Portion Distortion

Perils of portion distortion or why Americans don’t know when enough is enough.

Catching up with the excellent writings of Chris at prosaic (who’s new design is simple and elegant) I was directed to an article at sfgate.com (The Obesity Crisis) which is fascinating and rings true. I am sure that, over the last ten years, the amount of food I have consumed has increased massively as a result of the size of the portions that I eat (rather than eating more meals). Anyway, methinks I should head off the the gym now and resist the urge to simplify the look of this site …

Add Listen To Musak’s Content to My Yahoo!

Now you can read Listen to Musak via Yahoo!

You will see, on the right hand side of the page, a new link added so that you can add the content of Listen To Musak to My Yahoo!

Yahoo! has always been my favourite portal and for many years My Yahoo! was my homepage. These days I tend to favour Bloglines so that I can read the content I am interested in. I think this is a great new feature for Yahoo! and it’s good to see them being inventive again.

As usual when big portals roll out features it seems that it’s only available to users of the my.yahoo.com domain rather than those of us who have correctly set our country to UK and are thus pointed to uk.my.yahoo.com. Still, removing the uk. portion of the URL allows you to see this feature.

One of my usability gripes about Yahoo! has always been the way the switch you between localised domains. You can read some content at news.yahoo.com and then suddenly be shunted to uk.news.yahoo.com with no obvious way back. It’s one thing they have needed to address for a long time. On the otherhand, I wait to see how good My Yahoo will become as a newsreader.

Anyway, add me. Thanks.

Link Dump

A selection of things that deserve more comment but won’t get it because time is a-ticking by.

Things I should speak about but there’s too much happening in the world:

  • The tories are holding a ‘gay summit‘ which is a shock to those of us that remember Margaret Thatcher’s rants. I am certain that, at one point, it was the Conservatives who wanted to round us all up shoot us.
  • Andy points to a site for hot Brazillian men – which amuses for some reason that I can not explain.
  • And over at Man of the Moment, I am receiving a lot of comment spam on Andrew Kinlochan which means I need to find the time to upgrade this instance of Moveable Type to implement some of the spam blocking features. In researching them, I notice there’s a whole raft of new functionality in the next release. I am, sadly, excited by this news.
  • Six Apart, the guys behind Movable Type, have grown phenomenally this year. Mena’s written something about it which goes to show how difficult it can be communicating when you’re a small company.
  • Lance Arthur has written 13 Reasons Why You Could Be My Boyfriend and, as always, it’s a very well written piece. But one of the items really struck a chord with me for some reason: ‘6: You Have Passion‘. It got me asking myself, ‘what subject am I passionate about?’ and, right now, I am not so sure (although I can go on about my new found love of the gym and roller casters if I am pushed). I don’t think that’s healthy.
  • Dan Savage got legally married – but to a woman: ‘We emphasized to the clerk and her manager that Amy and I don’t live together, we don’t love each other, we don’t plan to have kids together, and we’re going to go on living and sleeping with our same-sex partners after we get married. So could we still get a marriage license?’ How fantastic.
  • And I learned a new acronym today: SPIM (spam over instant messaging). You heard it here first (maybe).

What a great day.

Straight Men Are Shopping Kings?

New research by one of the leading retail institutes, based at Caledonian University in Glasgow, shows men are beginning to get even with the queens of shopping.

I have never been one to consider myself well dressed, fit or particularly over-groomed. Clean and tidy (I hope) but I have never been one to peruse the fashion rails at Selfridges for the latest gear. Therefore, I don’t consider that I fit any gay stereotype. However, it appears I now don’t conform to the male stereotype:

We surveyed a group of guys in Birmingham and they said rather than meeting down in the pub, they would now meet in Selfridges for a drink and then go shopping [source]

That’s it. Time to ditch the M&S shirts at once.

Recommend TV To Me

Television Recommendations via the web.

Oh dear, technology is really getting the better of me. Reading my selection at Bloglines, Matt at Hit or Miss pointed me to his TV recommendations page. One of his recommendations is Hedwig and the Angry Inch – which I have been meaning to view for a long while. So, a quick search at MyDigiGuide and I see it’s on Sky Movies 1 this Thursday. Now, when Sky+ implements some kind of web-interface I will be away.

Gay Weddings This Week?

According to The Observer today, the Civil Partnerships bill will be published on Wednesday

According to The Observer today, the Civil Partnerships bill will be published on Wednesday. Certainly I am in favour of the bill as I think my relationship with PY deserves some recognition of the 12 years we have spent together. But it’s not marriage and, therefore, there’s no equality. Still, as they say, one small step at a time.

The same paper is also reporting that the Irish parliament is about to be facing the same debates. Shame Mr Bush doesn’t look too Europe for more than just hired guns.

Live From The Red Carpet

Congratulations to all the winners of this year’s Bloggie awards.

