Friday, July 25, 2008

Sand hole collapse and a raffle

I'm not much of a one for supporting religion and particularly not for supporting organised religious institutions. However I do find the idea of women coming together to support each other and grow a very powerful one and so I decided to make a donation to this raffle (there are some fabulous prizes but I had to think about it a bit before deciding to go ahead and support it). I'm writing about it here though, not so much to ask other people to donate but to draw their attention to this post from a year ago explaining some of the background as to why this lady has decided to set up this fundraising effort. I'd never heard of sand hole collapses before and kept meaning to write about that post but don't think I ever did. So, now I am but am taking the easy way out and just linking to Earthchicknits' post - she really talks about it far more eloquently than I ever could.

Happy Friday everyone - my last one in Dublin, this time next week I'll be on my first day in my new job in Düsseldorf.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Needle book and pin cushion

I signed up for another swap on down to earth, this time for a needle book and a pin cushion and got matched up wtih a lady in the USA. As I could see from her blog she is a very experienced seamtress so I've been glad there's so much time to complete this swap. We have until September and given that I'm in the middle of moving that's not a bad thing. On the plus side I found out today that my stuff will be in Germany tomorrow. And I won't be there for another week! It'll be kept by a German company and delivered then - I'm just hoping now that it'll be delivered fairly quickly and not just left sitting in a warehouse for weeks.

Anyway, I received my needle book and pin cushion from Cindi today and they are beautiful. Thank you so much again Cindi, in case you're reading. They even have my name embroidered on them! I did keep my camera out of the big shipment so I'll take photos as soon as I can and post them up. And as a bonus I also got an amazing bag which will be very useful for me as I learn to sew I think - I love to have things to organise everything into. Everything was so well finished that it certainly gives me a lot to aim for in terms of sewing efforts.

Although rather than starting a load of new projects I really need to finish my blanket project first - it's H.'s birthday next Monday so he's definitely not getting it for his birthday. Unfortunately the way my finishing dates have worked out mean that I won't be able to visit him for his birthday but that of course means that I have a bit of extra time to finish it. He's a chef so can't take time off to come and visit me during the season so it's likely I won't see him until September - I may be able to take a day off work then to head up to him for a long weekend. In the meantime I know we got a first edition stamp sent to work a year or so ago that nobody wanted and I put it to one side. So I'm going to send that to him in a card so that he has something on the day and to add to his stamp collection.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Should have worked harder on that list...

Things I didn't keep but probably should have:

Screwdrivers and alan keys - at least my brother didn't manage to return my drill to me on time so he'll bring that with him when he comes over the week after I move

The extra vacuum pack bags I bought (my fault for leaving them out so they got packed by the removal guys)

Friday, July 18, 2008

12 days to go

Sent most of my belongings off with a removal company yesterday. Am still very nervous about the whole thing (particularly don't like the take-all-my-wordly-possessions-and-here's-a-big-cheque-too aspect of it!) but people ship stuff all over the world everyday and I'm hoping it'll all turn up in Düsseldorf and not too much will be broken. I caved at the last minute and kept my files with documentation relating to work, pension, health insurance and the Revenue. I've bought my brother a flight to come and visit me the week after I arrive over there and will leave a suitcase of stuff with him to bring with him as well. How ridiculous is it that it was cheaper to buy another flight where he can check in one bag of up to 20kg than it would be to pay the excess baggage on that 20kg if I were to bring it myself (at €9/kilo excess baggage is not cheap!)?!?

I have a mountain of stuff to do in work and will be doing some serious overtime in the next few days to get through it. This situation hasn't been helped by my boss being actually in the office over the last week rather than out at meetings and the fact that he's been doing more client work than admin as well which in turn generates more work for me. And he's sort of trying to make sure everything is covered before I leave so keeps calling me into his office to show him how to do this or that and confirm points he wouldn't normally bother his head with because I'd take care of it. My replacement won't start for another month so for the time he's away on holidays he'll have little or no support in the office keeping an eye on things although admittedly in the last year or so he has gotten much better about actually taking a proper holiday and not being in constant contact with the office. I'm working on a handover document for my replacement setting out everything that needs to be done on a daily basis to keep everything running smoothly and am even amazing myself at the myriad of very small tasks I do that don't seem to be 'real' tasks and yet are the kind of things that make up a good part of my day - I seem to do a lot of things that take only a minute or so but it all adds up.

