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  • Climate Change | Writing, life and other animals
    One TV ad that targets children and parents is particularly disturbing not because it deals with the sobering subject of climate change but because it s built around misinformation and blatant scaremongering The ad I m talking about shows a father reading a bedtime story to a little girl a dreadful story about how the nasty CO2 monster growing ever larger is wreaking havoc with the climate and killing the planet If you haven t seen it you ll find it below Continue reading Posted by Calvin at 13 36 Tagged with ACT on CO2 Advertising Climate Change CO2 emissions global warming Video Solar power paint to generate green energy Climate Change Environment Technology No Responses Mar 10 2008 I was intrigued to read this week that UK scientists are developing a technique to coat the steel sheets used in fabrication of industrial buildings with a solar powered paint which could theoretically result in warehouses whose entire surface area could convert solar energy into electricity Steel sheets are painted rapidly in steel mills by passing them through rollers A consortium led by Swansea University UK hopes to use that process to cover steel sheets with a photovoltaic paint at up to 40 square metres per minute The paint will take advantage of dye sensitised solar cells They re less efficient than conventional silicone based cells but are also much cheaper and can be applied to surfaces as a liquid We should see a commercial cell in two and a half years Dr David Worsley leader of the Swansea team told New Scientist There are still plenty of obstacles to overcome but it s an intriguing technology with potentially enormous global potential for harnessing the sun s energy Technorati Tags Environment solar power paint New Scientist climate change Posted by Calvin

    Original URL path: http://blog.cjwriting.com/tag/climate-change/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Video | Writing, life and other animals
    Change Environment Evening Echo Column family Marketing Parenting Rant Video Writing No Responses Nov 10 2009 Image via Wikipedia Global warming or climate change as I prefer to call it given that there s been scant evidence of any actual warming going on in Ireland over the last few summers is a serious issue for sure But am I the only one worried by a recent spate of publicity that s painting carbon dioxide CO2 as a noxious chemical we need to eradicate One TV ad that targets children and parents is particularly disturbing not because it deals with the sobering subject of climate change but because it s built around misinformation and blatant scaremongering The ad I m talking about shows a father reading a bedtime story to a little girl a dreadful story about how the nasty CO2 monster growing ever larger is wreaking havoc with the climate and killing the planet If you haven t seen it you ll find it below Continue reading Posted by Calvin at 13 36 Tagged with ACT on CO2 Advertising Climate Change CO2 emissions global warming Video Subscribe to feed Get posts in your favourite feed reader Now blogging about Ireland

    Original URL path: http://blog.cjwriting.com/tag/video/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Food underfoot | Writing, life and other animals
    field mushrooms Picking and eating wild mushrooms can be a wonderful way to enjoy natures harvest at its best but it s not something for the faint hearted or the uninitiated When perfectly innocuous looking white mushrooms with names like Destroying Angel and Death Cap can cause irreversible kidney and liver damage even in small doses it pays to be careful A look through a mushroom field guide won t do anything to alay your fears either If anything it makes you even more paranoid Most of the edible species seem to have near identical contemporaries that are inedible or poisonous Unless you re absolutely certain of what you re picking eating wild fungi could result in a nasty stomach ache or worse The golden rule of foraging for fungi is to go out with an expert to learn the ropes and unless you re 100 sure don t eat anything Given the opportunity to wander through the woods at Manch with someone who knows their mushroom onions if that makes sense we jumped at the chance Damien proved an engaging and knowledgeable host and valiantly tried to identify everything the throng of walkers threw at him Some were easier than others and as is typical with fungi some defied identification altogether The children loved charging about the forest collecting every mushroom toadstool and anything else vaguely fungus like It wasn t long before their parents attempts at nonchalant indifference evaporated most people were soon actively engaged in fungi hunting We bagged quite an assortment most of them inedible some of them poisonous and many of them unidentifiable Only a few were edible and worth eating namely the amethyst deceiver I ve already mentioned and a mushroom from the russela family called the charcoal burner I brought a few of

    Original URL path: http://blog.cjwriting.com/2009/10/12/food-underfoot/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Amethyst Deceiver | Writing, life and other animals
    tricky little so and sos On Sunday we went to the Irish Natural Forestry Foundation s INFF headquarters at Manch Estate near Dunmanway in West Cork for their second last open day of the season The estate is open to the public on the first Sunday of the month from March to November These open days involve talks on sustainable native forestry a chance to see craftsman utilise traditional woodland skills like charcoal making wood turning woven hazel fence construction gate making birch broom making and more There are also activities to keep the kids occupied like woodland treasure hunts and nature art But the highlights are the guided walks along the 20km of woodland meadow and riverbank of the estate This month Cork nature writer and fungus aficionado Damien Enright was leading a walk dubbed Fungi in the Woods We love looking for fungi We also love the concept of foraging for wild food be it picking blackberries catching fish or whatever So far though we haven t had the courage to combine the two other than the odd occasion when we come across a patch of field mushrooms Continue reading Posted by Calvin at 22 10 Tagged with

