Vogue Vogue Go with The Flow!

Latimer and Ridley hit the ‘beautification button’ and got dolled up for a photoshoot… no seriously… they did!

Ridley: We’ve been doing exciting things the last little while. Busy, busy! We got our structural edits back from our editor. So the last two and a half weekends, Friday night to Sunday evening, (with many cups of tea), in between colds and broken laptops, we’ve been working away through his notes. We’ve been changing, adding, rewriting and generally whimpering. The words, ‘location description’, have become despised at MLR central! Haha! It seems while we’re decent enough at the ole characters, setting them into a specific location and describing it is something we forget to do. (Sure, why do we need to do this, it’s in our heads, we see it, surely you all have telepathic powers and can see it too, no?? Haha.)

Latimer: It’s going really well. We feel pretty positive. Although writing a story is fun, it’s a lot of hard work, but every time we edit the story gets tighter. We are now nearing the ‘we are happy’ point! So onward, onward we go!

Ridley: Other than that, the second exciting thing we’ve been getting up to is we did a joint photo shoot a few weeks ago (I love saying this, we sound so professional! ‘I can’t do Saturday, I have a photo shoot to attend, shall I check my diary and I’ll get back to you?’ Ha!) Anyway, yes a photo shoot and before I run away with a massive hot air balloon sized head, it was a groupon voucher deal (a company that gives fantastic discounts on different things, from hotel breaks away, bean bags to teeth whitening!) Anyway, we jumped at the chance to do the photo shoot, not only was it something completely different, we wanted a nice author biography picture for both the Amazon author page and our blog.

Latimer: I’ve never been properly done up so this was great fun! My constant thought was, ‘well, however I look, it will be the best I can ever look, so, please God don’t let it be bad!’.

Ridley: Now, getting my picture taken is not one of my favourite past times. I think we were both worried that we’d be stiff and awkward in front of the camera. (Smile with your eyes people!) However, going in we’d decided we wanted it to be as natural as possible, no posing.

Latimer: I was worried it would take ages for us to warm up and then it would be over and we would be left with some very awkward photos!

Ridley: When we arrived at the studio (MFK on Dame Street, in Dublin), it was in an old building on the second floor. However, to get up there we had to walk through a Chinese herbal shop (I know, really weird, right?) The shop also happened to be closed. So it was dark when we walked in. Expecting to be met by glamorous studio people with flawless skin and high stilettos, we stopped and stared around at the giant jars filled with dried who knows what.

There was this little white door just in on the right with a black arrow and the words MFK studio. I reached out thinking that we had to duck in through it and maybe twist up some narrow winding stairs. I swung it open and tried to walk into an electric box. We burst out laughing. Eventually, we found the lift just around the corner.

Once upstairs, we had our makeup done and our hair styled for us. Then we were ushered up to a small room with a white backdrop (and a black one to the side) and giant spot lights (my eyes started watering at one point from them). The photographer was very welcoming. When we explained we had cups that we wanted in the photo (we wanted it to appear as if we’d been having a cup of tea and a chat).

I think she thought we were crazy, but then she said a few weeks ago, there was a woman who wanted to have tea cakes in her picture. (*Sigh* That would have been a great addition with the cup of tea! Haha.)

We had so much fun. The two of us and the photographer basically spent the whole time giggling, you should see some of the rejected photos, we’re bent over (we were telling her about how I walked into the cupboard downstairs). She let us in on the old trick of extras in the background of Fair City (Dublin based TV show) use the word, ‘rhubarb’, to appear as if they’re talking about something.

That cracked us up; the idea of all these people wandering around a television studio set mumbling rhubarb at each other while the main actors said their lines. So, of course, we started saying it. Anyway, by the end and shots later, here’s the two we picked!

Latimer: Hopefully they look like we are having a laugh and a bit of craic, Irish stylie!

Ridley: The only other time we had so much fun with a camera was when we were in Tokyo and we discovered the photo booths in their arcade centres, there’s loads of them (in the same building as the infamous pachinko parlours).

Latimer: These photos are called ‘purikura’ and are very popular with the ‘kids’.

Ridley: Each one have different effects, in the one we picked we had five seconds to copy different random J-pop poses before the camera flashed, then you can basically add loads of effects and random clip art to the resulting photos. This was the result.

Latimer: Very crazy pictures you have been warned! The people on the screen suggest the poses- we didn’t do them randomly… ah sigh well, here they are!

The eyes are just so freaking looking. 🙂

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Murphy’s Law

Latimer’s week read like Murphy’s Law.

