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  1. MY FRIENDS, WHAT IS UP I've kinda taken a bit of time away from the forums in my last challenge - October's been a busy month full of commitments and fun and AWESOMENESS. TL;DR I'm still actively living my best life and after some time away - and away from everything to reset and recharge - literally tho', I'm currently spending a week at a little coastal New England cabin and it's PERFECT - I'm ready to slam the reset button on my goals and GET GOING AGAIN. More details to come but I wanted to get this post going 'cause I'm HYPE. Goals will SURELY include: - GYM TIME SHAAR YOU BUTTHEAD. I NEED to get back into this routine. 3 times a week, zero excuses. - Get outside! Log 3 adventure hikes this challenge before it gets butts cold out! - I have two open credit cards right now, and my goal is to pay them both down before 2020 hits. Bigger win if I don't have to use any part of a holiday bonus to do this. I want to be able to start directing way more money into my savings account and I've been super aggressive with my debt so far, I just need to stay on target through the holidays too!! - READ MORE. While I was away for a week I took my Kindle with me and started reading one of my favorite old books, Lost Souls by Poppy Z Brite... it's so good, it totally digs my aesthetic of like 90's era queer southern gothic vampire culture (I know that sounds weird but I too am weird) and I want to re-finish this book and start another one! Goal is to finish this book and buy another one, and finish it too!! - MORE VIDEO GAMES! I haven't actually been gaming a lot lately - I know, shocker! - because October has been so busy! But now I'm back home and with much less commitment going into November so I want to stream some games and show you guys what I play!! I have a Twitch account at twitch.tv/loiire/ and will stream at least 3 gaming sessions over the course of this challenge. I'll announce ahead of time when I'm doing the live streams, but I'll also post the finished video on my thread so people can watch afterwards. What games will I choose?!!?!/1?! WE'LL SEE~ :3 Ok more later, ciaociao for nownow my pals~ <3
  2. My neeeeeerds HELLO HI GREETINGS HAPPY FEBRUARY!! Happy - new - challenge! We are totally out of the doldrums of January and ready to keep rockin', right?? This challenge cycle is going to focus on something real important - NOT LOSING MY FRICKIN’ MARBLES. The theme of 2018 so far seems to be Everything is Chaos so, okay, cool, I can take a hint. Also I often fall victim to a heavy dose of ~seasonal ennui~ around this time of year - it’s something I’m very aware of and now is the time to buckle down and take care of myself so I can get through this in one glorious screaming piece. This challenge has One. Very. SIMPLE! Goal! (Right?) Follow the checklist. And it’s Inception-themed so I can take it one layer at a time. (Checklist within a checklist, natch~) (Also I adore this frickin' movie and have been patiently awaiting the day I could use it as a theme, so here we are.) Since Everything is Chaos I’m going to try and make that work for me by working around it - I’m not giving myself 4 weeks of static goals this go-around. Each weekend I’ll create a checklist of things to be completed over the course of the week and post it here and.... Uh.... HECKIN’ COMPLETE ‘EM ALL. It can be anything from workout-specific things to cleaning the fridge to getting OUT of my pajamas on a Saturday; you know, the real stuff. I’ve got some longer goals that I’m eyeballing lately too that I want to start laying the foundation for, so that’ll be present too. (More details on those later, stay tuned babies~) And I’ll try to throw some fun stuff in there to keep me motivated, like drop in a cool lizard screenshot or draw a 10 minute picture of my cat screaming at the washing machine (his new hobby). You know. THE REAL STUFF. But mostly I’ll just try to keep focused and take it one step at a time. I’ll likely do this digitally on my tablet (‘cause writing is way more fun than typing yeah?) but if I don’t feel like sitting at the computer I’ll handwrite/photograph and just go with it. Stay sane. Don’t fall into the hole of despair. Keep doing the thing. Yeah? YEAH?!!!?!? YEAH!!!!!!
  3. I'm seriously excited for the upcoming year. I'm going to turn 50, I have a great race calendar planned, I feel healthier than I have in a decade, and I'm moving into a new age group. All this means that this might be the year I finally podium. Even if I don't, this is going to be the Year of the Sloth. The trick is turning hype into daily, consistent action. There's going to be a touch more structure than my previous two in-challenges. The next several weeks are a base-building/ general physical preparation phase. Flexibility: I'll do a minimum of 15 minutes of "power" yoga, 20 minutes of Pirate Yoga, or my own mish-mash of Yoga, Flexible Steel, and the S&S warmups. Near daily action required. Strength: Daily Dose of Deadlifts using a hex bar and Simple & Sinister. Near daily action required. Cardio: Gotta get my base miles in. Look for 90+ minute trainer sessions. 3+ sessions/week.
