Tag Archives: 40Before40

#40Before40: Challenge #39

15 Dec

For my penultimate challenge, I have set myself one of the hardest challenges. The challenge is to downsize; to get rid of anything that I don’t want or need. There is no caveat on how I get rid of things. I can give them away from free, donate them, sell them, recycle them or just bin them. However, I want to avoid the latter, especially if the item is still useable.

This challenge is one of the hardest for me because I have to be honest with myself about getting rid of things. It is easy just to think that I need or will want something in the future and end up keeping it when I know deep down that I have no intention of using it at all.

We will possibly be moved in the middle of next year so it seems like a good opportunity to downsize because we don’t have to move things that we don’t want. A lot of the sorting out into the “keep” or “bin” piles will probably happen in the packing for the move but I have already made a start.

I have taken two big bags of clothes to be recycled already. This is the tip of the iceberg. There are also old electronics sat in the cellar waiting to be taken to the recycling. I also have bags of books in the cellar that I have already ready. I can take these to a book shop to be resold. I don’t get any money for dropping them off but at least they will be out of my way and someone else can get pleasure from reading them. My problem is that, once I go there to drop the books off, I have a bit of a browse and I end up coming out with 3 new books to read. I have a lot of books to read that are currently sat in the cellar. Although I am coming round to the opinion that even if I gave up work for 12 months, I still wouldn’t be able to get through all the books that I have that I haven’t read. I tend to read about 40 books per year. I need to up this considerably if I want to avoid the situation of getting rid of books that I haven’t yet read. This situation would actually make me really sad.

I have also been making a conscious effort to use cosmetics products that I have and are either half-used or haven’t even been opened. I have made some space in the cupboard in the bathroom but it is a small drop in the ocean. It is amazing how many face creams and things that I have considering I never actually use them. I guess cosmetic companies do have great marketing. If I have bought these things that I have no interest in then they are doing something right.

The clearing out will continue. It is far from over but at least it is in progress.

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#40 Before 40: Challenge #8

4 Dec

As part of my #40Before40 Challenge #8, I am attempting to watch all of the Top 250 Films of all time as listed on iMDB.

Below are the films that I have watched in the past two months.

25. Life is Beautiful

I don’t know what I was expecting with this film but I wasn’t expecting it to be set in a concentration camp. A feckless but charming Jewish waiter woos a well-to-do lady, who is very much out of his league, and settles down to have a son with her. His bookshop is targeted by the Nazis and eventually he and his son are taken to the concentration camp. The wife also demands to go with them but they are separated when they arrive. Although the subject matter of the film is tragic, there are lighter sizes to the story that provide comic relief and also highlights the importance of love and hope. When arriving at the camp, the husband offers to translate from German to tell the new arrivals what the rules are. So that his son isn’t scared, he sets out the rules of a game so that his son will behave himself and life will be easier for him in the camp. It’s an interesting story with a happy ending which is tinged with sadness. The film is originally in Italian. As my Italian is not great, I watch the dubbed English version.

46. Gladiator

I am being honest here. I have started to watch this film a number of time but I have always fallen asleep in the middle of it. My general rule is that if you can’t tell me a story in two and a half hours maximum, I am not interested. This is almost 3 hours long. Essentially, the film starts with the lead character just wanting to go home after he has done his days work. This is most people’s lives from Monday to Friday. After the new Emperor kills his wife and son to punish him for his defiance, he ends up being found and becomes a gladiator. In the end, the length of the film didn’t bother me too much. It did get be wondering why Russell Crowe has managed to be in so many of the Top 250. I’ve never really rated him so highly but he must be doing something right.

