# The one where Andy completes his challenges!

They think it’s all over, it is now!

Challenges completed

#number25: make it to 26 As of roughly 3.04am this morning I hit the grand old age of 26- here is a poem to celebrate http://allpoetry.com/On-Being-Twenty-six And here are some interesting facts about the number 26 (because every day is a school day): In mathematics:

• 26 is the only integer that is one greater than a square ($25 = 5^2$) and one less than a cube ($27 = 3^3$).
• A rhombicuboctahedron has twenty-six faces.
• There are 26 sporadic groups.
• Twenty-six is a repdigit in base three (222) and in base twelve (22).
• In base ten, 26 is the smallest number that is not a palindrome to have a square (26^2=676) which is a palindrome.

In science:

In Astronomy:

• Messier object M26 is a magnitude 9.5 open cluster in the constellation Scutum
• The New General Catalogue object NGC 26 is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Pegasus

In religion:

• 26 is the gematric number, being the sum of the Hebrew characters (Hebrew: יהוה‎) being the name of the god of Israel – YHWH ( Yahweh )
• The Greek Strongs number G26 is “Agape” which means “Love
• The expression, “For His mercy endures forever” is found verbatim in English and the original Hebrew 26 times, in Psalm 136. The expression is found once in each of the 26 verses.
• According to Jewish chronology, God gave the Torah in the 26th generation since Creation

In sports:

• The  number 26 jersey has been retired by the major league baseball team, the Chicago Cubs, in honor of past playing great Billy Williams
• It is the number of miles in a marathon rounded down (26 miles and 385 yards).
• 26 is the “joke throw” in darts, where a player throws 20, 5 and 1 when aiming for 20 (or treble 20). In professional darts, throwing 26 usually results in sneers or laughter from the audience.  In the level of darts I play it is met with applause (3 darts are in the board including one in the 20).

In other fields:

• In Microsoft Windows Alt+26 yields the “right arrow” symbol →
• There are 26 letters in the English alphabet.
• 26 is the title of a 2003 novel by Leo McKay, Jr..
• It is the name of an Australian Alternative Rock band, 26
• There are 26 of cases in Deal or No Deal.
• 26 is the age at which males can no longer be drafted in the United States
• In a normal deck of cards, there are 26 red cards (and 26 black cards).
• The number of Cantons of Switzerland.
• The number of bones in the normal human Foot and Ankle.
• Including this one, I have given you 26 interesting facts about the number 26

#number23: You must go to Bounce for an evening I’m currently in Bounce – and here’s a picture to prove it!

OK, you got me, I actually wrote this blog before I went to Bounce, assuming I would be too drunk to edit it in the venue itself. I’m not a stupid cookie, but I am a lightweight cookie

That’s All Folks! ..SPRAGUEY..   p.s.  I’ll be continuing this blog, in one form or another, at some point in the future. …I may develop something interesting from my (made-up) life-changing experience in West Africa that I began in the last post… …I may talk about the time I got lost on my (not made-up) hike across Mordor… ..I may even introduce you to some of my favourite science/maths concepts, Brian Cox style… Watch this space!

# The one where Andy fails to grow a plant

There’s only a couple of days left, and surprisingly I think it’s all going to be a.ok.  I realize with hindsight that some of the challenge are not best suited for completion in what feels like the coldest 2 weeks on record.  It’s bloody freezing in London town in early February.

Challenges Completed

#number1: Use a fire extinguisher

In order to use a fire extinguisher, there needs to be a fire.  This sounds fun!  I buy a hand-held fire extinguisher from Tesco, along with a fire extinguishing blanket just in case, and set my kitchen ablaze in order to prove the fire extinguisher works.  I can successfully say both me and the house are still here.

Here is my online review of the “Tandra extinguishes fire” fire extinguisher from Tesco.

As the kiwis would say, don’t drink and fry. **DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME** (woops)

The process is complete.  For now, this is a creation out of a 11 month old pre-mix beer brew pack, created with mostly sterile equipment, using an only ever-so-slightly leaky vat, created located in a series of badly regulated temperature environments, and timed with erractic imprecision.  The result is, understandably, a weak sour acidic brown liquid of minimal alcoholic volume and questionable drinking suitability.  Cheers!