  4. THE SKY VOYAGER Part I: Strange New Worlds I was writing the concluding paragraph of my weekly report when my comm badge buzzed and interrupted my thoughts. "Ensign Elvenword to the bridge, please." To the bridge? I froze and stared at my screen, my fingers motionless over the keys. That sounded like Lieutenant Tuvok, the chief of security! Me to the bridge? What for? I was only a junior-grade ensign on my first mission - what was I needed for on the bridge? "Ensign Elvenword, please respond." I jumped and slapped my badge. "Yes sir - on my way, sir!" My heart raced as I fumbled into my uniform jacket and paused at the mirror to adjust my tightly braided hair with trembling fingers. I had been stuck with the rest of the crew on Voyager for almost a year after we were flung into the Delta Quadrant by the Caretaker, but my position as a communications intern - later upgraded to "assistant science communications officer," which meant I was responsible for proofreading and compiling the science officers' weekly reports into an archived brief - never brought me into direct contact with the bridge crew. During the last six months, I had been independently studying Starfleet Academy language materials from the computer database and practicing speaking in the holodeck, in hopes of being allowed to go on an away mission someday; but I had not told anyone besides my roommates about my work - had one of them mentioned it to a bridge officer? The ride up to the bridge felt exceptionally long - until the turbolift glided to a stop and the doors opened up into the brightly lit space. There was Lieutenant Tuvok at the security station, silhouetted by dozens of brightly colored lights and buttons, and Ensign Kim at Operations; and down in front, I could see the backs of Captain Janeway and Commander Chakotay's heads as they looked at a small star system out the massive viewscreen - so much larger than I imagined it! Everything smelled like heat and metal, but it was not hot, only very bright; and every officer's face was composed, focused, and occupied. Lieutenant Tuvok glanced up as I hesitated at the open doors, his fingers never stopping their graceful, efficient movements over the touchscreen. "Ensign, it does not take fifteen minutes to make your way from your quarters to the bridge," he stated, more of a factual observation than a rebuke. I hesitated, uncertain how to respond. "Yes, sir," I finally said lamely. "Did you wish to see me?" "Yes." He moved aside from his station and gestured for me to join him. I squared my shoulders and tried to look confident as I strode across the open space (feeling very small) and climbed the small step up to the security station. "Ensign, the next part of our journey will bring us into contact with several diverse alien cultures," Tuvok said, his voice measured and matter-of-fact. "The captain has asked me to select an additional crew member to function as an assistant on our diplomatic missions, preferably someone with exceptional interpersonal communication skills and combat experience. I have reviewed your performance during the rescue mission aboard the U.S.S. Ranger as a Starfleet cadet, and found it exemplary. I have also reviewed your progress studying the Academy language curriculum on your own, which indicates that you have initiative and a desire to expand your current role, which you have performed punctually and accurately for the past eleven months. Although you lack the Starfleet experience that some of your older crewmates possess, I believe you have promise, and that the training and experience you will receive as a diplomatic adjutant would enhance your career significantly once we return to the Alpha Quadrant." He raised an eyebrow. "Does this opportunity interest you?" I fought to keep my face from betraying the scream of joy that was bubbling up in my stomach. "Yes sir, it interests me greatly. What would I have to do to get started?" Tuvok reached under the console and handed me a PADD. "I have constructed a plan of study for you to continue your language studies, using additional data on Delta Quadrant species that you do not have access to in the Academy database. These lessons include language, culture, and protocol components. Additionally, I have arranged weekly meetings with five senior officers, to familiarize you with bridge and away mission protocol. Each of them will likely have additional training assignments for you to complete. You will continue your weekly duties as science communications assistant, but you will also be assigned a duty station on the bridge, which you will be expected to man whenever you are summoned, day or night." "Yes sir. Will I be further instructed on my duties at my new station?" "Yes. After one month, you will meet with the captain, and she will assess your readiness to assume your new duties. At that time, you will be officially designated a Diplomatic Adjutant and instructed in the duties of your new station." I took the PADD and stood as tall as I could. "I understand. I will begin my studies as soon as I complete my weekly report." Tuvok nodded gracefully and turned back to his station. "Very good. The five officers assigned to be your mentors will contact you to schedule your weekly meetings - their names are listed in your first lesson. Please see me or one of them if you have additional questions. You are dismissed." "Yes sir." As I stepped off the station platform and walked back toward the turbolift, I snuck a small peek over my shoulder at the captain's chair - and my heart missed a beat when I met Captain Janeway's eyes, already turned in my direction. Her stern face cracked into a slight smile and she nodded briefly. "We look forward to seeing you on the bridge, Ensign," she called across the room, her voice businesslike but pleasant. "Study hard and I'll see you in a few weeks." Dear Dad and Mom, I wrote in my letter that evening. Today was quite possibly the biggest day of my life - I have been chosen for promotion! After only a year out of the Academy! Can you believe it? I was summoned to the bridge this afternoon by Lieutenant Tuvok - yes, I finally got to see the bridge and the bridge crew! It was amazing! - and he said that the officers were looking for an assistant to specialize in diplomacy and language, to accompany them on away missions as a Diplomatic Adjutant. Because I've been studying languages on my own for the last few months, and because he read about my work on the USS Ranger, I was chosen! Over more than a hundred other people! What it means is that I will be given extra homework by five of the senior officers, in order to get ready - my weekly mentors will be Neelix, Lieutenant Tuvok, the Doctor and Kes, and Commander Chakotay; and once a month, I will also meet with Captain Janeway, to keep her informed on my progress. I don't know any of the bridge officers personally, but one of my roommates spent a couple of months as a navigational assistant on the bridge, and she has told me lots of stories about all of them, so I think I have an idea what to expect. When I was on the bridge, I tried to sense their emotions, but I'm not as good at that as you are, Mom. They all mostly just seemed busy and focused. When the captain greeted me she did seem sincere, though - I have so much admiration for her and I want her to be pleased with my work. As I may have mentioned once or twice, I hope one day to be a starship captain just like her. I love you both and miss you more than I can say. I heard a rumor today that some of the new species we'll be meeting soon might be able to help us get home faster ... I tried not to listen, of course, but of course I did anyway. I hope my new job won't take up so much time that I can't write to you every day - but even if it does, I'll keep good logs of everything I do, so I can tell you all my wonderful stories of data entry and report-writing when I get home. Maybe spiced up with a few alien encounters now and then, I hope. Talk to you soon. Lots of love, Sky
  5. Just two days after receiving the summons, Rhovaniel was back on familiar ground. For a moment, she stood and looked up at the Guildhall. Rebuilt just last year by their own hands after the attack, it nonetheless appeared timeless. They had made improvements here and there, but ultimately, they had been faithful to the original design, welcoming Rangers like her back home after long and often arduous journeys. A cold northerly wind whistled past her, reminding her that although it was slightly milder here than in the mountainous region where the Dúnedain made their home, it was still far from warm, and she hurried inside. Instant warmth greeted her. The fire was roaring in the grate, with several figures huddled round it, talking in low voices. A few rangers sat in shadowy corners, as was their custom. Usually, and in any other inn, Rhovaniel would be among them, but this was no ordinary visit to the Guildhall. “A large tea, if you would” she told the barkeep. “I’ve had plenty of ale lately.” “Often the case, this time of year. Even Rangers are not immune to the festivities, it seems.” “Oh, we know how to enjoy the merriment of the season, and still remain true to our aims, in the long term,” she smiled. The barkeep chuckled, and turned to refill the glass of another patron. Something cool in a long, slim glass for them. “Where might I find the Chaplain?” Rhovaniel asked when he’d finished. “In the back room. You heard about the Dandenite Ore?” “That’s why I’m here. I’m here to help get our hype back.” When she entered the back room, tea in hand, it was not just the Chaplain who looked up but many other familiar faces as well. Despite the grim circumstances, she found herself smiling as she greeted old and new friends. Her smile came from fond memories, and it was a few minutes before the Chaplain could call attention back to the task at hand. “Thank you to all who answered the summons. I’m sure others will join us, as and when they can. Long leagues separate us all, but we cannot afford to wait till we are all assembled. Each of you know the peril that we face. We have all weathered a challenge without hype, and most have seen far less success than usual. Not all of that is our own fault. The effect of Dandenite Ore is not to be taken lightly. Without the hype, it’s power will grow. Challenges conducted entirely without hype, battling the effects of Dandenite as well as all the enemy can throw at us…” “It would mean disaster,” Rhovaniel said quietly. “Even far up in the mountains, I have felt its effects. It’s not just this physical building. The Guildhall is part of us, wherever and however far we Rangers go. I think that somehow, whenever we choose the path of the Rangers, we also choose the Guildhall. It has an energy, somehow, and we are all connected to it.” “You’re right!” One of the other rangers chipped in from the corner. “I wasn’t even near the Guildhall last challenge, I was many, many leagues south of here, and still I felt it. My energy, my desire to do anything at all… it just wasn’t there. Only, back then I thought it just a consequence of the season.” Many of the others murmured their assent, but before it could turn into a discussion on everyone’s hypeless experiences, the Chaplain held up a hand and the room fell silent. “This must be the work of the enemy; whoever stole it – or ordered it to be stolen – must know how devastating it would be to the entire corps. We use the Grind when we can, but without the hype… how long can any of us last?” “Which enemy, I wonder?” Rhovaniel murmured softly, almost to herself. “So many have tried to thwart us before.” “We shall soon find out,” another Ranger answered grimly, throwing back her hood to reveal short blond hair and a determined look in her eye. Rhovaniel smiled, remembering an adventure together now some months past. “That we will.”
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