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  1. Where we left off: WhiteGhost crept up to the small cabin barely visible from the game trail leading past it. The cabin is shrouded in Bush Honeysuckle and looks as if it hasn’t been inhabited for years. He carefully pushes past the undergrowth and hesitates just for a moment before approaching the lone door to the cabin. After a quick glance over his shoulder, WhiteGhost gently pushes open the unlocked door and sees his old friend sitting in an antique rocking chair next to a long unused fireplace. “I was beginning to think you weren’t coming”. Blinky says dryly as he looks up over the top of his book. Blinky listens carefully as WhiteGhost recounts what he saw and heard in the alley back in Aldenton, and also the scene in Blinky’s apartment in Indian Flats. “Well, I am not familiar with Mr. Muscles, but the fat guy is a Senior Partner over at Pentadin Partners, a shady financial services company that brokers transactions structured to get around international sanctions. This is very interesting because I stumbled across a series of corporate acquisitions PP brokered this year just before I was so rudely chased from my home”. Blinky walks over to a table covered in books and papers near the window and grabs a small notebook out of the stack. “Let’s see here, we have a sclerochiton ilicifolius farm in Transvaal, South Africa, a chemical manufacturing plant in Guilin, China, a bacterial R&D center in Yasenevo, Russia, and an Ion Exchange Equipment manufacturer in Chennai, India. Seems our fat friend has been quite busy”. He walks over to his refrigerator and pulls out a soda and offers one to his guest who politely declines. Blinky never used to be a big soda drinker, but perhaps the stress has gotten to him. “I was trying to find out who the buyer was for these companies, but, as you can see, did not get to finish that task” Blinky says. “Seeing as I need to stay off the grid for a while, perhaps you can help me look into it”. “I’d love to help” WhiteGhost says, "but I wouldn’t even know where to start looking”. The corners of Blinky’s mouth turn up to form just the faintest of smiles. “Luckily, I have some information that may help” he says “Mr. Osladin, whom you met in the alley the other night, likes to funnel his transactions through the same few offshore holding companies. The hard drive you recovered has a few programs I developed that you can use to trace back to the beneficial owners. Unfortunately for you, though, I can’t do it with you as I need to lay low for a bit”. WhiteGhost looks at Blinky who just nods knowingly. “Well, it looks like I have some work to do” says WhiteGhost. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Mission 1: Winter is Coming - The Muscle Up I have been working on this for the last few challenges and I think I am getting close. Also, Winter is coming which means both freezing temperatures (which are not conducive to outdoor exercise) and pollution (Winter here often has more days over 200 AQI than below, so working out in those conditions does more harm than good). Because my indoor pullup bar isn't stable enough for explosive movement, if I can't get the MU this challenge I will probably need to shelve it until spring. So all in on the muscle up this challenge Mission 2: Water Dancing - Focused Flexibility Moving this up to #2 for this challenge. There are a number of things I want to start working on but am limited by flexibility mobility issues. I need to spend the next few challenges leveling up in this area so next year I will be ready to start doing the really cool stuff like pistol squats and flips. Suck it up and work on the basics now, become a deadly water dancing assassin later Mission 3: The Mountain with Legs - Single Leg Workouts Although Muscle Ups will be my primary focus, I can't neglect everything else, nor can I be doing MU workouts every day. I will be doing other workouts (legs, core, maybe running) on my non MU days to keep things balanced out. Will I become like the Mountain? Yeah, I didn't think so either Mission 4: No Children in the Citadel - Reading with Ghostlet New fourth mission is about reading stories with Ghostlet. The driver for this mission is twofold: 1) He is spending too much time playing Minecraft and watching tutorials. I like that he is interested in something that boosts his creativity, but don't think it is good to spend so much time in the digital realm. Just saying "get off your phone" doesn't help unless there is something to fill in the void, so to replace some of his game time but still keep his mind open to creative pursuits, I want to read fantasy/sci-fi stories to him. 2) Eventually he will most likely end up in an English language curriculum. In order for him to get there, he needs to get his English reading skills up to speed or he will really struggle.