65. Alien

I don’t think I had ever seen this film because I thought it would be too scary. It was made in 1979. I can imagine at the time that this film was scary to the audience but in 2017, the special effects look dated and a bit laughable. Perhaps the funniest part was when one of the crew members was being attacked by the alien and the camera cut to a shot of the ship’s cat’s shocked face. Also I was a bit disappointed that Sigorny Weaver’s character, at a pivotal moment in the story, feels the need to abandon her crew members to go and find her cat. I wonder if this is where the phrase “crazy cat lady” comes from? Being Hollywood, of course, her and cat manage to get away safely or so it would appear…

85. Taxi Driver

Oh, so this is the film where Robert De Niro says “You talking to me? Of course, you’re talking to me. Nobody else is here” or words to that effect. Basically, De Niro is an ex-marine who served in Vietnam, who arrives back in America and, presumably because of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, isn’t able to sleep so he gets a job driving a taxi. While watching the film I wasn’t 100% what parts of his life he was delusional about. At one point, he is telling women that he works for the secret service. He then starts training with guns and at one point he is ready to assassinate a candidate for the Presidential Primary. In the end, he uses his shooting skills for good and rescues a very young Jodie Foster from a life of prostitution. It also features a foul-mouthed Harvey Keitel as a pimp who gets his comeuppance. As the film is move 40 years old, I found some of the scene were unintentionally funny. Overall, a really good film.

103. L.A Confidental

A brutal murder is investigated by the highly-corrupt LAPD. A new detective with high morals is put in charge but none of his colleagues think that he has the stomach to solve the case. The film is very old school, Hollywood glamour. I’m actually not so sure that I enjoyed this film. Also I did get a bit confused because there was a character called Pierce but the actor playing the rookie detective was Guy Pearce and I got confused about who people were referring to.

 

120. Downfall

A film about the last few days of Hitler’s life and the downfall of the Third Reich. The film was actually in German with English subtitles. The story was based on one of Hitler’s private secretaries diary. It was an interesting story and well acted and it was no surprise to me that it was in the Top 250 films.

I have now watched 85 of the films on the list. Just 165 more to go!

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#40Before 40, Challenge #21: Part 2

27 Nov

So, I left you on a cliffhanger yesterday. I was half way through my 21st challenge of my #40Before40. If you missed it, you can read it here.

We are now half way through the challenge and about to watch the 13th episode. I am feeling quite awake and, even though we are not as chatty as we were in the beginning, I think the challenge is going well.

Hour 13:

Show: The bad guys are after Teri and Kim but in true idiotic, women-fleeing-from-the-baddies fashion, they are lost and things are getting tense. Jack manages to save them just in time. Meanwhile it is becoming clear that David Palmer might have some anger management issues.

Us: I’m feeling awake and, although I have seen the series before, I can’t remember what is going to happen next. We have sort of agreed that perhaps the series could be a lot shorter but then it wouldn’t be called 24, would it? I am looking forward to the vegan spicy chili that I have made after the next episode.

Hour 14:

Show: Jack is under house arrest, David Palmer is being blackmailed and the FBI has been infiltrated at hospital security… all in the space of an hour! The Serbian connection once again is mentioned. Everyone seems to have Jack’s intentions completely wrong, apart from Tony.

Us: Stefan’s eyes are heavily than my shopping bags when I say that I am just nipping to the shops for a “few things”. The boys want to sleep but I have a feeling if I sleep that I won’t wake up. They decide to take a power nap so I clear up some plates and dishes from dinner but I am scared about waking them up.

Hour 15:

Show: Palmer confront Jack’s and they realise that they have a connection from an operation in Kosovo that Jack served in and Palmer instructed. During a debriefing, Teri guesses that Nina has had an affair with Jack and she also finds out that she is pregnant.

Us: Stefan seems to be struggling. Mark is on the other end of the sofa and is usually quiet. I am wide awake.

Hour 16:

Show: A terrorist suspect has become the boyfriend of one of the Senator’s staff members, in order to get information about the Senator’s schedule. The bad guys have made it into the safe house where Teri and Kim are staying. They manage to get away just in time but then have a bad car accident, where Teri has lost her memory and it looks like Kim is dead.

Us: We go for a quick walk (it’s now 1am). We are now two thirds of the way through!

Hour 17:

Show: There is an operation to plant a tracker on the terror suspect but the emotionally fragile “girlfriend” messes it up and stabs the suspect instead because she knows that he has only been seeing her to get information. Jack has found out that Teri knows that he had an affair with Nina.

Us: The walk really woke me up. But I need some sugar. And caffine. We take desparate steps. We open the Red Bull.

