* yes, there should be FIVE sets of boots but Allen ignored my advice to get adequate rain gear...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

I've got gadgets and gizmos aplenty...*

Sorry for 2 tech posts in a row.  Trim Castle is coming next with plenty of misty Ireland images!

I have come to a whole new level of appreciation of my electronic gadgets in Ireland- especially my iPhone.  I don't actually use it to make calls since I don't have the international thingy that makes it work here.  Also, iPhones have a tendency to get stolen in Dublin.  Allen had his taken in the first few days we were here.  Someone in need of quick cash (often a person addicted to something) whizzes around on a bike and plucks phones out of people's hands- even while they are talking on them.  They then take it to someone else who wipes the phone and sells it.  So, Allen and I both have fairly cheap phones that we use for actual phone calls.  Anywho...

I didn't bring any paper books to Ireland. (gasp!)  Before we moved, I checked to be sure I could use the Dublin library system and planned to just borrow books.  But, I haven't been terribly impressed by the library system here or, more precisely, the librarians.  Never have I had so many encounters with people working at libraries that make you keenly aware that they are in fact civil servants rather than people who want nothing more than to unite you with the perfect book.  Using the local library tends to make me more homesick than just about anything else.

Luckily, since we are still residents of Blacksburg, I can check out e-books from our library back home.  They have a fairly good collection and it's growing by the month.  I also downloaded the free kindle app so I can buy books from Amazon.

I already really appreciated my phone as a book while I was rocking and nursing Noah- it's much easier to hold a phone than an actual book and no page turning to distract the baby!  But, it's been even more helpful over here since Noah is sleeping in our room.  An eReader means that I can read in bed without waking him.  Plus, any book I buy can come home with us without me worrying about weight restrictions, etc.  I'm getting a kindle for Christmas and can't wait!

The second thing I have really found helpful while abroad is twitter.  I can manage to read 140 characters while also caring for 3 young children.  I have it set up as basically a personalized news service through some fairly selective "following."  This allows me to keep up with what's happening in the US and even Blacksburg without wading through a bunch of newspaper homepages or a clunky rss feed with all sorts of poorly formatted news that I'm not interested in.  The very short nature of tweets makes it easy to skim and I can still click a link to read a full story.

A few follow suggestions for those that are twitter unsure :-)

The only news feed I follow is the BBC World service.  I've found this especially helpful with the political races heating up.  But, since it is the world coverage I also get links to bits and pieces of news all over the world.  It's not enough if you're a political junkie but tends to be as much information as I can really process at this stage of my life.  It's a strategy worth considering if you want to stay informed but not overly informed and one that I had already started employing back in the US.

The town of Blacksburg isn't unique in using twitter.  I subscribe to their feed and stay up on the biggest happenings.  When we live there, it lets me know where there will be road closures and the like.

I adore tweets by Neil deGrasse Tyson.  He's an astrophysicist with a magpie mind who is always putting out little science nuggets.  He is totally worth following!  I also follow a few museums.  The Air and Space is always sending out "on this day" sorts of things and the other Smithsonians will often link to unusual or interesting collections and the like.

A fair number of countries have national twitter accounts that are curated for a week by different people.  It's a fun way to find out what's happening in everyday life around the world.

*It's from the Little Mermaid

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