Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thing 197 Hack Into a Computer

I'd an idea of how you might hack into a computer. I figured it would involve hours of work. Typing quickly while cyber police bang on the front door, "Access Denied" flashing up on the screen every few minutes, sweat pouring out of me. Smoking cigarettes like they're going out of fashion. Cursing at the screen. Typing getting progressively faster as the laptop's intelligent defence systems try to out-pace me to the codes that will give me access...

No. Wrong. Stop watching too much shitty television and commence living in the real world - I am in fact a moron.

Pony Boy is a developer. This is computer speak for a smart person with smart knowledge of how to use a computer properly. I am a user. This is computer speak for someone who can just about use a computer, but has absolutely no idea how it works...

The photo up at the top is of what Pony Boy calls "Pass me the Key". It's a basic piece of software that can be downloaded for free from the internet. It costs literally nothing. It's terrifying.

I popped it into Pony Boy's disc drive. I turned the thing on. It asked me to boot a particular screen. I did. Not literally. I'm a user, but I'm not stupid enough to kick the computer. It runs the disc. Just before it does, it shows this screen, the only nod in the direction of what I thought was some stereotypical looking hacker screen...
Then it does a brute force attack. If it was people, it would sound like this:

Hack: Hey, mind if I get in there?
Comp: Eh... yeah, a little. Have you got a password?
Hack: I'm jedi dude. I don't need a password. I only need a mind trick. Check it - I don't need a password to access admin details....
Comp: You don't need a password to access admin files.
Hack: Sweet....

Then it goes after Pony Boy's profile on the laptop:

Hack: Hey there. Listen, I've got admin access yeah? So I'm just going to make my way inside there?
Profile: Eh, that's not really cool dude. I can't just let you in.
Hack: Jedi mind trick?
Profile: Nope. No good here. I'm Sith.
Hack: What if I had the password?
Profile: Oh, that's different...
Hack: Does it start with "A"
Proilfe: No.
Hack: "B"...
Profile: No.
(The Hack goes on asking what the first character is, until your dumb ass Profile tells it it's right. Then it starts all over again on the second character).

It's a brute force attack, and it's genius. And eventually it reveals Pony Boy's password. Which would allow me to pop in and attack his facebook page with statements questioning his sexual performances. There's no way I'm doing it now. He's got more smarts than me. It's the last time I mess with his facebook page...

There are ways around it. Plenty of modern laptops have adequate protection, but most of them don't, which effectively means that Pony Boy could be on his way over to yours right now to hack your laptop as I type. He's not though. He's on the couch having tea.

It's a scary thought. There's nothing even remotely difficult about hacking into your profile. It can be done quickly and easily. I'm hiding my laptop...

Thing 196 Set Dancing

Set Dancing. An ancient Irish tradition. Practiced in groups of four couples. It makes sense to think that I might go to a set dancing class as part of a couple. The Thief is a set dancer - she's got two all Ireland gold medals. I've got two left feet, so there's no way I'm going with her. The Frenchman's in Germany. Token Northy was at work. And there's no way on earth I'm going set dancing with Pony Boy. He's nice and all, just not my type. Ahem. Moving on.

So instead, I decided to go on my own. Well if that's not the greatest statement that I'm a giant loser. I went to set dancing class on my own. One is the loneliest number. It gets worse.

On arriving I discovered all manner of age groups from early twenties to early seventies. I was expecting a room full of elderly women, if I'm being honest. Instead it was all manner of ages, and a fifty-fifty split in the genders. Which meant equal parts men and women to laugh at the loser sitting on the sideline watching thirty or so people set dancing. Because that's what I did. Like some kind of creepy bearded weirdo with a fetish for old folk dances, I watched from the side of the room as fifteen or so couples danced the night away.

I could feel their judgement.

There was one other man there, a spritely seventy one year old Limerick man by the name of Billie. If I can move like that chap at his age I know I'll have been doing something right. He took a breather and sat down for a chat. He's only been set dancing for six weeks. He loves it. He's made friends of all ages. His wife loves it too. They get great exercise out of it. The man made me feel terrible for judging the whole thing to be lame- make no mistake by the way, I thought the whole thing was ridiculously lame.

This is where it gets worse: The guy organising the whole event, with a mic in hand, walked by and asked me if I was going to dance. Embarrassed now with all eyes on me, I told him I didn't want to break up a couple and I was too much of an amateur to jump in with this crowd. He wasn't having it - get up and try a few moves yourself he said... all the judging eyes still on me, and not wanting to look like I was there to get my jollies from watching people set dance, I got out of my seat...

While everyone else danced their moves in the middle of the dance floor, I stayed on the outside of the floor, just off my seat, and set danced on my own, for twenty minutes. With an invisible partner who also had two left feet, I practiced my set dancing moves, all the while watching the highly amused regulars who observed me tripping over myself.

I used to think that I'd no shame. Now I know otherwise.

After twenty minutes I left. Hanging my head, but before I reached the door I remembered that not too long ago, some blog readers were accusing me of being lazy. Some unnamed individual's scorn forced me to turn around, walk back in, hit the edge of the dancefloor, and set dance with myself for another ten minutes, getting redder and redder by the second.

God bless Billy... he gave me a little round of applause after.

It's not something I'll ever take up with any regularity. I'll probably never set dance again (emotional scars, you know), but I've to tip the hat to those that can. It takes skill and concentration. As activities on a rainy Tuesday evening go, you could be doing an awful lot worse.

And at least the rest of them seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Thing 195 Read A Book Backwards

Pretty much like this blog. And it made no sense whatsoever. It was that racing almanac.

So I did.I digged through the List, and there was a great suggestion, I can’t for the life of me think who suggested it, to read a book backwards. So it had to be something else.It was closed though. It’s more than just a chippy you know. Anyway, I wanted to make today’s Thing all about eating the entire menu from Donkey Ford’s, the Limerick City chip institution.

