A Riposte to A Home Made By Committee

Space Dinosaurs - The Real Enemy
Space Dinosaurs – The Real Enemy

 

On Wednesday we posted an article called Moon Acreage: Sound Financial Investment or Immoral Speculation. In the interest of frank and fair debate, we have invited Maire Brophy, the said friend who purchased the moon acreage, on to give her rebuttal.

 

I am compelled by a sense of natural justice to write a repost to the scurrilous article “Moon Acreage: Sound Financial Investment or Immoral Speculation” dated September 24th, 2014.

As the ‘friend’ Ms Clarke mentioned in the article, the reasons for my purchase of this property were roundly misrepresented.

 

I am, as it happens, currently experiencing seriously difficulties relating to the current Dublin property bubble that, by all accounts, is not happening. This, however, is entirely unrelated to my moon land purchases.

 

I did not, as purported by Ms Clarke, buy moon land in order to set up a home there, despite the possible commuting issues. I’m not irrational, I know the Luas won’t reach the Moon until at least 2050, by which time I will be well retired and spending my summers on Mars and winters on Venus in a timeshare, when I’m not visiting the penguins on Pluto.

 

No, the moon land I purchased is simply a matter of legacy. You see I want to be remembered. And I’m very lazy, so I want to be remembered with as little effort on my part as possible.

 

I was left with a conundrum of how to be remembered. The traditional way to do this, I believe, is to have children. But that comes with a lot of downsides. They expect you to care for them and love them, and even occasionally feed them. So far I’ve got around this by having niblings (children of your siblings) instead of children. Niblings don’t require the day to day nurturing that your own children require, but you can still destroy their Lego creations with your space dinosaur attack and disrupt their education by trying to convince them that space dinosaurs are actually a thing.

 

Importantly you can also leave things to your niblings that might be passed on to their descendants.

 

Now let us return to the moon. The legality of the claim on the moon, and subsequent selling of the plots is certainly questionable. But the legal world around us is of our own construction and it may be that moon deed holders come to power and uphold the veracity of our claim, by the time we can actually go to the moon on the Luas. In that case future generations will attribute their wealth and status to my visionary whim (after, of course, a lot of wrangling over who actually owns the deed).

 

Indeed not only will I have supplied them with the right to moon land, but also with the skills to defeat the space dinosaurs that dwell there (the first of which is not to build your moon dwellings out of Lego) and will fulfil our birth-right to enslave space dinosaurs everywhere (it’s in the constitution – look it up!).

 

If, however, and this case is much more likely, the claim is considered to be highly questionable, well then we’ve got a long legal battle on our hands. In which the deed, bearing my name, will be discussed at length. I would expect my name to be long remembered, and possibly cursed. But the important thing is to be remembered. Not bad for something that cost 20 euro.

 

Like my granny always said, if you can’t be remembered for doing some great thing to improve the lot of humanity, you might as well be remembered for causing a complicated legal situation, and the subsequent protracted battle in court.

 

Those old sayings really are timeless.

 

So in response to your titular question, I would say that the purchase of moon land is neither a sound financial investment nor an immoral speculation, but rather a way to pre-emptively get back at future generations for their loud music, erratic fashions and insistence that space dinosaurs are not real.

 

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Moon Acreage: Sound Financial Investment or Immoral Speculation

moon

 

The crisis is back. Dublin is facing a significant housing shortage; with buyers’ beginning to queue for five days before houses open for sale to the public. Property prices in urban areas are beginning to rise, rents are inflating accordingly, while rural areas struggle to gather enough property tax to maintain basic services. Once again as the bubble swells, it’s all beginning to feel a little bit Deja-vu, as we are assured that it is absolutely not a bubble and that there will indeed be a soft landing. People are once again desperate to get on the property ladder as soon as possible, fearing that if they wait prices will once again soar astronomically.

 

A nasty new trait of this second bubble however is the position of the lowest rung on the property ladder. With dramatically fewer units being built each year, many first-time buyers are being forced to buy second-hand homes. Most of these current home owners are still being scorched by negative equity, so the bottom rung is not the price of the fire-sales of the crash, but rather a price at which previous owners can afford to walk away at (unless of course you are fortunate enough to find a new estate with fixed prices opening in your area). Planners are predicting that the shortage of affordable homes in the city will push the commuter belt out as far as Louth, Meath, Kildare and Wicklow, forcing long commutes on already weary workers. It is no wonder that people are beginning to look around for alternative accommodation.

 

The question remains however, how far will they go this time? While the desperate among us quote house prices in Leitrim for €45,000 and less, in the Celtic Tiger Era it was not unknown for commuters to undertake a two or three hour daily trek from Gorey, Athlone, Edenderry or Portlaoise. The agreement being that it was possible to buy land and build for a fraction of the city prices and that there was no traffic on the commute once outside the city limits. Usually there was a vague Council Development Plan to improve public transport to these new urban hubs, so really these commuters were early pioneers whose properties were bound to dramatically increase in value at any time now.

