#100: Create the "100 Things 2015" List

With this post, and having posted the 2015 list, we have now completed the 2014 list!

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We’ve learned a lot about doing this over the last year. We’ve found that we were both pushing ourselves, albeit in different directions: I found that this made me get out and do more, while Becky found that this was a good way to slow her pace to a sustainable rate. For both reasons, we found that posting this goal as publicly as we did helped us achieve it (as well as knowing that you all are reading and enjoying it with us).

There’s another thing to note: we don’t think of this list as 100 goals. It’s one big one. That means that the list itself is free to change, as long as we do 100 awesome things and document them here. Allowing the list to be fluid also means we feel free to put some pretty ambitious things on it, and if they end up being unrealistic or not happening, well, we’ll just find some other cool thing to do instead. Some items dropped off because they weren’t feasible, and were replaced with things from our backup list (the 2015 list); others were simply replaced with something more compelling. Some were removed and found their way back! So we’re keeping this format for 2015; it keeps us moving forward, while not chaining us to a static plan in a dynamic world.

We also found that personal growth projects were taking a back seat to publicly-declared 100-things goals. Whether it was reading through a book, taking a class, or finishing a craft project, when it came time to choose whether to do that or a thing that other people were expecting us to do, the side projects always lost. So this year we’re correcting that: each of us has 5 individual Things on the new list, which are intended for us to grow as people.

Wish us luck in 2015!

(If you’re curious as to how much our list has changed over the year, you can take a look at the raw comparison of the list as it was posted on January 1 and what it looks like today.)

#34: Watch movies 91-100 on the AFI’s 100 Greatest Movies List

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

We love lists, and this one is a good one. We’re not so ambitious to think we’ll watch two movies every week for the whole year, though, so we’re going to spread this one out –  at least 10 movies per year (more if it happens), starting at #100 and working our way to #1.

#100: Ben-Hur (1959)

Ben: When people talk about “epic films,” this is the one they mean. It’s nearly 4 hours long. I’m trying really hard to judge it by the standards of its day, but it didn’t have to be this long. There are a lot of long reaction shots, close-ups of Charleton Heston looking sorrowful, and plenty of dead air when people are just standing there, staring at each other. But I guess if you cut out that stuff, it’d feel rushed. It’s incredibly well-done, they used their Titanic-sized budget to make some truly extraordinary scenes, and the story is suitably large. It’s interesting to note that Gladiator tells a very similar story, but for an audience 50 years further into the evolution of film.

Becky: To quote film critic Dwight Macdonald “I felt like a motorist trapped at a railroad crossing while a long freight train slowly trundles by.” I had much more fun looking up all the history and facts around the making of the film while the movie itself slowly played out across our screen.

#99: Toy Story (1995)

Ben: The CGI in this movie is fairly primitive compared to what modern technology can produce, but the way it’s made you see past that almost immediately. The characters are so strong, the storytelling so tight. It’s interesting to see what the director did when the limitations of physical cameras are removed; there are some shots that would be impossible in a non-CGI film, but they’re worked in so well that you don’t really notice.

Becky: I was 19 when this came out, so there are no childhood memories associated with it. Next best thing? Watch it with our kids. The story holds up very well and we all enjoyed it. It had been years and years since I saw it, but it’s so ubiquitous in our culture at this point that every bit of it was familiar.

#98: Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

Becky: This was almost intolerable. I kept trying to reach through my boredom to find the cultural merit or relate to the patriotism of the era, (Pearl Harbor was attacked at the start of production, causing the “Yay America!” tone to be highly amplified), but it was a chore to sit through. I’ll admit that I am not a fan of this style of movie; I’ve never swooned at Singing in the Rain, The Music Man, West Side Story, or My Fair Lady. Sorry fans.

Ben: This was hard to watch. The actors were all great, but the song-and-dance scenes were interminable and grating. I know this is a historical effect, that those were the great things about the movie in its time, but it was kind of uncomfortable. (Sing-talking, ugh.) For all that it was well-made, and there were a few special-effects tricks that had probably never been seen before, it was pretty challenging for us.

#97: Blade Runner (1982)

Becky: I was positive that I had seen this already. NOPE. A few parts were vaguely familiar, but I think that’s because it’s a widely referenced movie. So strange, but yet very beautiful in a dark, haunting way. I didn’t notice that it was 32 years old.