It’s nerdy, I know, but I think I’ve picked out a few good ‘uns. Just as little extras that I think would suit people. In a nerdy kind of way I also got into the habit of giving gifts of books at Christmas.

World War Z (the most important zombie novel ever, in my humble opinion), and a racing almanac which Lester Piggot did the forward for. May You Live In Interesting Times (Conor O’Clery’s memoirs). Freakenomics.These days is a pretty mixed bag. My recent favourites include:

I couldn’t get enough. Books on cooking. Books on movies. Books on science like The Way Things Work. I read books on the lives of dead people: Gen George S Patton, Adolf Hitler and Martin Luther King. I branched out too. I didn’t limit myself though.

Then it got darker, slightly, with David Gemmell, which was a prelude to Robert Jordan… man, I will never get enough of fantasy novels. All in a relatively sensible novel for a young man. Dragons, knights, magic and heroes who started small but overcame odds and scored the novel’s hot chick. From Mr Dahl I moved into extra nerd with David Eddings. I’ve never been much of a sleeper, so I’d just stay up until I’d finished a book, and then start a new one all over again. I moved on, graduated to Roald Dahl which I read at a ferocious rate. That was just the start though.

It started with a novel about a smart nerdy kid who invents his own pimple juice for getting rid of other kids’ acne and sells it to bullies, thereby teaching young readers a lesson that it’s okay to swindle people, as long as they’re complete douchebags. My Nana was fed up of seeing me with my face buried in some novel. I must have been the only kid whose grandparents were giving out that I wasn’t watching enough TV. I eat them for breakfast, has been that way since I was about ten years old. I devour books.

Thing 194 Piano Moving

Sweet divine mother of someone holy... I shouldn't be allowed to touch expensive things. Honestly. I shouldn't be let near your fancy kitchen china, and that doesn't even count as expensive when you consider what they let me get my hands on last Sunday. Bought second hand, you can pick up one of these pianos for a measly ninety thousand euro. I don't think that looks dramatic enough - here's the digits: 90,000. If you wish to shell out for a new one, say for example if you let some clumsy oaf help you move it, it's going to cost you about 150,000 euro.

Would you trust me with that? The guy that couldn't make an origami swan?

Chris Jackson though, now that guy can be trusted. His Da tuned pianos, and he learned the art himself before opening a piano business. If you're looking for a piano, or piano mover - Gallery Pianos. The question you'd have to ask is why would Chris let me move a piano? Why? Do I need to start typing zeros to emphasise my incredulity?

Thankfully, professionals have professional equipment. Like piano tanks...
Yes, that's a giant grand piano on what I can only call a piano tank. The grunt work comes from getting it out of the van and onto the tank, and that's donkey's time to shine... Pushing and pulling is pretty basic, even I can handle that crap. So that's what we did. Three of us versus piano. A battle of wits, no wait, a battle of brute strength. On the piano's side: weight. On our side: a tiny little cylinder underneath the crate... genius. Ancient Celts thought of it when they were making Newgrange, but I'd have stood there all day without coming up with that clever little plan.

You know how much I dislike sweating. Or exerting myself. Or standing up excessively.
As I said, I can appreciate donkey work, it's what I'm good for. When Ci Ci Do was getting her attic converted, Puc It Out's dad needed a hand with the conversion. When I say he needed a hand, what I mean is that he needed some donkeys. The difference is that my donkey work here was going to cost someone 150,000 euro if it went wrong. That's pressure. Pressure's not just for tyres you know.

All went well though. Out of the van with a serious grunt. Onto the tank. Up the ramp with a little gentle persuasion. Through a narrow little hole in the stage loading entrance and behind the set for that night's show. I think I can count that as a success. No one has to shell out in the six figures for my mistakes... that's definitely a win.
On the plus side, it gave me the chance to get back into the Wexford Opera House. Did I mention I'm in love with it? It also presented me with a great opportunity for posing, a skill I've acquired after years of practice.
The Thief's a poser from time to time. Marketeer's wearing a tux. If that doesn't entitle him to pose, I don't know what does...

So... Posing and a chance to see the opera house in exchange for a little sweat? I think that's a pretty sweet deal.

Thing 193 A Night at the Opera

Let's all be very honest here, do I strike you as the type that would enjoy a night at the opera? Saturday's are best spent with rugby and Guinness. I never thought for a second that this would be the kind of thing that I'd enjoy... It was unreal. Amazing. Flabbergasting. Stunning. I know I'm given to hyperbole, but I can honestly tell you that I think this was one of the best nights I've had since I started the Project, and there have been lots of good nights.

My first fear was a simple enough one: You can't polish a turd, and putting me into a suit isn't going to fool anyone into thinking I'm posh. Opera's posh right? They're going to know it's a fraud... If they did, certainly no one seemed to care. The atmosphere was light and breezy, even for a huge crowd of people in suits.

Second fear: I'm going to be bored out of my mind and I'll disturb the other patrons with my snoring... No chance. Mind you, we picked a good one to go see. The Golden Ticket is the opera version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It all might have been lost on me if we'd been looking at an 18th Century Austrian show with the big lady who screams the songs out as my very first operatic experience, but it was a well loved childhood classic instead. The talent (and I'm not talking about women smart arses), was incredible. The stage and set can be summed up in one expression: classy.

P.S. That photo up top is me and the man who played Granfather Joe. Leg-end.

I guess it kind of helped that the Opera House in Wexford is so savage and that me and The Thief were set up with top notch seats, front row and centre. Just look at the photo? Impressed? Sure you are. Jealous? Of course you are. I don't blame you. Am I smug much? Indeed I am.

