kmusser: (cartographer's conspiracy)
Today is mostly a driving day as we go back to the East side of the Island, and just was well as it's another windy and rainy day. We break up the drive with a stop at Rathcroghan, the mother of all fairy mounds and mythical resting place of Medb. We spring for a guided tour and we're the only customers, the guide is excellent and it's definitely worth it as otherwise this place just looks like a hill, he helps envision what it would've looked like when it was a royal site. Our guide points out that the defensive works around the mound face inward rather than outward, so we're pretty sure there's some unspeakable horror trapped under there. Also nearby is the "Cave of Cats", associated with The MorrĂ­gan, and which we never would've found without our guide. From there it's on to our final airBnB, which is a house on a pig farm near Drogheda. The house is somewhat creepy too as there's no one there and the place has an unfinished quality to it, but still we get in and there is a comfy bed there. Dinner was in the nearby town of Slane and we got some music too, not trad Irish, but a classic Rock cover band, not bad and we finally get some Johnny Cash, but it's weird hearing someone sing Sweet Home Alabama over here.

kmusser: (Nirvana Bliss Action)
Friday 10/6
  • U.S. ends sanctions against Sudan (source).

Monday 10/9
  • Results of DJT cuts to ACA enrollment assistance programs (source).

Tuesday 10/10
  • EPA scraps Obama's Clean Power Plan (source).
  • DJT planning executive order to allow health care plan sales across state lines (source).
  • DJT approves disaster declaration for California fires (source).
  • Def Con releases a report on the vulnerabilities of election machines to hacking (source).
  • DJT says he has no plans to fill Federal government vacancies (source).
  • FEC is currently open for public comment on online political advertisement rules (source).

Wednesday 10/11
  • DJT attacks freedom of the press (source).
  • Administration misses deadline for implementing sanctions against Russia (source).

Thursday 10/12

Friday 10/6
  • DJT "decertifies" Iran deal - essentially saying we are not bound by it, but doesn't do anything that actually breaks it (source).

Legislative action this week

kmusser: (cartographer's conspiracy)
Today we visit the Cliffs of Morer, heading out early in an attempt to beat the crowds and rain forecast for the day, which is successful, still quite a few people there, but they aren't mobbed - the cliffs are damn impressive in person, it's very windy though so we don't stay super long. I had thoughts of trying to visit the less touristy southern end of the Cliffs, but with the wind and rain think better of it. We do stop at a sacred well and shrine to St. Brigid and offer up some prayers.

From there we do a drive through the Burren area - a region of mostly exposed rock making for a somewhat alien looking landscape - though it's greener than I was expecting, as the rocks are dissected by gaps that usually have stuff growing in them. In the center of the region is the Poulnabrone dolmen, an iconic looking tomb. It would be a fascinating landscape to wander around in, but sadly the wind and rain stay with us, so we don't stay out long - eating out planned picnic in the car, supplemented by a stop at a crepery in Ballyvaughan. On the way back to the B&B we drive through more Burren area and make a stop at the ruined Gleninagh Castle down a very rough little road, but we have the place to ourselves, situated where the Burren meets the sea. Dinner is back at the same pub as yesterday.

kmusser: (cartographer's conspiracy)
A foggy, rainy day - we had planned on going over the Conor Pass, but decide not to on account of the weather figuring it'll just be fogged in anyway. Today is mostly a driving day, we do our mid-day break in Limerick visiting St. John's Castle. The visitor center is way more extensive than we were expected, but then this castle has seen more action than most going through 2 sieges in the English civil war and 2 in the Williamite war, and there is also a neat section on the archeology done there including the uncovering of Viking ruins under the castle. And across the bridge from the castle is a cafe with excellent hot chocolate, perfect for a cold and rainy day.

From there we continue on towards our next B&B, stopping in Kilfenora for a visitor center for the Burren area which we'll see more of tomorrow. Also here is Kilfenora Cathedral with the remains of several high crosses to take a look at. From there Google manages to take us on the narrowest road possible to get to our B&B, fortunately no one else is crazy enough to be on this road so we don't have to do any passing. More fantastic views from the B&B which is right on the coast with the Aran islands across the bay from us. Dinner is a walk down to the local pub for some very tasty food.

