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Testing the 2500 Clue Challenge

December 8, 2012 at 8:18 PM

This past week has been a test week for the 2500 Clue Challenge. I’ve used this week to test a few things, mainly checking how many clues I tend to solve per day, and how I update progress on a spreadsheet and flickr.

There were 145 clues in crosswords in total over the week, an average of 29 per day. This would imply that there would be around 7500 clues throughout the year, but that’s probably slight over-estimate. It’s pretty likely there will be between 7000 and 7500 clues over the year. I managed to solve 78 out of the 145 clues, a success rate of 54%. This is better than I was anticipating, although I did have all day to work on each one as I’m not currently employed, a situation which I hope will change early into the new year. Based on this, it looks like I should be able to hit 2500, and maybe even 3000 solved clues IF I try every day of the year and IF it all goes well. Two pretty big IFs there.

I’ve worked out how I’m going to blog my progress. I will occasionally update my progress here, and include a summary of my progress on the 2500 Clue Challenge main page, but mainly I’ll be updating my progress through an online spreadsheet that you can all see – https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AvH9W6C-9XHRdE8tZnRmSXRTekVZbUpaRWhzN0tyTVE#gid=3 . For example, right now you can see my statistics for the five Guardian crosswords I tried this week. I aim to update this spreadsheet several times a week.

To prove that I’ve also done the crossword, I shall post a picture online to my flickr account of each crossword attempt. Click here to see the photos from my attempts this week. I’ll update this as often as I can, but I plan on updating it once a week.

It’s been a great test week, and the response from the people I’ve told about the challenge has been fantastic. Not only have they really liked the idea of the challenge, but they have also been approving of the choice of charity –Rethink – and one comment I keep getting over and over is “I know someone who has had depression” or “I have had depression” and they also say they don’t know anyone else who has (or had) it. It’s one of those things where people tend to suffer in isolation and silence, thinking you’re alone, and yet most people know of people who have had depression and it’s so much more common than people think. In 2013 I want to raise awareness of depression, what it is, and just how common it is in the population. I’m doing that through this challenge, and people have already started donating to Rethink through my JustGiving page, which has been amazing as I haven’t even started the challenge!

To those who have shown their support to me so far (both financially and morally), I’d like to thank you and say that I can’t wait to start the challenge properly in a few weeks time. Needless to say that by around 7th January I’ll be well fed up of it, but until then let the good times roll!!

Give it a go, then panic.

December 3, 2012 at 11:19 PM

This week I’m having a test week to see if my online resources for the 25oo Clue Challenge are up to the task. So, each day this week, I’m solving the Guardian’s crosswords. I’ll be putting up how many clues I solve in each crossword into a spreadsheet at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AvH9W6C-9XHRdE8tZnRmSXRTekVZbUpaRWhzN0tyTVE#gid=3 , and I’ll also put up an image of each crossword so you can see how many I solve each day in its full horrific glory. Today’s first test crossword is at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mintypython/8241863033/in/photostream .

I don’t plan on uploading the picture each crossword every day, probably once or twice a week instead. Basically, as often as I can stomach. There will be more proactive times, there will be less. However, it is easier to edit the spreadsheet each day, so I’ll endeavour to update that every day (again not a guarantee, but should be at least once a week).

Today, 3rd Dec, I managed to solve a whopping 23 clues out of 30. This is quite a bit above average for me, but Rufus’s crosswords (and Monday crosswords in general) tend to be a bit easier than the rest of the week, to slowly ease you into it. I’m sure you’ll see, through the rest of the week, solving around 10 clues becoming normal.

I’ve already had a fantastic response to this challenge. I’ve already had £90 donated to ReThink, and I’ve not even started the challenge. You are of course welcome to make an instant donation on my JustGiving page: http://www.justgiving.com/danielpeake2500 , but I’d prefer it if you would pledge instead. I’m after people to pledge JUST ONE PENNY PER CLUE that I solve. That will hopefully add up to around £25, and you’ve got a whole year to save up for it!

If I can get 20 people to pledge 1p per clue, then I’ll hit my £500 fund raising target if I get to 2500 clues. If you would like to pledge 1p per clue – email me at 2500cluechallenge@danielpeake.com and I’ll add you to the list.

I haven’t a clue what I’ve let myself in for…

November 25, 2012 at 8:41 PM

Over the past week, I came up with a challenge for myself to attempt during 2013. It’ll take all year. Basically, can I solve 2500 crossword clues from the Guardian in 2013? It’s towards the upper end of my solving skills, that much I know! You can find more details about it on the “2500 Clue Challenge” page by clicking on the banner above.