I'm sure it's not for everybody, there's bound to people out there that have no interest and who won't engage with it, but there's no reason at all why that should be true. If you're going to give it a shot though, try it out with something in English first would be my advice. Like I say, the danger would be that you'd get lost with the classics.
It was a classy night out. And if I can pull off classy, you'll do just fine.

For the lads out there, take the missus on a date. Dress up snappy (for a change, you lazy bums), go for dinner. I'm sure there are other Opera venues around the country, but I think I might be in love with the Wexford Opera House. Apparently the acoustics are among the best in the world, not that I'd notice, philistine that I am. And if you're going to be in Wexford - Simon's Place is the bar me and The Thief went to with some of the gang we met at the centre. Solid pint. Good banter.

Now that I think about it, I wonder if they'd let me commute to work from Wexford...
And for my next trick... they let me move in a grand piano into the Opera House the next day... that should be entertaining right?

Thing 192 Drive like a Geriatric

First of all, thank you South Park for providing me with numerous ideas that amuse me no end. Also thanks for all the laughs. Most importantly of all, thank you for Randy Marsh, the funniest character in the show. The second two are not relevant to the project though, so we'll stick with the first one.

Second of all, it's never prudent to attempt to photograph yourself while driving. Other things that are imprudent while driving include: Making coffee. Texting. Playing air guitar while attempting to negotiate bends. Cursing at George Hook and solving complex equations. Because of this imprudence, the only photo you get to see is that one from South Park. Try not to miss my face too much.

I suffer from the road rage. There's no point in denying this. Anyone who's been in a car with me for ten minutes gets treated to a running commentary laced with expletives regarding the manner and conduct of other drivers. The exceptions are old people and learners. I don't know why I exclude old people, I guess I just figure there's no point in being mad at someone for being safe. I do know a long list of people who dislike elderly drivers.

The problem with road users is that generalisation is easy: Men drive too fast. Women can't park. Old people drive too slow. Cyclists are all annoying and smug. Merc drivers think they own the road. The list of generalisations is long. You can be certain that not everyone conforms to these stereotypes. But I fins generalising amusing... so here's today's Thing.

I took the new tunnel and dual carriageway from home to work, then from work to town. Before I left I pushed up my seat close to the steering wheel. I leaned forward and I grasped at the wheel like it was holding me up. Then I set off on my painfully slow, merry little way...

I drove at about fifteen to twenty miles an hour under the limit. I indicated approximately three minutes before I actually started the turn. I stopped at a yield sign. I watched people get mad. Then I laughed my ass off when the passengers in the cars overtaking me did a double take and looked puzzled. "He's not fifty five thousand years old, he's in his twenties".

Drivers out there will understand this. When stuck behind someone driving in a particular manner, it's automatic to decide, by their car type and mannerisms, exactly what type of driver they are. For example: I'm behind a Honda Civic, it's edging toward the line looking for an opportunity to overtake all the time, it does so and accelerates quickly. I'm thinking: Twenty something boy racer with about as much sense as he has petrol in the tank (not a lot).

So everyone behind me just assumed old person. I know I'm occassionally an old man in my head, but this was hilarious.

On the way back to town, but this time it was dark, so no one could see me, and I couldn't see anyone. Basically, a pointless exercise that I got no fun out of... at least the trip to work was a laugh.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Thing 191 Sell Something on Ebay

Don't judge me, people pull stunts like this all the time. It's not like I expect to make some serious money out of this. It's a joke. Ahem. It's part of the Project. Why are you looking at me like that? Why are you judging me? I'm not taking it down...

Some kid tried to sell his mom on ebay once, and another dude tried to sell his soul once. Honestly, the stuff they put on here is incredible. And the stuff that some people will buy is just unreal. Is there really a market for a commemorative Pakistan versus England Cricket International glass clock? What about a Foster and Allen Tour Programme?

Can a jar of fresh air be any worse than these things?

To be fair ebay is pretty cool. I bought a Super Nintendo on there a few months ago. If you want to pick up some stuff that's no longer available in shops, ebay's the job. As an internet tool it's awesome. As a shop, if it was an actual shop you could walk into, it would just be a really weird place to be and go.

Here's the link:

I'm thinking that somewhere in the world is someone who might actually be interested in buying this, not really, as a joke like. If no one bids on it, I'm going bidding on it myself, like some kind of facebook loser.

Another thing I'm keen on- seeing what kind of comments are logged in. The internet is full of people who like to comment on stuff. Some of it's absolute dross. Context is hard to get from a website. I'm pretty sure the fact this is a joke will be lost on people. I'd like to see what some of them are going to say. It won't be flattering. On the internet no one knows that you're a dog, or a douchebag.

I'm both.

Thing 190 Destroy My Credit Card

I love hyperbole. It's my favourite. "How's the weather out there Dan?" Awful. Worst ever. I'll be sailing a boat home from town at this rate. "How did Munster get on Dan?". Amazing. Like fifteen juggernauts made out of bits of Wolverine... Hyperbole. It's a good way of communicating. Every so often though, it's weird. For the wrong reasons.

Example: Call from the bank at seven in the morning. There's a possibility that your credit card details have been leaked. Oh dear. What do I do? Well, we feel you should destroy your card...

Destroy it? Like Megatron was destroyed...? It's not like I plan on blowing it up, or compacting it in a car crushing machine. Destroy my card... I laughed at her a little. Seemed like sound advice though.

Then I started thinking about the Friends episode where they made Rachel cut up all her cards (yes, I realise I've watched way too much television, why do you think I'm doing this Project?). It's kind of an iconic image for turning your back on a rich lifestyle and trusting yourself to pay your way. I have no intention of doing that, not even a little, but I've never "destroyed" a credit card before.... so...
Fish tank:
Token Northy has a lovely little collection of fish. Cat Fish rules the tank with an iron fin, but there are some others in there too. Lets see how well the card likes it when it's sleeping with the fishes. That's how the mafia destroys somebody. Should have put some cotton balls in my mouth or something.

