Ridley: This is basically a post about all the stupid things I do in my car, of which there are many, so I thought I’d generously share a few and have you wondering once again about my sanity. I have to say I love driving, which is hilarious considering it took me three goes to pass my test. Personally I think it made me a much better driver, to this day I know what all my traffic signs mean and I can do a mean three point turn!
The thing about being in your own car though, is it’s like a protective bubble, I tend to forget that other people can see in. I’ve heard it said that psychologically people think of their cars as an extension of their houses, so they do things in them that they’d do at home, they don’t consider them a public place. Now I’m not as bad as some, I still haven’t resorted to putting my make-up on in traffic, but I have brushed my hair, put lip balm on and sipped my coffee from my favourite mug while waiting for the lights to change.
Once, to my utter shame, I also had a bowl of cornflakes. I’ve never repeated that experience, not when as I was spooning it into my mouth as quickly as I could before the lights changed, I looked over mid-chew into the people carrier beside me to find a whole family of four watching me with wide eyes.
The other thing I do, for which I get caught regularly, is people watch. I stare out, fascinated by what pedestrians are doing or wearing, of course it always takes me a moment to realise when they start looking back in at me, and frowning. I startled and look away, pretending to dust my steering wheel. Each and every time, I’m always surprised they can see into my protective bubble car-home.
The main thing I love doing while driving, however, is listening to my music. The problem is sometimes my music can be a bit embarrassing, and more than often quite loud. It’s fine if I’m zooming down the motorway and no one can hear me warbling along with my songs. It’s a completely different story when I pull up at traffic lights and suddenly everyone can hear me singing, ‘Pokemon-mon, the jouuurrrrneys just begun!’ or “A spaceman came travelling on ship from afar…” in the middle of June.
If I’m not listening to music, I tend to think a lot while driving, it can be a quiet, contemplative time, particularly on the longish stretch home on the motorway.
Unfortunately, I usually start remembering all the really embarrassing things I’ve said and done over the years. You know, those horrible, bur-like moments that still haunt you. This used to happen a lot when I studied for exams as well, I’d look away from the text book, off into the distance and after a few minutes I’d end up knocking my head against my desk or cringing and squeezing my eye shut as I shouted, ‘why, whyyyy!’ However, while I still have these sorts of reactions, they’re really not a good idea while you’re driving, especially the closing eyes part, thankfully it’s only happened once or twice, after which I’ve severely berated myself.
I’m sure there are numerous other quirks and strange things I do in the car that I’m not even aware of. Maybe it’s only me, but does no one else do these crazy things…? Just me then…? Ah well…. 😀
Ridley: I was at a full day of TEDx talks on Saturday. I don’t know if anyone else ever watches the TED videos online (they can be found, funnily enough, at ted.com) These video clips are recorded at TED talks carried out all around the world, they can be inspirational, funny, sad, pack to the gills with techy/sciencey/ fun information from world renowned experts. This year, (though not for the first time ever-supposedly we’ve had small TED talks before this that I never knew about) there was a talk held in the Grand Canal theatre. (‘Twas Latimer who sent me an email to let me know they were on, I booked it immediately-she knows me well!)
I was really looking forward to it; the geek in me continued to give little shivers of excitement all week. (It was sort of creepy)
But I anticipated that I’d learn loads.
Even just from the last few Ted video clips I’ve watched on their website, I came away knowing what a snollygoster was (some words sound more exciting than their meanings) that animals can show moral behaviour like humans (very interesting, confirms my beliefs that animals are very smart. And the end bit with the monkeys, the cucumber pieces and the grapes is hilarious.) and I’ve watched Steve Job’s Stanford University commencement speech quite a few times (really really inspiring).
