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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Challenge update: A whole bunch of updates


Writing several blog posts at the same time of the month on the same general topic seems a bit pointless, so instead I’ll be combining them into a single post at the start of each new month.  I’ve also been pretty lax about posting these regularly, so there’s a bit of a backlog to go through as well.

February – Exercising (complete)

My challenge for February was to do some basic exercises every day.  Nothing back-breaking or crazy hardcore though, my goal wasn’t to turn myself into the Hulk, just improve my general level of fitness so that every time I tried to move the sofa I wouldn’t spend the next week with sore back and arms.  My plan was to start with some basic press-ups and slowly build up throughout the month to a slightly more rigorous regime, but in the end I didn’t really progress from press-ups, aside from doing more of them.  I also ended up missing the occasional day here and there in the rush for work and didn’t realise until I was just about to head out the door.  In the end though it turned out this was enough as the times when I did have to actually exert myself and start moving around heavy objects I felt completely fine afterwards.  I also found it a lot easier to lug my fold-up bike around while walking around train stations.  As this has worked well for me so far I’m going to try to keep this up as a regular habit of mine.  I’m not sure when or if I’ll move on from the sort of level of exercise I’ve done, but for now I don’t really see a reason to try to change it up much more than I already have done.

March – Sugar free (complete)

As mentioned before, I wanted to try to give up sugar for a month to see how much it would change how I taste food.  In theory I would start enjoying and tasting food more without needing any extra sweetness.  This challenge wasn’t so bad at first, but as time went by it got more and more difficult.  While it was easy to avoid the temptation of a slice of cheesecake or block of fudge to begin with, it become pretty hard to do after the first couple of weeks.  I knew that a lot more foods contained sugar than you’d think, but the number of things I wasn’t able to east was staggering.  By the end of the month I’d started having dreams where I’d secretly buy Haribo from the local shop and gorge myself on them.

The biggest disappointment was that after all of this it didn’t actually make much of a difference to the food I was tasting.  Even when I started eating sugary sweets again after March there wasn’t much of a change from the way they tasted before.  The challenge was interesting as a test of willpower, but it’s not something I’d like to relive again any time soon.

April – Doing some woodworking (complete)

April’s challenge wasn’t even spoken about before it was over.  Originally I was going to learn to sew so that I could repair most of my torn trousers and shirts myself.  But then I noticed that the local DIY shop was closing down in a few weeks time and was having a “25% off everything” sale.  So I decided that instead of keep planning to buy a long table to support our guinea pig cage and give a little extra storage, I’d just go ahead and build one.  So I measured everything up, figured out how large the table should be, then picked up the supplies.  Unfortunately we were then treated to several wet weekends so I couldn’t take everything outside to do the drilling (don’t have anything close to a workshop so the messy stuff must be done outside).  Long story short, I didn’t get to start actually building the tables until the 28th.  It almost destroyed my palms, but in the end I managed to get it done in the 2 days I had left, and now it’s far easier to clean around the guinea pig cage, and we’ve got enough storage space to finally make some room in the study.

guinea-table-1

guinea-table-2

There’s still a few more things I’d like to change before this is completely finished though, I’d like to add a couple of cage doors in the side to make it easier to feed the guinea pigs without having to loom over the cage so much, and shorten the legs by about 5cm as it’s slightly too tall to see into from the chair next to the cage.  Also need to put something in to stop all the hay falling from out of the hay rack…  Well, at least I won’t run out of projects to work on.

A slight realisation

By this point I’d done 4 monthly challenges, not a huge number granted, but enough to realise a few things.  While it was certainly an interesting test of willpower to give up sugar or gaming for a month, it didn’t really give me much satisfaction to complete them.  Building a table on the other hand, something which took far less time and was much less hassle was a much more enriching experience.  With that in mind the challenges I’m going to set myself for the rest of this year are going to be more about doing things and making stuff, rather than NOT doing things.  Taking up a few new hobbies is certainly be more enjoyable than giving up old ones unwillingly.

May – Electronics (In progress)

This month I’d like to finally get to grips with working with electronics.  I’ve dabbled very, very briefly with things over the past few years, but I’d like to make a point of understanding exactly how to set up build up simple circuits, how transistors and resistors work, and how to use a soldering iron without turning everything into a giant goopy mess.  So far the things I have to work with are an electronics set and guide (including soldering iron) that I’ve had since christmas,

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A Maplin’s Lie Detector Kit I got for my birthday last year

Maplins-lie-detector

And a Minty Geek Electronics Lab I picked up from a Maker Faire a couple of years back.

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The plan is to finish working through these before the end of the month, and do enough reading on the side to understand out the more complicated electronic components.  That way I should know enough to be able to get by when/if I decide to take up another project in the future involving electronics, like maybe build a TV-be-gone, the most useless machine ever, or try to do something fancy with my Raspberry Pi.

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