Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Anything and everything.

The Little Things

So Enda Kenny recently tweeted Twitter, it’s been a while… but it’s time to talk about the #littlethings“. Little Things, in case you don’t know, is the motto for the latest mental health PR campaign to hit Ireland and is run by the HSE. Ya know, the same organisation which manages our healthcare system.

So, Ireland and mental health. Yeah, we don’t even like saying mental health here, let alone do we like to talk about the issues surrounding it. It’s taboo, it’s worse than talking about anything else in the country. Mental Health issues? Nah, next topic please! The problems with these campaigns are that they never stick it out. The posters are left up for a while, the tweets flow for a little bit and the buzz words do the rounds on Kildare Street. We need a long term strategy to help the nation. We need to make our kids know that it’s ok to talk. That it’s ok to cry. That it’s ok to not feel strong all the time. Above all else we need to let them know that a permanent solution to a short term problem is not the answer.

What’s harder to ignore than mental health issues are the consequences of just presuming someone will be grand and ignoring the figures. For a moment I want you to think about how many funerals you’ve been to that were caused by suicides.

7. That’s how many I can recall right now. 7 funerals that were wholly avoidable if someone had just talked, or perhaps, if there was less of a stigma behind saying that you need help. 7 funerals. There were whispers at each one, whispers met with glances which clearly meant we don’t talk about that sort of thing. I heard an interview on the radio years ago and it has stuck with me ever since. A lady lost someone to suicide and she said something which has stuck with me ever since. As long as we keep whispering suicide we’ll still be dealing with suicide. As long as we keep denying that suicide exists we’ll still be dealing with suicide.

I am of the opinion that we are not a mental health friendly country. It’s all fine and well to show the public face on these things. It’s great, it definitely makes it look like we’re doing something. But are we making it more acceptable to stand up and say I need help? No, I don’t think so. We’re all supposed to grin and bear it and have our problems on our own. After all, we don’t want to make someone uncomfortable, do we?

It’s an unfortunate situation and it’s a high pressure one. For me the strain is starting to show. I’m getting married in less than a week, I’ll have my first baby in less than 5 weeks and I don’t have a steady income at the moment. It’s not that I don’t want to work, I have looked and applied and I have been rejected countless times. It’s killing the confidence, to be honest. So much so that I have a serious amount of doubt in myself at the moment. I find myself thinking;

Did I just waste all those years in college? What was the point in getting the masters? Why bother applying, you don’t have the experience, they won’t want you! It would probably be better if I wasn’t here!

It may sound crazy, but these are thoughts which flow through my head every time  I apply for jobs or even consider applying. These thoughts are made much better when it’s suggested I should just get a job (somehow I don’t think lack of applications is where I’m going wrong here).

I found myself at the recent open day for CarTrawler looking at jobs I was really interested in, but when I got in there I had a panic attack and I could not wait to get out. I put on a nice suit, brought copies of my CV, polished my shoes, had a haircut (Thanks to the lovely Michelle, without whom I would lose my freaking mind altogether) and even cleaned the car. As soon as I got in there I convinced myself I did not belong and thought about nothing but getting out. That was alarming. It felt like the weight of the world was on my chest and I could not breath. This has happened before so luckily I was fairly certain it wasn’t a heart attack. I just stayed in the car for 15 minutes, calmed myself down and kicked myself the entire way home, as you do.

The truth is that I’ve never really stopped kicking myself. It stops when it gets bad and everything just kind of comes to a head. Luckily I have Michelle and my Mother to read me like a book and help me through the rough patches. On the whole though, I’m a stubborn Irish man and I believe that I should be able to just get on with things. I should be strong and silent, but I’m afraid to talk about my mental health, that’s why I stay silent on the matter.

I’m afraid to talk about it because there is still a stigma in Ireland around the whole matter. Depressed? Nah, you’re just feeling down at the moment! Stressed? Nah, probably just a hangover! Suicidal? Sorry, eh, that’s my phone, see ya later!

I don’t know what’s crazier – Admitting I’ve thought about ending it all (I don’t anymore, I couldn’t do that to my wife-to-be or unborn child) or being afraid to ask for help for fear I might be shunned like a leper! 