So – what do you think of the challenge? Do you think I’ll make it? As its for the charity Rethink, which supports people with a wide range of mental health issues, I’m asking for people to PLEDGE 1p PER CLUE I SOLVE! So, let me know if you want to pledge! Please do, it’s a worthy cause.

Super Saturday!

November 17, 2012 at 10:26 AM

So, “what am I up to today?”, I hear you cry.

Well, firstly I’m running silly buggers around Battersea Park for a 10k with obstacles! There is a mud bath and an ice bath on the course. Oh god. You can see the course at http://www.mhsurvival.co.uk/ , I may be a cripple afterwards.

THEN I’m rushing home in the evening to commentate live on tonight’s Schlag Den Raab, the superbowl of game shows, where if Raab is beaten the contestant will win €3million! I’m commentating with Lewis Murphy from the fifty50 podcast, Nick Gates from bothersbar.co.uk and the all round Game Show God David Bodycombe. You can join in here: http://www.bothersbar.co.uk/?p=6512

It’s going to be a good day!

An Apple a day… is very expensive…

July 25, 2012 at 8:46 PM

I saw in a few news articles today that Apple, who “only made $8.8billion”, said consumers holding out for the next version of the iPhone were the result of these disappointing sales figures. I think they’re half right too, they’ve become so successful, their products so desirable, that when there’s the mere whiff of the next product on the horizon, everyone waits for it. They’ve become the victim of their own success!

I do own an iPhone (a 3GS, ancient technology!), and I do plan on updating it in the future. I’d love a MacBook air, as the laptop I’m currently using is going downhill rapidly. However, I think I’ll need to win the lottery to afford any Apple product.

Anyway, rant over. In other news, I have VERY VERY nearly finished my thesis! I’m hoping to submit it on Friday, it’s currently going through its final proofread. It’s 174 pages and approximately 36,000 of meteorological goodness. It’s called “Coastal Influences on Air Pollution”, and will not be available in any good bookshops. Sorry!

After this, I hope to blog a bit more regularly. The constant writing of the thesis was a proper albatross round the neck, and thus I didn’t want to spend any spare time (not that I had much) writing anything else.

In other news, our garden is home to a mummy hedgehog and three baby hedgehogs. Their calls are really loud – like a small birds! I’d never heard a hedgehog before, I always thought they’d “snuffle” (I don’t know why). Hearing them squeak and yell like that was quite a surprise!

Trip to France, Part 1!

June 22, 2012 at 9:19 PM

Highlights of Day 1 of my trip to France:
Easy trip to Dover. I slept a bit.
Rough crossing across the channel! Rough as in big waves, not as in the east end of London. Although…
LOOOOOOOOONG traffic jam around Paris. Added about 3 hours to the journey. I slept a bit.
Currently staying in Orleans in the center of France. As we got here late (9:30pm), we had a KFC equivalent that was actually very tasty and in a restaurant that wasn’t a dive.
Now, I’m about to go to bed, ready for tomorrow’s trip down to a town just south of Millau, France. I’ll sleep a bit.

I’ll keep you updated about other trivial facts thoughout the week!

The 2012 Soldier Challenge!

May 20, 2012 at 11:26 PM

This past weekend, I was part of a team of three people who took part in The Soldiers Challenge – an orienteering challenge set across central London. You are given four hours to visit as many of the 35 checkpoints located around central London possible. This blog post is a small account of our challenge! So, without further ado, here is our team:

On the left we have Geoff, I’m in the middle, and Andy T is on the right. A proud Team 173 at the old Eurostar terminal at Waterloo. In this image we still have energy. Things were to change… We knew about the prospect of potentially abseiling, kayaking and other fun activites in London. I gave Andy T a quick interview before we began to ask him what he was looking forward to.

 

With a very loud foghorn, the 4 hours started. We raced to collect a map, and scribbled on it the 35 checkpoint locations from a list we’d been given with instructions such as “Find the marshal to start the challenge”.

We then decided upon our route, staying roughly south of the River Thames for a few checkpoints, crossing at Tower Bridge, heading north, then west, then back to Waterloo to the finish line. Along this route we’d take part in the checkpoints as we came to them. The first one was a mini treasure hunt at the Imperial War Museum. One of the checkpoints was surprisingly difficult to find. We then headed to the River Thames for a checkpoint called “Cammo’d Up”. And, well….

You’re not sure what the checkpoint activities involve until you get there, but you can usually get an idea from its title. In this case “Cammo’d Up” meant all the team members had to put on camo face paint.