    Original URL path: http://blog.cjwriting.com/tag/amethyst-deceiver/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Food | Writing, life and other animals
    of the season The estate is open to the public on the first Sunday of the month from March to November These open days involve talks on sustainable native forestry a chance to see craftsman utilise traditional woodland skills like charcoal making wood turning woven hazel fence construction gate making birch broom making and more There are also activities to keep the kids occupied like woodland treasure hunts and nature art But the highlights are the guided walks along the 20km of woodland meadow and riverbank of the estate This month Cork nature writer and fungus aficionado Damien Enright was leading a walk dubbed Fungi in the Woods We love looking for fungi We also love the concept of foraging for wild food be it picking blackberries catching fish or whatever So far though we haven t had the courage to combine the two other than the odd occasion when we come across a patch of field mushrooms Continue reading Posted by Calvin at 22 10 Tagged with amethyst deceiver charcoal burner Food foraging fungi mushrooms West Cork Wildlife Blackberries ferrets and jam Animals Children Evening Echo Column family Food Parenting Pets 8 Responses Sep 24 2008 It was 4 30pm on a Friday afternoon I was sitting in the office about to start writing this column when one of the twins burst in Dad can we take the ferrets for a walk she asked I looked out of the window For once the sun was shining You d be amazed at how quickly I can move when a viable opportunity to avoid work presents itself I was out of the door in a flash the laptop and the column forgotten We ve had the ferrets for just over two years now and they really are wonderful pets They re so much more fun than alternative small animal options rabbits guinea pigs and hamsters Ferrets are naturally playful inquisitive and affectionate They re predators and like all predators cats dogs lions etc they get their energy in small high value doses That means that when they re not sleeping and they can sleep for up to 16 out of every 24 hours which I must admit makes me a bit envious they spend most of their time playing and exploring to hone their hunting skills Compare that to a guinea pig for example which needs to spend every waking hour chewing frantically just to stay alive and you ll start to see what I mean And then there s instinctive behaviour when a herbivore hears a sudden noise it s primary instinct is to flee but a carnivore s natural instinct is to investigate a potential meal Both are thinking of lunch it s just that one is looking for its lunch while the other wants to avoid becoming lunch So guinea pigs rabbits et al spend all their time running away while ferrets tend to run towards strange sounds and actually engage in active play When was the last

    Original URL path: http://blog.cjwriting.com/tag/food/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Procrastination… our default state | Writing, life and other animals
    stems from issues of anxiety a low sense of self worth and a self defeating mentality too much of it they maintain can be a symptom of underlying mental health conditions like depression or ADHD What a load of old cobblers While excessive procrastination may be undesirable in today s hyper efficient society it is a perfectly understandable and rational form of human behaviour Not so very long ago procrastination was less a psychological problem more a built in survival mechanism Putting aside a task to focus on what is absolutely imperative to the moment whether that s finding your next meal avoiding hungry predators or concentrating on staying with the group that provides you with shelter and security was until very recently a pretty solid survival mechanism Ah mutter the psychologists but what about the procrastinator s tendency to inactivity when nothing is particularly pressing Well if you think about it that s not born of inherent slovenliness or a desire to avoid work either but rather the evolutionary imperative to conserve energy until we genuinely need it and not so very long ago in our history doing nothing effectively was literally a matter of life or death The characteristics of procrastination only becomes a problem when viewed against the backdrop of modern human society Putting things off may stand in the way of individual success in today s demanding task orientated deadline imposing world Sneering high achievers those organised automatons who always accomplish tasks in the most efficient order and get everything done ahead of time would do well to remember that in evolutionary terms at least the success of humanity as a species is partially attributable to our tendency to procrastinate As a serial procrastinator I prefer to view that tendency as merely a different form of prioritisation What s important to me at this precise moment in time isn t necessarily what other people think I should be concentrating on For more than nine years now my priorities have been heavily skewed in favour of the girls against which the imposed work related priorities of the world at large come a rather distant second Yes there are times when work tasks hit the front when they become the driving imperative that absolutely has to get done but it s the exception rather than the rule There are much more important things in life Psychologists can label me and put me in a box all they want but from my perspective procrastination isn t a condition a syndrome or a symptom of anything other than a father s very natural compulsion to put his children first This is my last column for Wow I hope you ve enjoyed the little missives I ve shared with you over the last seven year s give or take a few months It s been a pleasure and a privilege talking to you if you d like to continue the conversation keep visiting this blog leave the occasional comment and or

