Cogito, ergo sum.

i-Think-Therefore-I-am_-TShirtsIt seems to me, as I sit and listen to myself and others share our written works, that dialogue and description are safe. Thoughts on the other hand, being inside someone’s head, is far more dangerous.

As I writer, I have very little difficulty in setting the scene, describing the view, making characters speak and creating conversations. But real character development comes from emotions. From the brain. The thought process. What does the character think?

Today, as I worked on my new novel, I realized that the description and dialogue are easy because they reveal nothing about me. But writing what a character is thinking, well that just pulls the curtains back on my brain. And it is that notion of revealing what I think a character is thinking that makes it scary. It reveals something about me. So, for the most part, I shy away from it. Why? Because I am afraid of being judged. And the result is my characters are flat, stereotypical and just not real.

Character development is tough. But showing the thinking processes of characters fleshes them out, makes them real and believable. How they speak and act makes them individual and memorable, but what they think makes them real. Gives them impetus and motivation. It is something I struggle with when writing, and probably will do for quite sometime. But I keep telling myself that writing is like painting, I apply layers of words and sentences. Action, dialogue, descriptions, and lastly, the characters’ thoughts.

René Descartes said it first. “I think, therefore I am.”

Mass Exodus and 20/20 Hind Sight

Little did I think that a blog post I wrote just over two months ago, Moving to Ireland, would become a hot topic. It was a small idea, a blog post written more out of wishful thinking and curiosity than a BIG idea with political and social mindfulness at its core.

Moving to Ireland has become more than just the notion of packing your bags and knowing that you need almost $24,000 as annual disposable income. Now that people are jumping on top of the channel tunnel trains, drowning off-shore of Turkey, Greece and Italy, “moving” from one European Union country to another has escalated far beyond $24,000 per annum disposable income.

Let’s face it, this type of migration is not voluntary, it is life or death, as witnessed in the hundreds of people drowned, suffocated in trucks, or killed by trains. This is not just a house move, or a relocation; this is a Mass Exodus of people who are willing to risk their lives for a better life away from their homeland. This mass exodus brings out the best and the worst in host countries.

But what’s the point of moving to a country where unemployment is high, the cost of living is even higher, and the natives don’t want you in the first place? Maybe the point is that what these migrants are leaving behind is so much worse. Is opening up the borders the answer?

According to Hamish de Bretton Gordon, Managing Director CBRN of Avon Protection Systems, We’re Missing The Point. “The solution,” de Bretton Gordon says, ” is not opening up Europe’s borders; it’s defeating ISIL and removing Assad from power.”

“The refugee problem in Europe is of our own making,” he says. ” It is a direct result of our inactivity towards Syria,… ignoring the perceived and stated red lines on the use of chemical weapons after the Ghouta chemical attack in August 2013.” The attack killed up to 1,500 people  when, “government forces fired rockets with chemical warheads into Damascus suburbs.” Hind sight is 20/20.

The issue of thousands of people showing up at your doorstep, many without passports or identification, is not going away, even if Assad “goes away.” Refugees come from war-torn countries, escaping persecution. They are legally entitled to international protection. For some migrants proving refugee status will be difficult without the proper ID. Who gets to stay and who gets sent back becomes a murky issue. It becomes one involving the distinction between refugee, irregular migrant, and economic migrant. It is then further complicated by the Contonou Agreement and the UNHCR’s Non-Refoulement.

As stated in the 1951 UN Convention on the Status of Refugees, “No Contracting State shall expel or return (“refouler”) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”

Most recently the European Agenda on Migration addressed the current immigrant crisis.

On paper, the European Agenda on Migration May 13, 2015 sounds beautiful, humanitarian and idealistic:

“Europe should continue to be a safe haven for those fleeing persecution as well as an attractive destination for the talent and entrepreneurship of students, researchers and workers. Upholding our international commitments and values while securing our borders and at the same time creating the right conditions for Europe’s economic prosperity and societal cohesion is a difficult balancing act that requires coordinated action at the European level.”

A difficult balancing act indeed. Ireland, the UK and Denmark can choose whether they wish to be part of the EU Quota Scheme to adequately and fairly relocate refugees and migrants among member states. Why choice is an option for these three countries, I don’t know. But Ireland and England are accepting large numbers of refugees into their general populations. But is it enough?

