It is well known that I drink coffee both for enjoyment and effect. Adrian Riminton at Sovereign once wryly noted that it certainly had an effect on me - maybe I'd racked up one too many that day :-)

Still - a good cup of coffee is a great thing. So I was delighted to receive a completely manual espresso coffee maker as a gift recently. I have longed for one since my sister in law explained the device that they had recently purchased over two years ago. The device is demonstrated on a video at this link. It makes great coffee, and looks very good too.

Children Started This...

I love the spirit of scientific inquiry which led to this. In an otherwise boring news piece The Commerce Commission is taking Ribena to court because of of dubious Vitamin C claims. While these remain to be proved, I was interested that the whole investigation was started by two Pakuranga schoolkids that tested some Ribena a couple of years ago. Link. And by the way, Stuff's website has got a lot better too!

C.A.C. - My new favourite Restaurant

While Ritchie McCaw was the subject of special attention from our Australian friends Fran and I made our way lazily towards C.A.C restaurant and bar. The old Colonial Ammunition Company building has been artfully refurbished by proprieters Megan and Anthony. The tapas-style menu is a great relief from the usual and allows the messy sharing, and continuous eating I would engage in constantly were I not kept in check by better people than myself. It is, simply, fantastic. If you haven't been, why would you now wait?


Seminar Hell

How do I hate you, seminar hell? Let me count the ways:

Your location was obscure. The tilt-slab building and three star ageing hotel brand was not prominent. The uniform battered beige throughout reinforced the hateful anonymity of the place.

It was located on a road with an overly used name – three possible locations could have been assumed from a casual reading of the inadequate directions.

Was the time 12 for 12.30 lunch, or 12.30 for 1pm lunch? The event was named one thing, but the sponsoring company name was used for the directional signs at the hotel.

The function room was at the back of the venue – a long walk past the faded glories of a restaurant that has long since shrugged off the burden of ‘chefs’ and now has only ‘cooks’.

The hallway smells slightly of carpet cleaning fluid and more strongly of what it had presumably been applied to remove. I can hear shouts from rooms. Unhappy staff move trancelike, performing a mockery in mime of their housekeeping functions.

No lunch. A coffee trolley waits outside. A carefully counted total of one biscuit per paid attendee. A box of teas that extends to a selection of either round or square teabags…

I check my boarding pass. This is Tuesday, so we must be in…

The room has been laid out so that the only entrance has one enter right next to the speaker, in front of all who are seated. Tables have been arranged to make a U shape, all slightly too close to the wall to allow easy access to my seat which is in the middle at the back of the U. This is the second worst seating possible in a meeting like this.

The room is slightly too large for the speaker to comfortably address us without amplification – they commence anyway. A third of the way into the presentation it is obvious the slide show is out of date. Half way through several of the participants at the back declare they cannot hear. There is a pause while a lapel mike is found.

It’s technical and poorly organised. Everyone takes notes. At the conclusion a full copy of the presentation is handed out to extensive groans.

A break, coffee at 60 degrees Celsius in a cup barely the size of a thimble.

A walk to the bathroom – there is one hope to save the next three hours: wireless broadband.

Wireless broadband, wireless broadband… my kingdom for wireless broadband…

Come on, be serious, this hotel has no hotspot. Not even a warmspot. Just a lukewarm spot. Only another hour or two to go.

After the sixty thousand years it will take for this speaker to finish, I am going to get me a 3G wireless card. I promise myself this.

Life in the Pre-Christmas Rush

Given the hectic nature of the pre-Christmas rush, it seems laughable that I am spending ten minutes writing about it. Consider this a timesaver. When you next phone up, instead of commiserating about the pre-Christmas rush, we can be very 21st century and say "refer blog post 52419".

There are perils. There are dangers. I can maybe warn you of a couple.

Amazon shop for presents. We do this for all our UK rellies. It saves a lot of time and postage. There is a risk though. DO NOT look at calendars of naughty girls on the Amazon account that your share with your wife. I was, I assure you, just casually glancing, one click, that was all... and now the genius that is amazon is awarding a healthy 50% share of the recommendations page to calendars, and we're not talking landscapes.

I'll do that next week. Yeah right. There is no time. Also, let's face it lads, and ladettes, we are not the best at Christmas shopping. So with the crunch on you need time. Another great online site: glengarry's. It's where we Amazon shop for clients (yes, if you've been nice to us you will get a bottle of wine!).

Books - I think are a perfect gift. David Liss writes super detective stories, two which have reasonably advanced financial cimponents to the - a conspiracy of paper, and the coffee trader. For those with more robust tastes you might try anything by James Frey, Michael Lerner, or Chuck Palahniuk.

But what better gift could there be than time. I know Dave McMillan's partner Linley (formerly of Sovereign) did a lot of work on time-use in her Doctoral study. I was one of the people that for three days recorded the use of my time for her. It is a revelation. All good managers, but especially people in sales should look at time use occasionally.

This article seems to suggest that the arrow of 'progress' is pointing in the wrong direction. We've traded time for money. The warning that increased productivity rarely leaves us with more time on our hands is often true. My view is that people largely get what they want - and they save time here and there so that they can hurtle off and do more elsewhere. Including breathlessly complaining about timelessness, because, to be busy is to be important.

People in Insurance - Tresillian Estate

The versatile Graeme Lindsay - insurance broker, risk product researcher and now wine producer - has turned out some wine. No longer a drinker myself, it is best if I let him describe it:

"Well finally, it is here!  We have about 50 cases (6 bottles in the case) of our 2004 Pinot Noir - "The Debutante" available.  It is a light bodied elegant wine with wonderfully strawberry, cinnamon and nutmeg aromas.  On the palate, it is smooth - the alcohol and natural acidity are beautifully balance by exposure to old oak making it a very easy-drinking wine."

Drop him a line at to order some.