Showing posts from 2005

More dieting success

More dieting success . . .

Its always nice to be able to bring good news, and here is more.  The diet has brought me down to about 9 stone 9 pounds at most (and I was actually weighed immediately after a heavy meal and a beer, which means its probably a little less).  This is 58 pounds under what I was 6 months ago.  I found a photo of myself then and was really stunned: its like a stranger in the photo.  It seems incredible to me now that I let a veil of denial let me dangerously overweight.

Of course everybody is different and when I look back at photos from about 15 years ago I am surprised to notice just how thin I am in them.  Even as recently as 7 years ago I certainly wasn’t fat.  And oddly enough people who I never really thought of as fat now look huge.

It seems funny but it sure wasn’t 6 months ago.  I didn’t suffer from a lot of the hang-ups that many overweight people end up with as part of their condition, but I’ve noticed people are suddenly taking me a lot more seriously –…

FF's latest display of spectacular hypocrisy

I'm amazed sometimes by the assumption of the complete imbecility that Fianna Fail regard the Irish electorate with. (Though of course, if you're an Eddie Hobbs fan, you'll be unsurprised to see how many people simply swallow the blatant lies of FF hook, line and sinker). Today Seamus Brennan came out with incredible bullshit about pensions. He is unhappy at the fact that 900,000 workers have no pension provision for the future and says that "the Government could not just do nothing about this situation." Incredible, when you realise that this government effectively handed the carte blanche to employers 2 years ago when they ended the requirement of "meaningful contributions" from the employer in order for the state to recognise pension schemes. This was a quiet piece of small print in the introduction of the disastrous PRSAs, which were intended to create "budget" pensions for less well off workers. Previously a pension scheme was only …

The Market for Sobriety

Today's title is something of a misnomer, as there is no such thing. I was struck today by a good article by Zoe William's in the Guardian about the pending extension of drinking hours to 24x7.

Round-the-clock drinking is not there to suit the timetable of the moderate drinker who wants to stay in and watch Lost but fancies a quick spritzer at midnight and, darn it, can't find a boozer open. It is there to suit the person who's already been out for four hours, and can't bear to go home, which - by the standard definition of a "binge" being more than three drinks in a session - can only be the binge drinker.
A very good point, I thought, however, this is a classic case of demand-driven economics: the drinker (as the consumer or the individual element of the market) wants longer drinking hours and is willing to purchase more, therefore the government is enabling unlimited licensing hours so that the retailer (the pub or club) can sell the consumer more booze…

Diet updates

Hello again. After some very nice emails, I had to let you all know how the diet is going. One or two difficult weeks in the last couple of months, but I'm now down to a size 14, weighing in at 10 stone 6 pounds (146 pounds) or 66kg for you metric people.

Have to say that I'm working hard on it - staying clear of unhealthy foods, exercising more than once a day now - this is getting off about 2 pounds a week - very good at this stage. I'm really starting to see results and its becoming much more noticeable. At this stage there is only 18 pounds in between having a BMI of 25 and where I stand right now, which, when I think about it, is just a little more than one of the 7kg dumbells I often lift as an isolation exercise. At this stage I'm not worried about the remaining saddlebags or spare tires - as they probably represent most of the fat that remains: so when the fat goes, they'll (fingers crossed) go with it.

I'm not under the illusions of spot myths, so I…

Are women more gullible than men?

It is just me or is there a pattern in place in online women's forums? I have lately taken to exploring's forums whilst working night shifts and am sooo depressed at what I read. My sister used to moan that working in an airline reservations department was like working in a hairdressers - it was all "holidays, makeup and boyfriends." Well meet the real thing.

Since I've started working shifts, I've entirely gone off tv. Daytime schedules (especially on TV3, which is pure drivel from about 10am until dusk) is riddled with bad UK and Aussie soaps, old (and crap) US soaps, "real life" courtroom drama and constant advertising for ringtones, dial-a-psychic and food-advertising. Which is a shame, as their breakfast show is good, the news comparable to RTE and they do show "Footballers Wives" and "Bad Girls" as well as repeats of the truly excellent "Cracker." However, the daytime schedule is nothing but drivel.


ID Cards

I am fascinated by the current debate in the UK regarding ID cards.

The debate is largely focussed on the negative effects of ID cards, but generally it ignores the fact that increasingly, proof of id is a part of everyday life.
Next week I've a couple of taks to do. I'm sitting a networking exam. For this I need to show either my driving licence or passport and some form of signed id (eg. a credit card). The next day myself and my partner are opening a joint savings account - which means both proof of id and proof of address.

