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  • Leon 1:34 pm on June 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: cvs, e3, employment, it jobs, jobs, livetiles, overstock, pramerica, self employed, sl controls   

    The Self Employed Penny Drop Moment 

    Since I left college in 1995 I’ve worked in either full time, part time or contract work for other people or companies for a combined total period of less than 2 years. That’s about 5 or 6 different positions and companies. In the same time period I’ve been officially self employed in about 3 different positions, a Musician, a PC Technician and now a Web Designer since about 2003. Now, I’ve always seen those stats as a source of pride, I’m doing my own thing in life, figuring things out as I go, my own boss, time is my own, etc… and I would have also thought that others might be impressed by the initiative I’ve shown, the quick learning, the multidisciplinary skills one needs as a self employed web designer; design skills, people skills, project management skills, sales, etc, etc.. Aren’t the words “Good Initiative” on every damn job description there’s ever been!?

    So recently I’ve considered trying to find a job, part time and remote ideally so my business isn’t affected too much and so I have a regular income for when self employment doesn’t cut it, like right now with the great weather we’re having! I’ve been sending CVs off, doing everything right (I think), customising the CV for the position, cutting out anything not relevant, adding enthusiastic cover letters, etc.. I’ve had career/CV guidance, I’ve got Degrees and other qualifications the last year or 2 and I feel my CV is fairly strong. But….nothing. I feel lucky to even get a reply.

    Last night I attended #TechLifeBalance in Sligo, a kind of meet new Employer’s in the region type of event. The 4 CVs I brought were still in my back pocket when I left..

    All IT companies or with IT roles on offer including: LiveTiles, Overstock, E3, SL Controls & Pramerica. A few days before the event I’d sent a CV off to LiveTiles for an IT Admin role through a¬† friend who recently started working for them and got a pretty quick, copy & paste no thanks. I was impressed with the speed actually! Last night a representative from the same company said something that made the penny drop for me….finally! Although, in the back of my head, I’d suspected as much for a while. She said that she’d been going through a lot of CVs lately for roles they had in their new office and the one issue she seen across a lot of them was that while they all showed great skills and qualifications, very few had the actual “industry experience” they needed. By industry experience I’m presuming she meant, considerable experience working for a large, corporate, multinational company and all that that entails. I don’t really have that with my 1.5 years work experience for other companies in the last 23 years! The night left me fairly deflated if I’m honest. The location was a trendy digital hub in Sligo, the attendees were all beautiful, young, talented people, the food was hip and free, buzz words and phrases abounded. It was all over my head a little. I think I’ve missed the boat..

    So my conclusion..I guess I’ve thrown my oars out of the self employment boat. I’m in it for the long haul, so I better make it work!?

    Discussion appreciated below.

    Leon

     
  • Leon 9:00 am on May 17, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 10 awesome albums, air, album challenge, beck, , , dire straits, great albums, metallica, oasis, radiohead, the beach boys,   

    10 Awesome Albums 

    1. “Blonde on Blonde” – Bob Dylan

    Blonde on Blonde

    For some reason I had this on repeat during the dark days of 2001 when I was totally lost in life. I stayed in bed for about 6 months and the only thing I really done was listen to music. Loudly and with the lights off and curtains drawn. The only way to listen to good music! Amazingly, the album didn’t depress me further but helped me out of the hole.

    If I had to pick standout tracks they’d be:

    2. “A Rush of Blood to the Head” – Coldplay

    A Rush of Blood to the Head

    This was the first album I streamed when I got my first ever PC in 2002. I also attempted to illegally download it by holding a mic up to the pc speakers! I’ve come a long way since.. I listened to it a lot just as I became a “man”.

    Best tracks:

    • Politik” – (What an intro to an album!?)
    • Clocks” – (That bit at the end with just the piano…Ynom)

    3. “Brothers in Arms” – Dire Straits

    This is a bit of a cliche to have in your favourites list but I don’t care. It’s awesome.