Considering I get such enjoyment out of seeing these clips all online, I could only imagine how great it was going to be with TED presenters in real life.I wasn’t disappointed! Even when I spent much of the few days before it daydreaming about what it was going to be like. I pictured myself at the theatre wearing round glasses, in a pin striped skirt suit thing, conversing with the informed important people on stage about their findings. In my head, I imagined I had an intelligent ‘tell me more’ frown and my nods were slow. I also often paused in thought, before I jotted down comprehensive notes for later. I dreamed the speakers’ jaws would drop at my fantastic insight into their fields of study and I’d sit back and cross my arms with a smug expression and the words, ‘oh, I know’. I had an image of a stunned audience gaping at me as I got up to leave the room. I’d marched away from the building, slipping on a pair of expensive sunglasses, shaking out my (suddenly) long blonde hair, as two helicopters battled it out overhead, while I slid into the leather front seat of a black sleek sports car with a James Bond type man waiting for me at the wheel. He’d have very white teeth…
(Ahem….yes…well being fairly quiet in large groups of more than six people, I don’t think this scenario will ever play out quite like this. It’s a pity as, in my head, that helicopter gun fight was pretty epic….and his teeth really were quite sparkly.)
So what really happened (I hear you sigh in exasperation)? I went and I frowned alright, but it was more of a grimace of confusion. The only thing I used my pen for was to scratch my head and any ‘notes’ started with ‘Whaaaaat’ and ended with a lot of question marks. Haha. Nah, this only really happened during one talk filled with statistics on urban settlements, my blonde brain followed along surprisingly well with everyone else! However, there were no smart-looking glasses or flashy suits anywhere near me! Try jeans and a t-shirt, turns out this smart casual was the dress code of everyone else too! I lucked out there! I was also seats and seats away from the stage. The only way the speakers were ever going to know I was there was if I’d been forcibly removed by security for setting off a fire cracker, or from falling down a long row of steps and landing in a heap at their feet (this is more likely than you could ever realise! My feet hate me. ‘Hello right foot, I’m bored. Want to play?’ ‘Sure, leftie, I’ll come over!’ Ridley frowns down in slow motion, “Noooo…” *thump*).
Anyway…yes, I loved all the talks! They touched on topics like genetics, civic pride, comedy, art, the environment, architecture, public transport (I’d never have believed I could find learning about bus routes entertaining, but I did! And no, I’m not insane-yet!). There was even a band, The Amazing Few, who made us all get up and do a dolphin dance. I didn’t quite resemble a dolphin, more like a flopping dying fish. It basically involved a lot of awkward wriggling, jerking and bending while you tried to stay well clear of the strangers beside you in case they got the wrong idea!
I learned there’s an important link between bats and the advancement in genetics, health and agriculture. Despite this, the only bat I like is the one who sounds like he suffers from laryngitis; Batman! (The music always plays in head when I say his name. Daah na na na na na naa…now you can hear it too, can’t you? Mwhaa.)
In another talk I found out that a chance meeting of two men over a second dinner, because the spot-on-the-plate-just-give-me-a-bag-of-chips nouvelle cuisine of the 1980s still left you hungry enough to eat your arm, could lead to the establishment of one of the most important research endeavours carried out by the genetics department in Trinity College, Dublin.
I gained insight into great minds of the world renowned architect Daniel Libeskind (the man behind the master plan at Ground Zero in New York and even the designer of the very theatre I ended up listening to his speech in) and visual artist Kevin Abosch (whose photographed some of the most famous people in the world, including Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Scarlett Johansson…)
All in all, what could have been a day of absolute hell for some people was my idea of a grand ole time! I spent hours in the same room as the movers, shakers, thinkers and leaders of different fields. (Comedian Dara O’Briain was in the audience with us too, you know. I found this out via twitter from someone else who was there, technology is amazing really. He studied mathematics and theoretical physics in University College Dublin, you know. A very funny and extremely smart man! And I quite like watching his show ‘School of Hard Sums.’)
TEDx Dublin was enlightening, fascinating and in a way made me quite jealous, the speakers were all so passionate about what they do in their day-to-day lives. They clearly loved their work.
And personally, I think we all search for that, don’t we? To be inspired and in turn inspire others?
So it was nice to be inspired for the day!
(Of course when I came out of the theatre to find my car was clamped (street clampers, me ole foes. We meet again!) because I got the free times for the on-street parking wrong, that dimmed the inspirational surges for a time.
But I just did an about-face, figured my car wasn’t going anywhere and I went for food instead. And I found out you can’t be upset when you’re chomping down on a crunchy prawn cracker! 😀 )