“That’s Ireland.” Recalling the Land, the People and More

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

When questioned about the often spirited revelry that lasted well into the morning during the Saturday of the 2019 Dublin Horse Show, the manager of our hotel responded succinctly, honestly and effectively: “That’s Ireland.”

Attending the Dublin Horse Show, reportedly one of the top three equestrian events in the world, truly was a highlight of our trip.

Those two words encapsulated the recent visit by Susan and I to the island nation — specifically the capital city of Dublin as well as day trip visits to other cities and small coastal towns. The Ireland we experienced was a place of warmth and genuine hospitality, and the people we encountered were welcoming and truly enjoyed celebrating. And, as noted, sometimes the celebration lasted long into the night.

What follows are memories in the ongoing effort by The PRDude to share in words and pictures what was experienced and perhaps not found in a guidebook during our visits to new places around the United States and other parts of the world.

The People. From the man at the airport who helped us find our shuttle bus, to bartenders and servers at the many pubs we visited, to the guy on the DART platform who assured me I was taking the right train to Sandymount, virtually everyone we encountered in Ireland was cordial, giving and open. Casual encounters evolved into conversations. The Irish people are truly among its strengths.  Where else do people regularly thank the bus driver?

A visit to Trinity College to view the Book of Kells is recommended. Get there by 9 am to avoid the lines.

The Outlook. On a DART train ride to the fishing village of Howth, I looked to the east as the train passed over the River Liffey and through the Dublin city centre.  To the east I counted 28 construction trains; in other parts of the city, there were more.  Clearly the Celtic Tiger economy has rebounded. Dublin and other cities in Ireland are desirable and vital places, however, housing prices are soaring. Rental housing in the very upscale Ballsbridge neighborhood near our hotel, the Clayton Ballsbridge, are steep by any means, with some two-bedroom units listed at 4,000 euros.

The Countryside. Dublin, with its crooked streets, shops and pubs, street musicians and vitality, was delightful. But we wanted to see other parts of Ireland. So we traveled by train to the medieval city of Galway on the west coast, and headed up north to Belfast in Ulster or Northern Ireland. En route, we were charmed by the undulating — and yes, very green — landscape along the Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) routes to these cities. Every few miles there would be a small farm with what looked like very happy cows and goats. This was storybook stuff, unadulterated and real. Wish we could have spent time there.

The Customs House, an impressive edifice along the River Liffey, makes for a great photo.

The Language. Yes, the Irish speak English, but with an accent. And, some train messages and signage was in Gaelic — which is not at all like English!  But we picked up on some words and sayings we found fascinating. Note this list, then think of what they would mean here in America. Scroll to the bottom for answers.

  • To Let
  • Brolly/Umbrie
  • Clamping
  • Crisps
  • Mind the Gap

You may have wondered about whether we enjoyed the pubs and music.  Did we tour castles.  Oh yes.  Watch for the pictures in an upcoming travelogue post. But first, I was inspired early during our trip to compose this poem:

Dublin Rain

Cascades like a fond memory

When you can’t expect to find shelter

Somewhere on Grafton Street.

We laughed under an awning

Knowing we could make St. Stephen’s Green

Embraced by all that would not leave us wanting or caring.

Subtle bursts of blue skyward

Are somewhat welcomed, then summarily dismissed

Because you rarely hear Dublin rain and it’s not invisible.

We lingered longingly after the farewell encounter,

Hoping and envious for a reappearance

Somewhere on the next crooked, cobblestoned street

Now, for the answers:

  • To Let — To rent or lease. Think of “sublet.”
  • Brolly/Umbrie — We watched to see people were carrying these — umbrellas.
  • Clamping — Better not park your car illegally. You’ll get the boot.
  • Crisps — Otherwise known as potato chips — only the ones in Ireland were better.
  • Mind the Gap — Be careful when departing a train, otherwise you might fall into the gap between the car and station.

One more thing: Should you visit greater Dublin, take the DART south toward Bray and get off at Dalkey. This quiet town boasts many fine establishments, including Finnegan’s.  A source told us none other than Bono frequents this classic pub.  We looked in the window during our visit, but no sign of the U2 frontman.

A reason to return.