    Standouts:

    Brothers in Arms” – (That solo!!)
    The Man’s Too Strong” – (Awesome folkiness!)

    4. “Talkie Walkie” – Air

    Talkie Walkie

    I’ve been listening to Air for at least 12 years now. It’s absolutely beautiful chill out electronica from France of all places. I want to make music like this some day.

    Best tunes:

    • Biological” – (Sciency love song extrordinaire!)
    • Alone in Kyoto” – (Such a delicate, subtle but awesome track)

    5. “The Soft Parade” – The Doors

    The Soft Parade

    The Doors have to be here somewhere and I wasn’t going to pick an obvious album. Having deconstructed and even recorded every single Doors album song in my time as well as having been in a Doors tribute band at one stage, I know these songs inside out and can appreaciate them, even the weird ones, more than most.

    I feel like the Doors had fun with this one and let loose their respective influences in what on the surface sounds like a mismatch of styles but when you dig deeper or even just treat each song on it’s own merits, there’s some real gems here. Everything from Rock to Ballads, to Jazz to Country!

    Favourite tracks:

    6. “Definitely Maybe” – Oasis

    When I first got into music seriously and was learning guitar, Oasis was fairly popular. The first band I joined in the late 90s were mad for Oasis and Britpop in general and before I turned them into a Doors tribute band (ahem!) we had good fun with some of Oasis’s songs. I remember really enjoying playing these songs on stage:

    7. “The Bends” – Radiohead

    Similarly re Oasis, we played a lot of Radiohead songs in the bands I was in. The Bends was out then and is still probably my favourite Radiohead album. Loved these ones:

    • Street Spirit” – (Lovely finger style riff throughout)
    • High & Dry” – (Hard to sing but nice acoustic feel)
    • Just” – (Intense!)

    8. “Mellow Gold” – Beck

    Mellow Gold

     

    Beck has a way with words…and music! There were some great old style influences in the tunes on this album. These songs are permanently in my head:

    9. “The Black Album” – Metallica

    The Black Album

    I learned to play lead guitar or maybe guitar in general with Metallica’s riffs. This album used to get me to sleep at night…in a good way! Standout tracks include:

    10. “Pet Sounds” – The Beach Boys

    Pet Sounds

    Are you a Pet Sounds or Sgt Pepper person!? Sgt Pepper was obviously groundbreaking but there’s a bit too much messing with electronics and recording tricks for me. Pet Sounds is just beautiful music from start to finish from the genius mind of Brian Wilson and has way more depth than Pepper. I love these most:

     
  • Leon 9:56 pm on January 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: chill insurance, irish drives   

    Musical Drives Around Ireland 

    Considering how deeply and how long I’ve loved music (both listening and playing) it’s a little sad how few of the very many famous and iconic Irish music locations I’ve visited. Apart from coming from the same part of Dublin 12 that gave rise to half of Thin Lizzy’s lineup, Drummer Brian Downey and lead man Phil Lynott, and visiting the latter’s grave in Sutton Cross cemetery, Dublin once upon a time, and going to the odd gig here and there, I really havn’t got about at all. Maybe a road trip is on the cards for me some day soon!?

    Big Names:

    Birth places, schools, recording/gig venues etc.. of some of the world largest, best known and most influential musicians can be found dotted around Ireland including names such as U2, Van Morrison, Thin Lizzy and more recently Hozier, Imelda May, Lisa Hannigan, The Script and Walking on Cars. Bono & U2 unsurprisingly top the polls as the icons who’s landmarks are the most visited. Places like Bono’s birthplace on Cedarwood Road, Dublin, his school Mount Temple, Windmill Lane studios where U2 recorded a lot of music and Bono’s current home in Killiney, Dublin.

