Ireland – Day 6

connemramap2

Today started off rainy again. But we were determined to head out and drive around the Connemara region. Our first stop was the small village of Cong. Cong is where the The Quiet Man starring John Wayne was filmed. We’re not big Duke fans, so we were not interested in any of that. We came for the ruins of the Cong Abbey.

Cong Abbey - 1

While it was raining, the rain had died down quite a bit so walking about the ruins and in the forest was rather pleasant. And in the forest itself we were shielded from any rain that was still falling.

Cong Forest - 3

As we walked the trail Cynthia and I heard some kind of animal shrieking periodically. Cynthia said “What is that?” and before I could say anything a falcon swooped down the forest path right past us and landed in a tree over our heads. Just then a man came walking around the bend and we quickly discerned that he was a falconer. He told us that the bird was a young Harris Falcon named Beckett and that he was raised by hand and was only about 4 months old. Cynthia captured this photo of the handsome creature

Beckett The Harris Falcon

We left Cong and made our way to Westport. The rain was coming down a bit heavier and we didn’t really care to stop here. I am sure it is a fine town and perhaps with more time and better weather we would have given it more of a chance.

We pushed on past toward Louisburgh before turning south to drive through Tawnymackan Bog and some of the most beautiful scenery we have every experienced. And to make it even better, the rain stopped and the sun started to show through the clouds. Things were looking up for us.

Connemara - 3

Connemara - 4

Connemara - 5

We drive down roads that were barely able to fit two cars passing each other, but most of the time we had the whole road to ourselves without another car in sight. We passed a waterfall coming off of a mountain and parked to take some photos.

Connemara - 6

As we drove down these twisty narrow roads we encountered many sheep just wandering around. Some on the road, some on rocks overlooking the road. All in all it was desolute, often moody with the changing weather and completely fantastic.

We wrapped up the journey with a visit to the Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey

From there we set a direct course to Galway.

For this trip we started off at about 8:30 am and were back in the hotel by 6:30 pm. So that’s about 10 hours to cover almost 150 miles. What an adventure!

Tomorrow we make our way to Dingle.

Ireland – Day 5

inishmoremap

Today we made the trek to Inishmore, the largest of the three Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland.

The weather forecast showed rain for the day, but we went anyway as it’s our only real opportunity. We decided to take the tour bus tp the ferry landing which was about an hour. Another hour on the ferry and we were on the island.

We stopped at the Pier House Guest House for some lunch. As luck would have it, the entire island was without electricity due to some maintenance going on with the power line that feeds Inishmore from the mainland. It was still a good lunch and we felt fortified for the adventure ahead.

We opted to rent a couple of bicycles and find our way to the ruins of Dún Aonghasa.

Cynthia Bike

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Cynthia hadn’t rode a bicycle in over 20 years and was worried she might not remember how. She quickly learned that the old adage “it’s like riding a bike” is not just a figure of speech and soon we were on our way.

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The rain was constant and there was a fairly strong headwind. We made it about 2 miles before coming to the realization that we might have bitten off more than we could chew with this bike riding adventure. We puttered around for awhile but eventually decided to return the bikes and hire one of the tour vans that circles the island.

This ended up being a much better plan. We went on to Dún Aonghasa and climbed the 20 minute hike up to the ruins. At this point we were especially glad we didn’t ride the bikes all the way here, only to have to ride them back.

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We explored the ruins, but the rain and fog spoiled the view of the cliffs so we made our way back down.

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After the tour we stopped by the cafe and had some hot coffee before heading back to the ferry to catch the bus and the ride back to Galway.

The weather made photography difficult, so we don’t have many photos of the adventure. In fact, most all of the photos in this post were taken by Cynthia as I was reluctant to pull out my own camera in the rain. It was a good time nonetheless. Inishmore is a starkly beautiful place, even on the rain.

Tomorrow we plan to drive around Connemara and find the Kylmore Abbey. Hopefully we’ll have better weather karma.

Ireland – Day 4

Today we made the drive from Donegal to Galway. One of longer drives of the trip. 3 hours if driven straight through, but we are not ones to drive straight through. As we were driving along about to enter County Leitrim we noticed a mountain and had to stop for photos.

Road To Galway

While we were pulled over on the side of the road we met a nice German couple who were visiting Ireland and spent some time swapping travel stories before moving on.

As we drove on we saw a sign for Glencar Waterfall and decided to have a look. We ended up going several kilometers down a very narrow, winding road that was quite harrowing at points when encountering a car or van going the opposite direction. But it was well worth the effort as the waterfall is quite beautiful and gave me the opportunity to do some long exposure shots using the ND filter I have recently acquired.