    Original URL path: http://blog.cjwriting.com/2010/02/03/procrastination-our-default-state/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Human Behaviour | Writing, life and other animals
    needs to be done now we ll typically set it aside and do it later focussing instead on what we feel is more immediately compelling Psychologists as is their wont weave a complex tapestry of theoretical meaning around people s very natural tendency to defer things until tomorrow They call it procrastination and describe it as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety of making a decision or starting any task But who in their right mind pays much attention to psychologists They re masters at taking perfectly natural human behaviour sticking it in a box adding a fancy label and attributing it to potentially serious underlying mental health issues They re so good at it because they spend an awful lot of time doing it time they could easily allocate to more productive work but choose not to Sounds very like procrastination in action to me According to the psychologists then procrastination stems from issues of anxiety a low sense of self worth and a self defeating mentality too much of it they maintain can be a symptom of underlying mental health conditions like depression or ADHD What a load of old cobblers Continue reading Posted by Calvin at

    Original URL path: http://blog.cjwriting.com/tag/human-behaviour/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Column | Writing, life and other animals
    sound like such a revolutionary a concept but here in modern Ireland it s practically unheard of Our incumbent administration endures because a large chunk of the electorate has zero confidence in the competence of the opposition to govern It really is that simple Back across the Atlantic I refuse to call any ocean a pond you could argue that the same thing applied last week The alternative to the Obama Biden ticket was hardly a compelling proposition You d be hard pressed to find anyone who could convincingly dub John McCain a dynamic force for change and as for Sarah Palin well I think enough has already been said on that score But despite the fact that Obama would probably have won the election anyway through lack of viable opposition I m still left with the very strong feeling that he won the votes of the undecided masses largely on the merits of his policies and the overwhelming belief that here was a man who had the best interests of the American people at heart That last point is an important one but one that seems to have been overshadowed by the Obama Mania that s gripped the world over the last week Buoyed on a wave of euphoria that spread from its epicentre in Chicago to engulf the globe people seem to have lost sight of the fact that Barack Obama is in fact President Elect of the United States of America He is not President Elect of the World at large There s no doubt in my mind that Mr Obama will make an excellent president His biggest obstacle will be the incredible burden of anticipation that now weighs heavily upon him People expect incredible things from this man and I m sure he ll prove a force for long overdue change in the US The knock on effects of that change will ripple out to impact many nations around the world our little island state included Much of that impact will be positive some of it won t Whatever changes the new president decides to implement you can be certain of one thing those changes will be driven by policies forged around the best interests of the American people The wellbeing economic or otherwise of Ireland Europe and the rest of the world simply won t factor into the equation I always find it amusing when blockbuster Hollywood disaster movies the likes of Independence Day The Day After Tomorrow and Armageddon portray the rest of the world waiting with baited breath for America to save the day save the planet and save humanity The truth of the matter is that despite the hype surrounding this election we are not beholden to the US or any other nation The US president is not in fact the Leader of the Free World The independent nations that constitute The Free World are and always have been free to make their own decisions based on what s best for their own people What it ultimately boils down to is this Barack Obama will do a great job of looking after America s best interests here in Ireland we ll have to make do with Brian Cowan Technorati Tags US Election Barack Obama Politics Ireland Posted by Calvin at 8 48 Tagged with Barack Obama column elections Politics Rant US President Writing Treat or trick Children Evening Echo Column Parenting Rant No Responses Nov 05 2008 Trick or treat trick or treat give us something nice to eat When you re answering your own door to an assortment of miniature ghouls and goblins it s a phrase that brings a smile to your face or would if you weren t trying so hard to look suitably terrified Standing in the freezing cold on somebody else s doorstep as the words trip from the tongues of your own band of little monsters it becomes positively cringe worthy Standing begging on people s doorsteps isn t exactly my idea of a fun night out but we were running late for the Halloween disco So I took the kids around the neighbours houses while my wife put the finishing touches to her own ghastly outfit this is probably the only time of year I can describe what she s wearing as ghastly and get away with it The neighbours had been expecting us and had all sorts of sweet goodies at the ready By the time they d finished they d managed to accrue a fairly impressive stash despite the fact that we live in the middle of nowhere and