Hour 18:

Show: It turns out that Teri has also possibly having an affair. The Senator’s wife has destoryed some crucial evidence that will prove her son’s innocent but Palmer has tricked her and he still has the original tape. Kim is now being held hostage at a drug dealers house. I have no idea how she manages to get herself into these situations.

Us: Man down! Stefan is bolt upright but fast asleep. They say never leave a good man behind but both Mark and myself leave him to sleep. I am starting to feel tired now.

Hour 19:

Show: Some files about the Kosovo operation have been found and they reveal an address. Jack goes to investigate. The drug deal that Kim is a witness to is actually a raid and she gets arrested. No one knows where she is.

Us: I decided to join the boys in a power nap. And I am feeling a lot brighter. I think it probably is true that power naps are good for concentration and focus. I might start power napping every hour at work.

Hour 20:

Show: Palmer has decided to come clean about the accusations brought against his son beause he thinks that the voters will understand. Jack is now at the address from the previous episode. It is a prison facility and they expecting the transfer of a highly secret prisoner. The prisoner is the Serbian terrorist who he thought he killed 2 years earlier.

Us: We seem to be doing ok, and only have 4 hours left to go. Stefan is annoyed about the way his countrymen are portrayed on TV. I get annoyed when all British people in television programmes have terrible teeth and sound like they have plums in their mouth, so I guess he has the right to be.

Hour 21:

Show: There is an explosion at the prison as the terrorists are attempting to free the prisoner. Jack releases the prisoner when he is backed into a corner and is taken as a hostage himself. He is in deep shit now. Kim gets herself into more trouble; she is honestly a liability.

Us: We have a group power nap of 17 minutes before the next episode needs to be started.

Hour 22:

Show: Kim is kidnapped again. If she wasn’t it in, I am sure that the programme would be called 6. She just can’t lay low for 5 minutes. Palmer has won the vote. Jack is being traded for the main bad guy’s son, who was the terrorist, who got stabbed a number of hours ago. There is some very inappropriate back massages being given by Palmer’s speech writer, Pattie.

Us: We are feeling a lot happier as the end is in sight. I wonder when the sun will come up because it is still pitched black outside.

Hour 23:

Show: In a twist, the terrorists want to shoot Palmer because the son of the terrorist has now died. Palmer dismisses Pattie because he knows that she has been told by his wife to be a honey trap. There is an explosion at the hotel and Palmer is presumed to be dead. Kim manages to escape (how many times is this now??) and Nina is a rat. She has been talking (not very good) Serbian to the terrorists. She was the mole all along.

Us: I am begin to nod off but I stand up and walk around to keep myself awake. We are powering to the finish.

Hour 24:

Show: Palmer’s wife is bad news and a huge snake in the grass and I wouldn’t trust her as far as I could throw her. Jack kills the main terrorist after Nina lied about him killing Kim. Teri is kidnapped by Nina after she began to get suspicious. Jack and Nina have a face off but Teri has already been left for dead by Nina.

Us: We have done it! I’m not quite as jubulant than I thought I would be but that is mainly because I want to try to go to sleep.

And there you have it. The first challenge completed! Just 39 to go!

A huge thank you to Stefan and Mark, who also stuck with me and helped the night to be more enjoyable than I thought it would be. I am still not convinced that they thought that the series was as good as I think it is but I could listen to Kiefer Sutherland’s voice all day long, so perhaps I am biased.

I am sure that you will read about them helping me with some of my other challenges as well but hopefully those challenges won’t mean that we have to lose too much sleep.

40 Before 40: Challenge #21

26 Nov

My #40Before40 Challenge #21 was to watch the whole of the first series of 24 (24 episodes) in one sitting. If you haven’t seen the show before, each episode is an hour long and represents events that happen during the day of the California Primacy.

This was taking binge watching to the extreme and was actually something that I had discussed with a friend a long time ago. As it was November and the snow hasn’t yet arrived to go skiing, it seemed like a good weekend to tick this one off the list.

From an operational level, I know that I needed to enlist some friends to help me stay awake. If enforced sleep deprivation isn’t a test of a good friendship, I am not sure what is. In the end we were 3, as I was joined by Stefan and Mark. As we wouldn’t have time to go shopping etc, I had stocked the fridge with pizza, salad, fruit, vegan chili, drinks and snacks. Stefan, an impressive baker, also brought over one of the most delicious cakes that I have ever tasted.

