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  1. It’s been long enough. Now it’s time for all-out war! Same old same old, but different. Still need to think about the “howâ€, though.
  2. so challenge much late very continue wow I shall leave the spamming with Doge pics to those who are better at it than I am.
  3. See the full challenge description for details. This is the abridged version. I feel like I've been going in circles for these past challenges. Nothing sticks for longer than a challenge or two. That's not a good reason to give up. And there are good reasons to continue. But it's a good reason to re-examine my strategy. But that is not a good reason to take a break. So I'm doing a "normal" challenge of sorts, but the actual task is to spend this time thinking about how to not go wrong again. Goals (as a homage to The Legend of Zelda, because Triforce, and I approve of trying force): Power: do Convict Conditioning exercises daily. Includes low-intensity, "off-day" exercises. Details to be posted later. Wisdom: rest enough, at the right time. Because sleep is an important part of health. Courage: apply for a job (as a Ph.D. student). Because selling oneself is scary. But necessary. Yes, if you read any of my previous challenges, then you've seen this before, in one way or another. That's the point. This isn't supposed to be novel, this is supposed to build a foundation. One that outlasts more than just a couple of challenges. Comments requested. Thanks for visiting.
  4. Since I love getting a great start at the beginning of a challenge run, I'm going to do the best possible thing I can do to make the first week a week of a resounding success: go to a martial arts bootcamp at a beach site and relinquish control over my timetable to two crazy trainers who enjoy making us do push-ups in the water (in full gear of course) just a tad bit too much.[1] Oh, and what better place to write a PhD application to, well, anywhere-not-here than by putting us in straw huts with no electricity or paper whatsoever? Doesn't that sound great? … Okay, so now you know where my first week is going, let's talk about week four: the 50-year celebration of our martial arts branch in Germany and Europe, and we're hosting the event. Some 600+ people are expected to come. It's gonna get crazy. Not just that week, but also the weeks before, as everyone from our school slowly loses sanity and gives in to paranoia. Oh, and did I mention that the other Singapore application is due by end of June, right around the 50-year celebration above? … So yeah, by the looks of it, this challenge too is dominated by the "important and urgent"… and not the "important but not urgent", which is where I'm trying to get to. So, taking into account that I don't (realistically) have a lot of say in what I'll be doing, I'll be working on the small things which I can choose to do, in between everything else. In detail: Challenge Goals Burpees, burpees, burpees. To misquote a case study from Made To Stick: “Why are challenges successful? It's because of three things: Burpees, burpees, and burpees.â€[2] Therefore, I pledge to do (number of week) × 5 burpees per day, minimum. Convict Conditioning. I've been on and off CC for the whole of my NF career. If there is one major downside to this program,[3] I'd say that it is intimidating to restart if you've slacked on it for some time. (At least for me that's the case.) Therefore, I pledge to do round_up((number of week) ÷ 2) sets of at least one repetition of a CC exercise, one CC exercise per day. Both of these goals aren't exercise goals in the common sense, they're willpower goals. They're supposed to get me used to exercising regularly again. Therefore, while there is a steady increase in load (# of burpees/sets), right now I don't care about e.g. having at least 8 reps per set or so. Just that I show up and do the work, no matter how shitty it is. Side Quest Benjamin Franklin's 13 virtues. In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin outlines 13 virtues he practiced to achieve moral perfection. I pledge to practice the 13 virtues according to Franklin's system (with modifications to virtue #12, chastity, because it's based on religion and IMO thus outdated) over the next 13 weeks. Each week, I will focus on exhibiting that week's virtue, as well as all preceding weeks' virtues, taking note of where I have failed to do so. This means that for this challenge, I will be practicing the first six virtues: temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality and industry. And yes, there is a steady increase in load here as well. Book 7/Conclusion Of Book 6 …will come sometime next week if I find internet access, and at the beginning of week two otherwise. 1I swear I'm not making this up and I'm not exaggerating. They really love making us do this sort of stuff. 2The actual case study is about a local newspaper with above-average readership. Original: “… asked why the [local newspaper] Daily Record has been successful, [founder] Adams replies, ‘It's because of three things: Names, names, and names.’†(Chip Heath and Dan Heath. Made To Stick. p. 42) 3I hear that not everyone is happy with CC's progression system, its steps and conditions for advancing. But I don't feel knowledgable enough in calisthenics to pass (useful) judgement here.
