Saturday, 28 March 2015

Weekend Drought

There'll be no blog posts Saturday or Sunday because I'm stuck at home all weekend without internet. Trust me, I'm suffering too. 

Rest assured there will be some awesome ones next week. See you then!

ETA: I just realised I'm losing my internet source (school) for two weeks. I'll just have to hope I find another source before Monday. Curse you, holidays.


Friday, 27 March 2015

Talent Shows

So, yesterday I performed at the school talent show. It went terribly – I’d totally forgotten how the school stage felt, it’s been so long since I was on it solo. The mic was too high, I couldn’t hold on to the ukulele, I was shaking like hell, my voice was dodgy because I had a cold … Yeah, bad combination. Needless to say, I didn’t get through to the finals.

But still, now seems like a good time to look back over the various talent shows I’ve auditioned for/been in (either solo or in a group).

All-Ireland Talent Show

In September of 1st Year, I auditioned for the All-Ireland Talent Show. I obsessed over this audition for months between sending in my application and the day itself. Not just over songs or whatever, but constantly imagining what would happen, reading tips on how to do well at auditions (on my shitty Tocco Lite – just imagine surfing the internet on that. Unless you’ve had one, you probably can’t but … It’s just barely internet-capable), looking at videos of past contestants … See, when I’m excited about something, I research it. A ton. That’s what led me to read effectively the entire CTYI wiki before going. Anyway, there are lots of drawings in my notebooks of Popstar Elle, or what I imagined myself being when I grew up.

Anyway, I think the audition was the 18th or 10th of September, on a weekend. I had to get up at 5.30 a.m. and Mam drove me to Kildare or Kilkenny to this hotel where the auditions were being held. I was very nervous. I remember having a yoghurt with nuts in it. To my surprise, there weren’t actually celebrity judges there. There was just this female producer who asked me some questions and then got me to sing. I had very little stage savvy at this point; she asked me what kind of music I liked, and I was like “I don’t really like rock…”


Anyway, I didn’t get through to the judges. My rendition of Take a Bow by Rihanna was adequate; not showstopping enough to go through on merit, but not awful enough to go on as a joke. I’ve always wondered, actually – do these people know they’re awful when they’re brought past initial auditions? Do they get paid?

I cried in the bathroom, a lot. When I told Leah (in my class), her text cheered me up. I’d also received good luck texts from a lot of the girls.
I learned then not to tell people when I was auditioning or applying for things, in case I didn’t succeed.


This one was also during 1st Year. Schoolstars was a new competition for Louth schools, where secondary school students competed in the TLT (a local theatre). It was big and exciting and official, and a ton of people in my year entered, mostly in groups (y’know, a “for the craic” sort of thing). At the school heats, I performed both in a group and solo. I got through solo, and went to the TLT for the quarterfinals.

I can’t remember what I sang, to be honest. But I didn’t get through.

However, the choir did! The choir got all the way to the finals, to the top 20. I also don’t know what song we did that year, to be honest. Oops. I think we won Best Choir.

1st Year Talent Show
Also when I was in 1st Year, the LCAs ran a Talent Show. I sang an Amy Winehouse song, my Irish teacher at the time, who was judging, said I was crazy in a good way, and I placed joint second. Joint with Emer Furlong. Niamh was first. Embarrassing. I did get a mug or something though, so that was nice.
Schoolstars #2

I also did Schoolstars in 2nd Year. I like to think I was better then, but I was probably still fairly bad. Again, I got to the quarterfinals and no further (honestly had the most awful chest infection that night, it was horrific), but the choir (singing Africa by Toto) came second overall. That year was pretty awesome, because Louis Walsh came to judge the finals, and he gave our choir some really nice comments. Also, at the end I got him to sign my arm. And Stuart, an organiser of the competition, was very fond of me.

The choir really reached its peak that year (unless you count Croke Park), which I’ll document in another post.

Schoolstars #3

This was a low point, I’ll admit. I auditioned in school with my sister and we didn’t even get through to the TLT. It’s easy to blame Moya, I guess. But anyway, after that year the competition was shut down for secondary schools.

Barbican Choirs

I have no idea what the name of this competition is, but my choir used to do it every year. It was just a choral competition. We won a few times, I think.


This one was really awesome. Lots of details, but basically when I was in 2nd Year my choir performed in the National Concert Hall and was crowned best second-level musical ensemble in Ireland.

I’m sure there are more but those are all the ones that come to mind. Ciarán won 3 school talent shows in a row with his Diablo, I’ve been told, which is pretty cool. Singing is such a crowded space, maybe I should take up something new. Like sword-swallowing.


Thursday, 26 March 2015

Smatterings of Medium

So, Medium is a newish blogging platform, founded by Biz Stone and Evan Williams of Twitter.