Ben: Such a classic. The version we watched is the “Final Cut”, which has some of the visual effects replaced with state-of-the-art 7-years-ago CGI, but the live-action effects still stand up pretty well. This is from a different era of storytelling, with many scenes only making sense if you’re actively thinking about the symbolism in them. More recent movies do this to an extent, but usually there’s a more accessible layer on top; there’s something there for you even if you’re just watching to relax. This film needs thought, and I like that.

#96: Do the Right Thing (1989)

Becky: So. Much. Yelling. And hardly any listening. This was hard(?), uncomfortable(?), painful(?), to watch, especially with all the injustice and heartbreak surrounding Mike Brown’s shooting in Ferguson this year.

Ben: If this film had ended after 90 minutes, I would be writing “the characters were strong and real, and the technical construction was exquisite.” But by serendipity we watched this the very night that a grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson, so the final act really hit home. It’s been 25 years since this was made, but apart from the wardrobes it could have been released this week. It’s pretty sad that a quarter-century’s progress on these societal problems is so small as to be nonexistent.

#95: The Last Picture Show (1971)

Ben: When we first started watching this, I thought it was from the 40’s, because black and white, and I kept thinking “wow, the film quality is really good!” Then a young Jeff Bridges shows up, I do the math, and find out it was made in 1971. The characters in this all feel like real people, though the small-town drama is amped waaaay up. I’m still working through all the symbolism.

Becky: I was sure I was going to hate this and be bored. I’m still not sure I didn’t hate it, but I certainly wasn’t bored. The story meandered all over the place, but managed to be somewhat linear in time. No real plot. Nothing happened, except for the things that did. I don’t know who I’d recommend this to. Maybe art school students?

#94: Pulp Fiction (1994)

Becky: I had just recently graduated high school and was up in Seattle at art school when this film was released. It had a huge impact on my age group, however, I didn’t love it.  I watched it a bunch of times with friend groups and everyone was quoting it. Back then I found it long, and at times confusing.  This time around I actually understood so many more topics and plot points!  I still found it a bit long and still very sweary and bloody, but I think I like it better now. I do believe I’ve seen this movie enough times. I don’t need to see it again.

Ben: Interestingly, I thought all these actors looked old when I first saw this film, and now they all look so young. The thing that I noticed most of all is that the plot is sort of rambling and aimless; there isn’t a giant, epic story being told here, with heavy repercussions, it’s more of a day-in-the-life kind of thing, with lots of memorable lines and characters. Holds up well, though; the only thing that dates it is the cell phones. Tarantino is good at casual-but-still-shocking violence.

#93: The French Connection (1971)

Ben: You can trace a direct line from this movie to The Bourne Identity. Both of them tell a lot of their story without using dialogue, don’t beat you over the head with the plotline, and at times you’ll feel confused, but that’s by design, and you’ll understand it all later. So many action-movie techniques started with this movie, including the idea of a car chase. I was pretty impressed.

Becky: This was as uninteresting to me this time around as it was 10 years ago when I watched it the first time. The fashion and cars of the 70’s were interesting, at least.

#92: Goodfellas (1990)

Becky: My high school boyfriend was really into this movie and I saw it several times as a teenager.  Then my ex-husband also enjoyed this film greatly and I saw it again several times in my early twenties.  Fast forward to me at 38.  Once again I find myself in the situation of watching something oh, so familiar, yet this time around I actually understood what was happening. This makes it more interesting, for sure.  But also again, I’m about done with this movie.  I have a really hard time watching incredibly selfish men fanny about the screen with no regard for anyone but themselves.

Ben: I also saw this as a younger person, but my memories are less clear than Becky’s. The interesting thing to me while we were watching is that just as you’re starting to identify with the “protagonist,” the story shows him being a terrible person again. You find yourself rooting for and hating him in the same moment. This is a film filled with strong, consistent characters, and no heroes at all. Still, it’s easy to see why someone would want that kind of life, why each decision along the road to scumbagville would be easy to make.

#91: Sophie’s Choice (1982)

Becky: Once more I was sure I would already know this movie. I mean the phrase “Sophie’s Choice” is bandied around in jest often. Yet not one scene, not one line was familiar. I had no idea part of this film was set in Nazi concentration camps. It was a good film and I can easily see why Meryl Streep won the Oscar that year. I read that she learned Polish and German to help her character’s accent. That is dedication.

Ben: Again, if this movie had stopped a half-hour sooner, I would have thought, “strong and mostly likeable characters, Kevin Kline is damn charming, but not a whole lot of plot, really.” And then that scene. If you’ve seen the movie, you know the one. Any parent who sees that can’t forget it. It’s easy to see why this film is on the list.

