed them beside the granite wall so when you looked ath the wall you could see the reflection of the statues and therefore there were 38. Genius!
So thats it really. I'm back at work now for the next week and a half or so and then its off to Chicago for a few days. Madness.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Anyway Iwont elaborate too much and i'll save it for when I put up the photos.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
So i'm back in Castleblayney for a few days. Barry my brother is home from Scotland till Sunday. We have a family wedding tomorrow in Cabra Castle in Co. Cavan. The worse thing is that its black tie and if the weathers anything like it has been the past few days, we're gonna be sweatin like crazy!! Outdoor weddings and black tuxes don't go hand in hand!
At the minute we're planning a babeque for this evening with a few friends. So it'll be a day of cooking, moving garden furniture and lots and lots of eating and drinking!! Its tough but someones got to do it!
I probably wont post again till I get back from Washington. I might while i'm over there if I get the chance, ya never know! Anyway till then.
Friday, July 21, 2006
I went over to my aunt and uncles (Mary & Jerry) for dinner last night. They're heading up to Blayney for the weekend and unfortunetly i'm going to miss it cause i'm working. We had incredible burgers with blue cheese and chips from their local chipper. It was gooood. Then we sat around and chatted and I showed them the pictures from camp which I STILL have to post up (i'm workin on it!).
I'm heading off to Washington DC on Friday morning for a fwe days and i promise to have tonnes of pictures back with me. I'll make sure my camera works this time before i leave. I've a wedding as well in Cabra Castle on Thursday. Busy guy me! My cousin Bernie is getting married and its the first of my cousins to tie the knot. Should be a bita craic!
Anyway i'm headin off so i'll keep ya posted over the next few days.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
I'll be headin back to Dublin tonight for work tomorrow morning. Should be interesting in this heat. I cant see many people out suit shopping when the weathers this good. The plan is i'm working till Sunday and then i'm off till the following wednesday week I think. I've a family wedding on Thursday and I leave for Washington DC on the Friday. Busy busy busy! Should be good craic though and i'll have plenty of photos to show you.
Anyway, i'll post agian soon.
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Half way through work today I got a text from Amanda offering me a ticket to the Leinster GAA football final in Croke Park between Dublin and Offaly. My manager had just mentioned that he'd would've loved a ticket and I mentioned that i'd just been offered one. He told me that I should leave work early and go. So I did! It was great craic. We were on Hill 16 which is the standing section of the stadium. I was surrounded by Dublin fans and luckily I wore my blue t shirt or else I would've stood out like crazy!! It was scorching hot but we didn't care. It was hilarious. Some of the insults they were shouting were so funny. I learned what a B.I.F.F.O is. It stands for Big Ignorant F**ker From Offaly. Priceless. Dublin won in the end (thankfully) and the supporters ended the game by flooding the field. The funniest thing was when the supporters ran onto the field, the announcer started saying "Gardai and stuarts go to Plan B, I repeat, Plan B" and a big "Plan B" came up on the screen. It was so funny because there was thousands of fans on the pitch and only a handful of stuarts. I'd love to know what "Plan B" actually was.
So i'm back in Castleblayney now for a few days. I off work till Thursday so I decided to head back to the homestead. Have a few things to take care of while i'm here, like renting a tux for a wedding I have in 2 weeks time. Anyway till next time!!
Friday, July 14, 2006
I'm still trying to get my photos from camp on to my laptop but i've hit a few snags along the way. First of al, I got all the pictures developed back home and they were supposed to be on CD as weel. A mistake was made in the photo shop as only one camera, the one not from camp, was put onto CD. I didn't have time togo back in to get it redone so I decided to take the negatives to a place in Dublin to get it done. So I did that but when I got them home, I realised I gave her the wrong negatives and now I have two CDs of the same photos and none of the ones I want. Typical.
I'm gonna wait till I get home and scan them cause I sick of going back and forth with negatives and CDs etc!
