One of the first people I got to know on the Internet, when I first got access after going to university in late 1994, was a guy in Canada. From memory, his name was something like Mike Browaty. At the time, I was rather more into laser games (Laser Quest, Q-Zar/Quasar, Megazone/Darkzone/Ultrazone...) than I am now; Mike worked in a Darkzone in Canada, had been on the Internet rather longer than me and could string a few words together, which made him very interesting. As tends to happen, we drifted out of contact with each other. With the benefit of Groopsgle, I think his name was probably Jeff Browaty. Maybe I should contact him out of the blue and see if he still remembers me. If you ever get to see this, Jeff - hello! :-)
Anyway, some years later - let's say, five years ago - I searched for Jeff's name on the web. This was back in the days when search was not automatically synonymous with Google - indeed, I think this might have been in the days when you might have had to laboriously type in www.altavista.digital.com for the state of the search engine art. Anyway, I found his personal web page and a list of a hundred ambitions of his - things to do, things to learn, places to visit. I was hugely impressed by this - though I never told him at the time - and pledged that it might be a useful piece of personal development to do a similar sort of thing at some point. Jeff possibly even had separate lists of 100 places to visit, 100 things to do and 100 things to learn, come to think of it.
Naturally, I then forget about this idea for a few more years. At some point, I remember the idea and decide to make the list. I manage to get to 55 items and stop. I note that this list was made on a Marriott Hotels notepad; I further note that the only time I have knowingly patronised a Marriott Hotel was in Stamford, CT in November 2000 as part of the British team in the World Puzzle Championship. So I would therefore date this leg of the enterprise shortly after November 2000, which means I had in mind that I would have planned to eventually publish it in "Games In Testing", a games fanzine (technically a games subzine) that I was writing at the time. Much more of GIT some other day.
More time passes. However, I haven't lost the list. Three months ago, an offline friend, Nick Parish, mentions some of his ambitions unprompted in a conversation, which impresses me very much. He names three particularly fine ones: "I want to win the British Croquet Championship", "I want to write a letter that makes it to the letters page of The Times" and "I want to attend a pub so frequently that the landlord greeds me with 'Pint of the usual?'." Fine, whimsical ambitions all. It would seem to be very bad form to steal an ambition off someone else just because you think it sounds good. I think of my list, but don't mention it, and take no further action.
A few weeks ago, gaby723 makes a list of 100 facts about herself. This takes off among the game show fandom half of my Friends list; take bows, jaydlewis, rialtus, "calliaume and others. I suddenly put two and two together to work out what I ought to do for my "100 facts" list. It takes me a couple more weeks to come up with the remaining items to get to 100. Some of these are things I have long held as ambitions, others are codified versions of things I would vaguely like to do somewhere along the line. There is no significance in the order I mention them in.
THINGS I WANT TO LEARN:
1. Learn to juggle.
2. Learn to speak Japanese. (I've started this one, having done a year's classes at night school. I'm possibly 10% of the way to considering this ambition satisfied.)
3. Learn to speak German.
4. Learn to cook.
5. Learn to learn new techniques and information efficiently. (Yes, I have met Tony Buzan. I have also spoken to Sean Adam, who is more likely to have the answers.)
6. Learn to perform hypnosis.
7. Learn to build a PC.
8. Learn to drive a train.
9. Learn to fly an aeroplane.
10. Learn to play the harp.
11. Learn to use Linux confidently.
12. Learn to maintain a bicycle confidently.
13. Learn to swim confidently.
THINGS I WANT TO OWN:
14. Own a video game from an arcade.
15. Own a pinball machine.
16. Own some home laser game equipment. (4-6 sets would do - enough to get a game together with friends. I used to own some, but gave it away - but that's another story...)
17. Own a camcorder.
18. Own a Segway HT.
19. Own a four-poster bed. (I've slept in one. Now I want to own one.)
20. Own a mirror with light bulbs around the outside. (Forget make-up - these really work for letting you know how close your shave is.)
21. Own a long bath. (Most baths are not long enough to let you stretch your legs out and rest your back on the bath floor. I've used one, maybe two, which was..)
22. Own a GPS unit.
23. Own a PDC unit. (Personal Data Communicator. Essentially I'm looking for something that's somewhere between a Blackberry and a Nokia 9210, but it must have web, mail and news access, a very decent screen, be always-on and be programmable. I'm not getting a mobile phone until one that good exists.)