    Videos:

    Apart from Irish musicians, Ireland, and particularly Dublin has also been the location for many famous music video shoots by international artists from Ed Sheeran’s “Galway Girl” recently, through “Stop” by the Spice Girls – filmed in Carnew Street, Dublin, to “Pour some sugar on me” by Def Leppard – filmed in Mount Merrion House, Dublin and “Our Love” by Caribou – filmed in Lough Ine House, Cork.¬†O’ Connell’s Bar in Galway, scene of Sheeran’s video tops the polls as the venue most people would like to visit!

    Venues & Landmarks:

    Ireland also has many famous venues including the 3 Arena – Dublin’s biggest and best known purpose built music venue, the Olympia Theatre, Whelan’s of Wexford Street (where Ed Sheeran got inspired watching Damien Rice allegedly), The R√≥is√≠n Dubh in Galway and the Academy in Middle Abbey Street, Dublin. Famous Irish music related landmarks include The U2 owned Clarence Hotel on the quays in Dublin City Centre, The Irish Rock ‘N’ Roll Museum Experience in Temple Bar, Bruxelles Bar off Grafton Street, O’Donoghue’s Bar – The Dubliner’s haunt on Merrion Row, Freebird Records on Grafton Street and the famous Irish music statues of Phil Lynott off Grafton Street, Rory Gallagher on Main Street, Ballyshannon and Molly Malone on Suffolk Street, Dublin.

    So why not stick on an Irish music playlist and head off on an Irish musical landmark road trip!?

    This post was inspired by the Chill Insurance¬†“Irish Drives” series.

    Leon

     
  • Leon 11:58 am on April 4, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: doors bootlegs, doors covers, ,   

    My Doors Covers Album! 

    So around about 2003 I decided to record an album of¬†covers from my favourite band, The Doors. I sold 1 copy online! But it was to a friend of Jim Morrison’s in Paris who collects rare bootleg versions and covers of Doors stuff. I was happy enough to retire on the back of that!

    All songs use professional backing tracks which I purchased and all feature my voice as the main vocal. Some are decent, some are not!

    Doors-Covers

    Alabama Song
    Back Door Man
    Been Down So Long
    Break on Through
    Hello I Love You
    LA Woman
    Light My Fire
    Love Her Madly
    Love Me Two Times
    People Are Strange
    Riders on The Storm
    Roadhouse Blues
    The Crystal Ship
    The Unknown Soldier
    Touch Me
    When The Music’s Over

    Download full album (Zip)

     
  • Leon 4:59 pm on January 8, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: catholic, charlie hebdo, muslim, religion, respect religion   

    Is it time we stopped respecting religious beliefs? 

    This blog post has been inspired by the murders yesterday in Paris by Muslim fundamentalists at the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in the name of religion and also by the response of Salman Rushdie who said this:

    “Respect for religion has become a code phrase meaning ‚Äėfear of religion.‚Äô Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.”

    I don’t know much about the Charlie Hebdo magazine. Seemingly a lot of their most religiously controversial stuff is a bit vulgar, smutty and just silly rather than smart satire that makes us think but no matter what they say or print, coming¬†in and murdering some of them, including a fellow Muslim policeman is just fundamentalism gone off the scale.

    Salman’s quote above sums up how I’ve been feeling about religion in general for a few years now. Having been an atheist most of my life, skipping baptism, communion, confirmation etc, no easy feat in Ireland in the late 70’s/early 80’s, I’ve never really had time for any religion. To me it’s been plain to see for a long, long time that it has no place in a modern, secular and scientifically enlightened civilisation. But still it lingers like¬†a disease infecting, sickening and killing people. Religion is still all around us, from events like yesterdays in Paris, to imposing churches around every corner, to pressure from grandparents to christen our kids, to baptismal certificate requirements when starting school and religion being such a big part of the education system.

    In this age of political correctness we are all told to respect other people’s beliefs and leave them to them. We all have immense fear of insulting¬†one religion or another. It’s become a taboo almost just to dare to question any aspect of any religion publicly. Should we continue to respect people’s beliefs or even the people who hold those beliefs no matter how ridiculous they are or what people do in the name of those religions such as murdering, abuse and torture? Is it time we stopped living in fear of religion and stopped respecting it?

