| :: Community :: An American In Dublin|
|17 April 2003|
An American In Dublin
After years of hearing the fairy tales, I was going. Poing,
poing, poing. Growing up in a family that was inordinately proud of its
Irish ancestry, I had heard stories all my life of Ireland and what it
was like there. I had this vision in my head of a perfect gleaming
island with perfect gleaming people drinking Guinness and dancing reels
at Newgrange or something. Though my practical side argued that it was
in fact a real place with real people, and no, they probably did not
actually all wear green all the time like my relatives swore they did,
it was difficult not to have unrealistic ideas.
So when I got the chance to go speak at a conference in Dublin
about Linux and cryptography, how could I refuse? It's not every day
that you get to travel to somewhere you've wanted to go since you were a
child, and for free, too. I made the reservations, whomped up a speech
and some slides, and was ready to go. Or so I thought.
Despite the hotel's claim of broadband to every room, I remained
dubious about my chances of connectivity in Ireland, so I was trying to
make sure that I had everything I could possibly need on my laptop
before going. It's funny when packing for an international trip involves
ten minutes of throwing clothes in a suitcase, ten minutes of finding
your passport, and five hours of patching your laptop. [grin] This would
be the first time I'd used this laptop in any sort of speech, so I had
to make sure the drivers for my video card supported output to the
projector. I had to use nice Linux presentation software -- one really
can't go speak about how great Linux is with PowerPoint. [grin]
Fortunately for me, Akkana of LinuxChix had recently come out with a
nice how-to on giving presentations with Linux and the various options
that were out there. (http://www.shallowsky.com/LinuxPresentations.html)
With the legwork done for me, I opted to use OpenOffice's slide show.
It's actually pretty nice.
And so it was that I found myself standing in the check-in line
at BWI for Aer Lingus. Yay. Already I felt like I was off on some exotic
journey -- many of the people in line looked and sounded like my
relatives. [grin] Not normally what gives one the flavor of the exotic,
but there were so many of them! I was continually struck with this
impression while in Ireland -- three people ahead of me in line was an
Uncle Mike doppelganger, passing me on the street corner was Great-Aunt
Mary's twin sister, and next to me on the bus was a woman who could have
passed for my cousin Siobahn. Over and over and over again, people who
looked like me and my family. Before this I hadn't really had any idea
of a distinctively "Irish" look, just sort of the generic family
resemblance. But now I could pick it out of a crowd. I had been
expecting some sort of "where do we go from here" feel from the trip,
but again and again I kept being reminded of my relatives and my
childhood. So even though I'd never been there before, bits and pieces
would keep seeming familiar to me.
Aer Lingus is absolutely the nicest airline I've ever flown on.
(And for someone who spent about sixteen hours in their loving hands,
had to clear customs twice, et cetera, that's really saying something.)
The staff were all extremely helpful and courteous, there was no
unnecessary waiting, the planes were clean and relatively spacious and
pretty, the food was good and plentiful and correct (they didn't screw
up my diabetic meal, as almost every other airline does), and there are
these little monitors in the back of every seat that are some sort of
dumb terminal from which you can play games, watch the in-flight movie,
or get the status of the flight (maps, outside temperature in Farenheit
and Celsius, air speed, wind speed, ETA to destination and local time
there). It warmed my little techie heart.
I was also charmed to note that they made their in-flight
announcements first in Irish, then in English. Hah. To my joy, I was to
discover that Dublin is a linguist's dream that way. Everything is
labeled in both Irish and English, Irish first. So you can try your
translation and then see if you were right. I was pleased that my
written/read Irish isn't too bad... with a little staring I could
usually puzzle out what was meant. However, to my dismay I discovered
that the spoken language is another beast entirely. (That's what I get
for learning off tapes where everyone is careful to speak slowly and
carefully. In the living language, it took me a few days to even be sure
of where the word breaks were. When I could identify words, I caught
maybe one in three. Clearly I need practice. And my accent is probably
I was pleased to see that there were seemingly a decent number
of people who spoke the language, though. I'd been expecting very few.
(Maybe geeks are more likely to also be multilingual or something.)