Its become not infrequent now to have to carry a passport or driving licence for certain things. Yet there is huge opposition to the idea of an official id card that would eliminate the need for expensive extras like a passport. For example my password expired last month. A new one - even the most basic, will cost me 75 euros, a 5 euro trip to get photos done and possibly another 10 euro to get it done at the post office. Fortunately my driving licen…

How to fix a walkman with a dodgy headphone socket

Last christmas I treated to myself to a dirt cheap 256MB mp3 player from Hong Kong for about 45 euros. (Less than 1/4 of what Irish retailers were charging for the same thing at the time, including postage). Its a nice little player, but like a lot of cheap electronic equipment it isn't the most resilient.

The other day I found that the headphone socket was opting out. Its a problem I previously had on a sturdy sony walkman I had for about 8 years. I think I paid 25 pounds at the time for what turned out to be an incredibly simple repair.

I opened up the case and found that there are 4 tiny contacts around the earphone socket, 3 of which had come away from their solder.

So I took out my soldering iron and soldered them back together. Put the walkman back together after the solder dried. And what do you know - problem fixed!

Why we need a reappraisal of public transport policy

Its desperately needed in Dublin where nowadays you cannot turn around a corner at any hour of the day, any day of the week, between 07:00 and 20:00 without hitting a 20 minute delay. Its turned extremely critical in the last couple of years, and yet incredibly, aside from the LUAS project, there has been little effort to improve the situation.First of all the councils and Dublin Bus executive need to be taken out and publicly horsewhipped from Bray to Balbriggan and back. 24hr bus lanes where the bus routes only run - at best - 18hrs a day. Bus lanes built but then extra services not added to use them. Dangerous and badly planned cycle lines that endanger cyclists using them. Rail services that shutdown at weekends for several months a year due to "improvements" that are basically only station extensions which could be done far quicker by simply suspending the entire route for a month or so, causing far less disruption. The absence of a Sunday service in most of the country…

Eating Well for Shift Workers

I've been reading some "advice" on eating whilst on shift and to be honest, there is a load of crap.

For a start, one suggestion is to "maintain your regular meal times". Load of baloney. If you get out of bed at 2pm, eat lunch, have dinner at six and then work a whole 12 hour shift on an empty stomch you'll either a) get huge cravings and end up eating lots of crappy foods or b) fall asleep halfway through the shift. Plus eating breakfast and then going straight to bed is surefire disaster - you'll upset your sleep and very possibly end up with indigestion. Any sugars and fats ingested get little opportunity to burn off so you'll also end up putting on weight.

My suggestion is to maintain eating hours as if you were working during the day. For example, eat something as soon as you wake up, and don't eat less than 4 hours before bedtime. Here's my suggestion for a 12 hours shift working 7 to 7:

Wake up time 3-4pm
Eat a "lunch" li…

10 Ways to burn the blubber

Since I've knocked off nearly 30 pounds of excess poundage in the last 4 months, I'm going to do a quick 101 on dieting. I'm stunned when reading stuff like and irishhealth forums, how much ignorance there is about weight loss, especially amongst women. I think what has happened is that the last few years of aggressive marketing by those selling cosmetic treatments and pseudosurgical "solutions", as well as the now huge diet supplement industry, have managed to brainwash huge numbers of the (particularly female) population into believing their armchair weight loss bullshit.

There are two myths I constantly see:

1. Weight loss pills can solve your weight problem, regardless of diet, exercise and lifestyle.
2. Cosmetic surgery and pseudo-medical treatments can solve your weight problem, regardless of diet, exercise and lifestyle.

Both are utterly wrong, and expensive mistakes to make. Bake in the 1980s I remember my mother going to a beautician for Slenderto…

Antisocial woes

I just happened onto the ASBO debate on the Late Late on Friday night, and couldn't help but smile at the 2 folks who were trying to argue against the proposals. Somebody very rightfully pointed out that John Waters won't be experiencing the kind of antisocial behaviour in Dalkey that folks in ordinary areas have to endure. The young lady speaking with him came across as well-intentioned, but incredibly naive and quite oblivious to the reality of living with antisocial behaviour. The young man ffrom Belfast who had received an ASBO was portrayed as an innocent and I felt a real sense that we were not getting the full story about his case.

