Discovering Dublin: Isolating at Home (3/)

At the start of Ireland’s lockdown, we had some adjusting to do. New ways of living and working, for sure! Aongus was working from home for about six weeks, with the occasional visit allowed to his work site to make sure things were locked up tight and everything looked right. We found new ways to exercise and study together, expanding out the balcony during nice weather. Such weather is rare here, and even our south-facing balcony isn’t usually warm enough for outdoor work.

I really started to notice little things, like how dramatically the sky changes from hour to hour, day to day here. The view from my balcony was every-changing–a painting of gorgeous pastels and a hundred different types of clouds.

Early on, Aongus was completing a training model online. I tried to stay fit with online zumba and Down Dog yoga.

This day was warm enough for balcony use, so I took a little break with one of the books I’ve read this spring, a gift from Inês, called “Quite: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking”. Appropo for this period of isolation!

On the other hand, the look of work didn’t have much diversity. As I do educational/social science research, I don’t require access to a lab. I already had plenty of data collected that I could work with and study during Lockdown.

For me, life during lockdown looked a lot like this, each and every day:

Don’t get me wrong, each of these images captures something I found interesting! The diagrams, for instance, came from a UCL ‘show-and-tell.’ Researchers in Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering (CEGE) are doing fascinating work tracking Covid—looking for patterns—from how droplets move, to tracking the flow of a sequence of coughs by someone tapping to pay on a bus (shown here), to transmission patterns across cities and countries. Really interesting and important stuff! I was Tweeting up a storm that day, to share knowledge with others. Took care not to give away too much detail as the researchers were reporting, to close colleagues, research they had underway.

For me, it has been fun to attend meetings and events in places and with people I’d not have had easy access to in the spring of a teaching semester—like these UCL events and the Big Engineering Education Research Meet Up.

Here’s a screenshot of our UCL team coordinating one of the EER Meet Ups of the spring–Paula, John, Inês, and me (providing perspectives from REEN and TU Dublin). I love this group of people and was glad to work with them over the spring even though we live in two different countries.

There was also teaching to be done online, and new teaching arrangements to be planned for next year as well. I’m preparing materials for the Tech Graphics modules on hand drawing for the autumn, as the pile of tools on my dining table testifies.

And there was meal after meal after meal to prepare, as you’ll be well aware. Sometimes fancy, sometimes new (fried peaches on the suggestion of my cousin, Rebecca). A colleague from TU Delft, Dr. Gillian Saunders, crated this nifty mask and mailed it over to me. It’s coming in handy, especially since the Irish government has recently stated asking us to wear masks, and requiring them on public transit.

In addition, there’s been the occasional birthday party, with Zoom allowing us to gather from all around the world. Happy b-day, Tarrah Beebe and Mike Miminiris!

Aongus has gone back to work now, and I’m here working from home as has been my norm. I like working at home better when it’s sunny, but I pray most for sunny weekends. I must admit, most of my religious/spiritual intentions have gone for those less fortunate than we’ve been—this facing sickness, stress, and hardship due to Covid or living with addicted or abusive people.

We’ve been blessed and have been able to grow together during this time. We attempt to make each day new and interesting, whether it’s learning a new theory or just pulling out our Frank Lloyd Wright socks (a gift of my recently departed Dad). Other ways I’ve passed the Covid-time include studying for the Driver Theory Test (scored 40/40, yeah baby!) and—now that businesses have opened—finally getting haircuts and new glasses to match my improved prescription. I didn’t buy the Corbu specs (shown below) but they were fun to try!

Irish Weather

We’ve had 2-3 weeks of glorious weather here in Dublin. People seemed stunned. A few people even started complaining that it had been 75 degrees for too long. Too hot, some said. And truly, we did have a day of high humidity — almost unknown in this fair city.

The past few days ushered in a return of regular irish weather. In Ireland, experiencing “all four seasons in one day” isn’t unusual.

Above, I’ve uploaded some photos from my stint across town and back today.

The photo below was taken from my seat atop a double-decker bus. It offers a glimpse of Dublin city traffic… and shows you why I don’t bike here more often!

