Monday, August 29, 2011

The Leather's Echo

I have got my own copy of the late Jim Brophy's history of Wicklow GAA 1884-1984 - The Leather's Echo. I have posted about this book before (here) as the book had several references to my Grandfather PJ O'Loughlin when I had borrowed a copy from Jim Brophy's son-in-law Leo Casey. That post attracted comments from two of Jim's daughters who wrote...

Great to see mention of my dad's book in a blog. 

He would have been proud to see that it still has an impact 24 years later. 

Maire Ni Bhroithe (Brophy)


I was googling something and this came up. I too am a daughter and its great to see him remembered.

Mairead Askew (nee Brophy)

I had given up of ever getting a copy of my own - I Googled and checked in 2nd hand bookshops with no luck. I got the book from a man called Peter in Kidderminster in England who was about to throw it out. It had belonged to his mother who was Irish - someone else had given it to her as they thought she might be interested in it (she wasn't!). Before he threw it out, he decided to Google it and up popped my blog post above. He emailed me and offered the book to me for free - he would not take any money for it (I made a donation to the RNLI on his behalf). What a wonderful thing the Internet is in that a man can seek out somebody who would want an old book like this.

The copy I have is in excellent condition and is almost certainly a signed copy from the book launch. Seven of the eleven signatures are by the members of the Wicklow County GAA History Committee (Jim Brophy, Liam Kane, Jimmy Dunne, Peter Keogh, Johnny Kelly, Tommy Coleman, and Jack Napier). Also signing was Jack (Seán) Boothman who later became President of the GAA. I'm sure the signed copy is worth a bit more than an unsigned one - though perhaps only in Wicklow. I'll never sell it anyway.

I'm certain that my Grandfather would have poured over the tremendous detail and stories in this book - no doubt he would have known many of the people featured. He would have been 79 years of age in 1984 when the book was published had he lived. It is probable that Jim Brophy would have known my Grandfather and I'm sure that he would have provided interesting information to him for his book. My Grandfather is dead for over 46 years - perhaps Jim Brophy was even at his funeral in June 1965. I have previously written about my memories of him here.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rejected by the Bank of Ireland

For about five minutes this week I felt rejected. The Bank of Ireland has refused a credit card application from me - I guess I am now officially a financial risk!

Image link from Orange.
Recently we decided to consolidate our bank and credit card accounts - this would make on-line banking a lot easier. We have a cheque book account with Bank of Ireland, savings with a well known building society, and credit card with a company whose employees are under threat in Co Leitrim (I did write the names of these institution first, but then deleted them thinking that that is just too much information to be posting). First up was a credit card application to BoI. We have a mortgage with BoI, have no overdraft (DG), no other loans, and we pay our credit card bill every month. I would have thought that would be OK for a new credit card?

I got a rejection letter from "S Mullen" who is a "Manager" in the Underwriting Dept of Credit Operations in Bank of Ireland who writes to me as follows:

Dear Dr O'Loughlin,

We carefully considered your application and applied our normal credit scoring process to the details you provided. Unfortunately, based on this analysis, our criteria does not permit us to offer you a Credit Card at present.

I was surprised by this and felt rejected - how dare they! And sure don't I, as a taxpayer, own part of Bank of Ireland anyway? And they have the cheek to tell me that they must keep the exact acceptance requirements confidential. Why do they bother doing this? I'm sure that under FoI I could find out anyway (if I was @rsed). So here we have a bank that f*cked up our country (they were not alone in this), is part-owned by us, has been bailed out by us (and the Germans), that will cost the country billions for years to come - and they reject my business because I pose too much of a risk! 

I'm sure their criteria for acceptance are much tougher than when they were throwing money at us all a few years ago. The Financial Regulator is now paying attention! We know that being able to breath was previously all that was needed to get a loan or a credit card from the banks. I'd just love to know what acceptance requirements I did not meet. I bet it was a €50 lodgement to Paddy Power that did it?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Steve Jobs Resignation from Apple

It says something about a CEO of a company that his/her resignation makes the news all over the world and causes the stock market to shake. 

A young Steve Jobs with the original Apple Mac.
Phote link from
The news that Steve Jobs has resigned as Apple CEO is sad news - the implication being that his ongoing health problems are clearly preventing him from doing the job he loves. His recent gaunt appearances over the past year show an ill man. His influence on our day-to-day lives is enormous. In my house we have five iPhones and two iPads. Apple is one of the most valuable companies in the world. iPods, iPhones, iTouchs, and iPads are among the most successful and talked about gadgets in the world with many imitators. I've no doubt that Apple will continue to innovate, be creative, and be successful without him. 

