28 August 2009

Broadband? What's that?

If you have a decent broadband connection, count your blessings! (and feel sorry for me)
Ireland in some ways is way behind the rest of Europe and this is most apparent when it comes to broadband connection in rural areas.
When many other countries started getting broadband, we still had to use dial-up. Then we had an ISDN connection which improved things somewhat and we weren't kicked out of the internet quite as often anymore.
Every few months, we would check if our landline telephone provider Eircom had made any changes to the telephone lines in our area, hoping that eventually we would be able to get broadband here. No such luck! They just couldn't (and can't) be bothered to bring broadband to the rural areas in Ireland as opposed to the UK where you find proper and relatively fast broadband connection in remote areas like the Scottish Highlands.
We were delighted when the "broadband modems/dongles" appeared on the market a couple of years ago. "Broadband" via a mobile device - Wow! - Only "Wow" it certainly wasn't. Problems, problems and more problems. Slow speeds, network problems, even slower speeds, unusuable speeds, no network connection at all, you name it.
2 years later...and still no joy. Eircom are not improving the lines in our area, so home-based broadband won't appear here in the foreseeable future. Still stuck with the so-called broadband modems which use HSDPA technology. In the spring of this year, the Irish government decided that this technology was good enough (and cheap enough) to bring broadband to many parts of rural Ireland and awarded the National Broadband Scheme contract to the operator we've been dealing with for the last 2 years. Believe it or not, but we aren't even part of this National Broadband Scheme and we live only 15km (10 miles) outside Ennis, the nearest big town and county capital.
I've made some contacts within this company (the mobile broadband operator) over the last couple of years and they have done a lot to help us with our problems. Our modems were upgraded and we've got so-called repeaters installed which are supposed to boost the signal. For about a fortnight in July, we had the pleasure of a near decent broadband connection with 1 - 4mb download speed and were able to stream videos for the first time ever. Then the problems started again.
Today, I'm very lucky indeed to be online as I haven't been able to get on the net in the last 26 hours on the laptop in my home office. Had to drive into town this afternoon in order to read my emails (the modem worked there, different mast for the signal).
Eventually, we managed to get online on one of the computers in my husband's office in the house, but although we have 2 modems which we pay for on a monthly basis, we only managed to get online with one of them and at appalling speeds (waiting for pages to load, etc.)
Fun?...Not. Unfortunately, we're fairly stuck for alternatives. There are other operators using these "broadband" modems in Ireland, but they don't cover our area. I've seriously considered moving, but would you give up your house for a broadband connection?
Watch this space for more rantings and ravings :(

27 August 2009

The Age-Defying Diet

I just posted this article on my Venus with Weights Blog. As I think it's a really good article about nutrition, I decided to post it on this blog as well. Hope you find it interesting.

I borrowed this article from Core Performance, an American Sports/Fitness/Nutrition site:

The Age-Defying Diet

image via flickr

I now have enough evidence to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that my mother was trying to kill me. She kept a can of grease under the kitchen sink that she repeatedly recycled for frying things—like her potato pancakes, pork-kraut roll and even mince bologna. For breakfast when I was in grade school, she’d warm a tray of pecan twirls and instant black coffee, then puzzle over why I got D's in conduct. Any meat, like steak or chicken, was always boiled first (“to get the scum off”) and then cooked. It wasn’t until I was well past puberty that I realized a good steak was dark and juicy rather than the color and texture of rhino hide.

I weighed 200 pounds when I left home at age 21, and my cholesterol and sugar were already high. Fortunately, a succession of jobs in the health-and-fitness field educated me about proper eating, and I slowly changed my diet. Now on the brink of turning 50, I weigh 175 pounds and have no significant health problems. In her defense, mom didn’t know what she was doing nutritionally and, when it comes right down to it, neither do most people. So I won’t prosecute.