  5. Book 6 – Prologue (Previous act) After a few minutes of noise, the siren died down suddenly. From afar, I could hear footsteps approaching us. It was probably the guard team they had called for just now. I gulped. We were both underequipped and outnumbered. Things would be getting ugly any minute now. It was just me, Emma and the guard team now. “Sweetcheeks.†“Yes, Emma?†“You ready for this?†“I hope.†“You… hope?†“It’s better than nothing, right?†“True.†A second of pause. “Sweetcheeks.†“Yes, Emma?†“You know, the real fun begins once we’re out of this mess. But first, let’s focus on the mess.†“Wait… what? What do you mean, ‘real fun?’†“Your ninja training.†“Ninja training? That stuff again?†“Yup. Only this time, it’s for real.†“What that supposed to mean? Are you saying all the pain I went through so far has been for nothing?†“No, it hasn’t. That was your entrance exam, remember?†“You’re kidding me.†“Totally not. Oh, and also, congratulations on passing that exam!†Emma gave me a big hug. Or rather, a squeeze. A tight squeeze. “Th—thanks.â€, I replied, deflated. “You’re welcome, sweetcheeks. From now on, the fun will only increase, now that you’re a probationary ninja.†“You’re… you’re making me a probie?†“Yep.†“Oh boy…†“Tee hee, I’m glad you’re happy too.†“That’s not…†“Well, as I said, the fun will really begin once we’re out of this mess. So let’s do that first. Here they come!†*sigh* “Aye-aye, Coach.†Challenge goals For the first week: survive, with no lasting damages. I’m on a business trip. Or whatever you’d call “get your butt kicked by a grandmaster for 9 days straight, until it’s the shape of his footâ€. For the following weeks: track everything, intensify and socialize. Track everything. Write the following into my journal every day, so I have a clear view of how I spend my time:strength training (Am/ToD)[1]martial arts (Am/ToD)wake-up timePhD application work (Am/ToD)(computer) programming (Am/ToD)TV/video games/YouTube/etc. (Am/ToD)Progress on goals #2 and 3 below.Intensify. Do the above-mentioned things (except items #6 and 7) in higher intensity. This means more reps/whatevers, or more frequent sessions, or earlier time of day, or more proactive work. Yes/no mark, on a daily basis, per item.Socialize. Comment intelligently on a single person’s thread from my accountability group, and on a single person’s thread not in my group, preferably Monks and Assassins. Optionally strike a 2min+ small talk-ish conversation with A Real Human™… you know, like, face to face, and stuff. Yes/no mark, on a daily basis. “Overachiever†mark for also managing the optional.Rationale (Not for the first week… The rationale for the first week is “they promised me cookiesâ€.) The big theme here is “step up my game.†I already do things #1—5, just mostly haphazardly. So now, I’m adding intention and difficulty. As for the “socialize†goal: I’d describe myself as “cyclically socialâ€, meaning that I have phases where I am very sociable and phases where I’m socially distant and shut off.[2] For my own taste, I’ve spent too much time in a former phase. I’d like to return to the latter. So then. Let’s get dangerous! 1amount/time of day 2Interestingly, the latter phases tend to happen when I’m involved in video game sprees, or Bachelor/Master theses. Coincidence…?
  6. To those who are following the storyline from my last challenge: Beware. Of. Major. Spoilers. Seriously, this whole challenge intro is a major spoiler for the storyline I have yet to conclude in the other challenge. You have been warned. TL;DR: Challenge goals Do everything from last time. sleep at 12amwake by 9am and get readydo "Convict Conditioning" bodyweight strength training Only this time, actually do it.Reward for doing it: uh… happy dance? Punishment for slacking: something awful, to be decided on. Probably push-ups. 25 burpees per session missed. I blame llw and Kishi. Take cold(er) showers. 'Cause damn, I'm being beaten by a 16-year old girl who isn't even actively trying to beat me. I will not go without a fight!Reward: happy dance…? Punishment: probably push-ups. 25 burpees per day missed. Record your progress in your journal. While much of my journey is documented here, more or less, I've severely neglected my own journal in the meantime.Reward: happy dance…? Punishment: probably more push-ups. 25 burpees per day missed. Why so much punishment? Why not embrace the positive side of life? Because this makes the stakes oh so much higher.
