2010 in review

Posted: January 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,300 times in 2010. That’s about 6 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 29 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 6 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 24mb.

The busiest day of the year was March 29th with 93 views. The most popular post that day was The Importance of being Ignorant.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, twitter.com, alphainventions.com, healthfitnesstherapy.com, and digg.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for sexonwheelz, sex on wheelz blog, sexonwheelz twitter, googol sexe, and the closest shave.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

The Importance of being Ignorant March 2010
3 comments

2

The Triumph of the Human Spirit March 2010
1 comment

3

About Sex on Wheelz March 2010

4

Googol: 10 to the power of 100 April 2010
6 comments

5

Divine Intervention May 2010
2 comments

COMING SOON!

A review on Derren Brown’s books and on the subject of hypnotism in modern psychology.

Rolling, rolling, rolling on a river.

Posted: December 19, 2010 in Uncategorized

As a new student to UCC this October, I was faced with many choices regarding which clubs and societies to join. Thinking that, being a college student, I would have plenty of time on my hands; how naive I was; I decided that taking part in a new sport would be a good idea. I have always been heavily involved in some form of sport, whether it has been doing athletics or swimming, having competed on Irish teams in both disciplines. Of course the first port of call for any prospective club member is the Clubs’ Open Day. It was at this year’s open day that I was introduced to my newest pass-time.

            On that particular day it was the UCC Canoe Club that took the prize for the best stand in the exhibition and that captured my interest. Having sailed before and being a swimmer I was well accustomed to water-sports and I am a fan of the water, although not as much at this time of the year, so the canoe club was definitely the right place for me.

            The first day at a new club, meeting new people can be daunting for the most extroverted person and I was no exception. I suppose I was apprehensive about the sport itself, would I be able to cope? Would I be able to paddle in a straight line? On the first day the answer to that second question would have been a resounding no, but I can honestly say that I coped very well with the new sport. This was in my opinion, a direct result of the capable hands into which I was placed in the club as a fresher, or what is affectionately known amongst experienced members of the club as a “swimmer”. The canoe club members are some of the most helpful, understanding people I have met since my induction to UCC. I’m sure you all can understand the apprehension a “swimmer” might feel towards their first day paddling. Kayaking is, after all, an extreme sport. However the experienced members of the team are highly qualified to instruct newer members and I have never felt unsafe in the water around them.

Since my first day on the water I have, I hope, improved in leaps and bounds. The club offers two different types of sessions each week. Each Friday we go out on the river Lee, meeting behind the Mardyke Arena to practice our river technique. On Wednesdays we are given the chance to perfect the more difficult skills in the less challenging and admittedly much warmer waters of the Mardyke Swimming Pool. I have used these sessions to my advantage and hope to achieve the holy grail of kayaking skills; the roll; after the Christmas Holidays. For a demonstration of this elusive technique try Youtube, those of you with a sensitive disposition are advised not to view content featuring rapids! The club encourages constant improvement and I am delighted to say that I was one of many freshers to pass the level two kayaking exam in December.

Not only does the club offer these training days but there are also opportunities to compete in the several races that take place in Ireland and in competitions such as Varsities which will take place in Cork in February. These are not the only events available to a Canoe Club member. In November I went on my first kayaking trip with the canoe club to Kerry on what is affectionately known as Jack’s weekend. This weekend included a more challenging river trip down the Upper Carragh, traversing a particularly rocky stretch of river which has been nicknamed the “Graveyard” for the benefit of the already terrified new members. We also had the chance to try kayak surfing on Inch strand, although, for me, there was more capsizing than surfing. Another trip to Kerry was organised to celebrate the New Year this December where some sub-zero paddling, or tobogganing in any case, was enjoyed.  Kayaking is actually a far more diverse sport than most people would give it credit for. As I have mentioned already, there are river races, long distance races and kayak surfing, for the showmen and women among us there is free-styling, where a kayaker gets to showcase all his tricks, like cart-wheeling, and for those who enjoy a team sport there is polo.