But I often wonder if I’d be in even better shape if I hadn’t eaten so poorly for almost half my life. What if there was an Age-Defying Diet just like there is an RDA for nutrients that could keep us forever fit, slim, strong and energized Well, with the help of Jose Antonio, Ph.D., CEO of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, we’ve created one for you—an eating plan that strives to deliver all those benefits and can adapt to any lifestyle. Here are the components:

1. Eliminate (or significantly limit) processed foods.

“This is 90 percent of the battle,” says Antonio. “If it doesn’t occur in nature, then try to avoid it.” The closer a food or drink is to its natural state, the more beneficial nutrients and fewer artificial ingredients it contains. It’s like premium rather than regular fuel for your body. (Click here to watch a video of resident nutritionist Amanda Carlson explaining this concept more.)

2. Maintain a 40/30/30 diet.

This means 40 percent of your calories should come from carbohydrate, 30 percent from protein, and the remainder from fat. There’s no need to count calories and start a spreadsheet, though. “Eating shouldn’t be about mathematics,” says Antonio. Just ballpark it.

3. Eat fish at least three times per week (and lean meat the rest).

“Fish is the most important food,” says Antonio. It not only supplies protein and healthful fat, but it also contains heart-protecting nutrients such as omega-3s. Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, cod and mackerel are best. To prevent developing fins or bankrupting yourself at the sushi bar, eat lean chicken or beef the remainder of the week. Antonio points out that people who replace a percentage of their carbs with an equivalent amount of protein or healthy fat (while keeping total calories the same) automatically lose body fat and either gain or maintain lean muscle mass. “So weight and body composition isn’t a calorie issue, it’s a food-choice issue,” he explains.

4. Eat more nuts, avocados and eggs.

All these foods were once considered bad for us, but we now know they contain beneficial fats and, in the case of eggs, additional protein and essential nutrients. (Eggs won’t raise cholesterol either.) For more, check out this primer on healthy fats.

5. Make colorful fruits and vegetables your major source of carbs.

This means eliminating or reducing processed breads, pastas, rice, cereals and snacks such as cookies and crackers. The more colorful the fruits and veggies, the better they are for you. Eat plenty daily. Bonus: You’ll be able to quit lugging around a water bottle because you’ll be naturally well hydrated.

6. Organic is nice but not necessary.

Antonio points out that there is no scientific evidence that organic food is any more healthful than non-organic. However, here’s the trick: If you eat more organic fruits and veggies because you think they taste better or your conscience is clearer, then by all means pay the premium to build better eating habits.

7. Eat three meals per day and two snacks.

Notice that we didn’t say “graze your way through the day” or “eat five meals daily.” That intimidates people. Most of us don’t have time to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, let alone brunch and linner. So take the pressure off yourself. Eat as you’re accustomed to, and then just add a healthful mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. It’ll keep the edge off your appetite and steady your hormone levels so you’ll be less likely to give into cravings or overeat at mealtimes.

8. Take a daily multivitamin and 2 grams of creatine.

The former is insurance for those days when we’re too busy to eat right. The low-dose creatine, which is available in capsule form, has been shown to not only help maintain lean body mass but also boost brain function. Check out our complete guide to creatine to learn more.

And that’s it. Notice there isn’t anything wacky here—nothing worthy of a new diet book or a Kirstie Alley commercial. It’s just a solid eating plan that anyone, regardless of age, can maintain for life. And that’s the key: Diets fail because they aren’t sustainable. This one is.

About The Author

Joe Kita – Joe Kita is a noted writer, editor, motivational speaker and teacher. He authors the blog "One Small Change" for CorePerformance.com.