Fortunately, everyone also spoke English, so I didn't have a problem
making myself understood. Just the occasional need to repeat myself
because of the accent differences. We'll see how I do with my Japanese
at PacSec in a few months, in a country where not everyone speaks
I was amused to note that the food choices were presented in a
firm and no-nonsense way. Usually it goes something like this: "Today we
have a chicken cacciatore entree with sun-dried tomatoes and sauteed
mushrooms, or Beef Wellington with garlic mashed potatoes and a
five-grain roll." Not on Aer Lingus. "Chicken or beef." Heh. Again,
reminds me of my grandmother. I touched down first in Shannon and then
in Dublin. The whole time, I was straining to look out the window,
somewhat like an overeager puppy. "I'm in Ireland, I'm in Ireland!
Ohboyohboyohboy!" So much for the blase experienced traveller.
I didn't have an appropriate plug adapter for my laptop, but
figured that I would be able to get one easily at the airport. Nope. No
such thing in the Dublin airport. Not a problem -- I believe in high
levels of redundancy. The hotel desk would probably know where to find
one, and if not, I had enough battery life to do my talk without one at
all. So I caught a cab to my hotel, checked in, and then went to find
the conference hall. I knew it was at the expo center right next to my
hotel, and I had seen that on my way in. I figured I could find it. I
usually don't travel by myself. It was an interesting experience, and
some sort of exercise in self-sufficiency to prove to myself that I
could go to a completely unknown city sans rental car or maps and still
get where I needed to be on time. Yay. But that said, I think it's more
fun to travel with a friend. Sightseeing is fun, but better when you've
someone to discuss it with. So I left my gear in the hotel room (one
small carry-on and the laptop; I have learned to travel light after so
much practice) and set out to find the Expo. Instead, I found a large
horse paddock... some empty bleachers... several busloads of Catholic
schoolgirls headed to a choral competition... some empty buildings...
where are my geeks?
Finally I asked a kind older lady who was exiting what seemed to
be the head building. She took me under her wing immediately, linked her
arm through mine, asked if I'd mind carrying her bag, and walked me to
the correct building. She kept up a steady stream of friendly chatter
the entire time. She reminded me of one of my great-aunts. I apparantly
reminded her of one of her nieces. [grin] She called me "a lovely young
lady". I blinked, taken aback. It's been ages since anyone called me a
lovely young lady.
In general, I was pleasantly shocked by the courtesy and
hospitality of the Irish. In America, the eyeliner and black clothing
often put people off, cause them to stare, make rude comments, et
cetera. Not once did that happen in Ireland, and I was far more
unusual-looking there than I am here. People treated me like a lady,
rather than someone who looked like they might make off with the silver.
I had almost forgotten what that was like. Almost everyone that I met
there went out of their way to make me feel welcomed and at ease. I was
aware that most of the people at the conference would probably be there
in suits, and had made a conscious decision not to wear one. I'd wear
nice clothes -- satin shirt, velvet pants, et cetera -- but the combat
boots and the eyeliner were staying. Nobody said anything negative to me
at all, and several people said something to the effect of "gee, I wish
I weren't stuck in this suit either". Heh.
So I checked in with the organizers at the Expo, and they
directed me to the ILUG stand, where I made the acquaintance of several
of the Irish Linux folks. The only person that I knew beforehand was
Conor, and he wasn't going to be around until the following morning, but
the rest of the folks there were extremely nice and friendly, so I
didn't feel at all awkward or in the way. I saw the room where I'd be
speaking the next day, found out what time (noon, excellent), and
inquired about where I might go to get an appropriate adapter for my
laptop. (The folks at the hotel hadn't known either.) I was expecting to
be told something like "walk to the corner, get on the An Lar bus, go
three stops and then it's up a block on your right". To my surprise,
Proinn offered to drive me into town and take me to the appropriate
store. Wow. I gratefully accepted, and the appropriate plug was duly
found and purchased. I hung around the ILUG stand for a bit, and then
grabbed a bite of food at the upstairs cafe and retired to my hotel to
make sure that my laptop was functional, put the last few touches on my
slides, and sleep.
It's much easier to be mostly-vegetarian in Ireland than it is
here. Even the teeny little cafe at the Expo had several nice vegetable
selections. Mmm, warm vegetable soup and tea on a windy day. I was in
general impressed with the quality of the food in Ireland; I'd been
expecting a repeat of the dire dining experiences that I'd had in
England and had been steeling myself for offerings of boiled potatoes
and over-salted cabbage. Perhaps it's just my relatives that cook like
that. [grin] So I walked back to my hotel through slightly chilly, windy
weather, and found that my laptop had indeed survived the plane flight
intact. Booted up perfectly, whew. It didn't take me too long to make
the changes I wanted to my slides, but they were somewhat more extensive
than I'd thought they would be. The night before the lecture always
makes me more critical of my own work.
