stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a stylised picture of a teapot (Default)
Cardigan Island

I spent the last week of September in Wales with the in-laws. It was fantastic to escape from the pressures of work for a while, and I was also able to make a little bit of progress on my 101 in 1001.

We stayed in Gwbert, a hamlet at the head of the Teifi estuary - the white buildings in the picture above. The nearest town is Cardigan, three miles away, and - as opposed to Woking, where I spend most of my time - there's practically no sky glow. On a clear night the stars are fantastic.

And so, on the last night of our stay, after a few glasses of wine, [ profile] countertony and I walked up the road away from the street lights and had a look at the stars. I brought my netbook out with me; I have a fantastic program called Stellarium loaded onto it, and so it was basically a portable planetarium. You can tell it where and when you are, and it shows you what the sky looks like, identifying all the objects and putting in things like the constellation lines and names as you choose.

We started with the Big Dipper/Plough/Charles' Wain/Saucepan and Polaris, because they're easy. (The side of the 'pan' opposite the 'handle' points upwards to the Pole star.) I wouldn't be able to identify the rest of either the Great Bear or the Little Bear, though.

Another easy one is Cassiopeia; she looks like a W. Having identified those objects, we were able to work out where other things should be, and to look for them.

What I hadn't fully realised is that not all stars in a constellation are equally bright. One knows what shape it should be, but one can't necessarily see everything in it with the naked eye - or my naked eye, anyway. Once we'd twigged that, we tried it the other way round. We started to look for bright stars, work out from Stellarium which constellation they belonged to, and then search for the rest of the group. We found Bo├Âtes from Arcturus. Just by Boötes' right shoulder is the Corona Borealis, and Hercules, a bit further round, looks a bit like a four-legged spider. Then we found Vega, and from it the Lyre.

The only problem was that every time I looked at the netbook screen it killed my night vision, so I had to memorise a few shapes from it and then look away until I could see the fainter stars again. It's much easier than a star chart and a torch, though.

It was, in short, a successful evening's stargazing. While I'm not at all confident that I'd be able to find many of the constellations again without a chart of some kind, I do feel that I've got a much better idea of what I'm actually looking for.


Oct. 3rd, 2010 09:52 pm
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a stylised picture of a teapot (Default)
101 Journal: Front Cover

Recently, I have rediscovered the joys of sticking things in scrapbooks, and also the joys of transferring an image from one medium to another by means of a rubber stamp. I've thought for a while that it would be nice to have a physical record of the various things I do and see over the course of my Mission 101, aside from this virtual one, and also aside from the Mission 101 notebook, which is too small to write much more than the goals.

You might have noticed that that I've got a thing for hot-air balloons. How, then, could I resist the notebook above? I did have a book earmarked to serve as 101 in 1001 journal, but it's been demoted.

Under the cut is a picture of the book spread to show the entire cover )

And the other thing I picked up was this little stamp. Yes, I know it's meant for primary school teachers, to save them having to write encouraging messages in pupils' books. But isn't it just perfect?

Look! )
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a compass (101adventure)
... rather, learning how to use an old one.

The Needles

I've been on a course today, learning about various time management skills. We covered several techniques, some of which I'd heard about before (SMART goals, for example - which all my 101 will have to be) - and some of which I hadn't - such as the timeline method I'm about to describe.

Now, I signed up to TimeToast somewhen last month, after the lovely Ms Alex recommended it on her (now sadly defunct) 101 strategy blog. I marked out my 1001 days on it, and I added ten-day increments, and then I didn't really know what to do, at least until I started the challenge and had things to add. Now I know how to use it as a planning tool.

Let's take as an example my potential goal 'Walk Offa's Dyke or across England'. Let's say for the sake of argument (because it's looking the most likely) that I choose to walk the coast-to-coast route described by Alfred Wainwright.

The first thing to do is to visualise the completed goal: what will it look like? Answer: it will look like me, standing barefoot in the sea at Robin Hood Bay, leaving a pair of very muddy boots on the beach.

Now comes the slightly counter-intuitive part: mentally, one has to work backwards from the completed goal in order to find out how to get there forwards. If I were planning how to get to the lighthouse, I wouldn't start on the cliff, I'd start at the farthest Needle. If I think about the sunlight that's illuminating the earth now, I have to bear in mind that it started from the sun, eight minutes ago.

So I want to get to Robin Hood Bay. Fine. The question is, when do I want to do this? Let's say 30th April 2012. It's an arbitrary date, yes. Currently my rationale is as follows: I most enjoy walking in the spring, I'd like to do it sooner rather than later, but I don't think that I'll be fit enough or organised enough to do the walk in 2011. It doesn't matter that it's arbitrary; I can tweak it later.