So it seems that the canoe club has something for everyone, except canoes, technically we all paddle in kayaks but let’s not be fastidious. Yet still there will be people reading this that will think they wouldn’t be capable of kayaking. For me, finding a new sport was harder than most. I am wheelchair bound after all, so unfortunately I was never going to get that premiership contract. Yes, my disability makes kayaking a little more difficult, rivers were, surprisingly not made with wheelchair access in mind. I have learned throughout my life that anything worth having is worth working for, being a member of the canoe club is definitely worthwhile and the effort I put in to it does come to fruition. Of course, I could have done nothing without the help I have received from the ever-willing Canoe Club members. It just goes to show that kayaking can be a sport for everyone and that anything is possible with a little help. Having been well and truly inducted into the ranks of the canoe club I was recently made one of the Canoe Club fresher reps, for this reason I am keen to get as many new freshers to join the sport in the new season. Therefore if you are reading this and are still reluctant to try it out because you think you cannot possibly do it, remember that if I can do something anyone can. All it takes is some determination.

When I went in search of a new sport this year, I wasn’t merely looking for another form of exercise, I wanted a new social outlet also. The other members of the Canoe Club are not merely instructors and fellow swimmers to me anymore, they have become friends. The thing that struck me when I went away to Kerry with the club is the number of ex members who still meet to go paddling together. Though they have left UCC and now have jobs all over the country, these ex members still feel attached to the club and its members. I know that when I have left UCC and have become qualified I will also feel that same sense of belonging to the club and I hope that I will remain friends with all the other kayakers.

Having passed the level two exam, I will start to teach new members of the club after Christmas. I am excited to meet a new group of fresh kayakers and make even more friends. If you are one of those new members in the New Year please do not hesitate in introducing yourself, you won’t be able to miss me, I’ll be the only kayaker on wheels! Hopefully I will master the roll soon and after that nothing will be able to get in my way, bring on the Alps!

The diagnostic essay is a tool employed by many universities across a wide range of subjects, although it is primarily used in english classes. These are used in order to establish the standard of english present in a student, presumably so that the writer’s style can be examined before more important assignments are set. The major flaw with these essays however, is that they are often merely set as a “diagnostic essay” where no formal topic question is asked. The student is given free rein to write on either any subject or any piece of media/literature they desire. This often leads to unrefined essays, as you may read below. The worst part of the diagnostic essay is that a mark is unobtainable, if there is no topic question, a grade can not be decided upon. Instead of reading this piece as a college assignment, I would ask that you view it as my tribute to a legendary film. My personal favourite, the matrix is perhaps one of the oddest films ever created. Its obscurities reflect the non-sensical essay title for which this article was written.

The Matrix, released in 1999 on the brink of a new millennium was a blockbusting new cinema phenomenon. As we looked into the future, facing a new century and a new age of technology, the Matrix was an outlook on the race we had become, a power-hungry people constantly in search of newer and more powerful technology, technology that was capable of both creation and the benefit of our people, but also of terrible destruction. As we entered into a new age in our history, this film, despite its roots in farfetched science fiction, raised important questions on what we would become as human beings, issues which, eleven years later, still apply to us.

First of all the film poses an age-old philosophical question of what is real? For centuries we have pondered over this question, asking ourselves whether we can view our world empirically, taking what we sense through our ears and eyes as real. In the matrix, the Wachowski brothers propose that we cannot. The matrix itself is a fake world, created electronically by humans who are jacked into, or linked to it. Thus a perfect alternate reality is created, seemingly real, but completely fake. The world of the matrix seems real to its inhabitants, but in truth is an invention of their own brains. One man, John Anderson, is awoken to this reality by a group of renegades, determined to bring an end to the dreamlike world of the matrix. In the film he is forced to question what is real and imaginary and through his journey we are caused to question our own existence.

The film also raises a question of morality and ethics. In this film the main character, John Anderson, also known as Neo or ‘The One’, is opposed by two major antagonists. These appear in the form of ‘agents’ corrupted programmes originally made to police the world of the matrix and to protect the minds of the people connected to it. Because of their mindless obedience to their programming the agents have become a totalitarian force, more interested in law and order than the safety of their charges, the human race. The second group of antagonists are the sentinels, machines that were created in the real world and equipped with artificial intelligence, however, because of this intelligence, they developed a sense of self-preservation and realising that the human race were a threat to their existence, they began to wage war on them. Therefore the matrix had to be created to escape the adversity of this war. The creation of these threats raises the question is the creation of artificial intelligence ethical? It is ironic that human kind’s greatest invention becomes it’s greatest threat.