Did I miss much while I was away? I know I missed Tom winning a Bloggie or two – congratulations to him. plasticbag is always interesting reading but ‘Why do bloggers kill kittens?‘ must be one of my favourite posts of recent times. His idea of ‘a representation of a person online’ is a good idea about what a site is – including mine – but I have to say that I just plain enjoy his writing – regardless of if I agree with it or not.

Reflections on Florida

Having enjoyed Florida so much, I wonder how many more times I will go back.

I am back in London now and am missing Florida. The last week has been very different from many holidays that I have taken before because it was so packed with things to do. I tend to prefer the kind of holiday that allows you to relax rather than filling the days with more effort than would usually be required to go to the office. Orlando was, however, very different. Although the days were filled it was thoroughly enjoyable and felt like no effort whatsoever. I really have found a new love of roller coasters and it’s awoken a child-like interest in the theme parks. I think the enjoyment of the theme parks was the element I was most surprised about. Perhaps all these years of believing I wouldn’t enjoy them meant I found them all the more entertaining. Of course there was the added fun of there being six people to holiday with. It’s a time that I won’t forget easily.

What also struck me was that the ‘have a nice day’ mentality/philosophy which I often find saccharine and insincere in other American cities was so right in Florida that it made me readdress my thoughts on that whole approach to life. It adds to the whole experience and really does go to prove that just being nice to others can help make somebody else’s day all the brighter.

So, please, have a nice day and any suggestions of alternative American locations for a holiday would be most welcome.

The Florida Adventure Continues

This holiday just gets better and better. We’re at Universal Studios Florida right now.

Today is our last day in Florida. On Saturday PY and I left the villa for the Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Studios, Florida.

I thought Epcot and Busch were good but this has been fantastic. Jaws, Earthquake and Back to the Future at Universal Studios were fantastic (Terminator and Men In Black not so great). In particular I have to say how much I enjoyed the Jaws ride which is entirely made by the actors who are the guides on your boat tour and they really do make it fantastic.

Islands of Adventure has also been wonderful. Given my new found love of roller coasters I have ridden the Hulk and Dueling Dragons several times and I can heartedly recommend to them. The most amazing ride, however, isn’t an actual roller coaster. The spiderman ride mixes and indoor ride with projected 3D imagery to create the most superb ride I have been on while here in Florida. I am thankful that we were staying at a Universal hotel as the hotel keycard is good as a Fastpass as many times as you want so we’ve done Spiderman a number of times. If you go to Universal Islands of Adventure than don’t, under any circumstances, miss it.

And we managed to see the Black Eyed Peas at Universal Studios Mardi Gras on Saturday – which was a fun bonus to the whole adventure.

A Florida Friday

Ever since I was a child I’ve tended to avoid roller coasters because I was a little scared. Now I am addicted.

my photo of epcotIt’s Friday when I am writing this but I am not sure when I am going to get round to publishing these entries from Florida. I am on the verge of applying for a green card so that I can stay here in the sunshine and ride roller coasters all day.

Wednesday was Epcot day. It was the first Florida theme park that I have ever been to and it was amazing. Last Tuesday evening we went to eat in Downtown Disney. As we drove past the large Disney World signs PY was grinning uncontrollably. He has been here several times before and was excited to be back. After twelve years together I have to admit that I have never seen him like that – it was a fantastic experience. Oddly, by the time we drove under the same sign on Wednesday morning on our way to Epcot I was – similarly – grinning. We made our way to Test Track and got our Fastpass before seeing Ellen’s piece on energy (which is a little simplistic and to be seen in the context of being sponsored by an oil company). We then went round several of the other experiences which I won’t list here as there are many good guides to them.

Eventually it was our time for Test Track but it kept breaking down and we waited an hour to ride (the non-Fastpass queue was three hours by this point). This is where I admit I have never been any good at rides, roller coasters and fairgrounds. I get nervous so tend to stay away. Anyway, after all the wait I was very apprehensive about riding Test Track only to be a little disappointed. The screams that you hear as people hurtle around the side of the building do lead you to think you are going on the ultimate thrill but it’s really just an amusing diversion.

Then I went to ride Mission Space (which PY wouldn’t ride because it, apparently, spins you round to generate the weightless experience and he isn’t any good at those kind of rides). The built up to this ride is incredible (all the warnings about motions sickness managed to put two of our crew members off at the very last minute so there were only two of us in the pod). It was great but it wasn’t fantastic and it was over very quickly. And that’s when I realised where the fear comes from. It’s the clever build ups and staging. The rides themselves seem quite tame to me.

Now don’t get me wrong, the Epcot rides were great. World Showcase is fun; a lot of imagination has gone into the park and the fireworks impressive. It’s a great day out and it’s the place I overcame my fear of these rides.

So by yesterday when we went to Busch Gardens I was happier to ride the roller coasters. And I did – even the one where your feet hang down. And I would ride them again and again. I’ve discovered that I am thoroughly enjoying the rush of riding. It’s not something I had expected to get out of this trip but I have now uncovered a whole new world and I fear I’ll become addicted.

