Category Archives: Life

My faithful friends


Enough books to keep you busy on a cold night

Some might even call them children. When in doubt, there is always the consolation of philosophy… or the consolation of books, at least. I find myself in a very strange place: I have far too many books for one man, and yet I feel as if I need more. This is not, I hope you understand, an impulsive binge-buying outlet, but rather my own little attempt at gathering my interests. I haven’t even read all of the ones I have, although in some cases I never will as that particular fancy has drifted off.

Perhaps it’s the simple fact that there is so much to be learned from books (I love learning). Perhaps I like how the occasional colourful turn of phrase keeps me interested (here’s a nice passage from Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Agent, where an anarchist dwells on the futility of his endeavours: “He drank and relapsed into his peculiarly close manner of silence. The thought of a mankind as numerous as the sands of the seashore, as indestructible, as difficult to handle, oppressed him. The sound of exploding bombs was lost in their immensity of passive grains without an echo.”) Perhaps there’s an element of the collector in me (I especially like the Thames & Hudson and Norton Critical Edition series).


This collection was one of my biggest splurges. Only time will tell if it was a sound investment.

Whatever the root cause of my acquisitions, spending the last day or so cataloguing and tabulating my small library — because it has expanded in the last three years and some have gone missing — has put me more in touch with what had, for some time, been mere volumes on the shelves. Small flashes of memory and connection as I thumbed through a tome looking for some small detail or description. Paths abandoned for lack of time, others for diminished interest. And yet above all else came the feeling that this is not the end of it, even if I never read every book in full. There will be more additions, and there are decades yet ahead of me to pursue new and even more obscure interests.

But where will I put them all?

Links o' the day, 3/10/08

Sarah Winterburn wonders why Roy Keane is immune from criticism despite spending £30m on players and still being mid-table.

Rick O’Shea has links to 10 divinely designed churches.

Get your hands on a piece of dictatorial luxury: Saddam’s rocket-launching yacht is for sale.

It’s going to take over from Vista and you know Microsoft is going to give it a major push, so best take a look at Windows 7’s features (with video). And don’t forget Windows Azure.

It seems like a trivial quibble, but boot times are just too long in a world accustomed to instant gratification.

Tell Paulo what you think the world will be like in 12 months’ time.

I’m rapidly running out of energy.

The sights of home

This, which I took while out walking, is not near my home, but is still the kind of leafy sight that greets me in the mornings (minus the shell).

Damp leaves are piling up on the front lawn and I even see the occasional flicker of frost on parked cars and shaded patches of grass. It isn’t raining, but the air holds no warmth.

Winter is back, and I’m feeling the cold more than ever before. This from a man who hails from a country the Romans once dismissed as “icy Hibernia”, and where the people were driven to savagery by the constant cold.

I wonder how much Abu Dhabi changed my physiology: I acclimatised quite well, in fact better than I had expected, thanks in part to arriving in December and so being around as the temperature climbed. But although I grew to handle 42C and even higher, I feel the chill in the mornings here. Even when the temperature is about 13C – good for this time of year – it nips a touch too much; this is a new experience for me.

I’ve found myself buying and, more importantly, wearing jumpers and the like, which I wouldn’t normally do until the dead of December. As I walked to work the other day I realised my hands were turning purple from the cold – and it wasn’t as bad as it could be.

Can one re-acclimatise to one’s native environment? Is it psychological? Did I feel all this before but am only now, with the benefit of experiencing a different climate, able to appreciate and define it?

As I write this it is 36C in Abu Dhabi and 7C in Cork. Before my departure I would never have thought that 36C would be lovely weather.

Funny because it's true

Such is the power and curse of wireless broadband and mobile phones. Before my Nokia somethingorother’s internet speed slowed to a crawl and it could no longer access Facebook, I would frequently check my Gmail and friends’ statuses before dragging myself out of bed. I’m not sure if I should lament or celebrate this turn of events.