Something I love about it is that you can comment/favourite on the relevant line or paragraph, rather than having to put it down the bottom out of context. Articles are clean and white, with beautiful text and huge, gorgeous photos.

I find a selection of brilliant, engaging articles on my homepage all the time, sent my way by the Medium staff, or by articles I previously Recommended (recommending an article is, importantly, very easy to do; it’s just a matter of clicking a heart that’s always on the page. Convenience!)

Medium has different channels, which as far as I can tell are like little newspapers in and of themselves. The first one I liked was Backchannel, which I found from this article:

Now, although the writer of this article annoyed me because he was super entitled and thought he could speak for all teenagers, it was a good, meaty, visually pleasing article. And at the bottom of each article, Medium has a few similar articles you can click on.

I swear, it’s an almost TV Tropes-like level of addiction. I currently have 15 Medium tabs open. And the recommendations are just so good.

I found a list on my profile of the articles I’ve recommended. This one was amazing, probably my favourite ever so far (and longish; another handy Medium feature is that it gives you an estimate on the homepage of how long each article will take to read, and this one is marked 9 mins):

This article has some absolutely fascinating graphs, thoughtful and thorough commentary, and an awesome lack of technical jargon. If you’re at all interested in Moore’s Law, I really recommend it.

Then there are pithy, shorter ones like this, which talks about a pair of tracksuit bottoms the author wore over Christmas in a Q & A style.

I have considered writing for Medium myself, but I’m a little scared to touch that perfect white page (and I guess I want everything on my own blog). But who knows, I may well give it a go.  

I’m writing this in school at lunch, but when I have time and/or reliable internet, I’ll probably do this post up a bit and post it on Medium. Let’s see how that goes.
But yeah, awesome site.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Fiverr, Two Months In

The last time I blogged about Fiverr, I only had three orders. Now that I have, like, 16 and have made around €120, I think it's time to revisit it. 


A taste of my orders:

- An Israeli man asked me to write a description of his company's products, and let me name my price. $50 for editing a 2000-word article.
- A repeat customer with what I assume is a blog about self-publishing wanted some posts. $20 for 2 short posts and link checking.
- A long article about housing and storage in NYC. That one caused me a lot of trouble, and I dropped the amount I'd do per $5 afterwards. $30.

Remember, though, that the site takes a 20% commission so I only get $40 from a $50 order.

Approximately half my buyers left reviews, which are satisfying.

Top-notch excellent job. I gave her a super hard task and she totally rocked it. I will definitely hire her again!

Highly recommend this gig. Seller is very cooperative, thinks along with you and writes well.  
What I love most is that I'm being taken seriously, and no one can be condescending about me being a teenager. Meritocracy woot! 

(Also, I just converted from dollars to euro and I have €120.17. That is awesomely close.)

Some stats:

My buyer satisfaction rating is 98%. That's from 6 100% ratings and one 90% rating (NYC). 

I have two repeat buyers.

My average selling price is $10, meaning people usually buy two gigs, or one gig and a gig extra.

I'm pretty amazed by how all these buyers find me with, what, 3 million gigs on the site? I haven't had as many orders in the last few days, which is weird. There's probably a pattern somewhere.

Overall, I'm enjoying Fiverr. It's relaxing because the buyers effectively think of the ideas for me, and the writing part is grand. Also, it's handy for school because I'm practising writing. Yaaay.  

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Greenhills Musathon 2015

On Friday (again), my school had the Musathon, where we play live music continuously for twelve hours to raise money for something. Not entirely sure what, to be honest. We were fundraising for stage curtains when I first came into the school, and this year we finally got them. So I kid you not, the choir literally had a song in the Musathon celebrating the curtains.

We had a whole choreographed thing during the official opening of the curtains, where we “glided” aside while repeating:

Throw those curtains wide
One day like this, a year would see me right.

Anyway. So the Musathon started around quarter to ten in the morning. The 5th Year Music class were organising the whole event along with Ms. Diskin, Mr. Reilly and the new teacher whose name I’ve tragically forgotten (she’s also my form teacher, oh dear), so they’ve been stressing quite a bit recently. By Friday, though, all the line-ups were ready (I assume) so they were just trying to co-ordinate everyone and deal with disasters.

Because of the nature of the Musathon, the music cannot stop during the twelve hours so there can’t be any silences. Clapping apparently counts as music, so the next act must start while the audience is still clapping for the old one. Also, if the new act takes ages to set up, we either keep clapping even after it’s awkward or someone (probably Ms. Diskin) plays a popular, short song.

Each music class has a slot during the day, and other groups are rotated through to act as audiences. Mine (5th year) was there during third class (first part of my Chemistry double), watching the 6th Year Music class. We got pretty lucky with that, since they’d seem most skilled. Must say, I did want to see the 5th Year class. Fortunately, during History the teacher let us out after a bit to watch the 5th Years, so we went in during Leah’s performance, which was great because Leah is an amazing singer. She was in my Music class in 2nd and 3rd year and her rendition of In the Arms of an Angel is just yuss.