 

A friend of mine took this reasoning one step further, and looking at the advancements being made by Virgin Galactic to commercialise space travel, she figured out that her quality of life and her work/life balance could not be diminished any further if her home was on the moon. Although not currently a feasible commute, she has made a speculative investment on behalf of the next generation and purchased a bijou plot overlooking the Sea of Tranquillity, located on the bright side of the moon, but within easy walking (bouncing?) distance of the entertainment quarter bound to be located on the dark side.

 

With precedents set in the land grab of America by the Mayflower settlers, and in the plantations of Ireland, the validity of this investment cannot so easily be dismissed by naysayers. The purchase from the Lunar Embassy takes advantage of the UN Outer Space Treaty of 1967 which stipulates that no government can own extra-terrestrial property, but, neglects to mention individuals and corporations. Therefore, under laws dating back to early US settlers, it is possible to stake a claim for land that has been surveyed, by registering it with the US Office of Claim Registries, and by informing the General Assembly of the United Nations, the US Government, and the Russian Government, in writing, of the legal claim. These governing bodies have several years in which to contest the claim, which they never have.

 

However before my friend bedecks herself in the latest in Pioneer Women’s Fashion, a few practical matters must be addressed. While investing in foreign properties was a characteristic of the first bubble, and I am sure there have been guarantees made that the Luas link will eventually get that far, one must not overlook the unique challenges having a home not only in a different timezone, but also on a different calendar. Acquiring insurance in such a volatile market will have its own quirks and ‘acts of god’ will probably require redefining. Should one decide to lease their property, or enter into time-share, contracts will have to overcome the differences in an Earth year verses a Moon year (354 days). This difference in calendar will also have to be overcome by employers in the new lands as the Working Time Act, Public Holidays and indeed the number of hours in a working day will all need reinterpretation for the new environment (a day on the Moon lasts 29.5 Earth days).

 

However before rushing forth to these new lands, one must stop to think of the repercussions this absentee landlordism might create. I presume the strategy to populate these new lands will be much as it always has been in human history. Just as the conquests of old, an invading wave of mercenaries shall sweep before the settlers clearing up any misunderstanding the native population might have regarding land ownership, with the colonists to follow, flag in hand, ready for planting. However this general assumption seems to be that much like the Spanish had steel and the English had long swords, that we Earthmen will have the superior weaponry to clear the moon men/ women/ super furry animals/ beings from our path. Not once has anyone stopped to consider that much like playful lambs prancing into a pack of wolves and back out again, that the moon beings have been salivating since the first moon walk waiting for us to come back. Just because they didn’t eat Neil Armstrong on sight doesn’t mean that he wasn’t a shocked and confused alien expression away from his most famous words being “One small step from man, one giant – oh my god, what the hell is tha- it’s got my leg!! It’s got my leg?!”, with Buzz running for his life in the background. Although one could also consider that much like the UN protects developing primitive tribes from the onslaught of modernisation, so too could the advanced Moon civilisation be allowing this culture to grow at its own pace organically, and they are just waiting for us to get there to start selling us the Moon equivalent of sneakers, McDonalds, Coke-Cola and gin.

Eating out in Dublin while Celiac: A Review

V21. Review

 

Today I have two restaurant reviews that are less reviews of the food and more reviews of eating out while celiac. My issues may come across as a bit whiney and to be honest I think it is fear of the appearance of whinging that stops a lot of celiacs complaining to or about restaurants.

If your significant other has brought you out for dinner the last thing you want to do is be unhappy with their choice of restaurant, particularly if you know they have double and triple checked that the restaurant caters for GF. One anniversary I ended up in the Ely on Grand Canal Place and while serving me my lamb burger without a bun the waitress asked if could recommend a good GF bun to the chef. To that chef I say try the internet, wander over to any grocery store, get on to the Celiac Society but don’t ask the lady who has been brought to your restaurant because you promised her boyfriend you could cater for GF.

If you are with a large group you don’t necessarily want to draw attention to your dietary restrictions, it makes you feel fussy and a bit of a bore when all you want to do is have a the craic with your mates.

In a perfect world if you call a restaurant and they say their menu can be adapted for celiacs you should be able to trust that and relax. However the world is far from perfect, celiacs know this. You start to wonder if the kitchen staff really know what it means to be celiac, do they think you are just on some gluten free diet because you are trying to lose weight? You start to imagine that the kitchen is a seething mess of cross contamination. The fear sets in and you have to start asking questions.

I understand how difficult it can be to make a kitchen safe for GF cooking and I appreciate every restaurant kitchen that tries however there are somethings that drive me crackers when eating out and unfortunately for the two restaurants I am writing about today, they both managed annoyed me.

Mulligans the Grocer on Manor Street.

Ah Mulligans, you are right around the corner from me and you have an excellent whiskey collection, your desert coffees, lifted above and beyond the mere Irish Coffee are luscious and good. You stock gluten free beers and a nice selection of wines. For all of this I thank you.