24 August 2009

Reviews for This 'n' That Blog

Please check out some of the reviews for my blog:
"Hi Angela - fantastic blog ! I really enjoyed the wonderful post you wrote about how you found your long lost friend via the internet. Very heart warming story. Excellent blog design with a super clean layout that made browsing your archives a breeze. Your posts are well written with excellent musings on your behalf. Will definitely save as a favorite so I can keep up with your updates. Best Wishes!"
Michael and Pamela
"fell in love with your site from the first story I read!! great layout, great pics, awesome blog!"
"Commendable blog: Well written, interesting posts with pictures or graphics that support. Site loads fast and navigation is easy and quick. All links function. I found the story of your quest to find a long lost friend to be most interesting. Once I started to read I couldn't stop until I knew the conclusion. Great writing that keeps the readers focused will result in a solid fllowing. Keep up the excellent posts. Layout and links are appropiate for your site. I couldn't find one that doesn't belong. The catagorization is well organized making it easy for any viewer to find what they're looking for without any effort. Great blog - keep the interesting posts coming. Yahoo has a phone service where you can talk for I believe 2-3 cents per minute. It might be a way for you and your long lost friend to hear each others voices. Good Luck. I'm bookmarking your blog and your my favorite for today."
"congratulations on a well-written blog. good layout and content. i will check back once in a while."
"Very nice welcoming site about random topics! Easy to navigate and well-written! Best wishes!"
"I liked this blog so much i joined it... enough said!!! :)"
"Congratulations! I wish you good luck tomorrow in the competition. I hope that you come out with flying colors. I admire that in you for competing in the competition. I would like to know how you came out tomorrow. Best of luck ! You have a lot of variety on your site. Keep up the great works ! Keep on writing !"
Noreen Ann
"I love this site and will refer back to it again and again. I find it hard to believe that a site without a particular theme would work, but this site really does. Fun and interesting, and well written too."
"This is great site. Your blog design is nice and simple. The blog was very easy to navigate. I wish you luck."
"You have a very interesting blog site. built well, nice colors, easy to navigate"
"okay I admit it I was prepared to be annoyed at another male blog site exploiting sex and females....but I kept going..I give everyone A fair deal and I liked it, BECAUSE it has lots of content , there is something for EVERYONE, and it is AMUSING, I did really like it, especially the "why didnt I think of that ", great ideas and photos there, so I give you kudos for the work put in, for entertaining and being yourself!"
"Nice little blog, it is at least varied in its subjects, so you should try to make one blog per subject, and use each to advertise each type of product, like the bit on the Irish weather could offer link to an umbrella shop, or patio furniture for either days; the bit about your trainer could be used to sell gym equipment, training video(talk to your trainer about that one), diet plan info; and you should be requesting people for your proofreading business on its own page- language that might be added to your list is english to french and French to english or are these at all available for proofreading and or translation? I do not know. But as a personal blog this is to dip your feet in the water, so get in deep and let it flow..."
"Really enjoyable blog. As an Irish-American, I enjoy reading about Ireland. Especially, the daily goings on. I'll definitely be back to check for updates!"
"Great presentation of information. I will be coming back to see future articles."
"Your blog is interesting. Very neat and its contents are great!"
"Well maintained blog. It contains lots of useful information about various topics. Explore it guys...!!!"
"Author of this blog has some interesting perspectives having originated from Germany, lived in UK, and now living in Ireland. It is fun following your blog as you experience Ireland with fresh eyes."
Get your own reviews, free traffic at

Mad Stuff: Girlfriends and Dogs not allowed. Ouch!

Just came across this article on an Indian website.
This article is about rental agreements in Bangalore, India's IT capital, so we're not talking about some backwater. Just imagine someone trying to do this in the Western world. Maybe 50, 60, 70 years ago but not in this day and age:

Off track: Sorry, girlfriends and dogs not allowed

23 August 2009

Global Warming and the Weather

This picture was taken at lunchtime today, 23rd August 2009.
Yes, I'm talking about the weather again. What else would I be talking about on a day like this? It's been raining non-stop since last night and we've had torrential downpours. There must be a lot of flooding in Ireland today.
A couple of years ago, I heard an expert talk about the effects of global warming and climate change on the weather in Ireland. Rather than it getting warmer and maybe dryer, he predicted that the differences between the seasons would be even less noticeable than they have been in the past. This, for Ireland, would mean, even warmer winters, cooler summers and even more rain.
I think that this is already happening here. Since about the middle of June, which is 10 weeks ago, we haven't had a single day without rain here. We've had some sunshine too, but at some stage during the course of the day, there would always be showers. The temperatures for the last couple of months have been between 17 and 21 degrees Celsius, so it hasn't been cold, but it's been very wet.
I was born in August and to the best of my knowledge, I've only had 2 rainy birthdays in my entire life: 2 years ago and this year. This August has been a total wash-out in this country.
What are your experiences? Has the global warming affected your country or region? I'd be really interested to know, so please leave a comment.
Pic 2 & 3 show a local road 3 hours after the rain had stopped.