I have to admit that I have lived around antisocial behavious (sometimes extreme) for a lot of my life and I think this young lady needs to experience the torment of living with an extreme annoyance (and sometimes downright harassment) for a week or two before making judgements about the effectiveness of various remedies. She kept saying t…

Good and Bad career moves

5 Career Tips

1. Education is a huge deal in Ireland. There is a lot of weight placed on what you studied, where you studied it, and what results you got. The point system, for all its negative points, does have a picture of how various disciplines and colleges are percevied. In some cases, local qualifications may be more appropriate for local companies, whereas larger and global organisations love high-fliers.
If you have a below average leaving cert (less than 2 Cs at higher level) then don't draw attention to your mediocrity by pasting it all over your CV. And there is absolutely no excuse if you want to further your career, for not going back to complete the Leaving if you didn't do it, or failed it. Unless you are over 50, there is a very poor perception about those who left school early. People will make all kinds of assumptions about you if you didn't finish the Leaving, but at the same time there is also a healthy respect for those who go back as a mature stud…

Congratulations, Mr Blair

Congratulations to the UK Labour party, who once again have blocked the evil resurgance of Toryism in the UK. Even though about 40-50 seats have gone to the Tories (still giving them only the same number of seats as the Labour party achieve in their worst moment of 1983 due to the "longest suicide note in history" manifesto) the Labour government still hold three times the majority that John Major held after the 1992 election when the odious Murdoch right-wing propoganda sheet "The Sun" manipulated some of the more feeble minded members of its intellectually inferior readership to vote for the Tories.

Nonetheless, this is still Labour's third great win with a majority that
would have seemed handsome enough to previous Labour governments. When the
votes are combined with the Lib Dems' strongest showing since its alliance
with the SDP in 1983, there is no major rightward shift. So that social
democratic wind of change in 1997 was no temporary symptom of momentary…

Quote of the week

Quote of the week is a brilliant one from Friends of the Earth's energy campaigner Jill Perry:
I'm amazed that people are claiming that the area should be designated a national park. What kind of national park has a motorway running through it?
(from The Guardian, today's edition)

Rip off merchant name and shame

Its not often that I name and shame a rip-off merchant, but here it has to be done.

I purchased a subscription for On Our Backs magazine last autumn, and then discovered that they were on a "hiatus" - that is, temporarily suspending their publishing. Not only that, even though the purchase came via Yahoo shopping, they still had to contact me to get my credit card number. Which is a first (I've been buying online since 1997 and never once has this happened).

I was pretty pissed off when after 4 months they were still publishing nothing, but decided to wait patiently until they started publishing again. Which they did, nearly 7 weeks ago.

Now 7 weeks later, still no subscription. And at this stage, no excuses.
I sent an email both to the sub editor, who originally contacted me about my CC number, and also to their customer service dept. No response.

So today I complained both to their customer services and to Yahoo Shopping. Unfortunately since the transaction is nearly …

Plastic not-so-fantastic

I am sick to the teeth of turning on the TV to find the latest diet of fas plastic surgery being sybtly promoted. Between dreadful programmes like Extreme Makeover, The Swan and the truly dreadful Nip Tuck, I am tired of having peoples apparent "dream come true" stories shoved down my gullet.
The entire cosmetic surgery industry, like its little brother, the multibillion dieting industry has taken affluence related neuroses and turned them into a huge industry. Unlike the dieting industry, however, the disease being treated is not a disease at all. Once of the scarily subtle features of some of the programmes shown is that the subjects are either hideously ugly or actually simply quite plain. It would appear to me that subjects are being carefully hand picked for their likelihood of good results, and not just the challenge.
The Swan is particularly henious as it insinuates that the women were all previous hideously ugly. The formula is simple. Take a plain Jane, put her …
No story caught my eye last year more than than Wolfgang Lolies Santa Project.

No experience I have ever had was as odd as sitting on a 240 bus in Middleton at the roundabout at the end of the Main St and the bus driver pointing out a character in a Santa suit walking accross the road - in mid July. The driver waved to Santa, and Santa obligingly waved back. I mentioned this to my mother in Dublin on the phone and oddly enough my sister had a similar experience. She was getting a bus into town in Drumcondra when the same Santa got on the bus, sat down, made his trip to wherever he was going and got off the bus!Amusing as it may have seemed, in fact Wolfgang was promoting suicide awareness in Ireland. What a novel way to promote a cause.You can read all about Wolfgang's journey here.