However, there was no connectivity to be had from my hotel room.
The instructions for connecting to the broadband network were
Windows-only, but after reading them I understood what they meant.
Connect laptop to network as a DHCP client, go. Only it wasn't working.
I got a link light, but packets appeared to go out and never came back.
Fired up Ethereal to see what was actually happening. Yep. ARP request
goes out, no reply. Hm. I wasn't seeing any other traffic even in
promiscuous mode, so I was positing a switched network. I switched
Ethernet cables; I'd brought two in case of emergency. No luck. Borrowed
a third cable from the hotel desk. No luck. Tried manually assigning my
laptop an IP from each of the three RFC 1918 reserved blocks. Nothing.
Hm. Fired up the 802.11b card -- no local access points. Bah.
I went down to the front desk and politely complained that I
couldn't get access to my room. They asked if I'd followed the
instructions on the paper. I said that I'd done the equivalent. "The
equivalent?" "Well, I have a Linux laptop." "We don't support that." "I
know. But DHCP is the same regardless." "We don't support DHCP either, I
don't think. What is that?" "Um. Do you have a technical person that I
can speak to?" "No... but we have a public terminal available right over
Good enough. I figured that I was probably not going to get a
lot of help out of them -- but I could look at the network settings on
that terminal and see if there was anything else I could do to get
connectivity from my room working. Whoever had set up the system had
disabled the ability to look at the TCP/IP settings, but they had not
disabled Run -> cmd. One ipconfig /all later, I had what I needed. I
downloaded a copy of Putty to the machine and checked my mail via ssh,
sent a "got here okay, typing on a public terminal, more later" message
home, and went back up to see if I could get online from my laptop.
Nope. Nothing answering ARP. Nothing I can do about that. So it was
back down to the terminal, which had no Esc key. This wouldn't seem to
be a problem... but I use vim in Mutt for writing e-mail. So every time
I wanted to switch modes, I had to jam a pen down into the Esc key hole.
[grins] So wrong. As I was finishing up, another conference-goer came
down to the front desk to complain about the exact same connectivity
problem that I was having. The front desk gave him the same line, and I
turned around and explained to him what I'd done and what I thought the
problem was, and offered the use of the public terminal that I was
almost finished with. He laughed and said, "Ethereal? Naughty girl."
Sigh. No, it was a debugging tool to try and figure out what was going
wrong. All I wanted was to know where my packets were. I didn't care
about anyone else's traffic, encrypted or not. The problem with so many
security tools -- it's all in your intent. Ettercap + hunt -- that would
have been "naughty girl". The perils of attempting to be helpful. Time
for bed; I didn't want to oversleep for my talk the next day.
I woke up, had a quick breakfast of tea and scones (mmm), shut
down my laptop, and headed for the ILUG stand, where I finally got to
meet Conor. I'd given him a vague description of my appearance -- 5'9",
black clothes, combat boots, long black hair and one-eye eyeliner, so he
recognized me. It's always kind of neat to meet people in person that
you've known online; you get to see how right you were in your
assessment of what they're like. I was decently close with Conor -- the
only real difference was that he was somewhat feistier than I thought he
would be. His e-mails are generally so polite that I was expecting him
to be somewhat more reserved. [grin] We hit it off well, though.
I booted up the laptop, and immediately it started giving me
trouble. (The known video card issue with the HP pavilion laptops; how
annoying.) I flipped back and forth between X and the console a few
times; that generally resolves it. Not this time; it froze. What the
hell? It's never done that before. I rebooted. It got to the X login
screen and failed to recognize the keyboard. Re-reboot. Same thing. Do
not cuss at laptop in front of nice Irish people. But of course this had
to surface for the first time ever right before my talk. Fortunately,
I'd come about an hour and a half early, so there was time to resolve
Boot from nice Linux.ie custom Knoppix CD. That works. Look for
errors, fsck fsck fsck. Check X configuration, all is well, nothing
really helpful in syslog or messages. Grrr. Decide to give talk from
nice Linux.ie Knoppix CD -- I was able to mount my hard drives and run
OpenOffice from there. The only real downside was that my font looked a
little funny. Hooked up the laptop to the projector, everything worked
perfectly there, whew. I was speaking after Jon "maddog" Hall, which was
slightly intimidating, but hey. Initially I was worried because after
his talk, the mostly-full room almost cleared. Three people left. Two.