Bitch Method:
I left the card in another room and talked at length about how no one likes the card. It's not even that skinny. And it's so fake it's ridiculous. That magnetic strip isn't even real. All the other cards in my wallet pretend to like it, but secretly they hate it, and don't even want to hang around with it. That's how bitches destroy each other.

The Car Method:
This one's easy. Place card on ground. Reverse. Done.

The Sharp Knife Method:
Eh... what to say. Basically I took a sharp knife and cut it. As I say, I'm handy with a blade. Apparently.
It's the fact that the act of credit card destruction is so iconic that draws me to it. I could wish that there was more symbolism to the whole thing and that I was really going to live a life without credit cards. In an act of extremism, I'd also become a hippie and sell pants made out of hemp for a living... one's as likely as the other.

I jest.

Dare you to destroy yours...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Thing 189 Replace A Car Battery

I know this is ground already covered, but I feel I can't state it enough. I hate the NCT. Mine's tomorrow. It's the repeat after the week before last gave me and epic fail, but a great chance to see what the insides of my car looked like up front. Now I think I'm a proper mechanic, because I once saw the inside of my car engine, so I decided, in the spirit of The Project, not to shell out to replace the battery, but to buy one, and replace it myself. This is massively unwise considering I spent twenty minutes trying to find the place to put the motor oil before the last failed test.

Because I'm not mechanically minded, I'm pretty sure most garage repair men can see me coming from a mile away, with a giant sign on my head that says "tool with a wallet". They then proceed to lighten that wallet to the best of their abilities. Not this time. No sir. I've got this one covered. I'm all over it like Token Northy on cake (zing).

Speaking of which, I should really be more grateful. The man offered to help get the battery in. Pony Boy also lent his expertise. And The Frenchman rigged up a light when it got dark so we could see what we were failing terribly to do.

Here's the background: Morgan, my car, was bought in 2007. Since then, I've spent more money on repairs than I did on the car originally. Re-selling is going to be fun. I can't lie, so anyone who asks will be told that I hate that car, and that it's a curse... not exactly and awesome sales pitch. An epic fail on the last NCT led to three hundred euro worth of repairs. The next time I sat into the car to drive it anywhere, it refused to start. Pony Boy pushed it down a hill and got it moving, but the following morning it refused again. So.... new battery it is. And I'll just call up that mechanic my mam and da know and have him pop over and install it...

Or will I...

Stupid Project preventing me from being lazy and taking the easy way out.

Open the bonnet. Unscrew the battery clips. Tug at the battery. Hit it with the rubber end of the pliers. Tug at it again. Push it. Pull it. Hit it again. Stop. Reach into the car with one very uncertain hand and drag at the bottom of it. Nothing. For thirty minutes it's me and Pony Boy bashing at the thing like Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson in Zoolander while The Frenchman looks on and tries not to laugh.

Right. Push it up the hill and into the driveway because we need some light.

Hit it with another pliers. Tug at it. Notice after ten minutes that there's a bolt all the way down at the bottom holding the battery in place. Feel stupid. Grin sheepishly at each other. Undo the bolt. Lift the battery out. Feel stupid again for a minute.

Pop new battery in. Electrocute Pony Boy a little by accident. Tighten the holders. Force the lid down... turn the key in the ignition. HOOOOORAY!!! The sound of a running engine. Get out. Feel proud. Stand there with greasy dirty hands hoping someone will come by and notice that we've got greasy dirty hands, the bonnet's open and the engine's running. Manly.

The terrible thing about your car is that it's never as complicated as you think it is. All it takes is a professional kludger like Pony Boy and a badly made lamp.

Now I know how to replace a car battery. Excellent Project, teaching me important junk about things and stuff.

I went back inside. Picked up my phone which The Frenchman used to take some photos. Realised that it's completely dead and wont switch on.

Ah well. Something gets fixed, something else gets broken. There's no way I'm trying to repair that bad boy though...

Thing 188 Carve a Pumpkin

Stabby stabby. No Limerick jokes now please, but I'm a dab hand with a blade if I do say so myself. Got some veg to chop? I'm your man. Want to use a knife to, very stupidly, perform basic DIY about the house? Call on me. Wanna look oddly intimidating by eating an apple entirely with a knife... well, I'll leave that to you. But you will look kind of cool, I promise.

The point is, while I let myself down with many, many Things. I can chop good. Bring on the pumpkins.
I should have used turnips. Seriously. The original Jack O Lanterns were made here in Ireland, with turnips. Which is a great idea, since eating them is fucking terrible idea. Eugh. Then we packed up half the country and headed to America, and found a bunch of giant orange things that were easier to carve than turnips, and the pumpkin lantern was born.

You thought the pumpkin was an American construct? Nope. All us. They just made it popular. Ever remember being a kid and watching The Simpsons' Halloween Special and knowing what a pumpkin was, despite the fact that you'd probably never seen one here? Weird eh?
I won't lie to you folks. It wasn't pretty. Carving itself isn't tough, the skin's pretty flimsy and a sharp knife will do the trick, but the inside is a ball of complete disgustingness that's a little hard to explain. We have one large serving spoon type thingy that just bent in half when I tried to use it to scoop out the gooey, sticky, pip-filled insides, resulting in me having to use my hands. Which is just wrong.

After the scoop is done. It's a simple case of carving in a charming evil smile and two lovely evil eyes, sticking in some night lights, and hey presto. I'm thoroughly chuffed with my efforts you know.