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17 August 2009

My lost Friend of 26 years and the Internet

I wrote about the "Dark Ages" and "Cyber Friends" last month and what life was like without computers and modern communication technology. I also mentioned that I found a lot of friends again over the last 5 years or so, people that I would've never been able to locate using conventional methods like phone books and letters.
But this is the story of my most amazing reunion:
Back in the early eighties when I lived in Berlin, I became friends with an American woman, her husband and her 2 young kids. I was going through a difficult patch in my life at the time, and my American friend was there for me, put me up in her house when I needed a place to stay and introduced me to real American hospitality. We got on great and I missed her a lot when she and her family moved back to the States in late 83 or early 84.
We were writing letters to each other, but at some stage, we stopped hearing from one another. She was going through a separation and was going to remarry.
A lot of years went by.
I'd moved to London, and then to Ireland and got my first computer with internet connection in 1998. I'd never forgotten about my friend and started looking for her on the internet. No luck. My problem was that I had no idea of her new surname. I wasn't even sure which state she lived in; I merely assumed it would be in the American South as she had lived there before she moved to Germany. I made a few tentative inquiries with American people I knew but I go nowhere.
Every few years, I would give it another go but I never had any success.
A couple of months ago, I decided to try once more. This time, I thought I'd try and find one of her kids who by now wouldn't be kids anymore. At first, I only found people search sites who wanted money for their services. But I wasn't going to give up this time, so I kept on looking.
And then I had a breakthrough even if it was a sad one:
I spotted an online death notice of a familiar name, the name of my friend's ex husband. Thinking that it could just be a coincidence, I kept reading. And then I saw a dedication to him by his daughter. There was no more room for doubt: I'd found the right family.
Getting in touch, however, wasn't that easy as the link to get in touch with the daughter via the memorial site didn't work. I was very frustrated but having come that far, I wasn't going to give up.
The memorial site provided me with the name of the town where the daughter lived, so I tried to locate her. Her name appeared on Google, but it was on one of HER friend's social networking pages. Following that up, I eventually got to my friend's daughter's social networking page, only to find that I couldn't check out her profile or send her an email as her details were private and only visible to friends.
So I very politely sent her a note, explaining briefly who I was and what led me to write to her.
The following day, I received a very nice reply - she even remembered me - and she told her mother immediately about our communication. Her mother, my friend, was delighted, but unfortunately, she isn't on the internet at present. But I did write her a letter and received a lovely letter back approximately 26 years after we last saw each other.
On receiving my friend's letter, I knew immediately that the long search had been worth it as I felt that there was still a close bond between us. We haven't chatted on the instant messenger as yet, but that should happen within the next couple of weeks. Pity the daughter doesn't use Skype as that would allow us to actually hear each other's voices. (Yes I know that's possible via some of the instant messengers too, but I don't think my friend's daughter uses a mic on the computer).
I'm still amazed that I managed to find my friend after such along time and am most grateful for the technology that has allowed this to happen.

Funny T Shirts Inc.

