Bread makes you fat

By Nick • Lifestyle • 9 Jul 2012

I was pretty shocked too, but goddammit I just can’t argue with super hot blue haired girls who deliver amazon packages on rollerblades and can find tunnels in space-time. It’s not how I was raised.

So I accept it. Bread makes me fat.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop eating it though. Hot fresh bread with generously thick slabs of butter pasted over the top…. maaarglearglemargle. Give that up? No. The Atkins diet is for saps. I’m a fan of the Fatkins diet. But it’s not always easy. This post explains why.

In Switzerland they make four kinds of bread.

There’s sweet, buttery breakfast breads, which are almost more like loafs of pastry; giant toastable croissants.

Then there’s boring plastic wrapped precut bread which (in its high grain variants) is acceptable at a pinch, but not really good as such.

Then there’s useless, dogshit, good for nothing scum bread.

Then there’s the ‘Twister’, which is basically the single most compelling case for the acceptance of humanity into the league of progressive and culturally accomplished species.

Really. If Aliens landed on Uetliberg and I was selected to go and establish positive diplomatic relations with them I would take a couple of fresh loaves of Twister, a picnic blanket, and some nicely salted butter. And a knife – I’ve made sandwiches with business cards before and it’s just not the same.

Partake in the bounty of our planet, learned ones.

Job done, they’ll be begging to trade us hyperspace transducers and advanced virtual reality plugins for internet smut before they’ve finished the first mouthful. Being noble I will, of course, hold out for world peace and clean energy… but being a guy I’ll take the VR gear as a deal sweetner.

The problem with this plan is that it’ll only work if they time their arrival so that my request to act as emissary arrives around 6.45pm, allowing me to drop by Migros Enge at 6.55pm on my way to the spaceship. Because that’s apparently the only time of day they actually sell the Twister. It’s also pretty much the only place.

In the morning you can’t buy it – mornings are for sweet bread, and this is Switzerland, and there are Rules. For the rest of the day (outside Nirvana-hour) you’re limited to either plastic wrapped averageo bread, or useless-dogshit-good-for-nothing-bread. Which I’d probably settle for (NO one wants to arrive at a picnic with non-fresh bread) and we’d be ostracized henceforth.

So, Migros, for the sake of humanity please start making Twister bread all the time. Why do you even make other bread? I mean ok, sweet bread in the morning for the French. Fine. But why the other bread? WHY? Who wants that shit? Is it a waste product from the manufacture of good bread? It must be. Either that or a waste product from animals after they’ve been fed the waste products from the manufacture of good bread.

It makes me sad whenever I arrive and discover they don’t have Twister. But when they have it, I buy it by the armload. Because bread doesn’t make you fat. It just makes you fatter than you might have been if you didn’t come home from work and eat an entire loaf of it because it was so delicious. For example.

What makes you fat is sitting at your computer the whole time, and not going for a run because you’re busy writing blog posts that are far too long. Since I don’t want to stop eating bread, and I don’t want to get on the wrong side of sassy-blue-hair, I’ll finish here.


By Nick • Lifestyle • 9 Jan 2012

This morning my life changed; for the better, for the long term, and for the measly price of $120.

I’m not that averse to getting up early. I like being out of bed and moving and especially having a bit of day to enjoy before setting out for work. This is one of the reasons why I love summer so much – the sun wakes me up around 6.30, gently, and I get out of bed straight away feeling energized.

In the WINTER though I wake up like it’s a goddamn air-raid in response to my alarm and then, depending on how tired I am, fall asleep again on the couch in the lounge in response to the oppressive darkness outside. It sucked, it usurped my blissful pre-work coffee chilling time, but it was my lot in life; my cross to bear.

Until now.

Now I wake up like this.


Only calmer, faster, and with a motorbike.

Hello Day. Let’s Dance.

How did $120 bring me such delight?

In a paper bag containing a box with a Philips logo on the side. Discreetly elegant even.

Inside the box was a Philips Wake Up Light. If you’ve never heard of a Philips wake up light it’s a damn lucky thing you’re reading this. If you have heard of a Philips wake up light and thought ‘pffftt, that sounds like a total crock’ then YOU. WERE. WRONG.

It’s like a gradual sunrise in your bedroom every morning, no matter how bleak the day is outside. Birds sing. Innocent children laugh in delight. Fresh scones are left on a nearby windowsill. If you’re lucky, like me, a French milkmaid is by your side.

Philips wake up light. Buy one today, start having a better life immediately. Unless it’s summer where you are in which case you’ll have to wait 4 months you bastard.