have very few neighbours within walking distance I checked their bags to see what they d got sweets crisps bars lollipops and lurking near the bottom of each bag a solitary apple the only thing in the haul really worth eating Halloween is great fun for kids but it s a shame it s become so synonymous with gorging on sweets chocolate crisps and fizzy drinks It s yet another example of US spin warping traditional heritage and culture and turning it into so much less than the sum of its original parts It s like synergy only in reverse more is less as opposed to less is more Image via Wikipedia I can t help wondering why we re always so eager to emulate elements of American culture when in so many ways they re patently flawed But we do it time and again in all areas of life Take childhood obesity for example America has a huge problem with overweight and obese children Now thanks largely to the fact we re so quick to hop on the American bandwagon so have we I m not suggesting of course that the annual sweet and snack fest that Halloween has become is the cause of rising levels of obesity in Irish children That would be daft The real problem is the lamentable fact that this rubbish has become a staple of Irish children s diets The National Children s Food Survey found that far from being an occasional treat sweets snacks and biscuits now account for a fifth of the average Irish child s energy intake That s a staggering figure for all the wrong reasons Meanwhile researchers in Dublin are beginning to uncover a correlation between obesity in childhood and the early onset of adult diseases like cardiovascular problems and type 2 diabetes in Irish children Studies reports think tanks and government recommendations are all very well but ultimately it s parents who need to take a lead in tackling Ireland s growing obesity problem Looking after our children s wellbeing is paramount for any parent and their diet is a fundamental part of that responsibility It s our job to introduce children to good food and to instil healthy eating habits from an early age By all means let children have fun go a bit OTT on the sweets and run riot on special occasions just don t let it become the bedrock on which they ll build the eating habits of a lifetime Technorati Tags Halloween Childhood Obesity Diet Parenting healthy eating Posted by Calvin at 11 22 Tagged with Childhood Obesity column diet eating health kids Parenting Welcome to the mad house Children Evening Echo Column Parenting No Responses Oct 29 2008 Mid term was here goodness knows where the weeks had gone but gone they most certainly had Our house was a hive of activity in the run up to the school holiday or at least it should have been We were having friends over to stay for the holiday a family of five we hadn t seen for over three years and who hadn t seen our place in West Cork since we moved down here nearly six years ago Naturally we wanted the house and garden in tip top shape before they came and it was going to be a case of all hands on deck to get everything done And then the winter vomiting bug paid us a visit The winter vomiting bug is a nefariously gregarious little microbe It thrives on company likes to spread itself around and brings all of its friends along for the party Once one person in the family gets it that s it everyone gets it It started with one of the twins moved on to the other one and then hit the little one and my wife Three sleepless nights and around ten wash loads later it was my turn I ll spare you the unpleasant details but I will comment on how well behaved the children seem to be when they re genuinely sick They were little angels one and all I m talking complete personality transplant here There was no cheek no back chat and they didn t have the energy to run riot as they usually would So apart from the vomiting and the ceaseless cleaning and washing that entailed things were in fact much more serene than usual around here Except of course serene wasn t what we needed not with visitors arriving By the time we d recovered enough to think about it we only had a day to prepare for our guests arrival Instead of action stations it was more panic stations as we struggled to shrug off illness induced lethargy and get everything done It was a little fraught but we more or less made it before our friends arrived with their three children Six kids one house pandemonium reigned I don t know how my mother in law managed with six kids for all those years It was complete and utter chaos but in a fun way While we were catching up with old friends the children were busy making new friends which when you think about it is kind of neat I m just praying for some good weather this week because if we can get out and about with the children all will be well with the world If we can t we re pretty much snookered West Cork is terribly limited when it comes to indoor activities If it s raining there s very little on offer and lets face it for all its good points it tends to rain quite a lot here If the sun shines there are plenty of beaches walks and all sorts of fun outdoor places to go but everything is weather dependent Unfortunately the weather is the one thing you really can t depend on I often wonder why on earth nobody invests in providing more indoor activities in West Cork Surely there s scope for something like a bowling alley in Clonakilty an indoor play area in Skibbereen and other things of that ilk in Bantry or Dunmanway I d imagine such places would be packed to the rafters on soggy weekends of which there is no shortage But that as they say is another story For now we re focussing on catching up with our guests and making sure that the girls enjoy their school holiday With their new friends to play with at least that shouldn t be too much trouble Technorati Tags Evening Echo Parenting Children School Holidays Column Photo by rbieber on Flickr Posted by Calvin at 22 34 Tagged with column evening echo Parenting Writing Recession recession recession Economy Evening Echo