The trad group played in the main hall during Break, and I’m sure someone did things during Lunch, though I didn’t watch because I was at Chess.

After school, I walked down town with Lauren and Ann-Clair, who’s from France. Ann-Clair taught us lots of French on the way, because we had a conversation for a good while solely in French. I know she’s a native francophone, but I’m still so impressed by the fluidity with which she speaks French. She’s going home in April, which is sad. We went to Waterstones, walked Ann-Clair part of the way home, then Lauren and I had sausage rolls in BBs. I learned the valuable lesson that prices for sausage rolls are the same in both BBs in town, and thinking differently meant pointless walking. Dad gave Lauren a lift back home, then I went to Nana’s and got ready for the Musathon. I wore a black sparkly dress and tights, though I forgot to bring the scarf that completes choir uniform.

I walked up and left my phone and school jacket on a bench at the back of the hall, then joined the choir on the steps up to the stage. Between school ending and our arrival, there’d been a load of local musicians playing, and the evening show/8-10 show/official opening of the curtains was for choir, orchestra, trad and past Greenhills girls.

If I recall correctly, orchestra opened with a mashup of Pure Imagination and One Day Like This, and the choir walked on at the pizzicato bit to do our choreography and sing the lyrics above. Then the orchestra played Star Wars while a video played telling the story of the curtains imitating Star Wars Ep. IV (I have no idea what I’m talking about).

Then the choir sang Happy and lots of past students sang. There was an opera singer, a rock band (Rua, following in Featuring X’s footsteps) and the choir teacher’s sister, who certainly has a unique style. There was also Harmony Five, who have four members for some reason, and they were awesome as always. There was also a #totesemosh moment where they sang A Thousand Yours and the choir and all past students sang along to the choruses. Unity, yo. The 5th Year Music class did a Sam Smith song (so much Sam Smith that night), and Uptown Funk. A lot of them, especially Grace and Leah, really got into it and had fun up there, so that was lots of fun to watch. The trad group did a set and then the choir closed with an audience singalong to The Piano Man and the Rattling Bog. Just try to keep your voice after that.

 Fabulous night, of course. 

The Musathon was a great success. If I remember correctly, the music continued for 12 hours, 26 minutes and 48 seconds. Woot!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Total Solar Eclipse

Another busy day! This was actually Friday 20th, but like happened with the Saturday post, I was very very tired afterwards and fell asleep at my laptop. I think it'd be disingenuous to make this into a Photo Friday post and Schedule it so I've missed it. 

So, on Friday there was a Total Solar Eclipse, where the moon travelled between us and the sun so that we had a crescent sun like you see above.

My school is great and got really into it, helmed by the Physics teacher who's big into astronomy. We had shifts of students rotating in to see it during first two classes, though I came to help set up so I was there the whole time. We had tables with retort stands, pinhole binoculars made by sticking binoculars to card with a hole in it, mirrors, lenses and white card as screens and buckets of water to reflect the sun. 

Everyone was ready.

Then we got a great surprise when we realised that the eclipse was easily visible in the school windows. We still had to be careful though, because it was still pretty bright from there. 

I think the eclipse was set to peak around half nine, but yeah I waited and watched, and it was very cool watching the crescent sun. Sometimes it went behind a thin layer of clouds which was great, because then we could look at it pretty clearly without hurting our eyes (okay, I got a headache afterwards but still). 

The peak of the eclipse was a little disappointing as it didn't really go dark (I watched a video where Brian Cox is there recording from the Faroe Islands, where it went completely dark), but it seemed to get colder and the sun was almost completely blocked.

A while after that, we went back in to Maths, which I wasn't going to miss. I had a headache but was very glad I went out to watch because the atmosphere was brilliant - everyone was so excited, and the principal and physics teacher were there narrating. It was a pretty awesome community science moment. 

Tomorrow, you get a post about the Musathon.

Also, during Irish, the teacher told us we already know the word for eclipse because it's used in grammar - urú. 

The more you know.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Super Busy Fun Times in Dublin

I had an adventure yesterday!

I also entirely neglected this blog for a week and that's awful, I've had no internet at home so it's been really hard and then when I had internet the past two days I was super tired. 

And now I shall proceed to tell you why I've been so tired.

Adventure time!

So, yesterday I planned to meet Jerry, then go to the reunion, then go back to Seán's with Ciarán to introduce Ciarán to Bo (well, to "what.", his special).

I planned to meet Jerry at 11 in Stephen's Green, so I got the half ten train and realised two unfortunate things while on the train.

1. The train stops two stations before where I needed to go on Saturdays (and last time this happened I got lost for forty minutes).
2. To meet him at 11, I should've taken the half nine train. I was going to be so very late. 