#34: Watch movies 91-100 on the AFI’s 100 Greatest Movies List

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

We love lists, and this one is a good one. We’re not so ambitious to think we’ll watch two movies every week for the whole year, though, so we’re going to spread this one out –  at least 10 movies per year (more if it happens), starting at #100 and working our way to #1.

#100: Ben-Hur (1959)

Ben: When people talk about “epic films,” this is the one they mean. It’s nearly 4 hours long. I’m trying really hard to judge it by the standards of its day, but it didn’t have to be this long. There are a lot of long reaction shots, close-ups of Charleton Heston looking sorrowful, and plenty of dead air when people are just standing there, staring at each other. But I guess if you cut out that stuff, it’d feel rushed. It’s incredibly well-done, they used their Titanic-sized budget to make some truly extraordinary scenes, and the story is suitably large. It’s interesting to note that Gladiator tells a very similar story, but for an audience 50 years further into the evolution of film.

Becky: To quote film critic Dwight Macdonald “I felt like a motorist trapped at a railroad crossing while a long freight train slowly trundles by.” I had much more fun looking up all the history and facts around the making of the film while the movie itself slowly played out across our screen.

#99: Toy Story (1995)

Ben: The CGI in this movie is fairly primitive compared to what modern technology can produce, but the way it’s made you see past that almost immediately. The characters are so strong, the storytelling so tight. It’s interesting to see what the director did when the limitations of physical cameras are removed; there are some shots that would be impossible in a non-CGI film, but they’re worked in so well that you don’t really notice.

Becky: I was 19 when this came out, so there are no childhood memories associated with it. Next best thing? Watch it with our kids. The story holds up very well and we all enjoyed it. It had been years and years since I saw it, but it’s so ubiquitous in our culture at this point that every bit of it was familiar.

#98: Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

Becky: This was almost intolerable. I kept trying to reach through my boredom to find the cultural merit or relate to the patriotism of the era, (Pearl Harbor was attacked at the start of production, causing the “Yay America!” tone to be highly amplified), but it was a chore to sit through. I’ll admit that I am not a fan of this style of movie; I’ve never swooned at Singing in the Rain, The Music Man, West Side Story, or My Fair Lady. Sorry fans.

Ben: This was hard to watch. The actors were all great, but the song-and-dance scenes were interminable and grating. I know this is a historical effect, that those were the great things about the movie in its time, but it was kind of uncomfortable. (Sing-talking, ugh.) For all that it was well-made, and there were a few special-effects tricks that had probably never been seen before, it was pretty challenging for us.

#97: Blade Runner (1982)

Becky: I was positive that I had seen this already. NOPE. A few parts were vaguely familiar, but I think that’s because it’s a widely referenced movie. So strange, but yet very beautiful in a dark, haunting way. I didn’t notice that it was 32 years old.

Ben: Such a classic. The version we watched is the “Final Cut”, which has some of the visual effects replaced with state-of-the-art 7-years-ago CGI, but the live-action effects still stand up pretty well. This is from a different era of storytelling, with many scenes only making sense if you’re actively thinking about the symbolism in them. More recent movies do this to an extent, but usually there’s a more accessible layer on top; there’s something there for you even if you’re just watching to relax. This film needs thought, and I like that.

#96: Do the Right Thing (1989)

Becky: So. Much. Yelling. And hardly any listening. This was hard(?), uncomfortable(?), painful(?), to watch, especially with all the injustice and heartbreak surrounding Mike Brown’s shooting in Ferguson this year.

Ben: If this film had ended after 90 minutes, I would be writing “the characters were strong and real, and the technical construction was exquisite.” But by serendipity we watched this the very night that a grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson, so the final act really hit home. It’s been 25 years since this was made, but apart from the wardrobes it could have been released this week. It’s pretty sad that a quarter-century’s progress on these societal problems is so small as to be nonexistent.

#95: The Last Picture Show (1971)

Ben: When we first started watching this, I thought it was from the 40’s, because black and white, and I kept thinking “wow, the film quality is really good!” Then a young Jeff Bridges shows up, I do the math, and find out it was made in 1971. The characters in this all feel like real people, though the small-town drama is amped waaaay up. I’m still working through all the symbolism.

Becky: I was sure I was going to hate this and be bored. I’m still not sure I didn’t hate it, but I certainly wasn’t bored. The story meandered all over the place, but managed to be somewhat linear in time. No real plot. Nothing happened, except for the things that did. I don’t know who I’d recommend this to. Maybe art school students?