Wisdom through Vindom

By Nick • Lifestyle • 2 Jan 2012

Wine, wine, the glorious drink, the more you imbibe the smoother you think.

I just made that up actually – I’m pretty slick. Although the closing should perhaps be “the more your head hurts the next morning”.

Whatever the first truism, there’s a second – the more you imbibe the more you spend. However that’s only true for a given wine… between wines the cost is by no means proportional to volume alone. There are expensive wines and cheap wines. There are also good wines and bad wines. But are the two correlated? Do we need to pay top dollar for top satisfaction? Or is a future filled with delicous drinks at bargain basement rates only shrouded from our view? This looks like a job for science.

The project was by no means original, but a first for me and everyone else involved on the night. Basically blind testing on wine and see what you actually like with most of the distortions of label and price removed. I decided 10 bottles – 5 types with two bottles each – was about right for the 13 or so people throwing their hat in the ring, so ‘blind’ testing was pretty appropriate as there was a good chance that by the end of the evening we would be. Fortune favours the brave and whatnot!

I wrapped all the bottles so the label was hidden, like so:

Where's your brand value NOW muthafu*ka?

People arrived, greetings were exchanged, initial glasses were charged, and I held forth on the rules. Cécile has been on at me lately for being too sciency which I interpreted as a plea for clarity in explanation… so I made sure to go into appropriate detail on the grading system and the significance of relative grades and the statistical shit I was prepared to lay down on anyone who tried to mess with the system (A threat that was very very empty – I was far too drunk to do any real maths by the time the tallyup came around). Once eyes started to glaze I figured the point was made and we better switch to drinkymode.

The rules, loose as they were:

  1. Drink the wine
  2. Taste the wine
  3. Drink the wine again to make sure you weren’t wrong the first time.
  4. DON’T spit the wine out. I paid moderately good money for that. Come on. Think!
  5. Rate the wine, from 1->5. Try out the scale for better understanding of grades: 5 is nectar of the gods being poured into your throat by Priceless era Audrey Tatou while you recline on a chaise lounge. 1 is rancid vinegar in a rusty tin can being drunk under a bridge while rats gnaw your toes, and also you just realise the can gave you tetanus.
  6. If it’s your first night, you HAVE to drink (and also fight).


Everyone seemed to have a pretty solid grasp of the principles, so the drinking commenced, and a fine evening was had by all.

Here are the raw results – for details of the wines themselves see the end of the post.

Connoisseur AU, $20 FR, $13 AG, $6 IT, $10 FR, $29 Avg
Nick 3 5 4 2 3 3.4
Erika 1 3 3 4 4 3
Sofia 5 2 2 1 3 2.6
John 4 4.5 3 4 3 3.7
Jen 1 2 1 3 1 1.6
Corey 2 3 2 2 2 2.2
Matt 4 2 2 1 1 2
Simone 4 2 4 3 2 3
Cecile 3 3.5 4 3 2 3.1
Camille 2 3 4 4 1 2.8
Simon 4 2 5 2 1 2.8
Christian 3 5 2 1 4 3
Andy 5 3 4 1 2 3
Total 41 40 40 31 29


Creating an awesome blind wine testing results analysis web app is on my list of things to do at some point when I have time (in a decade or two maybe) so I won’t go into too much detail here except to say

Our results show that

1. Price and Quality are basically uncorrelated

and to the extent that they are correlated, spending more gets you less!










2. Quality is highly subjective

Everyone likes/dislikes all sorts of damn things











WELL! I think we all learnt a little about ourselves and wine? Yes? Kinda?

In closing, some awards:

Lightweight – Erica, who appears to not like wine while sober but rather approves when 5 glasses down.

Best wine snob comment: Simon – with ‘<sip> Hmmm… not bad, but I think it rained in September’.

Biggest actual wine snob: Corey, who rated every single wine as a ’2′ before going back and changing his rating for the second bottle to ’3′. Corey is a nice guy, so I can’t help but think he was mentally rating them all ’1′ but just sparing my feelings.

Hater: Jen, who despite grading with more variability than Corey managed the lowball average of 1.6.

Lover: John, who with an average of 3.7 snuck ahead of me to snatch victory in the ‘easiest to please’ category.

Wine Ninja: Christian, who said ‘This is definitely a Bordeaux’ and was actually right.

Hedger: Andy, who didn’t fill in a single result until having tasted everything and was also the only person to use every number. (edit:Ok, so looking a bit closer Christian also used every number… and there were several people who changed their numbers at the end. Maybe Andy’s just efficient).