This photo, taken from my seat atop a double-decker bus, offers a glimpse of Dublin city traffic... and hints as to why I don't bike here more often!

Yes, we ARE passing that truck!

Snowy Sunrise

Snowflakes this morning… what a rare sight in Dublin.  It was just a light dusting of flakes, floating peacefully to the ground.  They’re mostly gone now.

snowy sunrise February 5

snowy sunrise February 5

Whisked Away

Clouds were rolling in under the setting sun in Dublin at 5:31 PM. By 5:35, the sky was gray.


The Craic in Limerick

I’d kept to myself yesterday when I arrived at Kate Daly’s pub.

When I entered, I was cold and drenched. The hail, rain, and wind had just pelted me into a corner of the castle wall (I was looking for an entrance, but alas the castle is completely closed for renovation). Finding no way in, I had little choice but turn back.  I’d snapped some images of Kate Daly’s pub before making that fateful turn toward the bridge off King’s Island. When I saw the pub, I mused to myself that people were drinking at this time of day, and I proceeded onward.  But after the pelting I’d just taken, the pub seemed to offer warmth and hope for survival.

But the place was warm and quite.  The men — all men — clustered around the bar were wide-eyed when I burst through the door.

I’d requested hot tea but was told they had none.  My purchase of a Blumer’s (by the bottle — a fairly costly choice), secured me a seat at the pub.  The bar man suggested I’d be comfortable by the fire.  I embraced the suggestion, peeled out of my wet outer garments, and made myself at home.

I sat there for a long, long while.  The faces people at the bar changed over time, but the composition and number remained steady.

With sun rays intermittently shining through the clouds (As they normally do in Ireland), I determined it was time to leave.  After all, I needed some food to offset the effects of that cider!

On the way to the door, however, the men at the bar posed a few friendly questions.

And that set things right — it’s not usual to leave a pub here without partaking in some friendly chatter.  I’d felt okay taking the role of a tourist today, but it didn’t seem entirely right given my interest in fitting in here.

So I jumped right in and enjoyed some craic.

And, boy, did I mean a host of characters!  The folks in the photos above were key players in the banter.  We had fun.

I eventually declined the (inevitable) offer of another drink and slipped out into a (different) moment of sunshine on my way to find food.  Before I found anything edible, however, I came across some picturesque reflections and  attended a lecture at the Hunt Museum on “upcycling” discarded items into artworks and usable objects. The lecture was sponsored by Limerick’s Tidy Towns committee and delivered by a woman named Mary (another Hail Mary I discovered yesterday in Limerick!).

I left Kate Daly's pub and discovered this reflection just moments before my iPhone battery died. The blogging I did with in in Kate Daly's drained it....

I left Kate Daly’s pub and discovered this reflection just moments before my iPhone battery died. The blogging I did with in in Kate Daly’s drained it….

Hail Mary in Limerick Today

The AIARG conference wrapped up yesterday (my solo presentation went well and the audience was enthusiastic).

I stayed over to experience Limerick (again — Dave and I took a brief stop here in 2003 to see the castle).

Experience Limerick I have. The city gets lots and lots of rain. Today started with sun and intermittent but brief showers.

I admired the River Shannon, wandered the Medieval district, and stepped into Mary’s Cathedral for the end of a Sunday service. I enjoy Protestant services because they include women as primary leaders. I need that and I wish the Catholic Church would get with it. When I was six I wanted to be a priest. The Catholic Church wasn’t ready to accept my contribution. I invested my life’s energies in teach through architecture instead of through theology. I find that, like theology, making architecture requires hope, faith, and expressions of truth and beauty.

Leaving Mary’s Cathedral I headed toward Mary’s church. It seems there are redundant versions (Catholic and Protestant) of churches dedicated to many of the same saints here in Limerick. There are many, many fine church buildings here.

Sadly, the Mary Church was not open though it glowed merrily in the sun’s rays. For a minute. Then all Hail broke out.

I continued wandering on King’s Island in the hail until the the wind and pellets conquered me.