Why would I be so open about this? Hopefully this might ring a bell with someone and make them feel less alone and less hopeless. Hopefully it will make someone look for The Little Things in their life which make them happy. So what do we need? We need to have a long term view on this. We need to be able to stand up and say “FUCK IT! I’m not alright!”. We need to teach the next generation that it’s ok to talk and that it’s ok not to be strong all the time. It’s ok to let someone else take a bit of the burden.

We need a change in thinking and to destigmatise mental health issues. But overall, we can only do this by changing little things as we go along. It’s easier to move rocks than it is to move mountains. Little steps, little things.

 

The Zombie Apocalypse

A lot of people spend a lot of time planning for the Zombie Apocalypse. What they’ll do, who they’ll save, where they’ll go. I’d be one of them, I think it’s quite important.

So what do you do? You plan for the occasion. You’ve got a world of nastiness trying to get in to feast on your ever so tasty flesh. Best to not let that happen really.

What do you plan for?

  • Make sure you know what’s going on first. Be an awful shame if you just went around the house swinging a bat and knocked your Mother clean out. Imagine discussing that over Christmas dinner for the rest of time. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
  • Do a roll check. Yeah, sounds a little bit like school, but it sure would be handy to know who’s still in the world of the living. Get people to sound off and if possible secure them in the one location. If it’s not possible then tell them to go to a predesignated safe spot, batten down the hatches and wait for help.
  • If the situation is truly dire and you have Zombie hands coming through the door then you need to bug out immediately. Have your escape route planned and make sure everyone knows the drill. If you live in your standard house then a jump out the window will probably not kill you. Don’t go head first. Feet first and try and roll when you hit the ground. Broken legs are far easier to recover from than a broken neck or the damage some house invading zombies will inflict on you.
  • Be prepared to defend yourself if you need to. If you absolutely have to fight the good fight then you do that. This should be used as simply a last resort. You’ve tried everything else. You can’t escape, you can’t account for your loved one’s, you’ll have to fight it out. Remember, you’re not there for the 15 rounds. Move quick and stay low. If you watch rugby then you’ll notice that the best and most effective tackles occur below the waist. This is the best way of taking someone to ground. Fighting is exhausting and you need your energy to live.
  • Know your escape routes. Know where the keys to the doors are. Know who’s in the house. Know where you agreed to meet when you get out. Remember to bring a phone, you’ll need to call for help.

So there ya have it. A quick guide to what to do if Zombies come knocking. It’s always a bit of craic to talk about that, especially with The Walking Dead coming back on our screens.

Now, I would like you to substitute “Zombies” for “Fire” and “Burglary”. When was the last time you planned for that?

Know your way out. Know your plan. Know who’s in the house. Know what to do. Know that your family’s safety is paramount above all else. Things can be replaced people can’t be.

Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

My Ultimate Film

Basically it would be a combination of “Taken”, “The Guard” and “Intermission”. And it would be called “Hard as nails C***s” (the name can be negotiated.

So what do these films have in common? Liam Neeson, Colm Meaney and Brendan Gleeson all play rogues. Liam Neeson is the lethal weapon, Brendan Gleeson is the happy go lucky craic having cop and Colm Meaney is the dedicated agent of the law.

How hard could it be to get these 3 into a film together? Gleeson and Meaney already played Guards (we all know Gleeson survived at the end of The Guard). All we need is for Neeson to have a stopover at Shannon that goes on a bit too long and then BOOM…something happens. Anything happens. It doesn’t really matter what happens. All that matters is that these 3 are combined in hitting back.

OK, now I’ve put that idea out there, could someone please do that? PLEASE?!

Get the DL on the AKA’s in Insurance

Don’t let a 3 letter word throw you for a loop

So you’ve read the blog on how to cut down the costs of your premium, now how about getting to grips with some of the aka’s in the insurance industry?

You’re confident enough now to ring the insurance company yourself; completely sure in the fact that you will get the best deal available, but hang on, what was the last thing they said? In the Insurance Industry there’s a sea of abbreviations and acronyms out there. Enough to make your head spin. We know that insurance can be difficult to grasp sometimes, and that’s why I want to make the whole thing easier for you, the client.

The Most Commonly Used Abbreviations

Your Insurance shouldn’t make life more difficult for you by throwing abbreviations at you, but from time to time you may hear, or see, the following abbreviations in your search for the best quote. Don’t lose faith if an insurer is trying to confuse you with lots of letters, just take a minute and check it out before you either commit or walk away.