  2. Hi all Gosh, turns out introducing myself to a bunch of strangers online is harder than I expected... I guess you could say that a lot of my life recently has been summed up by the topic title above... in the sense that I've been filling in placeholders and then forgetting to come back and finish the job... and this seemed like a fun community to start setting some new goals and actually taking steps to achieving them! So who am I? I'm a 28 year old masters of research student currently trying to juggle writing my thesis (Due December this year) with... life. Which in reality involves a lot of sitting down, many naps on the couch, talking to my cat, assaulting* my partner when he gets home from work because I HAVEN'T TALKED TO A SINGLE OTHER HUMAN ALL DAY (!!!), anxiety, avoiding contact with my supervisor as well as all the fun stuff of life like dancing, listening to music while walking and trying not to make my head rolls too obvious as I dance to the tunes in my head, weights at the gym, wine tasting and cheese. Whats my fitness history? I grew up dancing and performing on stage - jazz, tap, ballet, acrobatics. It took me about 6 years between the ages of 5 and 11 to learn to 'perform' and actually look like I was enjoying myself on stage - but one day it clicked and I've never stopped since (we can discuss how healthy this is another time). Until I was about 17 I was dancing minimum 9 hours a week and somehow still finding time to do well at school. But at 16 I got a stress fracture in my right tibia and for a multitude of reasons (depression, teenage hormones, perfectionism) fell out of love with it and stopped The only problem was... What to do instead? I got a gym membership which I never used because I hated the gym... and there things stalled for a long time (give or take a couple of couch to 5km attempts and bodyweight strength programs) until one day a friend pleaded with me to come with her to a term of beginner pole dancing. And there it was - Love at first pole. But FML I could not for the life of me move my arms the next day!!! Like I actually couldn't straighten my right elbow without using my left arm to physically move it. For many years this was all I needed, I could rely on my base strength and flexibility built over a lifetime of dancing to move me up the levels such that all I needed to learn was the specifics of each new move. But that could only take me so far, before I started to plateau. Which brings me too... My philosophy on weight and body issues... I haven't always had the most healthy relationship with my body... I'm not sure I've ever met a woman who always has if I am honest. My weight goes up and down about 6-7kg's throughout various times of the year for various reasons that I have learnt are only very loosely if at all linked with my eating or activity but are undoubtedly linked to my mental health/state. If I am feeling particularly anxious about something - ain't nothing going to shift that weight, my body will basically shut down and go into lifesaving mode. But I have so far been lucky in that it is pretty stable within those boundaries. Would I like to loose some weight and keep it off? Hell yes! Am I technically overweight at the moment? Yeah, a little. But is this a priority? No. Well not enough to get me off my ass to do something about it... which might leave you asking... Why am I here? Pole dancing. I am here to improve my pole dancing. Plateau be gone! I want to be flexible and strong and fly through my routines like I grew up swinging on vines with Tarzan. Pole dancing (and most aerial arts I think) are interesting beasts because not only do you have to be strong and flexible - but you have to be stupidly strong at the extremes of your flexibility or... you fall down and die. If you're not careful you can overuse your chest muscles when climbing and doing tricks - which exacerbates existing posture issues that many of us have from working on computers all day, in addition to which, I also tend to be really naughty and favour my 'good side' (vs my 'drunk side') meaning even more body imbalances!! So at the beginning of the year I got a new gym membership - something that I never thought I would do again because I hated the places soooooo much. Only this time I've been enjoying it - because each time I go it is for a purpose, something larger than looking good in a swimsuit [not that that isn't a perfectly legitimate reason to go - it just doesn't motivate me] or some vague notion of "I should do some exercise". I got over my fear of the free weights area and started tracking my progress using a beginners weightlifting routine and doing some other classes I was just getting comfortable in the weights room when ... I got sick over winter (I live in Australia, its spring over here ), and struggled for a while to get back to the gym . In any case, I am back now... or have been for the last 2 weeks and have decided it is time to up the ante. Up until now, non-pole training has mostly been fuelled with that vague notion that 'I need to be strong to get better at pole'. And to be fair I have been getting stronger! But my training has been lacking any form of direction, plan, or means to measure my progress. And as a result my increases in strength have also been met with decreases in hard earned flexibility So thats why I am here. To write a plan and to have a place to record my progress and hold myself accountable - and do so in what seems from the outside at least to be a pretty nice community! So excuse me, while I go get a head start on setting some goals for the next round of challenges**... See you around! *not really assaulting, shouldn't make jokes about violence - more like badgering [can you tell I'm a sociology major?] ** Which also conveniently provides a distraction from the thesis writing that I probably should be doing.... :/
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