It rained again today. I know it's raining a lot more in Germany than usual but I still can't wait to get away from it and at least have a bit of sunshine inbetween.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Crocs update

I don't think I ever posted the response to the email I sent to the manufacturers of Crocs querying what they are made of and this blog post reminded me of it as it casts some new questions over the issue.

The response I received didn't really answer my question but I decided to go ahead and buy a pair as I really needed a pair of something other than my hiking boots that I could wear for more than a couple of hours and I know that I never questioned what was in the orthotics I use. It's something of a cop-out I realise but I didn't have the energy to follow up at the time and know that in the case of any other medical necessity I wouldn't hesitate to use a product that would help regardless of its green credentials. And at €40 a pair crocs are a damn sight cheaper than new orthotics at closer to €200. I have found them comfy and am able to wear them all day walking around although after two full days walking in them I do need to use something else. So, they're not perfect but are a good solution for me to a certain extent.

Here is the response I received:

Thank you for your inquiry. Croc has manufacturing facilities all over the world including Mexico , Canada , Italy and Florida , Brazil , as well as China . Although our new shoes are stamped with “ Boulder , Colorado ” outsourcing our production is necessary to be able to meet the demand of the product. The hang tags attached to the shoes will tell you where the product is actually made. This labeling complies with all customs import requirements. Please note, that we do maintain a “Supplier Code of Conduct” that demands high expectations in labor and environmental standards. All of our manufacturing plants are required to follow this Code. Crocs take pride in its high moral and ethical standards relating to our community and other communities in which we have a presence.

Crocs are made of Croslite - an extraordinary impact absorbing resin material developed for maximum cushioning. Its closed cell properties resist odor, inhibit bacterial and fungal growth and are non-toxic. This versatile material can be worn next to the skin and be cleaned with just soap and water. Crocs contain no latex or rubber materials. As such, we cannot discuss its chemical components, or how it is made. After extensive testing by our company and independent testing laboratories, we can say that Crocs footwear contains no known hazardous chemicals, creates no known hazardous emissions and is completely safe to be disposed of in a landfill. Crocs launched a new recycling program, SolesUnited, in early 2008. SolesUnited is a first of its kind program created in response to the desperate need for quality footwear in impoverished countries and areas affected by tragedy. Blending environmental and humanitarian efforts, we are collecting, regrinding, and remolding your old Crocs shoes into new and donating these to people in need of shoes around the world. To learn more about SolesUnited, I refer you to visit our website at I hope this information helps.

Crocs footwear is the first product, in my knowledge, to successfully market a truly comfortable shoe. Our shoes have been shown to ease and/or eliminate stress on the lower back, knee and hip joints. They are extremely light weight and exhibit many other features that are not found in other footwear. The comfort and light weight is what has made Crocs so popular. The comfort level, or cushioning effect, of our footwear requires a soft durometer material to maintain that attribute. Soft material does not wear very well, especially, if worn outside (during hot weather) on rough surfaces such as concrete. There are many variables that will affect wear, such as some people drag their feet during the walking process. We realize that more durable soles would increase the value of our product. The Scutes, for example, are made with a soft compliant foot bed for comfort and a harder outer shell for durability. Our shoes were not designed to be clones of shoes that are more expensive, heavy (composed of leather uppers and a hard rubber sole), and not any where close to being as comfortable as our product. We want to be unique and are still striving to increase the durability, create new & different styles and improve the overall value of Croc’s products. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me. Thank you.

I am fairly hard on shoes and so I suspect I may not get too many years out of Crocs which would motivate me to look for better alternatives. And of course, I'm moving to what is (I think) the home of Birkenstocks so access to comfy shoes should be a bit easier to come by. :-)

On a side note one issue I did have with the Crocs is that nearly all of the ones on sale in Dublin seem to come from China despite there being at least two factories making them in Europe (Italy and Romania). My desire to at least buy something made on the same continent coupled with my shoesize meant that I had very little choice on colour (good thing I'm not that bothered about coordinating outfits).