This issue parallels with our own dilemmas of pollution and global warming. Our own greatest technological inventions such as the car and airplane have become a cause of detriment to our environment. In fact, the Wachowskis mirror this issue more concisely in one example in the film, where a character explains to Neo, that it was humans who ‘scorched the sky’. Knowing that the sentinels draw power from the sun, humans used powerful technology to cause an endless thunderstorm, blotting out the sun and killing all organic life on earth. In retaliation, the machines began to use human electronic impulses, as ‘batteries’ to power themselves. This, I felt was a clever critique on the way we have abused our environment in the past. In fact, in one scene, an ‘agent’ tells Anderson that one cannot classify humans as mammals, but that to class humankind as a virus would be more suitable. We enter an environment, abuse it and drain it of its resources, then move onto the next ‘host’ to repeat the cycle.

Although this film is primarily a sci-fi thriller, it also presents us with some food for thought about the way we perceive the world around us and the way we live and interact with our environment. This film is  about the awakening of one’s senses and one’s mind to the world one lives in. Just as the race that was collectively connected to a massive computer in the matrix, we too are interconnected by the planet we share and this film stimulates us to think more on the subject of interconnectedness and culpability for our actions. As the wise Chief Seattle once said “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” Not only are the Wachowski brothers thought-provoking philosophers, they are awe-inspiring artists and they present their points amid scenes of breath-taking special effects and heart-stopping action, making this one of the most entertaining and rousing films in modern times.

Sometimes I feel I have to bend over backwards to please people.

Technoholic?

Posted: July 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

Hi, I’m Dave and I’m a facebook addict.

*HI DAVE*

I think I use the internet for more and more reasons these days. I’m on blogs, forums, chat rooms, instant messengers, facebook and twitter. But I’m not on bebo, because we all know that that is only for the tweens and paedophiles these days.

It started off quite innocently when I was probably twelvish, starting off with a bebo account at my friends behest. It was all very pleasant in the first place, just a few comments to friends here and there, you know to stay in touch, (twenty seconds after coming home having been out all day with them.) You know, the usual. But within months it became a small obsession, slightly addictive. Suddenly having an account became competitive. It was all about how many friends you had or how many views you got.

Not that much has changed. Now I dedicate my net time to facebook statuses and apparently pointless, unnecessary tweets. (Let’s be fair though, in times before twitter if one went into the middle of the street and shouted *Brushing teeth now, going for a walk with the dog later to escape the in-laws LOL*. They would have been committed.) Instead of being worried about how many bebo friends I have and how many bebo views I had today, I’m now concerned with how many facebook contacts I have and the amount of traffic I’m getting on this blog. You may think I’m completely sad to be rating my life on facebook stats but have you never had someone block you on facebook and just for a second thought “well were not friends in real life now either!” ?

Let’s face it though, I might have three hundred facebook friends, at least fifty per cent of which I never communicate with (if you’re one of those people reading this feel free to send an instant message some time to let me know you’re still alive.) and that’s great. But it’s a real ego killer when Hitler has more facebook friends than you do…

But yes, facebook does truly cater to the bruised ego. One can even find like-minded people by starting groups, or give into their own attention seeking nature in any case. I, thinking I’m absolutely hilarious, decided to start a group entitled “things you probably shouldn’t say to disabled people” (you can find this on facebook still) and it all went off to a great start. Until one of my best friends said “So have your parents ever thought of euthanasia?”

Total ego killer. Facebook is a double-edged sword. If anyone reading this has not yet succumbed to the machine that is facebook, I suggest you block it from your pc permanently, forget about it, never even open an account. Facebook, twitter, forums, they start off innocently, as a means of filling up that extra time you weren’t going to use constructively anyway, but soon it becomes a black hole that eats away at what precious little time we have on this planet.

In the most severe cases of technoholism, people can seriously damage their own lives and those of others. People have fallen into debt by using the internet as a means of feeding an already rampant gambling problem, I myself have wasted countless hours non-constructively making idle comments on facebook, playing flashgames or trawling through the heroine of internet apps stumbleupon. However in one unique case, a couple became so addicted to technology, that they neglected their own baby for a virtual one. The human child died of starvation. (You can find this on google.)