I first used the Apple Mac (pictured right) in Trinity to write up my PhD in 1987. At first there was a small number of them available in a computer lab under the railway arches near Pearse Street - later the Zoology Department (where I was based) acquired two Macs and I had one assigned to me. I thought I was in technology heaven! There was no hard drive - everything was done on 3.5" floppy disks. The windows, icons, mouse, pull-down menus (WIMPs as it was called) were a wonder to someone who had only ever used a mainframe computer with command line input before. I often say that I must have been one of the first postgraduate students in Trinity to submit a PhD thesis written on a Mac. But since then I have never used an Apple computer - always using a PC instead. It is not until the arrival of the iPod and iPhone that I started to use Apple products again.

I do hope that Jobs continues to have influence in Apple, but that he also continues his influence outside of Apple too. Take a look at the YouTube video below of Jobs at a Stanford graduation ceremony in 2005 - he ends with a wise message to young people - "Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish".

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Problem-Solving Techniques #17: Force Field Analysis

I have added another video to my Learning with YouTube channel - this one is about the Problem-Solving Technique: Force Field Analysis. It is a simple to use problem solving tool that requires no special equipment or software - a flipchart or whiteboard is ideal. It is also a tool that can be learned very quickly. In the main it is used to identify the forces that work for and against the solution of a problem so that the positives can be reinforced and the negatives reduced. The following list of what a Force Field Analysis does is taken from The Memory Jogger II  by Michael Brassard & Diane Ritter:

Force Field Analysis - What does it do?
  • Presents the “positives” and “negatives” of a situation so they are easily compared
  • Forces people to think together about all the aspects of making the desired change a permanent one
  • Encourages people to agree about the relative priority of factors on each side of the “balance sheet”
  • Encourages honest reflection on the real
The video is just over 6 minutes long, and I'm hoping that this will be a popular video - especially with students and those involved in continuous improvement.

Monday, August 22, 2011

CAO Points

Today is the day that thousands of students receive their first round offers for places in third-level courses. News reports are suggesting that subject areas such as Science, Technology, and Agriculture have higher points than last year, while Arts subjects are lower. This is an indication that students are following the jobs - in most cases a wise choice.

Image source: Simonds High School.
In 1978 I too got an offer of a place in Trinity to study Science, under the old system I got the required 17 points. The system was 5 points for an A, 4 for a B, 3 for a C, and 2 for a D in honours subjects. At lower level there were 2 points for an A, and 1 for a B. My five Cs on honours papers (5 x 3 pts) and an A in pass Maths got me the 17 points. It's harder to calculate what points I would have achieved today since the way they are calculated is very different from 1978. At the upper end, five C1s is worth 350 points, and an A1 in lower level is worth 60 points - giving a total of 410 points. At the lower end, five C3s is worth 300 points while an A2 in lower level is worth 50 points - giving a total of 350 points. So my points total would have been between 350 and 410 points.

So - where would this have got me today? Certainly not Science in Trinity which made offers today at 475 points, or UCD where the offer of a place was at 455 points. I would have been a long way short of the target. At the top of my range, 410 points would get me Computer Science in both Trinity and UCD. As I am currently employed as a Lecturer in Computing it's nice to know that I could still make the grade. Interestingly - 350 points would have got me into every course in NCI!

Many students will be delighted with their offers today - they will have been offered their first preference. Congrats to all who have got what they wanted. Others will have been offered second or lower preferences, and may be a little disappointed. Hopefully most will have chosen their preferences carefully. Unfortunately, many students will accept offers of places today and drop out of College within a few months. Others will get places on a course that they are going to fail, or struggle to get through. The vast majority will work out fine, but almost every course has drop-outs and fails. In many cases dropping out of a course that does not suit may be the best thing to do - better to find out early. Others may find their course too difficult and end up failing their exams. All that seems so far away now, but take Science in Trinity for example: there are students on 475 plus points who will have accepted a place today, but who will fail first year, or drop out before Christmas.

