Monthly Archives: February 2005

Farewell Carly Fiorina

So farewell then, Carly Fiorina. You are no longer the CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

Having spent several hours this weekend wrestling unsuccessfully with flaky and bloated printer drivers for my HP Officejet All-In-One printer/fax/scanner/copier (great hardware, appalling software), I’m afraid I don’t have much sympathy for you. That, and the fact that you got an absurd $21m golden handshake for presiding over a 63% drop in HP’s share prices.

With any luck, perhaps your successor will realize that it isn’t acceptable to sell a home/office peripheral that requires the user to install a GIGABYTE of crap flaky software in order to use all its features.

First Snowboarding Trip of the Season

I went snowboarding this last saturday for the first time this winter (primarily as a result of finally getting some cheap basic health insurance), and I had a really good time.

I took the Scandinavian Ski & Sport Shop bus trip to Hunter Mountain, which was a pretty good deal at $64 for both the bus and the lift ticket (although getting to midtown Manhattan for 6:45am was a little brutal).

The conditions at Hunter were pretty good, at least as far as east coast skiing goes; a cold sunny day with clear blue skies, a decent cover of reasonably good man-made snow, and surprisingly few crowds for a holiday weekend all contributed to a fun day.

My gear all coming was another factor that helped make the day fun and hassle-free, as a lot of it was new:

  • New Quiksilver gloves; a Christmas gift from my parents, and much warmer than the pair they replaced;
  • New RED HiFi Audio helmet (see blog passim); comfortable, warm and very well-designed. The built-in speakers sounded great with my new replacement iPod, and the external mute button was extremely useful.
  • New boot liner laces; the helpful folks at Northwave sent these to me in the mail for free — thanks!

New iPod

I finally got a new replacement iPod last week! My father used his homeowner’s insurance to replace the one he smashed over the holidays (thanks Dad!).

This time I bought a silicone rubber iSkin Evo2 to protect it; $30 seems ludicrously expensive for a bit of moulded rubber and a square of clear plastic, but I have an unfortunate habit of destroying consumer electronics, and my previous iPod got pretty beaten up even before it got destroyed, so it seemed like a sensible precaution.


I finally downloaded and installed Firefox 1.0, Mozilla’s open source web browser today, and so far it seems very good — it works pretty much the same as Internet Explorer, but has various useful security and usability features built-in, such as pop-up blocking, default disabling of ActiveX controls, tabbed browsing, RSS support and Google search right from the main button bar. It’s also a compact application — the installer is only 4.7 MB, and automatically imports existing favourites from IE — and genuinely seems faster than IE too.

It’s probably 5 years since I finally gave up on Netscape because of increasingly irritating incompatibilities and general bugginess, and reluctantly switched to Microsoft’s bloated Internet Explorer; perhaps Firefox will finally replace IE as my default browser?

I have one question that deosn’t seem to be answered in the FAQ’s… Why is a web browser named after a Russian fighter plane in a dodgy cold war movie from the 1980’s starring Clint Eastwood?


Last night I began the arduous process of re-toxifying my body, starting with a nice juicy piece of steak au poivre with “frites” washed down with beer in a local French restaurant, then on to the Brooklyn Social for more beer and pool with a good selection of friends.

Feeling a little the worse for wear today (more from poor quality sleep than anything else I think), but damn it was good to go out and join the rest of the world again!

Nearly Off the Detox Wagon!

DAY 30: My last day of detox! This morning I had some blood taken for a cholesterol test, and right now I’m preparing my last salt-free detox meal: marinated baked tilapia with brown rice and a mixed spring greens salad. Tonight I’m planning to have a big juicy steak and drink some beer!

So, how do I feel after 30 days of clean living? I feel pretty good, and am probably as healthy as I’ve ever been in my life, although I didn’t experience the almost supernatural level of physical wellbeing that I was vaguely hoping for. My energy level is consistently high throughout the day, compared with the peaks and troughs associated with “normal” living, and my general mood is more even, but I still don’t enjoy going to the gym very much, and I still find it very hard to get out of bed in the morning!