#number13: Bake a cake (chocolate one would be preferable)

As I ponder this one, I think of many impressive cake designs accessible via social media.  Should I create a chocolate hedgehog family, a 5 tier cupcake tower, a ladybird red velvet?  Then a buzzfeed article about terrible attempts to replicate these come to mind (for example – hedgehog cake – nailed it) , so I make a good old fashioned Victoria sponge.

#challengespraguey’s delicious Victorian sponge

#number16: Grow your own tomato plant (or some sort of vegetable / fruit)

I decide that tomato plants are perhaps not best suited for growing in winter, and anyway, the peptide-x injected tomato’s I can pick up from my local hyper-mart seem to do the trick in a lunchtime ham & salad sandwich.  I decide to try a more hardy plant for this challenge but seeing as my horticultural knowledge is roughly equal to the square root of naff all, I go with small and shrivelled as being an indication of this property.  Accordingly, I go with a chlli plant because, one, it is more interesting than a tomato anyway (there are plenty of pranks that can be set-up with a medium amount of extremely hot food stuffs)., and, two, according to some sources the chili plant is indeed a fruit.

I fill a small pot with 80% compost, poke in 8 seeds of Scott Bonnet Orange, and moisture.  I place on the inside of a south facing windowsill.  I promptly forget to water it for the next 2 weeks.  I am going to pass myself on the completion of this challenge with a score of 6 out of 10 for effort.

Chili’s don’t grow very well in January. Chili’s also don’t grow very well when you don’t water them

number19: Write and record a love song

I had been dreading this one, as I knew it was going to be cringe-worthy and a little bit lame.  Also, my contact with Eric Clapton’s roadie sadly didn’t come to fruition (he’s a joker – never returning my calls then slapping me with a restraining order!).  So I was left to my own devices – I started to write a song but it was never going to be more than a shambolic embarrassment.

Therefore, I hope you are content with this karaoke version of one of my favourite songs of all time.  I definitely think it makes me look enough of a tit to pass on effort alone.  Lizi, I’m sorry but I am not quite cut out to be a Jack Johnson or James Blunt kind of man…

Ray Charles – I’ve got a woman

number24: Take a picture of anyone you see with a moustache. You need at least 5 in one week

Yet again, timing is of the essence with this one.  Obviously this would have been much easier in “Movember”.  Luckily as I’m a closet horder, I still have a novelty moustache from a charity giveaway in Movember that I can use.  So, it’s not 5 in one week, but it is 5 of the same moustache (almost).

number27: Go skydiving

Once, a few years back, I visited a remote part of Western Africa to find my fulfillment in life.  It was life changing, I saw things magical, astounding, scarcely believable, things that made me question the very reason of my existence on earth.  I bonded with a small tribe over the amazement of a hand mirror, they hadn’t seen their reflection before in such clarity.  I rode donkey bare-back through the jungle to scavenge for nuts, and slowly gained the trust of the tribe elders.  One day, the leader, who had up to this point remained a figure of mystery, sent out word inviting me to his mud hut.  As I peered through the mist of incense I spotted a young boy, no older than 8 or 9, with a painted face and a crooked nose.  He beckoned me in with his webbed finger and invited me to perch on his father, who took to his hands and knees to offer me a seat upon his back.  I politely refused and sat cross-legged on the floor, as my friends in the foraging party had taught me if this day was to ever come.  The boy lent over to me and spoke in perfect English – which after 6 months in a tribe of some unfathomable ancient  language took me by shock.  Looking back now, it is hard to exactly pinpoint the accent, as I myself was out of touch with my own language, but it brought a warm sense of familiarity and brought me to tears.  The boy asked me why I was crying, and after some thought I explained that even though I had many friends in the tribe, there were many questions that were impossible to answer through hand signals and the very limited words I had picked up.  The boy promised to teach me his language, and accordingly, for 30 minutes every day for the next 3 months I entered his tent, much to the dismay of many elders, who thought it was an honor only to be bestowed on a select few.  I slowly picked up a few words, but after 3 months the boy appeared in a dream.  He said, ‘it is time for you to leave, your time has come for great things in your own world’.  However, he could not let me out of the bounds of their sacred forest with knowledge of their revered ancient language.  In the dream, we flew on a winged snake up to the top of the mountain and there I met a eagle, with human feet, who hypnotized me.  When I woke, I was back in my mud hut, but I couldn’t speak a word of the language.  My closest friend understood, as he himself had been visited in the land of his nods, and he calmy explained to the others.  I packed my backs that morning, as respecting your dreams is something they teach from childhood in the tribe, and said my tearful goodbyes.  As I walked away back to the river, where I hoped to hail a passing fisherman near sunset, the boy was waiting in a sun dappled glade.  Thank you for your time, he said to me, in perfect English, you have shown us much, but remember this.  The name of our tribe is “Skyye”, which is your language translates to “Egg”.  Take the lessons you have learned here and never forget.  For without the egg, we cannot have the chicken, and without the chicken, we cannot have the egg.