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Finding Solace on This Day in America

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

The music from this trio helped me cope with the tragedies that took place in two American cities.

Grappling with the horrific news from El Paso, then Dayton, I sought some way to find consolation on this glorious, sunny summer day in early August.

My decision was simple: Walk and think.  And, seek out something here in our Chicago neighborhood that would provide some kind of comfort, some kind of remedy for the anguish I felt at yet another unconscionable action in America.

My stroll took me along Milwaukee Avenue, a thoroughfare reflecting the changes in Logan Square, now home to modern apartment towers and upscale restaurants.

Observing the new business and edifices along this once utilitarian street helped take my mind off the carnage I saw on television reports.

I made my way to the popular Logan Square Farmer’s Market, one of the largest and most vibrant in the city. Enjoying a coffee and the always-packed New Wave Coffee adjacent to the Farmer’s Market, here’s what I witnessed: Patrons purchasing vegetables and artisan wares, couples holding hands, couples walking dogs, people lining up to purchase tacos.

In essence, life continuing.

Making my way toward the main row of vendors on the Logan Boulevard parkway, I enjoyed a few songs from a trio performing Americana roots music. Their sound was inviting, genuine and uncluttered.

For a while, I forgot about what I learned from television news reports Saturday and this morning.

I walked home feeling relieved and in a better state of mind.

Back in 2012, I commented on the mass shooting of teachers and kids in Connecticut. At that time, I predicted this gun-driven madness would probably happen again.

Oh, how I wish I was wrong.

 

But What About Bikes? Three Cycling Actions That Need to Be Deflated

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Driven in part (every pun intended) by the readership of the June 27 PRDude post offering strategies for the new Chicago electric scooter pilot program, I was prompted to address a similar topic: Thoughts on that other two-wheeled/non-motorized personal mobility mode — the bicycle.

Here, I put the focus on what I believe are three improper and downright dangerous cycling practices that need to be eliminated.

But first, a little history.

From the images that accompany this post, you can deduct that I am a cyclist. Not a daily bike commuter, just a weekend and sometimes-after-work cyclist. The road bike pictured here is a Raleigh Grad Prix I purchased with the money earned working at the Bravco health and beauty aids store in the early 1970s.

I obtained this 23.5 inch cycle from Turin Bicycles, which then was located on Clark Street in Lincoln Park.  I recall the price was $115. It’s still a sweet machine and all original except for the seat, fork, gears, tires and rims.  Okay, so the frame, brakes and handle bars are still original. But I have very fond memories of the miles logged on this bike, even the falls that resulted in a broken nose, a broken wrist and large gash on my right shin.

Now to my suggestions.

Here, I’ve identified three cycle actions that need to be discontinued for the betterment of cyclists, as well as pedestrians, motorists and society in general.

  1. The Overly-Connected Rider.  There’s a time and place to check that email, Instagram or Pintrest account. Riding a bicycle is not one of them.  What would compel a cyclist — or a motorist for that matter — to divert attention to a hand-held device while riding around town is beyond puzzling. It’s downright dangerous. Furthermore, the practice is stupid. If you need an incentive to put that handheld away while cycling, consider this: It’s illegal to talk on the phone or text while bicycling and the penalty is $20-$500.
  2. “Look Ma, No Hands!” Yes, it may appear really cool to ride with no hands, but only until you need to brake or swerve to avoid a pothole or another road impediment or getting “doored.”  I’ve witnessed “no hands” cyclists peddling along quiet side streets and busy arterial thoroughfares like Western Avenue. And, I’ve observed a “hybrid” of sorts: The no-handed rider engaged with a handheld.  Why is this practice considered acceptable?
  3. Put the Brakes on Fixies. As I understand it, a fixed-gear or “fixie” bicycle has no freewheel component — meaning one can’t coast on a fixie. And, some lack brakes.  Let me repeat: Some fixed gear bikes don’t have hand brakes, requiring the rider to skid to come to a stop. Please explain how this type of cycle, which is designed for a velodrome, should be allowed on a public right-of-way.

If fellow cyclists need to refresh safe cycling practices, the Illinois Secretary of State produced this excellent “Bicycle Rules of the Road” document.

