Stories from a Dublin Scientist

Month: June, 2013

Picture it and write: The Goddess

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s picture it and write from Ermilia’s blog here. Once again the picture is not mine I only use it for inspiration. Anyway; Enjoy!

The Goddess

Behold the Goddess.
A complex creature.
Three parts
A whole life, every stage in the one form.

She starts with the maiden. Young and naive. Still in the blossom of her youth. The world is all before her. Every sense new, every experience a marvel. She is the beauty of a spring. The dawn in a new day. The tingle in a first kiss. Life before it has been lived. The potential that she holds.

She changes. The maiden becomes the mother. The bringer of life. The cruicible of creation. Hers is a world of fear. Of the dangers that lurk in the night. Ever vigilant, she guards her brood. With every moment she nurtures and protects. Her being is devoted to service, the burden of the future, the continuance of the cycle. Under her stead the generations march on.

Once more; a new face. This one old and grey, the crone. Long since barren. What she has lost of fertility she has gained in wisdom. For her every sunrise is seen through the lense of the thousands before it. Through her flow the tales of the ages and the power of old magic. She is the survivor, a leader, and font of knowledge. Her memory is our history, her guidance brings us to the safe path.

The maiden, the mother, the crone. Three women, the one goddess. Without one there are no others. The beauty of the maiden, the caring of the mother and the wisdom of the crone all linked, interdependant.

A trinity of being. The triple goddess.




The rules

The rules in Tony’s bar were simple, much like Tony.

The first was they don’t give credit.

The second was they don’t give credit

And the final one was they don’t give credit.


Written for trifecta’s trifextra week seventy-four.


Doctor Joe: Agony Uncle 14

Doctor Joe: Agony Uncle; Getting down with the good doctor*

Dear Dr Joe,

Why are 90 percent of the problems caused by 10 percent of the people?




Dear Balavh,

That is a very good question Balavh and answered quite simply! It is because approximately ten percent of the people are douchebags. Yes Balavh! That is what they are! They extend across the spectrum of douchebaggery from the minor, amateur douchebag who parks over two spaces or who plays loud jungle music at three in the morning to the higher class, professional douchebag who in concert with their fellow douchebags have brought about such global tragedies as wars, poverty, and the presence of musak in lifts.

I’m sure you’ll agree Balavh that these douchebags have been largely a force for ill for all of our society. But what is to be done with them?

The sad fact is that should we simply line up these douchebags and shoot them in the head (certainly a popular notion) the latent doucheness in others will come to the fore leading to on average the same relative percantage of douchebags. In other words, killing them won’t do any good but perhaps there is a better way.

To deal with a douchebag you must highlight their douchebaggery. First of all you must find the douchebags. The standard signs are an ignorance of others, an inability to hear any argument but their own, and violent rejection of other world views. Once you have identified them the next step is to name them.

The located douchebag must be labelled in all their interactions. Something permanent like a tattoo or brand may suffice for face-to-face while in the media it would be made a requirement that their status would be highlighted in every media appearance. For example “Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern (douchebag) was noted as saying he thought the media was being biased towards his story.” If there are several douchebags together (a common occurence) this will also have to be noted. For example “President Obama (douchebag) has been required by the supreme court (mostly douchbags) to return emissions legislation to Congress (all douchebags) for a rewrite.”

With their douchebag nature out in the open. The douchebags of the world will be less able to foist their douchey ways on the rest of us. We will see them coming and they will be rendered powerless by it.

The very best of luck.

Doctor Joe

*Editor’s note: Getting back up again will be tricky!

To read more Doctor Joe or to send him a question click on the link here.

Old Man Johnston

When I was a boy we used to spend weeks at a time in summer at my grandparent’s farm. It was a small holding but a revelation to me and my brother in our sheltered city lives.

There was always plenty to do but when all else failed we could also go to visit the neighbouring farms, We were guaranteed a good welcome and occasionally some home-made cake or bread. The only place that we did not regularly visit was Old Man Johnston’s near the main-road.