I'm starting work on Saturday so I should have something interesting to talk about then.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
just spent today faffin around and then got the 8 o clock bus to Dublin and had a nice surprise waiting for me in the letter box. It was a letter from DIT, my college, telling me that I have a place in the degree course for next year. Happy days!!! So now i'm completely free for the summer, well from the college point of view. I'm going into what I hope to be my new job on Saturday for a trial day to see how I get on. Fingers crossed it'll go ok!
Anyway thats it for now. I'm still waiting for the pictures I took at camp to be developed so I should have them tomorrow some time. Till then, see ya!
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Sumatanga Writing is a game that we played in camp with the campers. Its like a secret code the counselors know and the kids have to try and crack it but no one has ever done it. It involves a stick and wild patterns passed down from Indian ancestors etc etc. Now how its done is top secret and I cant share it in public so only the other counselors might get this one. There was a huge group of us gathered outside the main lodge one evening waiting for the evening activity. So there was a lot of kids sitting in a circle and one counselor left, I think it was Christina and Clants was doing the writing. The word was "Chuck Norris" (go figure) and he got to the "K" and every counselor was wondering how the hell he was gonna pull this one of when he suddenly came out with "Kinetic energy from the stick". Every, and I mean every, counselor burst out laughing and all the kids were looking at us trying to figure out why we where laughing. Very funny moment. Anyway I think she got it in the end but the "kinetic" bit was the best.
Teaching "The Siege of Ennis"
Now every Irish person (and some of the counselors) should know what the siege of Ennis is! If you dont, its an Irish Ceili dance. Its really quite easy so I decided to teach it to the counselors on Thursday night (good idea or what!!!). So I mangaed to get two rows of four people sorted out and taught them how to do it. They caught on really quick and we went to give it a go when we realised we had no music. So I improvised!! I belted out a bit of the "Diddle Idle Idle O, Diddle Idle I" etc etc, and sure enough they got the hang of that bit as well and they were actually fairly good. By this stage the rest of the counselors and staff seen what was going on and before ya knew it we had about 4 or 5 lines of people all "Diddle Idle Idle O'ing" and dancing. Twas mighty fun, so it was!!! This also links into my next story.
My last day, Friday, and I had the made the week without being called up to the front of the cafeteria to sing or dance or any of that kinda stuff, but today was an exception. The night before I had left my name tag in the auditorium at the counselor meeting and didn't realise until I seen Tanner with it at the microphone. For those non camp people, if a camper looses their name tag they have to kish a stuffed fish hanging on the wall of the cafeteria. Now if a counselor looses their name tag, its much much worse!! So I was walking past the microphone when they were calling the names out and seen my tag and instead of getting called up and causing a huge rucas I just said "I'm here, come on, get it over with!!". I had heard from people that you would have to put a spoonful of peanut butter in your mouth and sing "Kumbiya Ma Lord" which I had no problem doing and was strangely looking forward to! But oh no. I was special! I was the Irish guy. So everyone huddles round me and there was great discussion and debate of "What'll we get him to do???". So it was decided that I had to "Gather Nuts"! My only response was "eh, what?" It basically entailed me skipping around the cafeteria pretending to gather nuts into a basket. That was fair enough, because after all I did forget my nametag! Off I went around the cafeteria skipping like a little girl.
Anyway, I did the lap, got a round of applause and sat down. A fwe minutes passed when all of a sudden I hear "Sing a song Andrew, sing a song. We wont shut up till you stand up, sing a song, Andrew sing a song". I had avoided this like the plague all week and on my LAST day, my campers pull this one out of the bag. Even after all the "GatheringNuts" fiasco! So instead of delaying the enevitable, I got up and marched up to the mike. But as I reached the top all the staff and some counselors got in formation for "The Siege of Ennis"!! I was so proud! So instead of singing a song I explained to the kids what was going on and why these people were doing what they were doing. Then came my big moment for the "Diddle Idle Idle O" and off they went. It was great, the kids started clapping, people started "Diddle Idle Idle O'ing" and it was all good. We finished our routine and the kids had a look of utter confusion and a slight bit of disbelief of what they just seen but it was all good!