#94: Pulp Fiction (1994)

Becky: I had just recently graduated high school and was up in Seattle at art school when this film was released. It had a huge impact on my age group, however, I didn’t love it.  I watched it a bunch of times with friend groups and everyone was quoting it. Back then I found it long, and at times confusing.  This time around I actually understood so many more topics and plot points!  I still found it a bit long and still very sweary and bloody, but I think I like it better now. I do believe I’ve seen this movie enough times. I don’t need to see it again.

Ben: Interestingly, I thought all these actors looked old when I first saw this film, and now they all look so young. The thing that I noticed most of all is that the plot is sort of rambling and aimless; there isn’t a giant, epic story being told here, with heavy repercussions, it’s more of a day-in-the-life kind of thing, with lots of memorable lines and characters. Holds up well, though; the only thing that dates it is the cell phones. Tarantino is good at casual-but-still-shocking violence.

#93: The French Connection (1971)

Ben: You can trace a direct line from this movie to The Bourne Identity. Both of them tell a lot of their story without using dialogue, don’t beat you over the head with the plotline, and at times you’ll feel confused, but that’s by design, and you’ll understand it all later. So many action-movie techniques started with this movie, including the idea of a car chase. I was pretty impressed.

Becky: This was as uninteresting to me this time around as it was 10 years ago when I watched it the first time. The fashion and cars of the 70’s were interesting, at least.

#92: Goodfellas (1990)

Becky: My high school boyfriend was really into this movie and I saw it several times as a teenager.  Then my ex-husband also enjoyed this film greatly and I saw it again several times in my early twenties.  Fast forward to me at 38.  Once again I find myself in the situation of watching something oh, so familiar, yet this time around I actually understood what was happening. This makes it more interesting, for sure.  But also again, I’m about done with this movie.  I have a really hard time watching incredibly selfish men fanny about the screen with no regard for anyone but themselves.

Ben: I also saw this as a younger person, but my memories are less clear than Becky’s. The interesting thing to me while we were watching is that just as you’re starting to identify with the “protagonist,” the story shows him being a terrible person again. You find yourself rooting for and hating him in the same moment. This is a film filled with strong, consistent characters, and no heroes at all. Still, it’s easy to see why someone would want that kind of life, why each decision along the road to scumbagville would be easy to make.

#91: Sophie’s Choice (1982)

Becky: Once more I was sure I would already know this movie. I mean the phrase “Sophie’s Choice” is bandied around in jest often. Yet not one scene, not one line was familiar. I had no idea part of this film was set in Nazi concentration camps. It was a good film and I can easily see why Meryl Streep won the Oscar that year. I read that she learned Polish and German to help her character’s accent. That is dedication.

Ben: Again, if this movie had stopped a half-hour sooner, I would have thought, “strong and mostly likeable characters, Kevin Kline is damn charming, but not a whole lot of plot, really.” And then that scene. If you’ve seen the movie, you know the one. Any parent who sees that can’t forget it. It’s easy to see why this film is on the list.

#52: Reorganize Our (Becky's) Home Office

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

I moved out of Becky’s office a little while ago, and since we’ve been horrendously busy, that room became sort of a dumping ground for half-completed projects. She was having a hard time being in there.

So we took everything out, rearranged the furniture, and one-by-one found homes for all the things. Here’s the result:

There’s still a bit of a rat’s nest of cables under the computer desk, but that’s my fault. The rest of the room is meticulously organized, and the best thing is that it’ll stay that way – this is very much Becky’s style. There’s a sewing station, double the shelf space, and a new rug that the dogs love. Plus, her massage chair found a home! It had been hanging out in the bedroom, but those lights were too bright to sleep with, so it was unplugged all the time. It gets used now!

L. L. "Stub" Stewart State Park

This is part of our Oregon State Park challenge! Check out our progress here.

We visited one of Oregon’s newest state parks, L.L. “Stub” Stewart.

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This time we planned well, and arrived while it was still daylight. Probably because it was less than an hour from home. This place is gorgeous.

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The winter weather had started setting in, though. It was in the 50s for most of our stay. We had pre-cooked most of our meals, but they had to be reheated on the camp stove on the front porch.

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What camping trip is complete without some geocaching?

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And a couple of nice, long, muddy hikes?

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The ranger station here has a pretty cool interpretive center with lots of activities. We must have been there for 45 minutes.

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Lazy it’s-too-cold-outside time. Probably half our travel weight on any given trip is in books.

