Friday, March 31, 2006

They're Back!

The tourists, that is. There are lots of happy couples stopping to look in windows and kiss or hug. There are more people stopping on the Ha'Penny and O'Connell Street bridges with cameras, day and night. There are more people milling around Temple Bar. There are people speaking more languages than usual. And the people are usually smiling! These are all signs that it is that season again: tourist season. I think that I like tourist season because the people on vacation tend to be friendly and stop to pet Caineal more often. I am curious to see when the vomit will also return to the Temple Bar area. It went away this winter...


Last night, J phoned me to see if I wanted to go to the Italian place for dinner. I of course was interested. When she got to my place, she decided that the local sounded better. I also agreed with this. So, about 7:00, we headed over to the local. We had our dinner and drank a bit. Since I didn't have to work today (I took the day off because I could), I didn't care how late we stayed out.

So, we had our dinner and were drinking when this group of people came and sat at a table near us. One had some blueish/greenish hard liquor drink, another had Corona, and the third had Heinekin. Two more people joined the group. The ones who were already sitting told the two newcomers that the beer at the Local was horrible and the only good things were in bottles. They said this like bottles were a bad thing. Anyway, they had a house weiss beer and gave one of the newbies a drink as evidence that they had bad beer on tap. The newbies liked this beer and both went to the bar to order and came back with glasses (no bottles). Later in their conversation, one of them said our Local was a manky pub! I guess there really is no accounting for bad taste.

Anyway, later in the evening, I walked by a large group of people sitting in a different area on my way to the toilet. They had bottles inside paper bags! They brought their own bottles into the pub! Earlier, I had seen them eating food there and had also noticed the bottles but they left them there when they left. They BYOBed (bring your own beer/bottle) to a pub!!!!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

happy day

Today was a good day. It was warm. The sun shined for a while. It rained heavily and smelled like spring rain for a while. People were smiling. What more could a person want? I really didn't want to go to work but I forced myself. I am glad that I did because I did feel better once I got into the swing of work (I woke up really congested and coughing).

After work, I took Caineal for a long walk. She has had more energy lately so we have been going for one walk that is at least 20 minutes. I am starting to think that she will make it to the park this spring/summer after all. That alone makes me happy. Anyway, one lady commented on what a nice Jack Russell Terrier I had. Toward the end of the walk, there was a guy walking his little black dog. Caineal was sniffing a tree so she didn't notice the other dog. The owner of the black dog came up to her and sniffed her. Caineal sniffed back and was nice for about a minute. Then she tensed and scared the other little dog. Anyway, the owner of the other dog seemed nice and it was good to see more dogs around again. He seemed to want to talk to me more but didn't say anything. It was just the usual, "Is he an old dog?" "Is he a boy dog?" Why do people always assume dogs are boys and cats are girls?

Anyway, I digress as usual. When crossing the Ha'Penny Bridge to go home, one of the homeless guys tried to whistle her to come by him so he could pet her. I asked the guy if he wanted to pet her (many of the homeless people on the Ha'Penny and O'Connell bridges are mean to her). I brought her closer to the guy but she was really tense. She stayed nicely but was quite tense and kind of cuddled into my leg a bit. After chatting with him for a couple minutes, Caineal wanted to go. I feel bad for the guy. He said he has been homeless for 7 years. He commented on how lucky Caineal was to have gotten adopted and taken off the streets. She is.

I wonder, what has made this man homeless for so long. If he is there again, maybe I will ask him. I would like to help the homeless but am not sure what organizations are available here and what is really the best way. I have been reading the blogs of two men who are homeless in the U.S. One has been homeless for a very long time, the other recently is homeless. The guy who has been homeless for many years has mental health issues. It seems like quite a few of the homeless here have drug abuse issues. There also seems to be violence on the streets at night. Every now and then I see bruises on their faces. I am not sure if they get into fights with each other but I doubt it. I think it is more likely that people are mean to them since John has observed this.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Dialectical differences

As I've highlighted in previous posts, there are some word choice differences here in Ireland. Some words are also pronounced differently. Lately, I find myself using more American phrases and word choices instead of the Irish ones. While this isn't a conscious decision, I find myself wanting to cling to some of the familiar ways of saying things. I am surprised by this because I've been in the country about 10 months. It seems like I should be thinking in the Irish dialect, not the American one. Maybe it is related to stress levels.

