Wednesday, 29 December 2010
As 2010 draws to a close, I thought that I would resurrect a meme that I audaciously stole this time last year in order to summarise my thoughts, feelings and activities of the past year.
Please feel free to steal it if you like.
1. What did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?
Our holiday to the Canadian Rockies and Alaska provided a few new experiences:
(1) It was the first time I had been to Calgary, Jasper, Kamloops, Banff, Vancouver and Victoria in Canada and Seattle, Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway in the US. It was a shame that we only got to spend only a small amount of time, ranging from a couple of hours to a day or two, in each place.
(2) I saw a couple of wild bears in the mountains (thankfully from the safety of a coach).
(3) I walked on a glacier in snow in the middle of May.
(4) I went on a cruise for the first time.
It was a fabulous holiday that cost a fortune and the scenery was absolutely breath-taking.
We also visited Iceland for the first time and had a really fun time which also coughed up a couple of firsts:
(1) I had my first sauna (hard to believe but true).
(2) I went to the Blue Lagoon where I basked in a geothermal spa and covered my face in white silica mud.
(3) I ate whale for the first time (not a whole one obviously).
You can read about our trip here.
On a business trip to China, there were a few firsts, particularly in the work environment. But the highlight for me was the Stone Forest (which you can read about here)
2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Not really. I don’t make resolutions as such but at the beginning of this year I was determined to get fit and at least attempt to write a book of some sort.
I failed – spectacularly.
In January, I actually did make an effort to get fit and lost a little weight as a result. Sadly, it was all over by February and my determination to improve my fitness fizzled out like a dud firework. And I have put the weight back on.
I also had a go at writing a book but, thanks to some heavy defeats in my war against procrastination, that too stuttered to an embarrassing halt. The only vaguely literary achievement I enjoyed was the continued outpouring of codswallop on this blog.
So – what about 2011?
The same aims apply and I will try harder this time to have a go at writing that elusive book and making myself a little fitter.
Wish me luck – I’ll need it.
3. How will you be spending New Year's Eve?
We are going to see “The Drifters” at the Palace Hotel in Manchester. Ideally I would like to bring in the New Year with a bit of heavy metal or progressive rock – but you can’t win them all. And yes, I will be dressing up as a penguin again.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully, nobody I know died this year. Sadly, workwise, my morale continues to suffer a slow death.
5. What countries did you visit?
I visited Canada, the United States, Iceland, Spain (Majorca) and China.
6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
The answer to this question is exactly the same as last year; more money and a house that is 100% complete. Our house is a money pit and we have just finished redecorating the second bedroom. We also spent money on replacing the front door and painting the outside of the house. This year, it is the turn of the hall and landing and I can see my hard earned cash disappearing as I type. At the end of 2011 we may have completed the inside of the house.
The problem is that we then have to turn our attention to outside of the house including the garden and the drive at the front of the house.
AARRRGGHHH!!!! Find me more money – somebody – please!! I will take next week’s winning lottery numbers, though, if you have them.
7. What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
No dates particularly stand out.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
My continued ability to spout drivel on this blog and display crap photos on The Plastic Mancunian’s Eye.
9. What was your biggest failure?
I think I hinted about this above – my inability to write a book – AGAIN!!!
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No. My only illness was a touch of man flu (it visits me once or twice a year usually).
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Without a shadow of a doubt, that has to be my new HTC Desire HD smartphone. I am still playing with it and it has become, almost, like a third limb.
Bizarrely I rarely use it for basic stuff like phoning people up and texting; I spend most of my time playing with the satellite navigation, writing notes, taking photos, surfing the internet and all of the other wonderful things it can do. One useful application might actually help me get fit. There is a cardiovascular workout measurement application that uses the GPS to work out how fast you have walked/run, how many calories you have burned etc.
I intend to make use of this on January 2nd, when my new exercise regime begins – maybe.
12. Where did most of your money go?
The house (as usual) – oh and paying for my eldest lad’s driving lessons.
13. What song will always remind you of 2010?
I am going to name three songs, none of which were actually released in 2010 but all of which came into my possession for the first time this year:
(1) Octavarium – by Dream Theater. This is a progressive rock masterpiece that has to be listened to appreciate it fully. At 24 minutes long, it may be a little extreme for some readers, but the opening and closing sections are simply breath-taking in their beauty. Of course, being a rock song, it has wonderful fist-clenching moments of metal majesty but the last five or six minutes of the song actually bring tears to my eyes. I implore you to listen to it – even if you don’t think progressive rock is your cup of tea.
(2) Fear Of A Blank Planet – Porcupine Tree. Last year I discovered Dream Theater and this year I discovered Porcupine Tree. Some of you may have heard of them but I would guess that most haven’t. This song is a great introduction to the band.
(3) Fatal Tragedy – Dream Theater. Yes – I’m afraid it is another Dream Theater song, this time from the concept album “Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory”. Again it is a masterpiece that starts of slowly and then cranks up so brilliantly that you have no choice but to grab your air guitar and leap around the room like a lunatic. A massively wonderful piece of progressive rock.
14. What do you wish you'd done more of?
The book again, I’m sorry to say. I also wish I had considered an alternative to the daily grind, which is seriously wearing me down. I think I might seriously consider my career options in 2011.
15. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Same answer as last year – procrastinating.
16. What was your favourite TV program?
There were several TV programmes that stood out this year:
(1) Dr Who – the new Doctor was surprisingly good.
(2) The Apprentice – how fantastic to see arrogant arses brought crashing down to earth.
(3) True Blood – Vampires and ghouls – what more can you ask for?
(4) Fringe – continues to improve. It is a wonderful slice of science fiction.
(5) Dexter – We saw series 4 this year in the UK and it was wonderful and shocking at the same time. Can’t wait for series 5.
(6) 24 – Stupidly I watched series eight having never seen the programme before. It was magnificent. I need to watch the first seven series now I think.
17. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Absolutely not. There are people I dislike but “hate” is too strong a word.
18. What was the best book you read?
I’m going to list three:
(1) “I Am Ozzy” – Ozzy Osbourne – Ozzy is a legend and this is one of the funniest books I have read – not sure that it is meant to be though.
(2) “Patient Zero” – Jonathan Maberry – A cross between “Night of the Living Dead” and “24”. Fabulous.
(3) “Under the Dome” – Stephen King – A superb return to form for Mr King (after the disappointment of the Dark Tower series of novels).
19. What was your greatest musical discovery?
2010 has been a fabulous year for me in terms of music because I managed to complete my collection of Dream Theater CD’s.
However, on the way, I discovered a British progressive rock band that have also been around for a while, called Porcupine Tree. Check out “Fear Of A Blank Planet” and “In Absentia” – superb albums.
20. What was your favorite film of this year?
21. What did you do on your birthday?
Mrs PM took me for a lovely meal.
22. What kept you sane?
The usual – beer, music and writing this drivel.
23. Who did you miss?
24. Who was the best new person you met?
Again, I’ve met a few new people this year and I don’t want to single anybody out – that’s unfair.
25. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010:
It is better to get up an hour earlier than you have to when you are working in China in order to avoid using a squatter later in the day.