So I rang Jerry, told him those two things, and he was totally amazing and told me he'd walk over and collect me from Connolly (last stop) so I wouldn't get lost, even though it was ages for him to walk. I said he didn't have to but he did.

As I walked along the platform to leave the station I saw Joe, who was a Nevermore during my first year of CTYI and was/is really fantastic. He picked me up and spun me around, his trademark, and we talked for a minute before moving on. It put me in a really good mood, I was literally beaming leaving the station.

So then I sat on a bench outside Connolly when I got off the train. I read my book (If I Stay) while I waited, and a while in sensed someone sitting behind me. I thought they were just a stranger so I ignored them. Then a few minutes later I looked around again and it was Jerry, Jesus Christ. I was certainly surprised, but I hugged him and we walked on. He refused to tell me how long he'd been there.

I wanted Fanta so we went looking in lots of shops for cheap stuff. I think we got it (2 Litre bottle) in Tesco or Lidl in the end. So then we went to Chapters and looked around at the books for a while, then eventually (very late) walked up to Stephen's Green for the reunion. 

It wasn't an official one, so there were only a couple of people there including Fez and Owen. And of course, Ciarán had gotten out of grinds. Apparently he'd texted looking for me but my phone has a huge delay in letting me receive texts, it's very annoying.

Hugged Ciarán, probably others, then we all chatted for a bit and went to get Burger King. Jerry paid for my chips and I refunded him a few minutes later ... and then when I was leaving he snuck the money back into my pocket. We chatted a lot at the table. Also, Andrew dug his nails into me so then Jerry made him buy me another bag of chips. Dáire came, who's doing BIMM at the moment, and played around on my ukulele while we talked music for a bit. It's mildly disconcerting how he says I IV V VI or whatever instead of the names of chords, but I recognise that means it works in any key. 

Ciarán and I hugged everyone and left coming up to 3 p.m. Jerry gives great hugs, to be honest. 

I rang Seán to say we were on our way ... and then we saw the water charge protestors. There was some stupid protest on today about the water charges which are already law you idiots Jesus Christ. Honestly, I'm just so irritated by how stupid these people are. They're just crazy, frustrated people latching onto a cause so they feel like they have a purpose in life.


So screw you.

Screw you for totally stopping all buses along half the streets in the City Centre so we had to panic, walk for ages and then wait more time for another bus.

You're all idiots and you need to get a life. Also, your posters are shit.

I don't particularly like swearing on my blog, but these people deserve it. Jeez. 

But yeah, we finally got on a bus, got off and went to the McDonalds near Ciarán's estate (city people) and bought two Shamrock Shakes and an Apple Pie. I had the Apple Pie, then Ciarán called Seán and asked him to meet us at Centra where he gave him a Shamrock Shake. Kevin was there with Seán, and I successfully pawned off my heavy bag on Kevin, drink on Ciarán and I carried the ukulele. I feel kinda bad about that now, because Kevin isn't good at refusing like the other two are. 

Then we went up to Seán's room and all watched "what." Seán and I literally just mouthed the whole thing along with Bo, and super got into all the songs. I think by the end we'd made Kevin and Ciarán into two new converts. Hopefully. It was pretty damn cool. 

Ciarán had to be home by 6 so we walked back, hugging ensued, I went in and had some Chinese. We chilled in Ciarán's room for a bit and then his dad drove me to Pearse. Ciarán and I said goodbye, I assured him I'd survive the train journey, then I crossed through the barrier, saw no trace of a train timetabled and just got one to Malahide because it was on my route.

I am an idiot. 

I got off at Malahide and looked at the timetable, though it was okay because there was a connecting train to Drogheda at 21.10. (it was about quarter to nine at the time). But NOPE, that was only Monday to Friday. Goddamn Saturdays and trains. The next train was at 22.25. The controller was just going through this with me and I asked could I like go back or forward to a different station and catch a connecting train there, and he said nope, I'd just be getting the same train that would reach there at 22.25. 

I felt pretty stupid then.

But yeah, I went and sat in the waiting room and rang Seán first (probably my most sensible friend), who calmed me down. Then I called Dad and he didn't answer, so I called Ciarán who wanted to say I told you so. That was the opposite of calming. Jerry told me to call him and he checked I had everything I needed (food, water, jumper, etc.). 

The controller was lovely. He gave me the key to the drivers' bathroom (there were no public bathrooms). The bathroom was really gross (smell outside) but hey, it's the thought that counts. There were also people shouting outside which was inconvenient and made me hesitant to leave the bathroom. The controller also gave me two chocolate bars. Yep, super nice. 

I guess there are upsides to looking like a child. 