Both my average blood pressure and weight are a little lower than usual, but the change is not very dramatic; my average blood pressure during the detox was 123/72, compared to an average of 129/79 over 2004, whereas my average weight during the detox was 165.5 lbs, against a 2004 average of 167.8 lbs.

One good thing this experience has definitely given me is an improved relationship with food; I’ve had to think very hard about what I’m eating and how to prepare it in order to make vaguely enjoyable meals that comply with the dietary restrictions, and have learnt a few useful culinary tricks along the way, such as how to make a half-decent salad dressing, how to make a black bean soup and how to select and cook fresh fish from the local fishmonger. I also bought a $20 rice cooker, which made life much easier, and “re-learnt” a few things I’d forgotten, such as how good fruit, nuts and honey can taste.

Here’s a typical days menu:

Breakfast: Diced organic melon, pear and kiwi fruit, with sheep and goat’s milk yoghurt, raisins, walnuts, almonds, shredded coconut and honey (the breakfasts were delicious and easily my favourite meal of the day, although they were somewhat time consuming to prepare).

Lunch: “Make it up as you go along” black bean, chilli and roasted vegetable soup with rice cakes (if I never see another rice cake in my life, that’ll be fine with me).

Dinner: Pan seared pepper and coriander encrusted tuna steak with brown rice and mixed green salad.

Snacks, beverages etc.: Dried apricots, carob-coated almonds (these were a life-saver), fennel tea or lemon and ginger tea with honey.

So, overall it was a very positive and interesting experience (not to mention a good way to save money on going out!). I’ll hopefully also be able to make some small permanent changes to make my diet healthier, but I’m definitely looking forward to returning to normality!

The Home Straight

Less than 48 hours of my 30-day detox programme to go! I’m not sure yet what I’m going to consume to reward myself this Friday night, but it’ll almost certainly include beef in some form — probably either a steak or a cheeseburger — and some beer.

I haven’t really missed any particular food or drink specifically, but what I have really missed is freedom of choice — the freedom to eat whatever seems good at the time, or the freedom to eat in restaurants and bars with friends.

The diet on this detox programme was so restrictive that it was pretty much impossible to eat out; the only time I managed it was at a raw foods restaurant called Quintessence, where the food is 100% vegan, organic, kosher, and “raw” (i.e. never heated above 118 degrees fahrenheit), and even there the restriction on salt resulted in a very limited and rather uninspiring choice.

I’ll post a more detailed post-detox report on Friday…

Final Bell for Last Orders…?

All-Day drink licenses available: As of today, pubs and bars in England and Wales can apply for licenses to stay open and sell alcohol for up to 24 hours per day (Scotland’s licensing laws have been less restrictive for some time). It’s about time, I say.

Finally, the ridiculous anachronistic hangover of English pubs sounding the bell for “time” at 11pm will be consigned to the dustbin of history where it belongs.

This is a very controversial move by the Labour government, with various hysterical law enforcement and health experts warning that Britain’s binge drinking culture, already the worst in Europe (and possibly the World?) will spiral even further out of control. Exactly the same scare stories we heard when “all-day drinking” was introduced — almost entirely without incident — in 1988.

Personally I think that this hugely welcome and long overdue deregulation will have the opposite effect; by removing the pointless drinking deadline, people will drink more slowly, and the intensity of the current 11pm flashpoint — where the pubs are emptied and the streets are suddenly full of people that have all drunk 6-10 pints in the space of a couple of hours — will be significantly minimized.

In fact, fears that people will go on 24 hour binges seem to be almost entirely unfounded, since pretty much all the pub landlords surveyed so far have said that they will probably only open up for a an extra hour or two at weekends, since 24 hour opening isn’t economically viable anyway.

And this is basically democracy working properly for a change; most people want licensing laws to be relaxed. According to CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) survey, 7 out of 10 Britons want a relaxation of licensing laws that were originally introduced in 1872 to clamp down on “gin palaces,” were extended during the First World War to help maintain wartime productivity, and have been tinkered with on a piecemeal basis ever since.

Finally, it’s “time, gentlemen, please!” for stupidly restrictive licensing laws.