In addition to the speech sound production differences, there are word choice differences. For example, I call a "bin" a trash can or garbage can. Recently, I gave materials to someone and she brought them back because I certainly couldn't have intended them for her because the vocabulary items weren't words that she would use. They were American made sheets. It seems to me that 1) they can cross out the American term and put in the Irish one, 2) the children can't read yet so it isn't crucial what is written above the picture to match and 3) they can modify the activity to fit their needs.

However, these word choices have caused me to ponder assimilation and the acculturation process. There is a part of me that doesn't want to assimilate to the Irish ways. Some American phrases and ways are more comfortable to me, some I like better. There are also some Irish ways that I like better. Why can't I keep the best of both? Besides, why do I have to do all the adapting? My head says because I moved to the foreign country. However, it seems like people should be able to have a little flexibility and learn multiple vocabulary words for the same item. I did when I lived in the States. I do now. Why can't others? Why can't the process be more cultural sharing instead of the emigrants fully assimilating into the new culture and leaving the old culture behind? I know this is the same issue as in the States.

I do think that here in Ireland, the country is going through more growing pains than back home. The Irish seem to be surprised that people would move TO the country instead of away from it. That is because of the long history of economic struggles. I also think that there is a more cohesive national identity here. People have an idea of what it means to "be Irish." There are more shared experiences here. For example, a majority of the country is Catholic. They are culturally Catholic if not by faith/practicing religion. With being culturally Catholic, there are certain shared experiences like first communion, confirmation, etc. Because I have not shared these experiences, I actually feel more isolated lately than I did earlier in the year. This is because the topics of conversation relate to the Catholic or Irish cultures. Since I didn't grow up in either one, I don't understand or relate to the conversation.

Some people are very curious about the culture and things about where I came from, others joke about my dialect, and others just continue on their conversations that functionally exclude me because I don't share the background. Now, I don't think that they are intending to exclude me. I think that the national culture here is just so strong that they forget that I don't share it. That isn't a bad thing. In a lot of ways, I am in awe of it since the U.S. doesn't seem to have that. Maybe that is because we have more immigration and acculturation, less full assimilation...

Saturday, March 25, 2006

education of children with special needs

Recently I have been thinking a lot about how children with special needs are treated and educated. In mainstream schools, the staff aren't always trained on how to work with children with special needs. Some people have stereotypes of how children with disabilities or certain syndromes should act or how they learn. That is frustrating and it can be very difficult on the parents. There seams to be this permeating view in some places that in order to be in a mainstream school, the children have to be able to make progress on the curriculum as it is. If they were able to do that, they wouldn't have a cognitive impairment and need my support, now would they? Other mainstream schools want to learn how to work with children with learning difficulties.

I think part of the issue is that integration is tricky and a relatively new phenomenon. It takes a lot to be successful. There have been numerous studies in the U.S. and one conference that I went to a few years ago cited research that children need to be in a class at least 50% of the time in order to be considered part of the class. That can be tricky in places where children have spend part of their day in two different classrooms. In order for education to work, I think there has to be an overall acceptance of differences on the part of all of the staff and the children. Children are curious and want to know why others are different. Children will ask why Johnny has trouble talking, why Suzie is in a wheelchair. I think if the adults in their lives are open and accepting, the children are more likely to be as well.

Another integral part of education of children with special needs is the acknowledgment that education is not just book learning (and this goes for typically developing children as well). Education is learning how to be a friend, how to be a citizen, how to be a good member of the community. It involves work ethic and helping each other out. It is realizing that people have different strengths and that is alright. It is good in fact. By educating people with special needs along with their typically developing peers, everyone learns. I understand that it isn't that simple. Really, I do. There are a lot of issues. There is a lack of funding. There is a lack of training. There are biases of adults. But it can work.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Where's the beef?

On "Irish" TV, there is an ad for Spar. In this ad, the product displays change in front of costumers. The display starts out as something the costumer doesn't want and turns into something they do want. Well, except for the child who wants sweets/candy and the display turns into fruit. He hits it as his "mother" takes him out of the store.