According to the BBC, “the Irish government announced it would take in 4,000 refugees – a figure that includes 1,120 people Ireland had already agreed to receive.” The UK will accept 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020. And as of today, Denmark’s reaction to Germany’s no-limit refugee quota was to shut down rail service, ferry service and a motorway for several hours whilst a standoff between police and 350 refugees, mostly from Syria and Iraq, played itself out.

According to MSN News, “German generosity has sparked an angry backlash,” but not just from its eastern neighbors. For it is the “difficult balancing act” of “economic prosperity and societal cohesion” that brings out the worst in the natives of host countries in Europe. In 2008 most European countries entered into deep economic recessions, and now, barely emerging from that fog, their populations expand, and with it the economic demand to care for new refugees. In other words, where will the money come from to house, feed, clothe and educate the growing numbers of refugees. Realistically, making their homeland safe again for their return is the best answer. But can it be done?

I suppose my questions, like Hamish de Bretton Gordon’s, are these: Why didn’t governments intervene earlier? Apart from being bamboozled by Syria’s first lady who threw corporate lingo around at leisure, apart from watching the Arab Spring as if it were all happening so far away it would never effect us negatively; why didn’t the Ghouta chemical attack in August 2013 cause more of a Global reaction?

Hind sight is 20/20. Ten years from now what will be the situation in Syria, Iraq and Europe? Is opening the borders the answer, or is defeat of dictatorships the answer? I suppose it depends on who takes the dictator’s place.

Many years ago I sat in a classroom along with many other journalism students. We were led in discussion by our professor who prompted a debate on the shooting of a 9 year old Mexican boy crossing the border into the USA.

I remembered a 2002 documentary by Michael Palin, Sahara. He discussed the treacherous swim that North Africans made to get to southern European shores. Clothes discarded and hidden along the beach, these migrants were swimming to freedom. Some didn’t make it; their bodies washing up on the shore. Just like the 9 year old boy who was trying to make a run for it, to a better life across the border.

I was shocked at how many young people in the classroom were against illegal immigration. I remember saying that borders were imaginary lines on paper maps. They mean nothing to people hungry for a better way of life. People have migrated for eons, and will continue to do so. But the recent migration crisis in Europe is so huge, so immense, there is no acclimatization period. It is immediate.

What struck me most about the classroom that day, was that we were all immigrants. Maybe off the boat, or second or third generation immigrants. But we were all from somewhere else.

Example 1 of the Worst of Human Behavior in Migrant Crisis in Europe

Hungarian TV camerawoman Petra Laszlo kicks a running child as refugees flee border police near the Serbian border with Hungary (Picture via

Hungarian TV camerawoman Petra Laszlo kicks a running child as refugees flee border police near the Serbian border with Hungary (Picture via

Example Number 1 of the BEST of Human Behavior

People hold a banner 'refugees welcome' as they take part in a demonstration in solidarity with refugees seeking asylum in Europe after fleeing their home countries in Stockholm, Sweden, on September 12, 2015. (Picture Via: MSN

People hold a banner ‘refugees welcome’ as they take part in a demonstration in solidarity with refugees seeking asylum in Europe after fleeing their home countries in Stockholm, Sweden, on September 12, 2015.
(Picture Via: MSN

Lunch Time

I bought a Nutribullet two years ago, because I learned the hard way, getting sick, that I was not getting enough nutrients from fruits and vegetables in my daily diet.

Although I do eat well, its hard to pack a nutritional punch into every meal. Either I feel too full, or I simply don’t have the time to sit and eat a plateful of spinach, or cooked kale or whatever else is needed to ward off illness and boost the immune system.

The Lunch bags ready for the freezer!

The Lunch bags ready for the freezer!

But who says we have to eat our vegetables and fruit? Why can’t we drink them instead? Every two weeks I stock up on spinach, kale, bananas, blueberries and chocolate protein shakes. It takes me about half an hour to wash and then bag and freeze all the fruits and veg, but that’s my two weeks of lunch ready to go!

Muscle Milk. 100 calories and sugar free as well as gluten free!

Muscle Milk. 100 calories and sugar free as well as gluten free!

I freeze everything in little single serving sized freezer bags. Empty one bag into the Nutribullet at lunch time, then add a frozen pouch of Acai berries, a bottle of chocolate protein shake, sounds disgusting but I love the taste. Add a small cup of water and give it a Nutribullet blast. Delicious!!

Moving to Ireland?