Glencar Waterfall

We spent a few hours on this little detour and then proceeded to Galway.

Arrival in Galway was a bit jarring. We were so accustomed to the rural experience that the big city was a bit unnerving, especially having to drive and find the hotel.

We did locate the hotel, but parking was not immediately obvious so we parked in a public, multi-story garage nearby before discovering the hotel did have their own parking. We moved to their parking pretty quickly once we found it.

The hotel is very nice. It’s not the #1 hotel in Galway, but it’s up there. We figured we deserved to splurge after all that driving.

We got checked in and freshened up a bit and then went exploring. We didn’t have lunch on the drive so we had a late (lite) lunch in Galway. After that we went back to the hotel and rested up for a several hours before heading back out to find a proper dinner.

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cynthiawild

Tomorrow, weather permitting, we’re off to Inishmore, the largest of the Aaran Islands. This will be a full day adventure featuring bicycle rentals and wild Irish hares.

Ireland – Day 3

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Today we drive from Portballintrae to Donegal Town via Londonderry. 85 scenic miles of twisty and often narrow roads.

We stopped off in Londonderry to visit historic walls.

Via Wikipedia

The Walls were built during the period 1613-1619 by The Honourable The Irish Society as defences for early 17th century settlers from England and Scotland. The Walls, which are approximately 1 mile (1.5 km) in circumference and which vary in height and width between 12 and 35 feet (4 to 12 metres), are completely intact and form a walkway around the inner city. They provide a unique promenade to view the layout of the original town which still preserves its Renaissance style street plan. The four original gates to the Walled City are Bishop’s Gate, Ferryquay Gate, Butcher Gate and Shipquay Gate. Three further gates were added later, Magazine Gate, Castle Gate and New Gate, making seven gates in total. Historic buildings within the walls include the 1633 Gothic cathedral of St Columb, the Apprentice Boys Memorial Hall and the courthouse.

Canon on The Walls of Derry

We stopped at a coffee shop and the climbed the walls and walked them the entire way round. It rained a bit and was sometimes cold, but it was good to get out of the car and walk around.

From there we drove on to Donegal and found our bed and breakfast and got checked in and then found our way to the city center to get a late lunch and visit Donegal Castle.

Donegal Castle is a quaint wee castle, but not much to look at, really. We poked around and then just wandered the city for awhile. We were both pretty tired from the day’s journey and headed back to the B&B. We rested up for a few hours.

It was during this time that something very interesting happened.

Outside our B&B window is a small flock of sheep in a neighboring field. Cynthia noticed one one of the sheep nearest to the B&B hadn’t moved since we checked in. It was just laying there while the other sheep grazed in the field.

This was causing Cynthia to be a little concerned so I went outside and climbed up the hill behind the B&B to have a closer look. That is when I noticed that the poor guy was trapped in a thorny bush and couldn’t free itself.

I was about ready to climb over the barbed wire fence to try and free him and then thought better of it. Last thing I need is to get tangled up in barbed wire out in the middle of nowhere.

Going back inside I found the B&B owner and asked him if he knew who owned the flock of sheep in the back and he said he did.

I told him what was going on and that the poor guy was stressing Cynthia out a little. And it was stressing me out, too…if I’m honest.

The owner said he would ring up the owner of the flock and let him know. About 30 minutes later we saw the owner of the sheep come over the hill and free the poor, stuck little guy. As we watched the sheep rejoin his flock. We thought that was that and were happy for a happy ending. But that was not the end of the story. As we watched the owner tend to the flock a rainbow appeared over the field. It only lasted a few minutes, but you should have seen Cynthia jumping for joy. It was Cynthia who captured the moment in this fantastic photo…

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Now THAT is a happy ending.

After that we decided to go back into town and find some dinner. We stopped at The Olde Castle Bar & Restaurant and enjoyed some pub grub. We went in search of some live music, but didn’t find any and decided to call it a day,

Tomorrow we’re off to Galway.

Ireland – Day 2

Today was a good day. The morning started off with thick fog. But as the sun came up, it burned off and we were treated to some very nice sunny skies.

Shooting Ginat's Causeway

Our first stop of the day was the World Heritage Site known as The Giant’s Causeway. There was still some fog around so it was a moody visit in terms of weather. We were quite happy that we remembered to bring our hiking boots. The terrain is quite rocky and treacherous. Though I suspect it would have been far worse had it been raining.