Doh. But hey, the show must go on. I grinned at the audience and said,
"Hey, the few, the proud, the security-conscious." One of them left.
Paul (another ILUG person) mentioned that they had not yet
announced the talk over the PA, and that perhaps this would increase
attendance. He ran off to make that happen. I was fully prepared to
give my speech to the one remaining guy, but fortunately for me soon
after the PA annoucement, the room began to fill up again. Whew. My ego
was spared. [grin] The talk itself went reasonably well. I had an hour
time slot, so I figured I'd talk for about 40 minutes and leave 20 for
questions -- given my subject, I was expecting a few "I run application
X... how do I make that more secure using cryptography" type questions.
I ran through my subject matter slightly more quickly than I had
anticipated; I have a bad tendency to rush. Nobody had any questions at
the end, so I finished early, but several people asked me for copies of
my slides, so I guess they liked them. All in all, I was pleased. I got
to wave the banner of good security, and hopefully helped a few people.
After another brief stint at the ILUG booth, I went out for
lunch with Paul at a nearby Thai restaurant, and then for a wander
through the downtown bits of Dublin. I wanted to see more of the city
than the airport, exhibition hall, and hotel. [grins] I went on foot,
found the American embassy (an ugly rotund building), several beautiful
Catholic churches, some random shops, and a rather pretty canal. I
walked along the canal for a mile or so, and eventually wandered back to
the Expo to meet up with the ILUG folks for dinner and then a night at
the pub. They asked if I'd had a nice walk that afternoon. Indeed, I
did rather enjoy walking around. I get more exercise when I travel than
I do at home, usually, because I'm far more prone to travel on foot. (I
drive most everywhere at home. Non-city America is not usually too
friendly to pedestrians, and I don't live in a city.) I mentioned where
I'd gone, and they were somewhat horrified that I'd gone along the
canal. "Oh! You don't want to go there after dark. You really don't.
That's the Irish equivalent of the pimps, hos, and drug dealers
section!" Heh. I was rather amused by the Irish idea of bad parts of
town -- the neighborhoods that were pointed out to me by various and
sundry people as places to avoid didn't look too bad to me at all. More
like Silver Spring than SouthEast, for you DC folks. Discretion is the
better part of valor, and all, so I dutifully didn't deliberately go
wandering through the bad parts of town. But I couldn't help feeling
that it paled in comparison to the bad parts of my town. There were no
junkies on the sidewalks, no crazy drunk people staggering along and
demanding money or asking me how much I'd charge to sleep with them, no
scary bands of carjackers. I didn't have to give anyone the "fuck with
me and I'll beat you up" look even once. The bad parts of Dublin seemed
positively idyllic. But then again, when you live near the city that was
known as the "murder capital of the world" for years, I guess that makes
you harder to scare.
We headed to an Indian restaurant for dinner, and had a nice
meal there discussing geekery and politics. Another pleasant thing about
Ireland -- the war is very unpopular there, and public sentiment is
pretty anti-American. But nobody held it against me personally, which
was really nice. The prevailing attitude seemed to be "your President is
a nimrod, but that's not the fault of you personally". There's a bit of
local annoyance because America has apparantly pretty much demanded the
right to use Shannon airport to refuel its planes after the
transatlantic hop, and the Irish government has unpopularly decided to
allow that. But then, some of the local expressed worry that if they
didn't, America would start turning a beady eye in their direction. "If
you're not with us, you're against us... and you do have that shady IRA,
and we're running a war against terror here..." Fairly unlikely, I
think, but still.
The pub afterwards was fun. I don't drink (so apologies to all
of you that asked me to hoist a pint of Guinness on your behalf), but
they have sparkling water pretty much universally available over there,
and so I was set. I didn't fall into my usual American role of
designated driver, as we were within staggering distance of the hotel,
but it was still fun, and there was zero pressure to drink if I didn't
want to. There was certainly smoking allowed there, but not to an
unpleasant degree. I never had a problem with my asthma while there.
After a convivial few hours, it was back to the hotel and sleep again.