(Picture Via

(Picture Via

If you are thinking about moving to Ireland, or anywhere else for that matter, you might want to do some comparisons before you pack your bags.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development,  or OECD for short, you should only pack your bags and head for Ireland if you already have a job and will earn over $23,917 a year, as disposable income!

Does Ireland out perform the USA in healthcare, education, environment, employment, community, housing? Does life balance out against work in general?

Yes, for the most part the two countries are even, with only miniscule differences in areas such as education, America scored 0.1 higher than Ireland. Housing, America scored 0.8 higher. Environment, Ireland scored 0.1 higher. Civic engagement, Ireland scored 0.6 higher. Safety, Ireland scored 0.4 higher. And health, America scored 0.4 higher than Ireland.

The big discrepancies occur with income, life-work balance and community. Ireland leads the way with community, at 2.6 higher than the US there is a stronger sense of connection among Irish people living in Ireland. The US leads by 6.9 with Income. The US leads by 1.9 with jobs. And again the US leads by 0.5 when it comes to life satisfaction. But Ireland takes the 2.6 lead when it measures life-work balance.

There is quite a big income gap according to the OECD. “There is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn almost five times as much as the bottom 20%.” That’s a significant gap!

So the long and short of it is: If you don’t mind rain, have 100% job security, and earn enough to leave you almost $24,000 to play with, then Ireland might be the place for you. I mention rain because among most Irish immigrants it is the one major deterring factor about relocating to Ireland. It sounds silly that something like the weather should be such an important factor, but Irish weather comes up a lot in conversations about Ireland.

The country is historic, scenic and the people are friendly, and well-educated. Life in Ireland could very well suit you, so long as the rain doesn’t dampen your spirits.

The Madigans: Famine Survival, Emigration & Obligation in 19th Century Ireland & America

Originally posted on Irish in the American Civil War:

Each pension file contains fragments of one Irish family’s story.They are rarely complete, but nonetheless they often offer us rare insight into aspects of the 19th century Irish emigrant experience.Few match the breadth of the story told in the Madigan pension file. That family’s words and letters take us from the Great Famine in Rattoo, Co. Kerry to New York and Ohio and ultimately to the first battlefield of the American Civil War. From there we journey from neighbourhoods as diverse as the Five Points and Tralee, where those unable to take the emigrant boat still counted on those who had made new lives across the Atlantic.

I frequently make reference to the fact that many of the Irish impacted by the American Civil War were Famine-era emigrants. Despite this, among the hundreds of Irish pension files I have examined, the Famine has only been directly referenced twice…

View original 2,370 more words

Shadow of alien seen on old Moon picture

Moon Men in Crater 1An old photo taken from Apollo 18, approximately three and a half minutes before the sun set behind planet earth, reveals what seems to be the first indication of the existence of alien life on the moon.

Flight commander Cornelius O’Toole captured the amazing image of what seems to be a man and his shadow standing next to a moon crater.The photo, taken on February 30th 1971, has astounded the gullible and naive and those who would believe anything.

O’Toole, using a Kodak Instamatic camera bought for him by his girlfriend for his  birthday three years ago, was initially disappointed that she had bought him a camera, but decided to keep his opinion to himself.

“I hinted for ages that I wanted a set of golf clubs, but she didn’t bite. I suppose the camera was a cheaper option,” O’Toole said and added, “I wouldn’t say that to my girlfriend though. She was touchy enough when I asked her what happened to the golf clubs idea. Least said soonest mended, ya’know wha I mean like?” he said. “I’ll tell ya something, she’ll be waiting a long time for the ring though,” O’Toole added.

When asked about the alien figure in the photo he snapped through the third porthole window from the Apollo’s on-board latrine in 1971, O’Toole said, “Oh yeah, yer man. He’s a bit grainy alright. I wasn’t happy with the resolution at all, at all, at all.”

When this interviewer asked the opinion of the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus the overwhelming response was one of disbelief.

“O’Toole should not have used the flash,” the Tooth Fairy said. “It floods the photo with light.”

In response, the Easter Bunny debated whether or not the flash contributed to the elongated shadow of the moon alien.

“I don’t believe that the Kodak Instamatic Camera has a slow shutter release function, which would have reduced the necessity for the flash. So, it was a poor choice of camera for this type of shot,” the Easter Bunny said and added, “And anyway, it was a very bad angle. The man is a fool!”

