Congrats!

Congratulations to Class of 2016. Tonight, at The University of Texas at Austin, the annual commencement on the Main Mall culminates four, five, six, seven, maybe eight years of academic work in a festive ceremony, complete with fireworks.

The Mall is ready.

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Praying Dublin 🙏

Ireland is known as the motherland for a very sizable of the Catholic migration to America. The Catholic Church in Ireland is going through a time of transition, and rightfully so. Between actual abuses and difficulty remaining relevant in the day-to-day lives of the Irish, Catholicism is often only a cultural practice, not including a truly religious one. There are valid discussions happening on the Emerald Isle regarding the role of the church and public education.

That said, it is still a Catholic country and there is a special grace in being able to discover some sliver of the spirit of a place so rich. First, the churches are beautiful. Within the center of the city, at least, there are churches just about everywhere which would be amazing cathedrals by American standards. They were, generally, open most of the time, which does not happen that much stateside anymore.

First, I arrived on Sunday morning and wanted to make sure I had a chance to attend Mass. As soon as the taxi dropped me off, I dropped my suitcase at the front desk and hiked over to John’s Lane Church. Continue reading “Praying Dublin 🙏”

Eating Dublin 🍴

While I did plenty of walking in Dublin, Ireland 🇮🇪, I also ate and drank plenty. The city, as any urban hub does, had a variety of options, including more than a couple Tex-Mex/Mexican restaurants. I could not bring myself to try any Tex-Mex from Ireland though.

On Sunday morning, I was alone, just finished attending Mass, and in need of coffee. I found a lovely little coffee shop on Lord Edward Street called Bittersweet (all Flash site 😞, their Foursquare page). The baristas were nice, the space was cozy but still enough space to work. It is right on the main drag and opened at 7 am. On the weekend, I realized that many of the coffee places opened later and Bittersweet saved my day. My only complaint is the sandwiches take an unexpectedly long time to make.

For coffee and baked goods, there were some places close to us, in addition to Bittersweet, that were nice. The Queen of Tarts had a beautiful selection of baked goods. They were also pretty popular, so plan accordingly. A block away from our apartments, Caffé Comino was my day-to-day go to for a flat white on my morning walk.

We visited this fantastic Japanese restaurant, Yamamori Izakaya, which had an expansive menu, great service, and wonderful food.

We visited a few others places, including a lovely vegetarian place, Cornucopia.

In Ireland, though, you don’t think of coffee shops or sushi. You think of Irish food and Irish pubs. We tried plenty of them, including Brazen Head, which claims to the oldest pub in Ireland from 1198 and hosts a lovely story telling session, an Evening of Food, Folklore, and Fairies.

The Brazen Head, founded in 1198, claims to be Ireland's oldest pub.
The Brazen Head, founded in 1198, claims to be Ireland’s oldest pub.

Arthur’s Pub, across from St. Catherine’s on the way to Guinness from the city centre, is a nice pub playing Irish music, lacking TVs, with both traditional Irish favorites and even a salad or two—had to offset the rest of the food and beer from the week.

I tried to eat salads some...
I tried to eat salads some…

For breakfast one morning, we had a “Full Irish Breakfast” at O’Neill’s Pub, across from the Molly Malone statue. For O’Neill’s, the full breakfast included pork sausages, bacon, black and white pudding, grilled tomato, baked beans, mushrooms, fried egg, toast and jam, coffee, and a Dublin potato cake.

A little bit of everything with a Full Irish Breakfast.
A little bit of everything with a Full Irish Breakfast.

We had a nice dinner of boxty pancakes at the aptly named Boxty House. Jet lag hit me hard this night, so I barely made it through dinner without falling asleep and skipped out early to call it a night.

Gaelic Boxty Irish beef medallions in whiskey & mushroom cream sauce, wrapped in a traditional leitrim boxty pancake.
Gaelic Boxty
Irish beef medallions in whiskey & mushroom cream sauce, wrapped in a traditional leitrim boxty pancake.

We went to a pair of pubs owned by Galway Bay Brewing, Against the Grain and the Beer Market. The beers were top-notch with good pub food.

I even ended up with a hot dog.

Walking Dublin 🏃

Last week, I was in Dublin, Ireland 🇮🇪 for a meetup with the teams that support a variety of our plugins and services for self-hosted WordPress sites, like Jetpack, Akismet, VaultPress, Sensei, Gravatar, etc etc.

Usually, on meetups, I wake up extremely early, since I do at home, geek out doing random PRs or whatever, then join the rest of the crowd at a reasonable starting time. At home, I’ve started a regular routine of hitting the gym for an hour at 6:00 a.m. 🕕 and I didn’t want to slide backwards on losing weight between no gym 🏋, increased beer🍺 and food 🍟 consumption.

This time, I still woke up early, but kept the laptop in my bag. I packed up everything to trick myself into thinking I was going to go work somewhere and would just take a walk. I would end up hitting my daily goal of 10,000 steps usually by 9 a.m. when we would start as a group.

Dublin is incredibly walkable. We were in a StayCity “Serviced Apartments” complex right near the city centre and could easily hit plenty of things to keep us busy on foot. Except for a day-trip to the countryside for part of the team, we didn’t use any vehicles except for airport transit.

Thanks to Google’s reporting of every second of my day, you can see my walking journeys.

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Saturday, I racked up a personal record 32,000 steps per FitBit, but everything was close enough that I never felt that I was going that far. It was a really enjoyable experience.

For more pictures, Ryan Cowles took a some [better] ones.