The Little Can of Coke and Friends
There were a number of songs we sang in camp and some of my favourites were the Little Can of Coke series. They went somethin a little like this (the italics are the kids responses)
Oh I wish I were a little Can of Coke
Can of Coke
Oh I wish I were a little Can of Coke
Can of Coke
I go down with a slurpy
and come up with a burpy
Oh I wish I were a little Can of Coke
Can of Coke
Now thats only one of about 20 or so. Others include "Bar of Soap", "Snickers Bar", Piece of Poop", "Resse Cup", "Tennis Shoe" and the list goes on.
My ALL time favourite song " THE PEANUT SONG"
This song encapsulates Camp Sumatnaga completely. It goes on forever and can be sung at the top of your voice, which is great for the kids!
I'll give you a shortened down version cause I dont have time to write the whole thing. It goes a little somethin like this:
Found a peanut,
Found a peanut,
Found a peanut just now,
I just now found a peanut,
Found a peanut Just now.
Cracked it open,
Cracked it open,
Cracked it open just now,
I just now cracked it open,
Cracked it open just now.
It goes on for ages and I wont tell you the rest of it cause you have to hear it to really appreciate it!!
Being Inducted into the Sumatanga Studs
This was definitely one of the high points of the week. I had no prior knowledge of my induction so it came as quite a shock. Literally. I think it was on Tuesday and there was a load of us in the pool and John came up behind me and lifted me up on his shoulders and started moving me over to the edge of the pool, facing the deck. I just assumed he was messin around but I was completely unaware and unprepared for what was about to happen. The next thing I see is Bear walking along the deck towards us with this grin on his face and I knew something was up. He faces me and takes a few steps back. Raises his arm so its perpendicular with his body and just runs at me! It all happened so fast and I was underwater. I come back up and everyones clapping and I STILL dont know whats going on. Then John tells me i'm a Sumatanga Stud and it all makes sense. I make my acceptance speach and get slightly emotional, the usual! So now i'm the President of the Irish chapter of the Sumatanga Studs. I dont have an office or anything which is a shame but i'm thinking of gettin business cards printed with that as my job description. That'd be cool.
Anyway, i'm just blabbing now so i'll leave it at that. Thanks for reading!
Saturday, July 08, 2006
This is the hike up the mountain lead by Tanner "the hike dude". It got pretty steep at times but was an incredible view at the top from the little chapel and the big cross. Theres some photos of it somewhere.
More hiking photos.
This was the little chapel at the top of the mountain. We did a short lesson when we got there and then two weddings including mine to a tree. Theres definitely a photo of that in the blog!!
Heres an example of the wildlife you find in the creek!!
This is the lake beside the camp. Full of fish and turtles and the odd aligator supposedly?!?!?
This is the large cross and seating area where we had communion on Thursday night. I think theres a photo of that somewhere in the blog?
This is our "home in the woods". We'd go here everyday and sit on the rocks and teach the kids something or tell them stories. It was stunningly beautiful around there.
See what i mean!
This was the main cabin/hub thing we stayed in. The central part contained the canteen and auditorium and then there was 4 wings coming out and they had the dormitories in them where we slept.
This was the theme for the week "Peace Talks". I thought it was like some sort of UN conference or something but I caught on after a while. Each day had its own word and we'd teach the kids about waht each word meant and how we can see it and use it in daily life, stuff like that. My favourite was "Be Still" and I tried to get the kids to act it out as much as possible but it didn't work, surprise surprise!
I've some more to put up as well.
It all started in Birmingham Airport at the check in desk. The lady decided to put me on an earlier flight to Atlanta to give me plenty of time to get my connection. The new flight was leaving in 10 minutes so I ran to get and they had just started boarding when I got there so it seemed like happy days. We began to push back from the terminal when all of a sudden we heard a bang. The bar between the airplane and the tractor thing that pushes us out broke and hit the landing gear. So we were brought back in and the pilots had a look at it and said it looked fine but just to be sure they called an engineer to look at it.