  • BA – Breakdown Assist. Often an additional extra. Usually this is included with fully comprehensive polices, but if not you can get it specifically with most insurance policies.
  • CCE – Company Car Experience. If you have been driving nothing but the company car for the last few years then you may have built up some valid ODE (Other Driving Experience) with your company car. This is most useful for those drivers who are now getting their own car and their own policy for the first time. This may afford you a discount with some insurance companies, but not all. Proof of CCE must be provided by your company.
  • CPF – Closed Premium Finance. Some companies won’t issue a policy through Direct Debit Payments, but don’t worry, because Chill Insurance have that sorted for you. CPF will allow you to pay your premium through direct debits, even if the insurance company doesn’t, Chill can organize that for you.
  • DDM – Direct Debit Mandate. This is the form you get which will allow your Direct Debit payments to commence.
  • DMD – Distance Marketing Directive. Before payment is taken for any product you buy the agent on the phone will read the DMD. The DMD outlines your position regarding refunds and the cooling off period. Basically you are entitled to a refund within 14 days if you change your mind about a product or service you have just purchased online.
  • DOC – Drive Other Cars. Commonly referred to as DOC around the office this allows a driver, who meets the specific requirements set in the specific policy, to drive other cars (as long as s/he has the permission of the owner so don’t go taking any old car).
  • DP – Data Protection. This refers to the storage and use of your personal data.
  • Fully Comprehensive. This is the highest level of cover a person can obtain on a private motor insurance policy. If you have a car worth a few quid then get fully comp. It will cost extra, but it’s worth, and you get more items as standard.
  • MTC – Mid Term Cancellation. If you decide to cancel your policy, for whatever reason, during the lifetime of the policy, this is referred to as Mid-term Cancellation. This usually incurs administration and cancellation fees.
  • NCB – No Claims Bonus. This refers to the number of years you have been driving without having to make a claim. You will most often see this in correspondence with an insurance company or broker. Please note that some companies have different definitions of a full NCB. What companies in Ireland need to hear is how many years NCB you have, not points on scale, but years. If you have 4 years, say 4 years etcetera.
  • NCD – No Claims Discount. This is roughly the same as the NCB. Some companies will use the term No Claims Discount and some will use NCB.
  • RTA – Road Traffic Act. The Road Traffic Act (1961) is the act which made Motor Insurance compulsory in the Republic of Ireland. The minimum insurance a person who intends to operate a motor vehicle on public roads needs is Third Party Cover.
  • SOF – Site of License. A copy of your (and any named drivers) licence, simple as.
  • SOF – Statement of Fact. Who you are, where you live, what you drive, any modifications to the car? These are some of things which may be considered statements of fact.
  • TP – Third Party. This is the minimum cover which must be obtained by a qualified person wishing to drive on public roads. It is there to cover any damage which a driver may cause to others through their own fault. Often this is used by first time drivers, however, this will not cover any damage which a driver may accidentally inflict upon their own vehicle.
  • TPFT – Third Party Fire and Theft. This covers third party’s involved in any Road Traffic Incidents (RTI’s) which you may cause. This also covers the theft of your vehicle or damage caused by malicious fires. This policy suits drivers who are gaining experience on their own policy and is often the step up from TP and just before the person is able to get Fully Comprehensive insurance.

Unfortunately this isn’t the full list used in the Insurance Industry, but this is the list that will matter to you, the person looking to get the best deal and the best saving. Remember, when getting your insurance, don’t be afraid to ask questions on anything you don’t understand. The last thing you should have to do is to start your search all over again. Get the best deal and get it the first time.

The Schools are Back!!!

So, the schools are back! That’s a phrase that will just make your very core shiver. Everything mad happens once the schools are back. Traffic balloons, sales rocket and it’s almost impossible to get a hot chicken roll during lunch time.

Where is this influx of traffic coming from? I just don’t get that. Where were those people hiding for the last 2 months, or is everyone just in sync now. It’s almost as if everyone now leaves at the same time because, well, you know, the schools are back and sure the traffic will be mad. The “Schools are Back” syndrome also motivates parents to drive like racing drivers with a car full of kids.

Come to think of it, where were these people getting their food? Were they just not feeding their kids or something? Sales of Brennan’s Bread and Milk have gone through the ceiling and the butter mountain is quickly becoming a hill. Were the children living feral and therefore didn’t need food, or were the parents just not feeding them. Sure they’re not learning, why would they need food!

