I’m Back

“Oh, you’re back, are you? Look at Mr. Two-Weeks-Lollygagging-About-On-Vacation strutting back in like he’s the Kwisatz Haderach. Well, sir, I hope you have a good excuse for your fortnight of negligence and debauchery.”

Wow, Hypothetical Reader. You’ve gotten bitter.

So, where was I? My wife and I took a two-week vacation overseas: a week in Ireland and a week in Scotland. Here’s how it went down.


We spent most of the week in Dublin, where we saw the major attractions, including:

  • Dublin Castle
  • Ha’penny Bridge
  • Dublin Spire
  • Guinness Storehouse
  • National Gallery
  • National Museum
  • National Library
  • Chester Beatty Library
  • St. Patrick’s Cathedral
  • St. Stephen’s Green
  • Trinity College (and the Book of Kells)

We also hit up plenty of little shops and book stores. And we took a day trip to the nearby coastal town of Howth, and another day trip to Kilkenny.


Unlike Ireland, we split our time in Scotland between two cities: three days in the capital, Edinburgh (pronounced ED-in-burr-ah) and three days in the smaller city of Inverness, to the north.

Edinburgh was quite beautiful, the highlight of the whole two weeks. The International Fringe Festival (not to mention the International Festival and the International Book Festival) were in full swing when we got there, so the streets were packed with crowds, vendors, jugglers, magicians, escape artists, musicians, and dancers. Shows (and the flyers for shows) were everywhere, from drama to standup comedy and everything in between. But even aside from all the festivities, Edinburgh is just a wonderful city with a lot to do. In our three days, we managed to check out:

  • Edinburgh Castle (not that you could miss it)
  • National Gallery
  • International Book Festival (a small, localized event)
  • Three comedy shows
  • Scottish Parliament
  • Arthur’s Seat

And, of course, we tried the haggis. (It’s not bad!)

Inverness was also very pretty, but more touristy than we expected. We saw Inverness Castle and took a day trip that included:

I’ll have photos coming soon, as well as my personal impressions of both Ireland and Scotland.

Of course, one of the great advantages of vacations, long flights, long layovers, and long train rides, is that you get lots of time to read. Just in the past two weeks I finished six books:

  • The Cathedral and the Bazaar by Eric S. Raymond – nonfiction about Linux and open-source coding
  • The Necklace and Other Short Stories by Guy de Maupassant
  • Atonement by Ian McEwan – a novel
  • Rashomon and Other Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa
  • Famine Diary: Journey to a New World by Gerald Keenan – a personal account of the Great Famine in Ireland
  • The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley – the author takes some mescaline (a hallucinogen, similar to LSD) and describes what it feels like

Right now I’m working on Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow.

Speaking of stories! While I was gone, I asked for ideas on the topic of my next forty-minute story, and Zeev suggested a story on what the Mars rover Curiosity might find. Excellent idea. I’ll probably post that next week sometime.

So, that’s me. What new stuff has happened in your world in the past two weeks?

5 responses to “I’m Back

  1. Fantastic trip Brian, sounds like a lot of fun. By the way I feel like I’ve hijacked your story thread because I was the only one that posted any Ideas. Feel free to write about anything else that you want. I don’t want you to be forced into the Mars Rover story, I honestly thought more people would provide Ideas.

  2. Sounds like an exciting trip! I love Irish mythology especially, did you make any observations about that?
    Just curious. Anyway, I was wondering if you can recall a program you talked about a while ago in the blog. I can’t remember what it was called, but it was a program that was essentially like flash cards in a computer. you noted how the program repeatedly gave you a card until you got it right, then it would show up again a few days later, then a few weeks, and again and again with longer and longer intervals until you got it wrong again. Would you mind telling me what it was called and giving me a link?
    Thank you!

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