Of course the internet is a well oiled machine, it is made to draw you in. Subliminal messages, psychological techniques, they are all employed to keep you surfing, because the more you surf the more you come across those pop-ups, ads and special offers. Every page you see on the net is devised to sell you something, to make you part with your hard-earned cash.

If I have indeed convinced you that the internet is a total and utter waste of time, the bane of existence itself and probably the means by which the devil will bring about the apocalypse, I invite you now to press this button http://emptyweb.weebly.com/ there you will find reality once more and return to your regular lives.

I however will not. Even as I type I have facebook, twitter, this blog, a forum and two email accounts open in my tabs. It’s too late for me. Just go! Leave without me! I have to return to the internet to get my fix…

I’ve finished my day’s studying and have sat down in front of the television for an evening’s well deserved vegetation session. Unfortunately my family have commandeered the tv box and are currently subjecting me to the scourge that is the world cup.

I may be a man, but I feel none of the excitement and that sense of team spirit that most do. Let’s be fair you soccer fanatics. When your team wins it is through no merit of your own, get up off your behind and join a club yourself. It is true that I have never played soccer myself, even though some doctors believe that I can (see previous posts for reference to this particular incident.) Being in a wheelchair I never will play the sport, however contrary to the popular (and extremely cynical) views of some of those who know me, my abject hatred for the sport is not born from my inability to play it. There is a plethora of other reasons that cause me to find this game absolutely loathsome.

Let me first outline the flaws I have found in the actual playing of the game. Most soccer players are guilty of taking a dive some time in their career. As I write this article, one player trips over his own feet following a clip to the toe by a player on the other team, he jumps into the air with all the grace of an elephant, now he falls to the ground with such speed that he skids several feet. Now he cradles his leg (as though it has been crushed by a train.) The referee takes no heed of the dramatic sportsman. He gets up and walks away.

It is a terrible reflection on the sport that the perpetrator of these theatrics is a brazilian, a member of one of the best teams in the world. I feel this constant display of amateur dramatics, seen in every game, from amateur to professional levels is a great indication of the pettiness of the sport. Compare soccer to rugby where blood injuries are far more likely and where several people have been left dead or disabled by neck injuries. Compare it with the irish sport hurling where the ball (called the sliotar) travels at up to 150 km/h (93 mph) and most players go without head-gear. If a player in these sports performed in the same way as a soccer player, by diving, looking for sympathy from a referee, they would be laughed off the pitch. By their own followers and the opposition.

Now let us discuss the characters which play in this great sporting drama. I feel there is something amiss in a world where we can begrudge a consultant doctor, a man or woman who has worked for 20 years, participated in academics to the highest level, studying in college for a minimum of 5 years. A man or woman who saves the lives of others! Yet we can advocate the exorbitant salaries offered to soccer players, men who are hired to play with their balls for ninety minutes a week at most.

From stories I have been told and from the unquestionable evidence from recent news stories, a great deal of players characters could be described, in my opinion, as deplorable. Take Ashley Cole as an example, a man who has been blessed with a great gift in his soccer playing prowess, he was wealthy, popular and was the envy of most men in being married to Cheryl Tweedy. However this was not enough for such a man and so he went about tearing apart his highly enviable life. I find it shocking that our society can actually deify men like this and don’t go about saying that I’m generalising because to name just a few more, take John Terry and Mr Goldenballs himself David Beckham as examples of spoilt soccer players who have abused their positions to get what they want. I can even provide anecdotal evidence of the abhorrent, selfish attitudes of at least one infamous, highly paid soccer star. (although I won’t mention the name.) The mother of a friend of mine saw this person in an airport, she saw this as her only chance ever to ask for an autograph for her son, who I’m sure would have been ecstatic to receive it. However having asked politely for his signature she was told in no uncertain terms what she could do with herself. If you know me personally, you can ask and I’ll tell you who this was.

