What not to eat: Alara everday gluten free organic delight

Ok, so maybe the “gluten free” should have scared me off. But really, why?– do the gluten-allergic (glutellergic?) not deserve good cereal? Anyway, the “deliciously crispy cereals with sweet apple, sultanas, nuts and seeds” sounded too good to pass up. It was a bit expensive, but I figure I should support organic, gluten-free delicious apple-sultana-nut-seed cereal. Although, truth be told, I had no idea what a sultana was. So all that meant I bought this lovely looking box:

Alara everday gluten free organic delight cerealThe next day, hungry and without alternate food at 9pm, I thought I will have myself some healthy cereal and be happy before bed. I could have never anticipated the vile that waited me! The moment I opened the box, I realized the bag inside seemed altogether too light, and the foodstuff inside looked mainly like tiny packing peanuts with some dried raisins and some pale corn flakes inside! (I’ll have to get a pic of this). Thinking to myself that perhaps it will be better once in milk, I tried pouring the milk in. This made the tiny things float up to the top, and I realized on closer inspection they actually looked like the white bits of popped corn. As I ate it, they tasted like the white bits of popped corn! Really not something I look for in my cereal; and definitely not something I appreciated!

So, if you want pop-corn as cereal with little bits of corn flakes, a sprinkling of nuts, and a few raisins here and there, go ahead and get this stuff. In fact, please, let me know so I can give you this box!  If not, watch out for it!

-r-

finally bought an Alfa Romeo!

Edit : Sadly, I’ve sold this car as I’m leaving Kuwait. Happily, it now belongs to a friend of mine, who’ll be enjoy it’s awesome.
Added Photos.

I had always had a thing for Alfa Romeos. I remember when the then-new Alfa 156 was a wallpaper on my then-new computer in the late 90s. Of course, the classic ones are gorgeous and gorgeous, but I always wished we could get the newer also-beautiful cars in the US. But it has been just too many times that we have been disappointed in the US about Alfa’s return. It almost happened so many times that I really just have lost interest and will only pick up interest again about anything Fiat or Alfa if there are actually cars in the States. And no, the 200,000+ dollar 2C does not count. I mean, it is quite possibly the most beautiful car to come out in a good 20 years, but it’s just not a “return to America” kind of event. It’s more like “well, if you have enough money you probably could have figured out a way to get it to the States anyway!” car. To make certain that I might be interested in case the company did make a return, though, we rented a 159 JTD when we went to France for a vacation. My GOD what a great car! Everything was right about it– the seats, the acceleration, the handling, the torque from the quiet diesel. It was such a great car, we decided we would buy one for sure if they ever brought it to the States. Alas, it doesn’t look like that will happen. This design, anyway, will not be making it over it seems. Pity, that, given how beautiful the car is. overlooking Grenoble, France Luckily for me, though, I found myself in Kuwait a few years later, and here there is a small smattering of Alfas available! So after almost a full year of looking for the right one–because it seems Alfa had only a half-hearted attempt here– I finally found something we fell in love with. Virginia was instantly in love, and I knew I liked it so much I was trying really hard to be rational and calculating etc. So we decided we’d give it a go, and bring her home. So here she is: our very own Alfa Romeo 147 our Alfa It’s a dark dark grey metallic that almost looks black–called Graphite Grey. The car has the Selespeed transmission, developed by Magnetti Marelli, which is a “robotic manual” similar what Ferrari calls F1 that debuted in their F355 cars. It has one clutch, and the transmission is the same as the manual cars, but the clutch is automatic by hydraulics, instead of being operated manually by the driver. It also lets you put it in a fully automatic mode called “city mode,” but I like that it defaults to manual operation. The thing is great to drive– shift times are not quite as quick as VW’s DSG because it still has only one clutch, but that also means it feels more like a “standard” manual to drive. This is also similar in style to BMW’s SMG cars, but I haven’t driven one of those (or a Ferrari F1) so I can’t comment on them! The handling is quick and a lot of fun, and the 2.0 16v TwinSpark engine–with two spark plugs per cylinder– sounds so delicious in just stock mode that I’m thinking about an exhaust system just so I can hear it better! The other day I spent an entire day driving around all over Kuwait for various things that I didn’t want to do, and the whole time I was enjoying myself just because of this car! Jeremy Clarkson was saying one day that “every petrolhead needs to own an Alfa Romeo…”– and I see what he was on about. It’s really just that good.


From Alfa Romeo 147, posted by Ridwan Ahmed on 6/06/2011 (15 items)

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3G to Wifi: Wataniya Wnet wireless internet in Kuwait

This was supposed to be awesome. The promise of “up to 7.2Mb/s” wherever I had 3G signal (the coverage map looks really good in Kuwait) was really very exciting.  When I came home and saw the gorgeous looking little router I was further excited– I hadn’t even known routers could be this small–it is a bit smaller than an iPhone, made by a company called Huawei. It’s the model called E583C, featured here.

Wataniya Wnet Huawei "pocket" router with size 8 ring

Unfortunately, though, my initial service was terrible. My upload speeds didn’t even reach 0.1Mb/s and my downloads were at around 1.5 on a good day!  To put it in perspective, that means youtube videos take 15 mins. to load and even telephone calls are impossible, let alone video!
Recently, though, it seems Wataniya must have put up a tower somewhere nearby as my speeds have increased to about .75 and 3.5 Mb/s for up and downloads respectively (translation: “reasonably fast”). Now I can finally watch most youtube videos almost-instantly, and much more importantly videochat works!

