Saturday, 27 December 2014

iPad Blogging Frustrations

I use my iPad almost exclusively, rarely bothering with a "proper" computer. There are very few things that the iPad cannot handle, but I am having problems using it for blogging. Writing posts directly into the browser is close to impossible - Blogger could not be set up worse for an iPad, and this applies whether I use Safari and Chrome. For quite some time I have used the BlogPress iOS app. It usually works pretty well though formatting can be a bit clunky, but recently it has started refusing to load photos. I downloaded another free blogging app, Posts, to test out, but Google gave me dire warnings about giving it my Google details and frightened me off. I tried Google's Blogger app a while ago and it was useless, but decided to give it another go. It is better than it was and works up to a point. It allows me to upload pictures (yay!) but doesn't allow any adjustment of picture size or placement and has no way to include links (boo!). There has to be something better out there. 

101 Things in 1001 Days: The List

1.  Do a 30x30 Challenge (30 minutes of physical activity for 30 days)
2.  Complete a 30 Day Yoga Challenge
3.  Try hot yoga
4.  Take a body combat class
5.  Buy a bike
6.  Climb a mountain
7.  Exercise 100 times in a year
8.  Average 7000 steps a day for a month
9.  Do Spark People sleep challenge
10. Get to a healthy BMI

11. Bake 10 different healthy snacks
12. Keep a food diary for a month
13. Make a gingerbread house
14. Go vegan for a month
15. Cook a different breakfast everyday for a week
16. Go berry picking and make jam
17. Cook 5 meals from 5 different countries
18. Make a pie on Pi day
19. Go to a sushi bar
20. Eat at 10 new restaurants
21. Eat at Fredericks for our silver wedding in 2017

22. Read books set in 10 different countries
23. Complete 50 book reading challenge
24. Read 10 books about science or scientists
25. Listen to 10 history books on Audible
26. Read 5 Booker Prize winning books
27. Read a book in a day
28. Spend an afternoon at the park reading
29. Do a 48 hour reading challenge
30. Read a book in French 

Music / Film / Theatre
31. Go to an outdoor concert
32. Go to a Prom concert
33. Go to the National Brass Band finals
34. Attend a folk festival
35. Go to 10 events at The Stables
36. Listen to music by 20 singers or bands I’ve never heard of
37. Listen to works by 20 unfamiliar composers
38. Spend a rainy day watching movies in PJs
39. Watch a film beginning with each letter of the alphabet
40. Watch 3 films in French
41. See three RSC plays
42. See a play at the Globe

43. Learn to play high Bb on the trombone
44. Play trombone in an orchestra
45. Scan at least 200 old photos
46. Take photos of the same place every month for a year
47. Write 15 blog posts a month for at least 6 months
48. Complete knitted square blankets 
49. Crochet a blanket

50. Visit Austria
51. Visit Prague (Czech Republic)
52. Take DD2 to Italy for a weekend
53. Visit Edinburgh
54. Visit Lincoln Cathedral 
55. Ride on the London Eye
56. Visit Stonehenge
57. Visit Buckingham Palace
58. Visit Liverpool
59. Visit three castles I have never been to before
60. Go to 10 different museums
61. Go ice skating
62. Walk the Ridgeway (or other long distance path)

House and Home
63. Do a 40 trash bag challenge
64. 52 Weeks to an organised home challenge
65. Clear out the garage 
66. Redecorate the bathroom
67. Redecorate DD3's room
68. Redecorate the dining room

Personal Development
69. Learn conversational Italian 
70. Write an iOS app
71. Take a free online class
72. Learn 50 new things by clicking the random articles button on Wikipedia
73. Work on family history in greater detail (3 generations)
74. Make a list of the 100 best experiences of my life
75. Decide on five life goals for retirement / semi-retirement
76. Keep a “My Day in Six Words” journal for 6 months
77. Make a list of 101 quotes that inspire me
78. Photograph 101 things that make me happy
79. Keep a gratitude journal for at least three months
80. Go on a silent retreat
81. Meditate daily for 30 days
82. Go a week without complaining about anything 
83. Answer the "50 Questions That Will Free Your Mind" 
84. Spend a week with no computer or TV
85. Go a month without buying anything that isn't a necessity

86. Find a hat I don't look silly in
87. Dye my hair a new colour
88. Get a manicure
89. Get an Apple Watch
90. Stay up all night and watch the sunrise
91. Spend a whole day in bed
92. Do the Race for Life
93. Donate blood
94. Sign up to be an organ donor
95. Send flowers anonymously to a friend in need
96. Save 100 two pound coins
97. Build a snowman
98. Host a board games night
99. Compliment someone everyday for 10 days straight
100. Achieve 3 goals in a week
101. Achieve 7 goals in a month

101 Things in 1001 Days

Back in 2010 I found the Day Zero Project ( - I am using a Blogger app to write this post which I have now discovered does not have any way to add hyperlinks. How very helpful of it!) and started a 101 Things in 1001 Days list. As is my usual way I started enthusiastically and then forgot about it, but recently stumbled across it again and thought I would have another try. Looking back at my original list over four years I managed to check off a third of the items; this time round I will be extremely impressed with myself if I manage half. 