I put a pin marked 'arrive Robin Hood Bay' in the timeline at 30th April 2012

What do I have to do to finish the walk? I have to start the walk. How long will it take me? Let's say three weeks - ish. I'll have to tweak that, too, but it's a start.

I put a pin marked 'St Bees: start walking' in the timeline at 9th April 2012

How did I get to St Bees? I travelled. It's a fair way north, so I would want to stay overnight, and perhaps I might want a day's rest before starting the walk. Working backwards, these three pins go in:

'travel to St Bees': 7th April 2012
'purchase train tickets': 1st February 2012
'book accommodation at St Bees': 25th January 2012

And I go on working backwards like that, until I finally find myself in late August 2011, walking 10km in a day, and preparing to check my kit. I've made myself a plan, and I've now got a reasonably good idea of how long it's going to take me to prepare for and accomplish the goal.

Finally, I ask myself whether this plan is dependent upon any other person helping me out or joining in, and, if it is, I make very sure to check their availability.

And where does TimeToast come into it? It's just a virtual timeline into which one can stick virtual pins. Here's the Coast to Coast timeline, if you want to have a look. It's not finished. I'll need to do some more research, and there will be more steps to be added. I just don't yet know what they are.

Does it work? I don't know, yet. It looks as if it very well might. I'll let you know.

Tick Tock

Sep. 12th, 2010 09:27 pm
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a stylised picture of a teapot (Default)
Astronomical Clock

How long is 1001 days, anyway?

About two years and two thirds.

About thirty-three months.

Exactly one hundred and forty-three weeks.

One hundred sets of ten days - and an extra day.

Ten sets of one hundred days - and an extra day.

On the whole, I'm steering clear of goals that have to be done regularly every month, or week, or whatever, because I know all too well that there will come a month, or a week, when I forget, or when I have no internet connection, or when a crisis comes up. Far better to say 'I will do this one hundred and forty-three times', and then it won't matter if I do it three times in one week and not at all the next. There's no sense in shooting myself in the foot before I even start.
stapsdoes101things: '101' superimposed on a stylised picture of a teapot (Default)
Way way back in 2007, when I made my first list, the official Day Zero website looked something like this: a list of links to, well, lists. So I put my list up there with the rest of them, went away, had a stab at completing the tasks on it, and never looked at the site again.

It was a bit of a shock, then, when I started thinking about the new list, and came back to the site to find it looking like this. It was all shiny. It had things that you could click on and see how many other people were thinking of, for example, trying fifty different kinds of cake. It wanted me to log in - and, I will admit, this foxed me for a bit. It seemed odd, suddenly having to come up with a new username for a site that I'd been involved with for nearly three years. Still, I worked it out in the end.

Armed with my new username, I had a sniff around. It's very shiny. It has a list of recently added tasks. If you scroll down to the bottom of the home page, it shows you lists of the top 40 things 101ers want to write, of 24 things to watch, of 10 things 101ers DON'T want to do. It even has a list of the top 101 101 goals. (As that list stands at the moment, ten of the goals on there, or similar goals, appeared on my last list. Eight are on the longlist of potential new goals.)

So that's all very exciting. What's even more exciting is the fact that, once you've got yourself a username and logged yourself in, you can click on any of these goals, and the site will tell you how many people are doing it, who first added it, who's doing it, who wants to do it some day, and who's done it. It also gives you the option of saying you've done it, of putting it on your 'someday, maybe' list, or of putting it on your own list.

And that's great. There are tasks that are on other people's lists that I want to do - and there are tasks on other people's lists that I really would rather not. (Colour an entire colouring book, for example. I'm not sure I could come up with anything that would bore me more if I thought it out with both hands for a fortnight.) I can add the tasks I want to do, and leave the ones I don't. That's great.

Or at least, it would be great - if only. If only the clock didn't start ticking the day you signed up. Think about it. I am going to spend the next two and three quarter years of my life attending to this list, and the site wants me to come up with the whole list now? Not fair. I found the 'edit start date' button, but it's not obvious. As it is, the combination of idea overload, a list made in a hurry, and an immediate start date has resulted in lists that haven't been finished. Not tasks that haven't been finished. Lists. Fifteen items, maybe one of them done, seven hundred days to go, and no recent user activity. Frankly, I'm not surprised.

I've got a longlist of - well, I haven't actually counted it, but a lot of goals. (I'll post it in a few days, and request comments.) I'm not going to make my list by clicking indiscriminately on other people's goals. Oh, I'll certainly share goals with other people, but everything on my list will be something I really, truly, want to do.

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