It is a fantastic site to see and we had some fun climbing around the site.

Meself On The Giant's Causeway

Cynthia On The Giant's Causeway

After hiking around The Giant’s Causeway we headed over to the Carrick-a-Rede, a rocky island connected to the cliffs by a rope bridge.

Getting to the bridge is a hilly climb, up and down the hillside. But the reward is a frightening opportunity to cross a bridge made of rope that spans 20 metres (66 ft) and is 30 metres (98 ft) above the rocks below.

Cynthia on The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Cynthia was petrified and said that she waited 55 years to cross this bridge and once was enough. When pressed, she said if she lives to be 110 she would repeat the experience. Must remember to set a calendar reminder :)

A Terrified Cynthia on The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Meself on The Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Seriously, though. This WAS her idea. And it was actually a lot of fun.

From here we made our way over to Dunluce Castle to see the ruined structure before it completely collapses into the sea.

Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle

All in all, it was a fantastic day. When the sun was shining, short sleeves were just fine. But when the clouds began to return in the evening we were once again glad we had our heavy coats.

Tomorrow we check out of our lovely hotel and make our way to Derry and on to dear old Donegal Town.

Ireland – First Full Day

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We got up bright and early and had ourselves the full Irish breakfast. Mmmmmm, blood pudding! Cynthia’s feeling much better after the whole incident with breaking my glasses.

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We only chose to stay in Dundalk because it wasn’t far from the airport and made for a good jumping off point to head north.

After breakfast we packed up our gear, loaded the car and headed off to drive to Belfast and then link up with the Causeway Coastal Route.

The first place we wanted to see was Carrickfergus. We stopped to see the castle and take in the view of the sea. It was a pleasant stop.

jayshipwreck

The coastal route takes you along the upper north coast of Northern Ireland and is something to see. Beautiful landscapes along a winding, twisty road that sometimes gets down to a single lane for two way traffic. This can be quite intense as you drive along, having to yield to oncoming traffic with practically nowhere to go. To make matters even worse, there was a bike rally of some kind going on and we had to carefully and frequently pass cyclists along the way.

We made our way to Ballygally Castle around lunchtime and stopped to get some food.

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We also paused to take a few photos.

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Head of Ballygally Bay

Coastal Road Rest Stop

From there we continued to wind our way to Portballintrae where we had a hotel reservation for a few nights. We got checked in and cleaned some of the road from our weary bodies and went for dinner at the Porthole Restaurant. The food was fantastic. Be both had locally caught salmon and shared a bottle of wine to toast our success.

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For now we say goodnight to Portballintrae

Ballintrae Bay

Tomorrow we visit Giant’s Causeway, The Rope Bridge, Dunlace Castle and The Bushmill’s Distillery.

Arrival in Ireland

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We made it to Ireland safe and sound. We picked up the car, a shiny BMW 3 Series, and made our way to Dundalk to check in to the Glenngatt House B&B. We were pretty tired and took a short nap before getting up and finding some dinner.

Our dinner was at a place called The Left Bank and the food was fantastic, especially the baked mushrooms with bacon and cheese.

We went back to the B&B and even though it was only 7:00 pm local time. we decided to go ahead and go to sleep as we were quite exhausted.

Sometime around 2:00 am Cynthia woke me up and she was crying. She had to get up and go to the bathroom and somehow managed to knock my glasses off of the table and then step on them…

glasses

I reassured her that it was no big deal as I always carry a spare pair just in case of such emergencies. She was able to calm down and we both went back to sleep.

We’re headed to Portballintrae today, via the coast highway. Sky is overcast and rainy but our spirits are high.

Using The DMCA To Fight Copyright Infringment

Notice to my readers, The DMCA is a U.S. law that governs U.S. hosting providers. If the site hosting your copyrighted material is hosted outside the U.S. the DMCA does not apply. I have found my images hosted on servers in China and Russia and all over the Middle East and I have come to the conclusion that those infringements are best left alone. The European Union does have the European Directive on Electronic Commerce (EDEC) which I have not researched.

Over the years I have been finding more and more of my photos being used on the Web without my permission. This is a quick guide to detecting and enforcing copyright.

The first step is to find if your image is being used. For this tutorial I will use one of my more frequently purloined photos. This photo of the Downtown Houston skyline is just such a photo.

Sabine Bridge

The first thing you need to determine is whether or not your photo is being used on the Internet without your permission. To do this, go to images.google.com. Here you will notice an icon in the search box that looks like a camera.