Because we watched the show without commercial breaks, it means we have 20 minutes in between each show to eat, have a break, etc.

So, here is how it went. Events occur in real time…

Hour 1:

Show: An assassination attempt on Senator Palmer’s life is reported and a Boeing 747 explodes in mid-air over LA. Meanwhile, Jack Bauer, an agent at the Counter Terrorism Unit, is angry that his daughter has left the house to go partying.

Us: Armed with Turkish pastries for breakfast and coffee, we are in high spirits.

Hour 2:

Show: There is a mole in the CTU, who possibly has been working with the bad guys who are trying to kill the Senator. Several suspicious glances are seen in the office. It is clear Kim Bauer is getting herself into quite a bit of trouble.

Us: The boys, who haven’t seen the show before, don’t seem to be convinced about the show. I, on the other hand, have just realised how good the show is. But I can’t remember everything that happened. We are laughing at the outdated technology in the show, like floppy disks.

Hour 3:

Show: Apparently Senator Palmer’s son was involved in a murder and this is going to be revealed in the press. Nina, has been confronted about being the mole in CRT. She manages to prove her innocence because on a specific date she was having an affair with Jack.

Us: We are not as chatty as we were in the first two episodes, but the boys seem to be getting a bit more into it.

Hour 4:

Show: It is now clear that Kim Bauer has been kidnapped. At CTU the agency is in lockdown because Jack can’t follow orders.

Us: We manage to spot a continuity error that you wouldn’t have spotted if you had watched one episode a week, as the show would have been aired in the beginning. Nokia and Ericsson phones are featuring predominately in the show, much to our amusement.

Hour 5:

Show: Kim and her friend get further into trouble as they attempt to flee their captors, despite having been drugged and beaten. Her friend is run over and left for dead in the street. David Palmer faces the journalist, who has accused her son and Jack has broken out a prisoner from jail in order to questions him.

Us: We agree that we don’t trust Janet (Kim’s friends) dad, who has been involved in looking for the girls. He seems a bit suspicious. We start discussing playing a drinking game that we have found online, where we have to drink when certain things happen or are said.

Hour 6:

Show: Janet is in hospital and, though a vital witness, she is in complex surgery and it looks unlikely she will be able to help police. Later in the episode, it is revealed that the man claiming to be Janet’s father is not her father at all.

Us: We knew not to trust Janet’s dad. Meanwhile we discuss the role of women in TV and films. I am already frustrated at how dumb the women in this show are.

Hour 7:

Show: Jack is now being directed by a bad guy, Gaines, who is involved in the assassination attempt. Meanwhile, Jack’s wife knocks out the man who she thought was Janet’s dad with a rock to the head. It is revealed that the mole in the organisation was Jamie.

Us: We can’t believe that Jamie is a rouge agent. We liked her, especially as she has changed her hairstyle three times already. I am starting to feel sleepy.

Hour 8:

Show: Jack is getting framed for the assassination attempt by Gaines. There is a complex operation, including the actual assassin tricking Jack so his prints are on the gun.

Us: The boys seem to be on the edge of their seats but I am really sleepy. We decide to go for a walk to get some fresh air and to wake us up. This turns into a jog because we walk too far and need to get back for the next episode. We are a third of the way through.

Hour 9:

Show: Jack is under arrest for plotting to assassinate Palmer but in reality he saved his life. He escapes custody in classic Bauer-esque fashion and takes a hostage and car to help him get back in touch with the unit.

Us: We don’t like Senator Palmer’s wife. She is a bit of a snake. We can’t help thinking that it would be a lot easier to track people today and to get to places because of Google maps. We’ve cracked open the crisps. I’m feeling a lot more awake.

Hour 10:

Show: Jack is again a fugitive on the run; his hostage double crossed him. A new villain is in the picture and a new head has taken over CTU.

Us: I don’t like the new CTU head and I comment that a lot of undercover things seem to be happening in the ladies toilets. This would almost never happen –  because of some strange law, women’s toilets need to be occupied by at least 2 women at all times. In this episode, we played the drinking game. One can of beer did not last long!