They're basically the symbol of halloween now. Along with bangers, fireworks, bonfires, sexy nurses, sexy rabbits, sexy vampires and other sexy related things that people think are costumes. Oh and relentless cruelty to animals. That's a halloween thing too. Seriously, if you've got a pet, keep it locked up for the next few weeks will you?
So I bowed to the pressure of consumerism. I wanted to keep this Thing till halloween, and insisted to myself that it should be done on the weekend around halloween since any other time would be too early, but it's all over the shops now. In the windows and on the floors. Soon it'll be time for kids to start making their costumes, and young women will start planning what kind of sexy creature of the netherworld they're going to dress up as, while countless nerds like me wrestle with the idea of buying a jedi costume or finally get around to making that Borg outfit I've been swearing I'll make for the last eight years. Halloween is upon us folks...

Time to stock up on sweets, lest our gaff get egged for being cheapskates... Kids still do that right?

Thing 187 A Box Set of Girl's TV

There she is... my enemy. She doesn't even know it. There's a slice of air-brushed, wishes she looked like Shakira or a young Madonna, ruined everything for television picture of her. SJP. The woman who made Sex and the City popular.

I don't actually object to the show, which is in parts, quite funny. I object to the idea that it somehow represents female empowerment. Family Guy isn't funny because it parodies American small town life. It's funny because it's funny. With Sex and the City, we're constantly told that it's revolutionary because it gives women sexual liberation that only men had access to before this miraculous show came along and told women that they could decide this for themselves... It boggles the mind.

Again though, I must admit, I did laugh a bit. The writign is quite clever. The men (primarily) who write and direct the show are thoroughly funny chaps. Candace Bushnell whose columns are the basis for the show is also a genius. Her writing's an awful lot darker than SATC though. Which I like.

So anyway... I failed. I bought the first series of Sex and the City with the intention of sitting down and watching it all, but I only got through six episodes or so before I called it a night. The new experience in all of this, was the effort, and the fact that I got to see the Sex and the City pilot. The moment it all started... the moment it all went so terribly wrong.

I always felt kind of sorry for Clo Bear and Blond Boss. When I lived with them I was outnumbered two to one, so they always got to watch SATC, but they did have to live with my whinging and moaning about it. Man I can really give out about stuff when I want to. Those poor girls.

I objected to all manner of television. Corrie. SATC. Grey's Anatomy. X Factor. America's Next Top Model. You name it, I can give out about it.

I can also give out about stuff aside from TV: Weather. Shannon Rugby Club. Pop music. People who tag their YouTube videos with a cool name and pop references so people will watch it, even when it has nothing to do with that nonsense. People who can't use roundabouts. The word "synergy". Bad radio ads. People that are obviously douchebags and make no effort to hide their shame.... the list is pretty endless actually...

So now I'm the proud owner of Series One of Sex and the City. One day I might actually get around to watching the rest of it...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Thing 186 TP A House

Of course, when I say TP "a" house. I of course mean TP MY house. I'm not enough of a complete douchebag to tp someone else's house. And for those of you who've just read the last three sentences and do not count themselves as fans of acronyms - TP stand for toilet paper. I toilet papered my own house. So very much inspiration drawn from South Park and alcohol. A vicious combination.

It's not just South Park, other prominent cartoon children include Bart Simpson. I'm drawing a line though (cartoon pun, you can high five me later), under the suggestion that children could throw that high. If I'd failed to clear the top of the house with a throw, you might all enjoy a chorus of abuse along the lines of me having the throwing arm of a twelve year old, but when Token Northy fails, and Pony Boy nails it only a couple of times, you start to wonder...

Mind you, there are contributary factors that haven't been taken into account. Namely: Alcohol. Perhaps a snifter too much of it. The Thief, who moderates her alcohol intake, watched in horror as three grown idiots threw toilet paper over their own house. Laughed. And promptly forgot about it.

There's nothing in this life, or any other, more shameful than cleaning up that mess the following day. I begged silently for the ground to swallow me up entirely. My neighbours are thoroughly lovely people, I hope to hell we didn't wake them...

It's another prank that I missed out on during childhood. I have to say, I was pretty much a goody-two-shoes. Sure me, Pony Boy and The Canuck had our moments (we'll leave it conveniently at that I think), but mostly I was a well behaved little lad. Quiet too. I know that's hard to believe, but I really was. In retrospect, I'm glad of this. Mostly because I know what it's like to be the sucker that has to clean up the TP shower too. I feel bad for that guy. I'm glad I never made him have to do it.

I think I'll stick with practical jokes that involve ruining someone's facebook page. Half the time, half the effort and I don't have to feel like a girl's blouse for only clearing the house once in fifteen or so attempts...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Thing 185 Get a Manicure

Don't know if you've noticed this by the way but half of 366 is 183. This is Thing 185. More than half way. More than six months of doing something new, every day. Some of them have been small and not significant. Some of them have been monumental and enormous. The problem with the Project, is that after six months of doing something new every day, nothing I say is surprising anymore. Nothing. Thorny Wire rang for a chat this evening: "What are you at?" Going for a manicure. "Grand. See you later on so".

I would have thought that a man telling his brother that he's going for a manicure should provoke some form of response, specifically, and abusive response about me having girl bits instead of boy bits. Nope. Nothing. No one's surprised by anything I do anymore.

I guess that's to be expected when you announce to the world via the internet, that you drink your own pee.
What was some fun, surprise wise, was the look on the girl's face in the beauty salon when I walked in and asked for a manicure. In case you were wondering Eternal Beauty salon on Cruise's Street, so all of you men out there who care about having silky soft hands can form an orderly queue there. The girl at the counter looked positively stunned by the suggestion that I should want a manicure. I'm such clown, I do this nonsense for the amusement of people's reactions. I'm a reaction junkie. Her facial expression was my crack.