24. Own private health insurance.
PLACES I WANT TO VISIT:
25. Visit Las Vegas.
26. Visit the Grand Canyon.
27. Visit Niagara Falls.
28. Visit Australia and New Zealand.
29. Visit Japan.
30. Visit South Korea.
31. Visit Disneyworld.
32. Visit a casino and play every casino game there once.
33. Visit a bingo hall and play bingo.
34. Visit a comedy club and see an excellent comedian live.
35. Visit Massachusetts and participate in person in the MIT Mystery Hunt.
36. Visit a psychiatrist who makes me feel better about myself and about life.
37. Visit all seven continents.
38. Visit Maryland to attend the World Boardgame Championships and XP Lasersport. (Only place in the Western world still to play a certain sort of laser game.)
JOURNEYS I WANT TO TAKE:
39. Take a holiday on a cruise liner.
40. Take a holiday travelling on canals.
41. Take an overnight journey in a sleeper compartment of a train.
42. Take a holiday around the world, crossing both the equator and the International Date Line. (Not necessarily both at once.)
43. Take an intercontinental flight as a Business Class passenger.
44. Take an intercontinental flight as a First Class passenger.
45. Take a flight which deliberately lands on a beach. (That would be to Barra airport.)
46. Take a flight where my aeroplane stops at an intermediate airport.
47. Take a supersonic flight.
48. Take a journey through the Channel Tunnel.
49. Take the Tube Challenge and visit every London Underground station in a day. (As per the rules, as per a previous entry.)
GAMES I WANT TO PLAY:
50. Play a science-fiction live role-playing game.
51. Play a knight in shining armour in a live role-playing game. (Scale mail ain't gonna cut it - give me clanky, impractical full plate.)
52. Play a game so ambitious that it needs the resources of a TV company to operate.
53. Play a game that is better than any other game I have ever played before. (It would be depressing to think that I've already played the best game that I ever will play at the age of 26.)
54. Represent a team in some sport and have the team's progress followed. (World Puzzle Championship comes close, but doesn't cut it.)
55. Confidently place a significant bet on an outsider and win. (That is, bet at least the price of a good dinner at odds of at least 50-1. Bookies don't make this sort of mistake often, but I want to catch 'em when they do.)
56. Watch fifty different sports live. (At a reasonably high level - say, a crowd of 200 paying audience members. I think that so far I'm up to about six or seven.)
57. Solve a legitimate cryptic crossword in a newspaper.
EXCITING EXPERIENCES I WANT TO HAVE:
58. Participate in letterboxing.
59. Participate in zorbing.
60. Participate in geocaching.
61. Participate in hot air ballooning.
62. Participate in a parachute jump.
63. Participate in skysurfing.
64. Participate in paintballing. (Airsoft paintless paintballing would be good too - possibly better.)
65. Participate in parascending.
66. Perform a stage dive. (And actually get caught, not get dropped to the floor.)
ANIMAL EXPERIENCES I WANT TO HAVE:
67. Ride an elephant.
68. Swim with a dolphin.
69. Hold a real life panda.
70. Learn to ride a horse.
THINGS I WANT TO CONTRIBUTE TO HUMAN KNOWLEDGE:
71. Invent a new word which becomes genuinely popular.
72. Invent a new joke which becomes genuinely popular.
73. Design a game which is so good that 100 people play or watch it for each of ten years after release.
74. Research a genuinely useful item which other people name after me. (The spirit is important in a lot of these things - the naming can't be a joke.)
75. Patent an invention.
76. Write a piece which wins an award.
77. Become recognised as a World Record holder in the Guinness Book of Records.
78. Write a piece of music so good that someone wants to use it in a game.
79. Donate a collection to a recognised museum which the museum regards as significant. (Might a museum want VHS recordings of British game shows? Possibly...)
80. Devise an administrative procedure or a definitive document which makes a positive difference for ten years. (Again, spirit is important. A couple of candidates seem unlikely to last ten years.)
81. Earn a "devised by" credit on a major TV game show.
I WANT TO BE COMFORTABLE ABOUT MY APPEARANCE:
82. Own a smart suit, shirt and tie in which I feel comfortable all the time.
83. Learn to be confident about my hair.
84. Shave my head once.
85. Dye my hair an unnatural colour once.
86. Regularly attend a personal trainer.
87. Get my BMI below 25 and keep it there for five years. (That is, get my weight down to 178 pounds - 12 stone 10 - and keep it there.)
