berries by the sea


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This morning my neighbour and I went down to the beach to pick berries, Sea-Buckthorn berries to be more exact. These bright orange berries are rich in vitamins and you can make all sorts of delicious things from them and their juice.

The amazing thing is that these tiny berries have up to ten times more vitamin C then lemons and they even have some vitamin B12, which you normally only find in animal based products. They also contain carotene, vitamin E, amino acids and natural oils. However they are quite tart and you should let them get some frost before you use the. But since you hardly ever get frost here in Ireland a few hours in the deep-freezer is all it takes to bring the sweetness out, making the berries perfect for some jam or concentrated juice.

They are very sturdy plants and grow near the sea but if you want to get at the berries you need to wear gloves to avoid their big thorns that will tear at you skin. It’s easiest to take some secateurs or a big scissors with you and  cut the branches rather than pick the berries as then tend to mush up and create a big mess.

Sadly I won’t be able to cook the jam today as I am busy cleaning the house, getting ready from a visit from the grand dame: my mum. So while my neighbour is preparing her share of the harvest I am mopping the floors, dusting and generally doing a  big clean of my tiny home.

But hopefully I’ll find an hour or two later to turn my spoils into jam, a test run if you will as I have never used these berries before. And if all goes well I’ll be back down the beach next weekend, picking berries in the blustery autumn wind.


feeling Jung


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As some of you may know I am half German, so I just couldn’t resist the little pun in my headline, and no there was nothing untoward or inappropriate touching going on either. But since I met Freud last week in my evening course I thought it was only right to introduce you all to Carl Jung as well.

He started off working along side Freud but over time he began to see things  a little bit different and in the end he split away from his mentor and developed his own way of looking at peoples psyches. He coined the terms Archetype and the Personal unconscious.

However even all my mini-personalities struggle to understand which are shadows and which are self. But in Jungs mind we all have tendencies to be a multitude of things, the archetypes paving the way, our unconscious following suit and only when we break away and find our own inner self can we be free.

By describing our conscious personalities as measurable Jung paved the way for the very common Myers-Briggs Type Indicator that many still use today.

So whether you are an extroverted introvert or your thoughts get mixed up with your feelings, your perception can be judgmental or you overthrow your common sense with your intuition, Jung believed us all to be equal, just to have tendencies that could predict an outcome. Of what I am still unsure but I won’t let that turn into a complex. And since he does have a quote about shoes I just have to love the guy!

The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases. – Carl Jung

Film Review: Captain Phillips


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captain-phillips-450x246Director Paul Greengrass is back and at his very best with his latest film Captain Phillips. Like in Green Zone his focuses on the emotional turmoil his main characters go through, creating a very personal insight into an action driven story.  Based on the book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS, and Dangerous Days at Sea, written by Captain Richard Philips himself, Greengrass’ s film is exciting to watch, a little claustrophobic but always spellbinding.

When Captain Richard ‘Rich’ Phillips  (Tom Hanks) packs his bag to leave his Vermont home to catch a flight to the Middle East, there already is a sense of foreboding.  Once he boards his ship, the massive container ship Maersk Alabama, and leaves Oman bound for Mombasa the unsettling feeling only increases.

It is obvious to all that Captain Phillips wants to get the trip over with as quickly as possible and as soon as they enter the notoriously dangerous waters off the coast of Somalia all his fears are confirmed when two small fishing-boats take up pursuit of the Alabama.

It seems impossible that four armed pirates on a tiny metal boat could ever board and hijack such a massive giant as the Alabama but the do, forcing most off the crew into hiding. As the pirates prowl the ship, Captain Phillips, as the pirates hostage-guide, trying to find the crew-members an intense game of cat-and-mouse ensues.

Of course things go horribly wrong and Captain Phillips finds himself trapped inside a tiny lifeboat in the middle of the ocean with his brutal kidnappers growing more and more unpredictable and restless by the minute.

Captain Phillips lives from both Greengrass’s ever-present camera and Tom Hank’s brilliant performance.  This is Hank’s strongest performance in years and reminds the viewer of his skill. In Captain Phillips Hank plays to his strengths, the everyman who gets caught up in a situation beyond his control. But it is his raw emotions and obvious vulnerability that pulls you in, and his sheer physical reactions in the final scene of the film is reason enough for an Oscar nomination.

And while it is obvious that Hanks is the star of the film the four Somali pirates aren’t just flat characters but each has a story of their own to tell.  All four of them are fishermen, living on the poverty line, for them piracy is a business not a political act.

