Thursday, November 10, 2016

In Memory Of James (Jim) Donovan

The following is the speech that was made at my Grandfather's funeral by my uncle John O'Donovan. I am posting it in honor of my Grandfather who passed away on the 27 of July 2002.

"When we go home,
 Tell them of us and say,
 For your tomorrow,
 We gave our today."

Good morning everybody,
On behalf of my family i would like to thank you all for joining us in mourning Jim's death and celebrating his life. In particular i would like to thank my father's old comrades and friends from the Royal British Legion who lent so much to last night's removal and this morning's ceremonies.
Events and fate shape a man's life and how he deals with life's difficulties and crises defines the man. It is worth for a few moments to reflect on my father's life so the young may realise how fortunate they are and maybe appreciate the sacrifices a previous generation made to ensure the freedom and comfort they enjoy today. It may also rekindle memories of shared experiences for his friends and contemporaries.
Like most O'Donovans my father's family came from West Cork, his grandfather sold a farm and moved to the city where he bought a haulage business which prospered for a good number of years until a weakness for the demon drink brought it to its knees.
My Grandfather moved to Liverpool where my father was born in 1919. He has an older brother, Jack, who lives in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, whose health did not permit him to travel over for the ceremonies, and a sister, Lucy, who died some years ago.
The family returned to Cork when my father was one. When he was three his mother died, when he was eleven his father died. He and his siblings were separated and sent to live with relatives who didn't really want them and from then on he really had to learn to fend for himself.
Aged 16, he went back to England on his own, probably without any money, to find work. He did and worked at various things until in early 1939, aged 19, he was called up to serve in the British Army. He was enlisted in the 1st Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment. His first posting was to North Africa in 1940 to confront the Italian Army in Libya and was part of the famous victory when 30,000 British under General Richard O'Connor defeated a much larger Italian force before Rommel arrived on the scene to upset the applecart for a while. His brother also served in North Africa and was in Tobruk during the siege of that city.
From North Africa my father's regiment was sent to Greece, and when the Germans overran the country he was evacuated off a beach in Crete to The Kelly, which was Lord Mountbatten's flagship. He then survived the sinking of The Kelly after it was attacked and sunk by Stuka dive bombers.
From there it was a case of out of the frying pan into the fire. His regiment was sent to the Far East to counter the Japanese threat in late 1943 and he became part of an elite British Force, nicknamed the Chindits, who were dropped behind enemy lines of communication. The forerunners of today's Special Forces, they experienced severe hardship, fending for themselves and living off what they could scavenge for months on end. They were named after the Chinthe, a mythical Burmese beast that was half-lion and half-eagle.
My father was always reluctant to talk about the war but one thing he did say always stuck in my mind. Close to starvation, and living on nerves and wits in the Burma Jungle, he made a promise to himself that if he ever got out alive he would never go hungry again. He kept that promise and come what may he always provided for his wife and family. He cherished his Burma star above all his war medals and was one of only a handful of Irishmen to earn one. He later served in India and Palestine before being demobbed in late 1945.
He worked in Fords in Leamington Spa for three years after the war before returning to Ireland to join the Eagle Printing Company where he saw out his working life until the company closed in 1981.
My father was an outstanding footballer, capable of playing at the highest level had the war not intervened. He played for his Corps on many occasions and had the distinction of playing for the Army against the Royal Air force in Wembley. In these days of pampered and extravagantly paid footballers it is worth noting that he walked into Wembley for that match with his boots wrapped in newspaper.
He had a superb left foot which regrettably skipped my generation but thankfully has been passed onto his grandson Alex and his two great-grandsons Alan and Gavin."

By John O'Donovan

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Thoughts on Virtual Reality

Having an interesting conversation here about VR. Here are my feelings about it.

Yes I might be a grumpy old bastard but I have great hope for VR. It has a lot more potential than just gaming which everyone is focusing on. We appear to be living in a society now that demands instant gratification, we want everything now and if it's not perfect it's a failure. Or even worse, misery and scandal sell advertising so I'm going to create a click bait negative headline to get hits.  Sorry but that is a bullshit attitude.

I'm sure there are a lot of you that remember the days of the Amiga, Atari, C64 and so on, loading software from tapes?  Blowing on tapes, tapping discs on the table, repairing your own cables? Having the patients to figure things out? Yes, we got frustrated and lost it at times, who wouldn't? But imagine if instead of having imagination and a little vision, we'd said "Fuck these computer things, they don't even work half the time!". Where would we be now?