Latimer: A series of unfortunate events leads me to writing this entry. It’s basically a more somber version of Ridley’s.

Firstly, the number one thing you need to understand is my laptop is not a thing. It is actually an extension of myself; and so, I am currently suffering from phantom limb syndrome, because said extension has been removed from my person.

I should preface what comes below by stating emphatically  I am a laptop addict. That’s a fact. And even though, I will often say this in a joking manner, I am in fact deadly serious. It’s not as insidious as a blatant addiction to say, alcohol or drugs, but actually it’s just as real. The scary thing, and the thing I often ignore, because it’s not something I like to dwell on, is that I am in fact addicted to my laptop and the internet. However, I think this is an expected addiction of the modern age (you can tell I’ve had a lot of time to dwell on it, in light of being separated from my laptop). The edge has been taken off by virtue of the fact that I own a smart-phone and therefore have an internet-based outlet.

The whole event started on Monday night.

I tried to turn on my laptop and it wouldn’t start. I tried again, and again and again. But my beloved was having none of it. I wasn’t as concerned as I expected I would be. Usually such an event is followed by nervous lip and finger biting, and heart palpitations (this, is what my naïve mind assumes is a very, very, very mild form of withdrawl symptoms!).

When things happen to my laptop, on this scale, my find is filled with white noise… a blankness as if someone has stuffed cotton wool into my brain, leaving me to float in a cloud of despair.

This despair was present but at very low, semi-undetectable, levels. I was able to breathe and knew there was nothing I could do. So I stopped trying and decided I would go to the ‘IT crowd’ in my college the next day and see what they could do.

I slept well that night. I was in the ‘acceptance of powerlessness’ stage!

The next day I handed it over to the IT crowd. That was like walking into a wondrous world I didn’t understand- the world of hope for the uninitiated! I know what technology can give me, but when it fails (as badly as it had) I’m lost, baffled, confuddled. It was like I was a child, handing over my laptop to God, going; ‘Pluh-ezz Mister, can you fix it?’

I left it with them and went to work. As I muddled around the lab, time ticked by and I thought; ‘this is not good’. Picture me, staring into space, pouring acid into beakers, a dazed expression on my face; ‘Pluh-ezz’.

The more time that passed, the more I slowly came to terms with the fact that I would be laptop-less for a while. I back-up my file regularly (I cannot stress the importance of this!), most recently that weekend, so I wasn’t getting as worried as I would have otherwise. I use my laptop for work; it has lots of project data on it. So, this is very serious!

To add injury to insult, my lab-based machinery broke down at a critical point in my experiment! I couldn’t help but laugh (though inside a tiny part of me died- this is not the first time this has happened either and it always seems to happen when I really need it to work- Murphy’s Law in play).

The whole day got me thinking on the importance of technology.

We need it for everything nowadays.

I need it for my work. I need it in so many ways to look at data and very importantly to find information. It’s like a giant library. Old school scientists used to talk about how ‘in my day I had to go through catalogues and mark out all the papers I wanted to read, then go to the library and get them to order the papers for me! It could take months!’ whereas today you go online and have access to everything and anything in seconds. If you are sitting somewhere and someone asks a mundane question, you can just google it and find the answer.

I started writing a blog post on a piece of paper- full of misspellings and so on. Holding the pen like it was an alien tool, staring at it, ‘how does one write?’.

It got me thinking on my, our, dependence on technology and how your vast world shrinks to a tiny spec in its absence.

As I wrote my blog post, I slowly realized; ‘if I don’t have a laptop, how the hell does this even get out there? Who’s going to read this?’  

And more and more the world shrank around me.

And you know what else- I lost that bloody piece of paper! My words and thoughts were gone. Much like my laptop.

The long and short of it is this; my laptop is gone for good (that was something I did not expect on Monday!). Amazing how surprising a week can be!

I don’t know how it happened or why, but there it is. My hard-drive is possibly salvageable but I don’t know yet. I’ve lost some things that weren’t backed up, little parts of myself that I’ll forget until I wonder about them and realize they aren’t there anymore. My laptop was like a second brain or something; Cyber Latimer, my me-bot.

It will be replaced by another laptop that will subsequently also become a part of me. My data will, possibly, be transferred (that’s something I’ll let you know about)… but I am left thinking I have become something of a cyborg in my later years. I remember getting my first laptop and not knowing what to do with it (I hardly used it at all- and another fact is I’ve only ever had two laptops in my life, the first was secondhand).