All in all, this might have been the girliest experience ever. Stacks of OKAY and HELLO magazine with pictures of Simon Cowell (shudder) and Cheryl Cole (whatever the opposite of shudder is) on the front. Scented candles. A little wall-mounted TV with Bridget Jones' Diary playing on it in the waiting room. Sitting awkwardly and clearly out of place was the chubby man with the sci fi novel sticking out of the top of the shopping bag. Incongruous to say the least.
I can see why this is a relaxing thing for women to do mind you. It's hard not to be chilled by the scented candles, and while "soft hands" means a deft rugby pass to me, and nothing to do with grooming, I quite enjoyed the hand massage and the hand warmers I had to wear. Token Northy tells me I have sausage fingers. I know for a fact that I've got two of the hairiest fore-arms you're likely to see anywhere. Maintaining the semblance of some kind of care system for my hands is never going to be a priority. Twenty five euro is better spent on DVDs and petrol for the car (in that order). But I've got to hand it to them (pun intentional, and hilarious), the manicure junkies might be on to something in terms of relaxation.

Thing 184 A Round for the House

So many, many expensive Things on this list... so much money spent. It's quite ridiculous. This one wasn't even on The List until very recently. I don't like being a flashy asshole, I do like being generous with my money when I get the chance. These two things collide. Particularly when it comes to this Thing.

It's a showy gesture. A fancy, over the top, display of attention seeking. Most of the lads would say that's right up my street, but I disagree. I disagree because I enjoy disagreeing. It's kind of my thing. When (and I say when, not if) I become a millionaire this kind of thing will be acceptable. Until that happens, I'm just a douche trying to look like he wants to be seen as a millionaire.

The choice of venue was important here too. Thursday is pay day which is great, but car repairs and an upcoming Heineken Cup weekend put some pressure on finances that are tad burdensome. So I didn't want a pub too packed out. A couple of hundred euro on a round seems excessive. At the same time, you don't want it to be a meaningless gesture, buying a round for the house when there's only three people in the bar isn't really a "round for the house" is it. So where to go...

For company on this particular Thursday evening I had Top Cat, Thorny Wire and Clan. That makes two Young Munsters fans and two Shannon fans. It was obvious where I should go, and I'm a little embarrassed it took me so long to think of it.


Austin's is my most favourite of Limerick bars. It's a rugby bar, more specifically, it's a Young Munster's rugby bar. It's been the scene for many a sing song. Banter galore. It's the base of operations for me and Thorny Wire. He's particularly at home there. There's some serious slagging and messing up there, and more than a few characters. I can't state this enough. It's my favourite bar. Anywhere. It's only fitting that I should get round up there. And bring the two Shannon clowns into enemy territory for the laugh.

About fifteen or so people in the bar when we walked in. We four make it close to twenty. "How're ya Tommy? Four pints of Guinness and whatever everyone else is having..." I felt like a douche just saying it, but Tommy's understanding, and most of them know all about The Project so I get away with it.

There are two consequences:

Good: I get into conversation with someone about the Heineken Cup match against Toulon on Saturday. I mention in passing that I'm still looking for a ticket. Ten minutes later. Tickets on the way. Sorted. Delighted.

Bad: I walk in the next day to collect the ticket and the lads are shouting for their pints and taking the mick. Bart and Cookie are having special fun with it. And I feel like a douche all over again...

When I'm a millionaire, be near me in the bar and you're sorted. Until then, I think I'll give this kind of flashy nonsense a miss.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thing 183 Military Rations

A meal ready to eat. If this is what soldiers call rations, I'm signing up, immediately. Well, that's not true, it's not good grub, I won't lie, but it's pretty comprehensive as a meal pack goes. Ever remember Campbell's Meat Balls? They came in a tin and they had that catchy ad; Campbell's Meaty Bouncy Meatballs... they're so much funnnnnnnnnnnnnn.... That's pretty much what the stew tasted like. So effectively, it wasn't unlike dog food.
Napoleon once said that an army marches on its stomach. Initially I thought wow, that's a massively impressive feat. I call that crawling, or worming, but I guess soldiers are trained for this kind of stuff. Then I realised the point. Can't go anywhere without grub can you? So he always made sure his boys were well watered and fed. Then he forgot that and decided to invade Russia in the winter time. Which apparently every major military leader tries at some stage or other. Seems kind of stupid. No good can ever come of trying to invade Russia. I'm digressing again. Sorry. So the point is, make sure the soldiers on the go have a good calorie laden meal to keep them active.
In the pack: Crackers, spreadable cheese, a lemon pound cake, "beef stew", a strawberry milkshake, chewing gum, coffee, tiny little bottle of tobasco sauce and matches. Also, toilet paper. They really think of everything.

On top of this was the most ingenious little chemical heater ever. Lord only knows what it was made of, but when you pour water in, it reacted in the bag, which also has your vacuum packed meal, heating the pack to an insane degree. Cold water suddenly becomes boiling hot and your "beef stew" is ready to rock.
All in all, there were just over one thousand five hundred calories in the meal. Which is actually the recommended daily amount for a man. Basically, all of your calorie needs, in one dinner. God only knows how much is in the breakfast and lunch packs. Makes sense really, soldiers are probably burning more calories than chubby bloggers, so they need more.
To get the full use of this ingenious little pack, I really should have been climbing a mountain, or at least off in the wild, but I'm a touch pampered, and more than a little spoiled. So... In my kitchen will do. And I think I'll order a pizza to follow it up... it's no wonder they keep calling me fat around here!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thing 182 Learn and Identify Constellations

How many is too many constellations to know off by heart? Because there's no way I'm learning all of them. We've spoken about this people, goldfish memory. Sometimes I learn new things, and it pushes old stuff out of my head... Must resist urge to reference The Simpsons....

So I learned a few. It's not all drinking pee and naked housekeeping around here, sometimes I do something productive and learn about things and junk. Parteen is, aside from being the centre of the known universe, an excellent place to both grow up, and to star gaze. It's just outside the city enough that light pollution isn't a big deal so on clear nights... boom. Stars. Awesome.