For most students - today is an exciting day. I well remember going into the Post Office in Carnew to get my offer letter, and sitting in the car to open the letter. That was the first time I really realized that "I'm going to University!", and that my life was about to change.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Kerry 1-20, Mayo 1-11

Croke Park was the place to be today for the All-Ireland football semi-final between Kerry and Mayo. Roma and Vicki came along to support Mayo - Roma even sporting a Mayo jersey. We were part of a crowd of just over 50,000 that enjoyed a good game of football, and an exhibition of how to play and win the game from Kerry. Being neither a Kerry man or a Mayo man, I naturally decided to wear my Wicklow jersey in support of my native county (who have never been in an All-Ireland semi-final).

Roma (Mayo) and Eugene (Wicklow) in Croke Park.
Mayo took an early lead and lead by 0-5 to 0-3 early on. After this Kerry took over, though still only lead by 2 points at half-time. Kerry looked like champions and put Mayo to the sword with at times breath-taking football. Colm "The Gooch" Cooper in a man-of-the-match display was the star of the show. Kerry made it look easy, but hours and hours of practice and training (not to mention natural ability) made it so.

Kerry on this form look favourites for another All-Ireland title - their fans only want one thing "Bring on the Dubs!".

That's it for me in Croke Park this year. I will be in Wexford next Sunday for the second semi-final between Dublin and Donegal. And with no GAA club connections I will not get a ticket for the final -so it's the telly from now on.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Installing Saorview

Ireland's new free digital TV service is called Saorview - it provides RTÉ One, RTÉ Two (in HD - handy for sport), TG4, 3e, TV3, plus some news and radio channels. To get these stations you need a Saorview decoder box. We have a TV in the kitchen in our house that received the RTÉ channels via analog signal and a "rabbit's ears" aerial. We also have an old Sky box which we use as a free-to-air decoder for mostly British channels.  So I decided to get Saorview to replace the old analog signal. 

Great ads for Saorview.
Setting up the box (€79 bargain in Harvey-Norman) is a cinch - the Installation menu sets up all the stations for Ireland. The aerial is a bit of a problem. I bought the indoor aerial and while it is not bad, it is not perfect. I changed this for an outdoor aerial which I put in the attic - much better. It is also cheaper (€33) - I really recommend the outdoor aerial for better signal and easier setup.

I do feel that whoever decided that a these channels needed a new decoder got it wrong. Surely the channels could have been made free on existing free-to-air decoders, or they could have been made available through Sky. Currently they are available to Sky subscribers only - even though they are free. I get BBC, ITV, etc on the Sky box - there are also easily available on Freeview decoders. But these decoders don't do the Irish channels, and Saorview does not do the British channels. I now have two digital decoders in my kitchen. A bit of a mess - bit for just over €100 I have free digital channels in good quality. Not bad!

Friday, August 19, 2011

How To...Use Subtotals for Data Analysis in Excel 2010

I have a new video to YouTube - this one is about creating subtotals in Excel 2010. This is a handy function that takes some of the work out of analysing data, and reduces the risk of error. It is based on a spreadsheet containing sales figures by region, and shows how to get subtotals of units sold and revenue for each of four regions. This is done without writing formulas or copying and pasting data. This is a straight-forward exercise, but I've never used the subtotal function before (and only learned how do use it myself just before I created the video). I hope to use more exercises like this in class tutorials to help students analyse data, so that they have a method with which to summarise data for presentations and reports.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Shock Report: "Cell Phone Users Admit Faking Calls to Avoid Awkward Interactions"

Well, well,well - did we really need a survey (conducted by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project) to tell us that mobile phone users sometimes deflect awkward conversations by faking phone calls? Reshma Kirpalani of ABC News reported yesterday that Cell Phone Users Admit Faking Calls to Avoid Awkward Interactions. Now I know!

Look busy!
Image link to geeksugar.
We see it all the time on TV - people leaving courts always seem to be on the phone when they leave the building. Or politicians outside Government buildings must be fielding a call from a constituent at the precise moment a reporter is asking an awkward question. Sometimes you even see people on their own "talking" or "texting" - soooo busy. I'm guilty of this too! Having not grown up in the mobile phone age, I'm not embarrassed by being seen to do nothing. But just occasionally I'll whip out the iPhone and "check" for email or text messages. Being able to surf the web makes you look even busier. This activity even has a name - Communifaking!