Santa Claus, in utter shock, had to be given the Heimlich maneuver to prevent choking on a chocolate chip cookie. After finishing his milk and chocolate chip cookies, he looked at his wall calendar and asked, “Is it April Fool’s Day or what?”

Moon Men in Crater

Strange Thing I Am

Patrick Pearse

Patrick Pearse 10 November 1879 – 3 May 1916 (Image Source:

I have often wondered how it came to be that Irish Victorians, that is to say all people born in Ireland between the years of 1837 to 1901, considered themselves Irish. Many Irish people today will baulk at reading the words “Irish Victorian” in a sentence. But Ireland was still part of the British Empire, and all who were born in Ireland in those years were considered British subjects.

I understand that Catholics in Ireland would never consider themselves British due to religious persecution and political differences. But there were also Protestants in Ireland who wanted an Independent Ireland and considered themselves Irishmen. Men such as William Smith O’Brien, Thomas Francis Meagher, to name but two, will always intrigue me because of their politics and opposing backgrounds.

What makes a wealthy Protestant landlord fight on behalf of his Catholic tenants and their lack of rights? They risked everything, their homes, families and lives, for Irish Nationalism. Is it a strange thing to want something so fanatically that you are willing to die for it? Especially when maintaining the status quo benefits you, though not necessarily the class beneath you? I think so. I think it is a strange thing. In fact it is an amazing thing.

Some may call it fanatical, and it very well might be, but it is intriguing to come across political figures who risked losing everything to challenge the powers that be and effect change for the common good of all, despite the fact that it meant the loss of wealth, or indeed their own lives in the process.

Author, educator, political activist and 1916 Easter Rising rebel, Patrick Pearse, saw himself as strange. According to author Joost Augusteijn, in his book Patrick Pearse:The Making of a Revolutionary, Pearse saw the union of his mother and father, though both “freedom loving” people, as opposite traditions which fused together and made him, “the strange thing I am.”

Birthplace of Patrick and William Pearse (Image Source:

Birthplace of Patrick and William Pearse (Image Source:

Pearse described his father James as an “English, puritan and mechanic.”James Pearse was a London stonemason who relocated to Dublin in or around 1861 according to the census of that year. James worked for John Hardman and Company, a Birmingham owned business as a sculptor. Hardman and Co. opened an office in Dublin around 1861.

James Pearse eventually established his own business, Pearse and Son’s, at 27 Great Brunswick Street, now known as Pearse Street.Though Patrick Pearse tried to find Irish connections on his father’s side, he discovered that as far back as 400 years the family were English. The family business in Dublin became a “leading supplier of architectural ornament and church fittings,” according to Christine Casey, author of Dublin: The City Within the Grand and Royal Canals and the Circular Road with the Phoenix Park.

Patrick Pearse described his mother, Margaret Brady, as “Gaelic, Catholic and peasant.” Margaret, upon the execution of both of her sons after the 1916 Rising pursued a career in politics and was elected to Dáil Éireann as a  Sinn Féin  TD, Teachta Dála, in 1921.

It would be easy to say that Pearse’s rebellious nature came from his mother’s side. They hailed from County Meath and spoke only in the native Irish language, which influenced the young Patrick Pearse greatly. But his father’s artistic side played into Patrick’s development as a rebel as well.

This “artistic streak,” as Patrick called it, meant that his father’s friends were “bohemian types,” whom the young Patrick Pearse liked because of their “quaint costumes, their sense of humor and their gentleness.” So, the union of a “puritan” and a “peasant” produced a “strange thing,”…….an Irish Nationalist.

The family business flourished and secured the Pearse family’s position comfortably as middle-class, affording Patrick and his brother William excellent educations.

William Pearse 15 November 1881 – 4 May 1916 (Image Source:

William Pearse 15 November 1881 – 4 May 1916 (Image Source:

Patrick Pearse became  an Irish language teacher and a barrister, and later a writer of essays, poems, plays, an editor for An Claidheamh Soluis, The Sword of Light, which was the journal of the Gaelic League.

William, or Willie Pearse was headed down the path that his own father had longed to travel. William became a noted sculptor and studied in Paris. His sculptures can be found in churches throughout Ireland. When he was set to inherit the family business he decided instead to help Patrick run Saint Edna’s secondary school for boys in Ranelagh, Co. Dublin. Willie, influenced greatly by his older brother’s political activities, joined the Irish Volunteers and became part of the Republican movement which resulted in the Easter Rising of 1916.