This was quite apt, being the Soldiers Challenge for the Soldiers Charity – now we’re running around looking like soldiers. Soon after this we found an inflatable It’s A Knockout style obstacle course that we had to complete in the moat (dry moat!) at the Tower of London. It was a fantastic little obstacle course that was over all too quickly – it was so much fun!

As we were in the former moat of the Tower of London, we were below street level – so hundreds of bemused tourists were watching us from above trying to complete this obstacle course and, in my case, nearly falling over the edge of it after a particularly unlucky bounce. After this we continued to head north of the river to ultimately get to a kayaking challenge, but on the way we passed a task called “Sumo Training”. This is what happened – Geoff is in the red, I am in the blue.

We finally reached the kayaking challenge which Geoff was slightly worried about as he can’t swim. Sadly, we gave him a lifejacket.

The kayaking turned out to be about 800m in length, much longer than the hundred metres or so that we were expecting. It was a lengthy paddle, it took us about 20 minutes to complete it! Interestingly, the kayaks were built to be rowed in pairs, but we were a team of three. We put Andy T and Geoff together as Geoff absolutely wanted to be with someone as he’d never paddled before, which was fine. We figured that they’d pair me up with someone else to complete the kayaking with. WRONG! I had to row a two man kayak on my own, and whilst the kayaking was apparently “very tiring” with two people on the boat according to Geoff and Andy, I can confirm is was absolutely-sodding-knackering on your own! Kudos to the other singletons who did that challenge, that was a toughie. Amazingly, none of us fell in despite a few bumps with other kayaks and some non-moving boats, but we were pretty wet as the kayaks held some decent puddles inside them.

From the kayaking we headed towards a TA barracks where we had to identify 4 tanks (which we had to memorise by sight) from a selection of thirty or so on a wall. This was good fun and not easy for us civvies, but a further surprise awaited us after we successfully identified them. The marshal in charge of the task then said to us: “Well done guys, now go over to that girl with the razor and she’ll give you your points”. Did he just say razor? RAZOR?! One of us had to get some hair cut off, and thankfully they accepted leg hair. Geoff now has a strip of bare leg (see below) and probably looks like he’s wimped out after one attempt at waxing.

We took a bus along part of Oxford Street (until it became quicker to run!) and headed to Hyde Park collecting some more points as we went. Once there, Andy and Geoff had to withstand some beasting by a PT instructor. They were told to do a firemans lift (i.e. one person over the shoulder of another), but instead they did some piggybacks, as you’ll see below. What came next was far more masculine…

It’s a good thing we were in Hyde Park, a place where no-one ever goes so they didn’t make a fool of themselves in public… oh, wait. They were laughed at by dozens of people in deckchairs (and me!). Nice one guys! With about 30 minutes left, we started to head back, took the tube for the one and only time, and made it to two more tasks and crossed the finish line with 9 minutes to spare. Here is Andy T and myself, afterwards, lacking energy. You can see the size of the map we were given – it’s massive!

It turns out that Andy T is a fantastic navigator. He never got us lost once!

So – how did we do? There was a total of 500 points on offer if you completed all 35 of the checkpoints. I’m not entirely sure how many checkpoints we did, but we got a whopping 315 points and came 21st out of 242 teams!!! That’s in the top 10% – and there were some seriously fit guys on the course! I am immensely proud of our team and I, we really tried our hardest, never really stopped, and achieved a fantastic result. I’m not unfit, but I’m not very fit either. The longest distance I’d run before the challenge was 12km. Geoff had a GPS tracker so we could work out how far we’d gone. The map it produced is incredible:

The distances marked on the map are miles. You can see we travelled a heck of a long way, and if you ignore the tube journey (miles 15 to 17) and the bus journey (mile 11 and part of mile 12), we ran approximately 13 to 14 miles (20 to 21km) – i.e. a half marathon. I’ve never ran anywhere as far as that before. Thus the Soldier Challenge was a huge amount of fun and simultaneously the toughest thing (physically) I’ve ever done. I’d do it again. I will do it again. Both Andy T and Geoff want to do it again. We loved it – and if any of the organisers are reading this blog then I have a HUGE THANK YOU to say to you for organising such a brilliant event.

Why were we doing this? To raise money and awareness for ABF The Soldiers Charity which helps current and former soldiers and their families in their civilian lives. To find out more about the charity click here: http://www.soldierscharity.org/ , for more information on the Soldiers Challenge click here: http://www.soldierchallenge.co.uk/ . Finally, there is still time to donate to our team doing the Soldier Challenge – worth it as we game are all! – and you can do that at www.justgiving.com/danielpeake .