  7. In continuation of the last challenge thread. See also how it began. TL;DR version at the bottom. Book 4 – Prologue "Enjoy your stay.", the jailer said as he locked the door behind me. And, as he walked away, he added "Hehe… this never gets old." I looked around. Everything in here just screamed "prison cell". Grey walls, a bunk, a basin and a toilet, all of which looked like they hadn't been cleaned in years. Yep, this definitely was a prison cell if anything. Which really was quite fine… …except that I wasn't supposed to be in prison, I was supposed to be in an asylum! And heck, I wasn't even really supposed to be there either! Why the hell was I here?! What had I done wrong?! "Hmmmmm…", I heard a voice grumble. Feeling quite uneasy about what I just heard, I turned to the cell to my left, where I had heard the voice from. A gruff-looking guy with scars along his face and pretty dirty teeth was smiling at me. But not in the good way. " "Oh crap. I backed off from the wall as far as I could. "Here, boy! Here, boy!" Suddenly… "Aaagh!", the guy screamed, clutching his neck. "What the— ugh." And then he collapsed. "Just in time, eh?", a voice from behind me said. I turned to the back wall and saw Emma smiling at me through the cell window bars. "Emma! What are you doing here?" "Tracking you down, sweetcheeks. And I should be the one asking. How did you end up in the Rangus Asylum?" "Beats me. They just said something about me not having my sanity, then they dumped me here without telling me what they meant or letting me say anything to my defense." "Oh. Yeah, the Rangus Asylum is known to do that." "Really?" "They check others for signs of lunacy, and if they find any, then they lock you up. Simple. Thing is, the 'signs' they use aren't really signs of lunacy at all… If anything, they are the lunatics here. But since they have weapons, and they look like legitimate guards, they use their power to lock up whomever they can get a hold of… before the others know who they're dealing with." "Ugh, great. So you're saying they're a bunch of criminals appearing to be law enforcement?" "Pretty much, yeah." "So I didn't do anything wrong?" "Nope." "Then I gotta get out of here." "No kidding. Not at least because of the neighbors you have here." "Say, what did you do to him anyway? Is he dead?" "Oh, no, just unconscious. A fast-acting toxin, but ultimately non-lethal. …well, I can't guarantee it in an environment full of dangerous people like this one, but normally it just knocks you out for about a day or two." "But how did you administer the toxin? I didn't see anything." "A very thin needle, and my trusty blowpipe." "A blowpipe?" "I never leave home without it. You don't have one, sweetcheeks?" "Of course not. I'm not a ninja." "You mean: not yet." "Yeah, well, if I ever want to live long enough to even start my ninja training, I first gotta get out of here." "Oh sweetcheeks…", Emma grinned at me. "Ever so young and naïve…" "What's that supposed to mean?", I asked. "Your ninja training began the instant you entered this cell." "Wait, what?!" "Listen up, student! Your next task as a ninja trainee… is to escape from the Rangus Asylum. You have six weeks." "Whaaaaaaaaat?! Emma, this is serious! Now's not the time to make a game out of this." "Au contraire, monsieur. This is precisely the time to make a game out of it. Because the last thing we need is you freezing up in fear of not managing to escape, and ultimately failing to escape because of that fear. Or worse, get yourself killed that way." "But I—" "No buts." "But how—" "You'll have to figure that out by yourself." "Wait, does that mean you're not helping me?" "Yes and no. Yes, I'm helping you escape, but no, I'm not going to actively step in until you screw up big time. I'll be playing your safety net, so to speak. But you'll have to do all the work yourself." "Why…?" "Because I'm sure you got into this mess by yourself. Knowing you, you didn't even try to disarm the guards when they started being rough with you. You gotta stop thinking that ultimately nobody wants to hurt you, because there are a bunch of people out there who actually do." "…" "You know, you should be happy. This is real hands-on ninja training. I've been locked up many times now, and I've had to escape by myself each time too. This is the real-deal. It doesn't get any more applied than this." "Emma, you're gonna get me killed!" "I told you, sweetcheeks, I'll step in before anyone gets a chance to do that." "Ugh. You can't be serious." "I am." "*sigh* I realize. But I'm still hoping this all turns out to be a bad dream." "Well, I hope you come to terms with reality soon, sweetcheeks. It's coming close to lights out time. And in an asylum, lights out means lights out. No ifs, whens or buts. At least you'll be getting some decent sleep… once you're good enough at shutting out the screams." "D:" "Same thing for waking up. Lights on is lights on. There's no 'please just five more minutes' thing." "D:" "Oh, and since you have lots of free time, and quite a bit of space, I