Now we turn to the actual world cup itself. An overhyped event in my opinion. Everyday we here the hyperbolic reports of world cup widows. One internet dating site is actually encouraging women to “find someone new” if they have been “widowed” by the sporting tournament. I think it laughable to accredit the competition with the power to engross men to this level. The tournament is also highly commercialised, several countries in europe actually could not afford rights to broadcasting the world cup following the high expense of the Eurovision.

Furthermore, it is questionable whether the spirit of sport is still alive in the game of soccer. If you take the English premiership as an example. Absolute hatred is to be seen between fans of different teams. A friend of mine once went to a premiership game but having bought tickets late had to sit amongst fans of the opposite team. She was advised by one steward to wear her nondescript jacket throughout the game to conceal her jersey and also not to cheer for her team, for fear of her safety. As for the world cup specifically, you can complain about the pointlessness and political motives surrounding such drab competitions as the aforementioned Eurovision song contest. But the World cup is no better. One example this year was the elimination of the Irish by a French hand-ball. Did FIFA stand up for both the wronged country and the spirit of sport itself in this situation? No. They protected their elitist competition, wrongly allowing France to continue and shot down the spirit of fair play. As I have said, I don’t care for this competition so my outrage at this incident is not because I am Irish and the Irish were wronged, but because I am a sportsman and the ideals of sport itself were violated in this instance.

It is for these reasons that I truly loathe this “sport”. Finally, I am hereby starting a petition for the removal of vuvuzelas from all broadcasted programmes, let soccer fans and players go play with their horns and balls with themselves and leave us sensible people with something stimulating to watch on the television and no, I don’t mean Sex and the City.

Comment and let me know your opinions.

That was a really weak attempt at a reference to finding Nemo. Does anyone remember Dory’s “Just keep swimming” song? Ya thought not, probably should find a different name.

The end is nigh! (Nearly). I now have two more exams to do in the leaving cert. Chemistry and economics. I have just five more days to go. The end is nearly in sight. I can almost see that light at the end of the tunnel.

This has been a somewhat stressful, interesting, confusing, soul-crushing, inspiring period in my life. As you can see by that, shall we say, random group of adjectives, it has been a time full of changes, good and bad.

My leaving cert cycle has seen my life turned upside down. It did not in any way, shape or form begin easily. In September of fifth year my family was confronted with tragedy. The loss of my grandmother had a much more profound effect on me than I had ever imagined it would.

Thankfully I became very close to her in the last few years of her life. It was in those years that she began to live with us. She had been living independently and alone until then but it was in her final years with us that I developed such a bond with her.

September up until Christmas was turbulent. I fell asleep in a chemistry class during the time of my grandmother’s funeral. It’s something I never had done before and never will do again. (I hope). But that time just took so much out of me. I was exhausted mentally and physically, emotionally even more so.

I suppose I could have been described as ‘lethargic’ with regards to my studies in fifth year. I don’t know what it was. Maybe I just didn’t care after all the negative events of the year, maybe it was that I never had to work hard up until then and didn’t know what hard work was! Thankfully things started to pick up in sixth year, well, I started to wake up I suppose. (No more sleeping during chemistry…) I have plans, becoming a doctor can not in fact be accomplished by going to school and playing guitar hero for the rest of the day…

So I’ve begun to motivate myself, I’ve done my exams having studied hard. I’m glad to say that they have all gone well so far. Here’s hoping for chemistry (if I can stay awake) and economics. Then it’s off for a week of cocktail drinking in Spain.

The other day I was cleaning my car and it was when I opened the small compartment next to the wheel to find all the little good luck charms that people have given me that I forgot about, that memories of my grandmother came rushing back. She was a religious woman, she wasn’t pious but had a great sense of faith. She gave me a whole array of holy relics and charms that I kept in my car. (I reckon I should take all the help I can get on the roads what with all the lunatics I have to drive with-well that and my bad depth perception). I wish that she was still here so that in August I’d be able to come home to tell her how I had done. I also found the Prefect badge that I have put there for safe keeping. That reminded me of all the things I have achieved despite the difficulties. I know she’d be proud, so the fond memories are enough.

My nana also had a great deal of faith in saints. Whenever we lost something we were always told by her to pray to St. Anthony (and then we would actually have to PAY the saint for his services… there was no point in arguing that he’s a dead man though…) I’ve taken a leaf out of her book and have been praying to a certain Saint profusely for my leaving cert.