It was a fantastic day out. One that I’ll remember for ages to come, although in the immediate future I will be remembering muscles which got used for the first time in a while… I’m a bit achy today! It was totally worth it though. Bring on the Soldiers Challenge 2013!

Donate!

April 11, 2012 at 8:43 PM

PLEASE DONATE MONEY!

On 19th May, myself, Geoff Bell and Andy Turner (2 scientist friends of mine!) will be doing the Soldier Challenge (http://www.soldierchallenge.co.uk/). Four hours to visit as many of the 35 checkpoints scattered across central London as possible, and completing the challenges at each checkpoint. These challenges could include kayaking, abseiling, obstacle courses… anything!

We are doing it to raise money for The Soldiers Charity – http://www.soldierscharity.org/ . The charity takes care of soldiers when they come home from war, and their families if they don’t.

Can I ask you to please donate to the money through our JustGiving page – www.justgiving.com/danielpeake – we are trying to raise £500. If you could donate £10, that would be great. Even more would be fantastic, but if you can only give £1 or £2, then I still please urge you to give as much as you can.

We’ll try and take lots of silly pictures around London as we complete the challenges.

I make no apology that I’ll be putting up reminders to donate several more times over the next few weeks. It’s a worthy charity.

Thank you very much for reading this – and PLEASE DONATE!!

Love heart count: love.

February 22, 2012 at 10:40 PM

I’ll quickly first say that episode three of our latest series of game show I host, Accumulate!, is now available at http://ruon.tv/ondemand/video.php?vidid=429 . We had fun making it, hopefully someone, somewhere, enjoys watching it.

It’s come to my attention that it was Valentine’s day recently. I’ve been having a craving for love hearts as a result. For some reason, I really like the pink and white ones the most. However, I’ve been to six shops, and NONE of them stocked any love hearts!!! Astonishing! The local Sainsburys, the shop at the end of my road, the cafe at work, the shop on campus at uni and a Tescos local all had no love hearts – I had to go to the large Sainsbury’s in town and even they didn’t have the normal packets but special packets of small tubes (each with seven sweets). Very disappointing. I may have to investigate further to see if I can get a regular supplier. I hope they don’t hook me in, then raise the price and force my addicted self to sell my belongings to get more. I could end up doing that with love hearts if I’m not careful.

Thesis update! First draft written (except conclusions), second draft started (2/6 edited), third draft is waving at me cheerily in the distance. It’s currently 118 pages and about 30,000 words. I’ve been funded to study up until the end of March, so I’m now starting to look for jobs that begin in April. If anyone out there is impressed with Accumulate!, please send me an email and I’d like to get involved in some telly production! Oh, the vain hope that someone will read this and *actually* do that. The chances are better than winning the lottery… which is a shame, as I’ve never won the lottery. Could you buy us a ticket, love (heart)?

Could also be hot pants!

February 3, 2012 at 7:32 PM

Well, it’s turned nippy, hasn’t it! It’s gone from “nothing to write about mildness” to “flippin freezing” to “bugger me it’s sub-arctic”. Admittedly it’s only 0C during the day and -5C at night, nothing compared to what Central Europe and Western Asia are dealing with, but as a result my thermostat’s been trying to recreate the atmosphere of Barbados in our house to compensate.

For the weather literate amongst you, one of the highest pressure centers I’ve ever seen has been siutated over Siberia, extending from as far west as the UK and as far east as Japan, bringing anomalously cold (but sunny!) weather our way. Luckily we haven’t had much disruption from any snow, but that might change over the weekend. I don’t reckon Reading will be too badly affected, we might get a light dusting of snow, but London and anywhere east of Reading is likely to get quite a bit of snow.

For the weather illiterate, isn’t it bloody cold and aren’t snowflakes pretty.

Thesis update!! A first draft of all chapters (except conclusions) has been written, it’s 100 pages long and 25,000 words. Work on the second draft has begun, and hopefully will be finished before the end of this month.

After a long wait, it won’t be long until the game show that I present for the student television at Reading University will be back on air! Filming of the fourth and final series of Accumulate! has nearly wrapped. You can watch previous shows of my masterful performance skills (ahem) at www.ruon.tv , and click on Accumulate! An advert for the show will be appearing in the next few days, and the show itself will be on the air within three weeks. There are seven shows in this series, which is sponsored by www.eclecticgames.co.uk – they kindly provided the prizes and are, all in all, an awesome shop for all your board and card gaming needs.

Well, that’s enough writing from me. I’m off to try and warm myself up by clothing my lower half in radiators. Now that really is a pair of thermal leggings! Or hot pants, of course.