Arthur Johnston had been living alone for years. His house was distinctive compared to the rest on account of how old it was. It still had the rusty corrugated iron roof that replaced thatching, stained whitewash, and the garden was all weeds. He used to live there with his mother but she had died and the place had gone to pot.

He wasn’t “social”. I only went in there once.

Mr Johnston needed regular visits from the neighbours. Granny sent me with a bowl of stew to hand to him. She told me not to bother talking  with him, Just in and out. I went on my way.

The place was in an even worse state inside than outside. There was a thick layer of grime on everything and a foul smell. I heard muttering from one of the other rooms.

I opened the door. In there; in front of a turf fire sat Mr Johnston. He spoke in hushed tones with an empty chair. I only heard one recognisable word above the mumbling “Mother”.

That was enough for me. I closed the doors as quickly as I could and ran back to Granny’s.

I didn’t see much of Mr Johnston after that; his health took another turn and he passed on not long after but I always remembered what I saw there. Mr Johnston, I realised, wasn’t some crank, well, not really, he was just in his own world.

So what if we couldn’t see it.


Written for trifecta week eighty three.

Picture it and Write: Prepared

Hi there! This is my offering for this weeks picture it and write from Ermilia’s Blog here. Once again; the picture is not mine, this one is by Floris Van Cauwelaert, I only use it for inspiration. Anyway; Enjoy.


Randall watched as the two men hiked up through the snowdrifts to the ridge above. His father, the man in the front stopped to wave back. He kept on watching until the black figures had faded into the white expanse of snow then he turned back to the twisted tube of metal that was the remains of their plane.

There were twenty survivors, most of them barely that. Randall’s father had climbed mountains before, and Mr Grayson, the man with him was in the army so they set off over the ridge and hopefully down the other side to get help. They were very remote they said, far from flight paths and towns. It might be some time.

Randall had begged his father to let him come with him. He swore that he would keep up and do everything that he was told but his father had told him he couldn’t go. Eleven was too young to climb into the unknown like that. Besides; Randall’s mother was very hurt, she needed him to look after her, take care of her. He would be back as soon as he could but Randall had to take care of things here. “No matter what!”

The adults didn’t talk much to Randall, especially about what was going on but he could hear enough. There had been an argument the hour before Randall’s father had left about the amount of food him and Grayson were taking with them. It had gotten quite heated before Mr Grayson  took one of the dissenters and had a quiet word with him. After that things got a lot more subdued.

Randall helped his father as much as he could. They raided the surviving luggage for as much warm clothes as they could find. With up to ten layers each, the two men made slow but steady progress away. Randall swore that he wouldn’t cry but he let a single tear flow down as he turned back to the others and the business of survival.

He was awoken from his revelry by Smith, one of the other able-bodied men. “Here boy!” Smith called, “Help me with this!”  

Randall came to a semicircular trench that smith was in the process of digging in the snow. He handed Randall as sheet plastic and got him to help digging. When the trench was about a foot deep. Mr Smith got Randall to help him drag the dead bodies from out and around the plane and  drop them in it. They then started to shovel the snow back in.

When they were finished Randall asked “Mr Smith! When they buried my Granny they made the hole in the ground and dug it very deep. Why didn’t  we do the same for these people?”

Mr Smith looked at Randall, his face a grim piece of granite and answered. “We don’t want them deep in case we need to get at them later.”

It was three weeks until Randall knew what he meant by that.





There was a puff of dust to the left of the figure.

“Position to the right, try again”


There was another puff to its right.

“One more time.”

I aimed.



Written for trifecta’s trifextra week seventy three.


Doctor Joe: Agony Uncle 15

Doctor Joe; Agony Uncle, Joe cares!*

Dear Doctor Joe,

I am starting my final year of school and I have no idea what I will do when I finish. Can you suggest some careers advice?

Serious Student

Dear Serious Student,

Woe is me for I cannot recommend that you attend that most august institution, that seat of the highest possible learning. But alas, my own alma mater, Bob’s Medical School, sadly closed it’s doors not long after I left (I had nothing to do with it! Those drugs were there when I got there!) no more will students get the best budget medical education this side of the Red Cow Roundabout. I am truly sorry for you Serious but there are always other options all you have to do is pick.