Now when i say engineer I dont mean any of the engineers that were already there, I mean the engineer that serviced the airplane the day before and who was staying in an airport the far side of the airport! So it took him a good 45 minutes to get over and while that was going on, all passengers who had connections had to go up to the terminal and see if they could change their connection. My flight to Ireland wasn't till 8.20 and this was only 4.00 so I was confident I would make it. The minute I stepped out of the door, my boarding pass was taken from me and I was offically deboarded off the plane with all my luggage still on it! I was then put in a queue to talk to an agent and no one was allowed back on the plane till everyone was taken care of.
The best bit of all this was the flight I was originally booked on was boarding RIGHT beside me AND LEFT ON TIME!!! So after another hour (now 5.00) we were aloud back on the plane and we left for Atlanta. So I still had a good hour and a half to get my flight to Dublin, which I made. It too left late because they had one guy there to board all the passengers. I got into my seat, sat back and had a good flight, despite the crap films and not being able to sleep!
Now if anyone has seen or read the Irish news recently, they probably know what happened next. Some idiot called in a hoax bomb scare in the arrivals area of Dublin Airport and caused the whole airport to shut down from 9.00am till around 10.30am. My flight arrived at 9.30am. Need I say more? We sat on the tarmac (the plane, not us individually) for 2 hours until we were aloud back into the terminal.
When we got there then it took me a good hour to get my bags because about 16 planes unloaded a lot of impatient, tired and generally pissed off passengers at the one time. Chaos is the only word for it. When I finally got my bag (which was lying on the floor), an announcement came over the system telling the passengers from some Ryanair flight that their bags were actually on belt 2, not belt 10. So there was a lot of cursing followed by a huge surge of people from on side of the baggage hall to the other, with me in the middle! When I finally got outside to where tha taxis are, the queue was massive. I would've been there for a long time! The easiest thing was to walk to the Great Southern Hotel and wait for Mum to pick me up. She was already nearby and it was easier than having to drive near to the airport building.
I didn't go to bed till close to 9 in the evening to try and get my clock back in order, so by then i'd been up almost 30 hours. I just got up an hour ago (2pm) and i'm all rested up and feeling much better.
I've put up a good few photos now but theres still more so keep an eye out for them.
Also i'm having some problem with the sidebar thats usually on the righthand side but for some reason is down at the bottom. If anyone has any ideas how to fix it PLEASE leave a comment.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Well we've come to the end of my journey to Alabama. I'll be leaving in a few hours to catch a plane to Atlanta and then another one back to Ireland. Its been a crazy 2 weeks. I cant remember the last time i've done so much in such a small piece of time.
On Tuesday we went to friends of Jeris' family, The Crookes, for an Independance Day BBQ. The There was enough food to feed a large division of an army so we went back for seconds about three times! We also got to fish in the lake at the end of their garden for a while. There were huge catfish swimming about and we came close a couple of times to catching one but no luck. We did catch a few smaller fish and the odd turtle here and there which was terrible to watch. Mr. Crooke introduced me to his collection of classic cars in his garage. He has two at the moment, a 1967 Corvette Stingray (beautiful) and a MG from the 1950's. They were incredible but the most incredible thing was the garage he kept them in. I've seen operating theatres that were dirtier than this. There wasn't a speck of dust or dirt anywhere!!!
We hung around their house for a few hours, eating and drinking, and then we left for Atlanta which was a good two hour drive, maybe more. We met up with Jeris' fiance Jordan and a couple of his friends and watched some of the World Cup highlights and the end of a baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals. Atlanta lost so they weren't in the best mood.
The next day we got up late enough and went to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. Its supposed to be the largest in the world but we had our doubts. It was incredible! They had one huge tank filled with thousands of fish ranging from stingrays to great white sharks (which are huge by the way!). I'll put up the photos when I get them.
After the aquarium we went to a baseball game in Turner Field. It was between the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals again. We went early to watch batting practice and try and catch a few stray balls. Our seats were in the dirct firing line so you had to keep an eye on things (mainly small spherical things hurtling towards your head at a high speed). Since the game was at 7.30 in the evening, we didn't have the sun beating down on us which was great, but it was still really warm. The game kicked off a little late due to a short rain delay. This time Atlanta unleashed hell on the Cardinals and sent them packing back to St. Louis. We left after the 7th inning because Atlanta were winning 14-4 and it was pretty much over. After that we just headed back to Birmingham and a good nights rest.
