Monday, February 22, 2010


A quick digest of the week's social media news with a side of fun? You're welcome.

Introducing CRUSH, the weekly web-show that takes the news on the social media newsladder and crushes it down to reveal the gems.

In this weeks' edition, we discuss the coincidence of Google releasing Buzz at about the same time they struck a deal with the NSA to share info. No relationship - just like Glenn Beck getting a show on Fox the day before Obama was inaugurated.

Facebook, meanwhile made changes to its privacy settings allowing users more control of what info is shared. That won't help people who choose to share their info though. With the growth of location sharing, there is a new website that points out a nagging issue with letting people know where you are all the time.

On the political side of thigs, this past week marked the one year anniversary of the signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Organizing for America released this video to mark the occasion, and the House Committee on Education and Labor realeased a great video as well. This is not the first time the Ed and Labor committee has turned to creative webvideos to spread a message, and we hope it will not be the last.

Sarah Palin was asked what she thought the biggest threat to America is, and when her supporters shouted 'Obama' she felt the need to clarify that they had said it, not she. She didn't correct them though. If Mrs. Palin cared about 'those little facty things' she and her supporters might want to thumb through the Quadrennial Defense Review, which catalougues the various security threats to the nation as determined by, well, the people who spend their careers assessing threats to our nation.

Need a job?

Finally, this is from Ben Whitehair on Facebook, and it is hilarious:
5 steps to an AWESOME day: Step 1: Go to google maps... Step 2: Search for 39 Rugdeveien, Bergen, Hordaland, Norge Step 3: Zoom in until you get to street view Step 4: Look to the left of the truck and see two men in scooba gear Step 5: Click to make the truck go down the road and watch the men chase the truck....

Remember to post to the Social Media Newsladder, and subscribe to CRUSH on Youtube here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

An Irish Breakfast

An Irish breakfast is basically simple.  Toast, bacon, eggs, sausage, tomato and orange juice, preceded by cereal and followed by tea.  Its the size of it that makes it remarkable. 4 slices of toast, 2 eggs any way you like, two sausage links, a full tomato (cut into quaters), and what must be a full pig's worth of thick sliced bacon.  I never hear the death oink and snort from the kitchen, but every time I have an Irish breakfast, there on my plate (minus hooves and head of course) is basically a full pig.

Such was my breakfast before rushing off to catch the impatient ferry back to the Irish mainland.  As I opened the front door, I was hit with a gust of wind going at least 40 mph!  Gale winds are at least 60 mph.  I looked out at the sea which was choppy to say the least.  I remembered one of the crew on the way over informing me that the ferry will sail in wind or in swell but not both.  He noticed me getting a bit sick on the way out and teased me a bout being from Colorado.

This same sailor was there to greet me as the ferry arrived.  He was holding a mop and wearing a stern expression. I jovially referred to the previous day's conversation asking "no swell today?" referencing the strong wind.  He wet his mop saying "no, bigger swell today."  He turned and mutterd what sounded like "you're in trouble," but I couldn't be sure.  Before I could ask him to repeat, my focus shirfted to the islanders returning home.  They were pale and moved slowly from the boat to the land.

I boarded and was about to put my things down when I noticed what the mop was for.  Puke.  Several of the islanders had succumbed to seasickness an their journey over.  The Irish breakfast rumbled in my stomach.  If islanders - people who were on boats on a regular basis couldn't handle it, I was in trouble.

Freash air is supposed to be the key to staving off seasickness, so out onto the deck I went - Ipod in hand.  We left the calm harbor and steamedinto and Irish Atlantic whipped into a frensy by winds agitating an already formidable swell.

The ferry that travels to Tory Island is probably 100 feet from bow to stern, 40 feet from side to side and generously about 30 feet tall.  It is safe to say that the waves were almost as big.  I began the voyage at the stern - legs spread, knees bent, death-grip on something solid. I did my best to adjust to the pitch and roll of the ship so my stomach wouldn't notice any movement at all.

It was working. We would climb a wave, I would lean forward. We came down the other side, I leaned back. Wave to port, lean left.  Wave to starboard, lean right. Soon there was something new. Two waves came at us in rapid succession. We crest the first and slammed into the second.  The result was a spray of water twice as high as the ship.  Like a pro volley-ball player, as the spray peaked, the wind delighted in spiking it into the faces of the awestruck passengers below.

Several more of these and I was soaked through and freezing. It was time to make a choice: inside to puke, or outside to freeze to death. My travel spirit kicked in: I can puke inside anywhere, but I can only freeze to death from exposure to the frosty North Atlantic here.