Many careers counsellors will tell you you have to read and read if you want to know what career would suit you. That my friend, is nonsense. The best way to learn is by doing. Getting stuck in the deep end is the best way to decide if you will like a particular job or career path.

Take my cousin Jeanine. She had aspirations of being a vet, so she showed herself what the life was like by sticking a hand up a cow’s arse. She was pleasantly surprised, the farmer and the cow were not. When she gets out of prison she has every intention of applying to veterinary college.

Other examples you might try could be starting fights with gangs to simulate the career of a policeman or soldier, wearing low-backed trousers to simulate a construction job, or speaking inane drivel to everybody for a career in politics. The possibilities are endless.

Yes Serious; the world is full of amazing possibilities. All you have to do is grab the cow by it’s backside and seize it.

Happy job hunting.

Doctor Joe

*Editor’s note: About the money, only about the money!

To read the rest of Doctor Joe’s columns or to ask him a question click on the link here.

New Money

“Evening Fairfax!”

“Evening Smithy! What brings you up to the bar? Coffee machine broken?”

“No no! My dear Fairfax. Tonight I am seeking refuge with you and your fellow alcoholics!”

“Has Collins started singing again?”

“Perhaps not that bad! But it is very close Fairfax, we have a new member.”

“A new member in the club?! We already added a new member. When was it?.. Two years ago! If we go on this rate the place will be too full! What the devil were they thinking!”

“That is the very thing Fairfax! I fear they may have been thinking with their pocket-books”

“You don’t mean?”

“Yes! I fear it may be new money”

“Good God Man Are you sure?”

“Quite Fairfax! All the signs are there! He was talking to the servants!”

“Maybe he was giving very specific orders?”

“No! I heard him distinctly. He was asking them how they were.”

“How barbaric! They would never have tolerated in my day. Anything else?”

“He was also inquiring about bringing a lady-friend.”

“The nerve! I hope Johnston told him where to go with himself!”

“Johnston informed him of the rules. But I fear a spot of bribery may be afoot.”

“What’s he trying?”

“He brought a number of bottles of whisky. Very old he says, very expensive. I didn’t recognise it. There was this strange bird on the label. An eagle I think.”

“Was the eagle sitting on a branch?”

“Yes! As a matter of fact it was. How did you know?”

“My word! That is Glenfergus scotch! Hasn’t been made in thirty years. The very best. You can’t get it anywhere.”

“Regardless! You can’t sell our principals for some old hooch!”

“Glenfergus is not ‘old hooch’ my good man. But regardless; it behooves us to go down, explain things and accept his hospitality.”

“Fairfax! Where are you going? What about everything you said about new money?”

“My dear Smithy! If new money can buy Glenfergus it can’t be all bad. See you downstairs!”


Written for Trifecta Week eighty-two.

In Every Port

You see it often enough in the movies. Some guy comes walking in off the street and says to the other guy behind a counter or whatever that they want to fly a plane for them, or fix cars, any kind of skilled job and the guy takes one look at him and then says “You’re hired”. That’s not how it happens in real life.

What really happens is that you are asked if you have your license, or certificate or any other of a host of pieces of paper that will tell them that I am capable of doing the job that they want done.

Now during my time in the Congo I had driven trucks, piloted and ran a river boat and flew a plane. These were skills I should have been able to exploit when I arrived in Cape Town to make myself a bit of cash. The problem was, I never got either a license or professional qualification in any of those things. James had never had much interest in papers apart from the notes he used to had to officials to keep them out of his business so there was no incentive to get them at that end. So I found that whenever I went for a job that I knew I could do, I was told “no papers, no job” and sent on my way. It was all very frustrating.

In the end I had to rely on the technique that had served me before and try my luck finding a job in the docks. There was, as is the case with most ports, a few ships in. Amongst them was what I hoped would be the answer to my prayers. It was another tramp steamer almost identical to the magnificent, probably an identikit ship. It was called the Imperial and again was anything but yet my options were limited so I decided to try my luck.