Hour 11:

Show: Jack takes the new bad guy, Ted Cofell, hostage. After threatening physical hart, it turns out that the man is actually Serbian. But Jack pushes him too far and he has a heart attack before he can get any information from him.

Us: There is excitement about the Serbian connection, because Stefan is from Serbia. The Serbian that is spoken is not translated but myself and Mark are told that the Serbian isn’t very good and has some mistake.

Hour 12:

Show: As I suspected, Alberta Green, temporarily in command of the CTU, is an absolute ball breaker. By now, both the wife and daughter of Jack are being held hostage in the same place, by the same people. Teri has shot one of the kidnappers, after one of the young kidnappers, Rick, has taken a shine to Kim and has smuggled them in a gun. Senator Palmer meets with the therapist who is implicating him and minutes later this office, with the therapist in it, is blown up. There is a huge cover-up under way.

Us: We laugh out loud because someone has a pager. The boys are beginning to annoy me (they actually weren’t but they were very interested in what I was noting down and I thought it would serve them right if they read this. Haha) In actual fact, we are half way through and seem to be doing ok.

I will be continuing the next 12 hours tomorrow. Will we make it through the whole show? Can I officially tick off one challenge from my list as completed? Stay tuned!

40 Before 40: Challenge #14

15 Nov

Challenge 14 on my #40Before40 list is to eat vegan for 3 months. I haven’t started the challenge yet but I have started some research into it. I think that this challenge is certainly doable but I will have to plan in advance.

I have already had a look in supermarkets to see what alternatives they offer. One of the supermarkets here has a coconut oil spread alternative to butter. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I haven’t tried it yet because I don’t know if I am just not going to eat butter at all. I don’t eat a great deal of it anyway.

I have stopped drinking milk and have tried almold, oat and rice milk as potential alternatives. I am not particularly taken by any of them and almond milk is by far the worst. They seem to be a lot thinner than milk and a bit sweeter to the taste. I have also noticed that no matter how much I put in my cuppa, it doesn’t make it go the right colour. You will know what I mean if you are British and reading this. We have colour charts like most countries have for paint for our tea.

I have also swapped my normal breakfast of museli and youghurt for chia seed pudding made with my milk substitute, which hasn’t been so bad. Of course, when I do get going with it and I can’t have eggs and bacon for breakfast, I will definitely be complaining.

There is a good range of meat free products available in Coop. It’s mainly bean burgers, falafel and so on. All of this I can make myself, if I do manage to get myself organised. They also sell dairy free cheese. It will possibly taste like plastic but it is good to know it is there.

I have also spent quite a bit of time online researching some receipes. I googled best vegan breakfasts and I got a list of receipes that say “drizzle over a bit of honey…” If it has honey on it then it isn’t vegan. I was hoping that I would be able to find a list of lunch ideas which says “to the horseradish add roast beef”. That would make the challenge easier but I don’t think that I will find that.

I plan to start this challenge in earnest next spring/summer. As more fruits and vegetables are available in spring and summer, I think it will be easier to do it at this time of year. It will be tough not to have sausage on the BBQ but I can have grilled vegetables which I like just as much.

In the meantime, I will be continuing my search to find alternatives and ways to make sure that I get all the vitamins and minerals that I need. This is defintiely going to be a challenge! If any of you have any vegan receipes or tips that you would like to share with me, please feel free to get in touch!vegetables-2898523__340

40 Before 40: Challenge #27

6 Nov

Reading is one of my passions in life. I could easily sit and read for the whole day if I had the time and there were no interruptions. A great way to learn another language is to read. It is surprising how much you can learn passively.

However, as it is not always easy to read in another language, this can take the fun out of one of my favourite past times. Sometimes it feels like you are taking more time looking up words than you are actually reading the text. Despite this, I decide that my Challenge #27 would be to Read 40 novels in German.

So far, this is what I have read:

1. Der Vorleser by Bernhard Schlink (The Reader)

I read this book as part of my German lessons earlier this year. I wrote about this at the time on my blog. If you didn’t see it the first time, the link is here.