Frequently when I am in my local SuperValu, I feel like the child in that ad. Not because I want sweets instead of fruit but because the store is rearranged so much that I never know where things are when I go in there. Desserts and bread are in one place one week, and a totally different place another week. Also, they recently added checkout lanes to the store. I think this totally messed it up since it took away merchandise area and the store is already small. Products also turn over quickly. For example, one week it may have fresh raw chicken or minced turkey, the next it doesn't.

Today John also noticed that they don't have the best advertising techniques. By best I mean honest and clear. The store is having a sale on a brand of pizza for 99 cents. John picked out two of the normal single sized pizzas that were right below the sign. When we checked out our groceries, they were 2.99 each! Of course John protested and after the check out girl stopped laughing was told that the smaller (minature) pizzas were on sale, not the ones we bought. He went back to look at the sign and there was another costumer making the same mistake...

Accident, I think not.

Monday, March 20, 2006

This is a family show

There was one group in the Dublin St. Paddy's Day parade that bothered me a bit. It was a football club that was in the parade. In the front were guys kicking a football (soccer ball) around. In the back was a marching bad with football pitches on their heads and dressed like a football pitch. In the middle were scantily clad women. Now, I usually am not prudish, but this is a family affair and it was pretty cold out. These women barely had any clothes on. The girl next to me asked me lots of questions about why the ladies didn't have many clothes on, weren't they cold? She was concerned for their health/warmth as well as bothered that they were in public barely dressed...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Never too young for a guiness

After the parade, we went to Cafe En Sein for "a drink." This turned into 3-4 while listening to the music towards the back. While listening to the music, we noticed a family with a young child. The parents were drinking Guiness, the child had a bottle...

This picture was taken my friend J with her digital camera. It is blurry but you get the point.

Yet more pictures

Blogger and my internet connection were having issues last night so I couldn't post all of the pictures from the parade that I wanted to. So, here are yet more parade pictures.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

More pictures of the parade

Since I took well over 100 pictures of my first St. Paddy's Day parade in Dublin (really anywhere), I have to post more of them. :)


As I think I mentioned, the parade had a carnival/Mardi Gras feel to it. Well, without the beads and all. It was a lot of fun. The little girl next to us liked the "dead stuff" the best. There was a lot of it in the beginning. I really didn't understand most of the parade because it seemed one should have some understanding of the real history of the day to understand the parade. It was still a lot of fun.

Friday, March 17, 2006

The bands

There were lots of bands at the parade. Some played Irish music, some played traditional American marching band music, some played accordions. The garda even had a marching band!

Pre Parade

There were a few festivities before the parade to keep us entertained. J and I also noticed the green accessories and the number of people dressed inappropriately for the weather. We wore big heavy winter jackets and gloves and we were still cold. John forgot his headband to keep his head warm so he borrowed J's scarf.

Before and during the parade, there was also a pretty high police presence, probably to keep people from behaving inappropriately. A lot of paramedics from St. John's ambulance also walked the street. I have never seen paramedics patrolling before. Some of them were cadets and looked about 10. I don't know if I'd want them treating me...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Freezing St. Patrick's Day

My friend J was told that she should be at the St. Patrick's Day parade about 2 hours early. So, she rang our doorbell at 9:30 AM! We were still in bed. I quickly walked the dog and we got ready.

About an hour later, we went out into the freezing cold to wait for the parade to start (was supposed to start at 12:00). I am not sure how cold it was but, it felt really cold. There weren't many people there yet so we had our pick of spots. I lead us to be near Starbuck's because I wanted a skinny blueberry muffin and skinny hot chocolate. They were closed! Starbucks, right along the parade route was closed! I was very disappointed and we had to walk to the corner store to get food since we hadn't eaten breakfast.

Anyway, J, John and I found a spot and slowly lost it as we got colder and colder because we naturally huddled together to conserve heat. Eventually S came and joined us. Then the family with children came. The children wiggled their way into the front. I said, they were just kids, let them be in front of us. I never realized that little children could take up so much space. Or energy. The little girl kept talking to us. And talking. And talking. She seemed to have fun and enjoyed the parade but she just kept talking.