Without any licenses I was unable to apply for any skilled positions but instead I showed them the one skill I could, I cooked for them. Twenty blood-soaked jungle mercenaries can’t be wrong, I had really developed a knack for making simple fare delicious. The purser took one taste of my Spam surprise and his eyes lit up. I was immediately offered the job of ship’s cook and I was once again on my way.

To say that I fell on my feet with my choice of ship to apply on would be something of an understatement. Captain Raj and his whole crew were some of the nicest bunch of people who I have ever worked with. They were of a similar mix to all of the other companies that I have worked with over the years. People from all over the world, every colour and creed, united in that noble task, the pursuit of money. They had been looking for a half-way decent cook for several ports by the time I walked onboard so they treated me like something of a God-send! I must say I got on very well with all of them from the start.

Like every tramp steamer, the Imperial was living very much hand to mouth. Every port was a search for a new consignment to transport and there was very little by way of regular work. Captain Raj had his head screwed on right. Never above a little wheeling and dealing and was always thinking up new and better ways to keep us employed. After three months onboard we were berthed in a a port in northern Australia when the captain announced that he had secured a contract for us. We were going to do some government work.

Australia, it turns out doesn’t just consist of that great big continent. Their government also administrates a whole plethora of islands out in the oceans. Needless to say they can be quite isolated and the government tries to arrange for a regular service to each of them for the every day essentials like certain foods and medicines as well as the mail. The Australian navy had been doing it for a while but with budget cuts they wanted to foist it off on a cheaper contractor. Captain Raj saw the opportunity and grabbed for it. It wasn’t glamourous but the pay was a lot better than we had been making.

From then on our lives were lived in something of a loop. We set off from Darwin loaded with whatever the authorities said they needed and we would then visit ten of these islands in turn, spending no more than a full day in each and arrive back in Darwin after about a month with whatever the islands needed to send back and get promptly reloaded and sent back out again to re-do the loop. It was all as regular as clockwork.

Officially the islanders were getting this service for free. Food and medicine and other odds and ends were just what was expected for any citizen. Nevertheless the official inventory did not cover every need of the population. To that end every member of the crew, when we were on the mainland would stock up on everything we thought they lacked on the islands. Things like proper chocolate, drinks, nylons, perfumes, records, decent cigarettes and anything else we could afford on our pay and fit in our lockers.

After the official unloading and handover of merchandise. We would often spend the night and that was when the unofficial trading would begin. The denizens of these islands would pay two or three times the going rate for what we had to sell. If you were an attractive woman, or man in some of the lad’s cases, we would be willing to forgo money in exchange for “services rendered”. After two years on the Imperial I had cultivated at least one woman in every port we visited.

There was one woman I was quite fond of. Rachel was the daughter of one of the local administrators and quite a looker. I had last seen her when I gave her some good whiskey to help usher in the new decade and we had our usual pleasant evening together. For five other visits there was no sign of her in the port, I was disappointed not to see her but there were plenty of other women to keep my attention. She soon became an enjoyable memory.

Imagine my surprise when I found her waiting at the end of the gangway one warm tropical June. Her face looked the same as it always had, that sun tinted youthfulness that had entranced me before, it was the rest of her that so shocked me. Beneath her clothes her belly was clearly visible. She told me that it was mine, that the doctor told her that she was nearly ready to pop and that her father had kept her away but that she had run away and needed to go with me.

I wrestled with my conscience over this one but in the end I relented and somehow convinced Captain Raj that it would be a good idea. Somehow his chivalrous regard for a woman in need usurped his fear of offending a man in charge and he let Rachel aboard, provided she stay in my cabin.

It wasn’t too difficult, I popped up another hammock and we ended up being rather cozy. We would spend our nights at sea talking about what everything meant. I for one was quite excited with idea of being a father, I had never known mine and wanted to break the trend. I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t ask the captain to marry us there and then. Maybe I was too busy.

I certainly was nervous enough. I got myself training as ship’s medic (Proper certification; I was learning) and I spent my spare-time studying a section in the textbook on how to help women give birth. I figured I could do it but I would rather have a doctor there to help.