    The only thing that gives me hope is that most younger generations seem to be giving religion less if any place in their lives and when the current older generations are gone maybe we will be free from religion once and for all. I’m talking about Catholicism in Ireland mostly of course. Religions such as Muslim, Islam etc may not die away as quick unfortunately. Perhaps what we need to do is stop attaching such significance and importance to religion¬†by constantly talking about it, practicing it and making it part of our lives in some way.

    Maybe Charlie Hebdo should have found something else more relevant to write/joke about than “a mediaeval form of unreason”, not because of the fear of retaliation but more to help bury religion to a distant memory?

    I’m even fearful writing this damn post..

    Fuck you religion…fuck you.

    Charlie Hebdo

    Illustration by Dave Brown for The Independent

     
  • Leon 2:30 pm on November 13, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: aq test, aspergers syndrome, autism spectrum disorder   

    Do I Have an Autism Spectrum Disorder!? 

    First off I need to say that I’m not writing this in the spirit of jumping on the Autism or Aspergers bandwagon, looking for sympathy, support or anything like that. I’m merely feeling a sense of curiosity, relief and the desire to tell the world that there might just be a long overdue “label” or explanation for all the weirdness that has been ME¬†for the last 39 years!

    I’ve always felt a bit different to everyone else and found things others seem to find simple a real challenge. Things like making friends, social events, school, large crowds, maintaining eye contact etc.. I’ve also shown signs of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). My family and friends regularly joke about me constantly tidying and organising stuff! I also seem to have mysterious talents doing things I’ve never trained for or studied, like running an IT business for the last 9 years! I’ve often been called aloof, arrogant and cold too but I’m not really. For the whole of primary school for example, I stood on my own in the same spot at lunch time. Every day for the best part of 8 years. I would have done the same in secondary school but preferred to cycle home instead. The school was damn far away and I only got a few mins at home to actually have lunch but it was better than staying among people. All these things are allegedly symptomatic of Asperger’s Syndrome¬†or “Arse Burgers” syndrome as I like to call it. I’ve wondered over the years, although never in any great dept, if I might have some kind of mild mental deficiency. It would have explained a lot.

    lalala

    So I seen a link on Facebook a few months ago that got me wondering¬†even more! It was a link to a generally well respected online¬†Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ) test, devised by¬†Simon Baron-Cohen. I took the test a few times then and again just last weekend too prompted by some autism awareness training that I had to do as part of working with local kids. Stuff mentioned in the training sounded uncomfortably¬†familiar to me. Anyway, having done the test a load of times now, answering as honestly as I possibly could, more honestly each time, I score around the 30 point mark give or take a point or 2 either way. A mark in that range is supposedly indicative of a “borderline autism spectrum disorder and possibly Asperger’s Syndrome.

    It was initially a little shocking to think that maybe I might have a recognised mental “disorder” but I’ve since relaxed into a sense of relief that I might now know what has caused a lot of stress in my life and generally made my life difficult. After all, knowing the source of a problem is the first step to fixing or dealing with it in some way. People who score in my range are advised to go to a local GP and request a referral to a proper consultant who can diagnose officially. I may or may not do that. I havn’t decided. I am aware that self diagnosis, especially involving the internet is not 100% wise but I feel that if it’s an explanation that works for me, then fine. Also, who is anyone to say that being different in this way is a “disorder”? Maybe all the normal people without these so called disorders are they ones who have the real disorder!?

    I reckon a lot of people in our modern society might score highly on the AQ test so I’m aware this could all be nonsense and I may be nothing more than a bit different or a bit shy and to be honest it’s something I feel I may have under control anyway considering I’ve found some kind of moderate success in life. I’m married, I have children, I run a business, I own my own home and car etc.. so I can’t say it’s been a real issue of late but there’s still days when I feel overwhelmed and feel like I just can’t function.