Interesting Threshold Study

Threshold have released an extremely interesting study into the feasibility of institutional investment in private rented housing in Ireland.
Sadly, the report is badly tainted by some common assumptions held about private tenants in general. For example only SWA recipient tenants are considered to be "low income." It is not considered that a large proportion of private tenants - possibly even the majority, are in fact on below average incomes. In fact thats very probably why they are in the rented sector in the first place. In property obsessed Ireland, and with high levels of substandard rented property at a price that actually exceeds the cost of a mortgage, it is natural that the aspiration for most tenants is home ownership. Unfortunately the very nature of the Irish private rented sector has made it highly unattractive for all but those who cannot escape it. This point is missed out, not only in the Threshold report, but in almost all commentaries on the sector.

Snobbery or new highs in vulgarity?

I had the misfortune today of being sent a series of joke photos from a website called "Chavscum". Oh my God some of them would put you off your food. But this one was even worse. If ever there was an advertisement for contraception, this was it.

But it then sent me off thinking about the recent trend in jeering at the tacky and vulgar lapses of taste which the British working class have been descending to. Since the left-leaning years of the 1960s, its generally been cool to be working class. Even songs like Pulp's "Common People" have wonderfully evoked the hipness of the faux working class (or in Jamie Oliver's case "mockney"). Even the general greater London area accent has become "Estuary English", largely as a result of received pronounciation resulting from a large diet of children's TV presenters. This accent has basically diluted a slightly cockneyesque accent into the middle classes. (Having said that myself, I retur…

The Wickedest people in Ireland

The word "wicked" is the only word I can use today to describe the description of the killing of Lars Forsmark in New Ross. Basically it appears that locals took objection to strangers being in "their" pub and the particularly evil publicans not only refused to serve the 5 Swedes, but dumped the dying man outside the bar to die on the street.

One can only hope that the full force of the law is used against those involved in the brawl, but especially the quite wicked Sean and Noeleen Wickham, the pub owners.

Blowing out the Bosco "AIDS" myth

There has been a myth circulating for years that one of the presenters of 1970s RTE children's series Bosco died of AIDS.

Its complete shite actually. In fack the presenter is alive and well and still acting. Its incredible the prejudice against gay men and people with HIV that a man whose sexuality was not a major secret was assumed to have been consumed by the "gay plague." In fact he just a year or two ago did an excellent series of drag mimics of a major female politician and even the Taoiseach's now ex-mistress!

Nell by Nell

I'm almost finished reading Nell McCafferty's lovely "Nell." I have to say its a great book. The descriptions of people are so lively and alive you feel that you know them. The last time I read an autobiography that was so full of life was when I read John Bayley's "Widowers House", his lovely account of life without his wife Iris Murdoch. I have to say the pictures she draws of people she was close to is very loving and rich.

I have to admit like the other half of Ireland who've read Nuala O'Faoilain, Nell's ex-lovers autobiographies, I couldn't help but compare the two. O'Faoilean's book is deeply insular and weighs heavily on her own feelings and reactions. Curiously enough, both do make a point of the date in which "lesbian bed death" occured. (Though neither use this elegant description). Nell dwells far more on other people and is often highly self critical, whilst O'Faoilean barely mentions Nell at all…

The Darker side of the Northern Banks

While the media is currently riddled with the latest news on the Northern Bank raid and its political fallout for Sinn Fein, the story has thrown into the background a super complaint by the former Consumers Association in the UK as regards banking charges in Northern Ireland, which are way out of line with normal UK prices.

Unsurprisingly, all 4 banks - Northern Bank, Ulster Bank, Bank of Ireland and First Trust (i.e. Allied Irish Banks) are the 4 largest banks in Ireland, where this kind of orvercharging has been de rigeur for many years. The absence of a strong UK or international bank in the Northern province has allowed these banks, in particular BOI and AIB to apply exactly the same extortionate banking charging structure as they do in Ireland. Except in Ireland the nearest equivalent to the consumers assoication, the IFSRA is actually recommending that regulation of bank charges be discontinued thus INCREASING charges for the consumer, in an already uncompetitive market.

The tw…

"Poor Ray" jailed

So "Poor Ray" has finally been dealt the blows of justice. I also see today that he has (wisely) dropped his claim to over 10 million euros in legal costs. Unsurprising for a man who stood up in the Dail and told bare faced lie after bare faced lie.

Its most interesting that Burke gives the impression of poverty. Burke earns 90k a year in a pension (nearly 35 times my same-aged father's private pension). He has a house worth at least 450k in Dublin 9 (which is fairly luxurious compared to those living in the ugly dog boxes Burke sold in River Valley in the 1970s). Hardly hardship. May we spit at him when he comes out.