I too hate steam....however, you can set it up to not load at startup, and you can also somehow set it up to play in an offline mode. If you are not playing online against other people, you shouldn't need updates unless the game won't work correctly.
Steam - when you first installed it, will connect to the internet to scan for updates to the game. However, from what you guys above are talking about, it sounds like you may not have installed everything. I attempted to install HL2 Ep1 a while back, it tried to download the full copy of HL2 because there are files needed from that for ep1 apparently.
Nonetheless, I hate steam and it has pissed me off many times. Once it's working right, it's......ok....but it is a real pain in the ass.
If Counterstrike 1.5 players could find servers (they disabled the old servers which were used to connect players worldwide), I would still play and host CS 1.5 games. I hated CS 1.6, and steam with it....so I deleted that within hours of installing it. It was what led to me not playing the game anymore. CD:S is fun, though nothing will ever replace the fun I had with the original CS - at least in computer games....
Sporting 61 Spydercos in G-2, AUS-6, 8CR13MoV, ATS-55, H-1, VG-10, CPM-S30V, N690Co, ZDP-189/420J2, ZDP-189, AUS-10, and 52100.