I remember going on the internet for the first time thinking, ‘what the hell can I use this for? It’s boring I don’t see the point’

And I remember when I didn’t have any of these things. When I had to go to the encyclopedia, which never changed or updated, and had been written in the 80s, to find out things; then Encarta was the new big thing (God, what ever happened to damn Encarta? It was a big thing when I was a kid. All those expensive CDs that would tell you everything… and eventually nothing)… Ah, that was when the world was small.

Did you see in the Olympic Opening ceremony this year when Sir Tim Berners-Lee (who invented the internet) appeared near the giant house?… when he sent that message out into the crowd; This (the internet) is for everyone….? It gave me chills. It was fantastic.

The world’s great, free, web of connection; the thing that I now use to connect to you all, people I don’t know, people I’ve never seen before, but people who I now speak to; who I now share my thoughts with.

Being disconnected from it (in a proper sense without my laptop) for a few days made me think how much it connected me to things.

Ridley wrote an entry and posted it; while I was writing on a scrap of paper thinking; ‘how am I going to post this anyways? Who’s going to ever read this?’ No one as it turns out because I lost it.

But the point is, I felt powerless.

Of course, I’m writing this now, so you’ve realized that I have other methods of connection. I’m writing on my family’s laptop. But it’s like being in someone else’s house; I could fly around my own desktop and files like flying around my own mind. This is a disjointed, confusing environment.

My old baby is gone; the only one that was with me from her first days! My first real laptop that had only ever belonged to me; she’s gone.

We watched so many things together; we learned so much, we wrote so much, all together, me and cyber-me. I really will miss her.

I only hope her consciousness can be saved!

Broken Laptop & Delirium

Ridley: Apologies for the radio silence recently, we’ve been a little absent from the blogging and twittering world. Mainly because I’m down with a cold (What’s new! I’ve the immune system of a dead person!) and Latimer is currently banned from the internet. Well…her laptop is broken. Yes, I heard the collective wince. I winced even as I typed that. I will readily admit I’m an internet addict (and a chocolate and caffeine one, we all have our vices!) so that would be hell on earth for me (and it is for her too!). You really don’t realise how often you turn on your computer until you no longer have it!

Now, you’ll have to picture her pulling out her hair and pacing furiously, while simultaneously pleading and threatening her silent blank screen. I’m just hoping the IT peoples she brought it to can recover the information on it! I’d say she’d have had to hold back the urge to not punch the IT man as he dithered over whether he could fix it. I imagine it could have gone like this, (but for the fact that she’s a nice, polite self-restrained individual):

Latimer slams in through the glass door of the shop. It’s still fairly empty, having just opened a minute and a half ago. Her feet make a scratching sound as she scurries across their grey carpet, zipping in between the aisles of empty boxes advertising anti-viral software and straight to customer service. When she reaches the white counter, a man in a yellow t-shirt has his back to her. She swings her laptop bag around and slides onto the counter top.

“Help me…please.” She whispers. “It’s broken.”

The man jumps and twists round, dropping his pen. He blinks at her sudden appearance. “Wel-welcome to the IT help desk.” He stumbles and then swoops down under the desk to pick up his biro. “How can I help you?”

Latimer frowns at him and points at the black square bag. “It’s broken. I don’t know what happened. It won’t turn on.”

“Of course, well then you’ve come to the right place. Let me take a look.” He slides the laptop out and peers at the underside of it.

“So it won’t turn on…now, you did plug it in, right?” He asks.

Latimer’s hands drop down to her sides, her fingers twitch. She narrows her eyes. “Yes.”

He nods and opens it up. “Intel pentium core processor…good…”

“Hmm hmm…” Latimer’s fingers begin to drum against her thigh.

He examines it, there’s silence for a little while. Latimer bounces on the balls of her feet.

“So…” She bites her lip. “Does it look bad, can you fix it?”

He starts mumbling to himself. ‘Well…I suppose, I could try to…but then I don’t know if that would work. Hmm…’ He scratches his head with his blue pen. Latimer’s hands curl into fists. ‘I wonder if I…’

He turns the laptop round. He jams his pen behind his ear and jabs at a few keys, frowning down in intense concentration.  Latimer leans in nodding, her eyes widen. “Yes?”

After a few moments, he draws back with a shake of his head. “No, the power button isn’t the answer anyway…”

*SMACK* Latimer throws down her laptop case.

“I’ll kill you!” She leaps over the counter and shakes the man by his collar. “Fix it! Fix it, god damnit!”

