Dive, Dive, Dive

From a book by Oscar Wilde's dad
From a book by Oscar Wilde’s dad

Maybe it was Katie Taylor‘s victory, making me feel like doing something physical. Maybe it was the weather; sunny after days of mugginess. (Yesterday I broke into a sweat adjusting the phone holder in the car – and I had the blower on cold.) But for whatever reason, I knew it was time to jump in the lake.

Every day I should thank my lucky geography that I live near Lough Corrib. It is not every day I can jump in it mind; far from that. But knowing it is there waiting for when the sun comes out adds greatly to the sum of reasons to get up in the morning.

It’s strange to make a fuss about one of the few lakes in Ireland when I’m not long back from Finland, a country that is mostly lake, but the Corrib is a good one. It’s pretty, dotted with islands covered in trees. It’s vast – with the exception of Lough Neagh in the North, larger than any other lake off the coasts of Europe. But it’s not very deep. Consequently, it can get remarkably warm, even in a summer that’s threatening to drown us all.

I didn’t dive straight in off Annaghdown pier. The water was very clear, and thankfully I could see that it had fallen to dangerously-close-to-large-boulder level. So I sort of gently fell in.

And I couldn’t believe how warm it was. Well all right, more not-cold than positively warm. But after the “It’s OK once you’re used to it” warmth of the Baltic this was almost amniotic. Great for doing some actual swimming practice.

I’m working on the legs. I was never properly taught how to swim with my legs as a kid. “Kick,” they’d tell me, “kick harder!” Well I kicked the living shit out of that water, but I didn’t move anywhere.

The problem is I was quite a literal kid. Hell, all kids are literal. We make the naive assumption that adults actually mean what they say, and are not just blurting out some vague impressionistic nonsense that we’re expected to decode. Adults are very lazy in the way they talk.

Kicking water doesn’t work. Waving your legs up and down, that seems to get you moving forward.

Android Finds: Keep That Screen On

One thing that bugs me about Android is its eagerness to turn the screen off. Yes of course it’s a good idea for battery saving. But it’s less good for, say, reading. You can set the screen timeout delay for a maximum ten minutes, but sometimes even that’s not enough.

Especially when driving. Not that I read a lot while driving, you understand, but I do like to use the Maps app. Sure, that will keep the screen on when you use the navigation function, but to do that you need to enter a destination. What about when you don’t have a destination?

All right, not everyone is as weird as me. But sometimes I like to just drive around in places I don’t know. For example, today I decided to find how far south I could drive along the shores of Lough Corrib before impassable bog forced me back onto the main road¹. I’ve been wondering for years, but it’s the sort of thing you never find time to do in your adult life – until you get a day so hot that spending it driving around with all your windows open actually seems like the sensible thing to do. So I wanted a moving map, to make sure I was sticking to the shores and/or heading south, and I wanted to be able to read it at a glance, not be always unlocking the screen. But I had no destination to enter.

So I pulled over, searched Google Play, and found Screen On, a simple app from Greek company PinApps that lists all the other ones installed and offers the option of keeping the screen on while any of them is running. Lovely. And it has a couple of other cute features too – it can also keep the screen on while you’re taking a call. That sounds like a good idea, I’m frequently annoyed by the delay between ending a conversation and being able to hang up. I’ve yet to decide how well it works in practice though.

Better still, there’s an option to keep the screen going while charging. This was an available behaviour I opted into on my Nokia N900, because it kept the screen on whenever I was using the phone in bed or in the car. Some caveats though: Screens have finite lives, and I believe this is particularly true of OLEDs. Also, one as big as that of the Galaxy Note draws a formidable amount of power. If you leave it burning overnight, particularly if you have other stuff running too or if you’re not using a charger capable of the recommended 1Amp, you may find it hasn’t finished charging by morning! For these reasons, you should remember to manually switch the screen off by touching the power button.

But a great little app that does exactly what I wanted. The only way I would improve it is by having some contextual logic. I’d like it to keep the screen on, when I’m using a certain app, if the phone is on charge. That way there’d be a lot less risk of my flattening the battery through negligence.

Oh the trip? It was a lovely adventure, exploring a maze of boreens that had a nonchalant attitude towards the task of going somewhere. I saw nearby bits of country that I had no idea existed. At one point I drove a quarter of a mile down a narrow lane that just petered out, and so had to reverse all the way back. How often do you get to do that? But the answer to the actual question is that you can hardly get any further south along this shore of the Corrib than I am right here at home. As is fairly obvious from any map.

Afterwards I went to town – by the main road – and bought a big floppy ladies’ straw sun hat I found in a charity shop for a euro. It was quite clear that too much of the sun has been getting through to my brain.


  1. The curraghline. Built directly across a spongy bog and therefore liable to constant subsidence and crinkling, it has been described as “Ireland’s straightest and most uneven stretch of road”.