Column Politics Rant Writing 1 Response Oct 08 2008 Image via Wikipedia Image via Wikipedia I m already sick of hearing about Ireland s headlong nose dive into recession Between that and calamity in the world s financial markets the doom mongers out there are having a field day Life as we know it is about to end apparently Except of course that it probably isn t Nowhere near it in fact I ll stick my neck out here and make a shocking prediction life for the vast majority of people in Ireland will carry on pretty much the same as before through this recession and out the other side Macro economic cycles come and go and on one level yes they can change things pretty dramatically But the fundamentals of life tend to stay pretty constant The challenges we face as a family with young children in Ireland today are strangely enough much the same challenges as we faced when the Celtic Tiger was in full roar Recession or boom families still have to juggle children manage a household cope with demanding jobs make the mortgage payments put three square meals a day on the table cover childcare costs that are the most exorbitant in Europe and a lot more besides There s always too much to do and too little time What s changed Okay if you re a person who likes to splurge you may have to reign in your spending a bit but is that really going to alter your life in any significant way I was listening to a guest on a radio show this morning who s recession busting plan was to stop getting her car valeted every Saturday morning Hardly a life changing sacrifice is it Despite all the doom and gloom I suspect that for most of us life in economic recession will continue pretty much as usual There might be a bit of belt tightening going on but is that such a bad thing As a nation we ve been spending beyond our means for far too long availing of the hefty credit being offered to us Being forced to really think about what we choose to spend our money on and training ourselves to only spend what we actually have might come as a bit of a shock to the system for some but it s a shock that s long overdue There was a guy on a treadmill on the Late Late Show last Friday urging people to run for Africa He put this recession obsession of ours into stark perspective when he pointed out that compared to the people in east Africa he was raising money for our concerns were pretty trivial Of course there will be people who are hit hard by the economic downturn and the inevitable cuts and levies imposed by the government as they attempt to re float a scuppered economy The recession will bite hard for some and that s unfortunate I don t want to belittle their suffering but the truth is that for the the majority it will be business as usual recession or no I guess what it boils down to is that we worry too much and I m as guilty of this as anyone We re constantly dwelling on the past and fretting about the future when for many of us the present really isn t all that bad if we d only learn to pay it a bit more attention Technorati Tags Ireland economy recession parenting evening echo column Related articles by Zemanta Ireland s Celtic Tiger economy is dead and its cubs are thinking of emigrating Ireland falls into recession Ireland leads eurozone into recession Posted by Calvin at 23 07 Tagged with column evening echo Irish Economy polotics Rant recession Sleep tight don t let the bedbugs bite Children Evening Echo Column News Parenting Wildlife 2 Responses Oct 01 2008 Image via Wikipedia Good night sleep tight don t let the bedbugs bite It s a phrase I heard all the time as a nipper Mum used to routinely say it last thing at night as she tucked us up in bed a light hearted and innocent reference to bygone days when this tiny pest ran amok through households across the land Now apparently bedbugs are back with a vengeance A report in the Irish Examiner last week revealed the pests are making something of a resurgence in Ireland and indeed around the world Health fears as bedbug infestations rise 66 screamed the headline in last Friday s paper Apparently entomology professor Michael F Potter says we re currently in the middle of a global epidemic and blames a whole host of criteria from a fertile second hand furniture market to increased travel and global warming for the rapid spread of these unwelcome guests The most common locations for outbreaks of the pests are hotels and hostels where the bugs and their eggs are carried in and out on people s clothing and luggage moving from one place to another and setting up house in any likely looking piece of furniture Hospitals too can be prone to infestation All admissions to a community hospital in Co Kerry had to be suspended last week because of an outbreak of bedbugs Some wards were closed and patients relocated in an attempt to eradicate the pests Apparently it will take up to a fortnight for the hospital to become fully operational again I m all for more wildlife biodiversity is a wonderful thing bring it on I say But by and large I tend to prefer that the flora and fauna stays outdoors where it belongs Flies in the kitchen mice under the floorboards and a thriving ecosystem of mites in my mattress are all things I can happily live without I quite often use the sleep tight don t let the bedbugs bite line when I m tucking the girls in at night a throwback to my own childhood Tonight though I think I ll give it a miss just thinking about it is making my skin crawl Technorati Tags bed bugs Ireland children parenting Posted by Calvin at 23 09 Tagged with bed bugs column evening echo Parenting sleep This time I got to see a grown up film Cinema Evening Echo Column Parenting Reviews 1 Response Sep 29 2008 Cover of Kung Fu Panda Widescreen Edition When you re waiting for a bus it s almost always the case that nothing will appear for ages and then three will lurch up all at once In the chaos of hissing air

    Original URL path: http://blog.cjwriting.com/tag/column/ (2016-02-15)
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