The parade lasted about 1 1/2 hours and it was more like a carnival parade that I was expecting. Actually, it was the strangest parade I have ever seen in my life. Over half of the bands were high school bands from the States, too. The people from Dallas looked really cold. The others dressed more appropriately for the cold weather. Well, except the scantily clad women dancing with the footballers. But that will be its own post.

After the parade, we all went to a cafe where we ate a lot. We then went to Cafe En Sein to drink and listen to some Irish music. About 7:00, we realized we were hungry again and J wanted food from the local. John, being the sweet wonderful boyfriend that he is, went to walk the dog and got to the local before us. They had taken all the tables out and weren't serving food!!! That made us very disappointed and we went to the Bad Ass Cafe instead. I got a calzone that was the spiciest thing I have eaten in this country. Actually, is had so much heat to it that I couldn't eat it. I ate some of the chicken but mostly the cheese and breading. Those were tasty.

After dinner we decided we were all tired from being outside and drinking all afternoon that we went home. Besides, the pubs were really crowded with tourists. It is definitely amateur night out. All in all, it was a good day. No violence, no drunken rowdiness during the day, and nobody doing things in public that they shouldn't. It was a good, wholesome St. Patty's day.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

School break in

Recently, there have been a string of break ins on the North side of Dublin. One of these break-ins included a school. Why would you break into anywhere, but a school? Now that just seems mean to me. To some extent, I understand that usually schools have equipment, but that isn't worth stealing. If you are going after computers, schools usually only have desk tops which are really hard to steal. What else is there to steal in a school? Textbooks? Maybe the thieves just wanted to break in somewhere or have some issue with schools...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


In the state that I am from, I had a license to practice Speech-Language Pathology (allows me to work in clinics/privately) and a teaching certificate in Speech-Language impairment so that I could work in schools. The license is good for two years and you have to do 20 hours of continuing education every renewal period. If you get audited (supposed to be random), you have to show that you did the required 20 hours.

Of course, this year I got audited. I did 20 hours of continuing education in the field. So, I got my proof of continuing education and sent in my application and fee for my new license. My sister (mailing address I gave the state) got a letter saying that they didn't accept most of my continuing education. See, even though I did the hours within the period that my license is supposed to cover, I sent in my renewal late so they didn't accept it. Huh? Even though the law says it has to be done during the two year official period, they Department of Professional Regulations says that it has to be done within 24 months of your application. This means that continuing education I did in December 2003 may no longer count even though they counted it when I originally submitted my application.

To make things more complicated, the Department of Professional Regulations doesn't accept Department of Education approved continuing education. So, the continuing education that I did that I thought counted, doesn't. The lady I talked to on the phone said that there is a list of approved providers. I explained I looked for that list and couldn't find it. She said you have to call another department (or email them) and pay a fee to get the official list. So, I have to pay to do continuing education, pay to have the ability to practice, and pay to find out who I can pay for continuing education! Now that makes a lot of sense.

There was one thing that I learned from this whole process: if I go to continuing education that is not on the list (most of what I do here in Ireland), I can submit a description of the course within 90 days from when I took it and the Deparment of Professional Regulations can then determine whether or not to approve it. Otherwise, I can pay ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) to do continuing education online. That is how I am getting my current hours met. It actually costs less than most conferences and I am getting more hours. Gotta love the money machine of ASHA...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Would I get enough points?

Shortly after I started working in Ireland, one of my mates told me that she had wanted to be a dentist but didn't have enough points for it so she had to do something else. I didn't understand at all and am still confused by this process.

My mate explained that when in secondary school, you take an exam. Your score on the exam determines what career you can have. Apparently, there is a point value for different majors in college. So, if you get a certain score, you can be a teacher. If you get a higher score, you can be a dentist or doctor. Recently, I met some nursing students. One commented that she wanted to be a speech therapist but didn't have enough points. So, in theory, speech therapists are "smarter" than nurses in Ireland.

The idea of a points system in order to determine what career someone can have is very strange to me. What if someone has a bad test? Besides, how can a test measure your competency in a given career? Or even your potential of competency? There is so much more to competency than cognitive ability. I would also really like to know how they determined the scores needed for certain professions. Who decided that a nurse didn't need as many points as a speech therapist who didn't need to be as "smart" as a doctor or dentist? Also, what happens if someone wants a profession that takes fewer points. Are they "allowed" to have that profession?