Go now and ride them all.

Florida, USA – First Impressions Count

My first impressions of Florida – warm and wet with long security queues, big cars and slower drivers that at home. And lots and lots of food.

Well, PY and I arrived in Florida yesterday afternoon. Security at Orlando International airport was quite strict: they re-scan your baggage on the way into the country and you must walk through the metal detectors again. I find this really odd (it happened to me in Raleigh last December) and it’s so time consuming. Don’t the American border guards trust the security measures at Gatwick? It took nearly two hours to get through the airport and I don’t want to mention the bizarre situation where you pick your bags up and then place them on another conveyor belt to appear elsewhere in the airport sometime later.

One of the things that had been concerning me was the drive. I have never driven in the US before and I have never driven an automatic car before. And with less than 24 hours since I picked up the car I am a convert to the automatic but not to this side of the road. Don’t you people know that the left is the only decent side to drive on? We didn’t pick up a fancy car (because I wanted something small but the Avis guy’s idea of small and mine are very different – this is a big car) but it seems to dive well (the ABS may be a little over the top) and I like this whole one-foot approach. We got a little lost (by which I know we took the wrong road but – somehow – that meant we missed the toll roads so it worked out well). But it poured down with rain. It was torrential. I was quite shocked by the power of the rain and it might have put me off the drive but it was OK because everybody drives so slowly here (even though they’re all breaking the speed limit). I have been quite amazed by that little fact. Six wide lanes and everybody popping along at sixty miles an hour. Of course I shouldn’t complain because it’s safer but what must American drivers think of the M6 (when it’s running)?

So far we’ve been pretty lazy: shopping, pool and eating. Tomorrow I visit my first US Disney theme park. We’re off to Epcot and I am quite excited. One thing has become very obvious though – Gym Buddy isn’t going to be happy with me. There’s so much cheap food here (a great deal of it fried) and I want to eat most of it. Oh dear.

My first impressions of Florida – warm and wet with long security queues, big cars and slower drivers that at home. And lots and lots of food.

Unexpected Saturday Racing

A party in a hotel in Wolverhampton that turned into a fun day at the races.

at the racesSometimes, things you would least expect are the most interesting things to happen to you. Yesterday, my parents celebrated their wedding anniversary by holding a party at a hotel in Wolverhampton. They invited friends and family to the hotel and avoiding mentioning that it was actually at Wolverhampton Race Course where a day at the races was planned for all. I’ve been to the races a few times and can never remember what on earth I am to do when it comes to placing a small bet. There are so many variants that I need a course in how to do it. But it was a thoroughly entertaining day seeing family and friends that I haven’t seen for several years. I think I ended slightly up on the day (in monetary terms) but only just. I hadn’t expected to be so enthusiastic about watching my horses win and fail. Let’s say nothing about the recent controversy about the sport.

My Music And Radio Posts Connected

Two recent posts are connected but I only noted it by reading them back.

It’s obvious that my previous posts about music and radio are connected. Music is more than just a personal space definer. It is, of course, a great mood changer. I noted the two radio breakfast programmes that I want to listen to. Chris Moyles and Terry Wogan are both great radio presenters, different in style but no less entertaining. Having listened to Wogan for several years why did I switch? I think, ultimately, it came down to music choice. Wogan’s music has always been a little pedestrian and slow for my mornings. I don’t like it mad or frantic but I do like it upbeat. Now that there is an alternative breakfast presenter that I like the choice has come down to the music. Chris Moyles plays a upbeat music and I need that upbeat sound to get me going in the mornings. So my mornings are being re-defined for me.

Defining Your Own Space

There’s some interesting new research into music, spaces and those of us that walk around with headphones on the whole time.

The BBC is reporting on an interesting piece of research about the way people are using personal music players to claim back something personal from a world where we are surrounded by advertising messages:

Through interviews with Walkman owners and now iPod buyers, he found that listening to music acts as a shield, aura or cocoon … Using headphones helps to keep the world at bay and reclaim some space. [Source]

Yesterday I listened to my own choice of music in the gym rather than watching one of the televisions hanging from the ceilings. It was a very different experience and – to be honest – I almost caught myself singing along. I had purposely chosen a lot of upbeat pop/dance to keep me going and it worked. While my usual fare of Sky News and Chart Show TV are interesting, this time I knew my whole musical selection would be good and I would find the whole hour interesting and commercial free.

But what about the aspect of the walkman or iPod as a space definer? I think this is probably very obvious. I often ride the London Underground listening to music to cut me off from the rest of the people there. In a morning, it really does give you a sense of your own space when you are sardine-squashed into a carriage. In an evening it keeps you occupied – less likely to be engaged in a conversation with somebody who you might find threatening.

A few weeks ago, cityofsound pointed me to Traffic Island Disks – an interesting radio programme loooking at the music people are listening to as they wander around an area of London. It really is very interesting listening to how people define their own spaces through the music they are listening to (it’s also a pretty good idea for a radio show).