Monday, April 30, 2012

Cleared for takeoff on Cooper's Pond Drive...

...a leaf blower.

A couple of things caught my ear this week.

One was a random post on a forum where the poster stated he preferred to be awakened by birds chirping rather than delivery trucks, and that's why he chose to live in the suburbs.

Hard to argue that one.

The other was the recent fuss about commercial jet operation out of Briscoe Field.  People would prefer not to have jet planes fly overhead, if they can avoid it.

Hard to argue that one, too.

Then, I spent some time on my back porch this weekend.  For a good bit of the time, I would have been hard pressed to hear an airplane approaching Lawrenceville or a bird chirping on a tree in my yard!

Nearly 100% of the time, a gas powered lawn mower or leaf blower was buzzing away within easy earshot!

So, I wondered, which is worse, leaf blowers or jet planes.  Here's what I found.

Nearly all leaf blowers, electric and gas make more than 85 dB of noise at the operator's ears.  (You really need hearing protection when you are using them.  Lawn care company employees almost always have hearing protection)  Any prolonged exposure over 85 dB can damage your hearing.

At 50 feet from the blower, some gas powered blowers are still over 85 dB.  You might need use hearing protection when your neighbor uses his blower!  Electric ones are much quieter.  None were greater than 65 dB at 50 feet.  That's not silent - it's about the same as your home vacuum cleaner at three feet - it's just not dangerous.

Lawnmowers aren't much quieter than leaf blowers.

Jet airplanes taking off 8 miles from the airport, which is how far Cooper's Pond is, rarely top 80 dB on the ground and landing aircraft rarely to 60 dB.  The exposure only lasts a couple of minutes.  Not the hour it takes the multiple tool equipped lawn care company to do your neighbor's lawn on a Sunday afternoon.

So, if it's the peace and quiet of suburban living you want, don't sweat the airport, just trade in your gas lawn tools for electric and a good 100 ft extension cord.

Or, perhaps, a sheep!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

London and Ireland - Part II

Day 8. This was "pick up Anna at the airport" day!  Yay!  It was also "rent a car" day.  Hmmmm.  But first it was "walk around Dublin" day.

First stop Trinity College and the Book of Kells.  We walked down O'Connell Street - the main, wide boulevard through the city.

Post Office where the Easter Uprising took root.
fancy clock
James Joyce and a friend
Spire of Dublin - Monument of Light
Daniel O'Connell at the foot of his street
First Parliament building, now a bank
We had a tour of Trinity College that finished up at the Book of Kells, a 9th century illuminated Bible.  The Book of Kells exhibit covered the "who, what, when, why and at what cost" of illuminated Bibles.  No pictures you get to see the historic Trinity College campus below:

Trinity college was established to promote protestant religion in Ireland.  Ironically, it became one of the first places to promote religious tolerance in Ireland.

Then we wandered through the city headed for Guinness.

Dublin Castle - on site of original Viking settlement
Dublin Castle - now city offices
St. Patrick's
Interesting sandstone sign on building

All that walking made us thirsty.  We walked to the spot on the map where the Guinness Storehouse was.  It was there, all right, but where to enter?  We walked around the block.  It was a big block.  Nothing!  Now, we were really thirsty!  Finally, an employee pointed us to a spot a block away in the other direction.  Bingo!

They have a really nice exhibit about the history and how they make it.  But, enough about that.  If you REALLY want to know...lots of info here.

You wind your way up through the floors of exhibit.  At the top is the Gravity Bar where there are panoramic view of the city and....a free pint of Guinness.

Soon to be "not thirsty"

...a panoramic view!
We took the LUAS tram back to the hotel and a cab to the airport to pick up Anna

Outside of Heuston Station
Happy tram riders

We met Anna at the airport.  She was right on time getting there from Rome.  We were a bit late.  It was really great to see her in person! We rented a car and headed for Galway.  More about that here: Left is Right: Driving in Ireland

We stayed at St. Judes B&B, nice, clean and friendly, right in the town - one of the few we could find with a room of four - about a half mile from Eyre Square.  The only negative was the view out the window was of a fork lift.  ...we weren't there for the view...

We dropped our stuff and headed for dinner.  Anna was out tour guide.  She had been there before!  We Strolled through the town, down toward the river.

Smiling tour guide on right.

Nice flags
Allegedly the last thing Columbus saw on his was west

Finally winding up back at Eyre Square for dinner at "The Skeff"

Dinner place.  Good food.

Day 9.   We wandered around Galway a bit more.  The ladies bought Claddagh Rings

St. Nicholas's
(I should photoshop this picture into the one below)

Stopped here for some hot cross buns

 Time for more driving.  We headed for Connemara.  Stopped at Clifden for lunch and then drove in a loop through the county, stopping at Kylemore Abbey.

It is amazing how such a small place as Ireland can have such varied terrain.  The only constant is sheep.  They are everywhere - all the time. Connemara is hilly and boggy.  The roads were so terrible that I really didn't get a change to get many good pictures.

Typical countryside in Connemara

The view from Sky Road

 We drove out Sky Road to an overlook, and overlooked.  Just on the other side of the river from this place is a marker where the first non-stop transatlantic flight crash landed.  A couple of English guys, Alcock and Brown in an old twin engine, WW I English bomber.