This system also makes me wonder, what would I have scored and what profession would I have today if I had been raised in Ireland or if the U.S. had a similar system?

OK, the disclaimer: I obviously still don't understand the test/point system. I am going to try to research it more but the above is how it was explained by multiple people to me.

Budweiser at Guiness!

Yesterday John, J and I went to see the Irish Teacher's Association's production of Suisical the Musical. It was good. I had seen this musical last year with my previous job. One of the local high schools had put it on and dress rehearsal was free for the local schools so we went with the students. I found it very interesting that the high school's stage and sound system were far better than the Rupert Guiness Theatre.

It was also interesting to me that I compared the production that I saw yesterday to the one I saw last year. Almost everything except the story/lyrics were different. I expect that for plays, less for musicals. Overall, it seemed that that high school production had a bigger budget. I did like yesterday's performance. I also really enjoyed watching a little boy sitting in front of me. He was really cute. He had a hard time sitting and sat on the floor and by the wall at times. Other times, he put his hands over his ears because it was too loud. I wanted to do the same but didn't. He also danced and clapped a lot when he liked something. Ahh, the freedom of children. They are so much fun to watch.

After the performance, J wanted to look for a shirt in the Guiness store. Since it was close by, we went shopping and then snuck up to the bar to have a Guiness. You aren't supposed to go to the bar without paying the admission fee to the whole "museum." However, on your way out, there is one set of stairs. To the left, they go up to the rest of the building, to the right they go out to the street. Since we wanted a drink and had seen the exhibits (not that great by the way), we went left. We took the stairs up a couple flights and the elevator the rest of the way to the bar.

We got to the bar and ordered our drinks. Since the bar was pretty empty, I actually looked at what was on tap. Cider, a lighter form of Guiness, and.... Budweiser were on tap!!! Now, that just isn't right. The bartender said we would be surprised how many people ordered Bud there. But it just isn't right that one of the worst American "beers" would be on tap at the Guiness storehouse bar. Maybe I could understand it if they had a good American beer on tap, but Budweiser?

After going to the storehouse, we decided we were hungry and went to the Porterhouse Central for dinner and more drinking. We were going to go to the local Porterhouse but a friend was walking up from a southern suburb so we went to a different one. This Porterhouse was fine. It wasn't the same as the one we normally go to. The menu was different, they had different cider on tap, and about 10:00 PM it turned into a club feel, complete with loud music and revolving coloured lights! We had to leave because the lights were giving us headaches.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Keep your kids home

Ok, I am cranky today. I was just getting over a cold. I was finally getting better. And then I encountered a lot of people who were sick. And they sneezed on me. And coughed on me. Today, I woke up all congested again and am coming down with a new cold, different than the old cold. Ugh.

In a previous job, I worked with a variety of children, some of whom were very medically fragile. When I had to work with a child who was sick, I then wouldn't work with a couple of the medically fragile children because they were so fragile that they could have died from catching a cold. I didn't want that to happen and didn't want to be the one to spread a cold to them. Even if I followed universal precautions, there was still a risk since I can't really wear a mask doing speech therapy since many of the children need to see my mouth and tongue positions as I speak. Besides, the mask makes my speech harder to understand. Hence, I didn't wear a mask and had to breath near/on the children which meant they were exposed to my germs. So, I would have to cancel sessions with my highly medically fragile kids.

Whenever I worked with a child who was under the weather, I wondered why do parents send their kids to school when they are sick? In my head, I understand that it is very difficult to raise a child with special needs and parents would have to take off work if their child is sick. However, that is true of a typically developing child as well. Most children don't work well when they are sick (I have work with some kids who learn better when a bit sick, though).

I also wonder why the teachers would have to me see children when they are sick. Kids don't learn well when they are sick. And, just as importantly, they pass all the germs onto everyone else. It also shortchanged other students because if I think I am contagious, nobody gets therapy. So, by wanting one kid to get therapy when he/she is sick, the child infects me and then the rest of my clients miss out on therapy. Isn't it just more fair to keep your child home and cancel one session?