The yard in Kilmainham Jail Dublin where the 16 Rebels were executed. (Image Source: Loretto Leary 2009)

The yard in Kilmainham Jail Dublin where the 16 Rebels were executed. (Image Source: Loretto Leary 2009)

Both Patrick and William were executed in Kilmainham Jail for taking part in the Easter Rising of 1916. Patrick died first, aged 36, he was shot by firing squad for his part in the Irish Rebellion and the following day Willie was executed.

The “strange thing” about Patrick Pearse is that not everyone agrees that he is a hero. I’ll state the obvious first: many Unionists, most notably Conor Cruise O’Brien (a former Unionist), see Patrick Pearse as “dangerous, fanatical, psychologically unsound and ultra-religious.” O’Brien states that, “Pearse saw the Rising as a Passion Play with real blood.” Others, such as former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, would defend Patrick Pearse and argue that his “fanatical” behavior was heroic. This is where Pearse becomes a complex personality, for what Pearse has left us with is a debate on what it means to be an Irish Nationalist. Does it mean being a fanatic or a hero? According to the Patrick Pearse article on, “his complex personality still remains a subject of controversy for those who wish to debate the evolving meaning of Irish nationalism.”

The only way to glean more about the mind of Patrick Pearse is to read what the man wrote. And I begin today by reading his essay, The Murder Machine. Stay tuned.

How Irish Are You?

(Image source:

(Image source:

The Irish have a unique way with words. Some have dubbed our colloquialisms “doublespeak-doublethink.” You’ll have to do double the work to figure out what we’re talking about. So, you think you are Irish? Let’s see how Irish you are.

1. When a friend says his “back teeth are floating” it means…

a. His dentures have come unglued.

b. He is inebriated.

c. He needs to pee.

d. His dentures have fallen into the River Shannon and are floating.

2. If your friend says she “gave it welly”…it means…

a. She has donated her goulashes.

b. She meant to say “jelly” but because her back teeth float she has trouble with her “w’s”

c. She gave it full effort.

d. She kicked someone or something.

3. “Eat up, you’re at your aunties” means……

a. Don’t be rude while visiting your aunt’s house for supper.

b. Your aunt doesn’t like washing dishes.

c. Your aunt is a gourmet chef.

d. Take full advantage of the free food and eat as much as you can.

4. If someone tells you they could “Eat a child’s arse through a chair”….

a. They are part of a circus act.

b. They are starving with the hunger.

c. They are challenging you to an eat-off!

d. They are from a remote Island where children’s arses are considered a delicacy.

5. If someone tells you they could “Eat a farmer’s arse through a ditch”…

a. They are trying to one-up the person in #4

b. They like tougher cuts of meat.

c. They are from South Tipp.

d. They are challenging the indigenous migrant from a remote Island who has just moved in next door.

6. If someone asks you “How’s she cutting?” It really means…

a. Is the new female barber doing a good job?

b. How are things with you?

c. Is the wife doing a good job carving the turkey you won at bingo?

d. They want an in-depth analysis of how the hairdresser actually cuts hair.

7. “Now you’re sucking diesel…” means

a. You are addicted to drinking diesel.

b. You are part man-part tractor.

c. You are doing a fantastic job.

d. You have partnered with Walter White and the secret ingredient to Blue Crystal Meth is Irish diesel filtered by the human digestive system.

8. If someone says they will, “Give you the back of their hand” it means…

a. They will slap you.

b. They are promising to donate their body parts to you.

c. The are part of a secret organization called The Back of the Hand.

d. They live next door to the indigenous migrant from a remote Island in #4 who is loosing weight because his diet is not providing enough meat and the farmer next door to him  won’t share  food.

9. “You’d find more meat on a tinker’s stick,” means…..

a. Irish philosophers, tinkers, use their canes to collect meat. (The Irish have trouble pronouncing the “th” sound)

b. Someone is very thin…….or is that “tin?”

c. The guy from #4 is jealous of the Irish philosopher who just moved in next door who has more meat than he does.

d. Irish philosophers like to brag about their manhood.

10. “Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin”, or, “There’s no hearth like your own hearth,” which really means…

a. What is a “hearth?”

b. Someone can’t spell the word Pulmonary correctly and decided to use hearth instead.

c. There’s no place like home.

d. The ejit in #1 has lost his dentures in the Shannon again and is now talking funny about his heart.

This quiz was inspired by Just How British are You?

“We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English.”
– Winston Churchill