Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Talking Technology: The Beginning

Today I did something I've been wanting to do for a long time: I squished together the two halves of the original Talking Technology cartoon and traced over it to make it easier to read and see. Ta-daaaaa! The original cartoon and corresponding blog post can be found here.

I've decided to post the Talking Technology cartoons on my deviantART page, which can be found here. There's not much there that you haven't already seen on my blog, but I thought it might be nice to have all the cartoons together in one place. Also, I thought it might be nice to use dA for something other than lurking and looking at other people's art. Might as well, right?

Digital Paradise

Because we haven't had a "What's Internet?" joke with Blue yet.

I'm back home in the United States! That means that both Red and Blue are on vacation and loving it. Somehow they've managed to get beyond the language barrier. iPhone helped them out in the beginning. He wasn't too crazy about the idea, but Red managed to convince him.

Fun Fact: The Irish say "Thanks a million" all the time. It's awesome!!!

I got some Sharpie pens today and I wanted to try them out. So you guys get a comic! Yay!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Rude iPhones

We all know that moment- when you're sitting in a quiet room listening to someone lecture or give a speech and someone pulls out their iPhone to check the time but accidentally holds down the button too long and--


Siri is cool and all, but she can be awfully rude sometimes. It's even worse when you're in a foreign country and you don't have service. Then, instead of dinging, Siri all but screams, "Siri is unavailable."

This happened to someone in class the other day. My iPhone was offended.


It's Monday. The weekend's over. You're downing the coffee and struggling to get through work or classes or band camp. The sky isn't blue-- it's precisely the shade of Monday Blah. You know what you need?

Some pictures of Ireland.

And I, your globetrotting blogger, am here to give you exactly that! I'm taking a break from my studying/paper writing/reading to finally upload my pictures of my excursion to the Dingle Peninsula. That's the weekend before this one that just ended. They're hard to mix up, you see. The Dingle weekend was really fun. This past weekend I didn't do much of anything fun.

Friday morning I threw some stuff in a backpack (packing a towel and shampoo, having learned from my previous stay at a hostel) and I walked to the university, where I got on a tour bus. Then we drove for a long time. I passed the time by sleeping, trying (and failing) to read Ulysses, and playing Angry Birds: Star Wars. I had just gotten the app because I follow Angry Birds on Facebook and saw the announcement that it was free last week. Woohoo!

We stopped for lunch at a sort of historical park where they had a castle. While most people went straight to the pub, some friends and I explored the park a little bit.

We saw some big, hairy dogs.

There's the castle.

You can bet we climbed to the very top and reenacted that scene from Monty Python.

"I use antlers in all of my decorating!"

I believe this was a small chapel.

View from the top of the castle. For the record, the staircases in that place are awful. Skinny, spiral staircases with terrible handrails. We discussed how that was better for defense, since basically all you had to do was stand at the top of the staircase and poke all the people coming up with a long spear so they tumbled back down and took everyone with them.

The construction of the castle (and weird, antler-y art) set it apart from most of the castles I saw in France. Most of those castles had been bought by wealthy people and refurbished to look fancy or built later in history with style and bragging rights in mind instead of defense. They had a lot of big windows and aesthetically pleasing decorations.

This castle, on the other hand, was made for defense. The windows were small and the outside was plainer and brick-like, very solid. And you can't forget the aforementioned staircases.

Decorations inside the pub

Pretty scenery through the bus window as we arrived in town.

We arrived at the hostel, which frankly seemed more like a hotel or bed and breakfast. They actually provided towels and shampoo, which made me a little grumpy. I ended up sharing a room with the three other girls in the group from my university, which was really nice considering they crammed fifteen girls into another room.