Smart people have impressed me for years by saying smart things like: That group over there is called the Yadda Yadda Yadda I'm So Clever constellation, and that one is called Steve the Cowboy Constellation (sorry couldn't resist two Simpsons' references in a row). The vast sum of my knowledge about stars goes like this: There's The Plow, in America it's called The Big Dipper, and also, they're shiny.
Obviously enough the first thing I went looking for is Aries. Not because I wanted it to predict my future, but because I wanted to see if it looked like a ram. That's the picture up there, judge for yourself...

Ya. That's what I thought. Aries shouldn't be called The Ram it should be called The Scrawl... It's right next to the other famous star sign - Pisces The Scrawl. I also learned Andromeda, the very aptly named Triangulum, Ursa Major, which is pretty neat since it's got The Plow as part of it, and this is the only part of space I recognise (with the exception, obviously, of The Sun and The Moon. They're pretty hard to miss...). I also learned Draco and my personal favourite...
Not that one... the next one...
Cassiopeia. Not because it's better than the others, but because it's squiggly and has a most excellent and interesting name.

Now I can impress the hell out of people by pointing at the sky and saying crap like: That squiggle is called So and So Aren't I great constellation, and the longer squiggle is called the Don't You Wish You Were Clever Like Me constellation.

Learning is fun. Being smug is funner.

Thing 181 Inspect the Car

Honestly, who ever really looks underneath their car? Do you know what's down there? When you open your car door and your new phone drops out and onto the drive way, yes, you dive fast to look for it, but you look on the ground. Do you even know what the underside of your car looks like?

This one was more about trying to learn a little bit more about the mechanics of the car than anything. Because I know practically nothing. My car had it's NCT it failed (a long winded gripe about that to follow, because I love giving out). The reason it failed was because of the wishbone bushes. Yes. A car does have wishbone bushes. I'm not making that up. I thought the dude at the NCT centre was a liar until I got to look under the car. The fact is that this dude could have told me that the left ventricle combustion chamber's organic decompiler was falling apart, and I've had nodded sagely and said that was exactly what I suspected.

The words wishbone bushes, which sounds even more made up than the made up thing I just made up, were the catalyst which prompted a quick rush to learn more about my automobile. I've subsequently forgotten everything. Goldfish brain that I am. I went to the mechanic and told him about the broken made up parts of my car, and he laughed and agreed to jack it up and show me what's what.


There's a picture of some of the what's what that's under my car. I can see a rusty exhaust pipe (settle down now, bum jokes aren't welcome here), and a bunch of stuff that the mechanic pointed at me. Again, the man may as well have been speaking French while discussing the existence of unicorns and sub atomic particles on Mars for all of my understanding.

Here's what I did learn: Wishbone bushes cost 275 euro to repair, along with tracking at Advance Pit Stop. Now there's something I can understand. You don't know about cars, well, here's all you need to know: They're a god damn expensive pain in my ass.

Honestly, I wish I'd remembered more about it. It's the kind of lesson that would stand me in good stead down the line, but while I can remember ancient quotes from dead philosophers, apparently mechanics just go in one ear, out the other.

And now for a rant:

The NCT is a money grabbing sham of a hoax wrapped up in a swindle that couldn't have been devised by the most cunning fox on Cunning Street with a degree in cunning. You buy your car, VAT is added. You buy petrol or diesel, tax is taken. You pay for repairs, tax added. You pay VRT - that's Vehicle Registration Tax. You pay for an NCT. It fails. A tiny percentage pass first time, and I good and god damn guarantee that percentage is fixed, and they could fail every single car that drives in the door first time if they really wanted to look. You pay for more repairs, and you pay the tax. You pay for a retest. You pass and the cycle starts again. There will never be adequate public transport in this country, because it would cost too much, and not make any money for Brian and Co in Government....


Rant over.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Thing 180 Roll a Cigarette

The above photo contains, in the background, a spoon, a chopping board, tissue paper, a beer box and Dairygold "butter". Anyone with an imagination could look at that photo and just assume that what I was making was some kind of lethal drug concoction. I don't know where the Dairygold would come into it, but I thought this looked instantly suspicious. Anywho...

Far be it for this Project to advocate smoking, but despite the efforts of various governments, anti smoking lobbies and health advocates, smoking still looks kind of cool. I'm sorry. I know loads of people would disagree, but James Dean and Frank Sinatra were cool. Movies make smokers look cool.

In addition; people who roll their own cigarettes look even cooler than people who smoke straight from a pack. There's just something a little bit edgy about it. I say that now, and The Frenchman, Spoon and Pony Boy are going to be chuffed. I wasn't talking about you bums, I was talking about cool people. Ahem.
The first significant problem on my journey to rolling a cigarette was of course, the ridiculous permanent shake in both my hands. I don't know where it comes from, and I keep promising myself that I'll go find out, but I never do. Everyone assumes it's a drink related thing - I think it's a coffee related thing. I've got way too much caffeine in my diet...

So here's the Dan Mooney Step by Step Guide to rolling your own cigarette (I consider myself an expert now that I've done this once):

1: Take a piece of rolling paper and place it on the counter, upside down. Realise your mistake. Turn it over. Pick it up off the floor because you've dropped it.

2: Take some tobacco. Put some back. You've taken way too much. How much is too much? Hell if I know. Put a little more back. Add a little more.

3: Add a filter to one end. Change your mind and put it at the other end. Try to remember if you're left or right handed. Put it back in the first place you put it on realising that you're right handed (the reverse for lefties, obviously).

4: Fold the lip on onside carefully underneath the paper on the far side of the filter. Repeat as many times as is necessary when you spot that you did it wrong the first time.

5: Roll it gently between your fingers, the paper will cause the tobacco to line itself up tidily. Or else it'll all fall out on the counter. Whatever.