15 August 2009

40 Years since the Woodstock Festival

OMG, I can't believe it's 40 years ago! The biggest and best music festival ever with the greatest musicians of that era.
I was only a young teenager then but I was fascinated by the music festivals, the music, the hippies and most of all, the freedom! I had just turned 14 and was developing into a rebel. My parents were strict and I wasn't allowed to do a lot of things that teenagers want to do. Even going to the Saturday night disco in the local parish hall meant pleading with my parents, and then my father would pick me up bang on 10pm to take me home. How embarrassing!
So I dreamt of the freedom I would have once I grew up! And the festivals of the late sixties embodied everything I wished for. Funnily, I never ever went to any of the big music festivals of the 70s when I would've been able to go as by then I'd moved on to other things that had become more important to me
Some time in the 70s though I bought the Woodstock album, 3 LPs with lots and lots of photos of Woodstock. I still have the album. My husband bought me a USB turntable for my birthday yesterday and Woodstock will be one of the albums I'm going to transfer to my computer in the near future.
The music of Woodstock is still great and sounds so fresh. It's really hard to believe that 40 years have gone by. If you get a chance to watch the Woodstock movie, do so. It's a great portrait of the time and for those of us who were teenagers or young adults then, it's a trip down memory lane.
Here's an interesting article about the Woodstock Festival on About.com:

12 August 2009

Customer spots poison stems in salad

Well, I never...Imagine this, you're going to the supermarket to buy a nice healthy summer meal, like a lovely bag of salad, only to find out that your lovely healthy salad contains poisonous weeds...
Read this for another chapter of "Mad Stuff":
Customer spots poison stems in salad

HeartMath LLC

Actually, unless I'm totally mistaken, these weeds are pulled out in many countries because they're so dangerous. Cows and other cattle can die if they ingest them as they will distroy their livers. I've been known to pull them out of my back garden, so my dogs wouldn't be tempted to eat them.
Thing is, most animals won't touch them, but then again, some young and inexperienced ones might and die a painful death :(

08 August 2009

New Blog: Venus with Weights

Just to let you know that I started a new blog this evening.
I believe that the topic of Women and Weight Training is too comprehensive to deal with in my This 'n' That Blog, hence the new blog

Do check it out please.

07 August 2009

And more mad stuff: Irish Scarecrow

Yep, I found this on the net. No idea if this is for real, but living in Ireland, I wouldn't put it past some joker.
And before you worry about bad language: feck off is not what you think it is and not a spelling mistake either. It's a very acceptable way of expressing one's opinion without being abusive. "Feck" actually derives from the Irish language, but as I'm not an Irish (Gaelic) speaker, I can't explain this to you. Look it up :)

7-Year-Old Designated Driver? Mom Jailed. OMG!

Here's another one for my "Mad Stuff" category. This time from Canada. What do you think of this one?
It's more sad than mad really:
7-Year-Old Designated Driver?"

Magazines.com, Inc.

06 August 2009

I've won the weight-lifting competition for the women. So thrilled!

Well, I've done it! Can't believe it actually happened.
There were 5 women taking part in the bench press competition in the gym of the Ennis Leisure Centre and maybe 25 men. The men kicked it off which suited me fine as the thought of 25 testosterone laden guys hanging around us while we were lifting weights wouldn't have appealed to me or the other girls.
The winner among the men lifted 150kg.
Then it was our turn. We started with the bar on its own which weights 20kg and worked our way up in 5kg increments. At 35kg, the first woman fell by the wayside, followed by the next ones at 40kg. At 45kg, there was only one other woman left. I lifted the 45kg, but she failed and I won the competition. I was delighted as I'd expected the winning weight to be higher.
After I'd been declared the winner, I asked the instructor/judge if I could try lifting 50kg. This was my bench mark and I wanted to see if I could do it by myself...I did, cheered on by my husband and my personal trainer. (For our US friends, 50kg = 110.231 pounds).
I don't have any photos to prove it, so you've got to take my word for it, but my trainer said he'd like to take some pictures of me lifting weights sometime soon.
I must admit, I've really enjoyed the challenge and I'm so pleased that I didn't lose my nerve. So provided that my muscles don't play up, I'll be training for the 55kg next. :)
The small picture in the top left corner shows the actual gym where I train, but you can't see the bench press on it.