Thursday was my chance to be a tourist girl. I woke early and
caught a cab down to St. Stephen's Green, which seemed to be the
art-and-tourist-culture part of the city. I had decided the previous day
that I was going to get the Irish half of back tattoo that I wanted in
Dublin, if possible. It seemed somewhat fitting. I had intended on
getting a Lindisfarne oval
(http://www.zoojewellery.com/1269/4/6/5/buy_jewellery.html) at the nape
of my neck, and then the Japanese kanji below that going down the spine.
Meaningful (to me, at least), pretty, and easily hidden should I wish to
be Raven-the-professional rather than Raven-the-expressive-art-chick.
Since it's a pretty common Celtic pattern, I figured that the tattoo
parlor would probably have it in their flash art collection. If not, I
could hit a Net-cafe and make a printout.
Net-cafes are much cheaper in Ireland than here, and much nicer,
too. Go to a Kinkos in America and it's something like 20 cents a
minute. In Dublin, it was one Euro (about $1.05 American) for a half
hour. Beautiful. I checked my e-mail, ah, with the joys of a fully
functional keyboard complete with escape key, and got my printout. When
I walked into the tattoo parlor, I was struck with a moment of culture
shock. They were playing Eminem. "White America! I could be one of your
kids!" I started to giggle uncontrollably. No matter where you go, there
you are, or something. I don't know what I was expecting to hear, but
that definitely wasn't it.
After a brief meeting of the minds with the tattoo artist, it
became clear that my original plan wasn't going to work. Apparantly
tattoos blur as they age, and so if I wanted something with the level of
detail of the Lindisfarne oval, I'd have to get it much bigger than I
had intended, or it would look awful in five years. I wanted something
about the size of the end joint on my thumb -- maybe three centimeters
long. To get the Lindisfarne oval properly, the tattoo artist
recommended doing it about the size of my hand instead. No way. I was
looking for small, subtle, and hideable.
So we talked about what sort of thing I was looking for, both in
terms of meaning and in terms of size, location, design, et cetera. In
ten minutes we had a design drawn up. It's very simple -- one leaf
silhouetted in white (or my skin color, close enough, I am pale pale
pale girl) against a black circle. Ivy or poison ivy; it's slightly
nebulous as to which. [grins] I am amused at the alacrity with which we
came up with it; the kanji part of the design I've thought about for
four years, gone to a professional calligrapher to make sure it was done
exactly as I liked, given a lot of thought to "will I still want this
when I'm 80", et cetera. And this part I decided I was doing one day,
did it the next day, and I'm still sure that I'm going to like it when
I'm 80. Something to be said for spontenaity, I suppose. Since this was
my first tattoo (and barring the kanji bit, I'm not planning on any
more), I didn't know what to expect in terms of sensation. Everyone that
I had talked to about it had pretty much uniformly said, "Your neck?
Ouch! That's going to be incredibly painful. Brace yourself. Are you
sure? Maybe you want to get one somewhere else first to make sure you
can handle it." Um, no. I don't want to get some tattoo just for the
sake of seeing if I can handle pain or not, and I think I have a pretty
high pain tolerance. So I was really surprised when the artist did the
test line, and it barely hurt at all. Either I really do have a high
pain tolerance, or I'm just not very sensitive, or everyone else is a
In about half an hour it was done. Little pain, no bleeding,
just sort of a slight shocky dizziness afterwards. I am really pleased
with the way that it's turned out, and it's almost healed already. I was
somewhat worried about whether it would make traveling hell the next
day, but no worries there either. It was all surprisingly easy and
pleasant. Just kind of a buzzy sensation, like your skin is water and
the needle is moving through it laterally rather than up and down. And
then it's slightly sensitive for the next week or so. But other than
that, no problems.
So I wandered happily around Dublin to see what there was to
see. I'd accumulated a pocket full of Euro change by this point and
rather wanted to get rid of it, so when a random homeless guy on the
sidewalk offered to do a magic trick for pennies I gave him the whole
pocketful (probably only about three Euro or so, but wow was he happy).
He declared that he was going to make the sun come out, and stood up,
clapped, and started to do this strange chicken dance. *Now* people were
staring. Um. I wasn't really sure what to do, and the sun was not coming
out. I thanked him and started to move on. He said, "Hold on, hold on,"
and started to do jumping jacks. The sun came out. He beamed. I smiled
and kept going. Ack.
Right down the street was a woman in colorful clothes reading
cards, who'd been watching the whole performance with amusement. "Would
you like your fortune told, then?" I smiled and declined. She was
undaunted. "Well then, would you tell me mine?" Heh.