Have you heard the phrase "If you go in hard, you won't get hurt?" I never reall knew what it meant, but out of no where, it jumped into my head and I got it loud and clear.  I pulled out my iPod and traded soft instrumental for Rusted Root, Guns and Roses and, so as not to totally lose the flavor of it, some Irish sea chanties!

I turned up the volume and headed for the top deck at the bow of the ship.  Midway up the steps, a huge wave hit starboard and the ship pitched 45 degrees to port.  My feet slipped and adrenalin surged.  Beneath me was no longer the nice, hard deck, but now the rolling white-capped entrance to Davie Jones' locker.  But my grip held, and as the ship righted itself, so did my feet and I scrambled the rest of the way up the steps.

Now the top of the ship, much like a metronome, pitched far more wildly than the bottom, the wind blew harder, and the spray was more frequent, but it didn't matter.  Like the hurricane scene in Forrest Gump, I half sang, half shouted into the wind:

"So have another drink boys,
oh have one with me.
We're home from the sea,
yes we're back on the shore,
(pause to spit our sea water)
 and if you get to drink boys,
 in this company . . ."

On I went.  The ship rolled, the wind blew, the waves crashed, and all to no avail.  When we readed the bay, the water calmed and I came down - dripping wet, shivering, and still humming through a beaming smile.  My sailor friend stopped mid-sentence when he was going to ask me how I did, and said instead, "What got into you?"  I replied, as I stepped off the ship, "Oh, nothing.  Just a good Irish breakfast."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tory Island

There are no bank machines on Tory Island. There are no cows, sheep, video stores, laundrys, or boats really. There is one pub that opens at half eight. There is one store that is open sporatically throughout the day. In winter, there is one room in town to rent (the one I am in).

I'm not sure what people do here. There are jobs at the pier, but only the ferry comes and only five times pre week. It comes, is unloaded, and is gone in the space of 30 minutes. I'm sure two or three people run the lighthouse, and two or three more run the store and the pub - but there are 300 or so people who live her rear round. What do they do? Fish?

I walked all the way around the island today: no boats. At three miles wide and 1/2 mile wide, I covered the whole thing in just three hours. There is no farming, no auto repair. They must rely on the tourist season.

Rumor has it that in the winter the whole town goes to the pub. Unfortunately, I couldn't go tonight. The room (and two meals) is costing me €38. That, added to a €22 return ferry ticket exactly exhausts the cash I have here. Well, all but about c.84 - not enough for coffee.

Having been wet outside and cold inside, my house hosts keep a closed door between me and them with the strict exception of when they are serving me food. So with no hope for conversation there, and not a Euro to spare, I rallied my spirits to brave the unrelenting rain for a midnight walk.

Outside I went where I quickly realized that the sogginess of the ground would make my walk a bit more of a trudge, and clouds that seemed a mile thick dashed my hopes for moonlight. In fact, as I truged away from the town, headed for the pier on the SE point of the island, the only lights to be seen were the far-off lights of Northern Ireland (accross three miles of water) and the relaxed, rythmic flash of the lighthouse on the other end of the island.

Upon reaching the pier, I was thourally soaked, but oddly warm. I stood watching the tide come in. Somehow the vast blackness of the water seemed very inviting like the emergency exit lever in the back of an airplane when your bladder is about to burst waiting in the que for the toilet.

As I was starting to seriously consider whether I could survive a cliff dive and a three mile swim, I snapped out of my transe and I started to trudge back to town. The night had become foggy and I was now walking toward the lighthouse. It began to facinate me. First off, because of the fog I could see its beam for the entirety of its slow circle. Oddly, I write 'slow.' I suppose it did seem slow for its entire revolution except the instant it shone on me. Then it seemed to fly by extreemly fast. Staring at the liight, my mind began to wander and I soon found myself making light saber noises whenever the beam passed me. The notion that the lighthouse and I were engaged in combat prevaded my thoughts.

It seemed we were each showing our stuff in an effort to intimidate the other. Hand signals changed to strange faces which evolved into full-body flailing in an effort not to be outdone by my rotating opponent.

As I was jumping about, I noticed another light - this one behind me. Another lighthouse come to join the frey? Had my opponent called for backup? I was ready for anything. I was jsut about to launch a sneak attack on this newcomer light when a thick Irish accent called out asking if I needed ride. I sheepishly ceased my attack preparations and thanks the driver for his kindness but declined. The bewildered driver nodded, rolled up his window and drove on.

Back in my head, I declared victory as the other lights ran away down the road in front of me. Like a combatant in a dojo, I bowed to my enemy and truged back into town. I'm not sure, but I think I may have gotten a taste of what people do here.