05 August 2009

Weight-lifting competition tomorrow, 6th August

Well, the competition I'll be participating in will take place tomorrow evening in the local gym. I've trained as much as possible, but I was told by my personal trainer not to overdo it as my muscles need time to recover. You're telling me! Don't I know all about my aching arms and muscles and tendons and what-nots and worrying if I'd be fit to lift weights tomorrow.
One of the young instructors in the gym must surely think I'm stark raving mad for enquiring in detail about the rules of the competition. "Who cares?" He might think wondering why I'm taking part in this competition in the first place (at my age!). I could be his mum.
I only found out yesterday that this competition was supposed to be for men only. A women who works in the leisure centre (she's possibly the manageress, I'm not sure) suggested that women should be able to take part in this year's competition. I wonder if there were any objections from the male instructors or if they thought women wouldn't particularly fancy a bench press competition anyway?
No women except for myself had signed up for the competition when I checked last weekend, but looking at the sheet yesterday, I noticed that another 2 women had put their names down :) But there could be more turning up, who knows?
I'm still quite uncertain about the rules as I've heard so much conflicting information, but I'll turn up there tomorrow evening and see how it goes. All I'm hoping for is that I don't totally disgrace myself. And that my nerves (and muscles) don't pack up as I've never taken part in any physical competition since my school days.
Wish me luck, folks, and I'll let you know tomorrow evening how it all went.


And here's more Mad Stuff: Woman marries Fairground Ride

Woman falls in love with fairground ride
Yes, you read it right. Couldn't believe it myself. Here, see for yourselves:

Designer Dog Perfume - how mad is this?

Sexy Beast Perfume–For Dogs!
It's an up and coming fashion accessory and there's a number of them on the market now. Whatever next?
Check out this article:

In my new category "Mad Stuff", I'm going to bring you articles or pictures about things that I consider weird. Let me know what you think, please.
Please note: We now have widgets and search boxes for Amazon.co.uk as well as Amazon.com. Please choose the appropriate one for your location. Many thanks for supporting This 'n' That Blog.

02 August 2009

A jolly good read

Looking out at the weather on 2nd August, I could be forgiven to think that it's the middle of November:
It's cold, it's wet and it's miserable. I'm sitting here with a fire on to keep warm.
What would be nicer than to get out a book, sit down on the sofa with a cup of tea or coffee and have a jolly good read?
I've linked Triple A: Angela's Amazon Associate Store (Amazon UK) to this blog with some of my favourite books, among other things.
The store is quite new, so there's not many items listed in it as yet, but if you check back, you will see more Amazon UK offers appear.
Happy Reading!

01 August 2009

Mobile Phone/Cell Phone brands

I'm just curious to find out what you think, so I've put up a poll at the bottom of this page to find out which brand of mobile phone you're using.
I used to be a devoted fan of Nokia phones. Wouldn't have anything else. I must've had something like 8 or 10 different Nokia phones over the last 8 years, including some of their smart phones. One phone I really loved was the Nokia E65, but I found that the font was really small and hard to read and couldn't be increased in size except for the mobile internet pages.
At the end of last year, I tried the Samsung Tocco which is a really neat touch screen phone, but I had problems with the internet connection on it, so I sent it back in exchange for the LG Renoir, LG's latest and greatest touch screen phone at that time. With an 8.1 megapixel camera, this was a great phone. However, I missed many calls on this phone as the volume was very low and couldn't be adjusted to the level I wanted. After a lot of consideration, I sold it.
I purchased another Nokia phone, the Nokia 6620 classic, which has a 5 mega pixelcamera with Carl Zeiss lens and flash. I'm happy enough with, although it's not the most stylish design. A little bit more thought in designing it would've benefited the phone.
My other phone is a Sony Ericcson W595 in blue with a 3.2 megapixel camera. My husband's been using Sony Ericsson phones for years and swears by them, but I always preferred Nokia's interface. Having used the W595 for a couple of months now, I've become a Sony Ericsson fan. I prefer the style of many of their phones to the latest Nokia models and the interface is definitely superior. With regard to the font, I'm having no problems reading my text messages or contacts, as the font size can be easily adjusted on the lastest generation of Sony Ericsson mobiles.
So when my contract for the Nokia phone is up in the winter, I reckon I'll be choosing another Sony Ericsson phone unless Nokia come up with a model that totally bowls me over.

Please vote in my poll at the bottom of this page for the phone brand(s) you're using at present. - Sorry, poll is now closed.