On this spectacular Sunday in Chicago, we’re planning to hitch our bikes to the car rack and bike one of the North Shore trails. Will be alert for a no-handed cyclist on a fixie checking his or her handheld.

 

 

 

 

One Image, One Question: July 19, 2019

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Oh, what a difference five-plus months and 120 degrees can make.

At the beginning of this year, I published this post on January 30 as a way to chronicle the outbreak of dangerous cold that settled in Chicago and much of the central part of the nation.

The view from our back porch looks somewhat inviting, despite the sweltering weather.

Today, we’re at the other end of the weather spectrum: An excessive heat warning that started today and lasts until Saturday night, when storms will smash the oppressive temperatures and humidity.

As I write this, it’s 94 degrees outside and heat index is in the low triple digits. I went for a short walk and, rest assured, man, it’s hot out there.

Government officials and the media repeatedly issued warnings about the dangers of the sweltering weather. There are still memories of the three-day heat wave of July 1995, when some 700 — mostly elderly in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods — perished; they died because there was no one there to help, to look in on fellow human beings in need.

Lacking central air conditioning, we get by with window units, ceiling fans and lots of cold liquids.

Now to the question: What does “heat” sound like?

Puttering in our yard, shown in the image above, I heard birds, a few footsteps, loud autos at times, the wind rustling in the trees and not much else.  I think most of our neighbors are wisely limiting outdoor activity this afternoon. To me, heat “sounds” like tranquility, as long as you can find shade and perhaps a little breeze.

Like my January post during the polar vortex, weather — certainly extreme weather — does have a profound impact on people. I’m encouraged to learn that cooling centers — county and public buildings — will remain open through Saturday night.

Of course, we may not move as fast or exert ourselves on hot days, but we continue on with life, knowing relief will come soon.

 

All Public Relations Professionals Should Read This Post

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Have plans for this weekend? Want something fascinating — but sobering — to read?

Let me suggest the 2019 IPR Disinformation in Society Report.  

Image courtesy of the Institute for Public Relations.

Certainly, this study, published by the Institute for Public Relations, is not a traditional page-turner or as compelling as a work of fiction or a celebrity biography.  But, if you’re a public relations professional, or if you care about the state and direction of modern American society, you should allocate time to read this provocative document.

Full disclosure: I have not read the full Report, but I will.  I did read the nine key findings presented and gained validation from some for what I have perceived to be significant problems today: Misinformation is detrimental to the nation; President Donald Trump is the leading proponent of spreading lies; false social media are the prime culprits for erroneous communication.

But I did advance personal understanding in a few other areas: A high percentage of Americans seek out other sources to confirm truth and accuracy; and family, cohorts and friends are the most trusted sources of information.

The Public Relations Society of America, of which I am a long-standing member, acknowledged the IRP report in this statement.  I wholeheartedly concur with PRSA. Dissemination of accurate and truthful information is the foundation of modern public relations, and it’s the ethical responsibility of PRSA members to adhere to this practice.

In this space, I’ve addressed disinformation/misinformation/false truth/lies/fabrication/fake news (or what ever term is appropriate or popular) frequently. Regarding President Trump, I’ve addressed his penchant for lying and fabricating facts and beliefs in a post published in May of 2016 and in another post published two days after his November 2016 election victory.

Want to gain a better perspective? The Washington Post maintains this database of “false or misleading” claims made by the President.

Back to the IPR report. The study does not offer solutions on how to end or even curtail the unfettered propagation of false information. But it keeps the conversation alive and at the forefront of conversation today.

That’s where it should be.

 

 

 

And They’re Off! Strategies for Electric Scooters in Chicago

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

A five-month pilot program for an innovative transit mode debuted in Chicago June 15, with all the fanfare expected.  As a transportation guy of some renown (well, at least in my own mind) I believe this new option has the potential to truly be a game-changer and improve the way people get from here to there.

Yes, but for the program to work, the City must form a sound strategy to ensure this novel way of getting around is safe and equitable, and compliments the current transportation network.

A line of scooters parked on the plaza at the Logan Square CTA Blue Line station.

The subject at hand: The dockless electric scooter program, which allows riders the option to download an app and, well, scoot away for a ride, then park the device in a “proper” location that does not impede pedestrian traffic, provide a hazard to those in wheelchairs or block entry to homes and businesses.