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Here’s what our evenings looked like.

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All too soon, it was time to say goodbye to our trusty little one-room cabin. The kids took charge, playing Vanna White for all the cabin’s features with absolutely no prompting from either of us.

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This place was pretty great, and only about 45 minutes from home. There’s a disc-golf course if you’re into that sort of thing, a goodly number of hiking trails, and it’s located about halfway along the Banks-Vernonia State Trail, which is great for biking!

#9: Attend Becky's 20 Year High School Reunion

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

Becky graduated from high school in 1994, which means it’s been 20 years! She volunteered us to be the official photographers for the event. The reunion was held at the Oregon City Elks’ Grand Ballroom, and there was a pretty good turnout. We used our photographers’ super-power to make people pose in groups.

It was a pretty good time. Not without its awkwardnesses, but we chatted with some pretty cool people – some of whom were cool back then, and some who have matured into coolness.

Umpqua Wayside & State Scenic Corridor

This is part of our Oregon State Park challenge! Check out our progress here.

On our way back from the Umpqua Lighthouse area, we drove through this (very) scenic corridor. There’s an elk viewing area just outside of Reedsport:

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There’s also a wayside, which doesn’t appear to be listed anywhere online, but still has all the signage of a real state park, so we’re claiming it.

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There’s a little trail down to the riverside, and a ton of good skipping rocks.

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It’s a nice stop if your legs and throwing arm need a stretch.

Guy W. Talbot State Park & George W. Joseph State Natural Area

This is part of our Oregon State Park challenge! Check out our progress here.

One of the parks on our list doesn’t appear to have its own parking lot. We checked the map, and we couldn’t find one, so we did the only logical thing: we hiked in from another state park.

Guy W. Talbot State Park is a not-very-long drive up the gorge, and reaching the parking lot requires that you drive through the scenic little hamlet of Latourell (which unfortunately doesn’t appear to have its own website).

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After not too long, the trail passes under the old Columbia River Highway.

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This is the lower of the two Latourell fallses, and it was quite popular. We managed to take a quick snap without anyone else in the frame, but it took some doing.

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Legend tells of another Latourell falls, but reaching it means walking. Needless to say, we were nearly alone for the rest of this trail.

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Our picnic log:

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At long last, we reached the upper Latourell falls, which was no less scenic than the lower one, and actually lies within the boundaries of an entirely different state park!

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Lately, no hiking journey is quite complete without some Geocaching. We had to do a quick grab-sign-and-replace with the cache itself (because Muggles), but here’s a shot of the loot the kids traded for:

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Two state parks in one hike! Will wonders never cease!

#45: Attend a Timbers Game

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

I took Will to a Timbers game once, but Becky’s never been. We scored some tickets on StubHub (which were heavily subsidized by Liz and Jeff’s generous Christmas gift!), and made our way to Jeld-Wen Field Providence Park. To our utter surprise, the place was packed. It turns out our rival team from the great white north was in town for the big showdown. Apparently this rivalry has some history that we were unaware of until we couldn’t hear each other talk, even from the absolute highest seats in the stadium.

Neither of us is much for sports, but we both had a great time. The game ended in a tie, but we both feel like we won.

#51: Fix the Kids’ Closets

This is part of our 100 Things in 2014 challenge. Here’s the full list.

So we (well, let’s be honest: Becky) had the kids’ closets all nice, neat, and organized. Then our remodel happened, and a giant new HVAC system was installed upstairs. The good news is that the upstairs now has hot and cold air, which will help keep the whole house habitable during the coldest and hottest days of the year. The bad news? Note the giant new duct, and the “system” of random baskets acting as Lucy’s dresser. This was the state of things for several months until the remodel was complete and things stopped changing. Clearly something needed to be done. So Will and I headed to Ikea.

And after a few scattered days of building flat-pack furniture (I distinctly remember frantically trying to finish one piece while a cab was waiting to take me to the airport) and many of Becky’s organizing hours, it was done. Oh, and Becky decided it was time to rearrange Lucy’s entire room (Will’s had been done for a while now).

Lucy’s room, before:

And after:

Here’s will’s closet before the change. Notice how the pole brackets are actually pulling out of the wall, because the HVAC workers had to take out the shelf.

And after. He also moved up to grown-up sized hangers!

It was tough losing so much of the kids’ closet space to ductwork, but in the end it’ll be much nicer. The kids are thrilled, and Becky doesn’t get stressed out every time she goes up there!