Dave and I used to eat in Mulligans a lot, the prices were very reasonable and the staff informed and very good about advising me on what I could and couldn’t eat. Although the starters and deserts were mostly out of bounds a main course was usually all I wanted anyway.

Then things started to change, main course prices went up and the dishes which had been lovely in their simplicity became a little too adorned. Everything seemed to come with some kind of croquette or other garnish that was in no way adaptable for GF.

The last time I ate there I asked about my go-to dish which was always the slow roast pork belly, golden with crackling, served with lovely mash to soak up the even lovelier gravy which cheered my heart by always being GF. It was food that was good for the soul. Dave, a man who never orders chicken in a restaurant always got the Chicken Kiev, the chicken was always tasty as were the chips but the real attraction was the creamed corn, this he would eat from the pot with a spoon given half a chance.

So as usual I asked our server what I could eat and true to form he went to the kitchen to check. The pork and thankfully the gravy were fine as long as I forgo the accompanying croquette and crumble. However there wasn’t a potato dish on the menu that I could eat, not twice cooked chips nor mash. What I ask are you doing to mash that fills it with gluten? What I ask you is the good of gravy without a carb to soak it up? The lovely chef did fill my plate with a variety of vegetable sides and made me one of the aforementioned crumbles without crumbs but with bubbly cheese topping. If I was eating Paleo it would have been a perfect meal but I missed the mash, so many restaurants cannot do a good mash but Mulligans was always buttery perfection.

The mother of all peeves for me though is that finding a GF chip in Dublin is akin to searching for the Holy Grail, I challenge both Indiana Jones and Dan Brown to find one. Beshoffs you will remind me, and indeed Beshoffs do GF chips but in fairness Beshoffs is a chipper, they have the skills, it is what they do. I am grateful for their efforts but I am talking about non chipper restaurants.

How hard is it to keep a separate deep fat fryer in a kitchen for GF chips, and why not go mad and throw a few GF onion rings in there. This is a simple solution to my chip needs and if there is a reason that prevents restaurants from doing this simple thing then someone needs to explain it to me.

As for Dave his Kiev arrived with a wee pail of chips on the plate and sorrow of sorrows only a thin slick of the creamed corn painted artfully on to the plate in the style of Master Chef contestants.

While Mulligans gets so many things right there are little mistakes that take away from the experience. And it isn’t just me, talking to friends who used to wander over from the south side to eat in Mulligans I have found that it just isn’t the draw it used to be. I hope this changes as I like to support local businesses and to see this part of Dublin thriving.

Brasserie 66 on Georges Street.

I hadn’t eaten here before but I heard good things about the brunch and also that the menu had a lot of GF options. My parents were visiting recently so a group of six of us headed out for dinner on a Saturday night. We were seated, drink orders taken and I perused the menu. Very promisingly there was C for celiac on the menu to denote what I could eat. I decided on a Chicken Skewer for starter and the Stuffed Pork for main. When I went to make my order however I was told the pork was not GF despite the bloody great C printed right next to it, I was vexed to say the least. Why tempt me with pork and then say no. A mistake I was told, the menu needed to be reprinted. Apparently the roast chicken was GF so in a bit of a panic I said ok to that and ended up with a chicken starter and a chicken main course.

So having had this discussion about my GF requirements the waiter returned to the table with half a loaf of crusty bread on a board with a bread knife, so the bread could be cut as needed. A lovely idea but even with my dad and his near surgical skill with a bread knife crumbs flew everywhere in the natural manner of bread crumbs. Hither and yon over the table they went, my hand reflexively shot out to cover both my wine glass and top of the carafe. As discretely as I could I brushed the crumbs away and sat there sadly watching as bread was slathered in butter and munched. There was no bread for me, apparently celiacs are ok with waiting in a busy restaurant for their starter without anything to nibble on.

I want to buy flowers for restaurants that bring me GF bread, they have me at that small gesture that says we acknowledge that you might also be a bit peckish and need something to soak up the wine you are sipping while waiting for your meal.

It isn’t rocket science, if you don’t want to bake GF bread in house there are a number of good breads out there, keep some in the freezer, I will take toast over nothing.

My skewer came without the pitta bread it should have been served with although I know that right across the street in Dunnes Stores there are GF pitta breads, right across the street people!

And now I seem churlish, surely the fact that I could eat there at all should be enough. I had a great night, I was with family and the food I had was good but I have been diagnosed celiac for almost ten years now and the ease of sourcing products, the availability of information should mean the restaurants shouldn’t have these annoying restrictions around catering for GF.
Things are better, indeed they are, when I was first diagnosed I didn’t eat out for a long time for fear of cross contamination, it was all a bit stressful and took the good out of what should have been a treat. But things can still be better. If as a restaurant you can’t fully to commit to catering for celiacs then make a decision not to and make this known when you are contacted with queries. I won’t be mad, I will be relieved that you are being honest, just don’t half ass it, that is letting you and me down. If you do want to cater for GF then think it through, try and make our dining experience comparable to our fellow diners. We will thank you with our repeated custom.