“No Latimer! It’s not worth it!”  (Some random person who happens to know her shouts-as I’m not there, but if I was, ’tis what I would say! haha.)

People haul her off of him. He’s unscathed, but the same can’t be said for her. The police are called. It all ends up with her rocking in the corner of a damp mouldy cell, giggling and muttering to herself. “Fix it…fix…fix…fix….I’ll fix it…”

Her one phone call is made to Ridley-not a good idea this time (is it ever a good idea? haha).

Ridley is at home, her flowery covers have been tugged up to her chin. She’s shivering and sweating in bed. There are empty tubes of Tyrozet throat lozenges littering the floor in amongst scrunched up tissue paper and tatty brown cardboard toilet rolls.

She’s randomly hollering out words in her delirium.

“Nurofen!”

“Batman!”

Ridley often gets up and wanders to the kitchen like a grumpy Lurch, peering in the cupboard for things to make her feel better and making endless cups of tea.

When she returns to her room, she peers around.

“Who put these little flashing lights in my room, they won’t turn off!”

Then she realises they’re in her eyes.

A distinct overpowering whiff of TCP wafts from her to join the smell of cooking chicken that’s drifting up from downstairs. Her mother is in the kitchen, she’s like a witch over a cauldron with a big wooden spoon. Churning and churning a bubbling broth in a large saucepan. She’s making Chicken Penicillin and she’s tossing in vegetables, spices, whole chicken carcasses and chanting about, “Bone marrow and antibodies!”

Ridley gladly accepts anything to relieve the misery. She really doesn’t remember when she swallowed the barbed wire that is now stuck in her throat.

As she feasts on her soup, and having taken more drowsy medication, her mobile beside her rings.

“Hello?” She whispers in a hoarse voice.

“Ridley! Help me, my laptop is broken! And I’m in jail!”

Ridley pulls back and peers at the number on the screen. She puts the phone back to her ear. “Who is this?”

“What do you mean, who is this? It’s Latimer! You need to get me out of here, I need to fix my computer!”

Ridley yawns, her tablets begin to kick in. “I don’t understand…my brain it’s not…Lat I can’t help right now, ‘m sorry…ring back later.”

“What!? No, wait…”

Ridley hangs up and immediately nods off.

When she wakes up. She begins to remember the dream, which involved chicken soup and a phone call. She shuffles downstairs, trying to recall its ending. There’s a reporter in the kitchen. There are also two scientists in white coats, huddling over the grubby silver saucepan and poking at a raw onion. 

“I’ve just won a prize!” Her mother beams. “I found the cure to the common cold!”

“Your mother’s made a massive break through.” The man at the kitchen table says with his head bent over his notepad.

“Has she.” Ridley nods to her mother. “Well done. Always said your soup was some good stuff.”

“Your phone keeps ringing, I just took it out of your room, as you were fast asleep and I didn’t want it to wake you.” Her mother hands her back her mobile.

“I’m sure it probably wasn’t important.” Ridley shrugs and scrolls down through the missed calls, the log shows numbers that get longer and more foreign with each hour. There are numerous text messages too.

Ridley, I’m now in Panama. It’s quite hot here.

2 hours later:The Spanish is confusing me, amigo.

7 hours later:Could you send me sun cream?

7 hours and 2 minutes: “Rid, how do you cure burns?

8 hours later:Slowly rising up the ranks, turns out one of the main mob bosses likes Lord of the Rings too. Lots in common.

10 hours later:Am now his right hand man…woman. Thinking of getting a tattoo. Ideas?

12 hours later:It’s a bit loco here at the moment, we’ve decided to stage a break out. I told them all about that one episode of ‘Prison Break’, I watched. It seemed to give them all ideas.

15 hours later:Success! On the way home, can you pick me up from the airport? I’ll show you my new tattoo! Arriving at 5.”

Ridley sighs and glances at the clock, it’s 4.30. Lights from a camera flash blind her. The reporter has started taking pictures of her mother holding up a soup bowl and a spoon.

“I’m going to go change. Gotta pick up Latimer.” Ridley turns to go climb back up the stairs and texts: “Fine. Going to be a little late though.

She gets an immediate reply.

No problem. BTW I’ve brought friends. See you in a bit 🙂

“Have fun!” Her mother calls.

“Depends on your definition.” Ridley mutters.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And that, my friends, is how it all went down, in my head. Haha. Who knows what happens when I got to that airport. I was probably insanely jealous of Latimer’s great tan and cool tattoo (or horrific sun burn and hodge-podge black smudge?) Either way, fun times!