We had the rest of the evening to ourselves. We went to a seafood place, then Murphys Ice Cream, which is an ice cream parlor with a wall full of prestigious awards. I got a cone with one scoop of chocolate and one scoop of Bailey's flavored ice cream. The ice cream was good, but waaaaay too expensive to make a habit of it. I guess when you have a wall full of awards you can charge whatever you want for your ice cream. At any rate, it was really cool to actually go to an ice cream parlor. I've been to a ton of ice cream stores or shops in my life, but how often do you get to go to an ice cream parlor? After the ice cream, we went to a pub and listened to some traditional Irish music. That was pretty fun.

The next morning, we had to get up early for breakfast (which a lot of people skipped, but not me because I like free breakfasts) and to get back on the bus to tour around the Dingle Peninsula.

This is an early Christian hut, often associated with beehives. It's a little newer than some of the other ones we saw. You can tell because it has a roof.

A slightly older beehive hut. This hut was constructed by stacking rocks on top of each other. There was no mortar or any other adhesive involved. The main room was built and then other rooms were added on. I'd like to see exactly how they created the doorways. It must have been like a massive and very dangerous game of Jenga...

And now please enjoy some pretty seaside scenery!

We went down to the beach. I took off my shoes and walked around in the sand and surf. It was a lot warmer that day than it was during my visit to the beach at Saint-Malo.

There's me! I definitely enjoyed the uncharacteristically warm and sunny weather.

That's the weird thing about this trip. The weather's never quite been right. It was cold and rainy in France, it's been warm and sunny in Ireland... Not that I'm complaining about nice weather, of course.

This is an early Christian church. Like the beehive huts, it was built by stacking rocks on top of each other, although I think some type of mortar might have been used here. After centuries and centuries it's still standing and largely waterproof. That's pretty impressive.

A newer-but-still-old Christian church

This stone has the Irish alphabet carved on it.

This stone is an old sun dial. Now it's positioned wrongly to tell the time, unfortunately. Since the typical weather in Ireland doesn't include much sun, this sun dial is a bit extravagant and implies that the monks out here had some wealth.

That was a very long day of sightseeing. Unfortunately, I had to go around with two tour buses' worth of people, most of whom couldn't care less about the historical artifacts or thousand-year-old buildings and just wanted to go back to the hostel so they could take a nap and then go out and drink all night. Disgraceful. I was ashamed to be with them. But I really enjoyed seeing the cool history and all the beautiful scenery. That's just not something you get to see every day, you know?

When we got back in town, we browsed around and did a little shopping. I bought a penny whistle from a music shop. It's sort of similar to a recorder. I can almost play Frere Jacques now. After hitting the shops, we went back to the hostel for a little down time. I tried (and failed) to read Ulysses. Then the majority of the group from my university went out to a nice restaurant. It was a little pricy, but the food was sublime. I had a really good food buzz going on, and everyone else seemed to be in a really good mood, too. 

Afterward, we went to a bar and listened to some more traditional Irish music. We left that bar and ducked into another one because the band we had seen the night before was in there. They played a better show that night than they had the night before. They even played "The Rattlin' Bog," the song I learned in Dublin! An Irish guy tried to get me to go have a drink with him at another bar, but I was a little wary of leaving the group and, to be honest, I had a hard time understanding his really thick accent, so I had to decline. Still had a really fun night.

The next day we got up early, I ate my free breakfast, and then we all got on the bus to go home. I tried (and succeeded!) to read Ulysses. We stopped in Limerick for a lunch break. Everyone in the town was wearing a green jersey-- we found out that there was a big sporting match going on. I think it was hurling, and it was a quarterfinal or a semifinal match or something like that. A big deal. It reminded me of Saturdays on my campus during football season, when the whole world turns up wearing crimson and starts barbecuing stuff. It was a cool atmosphere.

I went that whole weekend without Internet, so it was kind of a relief when I got home and was able to talk to my parents, check Facebook, and do all that other stuff we people do in this day and age. It was a fun trip, though. Definitely glad we went.