Saint Jude. The saint of hopeless cases.

So for all you fifth years going into sixth year, all carefree and happy, enjoying your summer as us poor sixth years sit in musty, hot exam centres. You contented children awaiting oxegen who are only to delighted to rub your freedom in our faces. ABORT MISSION!!! Sixth year will be the hardest year of you life! So either be prepared or give up.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Remember they’re dumbing the courses down every year and if all else fails pray to St. Anthony for your lost motivation.

If you’re really bad. Give St. Jude a call.

We are what we wear.

Posted: June 3, 2010 in Random Ramblings

Have you ever noticed how important our first impressions are of a person? Our first impressions depend largely on the appearance of a person. If they “appear” like yourself you are far more likely, I think, to have a positive attitude towards them.

Of course by appearance we generally mean the clothes one wears. It is quite a strange trait of the human psyche, that we tend to judge someone by what they are wearing, to stereotype them and to place them in a general social group.

Allow me to paint a stereotypical image for you. You see a teenage boy walking towards you, he’s wearing a wrinkled t-shirt, shorts, runners, his baseball cap is turned backwards, his long unkempt hair protruding from underneath. Now I ask you what you would imagine he is shouldering under one arm? You may think a skateboard. What kind of person is he in your mind? Is he lazy and without ambition? Is he happy to spend his days terrorizing every pedestrian as he cruises along aboard his chosen method of transport?

Shame on you! On closer inspection, as the man walks by, you realise he is considerably older, he wears a rucksack, as you watch him go by you realise he is a college student. This man could be a doctor, or a teacher of the future but it is instinctive of humanity to generalise because “we are what we wear”… apparently.

It is a sad fact that as we grow older in life we have to conform more and more to the generic shirt and tie uniform of society. Our ability to express ourselves artistically via our garments diminishes. How many doctors have you been examined by with nose-rings and green hair? You are what you wear. A doctor will always wear a bland shirt and a simple tie, a priest will always wear a distinctive white-collar and the likelihood of your chosen profession’s standard authorised uniform being nose-rings and green hair is slim. As for the white shirt, green jumper, tie, black shoes and grey pants that I have worn for the last six years, school uniforms are also designed to make us conform. We are students, therefore we wear uniforms. You are what you wear.

I have a passion for interesting t-shirts. As an example one sports the well-known image of Che Guevara, in contrast the caption of the picture is “Shéa, alive and well and living in Ireland”. Another shirt is adorned with the image of a hand making the universal middle fingered gesture. The caption reads “have a nice day!” I have always thought I had a good sense of humour, so perhaps my supposedly funny t-shirts reflect that.

Although several groups may say that they are non-conformist, from punks to emos, goths to jocks, they all have uniforms, distinctive from each other and always recognisable. It is therefore clear that one’s clothes speak volumes about one’s personality, what one is interested in and what group one associates oneself with. In many ways the only true non-conformist is the man who  wears nothing at all. No, now that I think of it I’m mistaken, he would probably be a naturist. You are what you wear!

Karma’s a bitch…

Posted: June 1, 2010 in Random Ramblings

A burglar broke into a house in an upmarket area, the burglar had chosen the biggest, most expensive house on the street. This particular man was a master of his art and always looked for a challenge.

It was only a case of traversing the 10 foot wall and disarming the perimeter security system. Of course the cctv also posed a problem, but he deftly took care of that too. He was surprised to find that the front door was laughably simple to unlock. The thief entered a grand hall finished with marble staircases and silken curtains, you can imagine the man’s delight as he snatched a thick wallet, full of notes.

“Karma’s gonna get you.” came the disembodied voice across the cavernous marble halls, eerily echoing against the walls…

The man was shocked and almost fled the house, but the prospect of having all the treasures that awaited him in this mansion was just too enticing.

The bedroom upstairs was another treasure trove of silver and gold, the burglar was giddy with excitement to fill his sack with jewellery, the fact that the house was clearly unoccupied that night made him no less content. He couldn’t believe his luck.

“Karma’s gonna get you…” came the spectral voice….