Google Image Search

Click on the camera and select “Search By Image” and this will bring up a dialogue box that will take you through uploading your image or providing a URL link to your image and searching Google with it.

For those using Google Chrome there is a nifty plugin called Search by Image that will, once installed, allow you to right click an image on the Web and search Google with it. Either way, the results are returned in the same way.

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As you can see in this example, Google shows you a set of images that are similar. Not surprising, there are a number of photos of the downtown Houston skyline by other photographers. But the list below is more telling. As you can see, there are several links to pages hosting my exact photo. Some of them are mine (obviously) and some of them are sites that I have licensed the photo to. And then there are the others. The copyright infringers.

At this point I click the link on a suspected infringer and collect the URL to do some research. For this example I will use my own Web site so as not to incur the wrath of an infringer who might take issue with me calling them out in a public forum.

Here we see this guy named Jay Lee who is portraying my photo as his own. What a jerk!

sabineinfringment

Now at this point you have two choices. You can peruse the Web site hosting your image and try to find contact info for the person or company and try to deal with them directly. This method yields a variety of results. Sometimes the infringer will agree to remove the image, or they might offer to license the image or, more frequently than I care for, they will tell your something along the lines of “too bad, so sad” or even ignore you entirely. Some infringers tend to get downright nasty.

Due to the large number of infringers I tend to come across I opt to deal with the hosting providers. Most hosting providers have provisions for dealing with Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices that will put the hosting provider in the position of dealing with their customer instead of you.

To go this route does, however, require some research and effort.

The first thing to do is find the I.P. address of the Web site. Simply opening a command prompt and using NSLOOKUP will accomplish this easily.

nslookup

Now that we know the Web site is hosted at 173.193.136.178 we just need to know the controlling entity for that IP address. To learn this we go to the American Registry For Internet Numbers, also known as ARIN.

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Using their Whois search to search the IP address we can see that Softlayer is the hosting entity for this Web site. We can then click on the Abuse Point Of Contact link to find out who to send our notice to. It is worth noting that if the hosting entity is outside of the USA, you might not get any response to your DMCA notice. If the IP address comes back as belonging to the RIPE Network Coordination Centre you are likely wasting your time if you try to file a DMCA.

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As we see here, the abuse contact for SoftLayer is abuse@softlayer.com. This is who we need to send our notice to.

As per the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), there is a specific formula for submitting a valid notice of copyright infringement. This is the template I use and has been very successful.

Compose a new email with the subject: Notice of Copyright Infringement

Then, in the body of the email include the following text and links:

The copyrighted work at issue is located at:

Insert the URL of the page infringing on your copyright here

Specifically, this image:

If possible, provide the direct link to the infringed image itself. You can usually find it by right-clicking the image and selecting “Copy Image URL” and then pasting the link in to your message. This works well in Chrome most of the time. In some cases you have to view the source of the Web site to dig this link out. If you can’t find it, don’t sweat it.

The corresponding URL where our copyrighted material is located:

Insert link to YOUR image on your Flickr page, blog page, whatever.

You can reach me at insert your email address for further information or clarification.

I have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted materials described above as allegedly infringing is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.

I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the information in the notification is accurate and that I am the copyright owner or am authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

Your Name
Your company (if you have one)
Your Web Site
Your Physical Address
Your Phone Number

The above template meets the required standards of a legitimate DMCA notice.

It is worth noting that some hosting sites provide online DMCA forms. These are preferable over sending an email when they are available. If you suspect a hosting provider might have such a form, a Google search using the name of the provider along with DMCA will usually lead you to the form.

Below are links to the more common hosting site DMCA forms

Once you have submitted your DMCA notice, whether by email or by online form, you can usually expect a notification that your notice has been received. Often it will include a tracking number that will be used for any communications and updates to the status of your notice. In my experience most hosting providers will have the issue resolved pretty quickly. Some of my notices have been addressed in less than 24 hours. The longest I have had to wait is about 3 or 4 business days.

Closing thoughts:

Not every notice will succeed. You will have to determine how much effort you are willing to expend enforcing your copyright. I would say my success rate, inside the USA, it about 95%. Your results may vary.

Many copyright infringers don’t know that they are doing anything wrong. They think the Internet is a bucket full of royalty free images and content. These kinds of infringers are often very apologetic and will remove the content.

Some infringers outsource their Web design to a third party. The Web site owner is lead to believe that their Web designer is making sure that the rights to the content are in place. Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous Web designers.

And then there are the infringers who simply don’t care about your rights. They think that if you posted the image online, you should expect it will get stolen. The reactions of this type of infringer can sometimes be quite frightening.