Whew! There's the last of my big trips. I have one or two more blog posts planned, and I have, like, three days left in my country, so I'm going to be basically blogging at the speed of light. Time flies when someone keeps making you read Ulysses! It's actually a weird sort of flying-time situation. Time flies all around you, but it trudges by painfully slowly in the room in which you're trying to read. After thirty minutes you realize you're not even halfway done with the chapter and it becomes plainly obvious that you're never going to get caught up in time for class, and in the meantime students from other schools are walking by outside, on their way to town or the pubs, or playing Frisbee, or sitting in the sun, or laughing and chatting with their friends...

Thankfully, though, we English majors can make a good time out of reading Ulysses. Sometimes there's food and... beverages involved.

I bet right now you're wondering "Jeez! When is she going to wrap this post up? How long can she possibly ramble about every single thought that crosses her mind?!"

The answer: infinitely. But I won't. I guess I just didn't realize until now how much I missed blogging! There have been sooooo many obstacles, like Ulysses, class, papers, Angry Birds, restaurants, falling asleep, forgetting, laptop being out of operation...

Oh. For the record, I still haven't bought a new power adapter and I'm just not going to. At this point, it can wait until I get back home. Thank God for smartphones.

The rambling ends here, my friends. Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Aran Islands

Hello to all! I am back in the world of Internet after my weekend excursion, but I am not yet back in the world of Having A Functional Laptop Charger, so I'm once again uploading my photos with the Blogger iPhone app and finishing posts in the library.

Once upon a time I mentioned the Blogger app in a post and I feel like I was a little critical of it. That was just the charter bus frustration talking, you guys. The Blogger app is fantastic. I don't like to use it for longer blog posts 'cause-- hey, who likes typing essays with their thumbs? But I find it's the easiest way to put the photos I take with my iPhone on my blog, and it really does work quite well for me. So if you use Blogger and you have an iPhone, go get the app! It's free and it really does come in handy!

I'm not getting paid to say that, I swear. I'm just eternally grateful for the app since I've had limited use of my laptop lately. I can hear you all saying it now: Rebecca, when are you going to quit complaining about your laptop charger and go buy a new one? I will, I will! ...eventually. Probably sooner rather than later, because I need my laptop to write a few papers in the next week or so.

Anyway- back to the topic of my weekend excursion!

I went to the Aran Islands this weekend. Specifically, I went to one of the Aran Islands -  Inis Mór. We left the university on a double-decker bus (yeah, I thought they only had those in England, too) and drove to the ferry. After... I don't know, an hour? on the ferry, we arrived on the island. The first place we visited was a bike rental place, where every single one of us hopped on a bike. Then we rode around three and a half miles to a visitor center-type area with a few shops and a cafe.

That was probably the best bike ride of my life. It wasn't too hot and the hills weren't too bad, and the scenery was absolutely gorgeous. When people say Ireland is beautiful, they aren't kidding. I started off at the back of the pack, but I Tour de France'd my way up towards the center, passing the slower people until I found a place where I could ride at a comfortable place without worrying about crashing into other people. The wind rushed by, and the sea crashed and rolled on my right, while cows and horses grazed in pastures with the safety of stone walls on my right. It was fantastic.

When I reached the cafe, I had a simple ham and cheese sandwich and a piece of carrot cake, along with a bottle of water. Amazing what exercise does to your appetite.

After lunch and a bit of time browsing the shops (unfortunately, I didn't have enough money to buy a famous Aran sweater), we walked up to the fort and the cliffs. So I took a bus to a boat, a boat to a bike, and a bike to a place where they said I had to get off and walk the rest of the way.

I know some of you are only here for the pictures, so I'll switch over to picture/caption mode. (Also, the library closes in two minutes, so I gotta hurry.)

The bus ride on the way to the ferry.

Walking from the visitor center to the fort.

The fort! Super old. Like, this goes back to Viking times. And it's still there!

Thick stone walls, what used to be a door, and the tour guide's dog who pretty much owns the place.