88. Solve the problem of drying myself effectively after showering. (Even after drying myself on a towel at home, I still feel damp and sweaty. However, when I do this at a hotel, it's normally not a problem. Am I just using a lousy towel? Alternatively, could this be as simple as installing a dehumidifier?)
MEDIA APPEARANCES I WANT TO MAKE:
89. Get my name, face and voice on a major national TV news show and be proud of the reason why.
90. Appear as an extra in a cinema film.
91. Get my face and voice in a TV commercial.
92. Appear on television once a decade.
93. Be a paid public speaker, such as a ring announcer.
94. Perform a stand-up comedy routine to an audience who don't already know me. (Without getting booed off the stage.)
EXCESSIVE AMBITIONS I HAVE:
95. Throw a significant wad of real money into an unsuspecting crowd to cause a small riot.
96. Eat a meal at a restaurant with three Michelin stars.
FRIENDSHIPS I WANT TO MAKE:
97. Throw a party so good that people still talk about it happily ten years later.
98. Have friends throw a surprise party for me. (At which, say, thirty of my friends attend primarily to see me - and each other. I once travelled 250 miles plus 250 miles back to attend a surprise party thrown in someone else's honour and it was a wonderful evening. I can think of very, very few higher testaments to popularity.)
99. Find someone I can really trust in all aspects of my life. (From which, you may unhappily conclude, I don't yet feel I have one. Many apologies to those of you who thought they were; I'm thinking at a "life partner" level here.)
100. Meet everyone on my Friends list.
Quite a few of these are pretensions and allusions to being in a higher class, which I admit is vain, louche and superficial. However, at least I'm being honest. Notable by their omission are a country cottage and a big fat bimmer which the BBC report are the most frequent aspirations. A lot of these ambitions are just as wasteful and stupid as that of the fast car. (Ain't #95 a doozy?) It's all a question of style and effect; it could well happen that some of my ambitions turn out to be very disappointing in practice and I hope that I find great reward in other things that I don't regard as ambitions. Some of the above are very simple, so possibly quite likely to happen. There's a sense in which it's important not just to follow the letter of the ambition, but to do it in style, like this guy who flew first class for the cost of economy. Bling, and indeed, bling.
It's also useful to note what ambitions of mine I have acheived. One of which I was particularly pleased was when a friend bought me a ticket to a boxing show in February '99 - and a good one at that. (Good show, good ticket.) The ambition most likely to be crossed off next is, strangely, #31. If I can get an upgrade en route and fulfil #43 at the same time, so much the better.
Another question that bears discussion is that of why to have ambitions, why to spend time codifying them. I see it as a step towards answering the question "Why am I here?" and "What do I want to do with my life?". Unfortunately, an answer to the even more important question "How do you want to earn the resources required to implement these ambitions?" seems further away than ever - and that makes me sad. There's also a bit of mindset adjustment required to actually implement many of these ambitions, even when the situation is already quite favourable and in place. I could probably go and learn to ride a horse, or visit a casino, or play bingo, or do a parachute jump tomorrow. It wouldn't be as much fun without the preparation, though, or without the company.
Lastly, these are only my public ambitions. Be very clear that I have some private, intimate ambitions as well, thought out in just as much detail (often more!), which aren't written down on a list and aren't likely to appear in this LiveJournal. They are strictly on a need-to-know basis - and, quite frankly, I don't think you need to know about them unless I would like to involve you in them. :-)
So those are my 100 ambitions. What are yours?
In other news, my parents were married on August 12th, 1972 and so celebrated their 30th ("pearl") wedding anniversary. August 12th is known as "the glorious twelfth", the first day of the year in which grouse shooting is permitted in the UK. (While my parents have never shot, my mother used to be a grouse-beater.) The anniversary wasn't a happy day for a long time, but we went out for a late meal and finally found a restaurant that was still serving food at 9:30pm at the fifth attempt. Happily, the food turned out to be unexpectedly good and unexpectedly inexpensive, so consider this a recommendation for the Fox Inn in Guisborough.
Afterwards, Dad took Mum out to look for meteors from the Perseid shower. (I didn't go, so I admit I don't know what the parents really got up to. I would be very surprised - pleasantly so - if they did get up to anything else while they were out.) Dad thinks he saw at least six and Mum saw eight or nine, so at least the day ended well.