“Skyye” diving – my Guinness World Book of Records attempt test flight number one

number29: Create a wall display using the art of mosaic

Mosaic in it’s original form is dated, instead I infused this challenge with modern technological advances and the ability of our generation to travel the world.  So I’ve created a photo mosaic, using pictures from my year abroad, to build up a copy of one of my favourite travelling images, my travelling buds and I in the tranquil waters of Lake Macquarie, Fraser Island.

Check out the zoomable version

Photo mosaic – beats a mathematical pattern of tiles

Here it is, the final list.  I went off the boil on this one for a good few months so earlier today I wondered around my house to find things that could pass as a present (marked with a ‘+’).  However, I was still 10 items short, so I also took a trip to Poundland to buy the last few items (marked with a ‘*’).  I know, I actually spent money with this tactic, but seeing as my little sis has just bought a new house some of the things may even be useful, but then again they probably are not.

With futher ado, here is the list.  Just remember, it is more fun if you read the following like some weird knock-off version of the generation game (even more so if you do it in the voice of Bruce Forsyth):

24/02/14 – A Nicki Minaj Perfume sample!

03/03/13 – A “Yes Peas!” recipe book!

10/03.14 – A Lenor Spring Awakening sample!

17/03/14 – Original Redbush and Redbush Citrus tea samples!

24/03/14 – A pack of bullet screws!

01/04/14 – An owl door hook (birthday)!

08/04/14 – 3 holographic 3D animal prints!

15/04/14 – A month trial of the Taste card!

22/04/14 – 250g professional Meadowlands butter!

28/04/14 – St Johns Ambulance first aid guide!

05/05/14 – Sea-life magazine with pull out colouring section!

12/05/14 – Halifax’s ‘Big Lunch’ kit

19/05/14 – Voucher entitling collection of a free Aqua One 50ml water conditioner pack!

26/05/14 – A Diabetes UK pedometer!

02/06/14 – Big Garden Birdwatch wildlife pack!

16/06/14 – Lotus Biscoff Caramelised spread 20g sample!

23/06/14 – Appliction to the ballot to get free tickets to the great comic relief bakeoff! (with additional free signup to the maillist allowing application for free tickets at a similar future event)

30/06/14 Voucher for a free coke life at any participating Greenmans pub!

07/07/14 – ‘R is for Robots’ colouring book!

14/07/14 – Paco Rabanne Lady million perfume sample!

21/07/14 – Livwell food’s gluten free starter pack!

28/07/14 – An Argos branded 1GB memory stick! +

04/08/14 – A Colgate MaxWhite toothbrush! +

11/08/14 – A Christmas tree star decoration! +

18/08/14 – A mouse trap! +

25/08/14 – A Wispa hot chocolate sachet!