Soaked, I turned back to a corner pub. I sit here warming myself and attempting to dry, Bulmer’s and iPhone blog app in hand. They had no hot drinks but hot whiskey! The radio is blasting weather reports. The resounding “I’m a Believer” brightened the sprits of all the men huddled at the bar, and me!

“I Feel Good” is jazzing us up now….

Why Winter is Comfy in Dublin

The red dots on this map show the locations of Portsmouth (left) and Dublin (right). (Base map was downloaded from a Regnum Christi blog post.)

The red dots on this map show the locations of Portsmouth (left) and Dublin (right). (Base map was downloaded from a Regnum Christi blog post.)

Winter weather in Dublin is often much like that in the costal region of Virginia where my house is.  The nearby water helps mitigate temperature extremes in each location.  (That’s partly because water heats up during the day and releases that energy slowly at night — keeping costal areas warmer than inland areas during winter.)

Like Portsmouth, Dublin rarely sees snow.  When a dusting comes, it quickly dissolves.

Both places near the brink of calamity with the slightest hint of ice or snow. The cities and drivers simply aren’t prepared to deal with it.

What’s interesting about all this is that Dublin is so very far north. It’s much farther north than, say, Fargo, North Dakota, where my friends have reported recent wind chills of minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit!?!! Yet it never gets that cold here!

In summer, however, Dublin doesn’t get nearly as warm as Portsmouth.

In 2003 Dave and I were in Ireland for the extended “heat wave” where temperatures reached 75 degrees Fahrenheit for at least two weeks.

This chart shows the blend of temperature and humidity that most people in the States find comfortable. (Image from Shiller, M. (2004). Mechanical and electrical systems. Chicago: Dearborn Financial Publishing.)

This chart shows the blend of temperature and humidity that most people in the States find comfortable. (Image from Shiller, M. (2004). Mechanical and electrical systems. Chicago: Dearborn Financial Publishing.)

These factors affect human thermal comfort. (Image from the book Shiller, M. (2004). Mechanical and electrical systems. Chicago: Dearborn Financial Publishing.)

These factors affect human thermal comfort. (Image from the book Shiller, M. (2004). Mechanical and electrical systems. Chicago: Dearborn Financial Publishing.)

The humidity is terrible at home in the summer.  But here, the level of humidity is always quite comfortable.  The air doesn’t tend to hold a lot of water.  When it reaches the point of saturation that would be uncomfortable to most people, it drops the water in the form of rain.  So, Dublin gets some rain most days, but the shower doesn’t usually last long.  I don’t carry an umbrella because a lightweight coat and hat do a fine job keeping me dry.

Based on the chart above (that I use in the Architectural Ecology classes I teach at Hampton University), the humidity level in Dublin must stay between 20-75%.  Mother Nature must naturally remove the water as rain when humidity reaches a point over 75% here.  How generous of her!

Overall, Dublin enjoys a pretty good balance of the factors show in the drawing to the right (humidity, temperature, sun, and wind).

The weather was chilly this morning as I boarded the bus at O'Connell Street to go interview potential Fulbrighters -- but it was much warmer than in much of the USA!

Incidentally, the humidity in this picture is from the warm, wet breath of people riding the bus this chilly morning. The wet air tends to get trapped inside the bus.  And, it seems to be a bit more humid up top on the double deckers, perhaps because heat rises.

A great benefit of all this is that my laundry almost always dries within the day when I hang it inside the apartment — I have a clothes dryer here, but thankfully no need for it!  The air is dry enough here to absorb the water in the clothes as soon as I hang them.  It takes much longer for laundry to dry in my house in Portsmouth, even when the air conditioner is running overtime to such the water form the air.

Here, there’s no need for AC (except, of course, in buildings that were designed without regard for climate… who would overlook that!?!).

Gray Sky Blues

Another rainy day in Dublin.  Here’s hoping the sun breaks through.  It almost always does each day–sooner or later.  I’ve attached an example of sunshine after rain, taken as I was crossing Dame Street on October 2.

Reflection on Dame Street. Copyright Shannon Chance, 2012.