Remember, if you are asserting copyright in the form of a DMCA Notice, you must be prepared to back it up legally. Once you have claimed your copyright you could be presented with a counter challenge if the person or company believes they have rights to the content.

And one last closing thought. In most cases, when you file a DMCA notice, the hosting provider will disable access only to the content you specify and leave the rest of their site in place. The one exception to this I have found is GoDaddy. Upon receipt of a valid DMCA Notice they will disable the customer entirely. That means you will have to work with their customer and GoDaddy to resolve it. This can be a HUGE pain, as I have learned from personal experience.

Good luck in your efforts. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment.

Here’s to good friends

I remember it was the summer of 1979. I was living in an apartment on the south side of Houston, somewhere near Howard Drive and Highway 3. As I was on my way to or from somewhere or another, I encountered two guys walking down the sidewalk. As fate would have it, I needed to know the time, but did not have a watch. I noticed one of the guys had a watch and inquired as to the time.

In thickest of Irish accents, he responded that it was tree turty.

That was when I met Kieran Egan and Kieran Murphy. Two Irish blokes living on the U.S. on expired visas and working construction in Pasadena.

We struck up a friendship and it wasn’t long before they were sharing an apartment with me and my brother and a few others. I can’t really recall the entire roommate lineup at that time.

Kieran and Kieran were two of the most ridiculously funny people I had ever met. I was all of 17 years old and had not met many, if any, true foreigners…save for the Iranian guy who ran the local convenience store.

My fondest memory of these two was their never ending quest to find Guinness on tap. Back in those days, there was no Guinness on tap. At least not in Texas.
We would go out to various bars and each time Kieran and Kieran would inquire as to the availability of the elusive elixir from their homeland. And each time they would be told that there was none.

This didn’t deter them, much. They and my brother would have a drink or two and move on.

One night, after a rather prolonged quest to find Guinness on tap, we found ourselves walking home. Kieran Murphy, along with my younger brother Gene and a few other friends were quite drunk. Kieran Egan had opted to stay home.

As we walked past one of those do-it-yourself car washes my brother Gene asked Murphy if he had 50 cents. Murphy spoke up and said “aye” and gave Gene two quarters.

Gene then proceeded to walk over to one of the car wash stalls and deposited the two quarters.

Murphy, curious, walked over to see what Gene was doing. That is when Gene proceeded to turn the hose on Murphy and began to spray him down, quite vigorously.
Murphy fell to the ground in a pile of soaking wet, uncontrollable laughter. Gene kept spraying for a good long while with Murphy laughing and rolling around on the ground the whole time.

We were all laughing quite hard.

Eventually, we made it back to the apartment and made our way to bed.

The next morning (or possibly afternoon) when we had woken up, Kieran Egan asked about our adventures and Kieran Murphy, in all earnestness and sincerity, related the events of the evening to his friend as follows. (to be read with the thickest of Irish accents)

“Kieran, you’ll not believe it! Gene is such a good friend! He took us to his favorite pub! And guess what? They had Guinness on tap! All you could drink for 50 cents!”

There are other stories regarding the antics of these guys. But this one stands out in my mind.

I don’t know what ever happened to the Kierans. Perhaps I will find them or stories of their antics when I visit Ireland later this year. That would be some reunion.

La Crema Las Fallas 2013

This is the event that the whole Las Fallas festival leads up to. All those fantastic Falla sculptures are burned to the ground. There’s no way to see them all. You pick one you want to watch and stake out a spot. We chose the one named “Que se mueran los feos” which translates to “May the ugly ones die”. It cost over 100,000 Euro to build. It is located just north of the dry river bed and is easy to get to from our hotel and has the added benefit of not being in a cramped little street corner or the one in the city center, all of which are very difficult to get to and very, very crowded.

This is what our Falla looks like in all of its pre-Crema glory

Before it was Burned

We arrived just before midnight to stake out our spot. The burning was only about 20-30 minutes late as we waited for the fire men to get in to position. There was a sudden detonation of some aerial fireworks and then the lights went out and this happened.

Las Fallas - Crema

Las Fallas - Crema

Las Fallas - Crema

Las Fallas - Crema

Las Fallas - Crema

Las Fallas - Crema

Las Fallas - Crema

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And POOF!

Las Fallas - Crema

All gone!

We walked back to our hotel exhausted, but satisfied. Tomorrow we head off to Madrid to spend the night and the fly back to Houston for some much needed rest and relaxation.