On a more serious note, "this type of avoidance behavior may further deteriorate our face-to-face communication skills" according to Emerson Smith of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine - this can be a particular problem in the work-place affecting team building skills and communication. We have been warned!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Jennifer Burke Award Finalists 2011

Last April I made the final of the Jennifer Burke Award for Innovation in Learning and Teaching - I previously posted about my experiences on the final day. On the day some photos were taken and recordings made of the finalists. The Finalists web page has now been updated - it shows an Abstract of my submission, photo of the five finalists (linked to below), and a short podcast in which I summarized my submission which was of course about my Learn with YouTube channel. The Award was won by Dr Mike Seery of DIT.

Michael Seery (DIT), Aoife Ni Mhuiri and Anne Marie Courtney (IT Tralee), me, and Michelle McEvoy (RCSI).

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Mouse in the House

What is it about a mouse that causes near panic in the house? I got a call at work this morning to tell me that there was a mouse in my bedroom. As I had tests to manage today I could do nothing until I got home in the evening. As the only "man" in the house it is my job to "do something" about mice. They have been in the house before - last time I got three with mouse-traps.

Image link
from Chessie.
I set two traps this evening - one in the kitchen got a mouse within an hour. Bread and jam work best. I was in the kitchen when I heard the sickening sound of the trap going off. I removed the dead mouse and re-set the trap. As I was carrying the dead creature off to the bin, I was struck by how small it was and that a creature of this size can cause people to panic and be fearful. I'm not used to mice in the house, and have recently been looking for dead rats in another location - but I'm not too squeamish about dealing with vermin. I grew up on a farm where squeamishness is not allowed - basically I'm saying I am tough enough to deal with a mouse!

I don't know where it got in. It's the middle of summer and it should have had no need to seek shelter indoors. Perhaps it was about to give birth, or maybe it was just opportunist in entering through an open door. I've looked all around the house and there is no sign of a mighty-mouse forced entry.

So it's war on mice in my house - I will not rest until they are all dead!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

'You Should All Be Fired' - I wish I could do this!

ABC News in a report this week "You Should All Be Fired": Mom Flies Banner Over Wall St writes about Lucy Nobbe A Midwestern mother and investment banker who was livid with Washington lawmakers paid for the banner that soared above Wall Street on Tuesday reading "Thanks for the Downgrade. You Should All Be Fired.". She was angry at the recent downgrade of America by S&P, so she decided to do what a lot of us would also like to be able to do - hire a plane and tell the financiers and bankers what we think of them. Here's the ABC News report (preceded by a 15 second ad):

Friday, August 12, 2011

How To... Create a Basic Pivot Table in Excel 2010

My second Learning with YouTube video this week is about Pivot Tables in Microsoft Excel 2010. Pivot tables allow you to rotate or swap data fields in a spreadsheet to generate a view of your data that filters, summarizes, and groups the data in many different ways. Put simply, if you want to make sense of a large data sheet, this might be the tool for you.

I have always been fascinated by some people's ability to create great looking tables with ease using Pivot Tables - it looks really cool when you see others doing this. I never investigated how to create them, but it turns out it is very easy to create a basic Pivot Table, so my video shows you how do do this. There's lots of advanced stuff that you can also do, but the video is just intended to get you started. 

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

How To... Create a Simple Filter in Excel 2010

It' been a while since I made a video for my Learning with YouTube Channel. I have not posted any since early June, but I am delighted to see that while the viewing figures dropped off a bit during the summer months, there were over 70,000 views during June and July. That's an average of over 1,000 per day. Viewing figures peaked during April and May - I'm guessing that the increase in numbers reflects students checking them out for study and revision. The current total views stands at 428,316 as I write this post - at the current rate of viewing I expect to reach the half-million mark in October/November. A nice landmark that I'm looking forward to - I continue to be astonished that so many people are watching my videos and (hopefully) finding them useful. I have a lot of fun creating the videos and checking out the viewing figures.

My latest video is about the basic use of the Filtering tool in Microsoft Excel 2010. This allows you to filter out data that you do not wish to view to make data analysis a bit easier. There are more advanced uses of the filter tool, but this video is intended to get people started. I'm looking for more videos to make (suggestions welcome) - I will continue to concentrate on Excel, PowerPoint, and Problem-Solving videos. Have a look at my latest video below if you would like to learn about filtering data in a spreadsheet:

Monday, August 08, 2011

Movie Review: "The Guard" - What is all the fuss about?