6: Carefully lick the sticky bit along the edge of the "top side". Don't slobber on it. That's disgusting.

7: Light it up.

8: Look cool.
It's an art. What I can't get my head around is people who manage to successfully pull off this operation when in a crowded nightclub. It seems unlikely that I'd have the dexterity to carry this out. What's more likely is that I'd get frustrated, blame someone else and throw them some filthy looks.

It's kind of my fall back position.

P.S. Don't smoke. It's bad for you. And it's expensive. And it's smelly.

Thing 179 Bet Against Munster (and 3D TV)

No, I'm not proud of myself. Yes. I feel dirty all over. The fact that the bet was a winner actually makes me feel worse, and not better. I showered long after this one. Remember Jim Carrey in Ace Ventura when he realises that his nemesis is a post-op transgender man? Think that, except that I cried a little more...

I've made it a lifetime rule, never bet against Munster or Ireland. It's a betrayal and it goes against everything I stand for. Also, it makes no financial sense. Munster never know when they're beaten. Ever. Backs against the wall, out of form, injuries and all, this team always seems to find another gear, they always dig deep. They have a well of bitterness and pride they can seemingly return to at a moment's notice. We've had several "miracle matches" now. So placing bets against this team isn't wise.

Some thoughts on the match: The better team won. You can't win a game of rugby without winning your lineouts, consistently. Stringer's still got it. A bonus point defeat is acceptable. The referee made some dreaful home town decisions. I dislike Christophe Berdos. I like Bob Casey - I wish he'd get more game time in an Ireland jersey.
Oddly enough, I got a second new experience out of the rugby. For the first time ever, Heineken Cup rugby in 3D. Which means goofy glasses and resisting the urge to push flags out of the way that aren't actually in your way. I think they filmed it like that deliberately.

3D TV is a fine idea. If you want to watch movies with good action sequences, or cartoons, or documentaries. I'm not sure about sport though. Don't ask me why. I just kind of got the feeling that the sporting occassion isn't improved enough to make up for the irritation of having to continually mess with the glasses, which feel weird for someone who doesn't wear them on a regular basis.

The whole event was cause for pomp and ceremony. Clohessey's was a good venue for it too. Well, I guess most places are good when someone's handing out free Heineken!

Man.... free beer. I'll never get bored of saying it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thing 178 One Arm Tied Behind My Back

Bah. You think you're tough? I could beat your ass with one arm tied behind my back... No one's buying that, mostly because I'm small and weak looking. Kind of chubby. Plus I recently got my ass handed to me. But you get where I'm going with this. It's an interesting turn of phrase.

So what can I achieve with one arm tied behind my back? The point of the expression is to illustrate how easy some things are. So if you think someone else is particularly bad at something, or you're highly confident of your own abilities at a given task, you can trot out the old "one arm tied behind your back" line.

So what am I especially good at? Surprise surprise, I can order take out with one arm tied behind my back. And even read the menu while I'm at it. Not so hot with the paying for grub with the same handicap. Pony Boy and The Frenchman were no help either. The stood in the living room laughing while I shouted for some back up, and the chap handing me the food looked massively confused. Understandably, since I'd turned around to shout into the living room and he could clearly see that I'd an arm tied deliberately.

What must have he been thinking? There's some weird shit going on in this gaff... too right.

What else can I do? Well I can kick The Frenchman's ass on Soul Caliber for the XBox. One arm. Only one hand to control my character in a beat 'em up game, and I can win it with one arm tied. Same against the computer. Not so against Pony Boy. I beat him in the first round and his ridiculous competitive streak came out and he started screaming at the telly. Distracted me.

In my favour was the fact that I was playing with Yoda. How does one lose with Yoda? He's awesome all the time.

Eating dinner was a chore. Rice requires a knife to usher it on to the fork. Other things that are difficult: Dressing, and as a spin off, undressing; cleaning; driving (I thought about it, but didn't try it, there are kids living in this estate...); typing; oddly enough, texting.

From now on, every time I hear the expression from someone else, I'll ask; ya but could you beat Soul Caliber? I'll look like a weirdo but I'm comfortable with that...

Thing 177 The Made Up Fruits

That there ladies and gents is the inside of a pomegranate. That's what it looks like. This project is thoroughly educational from time to time. It also throws up frequent unique insights into the minds of my mates. The Canuck fought a car. But when faced with pomegranate, he decided that we should wiki it to make sure we didn't die from eating the seeds. As he said himself: Not eating poisonous food is a good way to avoid dying by poison.

I decided on pomegranate, but when I got into the shop I got a tad carried away. Right next to the first most made-up sounding fruit I ever saw were the close runners up. Passion Fruits and Mangos.

Come on: Passion Fruits? It sounds like a lame new flavoured viagra, or a scented condom. As for mangos, they're in all the fun Innocent smoothie drinks, but I'd never seen one. Have you? They look odd. And because I'm more like the Canadian than I want to be, I thought all of them looked poisonous.

Sneaky fruit.
Juicy though.

And the passion fruits, despite the inadvertently sexy undertone, was delicious. But weird looking inside. All pips and tasty goo. To be honest, I felt vaguely uncomfortable eating the passion fruit, and I don't know why.

Also, there are websites that have instructions on how to eat them. Yep. Fruit with an instruction manual. Because it can't all be as straightforward as picking it up and munching. You can't eat the outside of any of those fruits. Only the insides. Mango you quarter and rip off the skin. Start eating. Pomegranate and passion fruit are full of pips and seeds, surrounded by the least appetising looking/sounding "membrane" in the world. But as I say. Very tasty.
I've also never made a smoothie in my life, so I may add that to the list, in which case, these bad boys will be top of the priority list. Taste puts them up there, but they're not the kind of fruit you'd have in the basket at home to give to visitors.

Who wants some disgusting looking mush? No? It's delicious? Okay. I wouldn't want to either.