in college

Who am I?

I am Mark, son of Francis and Mary, sibling of Frank and Jennifer, husband of Mariah, and father of Caira and Garrett. I am agreeably introverted, mildly misanthropic, aggravatingly sarcastic and undeniably a know-it-all. I’m an avid reader and passionate geek. I’m a member of the superior left-handed minority of the population. I prefer to dress in dark colours and I wear size seven shoes.

My achivements to date:

That I am here today, in this college library, and lazily writing this report as I read Twitter is actually a fairly impressive achievement, if you consider my recent state of mental health: I have suffered from severe clinical depression. I still suffer from it to a lesser degree. Suicidal clinical depression. I tired to kill myself in May of last year. It is blackly funny to look back on this now, but during my fifteen minute walk to the hospital to get help, I deliberately walked in front of three cars.

I played real-life Frogger and won.

That’s my biggest achievement: I am alive. My other, lesser achievements are as follows (in no particular order):

  1. Seeing one of my photoshoots beautifully printed in Singapore’s Mother and Child magazine.
  2. Cutting my son’s umbilical cord.
  3. Moving from Ireland to America.
  4. Moving back home America to Ireland.
  5. Talking in front of two hundred people at an Ignite event in Galway and not making a complete hash of it.
  6. Purchasing my first digital SLR camera. Purchasing my second, third and fourth digital SLR cameras.
  7. My first Linux installation that booted.
  8. Working in a Ferrari showroom in Las Vegas. No, go on please, tell me about your summer job.
  9. Successfully photographing my first wedding as an assistant photographer.
  10. Solo shooting my first wedding.

My hobbies, interests and inspirations:

I originally had two separate sections, one for hobbies and the other for my inspirations. In the course reviewing and editing these segments I found enough overlap between them that I just went ahead and merged the two.

Books, books, books!

I read a great deal and it is very rare indeed to find me without a book in hand. Or in the case of my electronic editions, no fewer than fifty. I’m a massive fan of speculative fiction. I started at six by watching David Lynch’s adaptation of Dune from behind the couch with my dad. My first science fiction book was Timothy Zahn’s 1991 Heir to the Empire. Matters went swiftly downhill from there; The Lord of the Rings and Dune followed inside of the next year.

Dune has been and remains a massive influence in my life. The spare descriptions of the stark Arrakeen desert, and kilometres-long sandworms cresting sand dunes are powerfully vivid, especially after my time living in the Mojave desert. The message implicit in Frank Herbert’s novel of the superiority of human faculties and our ability to decide our own destiny has also shaped my philosophy. His depicts a universe in which a portion of humanity has shed the crutches of technology, animal instinct and religious dogma. These humans look at the world around them through the lens of reason and credit nothing but humanity for humanity’s achievements.

It came from outer space

Hand-in-hand with science fiction has an influence in my life have been the skies above. Some of my strongest childhood memories are 1986’s Challenger disaster and flyby of comet Halley by the European Space Agency’s Giotto, and 1989’s Neptune visitation by America’s Voyager 2. This interest hasn’t waned in the slightest: I am utterly fascinated by the greater universe and the perspective that scientific exploration give us of our own place in it: Since 1992 we have discovered almost seven hundred planets that orbit other stars. To date, we know of exactly one planet that has a water-based hydrological system:


We’re the the cosmic freak, a unique oxygen-atmosphered gem in a universe full of hydrogen gas giants, balls of methane ice and the burnt out cinders of carbon planets.


Can I say hand-in-hand again? Screw it. Hand-in-hand-in with science fiction and astronomy is my photography. This weird melange came about in one part from the mental snapshots I have of climatic moments in science fiction novels, and one part from the my respect mechanics involved in capturing any image at all using a space probe. Let me use an analogy for this:

There is a car driving down the motorway at one hundred and fifty kilometres an hour. You are perched on the roof of a car with a gyroscopically stabilized telephoto lens. Your field of view through the viewfinder is roughly the same size as the palm of your hand held at arm’s length. Your task is to perfectly photograph the poster on the wall of a building a kilometre away as it rushes by you.

You do not get a second chance.

The above, more than your classic poignant photographs of random people in streets is something that has spurred on my photography. The underlying technology (analogue or digital!) and the power it gives you to forever record something unquestionably alien and different led me into long-exposure infrared photography.

0101 0011 1001

And, yeah, computers and technology in general. I’d more put this into skills, though.

**Work experience and transferable skills?

I’m not trite enough to say I’ve done all, but I’ll certainly lay claim to having achieved a fair bit. I have – to put it coyly – worked in a broad range of areas. Behold:

  • I’ve been a professional photographer. I’ve done the whole thing to death. Photography is easily the strongest relevant skill that I bring into this specific course. I have a workable understanding of the physics and mechanics of cameras, and the horrible business side of making money with that.
  • Adobe Photoshop: I can say “I know Photoshop” in this tone of voice.
  • I’ve had some mild experience with professional printing and typesetting. I have a great grasp of LaTeX. I can calibrate your computer and monitor for brightness and the correct colourspaces.
  • I have a small bit of animal husbandry from a few months spent working in two veterinary clinics. Of everything I’ve done, these are probably the jobs I most enjoyed.
  • It’s worth a mention in passing that I am highly computer literate.

Less interesting experiences include basic accountancy, retail sales, inventory auditing, data research and entry, warehousing and dry goods transportation.

My life goals.

Long-term: Live forever. See the stars. Walk on the shore of an alien sea.

Middle-term: Graduate this Systems and Networking course without making a complete disgrace of myself. Secure skill-appropriate work, make money and maybe look at moving elsewhere in the English-speaking world.

Short-term: Pass this semester’s maths and develop a reusable LaTeX template for school reports.


in me

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