The man bolted for the front door, there was no choice to make, he had had enough, he’d rather leave with his life than be dead with a sack full of stolen goods. Something sinister was watching him and he didn’t know what…

But his all-encompassing greed got the better of the man as he passed the open door of the enormous dining room. The moonlight was glancing off something shiny in the room. To this wily man, shiny meant expensive. He paused mid-flight to examine what was in the room.

To his dismay the object was just too big to take with him. Removing the heavy velvet shroud that had been draped over it, he discovered a solid gold cage. There was something moving within the shadows…

“Karma’s gonna get you!” squawked the parrot. The burglar laughed out loud at his own foolishness. He couldn’t believe he had been fooled by the bird. He felt like an idiot to have been frightened by the parrot performing his impressive party trick.

“Well what’s your name then?” asked the burglar of the bird.

“Percy” came the reply.

“Percy? What kind of dumbass calls his parrot Percy?”

“The same kind of dumbass that calls the rottweiler Karma…” answered the bird.

What’s the moral of the story? Behave yourself because Karma is a bitch and it will bite you in the ass.

I’m not going to use a cliché by saying “it was the best day of my life.” But I will say it’s on my list of days I will remember forever. On the 21st of October I achieved one of my life’s small goals. Despite the fact that I will do my leaving certificate this year and this little trip meant taking time off school, it was something that HAD to be done. After school that day in October, a friend and I boarded a train for Dublin, 3 hours later and a quick taxi ride and we had arrived at our destination. It was thronged by people dressed in the same t-shirts as us emblazoned with the images of the band we had come to see.

I have to admit that I pulled the wheelchair card that day. But there has to be some perks to the wheels! My friend and I got to skip the queue as a steward beckoned us over to the entrance. To get to the door we had to pass the whole queue and for some reason that neither of us will ever know the entire crowd started cheering. Yes it really was at us they were cheering, because the next person that walked recieved raucous roars as well. The third person to be roared at went by on a motorbike and was wearing a helmet. This is only a rumour but it turns out that the drummer drove his motorbike by the crowd to get them all worked up in every other city, I never saw his face, but I’m going to run with the idea that it was him.

My friend and I were the first in the arena! (The Wheels paid off!) I have a sneaking suspicion that one other guy in a wheelchair took the wheelchair card one step further and got to meet the band… I tried this too, but was given the rather blunt answer of… no. You can NOT blame a man for trying though can you?

We had some of the best seats in the place, but I couldn’t go to the moshpit (I didn’t want to get crushed considering I’m three feet below everyone else.) Still though we had an amazing view of the action. The support act were well into their set when we got to our seats, I won’t go into too many details, but the Prima Donnas were a good supporting act, so good luck to them.

I’m sure by now you know exactly where this article is going, but here’s another clue:

With the prima donnas wrapping up, the crowd got into a frenzy, made worse by the pink bunny. A drunken character that has become a staple of the band’s shows.

Then the crowd became completely ecstatic as the band walked on… for the first time in my life I was within 100 metres of Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tré Cool.

I’m not going to say it was the best day of my life (I’m definitely not going to say I had the time of my life, because that would be a MAJOR cliché) but I will say it was the best concert of my life and that’s saying something considering I had spent the previous summer going to concerts like those of Linkin Park and Nickelback.

What I think makes a Green Day concert so enjoyable is the sheer likeability factor of Billie Joe. I completely regret not meeting him that night as I had hoped would happen (wishful thinking I realise). He’s such a charismatic character. He’s the kind of frontman that makes an audience of 65000 people (as in Milton Keynes) comfortable (or completely excited.)

It was a high quality concert, the band played 40 songs or more from both old and new albums. They engaged in the usual camp as a row of tents medley of Shout and King for a Day (the band dressed in costumes reminiscent of the village people for this one.) Again Billie got the audience all worked up as he, “played with himself” on stage.

Also included was a story by Billie when he related the events of his first Dublin concert. It was in the upstairs room of a pub, Billie told us, and the band were told to make the supporters stop dancing in case the floor caved in on top of the pubgoers below!