kmusser: (cartographer's conspiracy)
Dingle is also known for its friendly resident dolphin, this morning we do a short hike around the edge of the bay to see if Fungie will oblige us, and are pleased to report that he did! After waving to the dolphin we head out on the Slea Head Drive around the end of the peninsula. We stop to take a look at an iron age fort and there should be views of Skellig Michael (aka Luke Skywalker's island), but alas it is too foggy for that. We do get some nice views of the Blasket Islands and stop at the visitor center for them. Now uninhabited they were of interest to anthropoligists as they were home to one of the last purely Irish speaking populations - and they encouraged the islanders to write about themselves before they had to abandon the islands. Also viewable in this area are traces from the great famine, abandoned houses and fields. Continuing on the drive we also visit several early church sites: Reask, the Gallarus Oratory, and Kilmalkedar. Having completed the loop quicker than planned we stop in Dingle's aquarium, which is much larger than it appears from the outside. We enjoy watching the penguins and otters especially. Dinner is at the South Pole Inn, founded by Antarctic explorer Tom Crean, who was a certified BAMF. The evening is more traditional music, this time at An Droichead Beag. We didn't like the bar quite as much as the Courthouse, but the music was excellent and we were in a better spot for hearing them. I should be able to add some clips later.

kmusser: (rose)
One more circle on our way out, Ardgroom, which we skipped yesterday because there aren't any signs for it, but our host knew where it was and draws us a map, which we never would've found it otherwise - and it's a very nice circle, in better shape than Cashelkeelty and similarly beautiful views - also more walking on sponge, my shoes are soaked afterwards. From there we leave Beara and head towards Killarney with a drive through the National Park. This is also the closest we get to the Ring of Kerry, which we're skipping, but we can see the mountains. We stop for a short hike to Torc waterfall which was quite impressive, and then continue on to the town of Killarney for lunch and an obligatory stop at their Hobbit-themed pub. From there on to our next B&B in Dingle. A couple of photo stops along the way at Inch Beach and Minard Castle. Dinner is some most excellent seafood at the Marina Inn. Dingle is known for its traditional live music scene and it does not disappoint. It's a frickin' Monday night and you can just walk down the street hearing the music coming out of the pubs, every one of them full. We stop in the Courthouse pub and claim a spot at the bar for lovely evening of excellent music (including being amused at the drunk Ravens fan, you can take a guy out of Baltimore . . .).

kmusser: (cartographer's conspiracy)
Thankfully the weather has cleared up, we're going to find some stone circles. First up is Cashelkeelty, which takes a bit of a hike to get to, first through a bit of primordial feeling forest which I imagine is what much of Ireland used to be like (it wasn't always lots of wide open spaces, it got that way by a systematic deforestation effort by the English, the bastards), and the a bit along the Beara Way, a long distance trail around the entire peninsula. The way is rather muddy from yesterday's rains, the fields are not nearly as solid as one would like - it's sort of like walking on a sponge. We do make to the circle though, not all that much left to it, but a beautiful site. After that a drive up Healy Pass in the center of the peninsula for more stunning views and a stop for a picnic lunch.

For the afternoon we head to Uragh which has a somewhat harrowing drive to get to, but a much shorter walk. It is very cool, a tiny little circle, just 5 stones placed close together, mostly intact - and again in a stunning setting. We do have to share it with some other folks doing their communing with the spirits thing, and I do think this is the one that we feel the most spiritual mojo at. One the way back we stop at a little ruined church and cemetery, these seem to be everywhere over here, and then at a dockside pub in the middle of nowhere that was recommended by some fellow tourists and have some amazingly fresh mussels. Back to the B&B, late dinner in the nearby town of Eyeries.

kmusser: (cartographer's conspiracy)
Probably our only really awful weather day, heavy rain and wind almost the whole day as remnants from Irma have chased us across the Ocean. We still do our planned drive around the end of the Beara Peninsula, a failed attempt at finding the Derreenataggart stone circle, and only very brief stops at the overlooks. We spend more time inside at a copper mining museum in Allihies where we learn that a quarter of this peninsula's population all left and went to Butte, Montana. After that it's back past our B&B and attempt to visit the Hag of Beara but are driven back by the wind, we do find the adjacent Kilcatherine church and wander about there for a bit. Defeated by weather we cut the sightseeing short and do a run up to Kenmare which is the nearest real town for food and a bit of shopping.

kmusser: (Default)
We head out via the Old Head of Kinsale, a bit of land sticking out into the Ocean with a lighthouse and some beautiful views. From there a brief stop in the little town of Rosscarbery where Sam may have some ancestral roots. Nearby is the well preserved stone circle of Drombeg with some more amazing views. From there we go in to Baltimore for lunch. Turns out Baltimore has a history of piracy so we have to stop in the little piracy museum located in a restored castle. Continuing north along coast we pass Bantry Bay with more lovely views before arriving at our B&B on the north coast of the Beara peninsula. Views from the B&B are simply stunning and we do a picnic dinner on the front patio. Amazing star viewing here at night as well.