The land pretty much stops. Like, it's a complete drop-off. Notice that there are no walls or guard rails.

The view of the ocean was so beautiful.

I got down and belly-crawled to the edge of the cliff. I took this picture while peeking over the edge (and praying I didn't drop my iPhone). It's about 160 feet down. We dropped a few rocks over the side, and someone estimated it took them about ten seconds to hit the water. It's kinda scary leaning over the edge like that... but completely worth it.

Here's me being all brave and standing close to the edge.

I went a little more slowly on the bike ride back to the ferry. I stopped to smell the roses and say hello to a few horses.

I tried taking a few pictures while riding the bike, but 1) The pictures didn't come out well, and 2) That was probably the stupidest idea I've had in my entire life.

I got off the bike to take pictures. Unfortunately, I was tired out from my first bike ride, so the ride back to the ferry was a lot harder. It didn't help that it was uphill most of the way. I did pretty well, considering it had probably been at least a year since the last time I rode a bike. I only had to get off and walk the bike up one hill because it was Just Too Steep.

I bought a little ice cream before I got back on the ferry. Mint chocolate chip. Deelicious.

And after that the story gets boring. We went back home. The End.

Ahhh, but it was a really fun trip. Probably the most fun excursion of my entire time abroad. So, so, so much fun.

Thanks for tuning in! Over the next few days I'll try to make it back here and post about my excursion to the Dingle Peninsula and a few things I've noticed around the city of Galway! Can't do it today because the library's technically been closed for eleven minutes, but I'll do my best to post again tomorrow. I've got to hurry up with this blogging business, though, because I have less than two weeks left in Ireland! Aaah! But I just got here! It's not fair!

...what on earth am I going to blog about when I get back home?

Thursday, July 11, 2013


Last Friday after we finished our morning classes, a bunch of people from my group hopped on a bus and went to Dublin. We some some sights, saw some pubs, spent the night in a youth hostel, saw some more sights, and hopped on a bus to come back home to Galway.

Travel tip: Don't expect a hostel to be like a hotel. They might be able to give you towels and shampoo, but you'll probably have to pay for them. Other than that, hostels are pretty cool. It's fun to stay there with a group, and it's a lot less expensive than staying in a hotel.

We got to hear some traditional Irish folk music in one of the pubs we visited. The band they had was really great! A guy I met asked me to dance, so we pretended like we knew how to jig for a song, and then I joined everyone in the pub in singing along with the band: "O, ro! The rattlin' bog! The bog down in the valley-o!" Now, that was fun. Irish pubs know how to have a good time.

Take a look at some pictures!

Words of wisdom from Homer Simpson, a man who would be right at home in a Dublin pub.

The River Liffey, which runs through Dublin. I found it was very similar to the way the Seine runs through Paris.

There were lots of cathedrals and old, fancy buildings to see.

We went to the Guinness brewery... of course! This place is like the Chocolate World of beer. The name Guinness has about the same amount of importance here as Walt Disney does in the U.S. Which is to say, lots.

Here's me in an old Guinness ad!

And here's me trying to be part of another old Guinness ad! In the original ad, this guy is running away from a lion. My goodness! My Guinness!

I learned how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. That's my handiwork, right there. Ain't it beautiful? There's a detailed process involved with pouring a pint of Guinness. You can't just pour some beer in a glass, you know.

It doesn't get much more official than that.

Since we're in Ireland to study James Joyce, of course we had to stop at the James Joyce Centre. It was pretty cool. They had some interesting stuff in there.

This is what one of Joyce's bedrooms would have looked like. My bedroom kind of looks like that... Great! That means I'm on the right track to become a famous writer!

I'd really love to take this close-up of Joyce and set it as the lock screen on someone's phone, really freak 'em out...

There's a huge mural of Ulysses out in the courtyard. This is just a small part of it.

St. Patrick's cathedral. Pretty nice. I had a lovely nap in the park next door to it, right in the shade of the bell tower.