2. Happy Birthday Türke! by Jakob Arjourni (Happy Birthday Turk!)

This is the story of a private detective of Turkish heritage born in Germany, who is asked to investigate the death of a man, after the police have shown their disinterest to use resources to solve the murder of a “foreigner”. The story begins on the birthday of the detective, hence the title “Happy Birthday, Turk!”

The story also explores issues, such as racial stereotypes and the tensions that exist between people who are seen as foreigners and those who consider themselves to be natives. The books ends with the detective not only discovering the truth but also uncovering a corrupt system.

Thanks to this book I now know more words for prostitute in German than I do in English. I have no idea when I will use these words though.

3. Ein Tag mit Herrn Jules by Diane Broeckhoven (A Day with Mr Jules)

This was am interesting book about a woman whose husband passes away in his armchair in the morning. She doesn’t want to accept this and carries on her day as usual. What throws a spanner in the works is when the autistic child who lives in the same building comes over. He regularly comes over to plays chess with the man who has passed away.

Being autistic, he doesn’t like changes to his routine and the wife has to let him in to play chess with her husband. The boy realises quickly that his normal chess player has passed away but he spends the day with the wife anyway. By the end of the book, the wife has come to terms with her loss and admits that she needs to contact the relevant people, including her son and daughter, to deal with the death of her husband.

4. Ein paar Leute suchen das Glück und lachen sich tot by Sibyelle Berg (A few people search for happiness and laugh themselves to death)

This was an interesting book. I mainly chose the book because the author lives in Zurich. The story has short chapters which focus on individual chapters, by the end of the book several of the individual stories have intertwined.

The book explores themes such as love, loss, the complexity of relationships and, to a certain extent, the meaning of modern life.

By the end I wasn’t sure what to make of it all. I had quite a few unanswered questions. In terms of my language learning, I did learn a lot of new words, especially colloquial terms that are perhaps not easy to pick up by formal German lessons.

Four down, 36 to go…

40 Before 40: Challenge #10

14 Oct

After the Cardiff Half Marathon, I was surprised when I realised I had actually completed Challenge #10 of my 40 Before 40 list (‘Beat at least one of my running PBs for 10k, 10 miles, half marathon or marathon’). It was definitely not my intention to do that!

Somehow, I managed to beat my 10 mile (16km) personal best by a whole 9 seconds. Doesn’t sound so impressive, does it? If a professional runner takes 9 seconds off their time, it is a big deal. It doesn’t really work the same with amateurs, like me, who don’t have a great time to begin with.

Because it wasn’t my intention to aim to beat my best on this occasion, I have decided to say that this challenge is complete, because I have done it, but the tick is only marked in pencil. I know that I can do a lot better than this. However, if after 4.5 years when we are getting to the end of the challenge and I haven’t managed to do this in a more convincing manner, I will change the pencil mark to indelible ink.

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Since the Half Marathon, life has been a bit hectic. I haven’t been on any longer runs since then. I have decided to try and improve my times of some shorter running distances and then over time to increase the distance, while still trying to keep the faster pace. In addition to that, I will be focusing on eating healthier and losing some weight.

I have started off modestly with the running, by starting with 3km. I will try to get my time down to around 16 to 17 minutes and, once I have achieved that, try to run for 5km at the same pace. Let’s see how that goes. It may or may not work as I plan it to, but it is worth a try. This also means that I can focus a bit on core strength exercises which I have been too lazy to do over the past year. These exercises can be a bit boring and it is easy to overlook how important they are but they definitely help to improve fitness and performance.

Having said that, because the weather is still nice, I have planned to go for an 11km run on Monday evening after work. I know that 11km seems like a very specific amount. There is good reason for that.

While I was training for the Half, I had to scout out suitable routes. One of the routes is a nice route along the side of the golf course, along some farm land and past a field where there is a stable with horses and donkeys. Just past that field there is a bench, where I would sit for a rest when I had only just started my training. According to my running app, this bench is exactly 5.5km from my door. So, there and back makes 11km.

For some reason, 11km seems like so much more than 10km. That means that on Monday evening, I might have earned myself a well-deserved piece of chocolate.