Anyway, Dad collected me after I'd been there for an hour which was very nice of him. I told him I'd be fine walking and I didn't want him wasting petrol, but he said he wanted me safe so that's k.

Then we got home, and that was the end of the Saturday adventures for another week. 

Also, I regret not taking any photos. Tres triste. 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Review: Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 2013
Pages: 387
Genre: Contemporary
Source: Library
Rating: 4/5
Harriet Manners knows a lot of facts.
·         Humans have 70,000 thoughts per day.
·         Caterpillars have four thousand muscles.
·         The average person eats a ton of food in a year.
·         Being a Geek + Model = a whole new set of graffiti on your belongings. But clearly she knows nothing about boys. And on a whirlwind modelling trip to Tokyo, Harriet would trade in everything she’s ever learnt for just the faintest idea of what to do next.

I read Geek Girl, the first in this series, a few months ago, and checked this one out of the library recently (it’s probably overdue now. Sorry, library). You can read my review of that here.
As you can probably tell from my very slow updating of this blog, I haven’t been reading much lately. Well, I’ve been reading, but I haven’t been finishing books – I have about four currently on the go. But just over a week ago, my internet went, and I won’t have it back for another week, so … I have a lot more time. I’m also super frustrated and unproductive without internet, and forced to cart my laptop to school, but still.

Back on topic.

I’m not going to bother with a spoiler warning for the first book because there’s not much to spoil. However, there are some delicious twists towards the end of this one (the second book in the series), so I’m not going to spoil those. It should be safe to read on.

Right, so the annoyances I had with the last book mostly remain. The stupid geek facts, for example – someone who knows a lot of trivia isn’t the only kind of geek, though I prefer to say nerd.  The very simple formulae that plaster the book cover just to give the impression of being smart.
They’re inside the book too. In an early chapter, she’s at a photoshoot when suddenly, shock horror, the photographer discovers that she’s stuck physics formulae all over her arm/shoe sole/ inside of jacket so she can study while modelling.

The formulae are:

“F = M x A”
“V = I x R”
“Ek = ½ x M x V2”
“W = M x G

Now, not only are these all ridiculously simple formulae, they’re written in such a horrifically inefficient way. Also, I’m just going to give you the notation because I can. V = I x R I haven’t covered this year, but I *think* I know it.

F = ma means force is mass by acceleration. V = IR means voltage is current by resistance. Ek = ½ mv2 means kinetic energy is half of mass by velocity squared (V2? Ugh). W = mg is mass by acceleration due to gravity, and I like this one because it fits exactly into F = ma (weight is force of gravity on an object, g is a type of acceleration).

 Other things that annoy me:
The astonishingly unlikely plot.

The fact that Harriet’s priorities are absolutely all over the place, and she seems to possess no maturity or common sense whatsoever. Like, a certain level of ditziness is cute, but this is just ridiculous. And she goes around saying she’s such a geek when the back of the book says her main problem is not knowing how to interact with boys. I mean, seriously? The blurb then goes on to say that she’d trade all her knowledge – which, may I remind you, is essentially her entire sense of self – to know how to handle boys and social life while in Tokyo.

Please get some nerd integrity.

The stalker – stalking is still condoned by the author. Toby is sweet, but he is still a stalker.

She obsesses over a boy for the entire book. I don’t understand people who do this, fictional or real.

They’re just one person! Don’t base your entire life around them!

So why the four stars then? Well, first you have to bear in mind that my rating systems are based on gut feeling, and despite the peeves I did really enjoy this book.

The humour can be Big-Bang-Theory-forced, but it’s still funny. Like, just after the irritating Physics formulae, there’s this:

”Harriet Manners, are you studying maths in the middle of my fashion shoot?”
I shake my head and look at the air above the photographer’s left ear. You know the crocodile and the bird? I think one of us is about to get eaten.
“No,” I answer in my littlest voice. Because a) It’s physics, and b) I’ve been doing it all the way through.” ‘

I think that quote captures Harriet’s character voice well. Also, why is she called Harriet?

The things I loved from the first book also stayed the same. I love Annabel, and Harriet’s silly Dad (there’s a quote I can’t find where her dad says something like “I’m afraid all the female Pants are Smarty in this house”, and he texts Harriet while she’s in Japan asking can he eat her chocolate. They’re very close and it’s sweet.

The modelling world described (e.g. the crazy designer Yuka Ito) is so much fun to read about, so it’s a rare contemporary that still has a surprising and intriguing setting. The author skilfully sets up lots of scenarios, building towards climaxes at different points in a textbook sort of way (you know, “Complication 1” “Complication 2” “Black Moment”). I know a story needs conflict, but I felt that thing again where I just want a character to gallivant in this cool new setting without running into problems when of course they inevitably can’t.