Ok, tirade done. On a happier note, it certainly felt like spring this morning. It was rainy but much warmer. I actually didn't have to wear a jumper (sweater) to work today. I wore my lighter winter coat but had it unzipped while I was walking. It is also light by 7:00 AM as I found out yesterday when walking Caineal and is still light at 6:00 PM. Yesterday I even noticed that the trees had buds and a couple trees had flowers on them! Yep, flowers are starting to come up. Warmer weather has to coming.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

May I see your ticket please?

Today I left work about 6:00 PM. It was a long day since I was on the train at 8:00 AM. Anyway, I was waiting for the bus and this car pulls up in the bus lane. It just sits there and has four guys in it. The guys are all wearing suits. Eventually, three get out of the car and have caps that look like pilot hats that they put on. I didn't think much of it. I just figured that they were pilots. I wasn't really sure why they were waiting in the car but thought that they were lucky since a bus came not a minute after they got out of their car.

I put my bus ticket into the reader and stood in an open area where people with strollers/buggies go or if there is a passenger in a wheelchair they go. So, one of the guys asks to see my ticket. I think that is strange since he just watched me put it into the reader not a minute ago. I dig it out and he then asks to see my bus/rail ID. I just got a new one this month because I lost my old one and the only way to get a monthly bus/rail ticket is to have one of these stupid IDs that cost 3.50. Anyway, he asks to see my ID so I take out my wallet and start digging through it. Normally, I only show it once a month: to get my new bus/rail ticket. I finally find it and get the guy's attention who is talking to the elderly guy behind me. I show him my ID, he looks at it, looks at me, frowns and hands it back to me. By this time, guy 2 went to the upper level of the bus.

The third guy is watching all of this and watching me. He approaches me and says in a quiet tone that when an Inspector asks to see my ticket, always show my ID with it. I probably should have been a bit deferent to him, but I just said I didn't know. He wasn't impatient but cut me off and said just for next time.

The same Inspector then told me that I had to sit on the bus since there were seats available. I told him that I didn't want to sit. He insisted so I explained that I hurt my back and it physically hurts a lot to sit on the seats. He then "excused" me from sitting and allowed me to stay standing. Besides, I had my (full) backpack (nice one that John gave me for Christmas) on my back, a big bag and my purse with me. It is hard to manage all that stuff and sit down.

Finally, the first Inspector finishes with the guy behind me and writes down some numbers. See, the guy behind me had a bus pass. This is different than what I get. A bus pass (as two mates told me as they laughed at me calling my ticket a pass this autumn) is for people who are elderly, disabled, or too poor to afford the bus. At least I think the last category is true since I see some young adult very able body people with bus passes. Anyway, you have a special ID with information in it. So the inspector was very interested in this guy's bus pass and I think the guy had to do some follow-up but I don't know since I wasn't listening. I was trying to relax to Shania Twain.

A while later, while Inspectors One and Three are looking at the bus tickets of everyone in the lower area, Inspector Two comes down with some One-Day Ramblers (one day tickets that can be used as much as you want but for a day) and puts them in the card reader to mark them. He also had a pad that looked like a ticket book. I guess some people upstairs didn't either pay the full fare or couldn't prove they paid at all. Funny since there is a place on the bus to throw away your slip that you get if you pay cash. So, its presence encourages one to throw this slip away almost as soon as you get it. And a lot of people do. I watch them daily.

So, after about 20 minutes, the three guys meet back up, tell everyone that they have to sit if there are seats available. Three of us are standing. One of the guys looks at me and tells me to sit because I stay standing. The Inspector I explained my issue to told the guy I was OK. The Inspector claimed that it was a safety hazard to be standing on the bus. Then why were they standing and why were they standing in the stair way? That isn't a very good example to set.

Anyway, they finish their inspection and get off two stops later. The next bus driver gets on at the stop as the Inspectors get off. The new bus driver gets on, the old one gets out of his area, and they exchange a look. I couldn't quite see it since the Inspectors were blocking my view. However, the bus driver who was done glanced at the Inspectors and the other one laughed. I bet they don't like them on their buses anymore than we like them on the bus.