01/09/14 – A tall green candle! +

08/09/14 – A pack of travel tissues! +

15/09/14 – 2 AA batteries! +

22/09/14 – A shark shaped bath and shower gel sachet! +

29/09/14 – 10 hardwall picture hooks! +

06/10/14 – A pack of playing cards! +

13/10/14 – Pack of 5 twin blade disposable razors! +

20/10 – A hand decorated tie! +

27/10/14 – A bottle of home brew! +

03/11/14 – A Philips screwdriver! *

10/11/14 – A stainlesss steel masher! *

17/11/14 – A universal bottle opener! *

24/11/14 – 6 plastic champagne flutes! (perfect for safety near a hot tub…) *

01/12/14 – Pack of 300 cupcake cases! *

08/12/14 – A pack of Haribo Minions! *

15/12/14 – A jar of chinese 5 spices and a jar of rock sea salt! *

22/12/14 – A 5m tape measure! *

29/12/14 – The Humingbird Bakery cookbook! (Christmas)

05/01/14 – An owl clothes hanger! (Christmas)

12/01/14 – An autumnal scarf! (Christmas)

19/01/15 – An owl patterned tee-towel! (New home)

26/01/145- An owl toilet brush holder! (New home)

02/02/15 – An owl hand-soap dispenser! (New home)

09/02/15 – An owl soap dish! (New home)

The last few are proper house warming presents, hope you like them baby sis.

Challenges In Progress

number23: You must go to Bounce for an evening

I am yet to go, but I have booked 2 tables for my birthday on Wednesday.  Better late than never.

number25: Make it to 26

Not much I can do to speed this one along really.

Random Muse

Recently, there have loads of adverts around London for “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” theater productions.  If I wasn’t tight I’d probably go, but £60 is a bit steep for me.  Still, it got me thinking about when I read the book, and whether that walking left thing would actually work.  For those that haven’t read the book, yes feel inferior you non-book snob people, the character has severe autism, and takes every left turn, unless they have taken the turn before, in order to find the train station.  For those people that have never read any book, or don’t know what autism is, you could also compare it to the well known movie “Zoolander”, how would Derek get to the train station?

I thought I’d try it out in my town, and see how long it would take for me to get there.  On a normal walking route, my train station is 8 mins / 0.54 miles from my house – as you can see from the map below it would take 9.36 miles and the best part of 3 1/2 hours.  Don’t know if this tells us anything useful, apart from maybe that it is normally a good idea to ask for directions if you don’t know where you are going.

Getting to my nearest train station by always turning left

Progress to date

Here is the full list of the challenges:

1. Use a fire extinguisher
2. Go to a music festival
3. Complete a marathon
4. Send someone flowers
6. Buy a piece of designer clothing
7. Make your own calendar, that features you in every month
8. Complete a volunteer day (i.e at a homeless shelter)
9. Go to a hot yoga class
10. Go on a roller-coaster 4 x in a row (i.e. in Chessington / Thorpe Park etc)
11. Apply and go on a TV show (and provide proof – NOT take me out!)
12. Learn a new language
13. Bake a cake (chocolate one would be preferable)
14. Do a tour of London and take a selfie infront of at least 5 x London attractions (i.e. London Eye, Houses of Parliament etc)
15. DJ at a party
16. Grow your own tomato plant (or some sort of vegetable / fruit)
17. Make a piece of furniture (a table / chair, for example)
18. Build a house using the art of origami
19. Write and record a love song
20. Go to a place abroad that you haven’t been before
21. Fly a plane
22. Complete a rubix cube
23. You must go to Bounce for an evening
24. Take a picture of anyone you see with a moustache. You need at least 5 in one week
25. Make it to 26

#27 Go skydiving

#28 Do it ‘Gangnam style’ in your office

#29 Create a wall display using the art of mosaic

That’s All Folks!

..SPRAGUEY..

# The one where Andy realises he has 1 month left to complete all the challenges

There are a number of reasons why I haven’t completed many of my challenges to date, now almost 11 months into the year and around 8 months since my last post.  This is co-incidently why it is on a different site – I lost the log-in or it expired or something.

Here are my reasons for lack of completion/blogging:

1. As it turns out, buying your first house and moving jobs at the same time takes up a lot of your time.
2. It also takes up rather a lot of your money
3. My over-confidence with time remaining has quickly evaporated now I have realized I have only a month left until the big 2-6 years of age.

For these reasons, combined with my intrinsic nature of being a bit of a cheap skate (though I would prefer to think of it as “careful with money”), has led me to this,  namely, my attempt to mark off as many as my challenges as possible that can be done for free, with little to no effort, as quickly as possible.  In fact, most of them I completed in a single evening when I was particularly in the mood for, as the phrase goes “out of the box thinking”.