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Contaminated manure

I'm worried and saddened by all the reports I've been reading of people whose crops have been ruined because of manure they purchased which is contaminated by a herbicide used on the grass eaten by the cows who produced the manure. A chemical in this particular herbicide 'sticks' itself to particles in the grass and is not broken down by digestion (very bad explanation see links for proper details).

This one has very good information:

And the issue is discussed at length on River Cottagehere
and It's Not Easy Being Green here

It seems that this is not just the first time this product has been involved in this kind of problem before and that something similar happened in the States a couple of years ago.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

List of what I'll need for the first few weeks

I feel the need for many lists at the moment and may need some help with this one so have decided to put it online in case anyone has any suggestions.

This is all the stuff I will need to live for a few weeks while the majority of my possessions are in transit (potentially 4 - 6 weeks). The idea is that I will have a very big suitcase (and as you're only allowed 20kg I will probably have to pay excess baggage charges - will probably work out the same as trying to get someone else to travel with me and having to pay for their flight).

Work clothes and shoes

Casual clothes and shoes


Cloth STs and Mooncup

Toiletries - hairbrush, deodorant, soap, toothbrush and paste, moisturiser, toilet roll, nail clippers

Travel first aid kit


Tea towel and dishcloth

Air mattress and pump - and something to power pump as I won't have a car handy to use the cigarette ligher bit

2 x sheets, 1 x duvet, 1 x pillow and pillowcase (may be too hot to use duvet hence two sheets)

Knitting (won't have a lot else to do in the evenings and am way behind on my blanket project)


Adapters for plugs

Cup, plate, knife, fork, spoon - plan to buy something cheap when I get over there

What else?

I plan to buy some of those vacuum pack bags to use to make as much of the above fit into my suitcase as possible.


The countdown is on. My one-way ticket to Germany has been booked - I'm leaving on Wednesday evening 30th July and that's just over three weeks away. It seems to be going by very fast now and I have so much to do. Had another company it to quote for shipping my stuff and am very impressed with them so far - if their quote is not much more than the others I've gotten then I'll go with them. Hopefully they'd be able to take everything away in a week or so which would be a big relief. Because the house I'm sharing already had most of the basics in the kitchen etc it won't be too hard to live without all my stuff whereas the apartment in Germany will have absolutely nothing in it so it's better if I get everything delivered as soon as possible after arriving there. I was back over there last week to sign my rental contract and checked out my building again so was able to give the shipping guy a reasonable idea of what would be needed. I'll be living on a main street with trams passing by every ten minutes or so so they'll need to use a van that'll fit into the onstreet parking spaces without blocking the trams. However I think they're fairly used to doing things like that over there so hopefully it won't be too hard. My place also faces the street so they may be able to hoist stuff up and through the windows rather than having to carry everything up four flights of stairs.

So meanwhile I have been trawling websites and the Ikea catalogue but really need to just be over there to get the kitchen and other furniture organised. There's only so much you can do in advance. I plan to buy a sink, fridge, washing machine and cooker almost immediately, possibly also a freezer (or just go for a fridge freezer). Depending on funds I may wait for a washing machine and just use a launderette for a while and may just buy a two-plate plug-in electric yoke for cooking on. There is a canteen near work where I can eat a main meal at lunchtime (and I also found out that I'll get lunch vouchers for every day I'm in the office which is great) and otherwise for the first month or two anyway it'll be too hot to cook much and it'll be fruit and salads (and bread and cheese and wurst). I would love to be able to buy loads of tomatoes for bottling though so will have to wait and see how I'd manage that.

I have been offered a couch by a friend but she lives in Frankfurt and hadn't really thought about how to get it up to me so she's going to think about that and try and figure out with her hubby if they could get it into or onto their car. If I get that I'll sleep on it for a while before committing to a bed. I'm going to bring my air mattress over in my suitcase and sleep on that for the first while.

I also found out that the secretary I should be joining (there are two in the department I'm moving to) has decided to leave and so rather than having someone who already knows all the ropes there when I start I'll be going into a department which will have had, at most, one temp for the three weeks before I start and one secretary doing the work of two for five weeks before that. I foresee a lot of filing needing to be done in my first while there. Hopefully they'll recruit someone else soon and I won't have to be doing it all by myself for too long.