Thursday, November 11, 2010

Research Work in Two Irelands

 The first thing that you need to know when planning an Irish research trip is that Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland are not only two separate countries with two different currencies, but that there is more to it than that. For example, if you buy a mobile phone service in one country then the other country will regard you as a total stranger and bill you tenfold when you call from one Ireland to the other. But that is worth a blog all on its own, so I will leave that topic for now. Just make sure you arrive with some folding money and available change – if possible - in each currency.

Clothes? Not important. Bear in mind that if you came to do research, then you will be a mole for the entire duration of your trip. You will emerge from the various archives with your little pink eyes blinking at the end of each day. Is that so bad? Not really. It is part of the bizarre paradise of The Research Nerd. Given this, all you will need is one change of clothes. People will actually forgive you for not carting half your closet contents with you as you hoof it from place to place.

Of course, I say that as someone who usually would rate something like an F- when it comes to the finer arts of attire. It once took three of my friends an entire day in Vancouver to outfit me for another friend’s wedding. One of them took on the job of chatting up the clerk and offering advice such as: She lives on a mountain and composts. We need to keep it simple. Suggestions? Believe it or not, this was in Holt Renfrew of all places. Another friend kept tossing more clothes over the transom and cheered me up when I emerged decked out in the latest outfit: Great hooters. Who knew? And the final friend had the hardest job - to keep me out of bookstores. After all, we had come to buy clothes.

Which brings me to an essential piece of Irish clothing: a pair of hiking boots. You’ve heard the word bog when it comes to Ireland? Well, there is also another key word to bear in mind if you are heading out into the rural areas. This word is: Mud. Come prepared and it is pas de probleme. Remember the old Flanders and Swan song:

Mud, mud, glorious mud,
Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood,
So follow me, follow,
Down to the hollow,
And there we will wallow ...

So for me, good stout boots are part of what is needed to get the job done. The rest of what a Research Nerd like me needs follows – and this list is free for the taking:

·         Diary – current one and empty one, just in case the need to write War and Peace strikes.
·         A glue stick, post-it notes, paper clips, scissors, lined paper, pens + pencils
·         Laptop plus any software & reference files installed on it that you usually use
·         Camera & Batteries & charger & every thinkable cable
·         UK –friendly  phone  - more on that in another blog
·         Electrical adapters for all of the above – check them twice.
·         Maps, Maps and more Maps – you can’t always Google.
·         Compass with magnifying glass – or a GPS whatsit, although I find them annoying.
·         Flash stick & 2 Hard drives – there is backup and then there is backup.
·         ID badges for archives from previous trips
·         A printed calendar with contact numbers in case all digital copies fail.

Along with the aforementioned change of clothes, the items listed above will weigh approximately 0.6kg under what Ryan Air permits for checked baggage. The best thing is that once you have this list all together, you can forget about everything else. This is important because you will forget everything else. Your brain, for a while, will resemble Swiss Cheese. There is after all this thing called jet lag.

I used to wonder how businessmen did it, all this international travel. They always seemed so perky and were capable of riffing on in complete sentences the moment they emerged from the plane in their 1st Class unruffled suits. As for me, it always takes a week to return to a semblance of my former self. The penny dropped for me when the whole bank failure thing happened. Well, actually more than a penny dropped, didn’t it, but it was then that I realized that businessmen can’t do it either. Consequently, here is my humble suggestion: Don’t let any of them on a plane. The world will be much the better for it. Businessmen should only travel on ships and trains and give their bodies time to catch up before inventing such things as hedge funds and derivatives.

So, that is it today for Helpful Hints from your Friendly Research Nerd. Tomorrow – or the day after, I will tackle another earth-shattering topic.


    Just had to finish it

    Signing along merrily and wishing I were there!Good memories of Peter and Bernie s hospitality; will you tell him for sure we are haplogroup A and tell Bernie that I order Lyons tea online now.


  2. I still count that shopping trip as one of the most enjoyable forays I've taken though I'm still disappointed you didn't buy that shiny crimson plunging-necklined blouse:) Maybe we need to try it again