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March 17, 2007

1. Tidy the house until my mum is impressed.

17 March 2007: Mum came to stay. Not only was she not impressed, she spent her entire visit whining about the state of the house; I came within an inch of suggesting that she lets us know next time she's coming to London and I'll book her into a nice Travelodge. No. Not actually all that much progress. My aide said "you worry far too much about what your mother thinks". True.

25 February 2007: My friend Mike said "The thing about your 101 things list is that one of them is much bigger than all the rest." He also said, helpfully, "What you need to do is buy a new house, and then move everything from the old house that you know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. Then burn the old house down and claim on the insurance."

We're not doing that. Lilian, who ought to be easier to impress than my mother, is staying. "Have you noticed how much tidier it is, and how much decluttering we're doing?" I asked.

"No," she replied.

Anyway, as of Feb 2007, this one is definitely started.

77. Register as a bone marrow donor.

17 March 2007: They sent me a little card, and told me to keep it in my wallet. Huh? I thought. Why on earth? Apparently it's to encourage others to register. So. Not in my wallet. But you can see it; I'm blogging a completed goal.


18 September 2006 I gave blood and registered as far as I know. I suspect they write to me now. But I'm assuming this one is done.

23 August 2006 I'm booked to give blood on 18 September and can register on the bone marrow list then.

1 August 2006 This one is interesting. I thought I'd have to change it from the start, because the Anthony Nolan trust, which is the UK's main register of potential bone marrow donors, takes donors only up to the age of 40. And I am 41. But the National Blood Service will register you until you're 44, provided you register at the point where you give blood. So I have the information, and now I have to go give blood. So this is started.

March 02, 2007

85. Get a bread machine -- but not till we know where it goes.

March 2, 2007: Here's our basic 'whitish' bread. A quick note on flour -- it needs to be strong, if not very strong, and I tend to think stoneground flour produces better bread than roller milled flour. I do not like my bread to be particularly fluffy, and this one seems to produce a good mix. It also makes lovely toast. This bread comes from recipes in two directions; from the breadmaking instructions in "How to be a Domestic Goddess" by Nigella Lawson, and from the my-bread-machine-instructions on Freebake. So you might want to substitute whatever it says for yours.

Put the pan on a scale! Go for a nice, electronic, re-zeroing scale like the one I got with ebay postage in mind. Mmm. Then add the wet ingredients first: 45g boiling water, 205g cold water, 20g (or a bit less) olive oil (don't use extra virgin!). Then the cooking aids: a little salt (I use half a teaspoon) and about a teaspoon or so of Smash (that's the genius Nigella touch! Honestly. People have been baking bread with their potato water for centuries; this is just a cheat's approach). Then 430g flour: I use about 150g spelt (which is wholemeal) and 280g strong white flour. Then yeast -- I've been using Freebake's yeast.

Then the magic bit. You put the pan in the bread machine, say Abra-bread-abra, wait 3 hours or overnight, tap the machine with your oven gloves, and take out a lovely loaf of bread. You're supposed to wait till it cools. Right.

February 26, 2007: Eventually Mike and Flick got fed up and brought it round. It's a Panasonic SD200; obsolete now but still entirely functional. It sat in a corner for a few weeks while we failed to make space for it. But now it has a nice, decluttered space to live in, and we're making lovely homemade bread, largely with breadmaking concentrates from Freebake. The kids are pretty disgusted; they argue that homemade bread is less good for toast than fluffy white sliced stuff. So I am still working on making the perfect toasting loaf. Advice welcome. This is now completed.

August 1, 2006:Mike said, cheerfully -- 'you could have mine; I don't use it now that I live near excellent bakers and sandwich shops, and it just takes up space. Not until you have somewhere to put it though.' So this is started.

March 01, 2007

33. Take some excellent stereo photos.

1 March, 2007: Obviously, this is one of the fun ones. I have taken some 'quite nice' stereos since getting my new camera, but I've been hampered slightly by the complete lack of light in the British winter. Perhaps my favourite so far is this one of my friend Caroline and various children in London's Chinatown the other week. It will pop up in its own window. This is a "cross-eyed stereo pair" -- basic instructions for seeing it in 3d are to cross your eyes until the two pictures overlap as closely as possible, and then wait for your brain to reinterpret it as a single picture. At which point it should be in 3D.

I haven't written much about stereo photography. To take and view stereo photos, you need two things. First, a camera that takes two separate pictures (about 63mm apart, but you can generate special effects by having different distances) of a scene at exactly the same time. I have had various makeshift versions of that for several years, but I now have a lovely camera that should be capable of taking first-rate photos. The second thing is a viewing method. Of course you can freeview without a viewer -- and I've displayed this as a cross-eyed picture because that is the easiest way to get started. But it's much better with a viewer. When you get the pictures out of the camera, you process them (using Photoshop, or dedicated programs such as Stereo Photo Maker) in different ways depending on what viewer you're using; all the viewers find their own ways to channel the picture from the left-hand camera/lens to your left eye and the picture from the right-hand camera/lens to your right eye. Systems you may be familiar with include hand-held 'Holmes' stereoscopes, much beloved by the Victorians, or Viewmaster -- and you will certainly have seen red-cyan or red-green anaglyph photos which use cardboard viewers with different coloured lenses. The best system uses polarised glasses, and projects images onto a silver screen -- and that is the system used by modern 3d cinemas such as IMAX. But for home use with digital, the cost is prohibitive, though steadily reducing.

21. Keep those inboxes clear at both home and work.

1 March 2007: I'm going to count this as completed; they're essentially clear all the time, and if one (normally the home one) gets out of control then I've always managed to clear it up by Friday. Work got cured completely and hopefully permanently when I got a BlackBerry; it's changed my way of handling things to one that uses trains and waiting time to perpetually comb through incoming email -- the limitations of the BlackBerry largely prevent me from getting sidetracked onto what is most urgent.

23 September: They're both clear. They've been clear for a couple of weeks. All the actions are sorted, GTD-style, in contextual boxes. I'm pretty pleased with this one: if it were a habit, I'd be doing it.

8 August: My work inbox is clear. My home email inbox has 47 messages in it, which is much better than it often is and which includes all the outstanding starred messages I think.

My home paper inbox is completely out of control at the moment. Thursday.

So this is started

1 August 2006. Down to 36. To be fair, most of those are now 'quite' or 'very' hard to deal with. Turns out there's a few more in starred email. But if I had my inbox clear then the starred email would work properly. Hmm.