Holly Smale is really good at creating distinct characters, although I fear some may just be stereotypes (Wilbur is stereotypically gay and Rin is stereotypically Japanese/Asian/kawaii). Then again, the author lived in Japan for two years and I don’t actually know any Japanese girls (I don’t think?) so maybe. They’re very entertaining on the page, anyway.

My favourite part of this book, and the part that definitely pushed it up to four stars, was all the twists. Obviously I can’t go into detail without spoiling, but I definitely got some surprises.
I didn’t particularly like the resolution. Harriet makes a mature decision, much like the one Cath makes (off-screen) in Fangirl, and though I know it’s necessary for her character arc, it promises an end to a lot of what I found entertaining. Then again, there’s a whole third book to read, so there should be lots more in store.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Photo Friday #10: TY Lunchtime with the Tab

This week’s photo is one of the first photos I ever took on my Samsung Galaxy Tablet. I won the tablet at a lecture given by one of the guys who won the Nobel Prize for Physics (he did real-world experiments with quantum mechanics). Cahal got me a ticket. Matheson was sponsoring the event, and said whoever asked the best question at the end would win two tablets; one for themselves and one for their school.

So yeah, I apparently asked the best question and got a brand new tablet to take home (though I don’t think my school ever did – maybe it went to CTYI, as that was how I got there?). I’m very lucky that way, though it did take courage to stand up and ask the question. It wasn’t a smart question, just something like “How does quantum cryptography work?”, but everyone else asked really convoluted questions trying to sound smart and I’d taken really good (through scribbled and almost illegible) notes and noticed that quantum cryptography was the only thing he mentioned but didn’t explain. Also, I was the first person to ask a question. Question-asking technique, guys: it matters.

I brought the tablet back to school with me (I was dropped back from the lecture by Cahal’s mam during school, and went to Drama) and at lunch the next day took a lot of photos. This one is of me and Kate (I’ve done a whole Photo Friday about her 15th birthday), and you can see Elayna and Clodagh in the background.

I remember being amazed by the excellent quality of photos on the tablet, and by how good the sound was. It was technology I never would’ve had had I not won it, because I couldn’t afford something like that. Very fancy indeed. You can see I’m in my school uniform but wearing a weird jacket because I’d forgotten/lost my proper one, which happened to me way too much. I actually haven’t lost my jacket at all since I started 5th Year, amazingly. Be proud.

There are loads of photos from that day, including a cupcake set I’m going to make into a separate Photo Friday.

Here are some adorable lunchtime ones.


Wednesday, 11 March 2015


This is just going to be a housekeeping post, with lots of different topics. Hope you can keep up with the rollercoaster.

Today (Tuesday) has been spectacularly productive in terms of homework, at least for me. I got home around half four and did my English (started in the car, a piece on Plath’s Black Rook in Rainy Weather), Physics graph and got slope, then wrote out tons of Physics formulae and attempted to learn them. Then I did all the Core Revision Questions for Maths (that I hadn’t already done) and some in Section C (Extended Response). You don’t understand how good that is. Still want internet back, though. I just worked on my poster for AJ, but I don’t know how else I can improve it so I closed it. No point in just tinkering with it when MOR has agreed to meet me tomorrow to look over it before I finally send it to AJ. I’m actually not entirely sure whether or not I did a February recap, but then nothing much happened in February so it’s k.

Let’s talk about the blog, because it’s been having some relatively exciting times recently. So, views shot up during Bootcamp, probably because people found about it (I wasn’t actively promoting it, I’m not that bad) and the news worked its way up the chain (Mari herself mentioned it on the last day). Day before yesterday, I had a record high of 335 views in a day (my previous high had been around 274). In the days before that, it had consistently been above 200.

Just briefly, I’m going to do a recap of last week, because it was a rare week where I did not have one single normal day (I’m defining “normal day” as either go to school where nothing particularly eventful happens – like today – or if it’s the weekend, sitting at home doing nothing. Days that wouldn’t merit a blog post, really).

Sunday 1/3/15

Arrive at train station approaching nine, get taxied to Stillorgan Park Hotel. Meet Annie, Johnny, Basha, Jack and later my roommate Rachael.

Monday 2/3/15

First day of Bootcamp proper. Annie rings to wake me up. Put into Team A, with the Homeless Wrap. Team are Emily, Kate, Mark and Seán. First pitch. Talk from Daniel and James, Bootcamp alumni, and Mary Lou from Intellectual Ventures. Visit Eddie Rockets. Talk to Rachael/Ciarán in hotel room. Think I only have 20 mins internet per day. Sleep well.

Tuesday 3/3/15

Annie tells me how to get 24 hour internet. Another day at Bootcamp in UCD Nova. Awesome talk from Rhona of Restored Hearing. Project work. Feel isolated that evening. Go to awful Indian restaurant where we stay for three hours, spending only 10 minutes eating. End up having to walk back to the hotel. Buy huge 2L bottle of water that costs way too much and that I don’t end up using. Gaff party in 153.