Hope you guys enjoyed the pictures! Sorry I'm a bit behind, but as you read in this blog post, I have a good reason for it. I've got two more blog posts queued up in my brain, so keep an eye out for those in the next week or so! Tomorrow I'll be leaving to go to Dingle for the weekend, so I won't be able to post anything until Monday at the earliest. Sorry... But know that I'll be taking lots of cool pictures to share!

Ah, Technical Difficulties, We Meet Again

So I've got this laptop. It's a Dell. Say whatever you want- I really like Dell laptops. My very first personal laptop was a Dell. I got it when I was in sixth grade, I believe, and it was a hand-me-down-- already a few years old. It didn't even have a functional battery. I had to keep it plugged into the wall. But that laptop was pure gold in my eyes. I wrote my first novel on that hunk o' junk-- the first draft was sixty pages! I haven't written anything that long since. I have a feeling that that laptop didn't connect to the Internet... not sure, but if it didn't, then that probably had something to do with the success of my lengthy writing project.

...where the heck am I going with this? Ah, yes. I like Dells. I've been using Dell laptops for almost half my life and you're not going to convince me that they're bad, so save your breath/typing muscles. (People often disagree with my choice in laptop brand. I'm a little sensitive.)

Anyway. I've got this laptop. It's a Dell. I actually got this laptop free from my university as a part of a hefty scholarship package. So I guess it wasn't free as much as I paid for it with my blood, sweat, tears, and the surrender of my social life in high school. It isn't the fanciest thing in the world, but it's pretty close. A very adequate piece of machinery. Been using it for two years and it hasn't let me down.

Until now.

I've taken that laptop and its charger cord (which I have recently learned is actually called a power adapter-- thanks, Dad) all over creation. Back and forth to the library, across campus, on car trips, through airport security and on airplanes, and to Europe. It has survived amazingly well.

However, on Monday morning I packed up my laptop and brought it to class with me, planning to sit in the library to recharge it while I worked on something. That didn't end up happening, so I just went home. That evening, as the battery dropped down to the yellow-blinky-light level, I pulled out the power adapter and plugged it in.

The laptop did not start charging.

I checked everything. I made sure the power outlet was turned on, the power converter and plug were securely plugged in, the parts of the adapter were firmly put together, the battery wasn't loose... I even pulled out the battery and blew into its socket-thingy to get rid of any dust. I mean, if it works for video games, why not? But nothing worked.

Luckily, one of the guys in my group has the same scholarship and therefore the same laptop as I do. I plugged in my laptop using his power adapter, and the laptop began to charge. From this I deduced that the problem was the power adapter and not the battery. At first I thought this was excellent, since I could simply buy another power adapter and use the other guy's adapter until I got one. But today I realized that, if it were the battery that weren't working, I would probably be able to use my laptop as long as I kept it plugged into the wall (like my very first laptop), with no need to constantly borrow the other guy's charger. Pros and cons to each situation, I guess.

So that's why there haven't been a lot of blog posts lately. I'm trying to use my laptop as little as possible so that I can make the battery last as long as possible between visits to the guys' apartment to borrow an adapter. As a matter of fact, I am writing this blog post from a computer in the university's library. And just to add insult to injury, this keyboard is weird. It's a QWERTY keyboard, not like the AZERTY keyboards in France that were just impossible to type on, but there are just enough differences that it's making it difficult to type. I don't know if this is a typical Ireland/England keyboard or what, but the @ symbol and # symbol are in different places, the shift key is tiny and I keep accidentally hitting Caps Lock instead, and the enter key... You know how on Guitar Hero the orange key is really hard to hit because you have to stretch your pinky out super far? Yeah, that's about what I'm dealing with here.

I've got a couple of great blog posts lined up. I just need to be able to write them. The school computers aren't letting me upload pictures, so I'm going to have to go back and forth between the computer and my iPhone app a bit. Hopefully this will all work out!