Irish citizenship

I applied for my Irish citizenship today.

I had been thinking of going through the naturalization process for a number of years now. Although I was born in England, I have made Ireland my home for the last 11 years, and plan to stay here.

The process itself is a little daunting, as there's lots of documentation to gather, 15 pages of forms to fill in, and then there's the fee of over a thousand euros! But I suppose most things that are worth achieving require some effort.

The final process this morning was meeting with a solicitor to have some things witnessed, and then we went to the post office to send off my completed application. 

By all accounts it should take around six months to process my application, and I won't have access to my passport for the next 6 weeks or so. And then I need to attend a final ceremony to swear allegiance to the Irish state before I can even think of applying for a passport.

TLA is NOT a three letter acronym

The definition of an acronym is a word formed by initial letters that can be pronounced as a separate word.

Examples of acronyms are "Laser" (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation), "Nato" (North Atlantic treaty organization), and "Ram" (random access memory).

However, "TLA" is not pronounced as a word. Each letter in it is pronounced separately, as as such it's not an acronym. If you want you can call it a three letter abbreviation, but to be more specific it's really an initialism – but that would change the abbreviation from TLA to TLI.

The Guardian style guide also recommends that acronyms are to be written using an initial capital (e.g. Nasa, Nato, Unicef), and that initialisms are to be written in all-caps but without full stops and spaces (e.g. BBC, CEO, IMF).

The lines blur, of course, when you get abbreviations such as VAT (value added tax) which can either be pronounced as individual letters or as a word.

Mothering Sunday

This coming Sunday, the 11th March, is Mother's Day (also known as Mothering Sunday) in the UK and Ireland.

There seem to be different definitions of when Mother's Day occurs around the world. In the UK and Ireland (and also Nigeria) it always happens on the Fourth Sunday of Lent – also known as Laetare Sunday.

Laetare Sunday (or Refreshment Sunday) is traditionally the one Sunday in Lent when you're meant to relax your Lenten austerity – and also your Lenten fast – so stock up on that chocolate and booze now! And in church it's one of the two Sundays in the year when the priests wear rose (or pink) coloured vestments.

The reason it's called Mothering Sunday seems to date back to a 16th-century tradition of Christians visiting their mother church annually on Laetare Sunday. Children would return to their home towns, and as such to their families, so there would be some focus on returning to their mothers.

However it wasn't until World War II that US soldiers brought the entirely secular celebration of mothers on Mother's Day to the UK – and as such the two traditions merged.

One of the traditions I'm personally very fond of is the making of simnal cake on Laetare Sunday, a light fruit cake with lots and lots of marzipan in it, and then decorated on top with 11 marzipan balls – to symbolise the 12 apostles (minus Judas).

WordCamp Belfast 2018

I've been going along to some of the Dublin WordPress meetups in the last couple of months, and one of the things they suggested is for people to attend the WordCamp conference in Belfast.

It takes place over the UK bank holiday weekend of 25th-27th May 2018, in the Queen's University, and is for anyone who has a interest in WordPress. There are sessions for developers, designers, bloggers, and business owners.

Myself, I like to tinker with WordPress for my personal sites and blogs, and am keen to understand a bit more of the technical stuff – so I think this conference will be really interesting.

It also gives me the opportunity to get my techie geek on in a environment with like-minded people.

How many days are in Lent?

Lent is the penitential season of fasting and prayer that runs from Ash Wednesday until just before Easter.

The problem is that the length of Lent doesn't quite add up. It's often described as being 40 days long, but if you count the number of days between Ash Wednesday and the day before Easter Sunday, it's 46 days.

The church says "Ah, but you don't count Sundays, because you don't need to fast on Sundays". And by removing the 6 Sundays from the 46 days, you do indeed get 40 days. But then how is that meant to correlate with the time that Jesus was fasting in the wilderness? Did he have a day off on Sundays?

And what about the fact that Jesus was meant to return to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, a full week before Easter? That's 40 days (including Sundays), but that's not what any Christian denomination teaches as Lent. The Catholic church says that Lent runs until Holy Thursday or Good Friday, and the Protestants says it runs until Holy Saturday!