kmusser: (cartographer's conspiracy)
We start off with a ridiculously large breakfast spread - my first of many "Irish breakfast"s. Thus fortified we go on a most excellent guided walking tour of the town. Today Kinsale is a small coastal tourist town, that is foodie heaven, seriously I think this place has more restaurants per capita than seems feasable. It was also the primary port of sourthern Ireland for most of the middle ages through the renaissance, and the scene of the final major battle in the English conquest of Ireland. More recently it is also the closest town to where the Lusitania was sunk in WWI. After the tour we visit two mini-museums in town, one about the Lusitania, and one in a ruined castle about the wine industry (Ireland doesn't really make wine, but they did play a big role in shipping it, often serving as a transfer point between England and France and Spain). The castle also held American POWs during the revolutionary war. We have lunch at the White Houe, and I have one of the best seafood chowders I've ever had.

For the afternoon we go on a hike around Kinsale's bay to vist Charles Fort, a star fort similar in design to the several that we have along the east coast - the hike and the fort itself give some lovely views of the bay and looking out towards the ocean. The walk is a long, but fortunately there is a strategically placed pub available for weary hikers, we attempt to have a small snack, but end up feasting before making the trek back to town. In the evening we go out to a pub recommended to us for their music and they did not disappoint. By virtue of being from Chicago I was dragged on stage to help sing "City of Chicago" (which fortunately I knew). Music sample.

kmusser: (cartographer's conspiracy)
Sorry Dublin, 2 days is all you get, we've got places to go. In the morning we Uber back over to the airport to pick up our rental car and then it's off, driving a stick, on the left, it always takes a bit getting used to, but it's mostly highway driving for the morning which is pretty easy. For a mid-day break we stop at the National Stud, a thoroughbred horse breeding farm owned by the Irish government and also the site of a lovely Japanese garden. We do the tour and also lunch, amused by the fairy doors everywhere. The rest of the day is a long and rainy drive to Kinsale, but we eventually make it to our B&B. There we are greeted by the Irish grandmother we didn't know we had. We do a little walk along the harbor front and a tasty dinner of fish & chips, but are still pretty beat and turn in early.

Photos, mostly of the Japanese garden:
kmusser: (cartographer's conspiracy)
Yay sleep. Ok, our first non-sleep deprived day in Ireland. First up is Trinity College, occupying the center of Dublin since 1592, we get a student led tour of the lovely campus - and it's "frosher's week", so the main square is filled with student clubs making their pitches at the incoming Freshmen. The highlight is their library which is gorgeous (pic), it is also the home of the harp that is the national symbol of Ireland, and the Book of Kells, reputed to be one of the most beautiful books ever created. Images from the book are available online, but don't really convey how vibrant and detailed the illustrations are - you really do need a microscope to see the detail.

From there we go The Immigration Museum, passing a memorial to victims of the great famine on the way. The museum is pretty cool, mostly a celebration of Irish culture and documenting the Irish diaspora. And right outside the museum is Oktoberfest! just in time for lunch. After lunch we make the obligatory trip to the shrine of Guinness, a cool tour/museum there and lovely views of the city from the top of their visitor center, but very much a tourist trap - I think my favorite part was the vintage advertising displays. For the evening we have a very tasty sushi dinner at our host's restaurant, a brief wander though the Temple Bar district, and then ending our evening in a quiet neighborhood pub not in the Temple Bar, enjoying a bit of session music and shooting the bull with the local characters.

kmusser: (cartographer's conspiracy)
We arrive in Dublin via a redeye flight from Phily. Flight is uneventful, but we get very little sleep. Taxi to our AirBnB but can't get in. Our host owns the restaurant next door, so we wait around until someone is there for us to make sad puppydog eyes at. Our host isn't there yet but they do give us a place to leave our bags, so we do and go find some badly needed brunch. Once fed rather than wait around we go on a bus tour to get ourselves oriented and at least get a peek at Dublin's sights. And the bus stops at the Teeling Whiskey Distillery - that sounds like a fine stop, we take the tour and enjoy the tastings of some mighty fine whiskey. Rejoining the bus tour we make it back to our flat and yay there is a host to kindly let us in. We run back out just to pick up some groceries and have a quiet dinner at the flat and then collapse.

Photos (probably only viewable by those friended with me on FB) at
kmusser: (Psicorp)
We're mostly skipping the two weeks I was in Ireland. Of note:
  • Aid to Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria still moving at a snails pace: status of infrastructure rebuilding.
  • DJT waives Jones Act for Puerto Rico, a week after the hurricane hit, and after saying that he wouldn't. The Act was preventing International aid from reaching Puerto Rico and is routinely waived immediately after disasters (source).
  • Venezuela preparing for war with the U.S. (source).
  • DJT seems to be vying for some sort of record on how many times he can insult Puerto Rico.