Captain Phillips keeps all the promises the previews and media fanfare make and is worth every penny for a ticket. And with a lot of rainy days ahead of us  a perfect film to watch.

Ada Lovelace day


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Many may not know her name but Ada Lovelace (Augusta Ada Byron)  wrote what is considered to be the worlds very first computer program. The algorithm was written in 1842 and in 1953, over a 100 years after her death, Ada’s notes on Babbage’s Analytical Engine were republished, recognizing her notes as a description of a computer and software.

She refereed to herself as a poetical scientist and an Analyst & Metapysician, and considering that she is the only legitimate child  of the famous poet Lord Byron that doesn’t seem quite so odd. However her love for maths grew out of her mothers attempt to keep her daughter away from developing what her mother, Anne Isabelle Byron, called her fathers insanity.

But no matter how hard her mother tried, nor how much she excelled at all things in mathematics she still remained attached to her father, even though he left her and her mother shortly after her birth and died when she was only eight years old.  She was even buried next to him in 1852 upon her request.

Ada died young, at the age of 36 (10.12.1815-27.11.1852) from cancer, but her achievements were great and to honour her today is her day:  the Ada Lovelace day!

Founded by journalist Suw Charman-Anderson this day aims to raise the profile of women in science, technology, engineering and maths by encouraging people around the world to talk about the women whose work they admire and to be inspired by their success.

The Analytical Engine weaves algebraic patterns, just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves. – Ada Lovelace

naughty burgers


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Yesterday I spent a thoroughly enjoyable evening out with friends. We started at a tapas-y restaurant and ended it in a cellar bar. The food was delicious but the portion too small as it turned out to be a starter and not a main. However the drinks were good and the chats were even better.

Leaving the tapas place behind we wandered up to a hidden bar below ground, but I have to admit I was feeling a little bit unsatisfied, my tummy wanting more. And while the talk and companionship was more than enough, as the witching hour came and went I couldn’t ignore the grumble in my belly any longer. So after hugs good-bye and a quick stroll on red heels I decided to indulge in a naughty burger before making my way home.

As I sat enjoying my guilty pleasure I noticed how many people seemed to have followed the same impulse and were being just as naughty as I was. There were couples sharing chips, hipsters chomping down on fish-burgers, post-theater goers with a cups of coffee, a homeless man enjoying some chicken nuggets and young girls and boys flirting over milkshakes. I was amazed at the variety of people around me, realising how seldom I frequent fast-food joints.

After I had emptied my tray, and left a few Euros on the homeless mans table, I walked down toward the quays to find a taxi. There was so much life on the streets around me, a mirror image of day-time activity, just slightly distorted. Instead of students, mums with prams and business people there were clubbers, couples and pleasure seekers invading the streets of Dublin. High heels clicking on the asphalt, laughter filling the air and kisses being stolen in archways.

Once I had reached my home, silence hugged me and I made myself  a cup of tea to enjoy a few minutes of the silent night before I went to bed. The taste of the naughty burger still on my tongue making me smile as my tummy was satisfied and so was I.


grey day


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Today is one of those days in Dublin where the sky just seems to be in a bit of a mood and won’t turn on the sun. Clouds hide every patch of possible blue and the light disperses into grey.

It feels like a permanent dusk has descended, time has seemingly dissolved with the light, yet  it hasn’t affected my mood as I quite enjoy this feeling of suspended time. And since grey skies mean lit fires the scrumptious smell of burning turf is in the air creating images of cosy homes and happy hearts in my head.

I know many struggle when the sun goes into hiding but for me it is as though a door between reality and dreams is left on the latch. And with many already decorating their homes for Halloween it seems as anything could happen.

So before I head out to meet up with friend, I think, I will enjoy this grey day a little while longer, my mug of tea warming me from within and the music of Nina Simone as my companion.

Film Review: The Fifth Estate


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the-fifth-estate-benedict-cumberbatch-daniel-bruhl-computer-636-370In the summer Alex Gibney released his documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of the WikiLeaks showing the world what went on behind closed doors of the infamous whistle-blowing website. Now Director Bill Condon shows us his fictional version of the story in his film The Fifth Estate.

Both films try to unravel the story behind WikiLeaks and Julian Assange’s rise and fall and both struggle with all the possible angles. While Gibney just documents what happened, Condon takes some creative leeway and turns the story into something close to a thriller.

When Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl) meets Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) he is fascinated by his single mindedness and desire for total transparency. Soon the two start working together, finding secrets and generating a buzz around the WikiLeaks.