Went to see "The Guard" on Friday evening - many people had recommended it as the funniest film ever. I was also warned that there is a lot of bad language an un-PC comments, but sure I don't feckin' mind that! However, it did not live up to expectations for me.

The movie is about Garda Gerry Boyle (played by an excellent Brendan Gleeson) - haven't seen or heard about a Garda like him ever in Ireland. In fact the whole Garda force is made to look like a bunch of incompetent ejits, that they are all on the take, drink on duty, and are in general a foul-mouthed lazy lot. There are many funny moments in the movie, some involving a Derringer pistol, the IRA, a kid on a bike, and a milkshake. There are also some dark moments with murders, shootouts, drugs, guns, bribery, and corruption. It's hard to have a funny movie with so many violent incidents (Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels come to mind as the best I saw). The language is bad - but not so as to diminish the movie in any way. The humour was dark - some of the comedy was very predictable - in fact I can remember starting to laugh   before the punch line in one scene. Overall - an OK movie. Lots of Irish interest as it was shot in Ireland and has a lot of Irish actors. Judge for yourself.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Dublin 0-22, Tyrone 0-15

Croke Park was buzzing with anticipation yesterday evening for the All-Ireland quarter-final between Dublin and Tyrone. Kate and I went along in the rain to see the Dubs do battle with the men from the North - many of whom have All-Ireland medals in their pockets.

Photo link from Irish Times by Ryan Byrne/Inpho.
Heavy rain was predicted and sure enough our seats in the Davin Stand (Row M) were right under the edge of the roof in the open. We were glad that we were wearing windcheaters and that we had brought along pull-ups - quite the clever fans we were. We had a good giggle at those who came along in t-shirts and skimpy tops. However, the rain stopped by half-time.

Dublin blew away the Tyrone challenge with a display of power, tenacity, and skill - there was really only one team in it for most of the match. Dublin players were first to the ball on almost every occasion with first class performances from Alan and Bernard Brogan, Diarmuid Connolly, Ger Brennan, and Barry Cahill. With Donegal to come in the semi-finals, many will feel that a date with Kerry in the final is a certainty (though I'm sure that Mayo and Donegal will have something to say about this). On this form, Dublin will take some beating - but be aware that Tyrone were but a shadow of their former selves - we may have seen the last of greats like Stephen O'Neill and Brian Dooher in Croke Park.

I've been to see Dublin in Croke Park five times this year - they are getting better all the time. If they get to the final to meet Kerry, there will be much hype and comparisons with the finals in the 1970s and 1980s. This is also the time when it is difficult to get tickets. I hope to get to the Kerry vs Mayo semi-final, which may not be a full house - but without any connections to people who control the tickets, it will be difficult to get to the Dublin matches. I think the last All-Ireland final I was at was in 1979 (Dub vs Kerry).

Saturday, August 06, 2011

South Wexford and Tintern Abbey

While on holiday recently I took the bike out on one of the very few nice days to tour South Wexford. It was my first longish ride side since crossing the UK on my return from mainland Europe. While the heat was absent, I enjoyed being back on the bike again. Though I visit Wexford a lot, I am not familiar with the very south of the county. I traveled first down to Wexford town and then across the county towards Hook Head. I also visited the lovely village of Duncannon where I stopped for an ice cream.

I also stopped to take a look at Tintern Abbey on the shores of Bannow Bay. It has been somewhat restored by the OPW. It is not a very big abbey and doesn't take long to tour. According to Wexford Web "In 1200, William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, set sail for Ireland on his first visit as Lord of Leinster. Threatened with shipwreck, he vowed to found an abbey wherever he could safely land. On reaching safety in Bannow Bay, he redeemed his vow bequeathing about 9000 acres of land for a Cistercan abbey" - that explains how come an abbey came to be built in such an out of the way place. I checked out the grounds and found it to be a very interesting place - fascinating to think that the building started in 1136 (that's 875 years ago!). Probably the most interesting thing about Tintern Abbey is that it was used in the 1988 Iron Maiden video Can I Play with Madness! Have a look...

The last time I was in south Wexford was for a SCUBA diving trip with the Trinity Sub-Aqua Club in 1986. At that time I was researching the painted topshell Calliostoma zizyphinum (L.). I recorded collecting "39 variegated shells" at Slade Harbour (near Hook Head) on 13th July 1986, and on 14th July "10 variegated shells" at Hook Head. I had a paper published in the Bulletin of the Irish Biogeographical Society documenting this and other collections - here's the reference:

O'Loughlin, E.F.M. (1989). Notes on the distribution of Calliostoma zizyphinum (L.) (Mollusca) on the shores and shallow waters of the Irish coast. Bulletin of the Irish Biogeographical Society. No 12, pp 22-30.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Eircom fights back!