It’s madness I tells ya! It’s as if the whole of Ireland went to the beach for the summer and now have decided to all converge on the same areas at the same time in the morning. Perhaps they’re working on the symphony that is rush hour traffic. I dunno, I prefer Rock n’ Roll myself.

Job Seeking and E

So here I am again, looking for work in Marketing, somewhere. The search is leaving me despondent, to say the least. I am constantly getting hit with that “you haven’t the experience” line. That gets at me a little. I’ve been working, in one form or another, since I was 15. The only time I wasn’t working was for a year, after I finished my degree, and after the country went a little bit funny. So what did I do? I got sick of sitting on my ass, and undertook a Masters in Marketing (during which I worked part time). So what happened after that? I worked for two years, one year for myself and one year for an online deals and affiliate company. Still, I haven’t the experience, apparently. And I know what you may be thinking, am I applying for the head honchos job? No, I’m not. I want the entry level job. I want the job where I get to sit under someone and just learn, this will also give me the opportunity to gain very valuable experience. But I can’t seem to get there.

So, what do I do now? I keep on trucking. Just keep on keeping on. I’m working at the moment, not really in a job I particularly enjoy, but it’s keeping me off the dole, and that’s a queue no-one should want to be in. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re in it now, then the chances are you don’t want to be, no decent person would want to be in it. The majority of those in the queue would much rather be earning their own money. Unfortunately I know too many people at the moment who are forced into that dreaded queue through no fault of their own. The people who for years wanted to be on it should really re-evaluate their own lives, before the Government forces them to with the impending cuts and new time limits. But that’s a matter for them to mull over in their own time. Keep in mind that the people I’m referring to were in that queue while Ireland was flush with money and you could have picked a job up anywhere. You know the type, you probably even have someone in mind now, I know I do.

So anyway, job seeking and the “E” word (E standing for experience and not anything else). I feel daunted. I feel almost let down. I feel like I’m in a tunnel and can’t see the light at the end. I feel worried, but not for me. I’m still adding to my skill set, by undertaking two additional courses, at once no less. I’m learning very valuable things about the Irish consumer in my current job. I’m still looking for a more suitable job. I still have a little hope. But what about the young people. At my age I’m hardly old, and hopefully not even middle aged, but I’m also not in the 17-20 age bracket. If I’m finding it hard now, with my 8 letters after my name, my nearly 15 years of working in some job or other and my desire to keep learning, what about them, what have they? They can go to college, and I certainly hope they do, should the current circus on Kildare St. make that feasible, but what then? They’re missing the “E” word, and are going to have a damn hard time getting any “E”! I worry about the youth of Ireland. The easy answer is go abroad, but why come back? It’s almost like we’re selling out our future for short term savings.

There is such potential in Ireland. If we really wanted we could have a great little Republic. We could even have a comfortable Republic, not a rich one, but a comfortable one. But we don’t. We might, someday, but we don’t, not now anyway. It is apparent that we are happy enough to continue driving towards the cliff at 120kph. The change hasn’t come yet. We’re still sitting back and watching the same politicians make the same decisions and the same mistakes. So what does this mean for the young people, and myself included? We’ll be stuck in the same place. To get “E” we’ll need jobs, to get jobs, we’ll need investment, to get investment we’ll need a Government that can effectively drive business in Ireland and attract foreign money back to the Emerald Isle.

Think about that the next time you decide to vote for the guy who fixed the pothole on your road.

The Stories

How many times have ya heard “And that’s all I’ll say about him” followed by a 15 minute in-dept life story about the subject matter? It’s a sure sign that there’s a story coming, and who knows, maybe, just maybe, a bit of gossip.

One of our key identifying factors, as Irish people, is the fact that we tell stories. We love it. We love not being on a night out and asking was there any scandal/gossip/craic? Bit weird, isn’t it? Perhaps, yes, but it seems to be one of our critical success factors with the foreign dollar. I have talked to many foreigners abroad and they are mostly charmed by the story I’m telling. No matter how much sh!te comes out, they’ll still be fascinated. It’s probably the reason why there are now some Americans who believe that there currently exists a colony of leprechauns in Wexford, because I convinced them there is.

So next time you’re telling a story abroad, remember that that is probably going to lead to someone coming to the green isle. Be prepared to explain why you exaggerated so much.