The we drove on to Kylemore Abbey - a very lavish manor built into the side of a mountain.  Built by a English textile mill owner in the mid 1800s, he lived the high life until the money ran out around the turn of the century.  Later this became, and still is, an Abbey.
Kylemore Abbey

The Chapel


The view from the driveway
We weather continued to darken as the day went on, so we hit the road and headed for Limerick.

Day 10. We were going to hit the Cliffs of Moher the previous day, but iffy weather changed our minds.  It was a good decision.  This day started out cloudy, but held the promise of some sun.  We grabbed a Limerick city bus from the hotel and headed downtown to see the Saturday Milk Market.



and power tools.

Chocolate fountain...
and dresses

Lots of stuff to chose from.

Then back to the hotel to drive up to the Cliffs of Moher.  It was crowded, but still easy to get around.  Best of all, the sun even peeked out for a while.

Harp player found a great acoustic spot to play.  It was a nice to listen to while viewing the cliffs. 

Leaving the cliffs, we drove a loop around through the Burren, a rocky area between Limerick and Galway.

Gorse.  This stuff is everywhere in Ireland.

Typical Burren farm

Standard Irish guardrail

...and stopped to see if we could see some hopping lambs.

Lots of lambs.  No hopping, though.

Day 11. Dingle day!

There are three peninsulas in southwestern Ireland worth seeing.  We had time for one.  We picked Dingle.  Funniest name.  Closest to Limerick.  Anna hadn't been.  We mapped a route along the northern shore...

View from the beach up to the mountains.  White dots are sheep (of course)

It was cool and windy
...then up and over Conor pass.

At the top of the pass looking toward Dingle harbor

Road was just one, single lane over the pass with very occasional spots that were a lane and a half wide!
At least tour buses were prohibited on this road...

From Dingle we took a loop road, Slea Head Drive, to the end of the peninsula.  Beaches, rocky cliffs, ancient ruins, winding roads, and, of course, sheep!

Ruins dating back to the Viking era (circa 900AD)

Can't afford a bridge?  No problem, a ford works.  That's not a puddle, it's a stream!

A two-way road.  Really!

Typical scene on Dingle Peninsula

Sheep! ...and rock walls.

Fungi.  Well a bronze version of him.
Who is Fungi?  Read here.  We didn't see him. Just this bronze statue.

Dingle. Pub at left was dinner stop

Not everyone in Ireland raises sheep.
The weather wasn't great all day, but the fog and mist turned to steady rain, so we headed straight back to Limerick.

Day 12. A rainy day.  Not a good day for travelling, so we stayed local and went to Bunratty castle, a nicely restored medieval castle with period furnishings.

Looks like a castle to me...

Table in room likely was salvage from Spanish Armada wreck.

Castle also had a folk park with depicting typical Irish life over the years.

Hearth with peat fire burning

..and, of course, sheep.

Lunch stop

Irish pub with Irish pub food.

Day 13.  Aptly numbered.

Time to go home.  A long day.  Up at 4 AM to drive to Shannon airport, about 45 minutes from the hotel.  Catch a 7:30 AM Aer Lingus flight back to Heathrow.

Aer Lingus "heritage" paint scheme
The Aer Lingus flight was very nice.  The only downside was the whole time in the air was devoted to selling things.  Snacks, coffee, trinkets, you name it.   While perusing their "stuff for sale" magazine in the seatback pocket, I discovered that they had Airbus paint one of their new A330s in a "retro" paint scheme.  Sure enough, we were on that plane.  Cool.  I managed a picture as we were getting off.

Heathrow is huge.  They have five terminals, so they do an interesting thing when you arrive.  They have all the "local" passengers exit the front using the jetway.  Then they have the international connecting folks exit to the ramp via the rear door.  You get on a bus that takes you to a shuttle train to terminal 5.  Maybe we don't need security screening again?  Nope.  The British show they are TSA worthy for security follies, although you do get to keep you shoes on.

They got me good.  It seems I can't manage security without doing one thing wrong each time.  This time, I forgot I had my pedometer and reading glasses in my pants pocket.  "BEEEP!"  So, the wand me and find it and run those though X-ray.  Then they continue with the wand and find my belt buckle.  So, they frisk me, all around my waistband....and find my passport.  So that goes through X-ray, too.  They wand me again and find my belt buckle, again.  All the while, Patti is standing there about 20 feet away on the 'clean' side laughing her head off.  They frisk me again, then wand me again, beeping on the belt buckle again. Patti laughs some more.  By now, I am laughing that she is laughing.  So, I think the last frisk was for laughing, and they finally let me go.

The six hour layover in Heathrow wasn't too bad.  Terminal 5 is nice and new.  They have places to eat and they have lots of very expensive shops to graze through.  (Who goes shopping at the airport?).  Finally, we boarded our plane and 9 hours later, voila, Atlanta!  One more shuffle through TSA security in Atlanta so you can ride the from terminal E to baggage claim.  Really!  I suppose it's so the TSA can X-ray our shoes.  They seem to like doing that. Patti's folks met us and got us home.  We ended our last day exactly 24 hours from when it started, at 11PM.

Reality was waiting for us the next day.