Friday 9/29

Monday 10/2
  • Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump using private e-mail accounts for White House business (source).
  • Hurricane relief for Puerto Rico very slowly making its way through Congress (source).
  • Investigation into Ryan Zinke's use of taxpayer-funded private air travel (source).

Tuesday 10/3
  • Tillerson vs DJT spat over non-existent talks with North Korea (source).
  • Authorization for the Children's Insurance Program has expired (source).
  • Congress holds hearing on Equifax breach (source).
  • U.S. expels Cuban diplomats (source).
  • House has no plans on moving on silencer bill (source).
  • Scott Pruitt's calendar, mostly meeting with energy company CEOs (source).
  • EPA misses deadline for smog report (source).
  • IRS awards fraud prevention contract to Equifax (source).
  • House passes anti-abortion bill, doesn't appear likely to pass the Senate though (source).

Wednesday 10/4
  • Tillerson's days appear to be numbered (source).
  • White House asks Congress for more relief for Puerto Rico (source).

Thursday 10/5
  • House adopts a budget resolution, this is a procedural move allowing FY 2018 bills involving taxes or the budget to bypass filibuster threats, similar to what the House attempted for their health care repeal efforts. (source, resolution summary, full text).
  • Reminder that the Senate investigation regarding Russia and the election is still ongoing (source).
  • DJT to abandon Iran nuclear deal (source).
  • White House continues doing what it can to undermine health care, DJT personally intervenes in Iowa to prevent 20,000 from getting health coverage. (source).
  • HHS to remove birth control mandate from health care plans, likely to be challenged in court (source).
  • Status of various environmental rules, I've reported on many of these individually, but this is a nice summary (source).
  • DoJ claims the Civil Rights Act does not protect transgender employees (source).
  • Dept. of Interior to throw out sage-grouse conservation plan (source).
  • Dept. of Interior to suspend system for collecting royalty payments from energy companies (source).
  • Zinke attended fundraiser while on government travel (source).
  • Congress confirms Randal Quarles, a Wall St. banker, for the Federal Reserve (source).

Friday 10/6
  • Many of those environmental roll-backs mentioned above are being challenged in court (source).
  • Federal leadership positions still largely vacant (source).
  • FDIC had 54 security breaches in 2015-2016 (source).

Legislative action this week (plus the weeks I skipped)

kmusser: (cartographer's conspiracy)
Monday 9/11
  • DJT approves disaster declaration for Florida (source).
  • Reince Priebus and White House counsel Don McGahn lawyer up (source).
  • Last months Opioid emergency declaration has yet to translate into any action (source).

Tuesday 9/12
  • 2016 set a new high for U.S. median household income (source).
  • Hope Hicks named new WH communications director (source).
  • House adds amendment rolling back Sessions' civil forfeiture expansion to Defense appropriations bill (source).
  • Congress unanimously passes resolution denouncing hate groups (source).

Wednesday 9/13
  • U.S. stops issuing visas to Cambodia, Eritrea, Guinea and Sierra Leone because those countries aren't accepting their deportees (source).
  • Dept of Homeland Security sued over phone and laptop searches at the border (source).
  • U.S. bans Kaspersky software over espionage fears (source).
  • New House strategy for attacking ObamaCare, devolve everything to the states (source).
  • McCain opens up Defense appropriations bill to amendments. Amendment requiring a new Authorization of Military Force for current wars in the Mideast fails. Expected amendments include one on transgender rights in the military and more sanctions on North Korea (source)

Thursday 9/14
  • DJT attempting to make deal with Democrats on DACA (source).
  • U.S. sticking by Iran deal for now (source).
  • House passes a flurry of spending bills (source).
  • FTC launching investigation of Equifax breach (source).

Friday 9/15
  • DJT to seek extension of his travel ban which expires at the end of the month (source).
  • Vote on DoD appropriations expected Monday (source).
  • CIA seeking permission to conduct its own drone strikes independent of DoD (source).

Elsewhere in the world
  • Genocide in progress in Myanmar (source).


Legislative action this week

kmusser: (cartographer's conspiracy)
Inspired by:

I've made:

Time permitting I might make some more.
kmusser: (earth)
Tuesday 9/5
  • September agenda for Congress (source).
  • DJT orders a March 2018 end to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program currently protecting approximately 800,000 people who immigrated as young children from deportation. (source).
  • EPA is attacking the press over Harvey reporting (source).
  • DJT waffling on alliance with South Korea (source).