I have Google cardboard first gen. The first app I got was the official Google Cardboard one. It includes a demo called 'Windy Day' which has this very simple (light on the hardware) but very beautiful animation style, kind of like paper animation, simple but effective. If you haven't seen it try it out.

It might not be super realistic but if you're expecting hyper realistic VR you'll be wait several years or decades. It could however be very effective for story telling. Imagine a history lesson in school being told in this style instead of a boring lecture, it would bring the classroom to life. I think it would be much more effective than standard education. It's far more engaging and interactive than some dude at the top of the class saying "Bueller, Bueller, Bueller...?". It would allow teachers to express themselves and get their point across so much more effectively.

Film is another area that is going to take off with VR headsets. Why go to the cinema when you can watch the latest movie with a VR headset and it will look like the biggest screen you've ever seen in your life? No annoying idiots making noise or jumping up in front of you, sounds great to me. Story telling and the arts will thrive with virtual reality, interactive art shows. Theatre will be brought to life like never before, fully interactive story telling, you'll feel like you're in the story with the characters.

The conversation is on going but I just wanted to impose my thoughts on you all. Virtual Reality is something I've been excited about for a very long time.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A dull world without Linux

As a kid in the early 80s I remember walking through Eason & Sons and seeing all the new computers, the BBC, Acorn, Amstrad, Atari, C64, ZX81 and of course the unforgettable Speccy. There was so much variety, so much excitement and countless debates over which one was better and why. Each one had a personality of its own, a character that you were drawn towards when deciding which one you'd nag your parents to get. The choice was incredible.

Then the 90s hit and things started to get whittled down. Apple were giants but very expensive and still not really for regular family use and IBM compatibles were for business not fun. On the home front we still had the C64, C128, the Speccy was on its last legs but still clinging onto life. The real debate though in my latter years of secondary school was Atari vs Amiga. Then the mid 90s hit and it all ended, Win 95 was released. To most home users it was exciting, new, fresh and promised a future of entertainment, a gamers dream. A lot of us jumped on the band wagon and it was fun for awhile. 

A few years past as did the giants, Atari and Amiga seemed like they were from a different age. Most home computers were the same now, we had achieved uniformity on the desktop. Everything was now compatible, didn't matter if you bought a Dell, Gateway or Compaq, they were all the same, all ran Windows.

By the mid 2000s I hadn't felt excited about my desktop environment for years, it was just this thing that I used to work and play games. I was excited about hardware, graphics cards and so on but the DE was dead. We had lost that magic the 70s and 80s had created, the feeling of awe was gone.

Then in 2008 a friend of mine in Chicago asked me if I'd ever tried Linux, in fact he said "You should try Linux, I think it would suit your political views." He recommended Ubuntu but I was quickly turned off by the color brown, I'm very visual and color has a big effect on me. The brown as Ubuntu was themed at the time turned me off. After that I found Opensuse and the dark green just leaped off the screen at me, I loved it. I had finally discovered Linux and the world of my childhood was once again in front of me. I had choice again, it was like discovering magic, multiple different desktop environments, countless debates over which one was better. I hadn't felt that excitement about computers since that first walk through Eason & Sons all those years earlier. No going back now, the Linux world has become a passion.

Thank you to everyone involved in the Linux world for all you have done over the past 24 years. Long may it continue.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Demeter's Brew

We have a success!

Seven months in the making for this one but tonight we opened the first two bottles of the Demeter's Brew, a harvest ale we brewed last winter. Nerve racking stuff considering the effort and wait involved but well worth it in the end.
To say it's nice is an understatement, it has a rich caramel malt taste with a sweet grainy finish. Very pleasant on the palate. So far our home brewing has been about 50/50 with success but the few successes we've had have been worth it. I love rich malty beers and of course honey ales are a must for the winter and the holidays.
Now that the weather is cooling off it will be time to brew again and Demeter's Brew will definitely be one worth thinking about. +Linda Dean and myself are very happy with this brew and as usual are enjoying a glass as I type. Happy brewing all!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

AHS English Honey Bitter

Given the fact that it has been far too long since my last post and the fact that we just brewed our first beer in over a year I just felt that I had to make this post. The AHS (Austin Homebrew Supply) English Honey Bitter was sitting around in a press for quite sometime. Up until a little over a year ago we had been home brewing some very nice beers, but then something happened. We had two soured beers in a row and it kind of unnerved us a bit so we took a break from home brewing and concentrated on reviewing and trying various different craft beers over the past year.