So thats it! All over. Have to go pack and try to cram everything back into my bags. I'll put up the photos the minute I get home and let you all see what i've been talking about these past few weeks.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
So we stayed in the Waterpark till 2 or so and came back home and I just crashed on the couch for the rest of the day. The next day (Sunday), Jeris' granmother came over and cooked a HUGE traditional southern style dinner. I nearly needed two plates there was that much food! We had cornbread, fried ocra, turnip greens, mac and cheese and loads of other stuff. It was so good. I haven't eaten that much since Christmas 1997!?!?
Anyway, after all the eating and drinking, me and Jeris went to meet her fiance Jordan in a sports bar called "On Tap". It was really cool and it had the nicest nachoes i've ever had. Then we called over to friends of there called Brian and Andrea and sat in their back yard till 1 in the morning. He has this really cool outdoor fire place and a crazy boxer dog called Lucy.
Yesterday was pretty quiet. We went shopping and stuff and had an incredible barbeque in the evening. The steak was really good (Jims is still number 1 though!). Then last night we went to see "Nacho Libre", the new Jack Black movie, which was funny enough. Kinda weird at times.
So today's the big day. 4th of July! We're all headin out to friends of Jeris' family for another huge barbeque (i'm gonna be 5 times bigger than when I left from all this food!!!) We'll be leaving in about an hour or so and spend most of the day there. I cant wait to see their house because its beside a lake and stuff so it should be beautiful. Also he has a few classic cars (Corvettes, MG's, etc) so it should be really cool. Me and Jeris will be heading to Atlanta this evening to meet up with Jordan, her fiance, and a couple of their friends for a night out. Then tomorrow evening we're going to an Atlanta Braves baseball game (cant wait) at arund 7.30 or so.
So much to do, so little time!!!!!
P.S. Dont worry, i'll put the pictures from camp up when i get home! My digital camera stopped working once i got here so i've had to use disposables for the past two weeks. Typical!!
Sunday, July 02, 2006
So the way it worked was that there are 2 councillors to a group. Our group had 11 kids, 5 boys and 6 girls. I looked after the 5 boys when we weren't in a group and my Co Councilor, Halley (my hero) looked after the girls. I think there was around 120 kids all together and 13 councilors. So from 4 o clock on Sunday till 5 o clock on Friday, they were our kids (sort of). I was lucky that I got 5 great kids. They all got on and were really easy to look after (most of the time!).
I think to give you a quick idea of what I got up to i'll list out some of the things I got up to:
1. Found a live snake in a creek, twice!
2. Hiked a mountain
3. Kissed a stuffed fish
4. Married a tree (thats not a typo!)
5. Had breakfast cereal thrown at my face which was covered in shaving foam (thats me in the spongebob t shirt)
6. Taught people Ceili dancing
7. Played capture the flag with my face completely painted blue
8. Got inducted into the "Sumatanga Studs"
9. Got to hold and pet a baby Armidillo called Harvey
This list is only scraping the surface of what I got up to. I haven't even started on the list of really cool people and kids I got to meet! Along with my Co Councilor Halley, some of the other councilors were (my fellow studs), Clants, Bear and John and the girls Amy, Tracie, Heather, Fairyn and Ashley. Then there was the directors, the incredible Vicki, Chris, Holli, Alison, Pete and Jeris. Along with all the councilors and directors there was a staff that are there for the whole 6 weeks of camp, Jodi the Craft Chick, Annie the Song Babe, Tanner the Hike Dude, Meagan the Nature Girl, Squint and Buck the Camp Nurse. All these guys were amazing, great senses of humour with great personalities to go along with them.
I'll put up the photos when I get back home and get them all sorted out. Theres SSSSOOOOOOOO many! I have so many storeies to tell but i thought i'd get started with this post and get the background stuff out of the way!
I'll keep you posted on what I'm doing over the nest week until I get home on Friday morning.