    Maybe the best thing that can happen as a result of all this is that the people who know me best might think twice about me now and be less offended by my weirdness.

    That is the reason for this blog post I guess.

    Leon

     
  • Leon 9:52 am on June 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Mary Agnes Hewson Quinn 

    In 2010 I wrote about ¬†my Mother on the 10 year anniversary of her¬†death. Today I’d like to mark 10 years since the death at 90 years old of another great woman in my life, my Granny, Mary Quinn. I lived with her, my Grandfather and my Mother in the same house for about 29 years pretty much from birth and she was the last of my immediate family to die when she passed away peacefully in Tallaght Hospital, June 4th 2004. I never met my father but I like to say I had two mothers instead.

    I remember not feeling very sad on hearing of her death. That came later. Rather I felt ‘cast adrift’ or abandoned in some way now that all of my immediate family had¬†gone. And even though I had a partner at the time, I felt properly alone for the first time ever when she died. Almost like I’d lost another part of me. She spent the last 7 or 8 years of her life in Sally Park nursing home, Firhouse, where she had been given a special place¬†after suffering long term depression for years before hand. She like my mother made many attempts on her own life including one infamous occasion where she was just about stopped from jumping out a hospital window a few stories up. I was also there the day we visited her to tell her the news of my mothers death and she looked straight at me. Into me. With deep sympathy and worry. It must have been awful for her at that stage of her life after what she’d been through herself with depression to be told a second daughter had died before her but she seemed to take¬†it well.

    She found a little peace in her latter years in Sally park under their close supervision and I’m sorry I never got to visit her much there, especially after we moved to Leitrim. I found it very hard to visit her for all kinds of reasons that I don’t need to go into here, some silly and others important. Unfortunately, she was¬†the only member of my immediate family that my wife ever got to meet and in granny’s customary style, she managed to insult her¬†on our brief visit to the nursing home! It was a nasty habit she had.

    I’ve heard it said from other family members that knew her longer than me that she was a very cold, hard woman and showed very little affection to her own children as they grew up. Whether that was a symptom of the times¬†or just her way I don’t really know but I remember her being affectionate to me and being much fun on many occasions such as the time she let me and my cousin tie her up with scarves and tights! We had many nice holidays away especially in Tramore, just me, her and my mother. I’ve been told she had a soft spot for me. Maybe I was like the son she never had or something having had only 5 daughters. I also remember she was great at giving advice and snippets of wisdom as only most older people can. One in particular was that you should “go out and tend to the garden” whenever you feel down. It really works. She would never have had much time for depressed people. She’d be the type to not tolerate it around her and tell you to pull yourself together and like my mother, it was some¬†surprise that she succumbed so spectacularly to the disease herself although it didn’t totally get the better of her in the end.

    Like my mother and myself, my granny had a wicked sense of humor and a very dry wit that bordered on being insulting and annoying sometimes. She was a bit too honest too! I guess she handed down these traits to my mother and I. If there’s any wisdom or old fashioned values¬†to be seen in me (and there are if my wife’s opinion of how I’m raising¬†my kids is anything to go by!) then it’s my grandparents, in particular my granny that must get the ‘credit’.

    It’s also because of my Granny that we were able to setup in Leitrim and buy a house here. Who would have thought that old dump of a house in Crumlin we all spent so many unhappy years festering¬†in would have bought such a nice house in which to raise my own¬†happy family?

    As I wrote in your condolence book on the day of your funeral, “Thank you Granny”. For everything.

    Leon

    Mary Quinn

     
  • Leon 11:15 pm on January 6, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: america, simon and garfunkel   

    America 

    My cover of maybe my favourite Simon & Garfunkel song. Its always moved me, especially the line “Cathy I’m lost I said though I knew she was sleeping…I’m empty and aching and I dont know why….”. Been there.

    Vocal (+ backing vocals), Rhythm Guitar, Bass and Strings by me. Performed, recorded, mixed and mastered via PC in Reverb Studios.

     
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