Need more sleep I think! 🙂

Thanks to freedigitalphotos.com for my pictures (except the TCP one,that’s all mine)

Gold! Always Believe in Your Soul!

Ridley: I’ve been wrapped up in the Olympics the last little while. I have to say London has absolutely out done itself. Britain should be so proud!

Now of events, I’ve been watching the rowers, the swimmers, the runners and of course, the boxers. I just spend the time marvelling at their athletic feats while I snack on crisps and lull on the couch.

One thing I have noticed; the games really bring out the patriot in you, don’t they? So many countries and the people within them surely think this? There is absolutely nothing like watching one of your Olympians stepping up to the podium. 

At the moment, here in Ireland, there is one person’s name on all our lips, Katie Taylor. While I’ll be the first to say we have fantastic sports people, Katie really is the woman of the hour. When she received her gold medal around her neck, there wasn’t a dry eye in the stadium or in the country.

Shivers shot through me to hear our nations song, ‘Aran na bhFiann’ song by thousands in a completely different country, there were so many of us there it was a like a GAA (football or hurling) final in Dublin!  (Or the Euros in Poland this year!)

For the week or so of her three big fights, the country, the people of Ireland forgot their worries and joined together. We speculated, we hoped, we debated and we prayed for a great result. We all love to support our teams and our people. We get behind our heroes and we cheer them on. Even now, one of our most popular songs that we sing at nearly every event harks back to the 1990s during the World Cup in Italy when our football team got through and played in them. Their coach was Jack Charlton and the song: ‘We’re all part of Jackie’s Army’.

Granted we didn’t win the World Cup of course, but it’s all part of the craic to be involved somehow, to get swept up in the tension, the fun and the ‘what if’. I remember it well, I would have only been nine or ten, but we watched every one of the matches with our team playing on a small fuzzy television. We did it while wearing knitted Ireland scarves and floppy green top hats! It’s this absolute support that we show any sport or person, no matter if you’ve never watched or followed it before, that really makes me proud to be Irish.

During Katie’s final match yesterday, 1.5 million people tuned in to watch it. Some business closed for it, others brought televisions and radios in to watch or hear it in work. In Bray, Katie’s home town thousands turned out to watch it on the big screens there. I loved this video of them all going mad and celebrating at the result.

The ESB (electricity company) has said the demand for electricity dropped by 6% for the duration of the match (and then jumped back up afterwards, as we all turned on the kettle for a cuppa, no doubt! Haha.)

Everything stopped when that first bell rang, the streets and roads were empty. Seriously. Total silence descended over the country as people watched the fight, and when she won, the screaming and the singing and the hollering began. Life restarted again, people flooded the streets, cars were back in traffic jams and all anyone could talk about was, ‘did you see the fight?’

(Here’s a brilliant video of Thai Tims singing about Katie, so cute and fantastic that a country so far away has people celebrating her. The tune is originally ‘The Wild Rover.’)

Even if you weren’t a fan of boxing before this, you’d end up at least being a fan of Katie Taylor’s, who is unbelievably hard working, modest and generous in her praise to her fellow fighters. She’s done more than win the country’s first gold medal, she’s given it’s people hope and happiness. To cap it all off, the summer seems to have come at last! We’ve had absolutely fantastic weather the last two days to coincide with the win. People are wandering round laughing, smiling and getting sunburned. For this weekend at least, we’re all glancing at each other with raised eyebrows and saying, ‘Recession? What recession!’

Long may it last!

Paper art

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Ridley: Sometimes the simple things are the most beautiful.

When you think of art, what comes to mind?

It’s nearly always complicated oil paintings, detailed watercolours and delicate sculptures that you think of, isn’t it? You never think of paper being the only tool you need to create beautiful works.

So when we came across the Origami Paper Art museum, we were very impressed!

While the material is simple, these art pieces are far from it!

Now this lovely find was in Tokyo airport. We were there last May and I know it seems a bit late to be posting this, but I keep looking at the pictures. They’re simply amazing. I feel a bit selfish not sharing them!

 

All of this is paper!

I laughed any time I saw a dragon in Tokyo as Godzilla always came to mind. When I was younger, we used to watch the old Godzilla movies. They were so funny, most of the time you can see the wires on the flying creatures.

Who says airports are boring? (Me…I always did! Well apart from the random bits of duty free shopping.)

Here’s a link to a blog entry that I came across with numerous different types of paper art, they are all absolutely extraordinary!