What has been particularly enjoyable about 3G-wifi, though, has been it’s portability (obviously, I know). I’ve got a Pioneer headunit with an auxiliary input in the Benz, so we can hook up our laptop to that and have people’s voices come through the car’s speakers while we speak into the computer’s mic!  The laptop/router combo then becomes like a giant Bluetooth set and we can drive around Kuwait and speak to people back home as it were a simple mobile call! Totally fun.

I suppose like all technology, since this is still new there is going to be some exponential speed/size growth/decrease so I’ll be patient for now. It seems that Zain (competing provider) has started advertising some really cheap rates lately, so I’m expecting to see some price-drops soon too. But at this point, I’d rather just have a service increase–thanks, Wataniya.

Hope to talk to some of you soon; hit me up on FB for contact details.
-r-

Google Images gets new look

In case you haven’t searched for an image today, Google Images has a new look! There are several differences, the major two being what shows on the inital search, and what shows when you click on the picture itself.

I like the first change. When you search for an image now, many more show up on the same page, with less gaps inbetween. While it looked a bit cleaner with the white-space, I’d rather have more efficiency per page when I’m trying to look something up quickly. When you hover on an image, it also blows it up just a bit larger, making it easier to see. Also along the same easier-to-see-more lines, the pages now scroll from one “page” to another– which, of course leaves it no longer as a page, but instead views the whole thing like one continuous webpage. Why even bother leaving a page number if it’s just going to be one continous list of images going down?

The second change on the other hand…I just don’t quite get! When you click on the image of your choice, previously it would open up the website containing the image and have a bar above which you could see the image in thumbnail form. Then you could blow it up. But now, the “thumbnail” is at a much higher resolution– something like 500 x 600 or so, pasted on top of the site. Here’s the kicker, though–after it loads this too-large thumbnail, the image then GOES BLURRY!! Now this is completely  and entirely confounding to me. Why–after already loading a clear image–would you have it go blurry?

At this point you have the option of clicking to see the full-size image or pressing the “X” button to reveal the webpage behind the image. But seriously–blurry? AFTER spending the time to load? Not cool.

So there it is. I’m sure many people will complain, and then eventually everyone will likely get used to it and accept the new look for what it is! At this point I’m complaining–a little bit.

Cheers,
-r-

EDIT: So it seems this blurring phenomenon was temporary. I have no idea why it was happening here, but I tried multiple computers and it was all the same. I did notice that when I was trying this, the new images format had not yet been launched for google.com.kw, so maybe that had something to do with it. So that’s a big improvement. Still, the popup is a bit clunky.

Shati' al Watiya aka Umm Habib Restaurant

On the suggestion of someone at 248am.com, we went to check out the restaurant that was formerly known as Umm Habib.  I don’t know when they changed their name, but personally I think the previous name (“Habib’s mom) was very much more endearing. When we found the place– in a small house, with very intimate, house-looking interior, the new name seemed very ill-fitting indeed.

At any rate, the name change might be my only gripe about the place!
Continue reading “Shati' al Watiya aka Umm Habib Restaurant”

I want to be a gladiator! The "Spartacus" workout

Ok, not really.  Unless it was just a themed workout. So to all my people that want to get in shape:I just did this workout today and it is a.freaking.mazing.
This is the actual workout that the stars of Spartacus (which I haven’t watched so can’t comment on) use. And well, if I could look just a bit like Peter Mensah, it wouldn’t be a bad thing (also, see video on MH website below):

Here is the link to their site, which has a lot of great info to look through. But nicer still, you can get a printable version so you can take along to the gym. Start off with smaller/ no weights so you can get through all of the steps. Use longer breaks in the beginning if you need.  The smallest weights will feel like boulders in your hands before you’re done one set, so start off with lighter weights/ no weights and work your way up. Same with the breaks, if you can’t manage just 15 seconds inbetween sets, then lengthen that a bit, but remember: this is a circuit workout, intended to be done at high intensity with minimal rest. So anything more than 30 seconds of break and you’re starting to defeat the point. Also to note when you’re starting off, is that if you just can’t get through a full minute, just hold the position for the rest of the minute until its time to move to the next set. So really, if you look at this and think “oh I have to work out for a month before I can even start this!”, don’t. Because you can start this at your level–just you have to make sure to work through it consistently.

Although the workout is posted in Men’s Health magazine, I think women could benefit from this as well. You just want to keep your weights to a minimum so you don’t bulk up. Or I’m sure there are other already modified /tried / tested circuit workouts offered in women’s health magazines!

Try this.  Let me know how you like it!

Cheers,

-r-

"Sleep Nice" pillow by Al-Baghli

This is a Kuwaiti made product.  Which is pretty exciting given that Kuwait is about this big and not a lot of things are made here.
But really, this is a victory for packaging, and the environment.  There’s not much in Kuwait that’s a victory for the environment either.   So this pillow is really quite special.
Have you noticed that pillows are sold and shipped fully fluffed?  I can only assume it is so that we can squish them and see if we’d like that particular fluffiness under our heads, but why so much wasted space shipping air?  Fluff!  Why not instead just have one display product and vacuum pack the rest?  Could it work? To answer that question I went down to the display section of a local shop.  Sure enough, I found the display pillow fluffiness adequate; I was actually even more intrigued by the coolness factor of the flat pillow!  There’s also the added joy of watching it come to life when I came home (below)!
Can this work regularly?  Just ask the guys at Al-Baghli!

A pillow begins its life.