I found Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells there, and
considered going on one of the Viking Splash tours but decided that I
didn't have time for that before meeting Conor for dinner. So I nabbed a
cup of tea and lunch, and then looked for somewhere quiet to sit for a
bit. Calm and contemplation, and all. I found this beautiful Catholic
church in the middle of the city. Stained glass and statuary and
reverent silence. Beautiful. I wandered around and saw all the altars
and votive offering candles and art -- apparantly it's the church where
the first thirteen Sisters of Mercy are buried. I grinned a bit -- there
was a brief time where I contemplated being one. Fortunately, the nuns
had more sense than to take a young girl with a broken heart and an
overdeveloped sense of melodrama.
After a silent wander through the church, I found a pew facing
the statue of the Virgin Mary and seated myself there. I'd been there
about an hour when a priest happened by, looked at me, and asked if I
was all right. I nodded and said that I was fine, just contemplative.
He gave me a kindly look. "Confession is good for the soul, you know." I
grinned. "I don't really think it would help me." "You never know. Give
it a try." Sure, okay, why not. I remember my childhood devotions.
"Bless me, Father, for I have sinned according to your
definition of sin. It has been twelve years since my last Confession.
When I left the Catholic church..." and on from there. Covering
everything from my reasons for not being Catholic any more right on up
until the events of that morning. It took two hours, and I finally wound
down with, "and I'm not really sorry for any of it". Silence from the
other side of the confessional, and then booming laughter filling the
church. I'm sure they must have heard him in Galway. [grin] When he
recovered the power of speech, he said, "Jesus, Mary, and baby Jesus!
I've been a priest for many years, and never in all my born days did I
hear the like. May the Blessed Virgin help you, for I certainly cannot!"
And he continued laughing. [grins] Well, I did tell him I didn't think
it would help.
We left the confessional, and he walked me to the door, still
grinning, and said, "Go in peace, daughter of God." So it was kind of
nice that he was so good-humored about our obvious differences of
opinion. It's always great to come across more open-minded and genuinely
caring priests like that, as opposed to the awful "sinner, sinner,
repent" sorts. Go go, that priest.
I wandered around the shops downtown a bit more before finding
my way to the amazingly busty statue of Molly Malone to meet Conor for
dinner. One of the other things that I found strange to get used to
about Dublin -- there are streets named after people and places I've
read about in history books. You'd think I'd be used to that from DC,
but it was cool to see Parnell Street and Clontarf Motors and such.
(That last one had me expecting Brian Boru to pop out of the motor of
the car and smite the Vikings raiding the catalytic converter or
something.) Conor and I found a nice Italian restaurant and had a
convivial dinner before heading towards the evening's entertainment,
back to back speeches at Trinity College sponsored by the ILUG. Both
speakers, strangely, were also American. The first was a Perl guru from
Pennsylvania speaking about the internals of Unix processes, and showing
how to code equivalent functionality in Perl. Since Perl was the lingua
franca of the crowd, it was an enjoyable talk, and interestingly
educational. I definitely learned a few things, among them that there
are a lot of scary good Perl gurus in Dublin. I'm competent, but some of
the "ooh, you could do it this way, no, you could do it this way"
discussions blew my mind. [grin] In a good way. After that was maddog's
talk about why Linux is a practical OS for business folk to migrate to
-- also well worth listening to, and with some rather funny impressions
of whiny IT managers.
Afterwards, another pub crawl. This one had significantly more
people in attendance, so I got to meet even more cool Irish geeks. One
of the ILUG folks pointed out that they had representation from almost
every major Irish ISP and IT company there. Forward the #linux cabal, or
something. [grin] I met lots of interesting geeks and just generally had
a great time. Alas, around midnight the clock had tolled for Cinderella
(and my ride was leaving for the hotel, too), so I had to bid everyone
fond goodbyes and took off. I nearly forgot not to hug people; in sharp
contrast to the hug-everyone Californians, friends don't seem to hug as
greeting or farewell in Ireland. Perhaps my manners have been more
affected by the West Coast Americans than I had thought.
The next morning was rather boring. Woke up, had a leisurely
breakfast, and got to the airport in plenty of time to make my flight.
Aer Lingus was again delightful, Customs barely blinked twice at me (I
aimed to have the world's most boring and commonplace luggage), and I
got back all in good order. I definitely want to go back at some point.
It's not the mythical island I grew up with stories about, and it is in
fact full of real people, but it's still a delightful place to visit.