expect you to continue your strength training. You'll probably need it to survive here." "D:" "Well then, that's all the guidance I can give you for now. Except maybe one more tip: the guards have no freaking clue who's locked up where. If you need to go undetected for a while, just enter the nearest empty cell. Or even a shared cell, if you're sure your cellmates won't tell on you." "Emma, this isn't 'Assassin's Creed'." "No, but it's close enough to it. You'll be missing out on Eagle Vision, but that's just about it." "…" "Right. The patrol is coming around in a few minutes, so I'm off. And don't worry too much, sweetcheeks. I'm not bailing you out of here precisely because you gotta learn to swim by yourself. And because I know that you don't really need me to help you here." "Oh. Uh, thanks." "Anytime, sweetcheeks. Now, go show them what it means to be a Monk of the Rebellion! And my student!" "Yes, ma'am!" Emma got up and stepped away, but turned back one more time. "Oh, and when you're out, I expect you to do 30 push-ups for not calling me 'coach' three times. Got it?" Oh, what the— ugh. "Aye-aye, Coach!" End of prologue Author's comments: The usual "yada yada yada" about creative freedom and such. And I've never been to an asylum or a prison before… at least not outside of video games and TV shows. TL;DR: challenge goals Baseline goals Go to bed by 12am midnight. No ifs, whens or buts. Lights out means lights out.Wake up by 9am and get ready straight away. That means brushing teeth, taking shower, shaving and having breakfast. If I genuinely oversleep despite going to bed by 12am, no matter… provided I still get ready straight away.Do bodyweight strength training (the Convict Conditioning workout programs) 3 times a week. Usually on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.Additional optional challenges Low- or medium-intensity workout on rest days. Stretching, martial arts form practice, Tai Chi… whatever I can think of. The point is to get into the habit of doing exercise every day, not necessarily to progress in those exercises.Write one blawg post per week. What kind of blawg only has one post? A dead blawg. Who wants to own a dead blawg? No one.Keep my backlog below five days. Post progress updates here more regularly, instead of two weeks worth of updates in a single post. Hopefully this will free up time to read (and comment on) other people's threads too.Post an act of book 4 at least once every two weeks. Need to keep the story going. But my blawg needs more of my attention, so I'm not committing to anything more than this.Motivation I'm tired of running (what should be) the minutiae of my life on auto-pilot before having taught my auto-pilot how to fly. Why the "escapes from the asylum" theme? My last challenge (“Multiplexingâ€) failed, and I lost my timetable during that challenge. By losing my timetable, I lost my sanity. In my last mini-challenge (“redeeming my sanityâ€), I didn't regain my sanity. So I don't have my sanity anymore. I thus conclude that I am by definition insane. And that's how I ended up in the asylum. Also, I'm breaking out because I don't like it here. It's the color, ya know?
  8. In which M, a.k.a. the 13th letter, puts the disappointments of the predecing challenge #3 (the “pastâ€) behind himself and strives to re-reach the state of sanity he experienced during the better days of challenges #1 and #2 (the “golden daysâ€). Specifically, while the past went markedly different than the golden days, there is one striking difference between them: I actually had a semblance of a timetable. I was a student during the golden days, and just before the past, I transitioned to unemployed, obliterating whatever shards of a timetable I had left. And now, without any structure or rhythm to my days, every task turns into a "eh, maybe I'll do it now… or later… or tomorrow". We both know this doesn't truly work, like, ever. So, for this mini-challenge, I vow to adhere to a timetable, and through this timetable I hope to regain my rhythm, and through this rhythm I hope to regain my sanity. Specifically, here are the cornerstones of my timetable: Go to bed by 12am (midnight). I regularly stay awake beyond that, mostly for frivolous reasons. Be ready for the day by 11am. "Being ready" means showered, shaved, dressed and fed. And though I'm actually setting an alarm for 9am, I expect it to take a while for me to get used to not oversleeping anymore. I will award myself 1 point per full hour before 11am that I am ready. Stick to whatever tasks from “the past†I plan to do today. I'm continuing the work, though at a lower frequency. And here are the rewards: If I successfully stick to my timetable for all 13 days (Dec 24th through Jan 5th), I shall mark my challenge #3 as successful. If I additionally collect 13 points from being ready early, then I'll treat myself, somehow. I haven't decided yet on what. Well then, now that everything's settled, there's only one thing left to do: Let's get dangerous!
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