Wednesday 4/3/15

Am adventurous and bring breakfast croissant with me to Nova. Talk from ex-Microsoft employee, now entrepreneur, writer and leadership guru. After lunch, meeting with UCD experts (engineers and business MBAs) to talk through our projects. This part is not in Nova. A woman from the IDA (Irish Development Agency?) gives us a talk on why and how companies invest in Ireland. Set dinner in the hotel. Nerves. Gaff party for a while, then practising, then gaff party. Rachael and I stay up til about 1. Some people stay up til 5.

Thursday 5/3/15

Pitch day. Newstalk presenter Jonathan McRae talks to us about effective science communication in the morning. We practise our pitches. Our luggage has been taxied from the hotel to Nova. My group is the last to pitch. Finally, we pitch to the co-founder of YS plus assorted executives including Shay (sp?). We get certificates over lunch. An Tionchar win Best Group, and Kate wins Best Individual. Everyone leaves; Louis, Renuka and I are last, waiting for a taxi that’s late. I get the 6 o’ clock train and get Jerry to text mam saying how I’ll be getting home because my phone’s dead. I walk from the train station to school and attend the Careers Evening. It broadens my horizons a little.

Friday 6/3/15

I expected things to calm down around now. They don’t. I go to school and have a good day, I’m not half as far behind as I thought I would be, and get on really well in Maths (where I’m slow but still capable) and Chemistry (where all I missed was my favourite kind of class, where we figure things out for ourselves, but I can catch up fairly easily).

After school, I get the six o’ clock train to Connolly where Seán, Ciarán and Kevin pick me up. We walk to the bus while singing and have a conversation with this guy with an Avenged Sevenfold t-shirt who just will not stop making sexist jokes and innuendoes. Very annoying. Play games with SCK, then Seán and Kevin leave and I sleep over at Ciarán’s.

Saturday 7/3/15

As I said in Saturday’s dedicated blog post, probably the best day of the year so far. Met up with Jerry while Ciarán was in grinds, had CTYI reunion, played ukulele, saw long-lost friends, Ciarán brought me to Nandos, Kevin came from Cork to see me, slept over at Ciarán’s again.

Bam! Pretty fab week, are we agreed?

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

10 Things I Learned at the BT Business Bootcamp 2015

1.   Acronyms

It’s probably not a surprise to anyone that those in the corporate world use a lot of acronyms, but they drop them into conversation with alarming regularity. Like, when this guy who’d just retired early from Microsoft (he was awesome) came to talk to us, he said he was CIO – Chief Information Officer – for Microsoft in EMEA. We learned EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) either from him or another guest speaker, but it was super confusing at first. His job was impressive, though. There were lots of other linguistic tricks, like the four P’s and the stages of team development (the cringily named forming-storming-norming-performing-transforming/adjourning). My team in particular learned CSR (Corporate-Social Responsibility), which one particular guy in our team just kept calling Corporate-Social Relations, with variations on the theme.

2.   Geographical Trickery

    There were only two people from Dublin with absolutely no one from Synge Street or Kinsale (who wiped the boards, as usual). I suspect some geographical trickery in choosing participants, because it was just too evenly spread to be coincidence. Rachael and I both won big prizes (hers significantly bigger than mine), but so did Conor Begley, another Louth project, and his wasn’t there. It was weird. The room mates were (I think) done by county.

3.   Culchies

As it turned out, there were a ton of culchies at Bootcamp. Probably due to the geographical trickery mentioned above. There was a huge range of accents, with some of them definitely hard to understand. Everyone found Limerick Emily’s very amusing, especially when she said “black hat”. All the culchies would just be there talking about their land. Strange experience, even for someone whose street doesn’t have a name.

4.   Nerd Parties?

That question mark up there is because I’m still trying to make up my mind. In Bootcamp, our #gaffparties consisted mainly of drinking and making tea (not in that order), Irish dancing, Conor lilting and of course the dramatic reading of 50 Shades, because no party is complete without people making fun of that book. So you could say that’s just how tame nerds are, but I really think it was the culchie influence because in my other big nerd gathering (CTYI) isn’t like that at all. So all I’m going to say to round out this entry is not to take The Big Bang Theory as your source for nerd culture and social interaction.

5.   Pitching & Communication Skills

Here I hear John/Caroline/Mari breathe a sigh of relief, because I’m actually talking about stuff we were sent there to learn. I did undeniably learn a whole lot about pitching and communicating effectively. On our very first real day, we had to have someone in our group pitching within about an hour of our arrival at UCD Nova. For us, that someone was Kate, and she blew it out of the water, surprising everyone. Not so surprising that she won Best Individual. But we all had to do it, and I think/hope I had to pitch in that room at least twice, plus all the other times that were more/less scripted (on one extreme we were given 30 seconds to come up with an infomercial, on another there was the official pitch where we had days to write and memorize it).