Brother/Sister-from-another-mother: Matt and Sofia, who were grading 1:1 up until the final bottle (Sofia went back and changed her ’4′ to a ’5′ for the first bottle at the end… but can’t let that ruin a good story)

Traitors: Camille and Cecile, who are French and who both rated the expensive French Chateau-de-mumble-mumble the worst of all the wines tasted.

Gentle Drinker: Simone. She knows what she likes; she knows what she doesn’t like… but she’s not going to get all up-in-your-face throwing out fives and ones.

Most Awesome: Me. Don’t hate the playah. Shared with anyone else who didn’t get an award above. Oh wait, everyone did! See? Awesome.


!The wines!

These were sourced from the trusted supplier to wine aficionados everywhere – Denner.

Wine 1: A 2008 Rufus Stone Syrah from Australia; 20 CHF

Wine 2: A 2009 St-Emilion Grand Cru from Chateau St-Arnaud, France; 13 CHF

Wine 3: A 2010 Malbec from Trapiche, Argentina; 6 CHF (awesome deal)

Wine 4: A 2010 Negroamaro Primitivo from Italy; 10 CHF

Wine 5: A 2009 L’Oratoire from Chateauneuf-du-Pape; 29 CHF (Complete rip)


Do Yoga, Live Better

By Nick • Lifestyle • 18 Dec 2011

Gonna get some alignment going, some power flowing.

I did yoga for a year or two back in university. Partly I did it because a girl I was rather keen on was doing it too (and, in point of fact, pretty much any girl I could have been keen on – which is to say all of them – seemed to be in the class) and this provided an opportunity to not only have her see my sensitive new age side, but also discreetly observe her sides of all sorts.

Wasn’t the only reason though – I also did it because it was good. Every thursday evening I’d roll into the university gym, grab a mat, do some stretches, and then enjoy 5 minutes of lying in a dark warm room at the end with soothing guru mood music drifting through the rec centre sound system.

It was relaxing and somewhat energizing. I heard no end of how good it was for my posture and flexibility… but I was 20 at the time. I did yoga once a week, tai chi twice a week, kung fu twice a week, and drank regularly with no hangovers. My flexibility changed not one whit as a result of Yoga, and I discounted most of the flexibility and inner harmony talk as just a way to get the punters in the doors.

That was then. Now I’m 30 (near as dammit – two days of youth remains to me) and I spend a lot of time sitting in an office. I can still touch my toes, but things let me know that they’d rather I didn’t. There’s certainly none of this palms flat on the floor with straight legs guff of yesteryear. Taichi and kung fu have been replaced by working, and going bouldering or biking a couple of times a week. I’m reasonably fit by the average standard, but my flexibility is fading and my back is complaining. I figured that’s just what happened when you got ‘old’ though and I should just accept it while remaining active. Right?


Cécile has been going to yoga once a week for the last couple of months. Today, I tagged along to the last session of the year for old times sake. I was not in the best of conditions to resume Yoga (the other thing that’s left me is the ability to drink without ill effect) but it seemed like the right thing to do.

It was, definitively, the right thing to do. Firstly, I actually stretched properly for the first time in perhaps a year. I discovered why my back is screwed up simply by sitting still, properly, and concentrating on it.

I can FIX this junk. I discovered also that, despite being pretty active and classically ‘fit’, my strength/endurance has fallen quite a bit. Sure, I could put THAT down to age, no trouble… were it not for father time himself there.

It wasn’t only the physical benefits that came rushing back to me (I’ve lost my doubt that yoga may actually do wonders for flexibility incidentally) but the previously ignored mental benefits. Rather than ’5 minutes at the end’, this class actually had a reasonable amount of meditation – perhaps half an hour in total. I’ve usually felt that meditation was something that people did when they couldn’t handle their real lives, and was clearly a horrendous waste of time that could be better spent learning something, climbing something, or otherwise being actively engaged with the world. I imagine this places me squarely with the other somewhat manic people who need, more than anyone, to spend a little time closing their eyes and sitting peacefully to reflect and relax.

Usually I get this feeling only when I’m in the mountains, preferably in a fairly remote spot. Today I got it sitting in a small room in the middle of Zurich. I definitely need it, and I’m definitely going to pay attention to getting it from now on.

So – I’ll be back when it starts next year. In fact I decided it mattered enough that it’s jumped ahead of ‘work’ on my list of priorities. My life will be better for it, and without wanting to presume too much I suggest that yours probably would be too. Health, spiritual balance, and being proper strong are fine characteristics to have – especially so when you’re still young enough to remember losing them. Give it a try.

Sloth Pose - where I really shine