Ok, so that is my story. Now, I still want to know why I have to have this stupid special bus ID. I think it may be 1) to make a bit of money and 2) to prevent people from sharing the monthly ticket. However, there is another monthly ticket that doesn't require an ID. If you were going to share (which you aren't supposed to), wouldn't you just use that one? By the way, I would get that one but it doesn't come with bus and train. Anyway, I digress again. If the intention is to cut down on sharing, what is to stop people from paying the 3.50 for the ID, getting Month C's ticket and sharing it with the people who bought tickets for months A and B? Besides, wouldn't people want to use the tickets about the same time? That is assuming that you are a commuter. I think that there has been an increase in Inspections on the buses and trains. Maybe that is where my extra 5 Euro a month for my monthly ticket is going.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Health Professionals Shortage

Here in Dublin, I am repeatedly struck by the severe shortage of health professionals and implications. There are a ton of nursing positions posted online and nurses are in the fast track work authorization scheme. Actually, many health professions are in this scheme.

It is a similar situation with speech and language therapy. Until recently, there was only one training course for Speech-Language Therapy in all of Ireland. I believe that program accepted about 20 people a year. That meant only 20 new graduates a year for a field that had waiting lists for up to 2 years for an assessment!

Some people think that the current staff shortage is going to go away when the two new courses in Ireland start graduating more people. I don't think it will for a few reasons. First, the field has very high attrition. It is a high burnout field. The pay is OK but not great and there are high workloads. This is an international issue, not just an Irish one. In Ireland, there is also a different way of working than there is at home. At home, services are given in the school and are given for an entire school year. Here, blocks of therapy are given. A person is seen for a set number of weeks and then given a break while the therapist works with someone else. I wonder how this way of working affects burn out.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Services for People with Disabilities

Recently, I have been reflecting on the way services for people with disabilities are set up in Ireland. People are accepted by an agency and they cannot be clients of two agencies that get government funding. Different agencies seem to serve different types of people and have different geographic areas that they serve. People get services based on what the agencies can give. The government seems to tell agencies how many speech therapists, OTs, physios, etc. they can have. The agencies/health service executives can then apply to the government if they need more staff.

This is a big difference to how services are set up in the U.S. The school is the primary source of therapy. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was first passed in 1975 and mandated free, appropriate, public education for children aged 3-21 with disabilities. It periodically gets reviewed and changed but the basics of the law have stayed the same. So, the schools are responsible for hiring speech therapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, teachers, etc. The therapists then have to support the children's education. There are structures for complaints and every year parents are told exactly how many minutes a week their child will spend with different people (resource teacher, speech therapist, OT, physio). If the services are unable to be provided for some reason, there is resource. There are also health based therapists but they tend to work in different ways and have different clients than the schools.

The differences in these two systems fascinates me. Neither system is perfect. However, I find that being on staff at a school facilitates working relationships.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Let it Snow!!!

As I have mentioned before, the weather here has been unseasonably cold. In fact, it snowed three times this week! Tuesday it snowed for about 30 minutes over a couple snow falls (stopped then started again). It got heavy at times but none of it accumulated. It snowed during a presentation I was giving and I got distracted by my happiness at seeing it.

It also snowed a bit on Wednesday. Not very much, just flurries wandering around the sky. Still it was snow. Today it also snowed. It was the perfect snow. It was the big snowflakes that fall gently to the ground. They were fluffy and so white. If they actually accumulated, it would be the perfect snowball fight or snowman snow. When I got all excited and mentioned this to my mates, they laughed at me and looked at me like I was crazy, especially since it is March and supposed to be spring.

At first it didn't accumulate at all. While in the office, it started to snow harder and it actually stayed on the ground for over a minute. By the time I left work about 20 minutes later, there was a slight dusting that looked like frost. While on the bus I listened to a Chris Isaak version of "Let it Snow" because I was so excited about it. When I got home 30 minutes after that, it has switched to rain. :( Unfortunately I didn't have John's camera with me this week so I couldn't take any pictures of it.

In related weather news, it also hailed here at least twice in Feb. It has been strange weather lately. I wonder when it will start getting warmer. My mates have told me that frequently it is warm enough to not need a jacket on St. Patty's Day. That is only a fortnight away. That also means that in 2 weeks, John will be home in Dublin for good. Hurray!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

TV tax

In February, I got a letter from a government body asking if I had a television in my apartment because there wasn't a license for it. I had to answer the questions and return the form within 14 days. If I didn't return the form within that timeline, I could get a few hundred Euro fine and an inspector would come to my apartment to look for a television. If there was one, I would have a bigger fine plus the licence fee. So, I filled out the form the best that I could. It also asked stuff about aerial systems. I have no idea about that. Basically, I have a television and I pay for my own cable.