Why am I doing this? Mostly because I like lists! Having a checklist gives me a point of reference for ways to spend my time. I don't have a great deal of "spare" time, but what I do have tends to get frittered puttering around on the internet (or just plain aimless puttering). Having a list of ideas will, I hope, help me to spend that time more productively and make my leisure time more satisfying. Thinking of ideas for 101 things to put on the list gave me an opportunity to consider what I would like to do more of - reading, live concerts and theatre, decluttering, developing existing hobbies, and so on. Then there are fitness and food goals which should give me ways to keep exercise and healthy eating interesting and varied, places I would like to go (some of this is blithe optimism and unlikely to be possible), what I have termed "personal development" which is mostly things to think about or ways of focusing on what is good in my life, and some items which are just plain fun stuff. It isn't a heavy list. It is not intended to be about major long term goals or big ambitions (though I don't think I have any of those!), and I have intentionally not included anything to do with work, faith or family. 

A number of the items on the list are "challenges within a challenge" - yoga challenge, sleep challenge, trash bag challenge, listen to 20 composers, read 10 science books, that sort of thing. To keep tabs on the list in general and the individual items within it I am using an organising app called Trello which looks as though it will work very nicely. I'll report back once I get properly underway. Nominally I am starting on 1st January 2015 because I like neat dates, but in practice I am starting now. You may place bets on how long I will keep this up - three months, six months, a year, one month, a week, never get off the ground at all? 

I am putting the list into a separate post as this one is already getting rather long. 

Friday, 26 December 2014


This year has been a very leisurely Christmas, partly because I had a cold which threatened to turn into a chest infection and had a few days of trying to do as little as possible in the run up to December 25th. Also whereas I usually try to take time off work between Christmas and New Year, this year office logistics meant I was at home from the end of last week, but will be working next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning. I think I like this way round rather better as it made getting ready for Christmas so much less rushed. 

It has been a quiet family Christmas, which everyone seemed to enjoy. Each year we seem to find that unintentional gift themes emerge - this year there were various sets of headphones, mugs and dressing gowns. Also the small daughter acquired both a chemistry set and a microscope, so today she and I had a science afternoon. Managing to link the microscope up to the computer and burning iron filings and a magnesium strip were highlights. 

I hope Christmas has been good for you too! 

Monday, 22 December 2014

Time-Lapse Blogging

Oops! I blinked and missed four months. Yes, life is busy. No, life is not so busy that I could not make time to write here reasonably regularly. Somehow I never seem to make it part of my routine. At the times of the year when I have more time - school holidays, mainly - I write. The rest of the time not so much, or not at all. I'm sure it is a matter of habit, and if I could only get into the habit it would stick. I like blogging. I do better with keeping an online diary than I do trying to keep a personal one. Having an audience, even a small one, motivates me to write more and better than I would if I was just writing for myself. So, next year, more blogging!

What has been going on in the last four months? The usual routine of work and school for various family members. Senior daughter changed jobs for three months then went back to her previous employer in a different role, which a month in she seems happy with. Middle daughter changed schools for Sixth Form and has gone to a grammar school in a nearby town. (Cultural note: in the UK grammar schools are selective entry state schools. Admission at age 11 is by examination, at age 16 for Sixth Form it requires certain grades in the GCSE examinations taken by all 16 year olds here. The grammar school system used to be universal, but since the 1960s/70s it only survives in a few areas, of which our adjacent county is one.) After a slightly wobbly beginning middle daughter has settled in and is enjoying the school and the more challenging environment, despite having to leave home an hour earlier in the morning to catch the bus. She is also working a part time job as a waitress in a local cafe, which together with a heavy studying load keeps her very busy.

Small daughter has been looking around local middle schools as she is due to move school next year. (Another cultural note: Our area has a three tier school system in which children change schools at ages 9 and 13. I think there may only be one or two other places in the country which operate this system.) We have a realistic choice of two schools - there are others but not in walking distance. She has decided she prefers a school which was very oversubscribed last year, but liked the other almost as much so will not be too disappointed if she doesn't get her first choice. The interesting thing about looking round was that the was like a moth to a flame with the science labs. At both schools she spent a long time engrossed in the various science activities they had laid on, at the second school to the point where she decided it wasn't worth bothering to look at the parts of the school we hadn't yet reached, she would rather just stay put with the science until they chucked her out! A chemistry set - which she describes as "science heaven in a box" - is now top of her Christmas list.

Small daughter has also taken up a contact karate and kickboxing and hopes to get her first belt in the new year. As she is an extremely petite 8 year old (more 6 year old sized and very lightweight) it isn't exactly an obvious hobby to pick, but she was very determined she wanted to do it and seems to be very much enjoying it.

For me life goes on much as normal. Working hard during the week, but under less pressure as we have some new staff members which has made things less stressful. Still playing lots of trombone. Generally feeling less stressed than I had over the previous year for various reasons, most of which have now more or less resolved themselves. We went on a last-minute short break to Kent at half term, just two nights in a chain motel near Canterbury but we enjoyed exploring the area and it helped to recharge our batteries. If this app will cooperate I will put some pictures into a follow up post.