Well about a month ago we got the itch to brew some beer again (watching the Hobbit may have helped). So we got to work on the English Honey Bitter kit we had bought from AHS the year before. It was kind of nerve racking, we definitely didn't want this batch to fail again so we redecorated the entire kitchen with new paint and new flooring (helped by +GIEnterprises Oregon ) then made sure the equipment was sanitized and ready for the brew. The main difference this time is that we had purchased two Beer Boxes from Northern Brewer. We were hoping because we wouldn't be dealing with 40 - 50 bottles that we'd be cutting down on the risk of infection and soured beer.

Tonight, nearly four weeks later we got to try our English Honey Bitter out of our new beer boxes for the first time. Glasses in hand, phone recording video and nerves on edge, we set about pouring the first glass. It had been a success, we were back brewing again and it tasted great. In fact I'm enjoying a glass as I type this post. I have said on multiple occasions how much of a fan of Middle-earth I am and how much it pains me not to be able to run around Lotro natively on my beloved Linux desktop. +Linda Dean and myself have also spoken at length over the years about what real Middle-earth ales would taste like if they were real. Well tonight I think we really came close to finding out, this English Honey Bitter from AHS is in my mind, about as close as you could get to sitting in the Green Dragon Inn in Bywater, enjoying a pipe by the flickering fire and listening to tall tales from across the river. So with glass in hand and the soundtrack to Lotro playing in my ears, I say, cheers! Have a great night all!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Nothing like a leg of lamb

In all the universe and all the worlds there is nothing quite like a roast leg of lamb. The tenderness and juiciness of the meat, the flavour and texture. Roast leg of lamb will beat roast beef any day of the week in my humble opinion. This week we cooked arguably one of the best pieces of lamb I have ever had. This was a cut from the whole lamb we bought a couple of months back from a local farm here in Oregon.
You would not believe how tender this meat really is. It can make roast beef taste like an old shoemakers boot. We covered the roast in garlic and herbs before roasting to give it that extra flavour and it paid off.
I really enjoy photographing food, especially roasts, they have an ability to make you instantly hungry, to make your mouth water in anticipation of the coming meal.
Even though I've said it before I'm really stunned that lamb is not more popular here in the USA. It would seem to me that it is easier to produce than beef and probably less harmful to the environment.
Served with white scallop squash and garlic along with mashed potatoes. If I was back home I'd probably add some Bisto gravy to the mix, however, we are currently out. We will order more in the future though (can't do without a bit of Bisto).

As always, if you haven't tried lamb you should give it a go. Try getting it from a local producer if possible as it will always be better. If you can't get it from a local producer then I'd recommend New Zealand or Irish lamb as an alternative. Both countries produce fantastic lamb and you won't regret buying it. If you need recipes try Google or drop +Linda Dean a note.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

4th of July 2014

A few things have struck me about the 4th of July celebrations, a few very important things that are a must have on the 4th, beer (preferably craft beer), food (preferably BBQ) more beer and of course last but not least fireworks. Well this year we managed to have all three in abundance. So we made merry, ate our fill and exploded the driveway...just joking +GIEnterprises Oregon , we didn't actually explode the driveway but we did have a whole lot of fun with the fireworks.

We might as well start this 4th of July post with the food images captured on the day. We had BBQ pork ribs, two racks and they were delicious. And the bonus was that we had plenty of leftovers for the next day.
Unusually we didn't use BBQ sauce this time round but instead marinated the ribs in a mixture of Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar and garlic over night.
I thought they might have lacked moisture with no BBQ sauce but they were fine, they turned out very juicy and didn't appear to dry out at all.
I have to say there is nothing quite like the taste of BBQ pork just off the grill, I'm actually drooling here thinking about it.
We also had salad with the meal though I failed to capture any images of that as I was to busy devouring the ribs.
All good things come to an end they say and this was true of our ribs, after we ate our fill it was time for some real fun. The front yard fireworks display for Talon. He was waiting anxiously at the door with a box of matches in a safe way I might add and not in a Beavis kind of way.
I love fireworks, when they are relatively low key and not setting off sonic booms to scare the bejusus out of our pets. The legal ones in Oregon though are just fine and still provide a lot of fun and entertainment.
They are mostly just fountains of colour and sparks but they do give a great light show. This is the one night a year that we really do appreciate having very few working street lights on our road.
Above, +Linda Dean  and Talon set up for a light show that very nearly reached the camera, it was very cool.
Not sure if our hops appreciated it, they were probably suffering from shock afterwords.
Being the one behind the camera meant I didn't get to set a whole lot of them off but I eventually got my chance with Talon giving me very detailed directions on how to light them properly and safely.
I hope you all had a great 4th of July and I hope you share your images with the rest of us when you get time, for now though, that is it from me.