This recent report from the online source Curbed Chicago states that some 60,000 electric scooter rides were taken during the first week. Obviously, there was a demand and interest.

Like with most things new, there have been challenges.  I’ve witnessed the following:

  • While strolling on Milwaukee Avenue last week, I observed a young woman scooter rider who apparently hit a pothole, causing her to fall.  She rose with a bloody nose, but was able to continue her ride.
  • On a quiet Sunday afternoon, I observed a quartet of spirited scooter riders engaged in a circular “catch me if you can” game at the intersection across from our home. They later sped away, traveling against traffic on a one-way street.
  • And, throughout my neighborhood, I’ve seen scooters parked inappropriately on sidewalks and lawns or left flat on the pavement. Reports have shown scooters propelled into trees or flung into park lagoons.

Other news sources report riders have sustained injuries that require medical attention.  Given the warm-weather weeks ahead, one can anticipate more scooter-related injuries, hopefully none serious.

In a laudable attempt to help my home city, I offer the following scooter-centered thoughts for the Mayor’s office to consider. These strategies, goals and objectives have roots in effective public relations practices.

Goals:

  • Make scooters a safe, accepted and affordable mode of transportation in Chicago.
  • Expand the scooter network to neighborhoods that could benefit from shared micro-transit options.

Strategies:

  • Explore scooter programs in other cities — U.S. and overseas — to learn what worked, and what did not.
  • Collaborate with transit service bureaus, associations and community groups for ways to incorporate scooters into existing transit options.

Objectives:

  • Build awareness for the value scooters can make in enhancing mobility and alleviating “last mile” issues.
  • Cultivate acceptance of scooters as a legitimate transit mode; address need for safety and improper scooter use.
  • Work toward making the pilot program permanent in 2020.

There are many tactics that could advance this plan, but that’s for another post.  Back to the above, what would you add?

Two final thoughts:

  1. The dockless program already has resulted in some chaos. For the program to work, there need to be docking stations, like Divvy bikes.
  2. Electric scooters can be “fun” to ride, I suppose. But scooters must have a higher purpose — reduce cars on the road, help people reach destinations not available by public transit, provide mobility for those who need assistance.

Okay. Now it’s time for me to scoot. Figuratively, of course.

 

 

 

 

Where in the World Do These Phrases Originate?

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Logo courtesy of phrases.com.

Here’s a quick quiz.  Provide a definition for these two phrases:

1. Intentional parenting

2. Listening sessions

Are you done? Can you provide answers? Are you able to effectively, at least to yourself, determine just what the heck these two phrases mean?

Before planning and researching this post, I never heard of either. But, they are now part of our lexicon, I suppose.

The first phrase above was included in a business article that focused on career-building skills that can be absorbed from the practices of one’s parents — working hard, being responsible, demonstrating discipline, being trustworthy. This makes total sense to me. But what’s an “intentional” parent?

I didn’t know, so I googled the phrase and found this site that offered some direction. All I had to do to learn more was purchase some books, an intentional act of commerce. This also raised the question, can someone be an “unintentional parent?” I’m of the mindset that if you have children, you’re a parent.

And, on to the second phrase, presented to me by a friend who found it within an email seeking participants for a future “listening session.”  My first thought: Listen to whom regarding what?

Yes, reliable Google gave me a 173,000 potential answers from many, many sources, including prestigious universities and leading professional associations. In fact, I found an online article that shared multiple ways to host a listening session. The other question that surfaced to me: Isn’t a “listening session” similar to a “meeting” or a “discussion?”

Need more?

This website was built to amass and chronicle phrases in order to help writers. But neither provided what I believe to be an accurate description of intentional parenting or a listening session.

Had enough of my attempt at sarcasm?

Here’s my point.  Why can’t the phrases, words and ideas that have been used for decades or even centuries continue to work today? Why do we need new phrases or interpretations of the language? Besides, who’s in charge of “curating” this stuff, to coin a now-commonly-cited word?

As a public relations professional, I try to communicate effectively using language the reader can comprehend. To succeed, I steadfastly avoid jargon and refuse to employ flavor-of-the-month phrases.

If you concur, listen intentionally, then share your thoughts.