I hope this can also act as a sort of money saving inspiration board in this time of the squeezed working class, or the “cost of living crisis”. Maybe, if your friend, girlfriend or relative asks you for a “life-changing experience” similar to one of the following challenges I was set, you might be able replace your own challenge with an almost identical but much more affordable alternative.

I hope, at the very least, that the attempt I lay out here will make the post a little humorous for those that know me, or at the very very least an amicable read for those that may not.

p.s. There are a few challenges I have completed in a more “proper” way. These I’ll include in a later post sometime towards the middle of Jan.

Challenges Completed

#number2: Go to a music festival: I saw a folk band play in the park in Godalming, Surrey. They played in the bandstand. There were at least 50 people there (maybe 40), a bar, and a kid’s bouncy castle.

#number7: Make your own calendar, that features you in every month: This is a “print your own” calendar (can’t be bearing any upfront printing costs). If you are crazy enough to actually want to pay for it, please send £5 to your favorite charity, then send me the evidence, then it’ll be on it’s way via email or carrier pigeon within 3-14 working days. My personal favourite for this calendar is fire-man February, which I have also used for the cover…

A taster of what my 2015 calendar holds…

#number8: Complete a volunteer day: I actually went one better than this one and helped organise it too.  The event was a local sports day for kids in Hackney. By giving them an opportunity to try out new sports (i.e. not football) the hope is that more kids get into sport.  The benefits include but are not limited to self-confidence, leadership skills, health, community cohesion, and limiting anti-social behaviour including joining of gangs. This is a yearly joint event between UBS and SportsInspired, the latter is probably the more interesting read unless you have a thing for litigation charges.

#number9. Go to a hot yoga class: A hot yoga class sounds like a lot of effort, so instead I set it up in the comfort of my own home. I gave a quick blast on the central heating, and put on 6 layers of clothing so it ticks off “hot”.

I chose to master the Adho Mukha Svanasana in my first (and co-incidentally last) lesson.

Ladies, if you don’t think 3 jackets and 3 trousers is hot enough I’ll do one topless (10 requests minimum)

#number10: Go on a roller coaster 4 x in a row (i.e. in Chessington/Thope Park etc.): A quick trip to the app store and a free download of Roller Coaster Tycoon Mobile, and in no time my ‘avatar’ was doing 4 x virtual roller coaster-ing. If I had more time and money (and a house I wanted to sell, and a knack for carpentry, and basic knowledge of structural engineering) I would have done what this guy did.

This is in no way a cop-out

#number11: Apply and go on a TV show (and provide proof – NOT take me out!): My completion of this challenge probably wasn’t what the challenge setter had in mind, maybe they were imagining me getting punched in the balls by a wall of random boxing gloves then falling in the mud, or getting ironic remarks made about the sorry state of my soufflé, or losing £1 million through a hole by getting the name of the 3rd Reich of Cambodia wrong, or even winning 10p during that extremely long drawn out game of choosing a random numbered box (all the time waiting for the appearance of Mr Blobby that never seems to happen).
Instead I went on the audience of BT Sport’s Rugby Tonight. I wasn’t in the limelight all that much and my biggest contribution was refusing to get involved in the gunshow of the 17 year old public school boy team standing next to me.

Sarah looking guilty after smashing a £4,000 studio light with a drop-kick

#number12: Learn a new language: I highly doubt you remember my dubious reasoning from the last post, but basically I successfully argued myself into believing that learning a computer language counted. So though this is obviously an ongoing thing, and embarrassingly sparse at the minute, I can say this is completed as I have made my own basic website: www.andysprague.com

#number14: Do a tour of London and take a selfie in front of at least 5x London attractions: This is the challenge I am boldly claiming to have absolutely nailed. Those who know me well, know me to be a natural at selfies – but I’ll tell you now that it takes a lot of effort for a selfie to look effortless. All the below come from the quickest ever walking tour of London at around 2 hours on a Friday after work, no public transport involved. See the collection below if you want to be jealous (of me living in London and/or how natural I am in front of a camera).

The one in front of the Ministry of Defense actually led 2 passing officers to question me about why I was taking photos, in case I was a terrorist.