As the website grows and gains followers Julian finds himself trust into the limelight, and enjoying it. But while his fame increases so does his paranoia and secret keeping. Daniel on the other hand struggles to maintain his normal life and while he believes in the importance of their venture he starts to realise that Julian is not all he may seem to be. As the cracks appear in their friendship the secrets they unfold become bigger and more dangerous, they are forced to decide between total transparency or protecting sources and innocents.

The Fifth Estate is based on the book Inside WikiLeaks by Daniel Domscheit-Berg yet it still seems to be in two minds about whether or not Assange is the villain in the story or not. This ambivalent attitude towards the lead character in the film creates a lot of messiness in the plot and leaves quite a few questions unanswered.

That being said Cumberbatch is the perfect choice for the role of Assange. He somehow manages to replicate Assanges unique halting speech patterns, jerky movements and twitchy nervousness without ever just being an imitation. Brühl also finds his stride as his loyal spokesperson and fallen believer towards the end.

The main problem that The Fifth Estate faces is Laura Linney’s role as the fictitious State Department official Sarah Shaw and Stanley Tucci as her right-hand man James Boswell. Somehow their part in the story feels like an ‘ad-on’, just there to show that they US State Department has hypothetical blood on their hands.

Overall The Fifth Estate makes a good attempt at telling modern day story but at times does seem to get carried a way a little with visual concepts, bombarding the viewer with an array of virtual maps, electronic front pages and a virtual office.

The Fifth Estate is filled with ideas but even the extensive 128 minutes just aren’t enough to cover any of them in too much detail. Leaving the viewer with many unanswered questions, one of which is: does Assange really dye his hair?


psyching myself out


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I found out last year that as lecturer, even a part-time one, I can take part in the courses that are offered, for free.

However when I tried to enroll in the spring the course I wanted to take was either full or was cancelled or something so I had to postpone my ‘academic’ curiosity for another year. But yesterday I sat my substantial bottom back on that school bench and listened to the first few hours of “Introduction to Psychology”.

With pen in hand and pad on my lap I was introduced to the father of psycho analysis Sigmund Freud. Of course we have all heard about him and may know a little bit about his theories, especially those who have ended up in our every day vocabulary, but it was very interesting to find out more about the man and his couch.

As the professor told his tales my Id, Ego and Superego all paid attention, quarreling about who was right and who should stay quite, no two ever of the same opinion. But when a guy in the back made a Freudian-slip and said ‘fraud’ instead of ‘Freud’ they all burst into giggles.

So today I feel all psyched out, too many thoughts in my head but I am sure over the next few weeks my grey matter will get use to the exercise and I will be the best of pals with Jung, Skinner, Watson, Pavlov and his dogs.

For now I have to get back to my lecturing duties and prepare, correct and grade but I will make sure to allow my Id a little time to play, my Ego to take a bit of a rest and my Superego to stretch a little.

The voice of the intellect is a soft one, but does not rest until it has gained a hearing. – Sigmund Freud



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Over the last few days the word ‘mancession’ keeps popping up in the Irish Times. You may think, when you read the word for the first time, that it means there is a lack of men in our society, but it doesn’t.

Around 2009, after the global-recession had really found it’s stride and was taking down business with gusto, the term ‘mancession’ was coined to describe the disproportionate amount of men who lost their jobs compared to women.

You could argue that this is mainly down to the decrease of construction related jobs and that there were already fewer women in the workforce, however, somehow, if you read between the lines, it sounds as if men were just hit harder by the downturn.

Now I do understand that losing your job can effect the way you feel about yourself and that low self-worth can lead to more severe psychological problems. But when I read that men are finding it hard to reinvent their position in the household and struggle to find fulfillment in being a stay-at-home dad, it does make me a little bit angry. After all haven’t women been always been doing this because they had to?

I am not married, nor do I have kids but I would expect the modern man to be able to allow their partners to be the main breadwinner and be man enough to rear kids if they have to. But seemingly many Irish men don’t see it that way  and excuse it by  saying that it is due to the traditional role identification models.

I can understand that maybe traditionally men use to work and bring home the bacon while the woman became super-mammy and domestic-goddess in one. But surely life has changed since the sixties enough for people not to expect this to be true anymore, after all half a century has passed and brought a lot of change with it.

Whatever you think about  ‘mancesion’ and what it means, maybe it is just another way of saying that some men just haven’t gone with the times and that no matter how emancipated we think women are in the heads of some men we should still be wearing aprons.

Few are untouched by the ‘mancession – Irish Times 7th October 2013



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