Well I never!

My recent moans about Eircom finally got results. After some recent contacts by Eircom staff, my Broadband speed has almost trebled - look at the latest speed test result! Recently the best I could get was 1.79 Mbps download - before this about 1Mbps was average. 3.57 Mbps is still "slower that 71% of" Ireland and rates this as a grade "D" - however, this is enough to keep me happy. Richard, Eircom's excellent engineer who came to my house today, fixed the connection so that it is set to 4 Mbps at point of entry to the house. I am to expect some loss of signal within the house. He also told me that the distance from my local exchange is effectively doubled because the phone line goes up one side of the road (Newtownpark Avenue) and down the other before it gets to my house - adding about 1.5km to the distance.

I also received a call yesterday from another Eircom engineer who told me that my line had actually been capped at 2 Mbps - no wonder I couldn't get higher. He increased it there and then and suddenly the speed shot up to 2.5 Mbps - Eircom Richard tops this off today.

So - credit where it is due. Thank you to Eircom for dramatically improving the connection. You have not lost a customer! Thanks to Twitter and Blogger for helping me communicate my issues - the power of social media shows itself again.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Book Review: "Brothers" by David Talbot

I have just completed reading "Brothers - The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years" by David Talbot. While it is principally about Jack and Bobby Kennedy, you could be forgiven for thinking that is is about Cuba (first part of book), and assassination conspiracies (second part of book). The Kennedy's dealings with Cuba/Castro, and the fall-out from JFK's murder dominate the book. Talbot has written an easy to read, thoughtful, and very interesting book.

Book Cover Photo
from Barnes and Noble.
I have not read much about the Kennedys (with the exception of Robert Dallek's masterful biography - "John F Kennedy: An Unfinished Life"), but of course as is common with most people of my generation, I know a lot about the Kennedys. The death of JFK on November 22nd 1963 is my earliest memory, while I recall the day in Carnew NS in 1968 when a girl was sent around to all classes (I was in 3rd class) to tell us that first, RFK had been shot, and secondly a few hours later that he was dead. I also visited Dealey Plaza when on a business trip to Dallas in the late 1990's.

What stands out for me from Talbot's book is the number of people and organizations that existed in the early 1960's that would have wanted both JFK and RFK dead - their enemies outnumbered their friends. It was amazing to me that the President of the United States had little or no control of the CIA who continued to plot against Castro in direct contravention of orders from the President. As the book goes on there is more and more detail on each conspiracy - Talbot makes it clear that he does not believe the Warren Commission Report that Oswald acted alone. But he does not propose a compelling alternative. Though many of the participants are now dead, Talbot has interviewed many of their relatives in an effort to gain further insight into the assassination of JFK. Alan Brinkley of the New York Times has written a review of Talbot's book that I find captures the essence of the book.

This book is an interesting read, though I think that only JFK/RFK researchers will find it useful for new material. Today we are no nearer knowing who shot JFK, and Talbot casts doubt (without much evidence) that Sirhan B. Sirhan acted alone in killing RFK. These two biggest crimes of the 20th century are still no nearer to being solved.

I recommend this book - well written and interesting. Reference is made on several occasions to the Abraham Zapruder film that was suppressed for many years. Thanks to YouTube we can all now see the moment that JFK died:

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Last day of holidays

Today is the last day of my holidays - after six great weeks off, it's back to work tomorrow. I am back in Dublin as I write this post, having left Wexford this morning. Since I started my holiday in June 20th last, I have spent just three nights in Dublin. I have been to France, Andorra, Spain, the UK, Wicklow, and Wexford over the last six weeks. I am lucky, and blessed, to have so much time off (31 days/year).

Next up when going back to work is marking repeat exams and assessments. I always feel for repeat students as I did this two years in a row (1979 and 1980) myself. I have a higher number than usual repeating this year - I sincerely hope that most students will have done enough to get through the repeats. It's the result that counts at this stage - good luck to all sitting the repeats.

Refreshed after such a long break? Yes! Looking forward to going back to work? Maybe!