Today I got a letter in the mail saying that I had to get a 155 Euro television licence. If I didn't, I would have a 600 Euro fine for the first offence and over a 1,000 Euro for any later offences. I mentioned the tv tax to someone today (don't recall who) and they commented that since the government has tv channels, you have to pay an annual fee to have access to them. A lot of Europe does this. So, the next time people complain about public television funding in the States, be grateful that you don't have to pay 155 dollars a year to own a television!

On a related note, there is talk of making Dubliners pay for water use. While in theory that is a good idea but there is a 21% tax on everything I buy. I am not sure if the food tax is quite that high (the prices shown in the stores reflect the tax) and there is fairly high income tax. So, I feel like I am already paying a good amount in tax and not getting much out of it. I have to pay to have my garbage removed, I pay a fee for the TV, and I pay my own utilities. What does the government do with the tax money? I am guessing that some of it goes for the "socialized" medicine. That may be a lot. Indirectly, I probably pay my own salary. Ironic, huh?

Porterhouse again

Last night J and I went to the Porterhouse. She needed to relax after moving a bunch of her stuff and I needed dinner. I had just gotten back from picking Caineal up from the vet. I took her to a different vet for a second opinion since the first one wouldn't x-ray her heart to check the state of her heart murmur. This one took x-rays of her heart, her backbone, and scanned her heart. She has really severe heart problems and currently is dehydrated and has fluid in her lungs (but none on them). One of the valves in her heart is blocked almost completely. Basically, she probably has about 6 months or less. That makes me really sad but I know that I have given her a good end of life and she seems pretty happy even though she can hardly walk sometimes from the arthritis and disc degeneration.

So, both of us needed a bit of a cheer up. We got there and since there was a football (soccer) match on, the place was pretty full. We ended up sitting by two guys from Frankfurt, Germany. They go away every year at this time because Frankfurt has a Carnival long weekend like Mardi Gras and they don't like to be there then. So, we chatted with them all evening. We had some interesting conversations about politics, which of course J tried to avoid and would go to the bathroom whenever it got to be too much for her. At the Porterhouse, they are having a stout festival. J tried the chocolate truffle stout but didn't like it. I tried the chocolate truffle stout with Tia Maria in it. That was tasty. It was fun to watch the two German guys drinking stout. One of them winced when he took drinks of it because he is used to lighter German beirs.

As we were walking back to my place, J told me that we have to broaden our bar repertoire. I am sad by that but she is probably right. We can go to the other Porterhouse but we have to start going to pubs outside of Temple Bar. I hope she has some good ones down by her or maybe there are some good ones between where she moved and where John and I live...

You didn't pay for this far

Today I went to the chiropractor to get my spine assessed. My friend M has been going to one and she really likes it and said that it has helped her a lot. Since I have back problems and fell a couple weeks ago, I thought I would get it checked out. So, I went before work and the chiropractor said that I needed an x-ray to make sure that I didn't fracture my tailbone when I fell (which I didn't).

I went to get the x-ray after work. On my way home on the bus, the bus driver pulled over and stopped the bus. He got out of his little driver area (there is glass and a door between the passengers and the driver). He walked all the way to the back of the bus and told a lady that she asked for how much to Fairview and she passed Fairview. She either needed to get off the bus or pay an extra 95 cents to go to city centre. The lady protested but the bus driver said that she was going to city centre and needed to pay the whole fare. He then went back up to his driver area and waited. Eventually, she dug out more change and went up and paid the extra fair.

I suppose I should explain how the bus system works. You pay a base fare, 95 cents at the moment. That fare gets you a certain distance. If you want to go farther than that, you have to pay more. However, you don't pay 95 cents more. For example, if I didn't have my bus ticket (I buy a monthly one) with me, I would have to pay 1.35 each way to get to work and home on the bus. So, the lady shouldn't have had to pay another 95 cents. She should have only had to pay 40 cents. I think that the driver was mad (obviously) and wanted to prove a point that she paid for a certain distance and since she didn't pay the whole way, she had to pay 2 base fares.