#number15: DJ at a party: At my recent houseparty, I played an electronic 80s set that literally blew everyone’s minds. No, it was NOT just me playing the Ministry Of Sound’s 3 CD collection. And yes, I do like Duran Duran’s classic anthem “Hungry Like The Wolf”.

#number17: Make a piece of furniture: After moving into my new house and buying the essentials there was only one vital item remaining. Check out this bad ass DIY conversion of an old kitchen counter top and spare bannister railings into a fully functioning, fully compliant with South Woolwich’s Under-26 Basement League Regulations, full sized, Beer Pong Table.  See it in action.

Beer pong table – the most vital piece of equipment for a basement

#number18:Build a house using the art of origami: After a vigorous internet search I fell in love with this sites slogan, “spreading joy one fold at a time”, lovely.  Have a go yourself!

My awesome origami house

#number21: Fly a plane: No specification in the challenge as to what type of plane, so I chose paper.

Now, so that this isn’t a complete cop-out, I built the one from a blog entitled “how to make the worlds best paper airplanes”.  I made the hammer (the most advanced one), and as a summary of what the Hammer is, the blog does pretty well, so no point me rehashing:

“The Hammer – While there are far more advanced paper airplanes, this one, in my opinion, is the perfect balance of complexity and accessibility for the Average Paper Airplane Joe… Pay attention with this one, folks, and the payoff is well worth it”

And boy was it worth it.

The Hammer – made from recycled material

#number28 Do it ‘Gangnam style’ in your office:  Little random, and I thought it best from a personal brand/career progression point of view to not do this in the middle of the day, but here you go: http://youtu.be/Zbqqb8XF0r8

Challenges In Progress

#number5 Brew your own beer:  A vat of Young’s-esque bitter is bubbling away in my living room.  In 2-4 weeks time the fruit of my labour will be revealed, most likely as a very weak tasteless watery yeast drink, but hopefully as a horrible 8%+ rip-snorter.

Making beer next to the BFG’s stirring paddle

#number19 Write and record a love song: I’ve bought a piano in an attempt to get the creative juices flowing.  So far I have taught myself a kids version of Bear Necessities and the first 2 bars of Moonlight Sonata.  I don’t think creativity is my strong point.

Random Muse

This weeks random muse comes from my favourite topic for musing, philosophy of science.  If you’ve heard of string theory (cue mass skipping to next section), you’ll know that the world is supposed to have 10 or more dimensions (or the maths doesn’t work).  But, I here you say, that can’t be true as I can’t even begin to conceive more than the 3 dimensions!  The 3 dimensions cover everything!  Or for the perceptive, 4 if you include time, but there are definitely no more than that…

A nice way to get around this problem is to imagine what would happen if you lived in a 2-D world.  You couldn’t conceive a 3rd dimension.  And this is where a curious short story written in 1884 comes into the picture.  A mix of a 2 dimensional world (flatland) and a properly Victorian class system makes for an interesting 30 minute read!

Flatland – A romance of many dimensions

Progress to date

Here is the full list of the challenges:

1. Use a fire extinguisher
2. Go to a music festival
3. Complete a marathon
4. Send someone flowers
6. Buy a piece of designer clothing
7. Make your own calendar, that features you in every month
8. Complete a volunteer day (i.e at a homeless shelter)
9. Go to a hot yoga class
10. Go on a roller-coaster 4 x in a row (i.e. in Chessington / Thorpe Park etc)
11. Apply and go on a TV show (and provide proof – NOT take me out!)
12. Learn a new language
13. Bake a cake (chocolate one would be preferable)
14. Do a tour of London and take a selfie infront of at least 5 x London attractions (i.e. London Eye, Houses of Parliament etc)
15. DJ at a party
16. Grow your own tomato plant (or some sort of vegetable / fruit)
17. Make a piece of furniture (a table / chair, for example)
18. Build a house using the art of origami
19. Write and record a love song
20. Go to a place abroad that you haven’t been before
21. Fly a plane
22. Complete a rubix cube
23. You must go to Bounce for an evening
24. Take a picture of anyone you see with a moustache. You need at least 5 in one week
25. Make it to 26

#27 Go skydiving

#28 Do it ‘Gangnam style’ in your office

#29 Create a wall display using the art of mosaic

That’s All Folks!

..SPRAGUEY..