We stopped in three other ports and in each my regular ladies found me strangely absent. I instead negotiated hard with my more conventional customers, I needed to gather up some more money.

When we were berthing in our fourth and final stop of that trip I was called from the galley by the sound of a woman in labour. I shouted out over the side for someone to fetch the local doctor and ran back down to get Rachel as comfortable as possible. The doctor was quick enough but the baby took it’s sweet time. Rachel was nearly an hour in labour.

Though the rest of the crew were busy enough at the time they took the time between their hectic unloading schedule to pop in their head and see how things were going. Some of them even brought gifts. Mason; the ship’s carpenter had made a little crib for us I thanked him profusely before another scream brought me back to Rachel’s side.

The whole process was soon over. With one last push the doctor announced that it was all over. Then he went silent. I let go of Rachel’s hand to see my new baby. That’s when I got the next shock of my life.

See; I was white, Rachel was white.

The baby was a nice brown.

I have to say that I was not in any way angry with Rachel. After all; I was certainly not faithful to her and we were not the only ship to pay her home a visit. I doubt she even knew who the father was when she first found she was pregnant, though I guess she could narrow it down after the birth. We silently agreed that I was not going to stay with them and three days later when we sailed into Darwin I wished her well as she prepared to go.

The whole crew had a whip around, I gave the same as everyone else and Captain Raj put Rachel in contact with an acquaintance who helped single mothers get on their feet.

Not long after Rachel left I too said goodbye to the Imperial. The rest of the crew had been discretion itself on our journey back but I still felt that something had changed. I couldn’t stay there. There was hand shakes and back slaps and promises to write and I set off again, out into a busy port looking for what was available.

It wasn’t too long before I found a new opportunity for adventure. It would take me again into the unknown that I so often found myself. I won’t say anymore about it because that, dear reader, is for the next part of my story.

Picture it and Write: The Message

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s Picture it and Write from Ermilia’s blog here. Once again the picture is not mine, I only use it for inspiration. Anyway; Enjoy!

The Message

Will was still in his dressing gown when he noticed the envelope on the rug by the door. He had already walked by there on the way to breakfast so it must have arrived while he was eating.

He picked it up and examined it. His name was written with a light, flowing script. There was no stamp; it must have been delivered personally. He broke the seal and removed the card that was inside.

The front of the card was quite stunning. It was a drawing of an eye, emerald-green , looking out right at him. There was long streaks of yellow running from the eye down the rest of the card, it was as if it had been crying.

Will opened the card. Inside there was a picture of him, grainy but unmistakeable. It was from yesterday when he was at the restaurant with Cassie. Along side the picture was a short verse.

I have got my eye on you
No matter where you go or do
You cannot hide, you cannot flee
For you have thought to cheat on me
With some big breasted little trollop
If I see you you’ll get such a wallop
You’ve probably guess that we are through
But I’m not yet finished with you


“Oh shit!” said Will. He could have sworn he saw something the night before but Cassie had told him he was probably just being paranoid. Well, now he knew he hadn’t been.

Will’s mind turned with justifiable reluctance to what exactly Brenda had meant in that final line. Of all the women he had gone out with over the years Brenda had added a whole new level to the catagory, jealous. That it was probably justifiable in his case was hardly here nor there. Revenge from Brenda could come in any number of unpleasant forms.

There were her brothers for a start. All above six foot, ex army, MMA enthusiasts. None of them had liked him very much either, they would happily knock several different kinds of crap out of him over this. That he wasn’t lying in a heap next to his broken-down door meant that they had not yet been informed but it was still a possibility thought Will with a shudder.

Brenda was able to  her own revenge though. There were those rumours about an ex from school who had suddenly left town after they had a public row. Details were all a little sketchy but the word was the poor lad could not sit down properly for half a year.

Will flinched suddenly. There had been a bang from out in the street. Probably a car missstarting. But Will was far too much on-edge to feel relief.

“Yes!” He said to himself “I was wrong, I cheated! But do I really have to go through this? She is just leaving me in agony to wait for whatever cruel revenge she had planned for me. I wish Brenda would just get it over with already.”

Will would come, very soon, to regret that particular wish.