We also had a dedicated talk on the Thursday from Newstalk presenter Jonathan McRae, who taught us about effective science communication. The Microsoft guy spoke really well so we learned indirectly from that, as did Rhona. Daniel and James were also really cool.

6.   Stories of Those Who Came Before Us

So, one of my favourite parts of the Bootcamp was the talks (I’m concerned by the grammar in that sentence). I’ve mentioned my favourite speakers above, but it was also cool to see someone from Intellectual Ventures, because we could talk afterwards (she confirmed what MOR had said, that I needed an ESTA rather than a VISA. Phew).

I think I need to go on a bit more about Rhona from Restored Hearing, because she was just so awesome. She basically took us from the inception of her and her partner’s Young Scientist project to the current day, with production runs about to start in factories in China. In the intermediate years, they got help from their county board, her partner managed to get a clinical trial done for free as part of her Masters, an angel investor gave them €30,000 (!) and they made a new product to go along with their tinnitus cure (a prevention method). It was actually really inspiring to hear the passion in her voice about helping people with tinnitus, and also she just looked really cool standing there beside the podium with her coffee. That was a common factor with a few of the speakers, actually.

Rhona told us that it was absolutely necessary to have a co-founder or you’ll go insane, but choose them carefully because you’re essentially marrying them. Same with angel investors. She also advised delegation, reminding us that being an innovator/inventor is in fact a role in itself.

7.   Propaganda

We got blasted with a ton of propaganda at Bootcamp, mainly for BT and UCD. I can’t say it was unexpected; at the Exhibition you’re drowned in a sea of BT advertising (like on every single page of the Exhibition Guide), so we were already used to it. We saw that video of Émer Hickey talking about BT twice during bootcamp and more times during the Exhibition. It’s a nice video, apart from the ridiculously high-pitched whistling and allll the blatant advertising. Still, BT do fund and organise the Exhibition so they can get away with a lot.

The UCD advertising worked too, to a point. We had a talk from Prof. Orla Feeley about UCD to kick off the Bootcamp, which was sometimes interesting but mainly standard. Orla is cool, although I don’t think we’re on a first-names basis. It was interesting to see that a UCD researcher wrote one of the top 10 most cited papers worldwide, and that UCD ranks highly for producing venture-backed entrepreneurs. Also, the big UCD science building is gorgeous. 

We also had other propaganda/ads thrown at us, like that video about Intellectual Ventures. Still, propaganda is entertaining, and I like to think that those there have the mental faculties to compartmentalize the entertainment and the truth. I bet I’m misusing the word compartmentalize, but who cares? Not me.

8.   Inventions/IP/Venture Capitalists

I don’t think I’ve ever been in a room where so many sixteen-year-olds were in the process of getting patents, nor will I probably be again. It’s not really a usual thing to do. Anyway, we had a talk specifically about patents from Mary-Lou of IV (Intellectual Ventures), plus other people mentioned it a lot (IP is another term we got familiar with, though I already was). Rhona mentioned angel investors and other venture capitalists. It was interesting, though seems intimidating.

9.   People are Obliging …

If all or any of the speakers were paid to be there with us, I haven’t heard anything of it. So they took time out to plan their speeches and to come and give them, to talk to a bunch of schoolkids when they’re all super successful. I do feel privileged, even though I know I worked to get there.

The experts, too – on the Wednesday, each group has an expert or two in fields relevant to their project come in to talk to them. Our experts were two engineers who were now doing business MBAs in UCD, Enda and Peter. They were involved in some other business for kids thing and were contacted about Bootcamp. So it turned out they’d been briefed on the project, and they actually had parts of the brief highlighted. It was adorable. I mean, I know all these people are only decent humans, but they still have obligations and yet they chose to come to us.

So thank you, everyone. You’re admirable.
10.                 …But BT is Also Powerful

Help, it appears the propaganda has got to me! Feel free to insert “organisers of the Business Bootcamp” “Board of the Young Scientist Exhibition” or “humanoid Zorbs from the planet Yog who pay for Elle’s stuff” everywhere I say BT in this entry if it helps rid the stench of corporatism.

So anyway. I think the YS has a prize fund of approximately 70K (though I could be way off), and I don’t know if that’s funding Bootcamp, but wherever the money is coming from, there’s definitely a lot of it. They paid for four-night hotel stays for 29 students plus BT staff, as well as all our food, taxis for us and for our luggage, and tons of other miscellaneous stuff too, like timetables and goodie bags.

They also have the connections to find and approach all these talented people to teach, mentor and speak to us, which is pretty damn impressive.

Bringing it all together? Sure. Inspiring ambition? Definitely.

And there you have it - a selection of the things I learned at bootcamp.