Wednesday 9/6
  • DJT and Dems reach deal for 3-month extension on debt limit and government spending (source).
  • House passes Harvey relief bill (source).
  • 16 states sue DJT to prevent the end of DACA (source).

Thursday 9/7
  • Trump Jr. testifying before Congress (source).
  • DeVos moving forward with revising university sexual assault policies (source).

In other news

Legislative action this week

kmusser: (cartographer's conspiracy)
Sunday 8/27
  • DJT sought Moscow real estate deal while running for president (source).
  • Nuclear weapon overhaul proceeding (source).
  • Military surplus transfers to local police to resume (source).
  • More State Dept. officials resigning (source).

Monday 8/28
  • ACLU suing DJT over transgender ban (source).
  • Immigration and Customs to start destroying records for detainees in its custody (source). (Reporting with caution as I haven't been able to find any source confirming this other than ACLU, I normally consider them trustworthy, but I also usually see multiple sources if a story is reliable).

Tuesday 8/29
  • U.N. ambassador Bolton gives his plan for leaving Iran deal to the press since he can't get in to see DJT (source).
  • Mattis won't implement transgender ban while study is pending (source).
  • National Flood Insurance Program expires end of next month (source).
  • DHS warned local law enforcement of violence potential ahead of Charlottesville (source).
  • EEO to stop collecting pay discrimination data (source).
  • Trump Jr. to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee (source).

Wednesday 8/30
  • DJT attaches strings to aid to Pakistan (source).
  • Freedom Caucus won't back DJT's wall funding over a shutdown (source).

Thursday 8/31
  • Russian lobbyist testifying to Mueller's grand jury (source).
  • DJT orders Russia to close San Francisco consulate in response to Russia kicking out U.S. diplomats (source).
  • Deployment of additional troops to Afghanistan (source).
  • ObamaCare outreach funding cut (source).
  • DJT to donate $1 million to hurricane relief effort (source).

Friday 9/1
  • Sessions claims we're experiencing a violent crime wave, when in reality crime rates are near a 45 year low. (source).
  • Expect a hurricane relief package to be the first order of business when Congress returns next week (source).

Legislative action this week - Congress in recess

Map of the week
kmusser: (Psicorp)
Friday 8/25
  • DJT pardons Joe Arpaio, who had been convicted of violating a court order against racial profiling (source).
  • Details on the military transgender ban (source).
  • Mueller subpoenas Manafort employees (source).
  • DJT to end protections for immigrant children (aka "dreamers") (source).
  • Gorka leaves White House (source).
  • DJT signs disaster declaration for Texas, releasing Federal aid for hurricane relief (source).
  • EPA ends sponsorship of awards for fighting global warming (source).
kmusser: (cartographer's conspiracy)
Friday 8/18
  • Steve Bannon leaves White House staff (source).
  • Carl Icahn resigns as DJT advisor (source).
  • DJT aims to prevent lawsuits against nursing homes (source).
  • Pentagon's Cyber command elevated to be equal to other military commands (source).
  • DJT plans to expand Guantanamo use (source).

Sunday 8/20
  • DJT announces new Afghanistan policy which will involve sending more troops there (source).

Monday 8/21
  • The sun is blotted out.
  • Secret Service is almost out of money due to DJT's large family and frequent travel (source).
  • White House plans to move immigrants in jails to Federal custody. (source).
  • U.S. - South Korea conduct military exercises (source).
  • Navy temporarily halts Pacific fleet operations due to crash (source).

Tuesday 8/22
  • U.S. restricts aid to Egypt (source).

Wednesday 8/23
  • DJT willing to shutdown government to get funding for his wall (source) (hint to DJT: a government shutdown still won't get you your funding).
  • DJT to pursue military transgender ban within 6 months (source).
  • DoJ still defending Obamacare birth control mandate and IRS rule against tax-exempt religious orgs politically lobbying even though it isn't enforcing either (source).

Thursday 8/24
  • Interior Secretary recommends reducing size of 3 National Monuments, reducing protections in others (source).
  • Court orders web host to comply with White House's data request for IP addresses (source).
  • DoT scraps rule giving preferential hiring to local workers for Federal infrastructure projects (source).

In other news
  • Banks warn that an economic downturn is coming (source).
  • Things are really really bad in Yemen (source).
  • Commercial tanker crosses the Arctic Ocean without needing an icebreaker for the first time (source).
  • Hurricane Harvey to hit Texas this evening (source).

Legislative action this week - Congress in recess

Map of the week


kmusser: (Default)

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