Of course no Green Day concert would be complete without the fan’s rendition of Longview. One lucky audience member was pulled onstage to sing this song (about sitting around the house all day doing nothing but smoking weed, watching tv and… well, playing with yourself!) Near the start of the concert one other fan was pulled onstage for another part of the show where Billie Joe “saved” the 9-year-old girl in the new-age christian style. It was these little spectacles that set Green Day’s show apart from every other I have seen. Most bands just go onstage, play the songs, then leave. Green Day captivated the audience with jokes, gags and fantastic performing of both their old and new songs and covers as well for over three hours. Of course the night came to a truly inspiring end as Billie played the band out with 21 Guns and the anticipated Good Riddance on acoustic guitar.

I’m sure many people were lost in the reading of this and gave up long before the words Green Day were mentioned. A few more probably decided to stop reading at the sight of the words Green Day too. This is known as the Green Day Lashback effect. It seems that just as sure as gravity makes apples fall off trees there will always be someone who does not like Green Day. But Green Day for me is so inspiring. I became hooked on Green Day when we met their tour bus on a ferry from Holyhead to Rosslare. Unfortunately the band had decided to travel by plane from England that day, but I treasure the American Idiot t-shirt that the roadies issued us with!

Through Green Day, I have discovered unique music, they have inspired me to continue playing music now even though I don’t attend the school of music in Cork anymore. While in Billie Joe I have found my idol. For personal reasons, Billie will always be one of my role models.

Furthermore in all the Green Day fans on the Idiot Club and the Lushies on Facebook I have found new friends and wonderful people to share my passion for great music with!

“Do you know what’s worth fighting for?” Well it’s “not worth dying for” but I think Green Day are worth defending since “it’s something unpredictable” I’m sure, but they’ve shown me “the time of my life”. That’s right I’m a “basket case” for Green Day and to all you haters, just leave now because all I can say is “good riddance….”

Alright I’m done…

I’m just warning you all. This one is going to be soppy. So if you don’t want to cry, look away now!

Today marks one of the greatest changes in my life. Six years ago I “graduated” from primary school and at the time  it was the biggest event in my life to date. So much has changed since then.

I have achieved some of the greatest accomplishments in my life in secondary school. I achieved high grades in the junior certificate and hope to go on to achieve highly in the leaving cert as well. For someone whose parents were told would never even go to school I feel I have surpassed almost every limitation. Next year could see me starting a new term in my academic life, but this time it will be to become a doctor, a psychologist or even a teacher. Of course it all depends on my final exams. The Leaving Cert still hangs over all of us, but like all other obstacles, this is one that we must and can overcome.

For all this success, I thank firstly my parents. Without you I could never have achieved anything. It was your determination that gave me the impetus to persevere. When life was tough you were always there for me. Through the good and bad I know you will always be a constant and strong presence in my life. It is not only my parents of course who have been my pillars of support in life. All of the rest of my family have played a huge part in the success that I have had.

Secondly to my teachers. Thank you for believing in me. You could have dismissed me as someone who would never achieve. But you did not and without your support I would have never survived school, both personally and academically. There are too many of you to name but know that all of you played some part in my life, no matter how small. I will be eternally grateful to you and will never forget my time in your tutelage.

Lastly to my friends, thank you all. Thank you for accepting me, thank you for supporting me, thank you for being there for me when I needed you and thank you for calling me your friend. Of all people it is you that I think of most regarding all those years we spent in school together. Some of you I have known since I was five. I never thought on that first day of school in 1996 that we would all still be good friends. I will however maintain that I did not in fact cry my eyes out that first day. Although I’m sure you will all contradict me.

Some of you I have known since our first year in secondary school and more still I have only really gotten to know in the last few years. We have been through so much together that I feel our friendships are as strong as any other. Perhaps I never got to know some of you properly and that I regret. But it is my greatest wish for the future that we can all succeed in life together and that we will all look back on today with the fondest of memories when our own children are graduating from school and facing the big, bad world. I know that in years to come we will laugh about our last days in school and especially our final hours. The slip n’ slide that was organised by some of you was the best finale to our school life that I could have imagined.

It would be easy to have a bleak outlook on life in today’s world. There is war and turmoil, civil unrest, economic instability, however I know that with friends like you I have a reason to be hopeful.

This is going to sound soppy, but it’s from the bottom of my heart and is genuine. I love you all and know that this is not goodbye, but a hello to a brand new future.