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  1. I've hit some pretty decent life milestones in the past year: I became a father and I finished my Master's in Computer Science. I've been able to get through with the wonderful support of my wife and my therapist and probably a lot of people who had to deal with me at some point. However, spending the last two quarters at school and having an infant has definitely been at the cost of me keeping up with my physical needs: I'd run sporadically, and never very often; I'd stay up late while working on an assignment on top of whatever sleep deprivation I'd been getting with the wee bairn sleeping in the same room. I have seen this toll in the form of irritability and migraines in the past couple weeks. (I've otherwise been lucky in that I haven't noticed any noticeable shifts in body shape or composition.) But for my sake, and the sake of my family, I really need to get back in the saddle. Also, so much also, now that I'm done with learning about computers, I really want to turn my attention towards my test for the rank of Scholar, which has three parts: a skills test (probably in sword, dagger and wrestling), a written exam (images are invoked of a small, dark, damp room illuminated of by a bare lightbulb swinging from the ceiling), and a prize play (three three-minute bouts against three scholars in which I must "hold my own"). And the prospect that this might three months away(!) is now really pressing on me. Also, now that I have student loans looming in the distance (six months of deferral), I need to find a position as a software engineer. I've had bad experience looking for work before and entering a quasi-new industry is spinning my head in circles. On one hand, I've managed to get three phone screens, but on the other, in order to keep up with expenses, my target salary might be too much? What the frell. (If you're in Chicago or Auckland and have positions hit me up.) But I can't really afford a gym membership or more sword equipment until I get a new job, so really this needs to be top priority. So, I know these are ~supposed~ to have the form of three diet/fitness related goals and one life goal, I might have to flip it a bit? Run three times a week. I got to the end of the Zombies Run! 5k training before winter and fatherhood struck last year, and have made some progress in the first season of the main plot and I'd like to step it up a bit. I'm no longer at a 5k without walking shape, but I could prossibly get there soon? By the end of the challenge? S: Get to a continuous run 5k by end of challenge A: 3 per week B: 2 per week C: 1 per week F: Don't run Begin studying for the scholar exam. There's a handout I should read. That might give some form to all this. So, for the first week: read that and reflect to reshape for the rest of the challenge. Initial Step: Chart out skills to work on from character sheet. Apply to jorbs I've set a soft goal of two applications a week, with the failure condition being that I can't go to the two classes at my scuola on Saturdays if I do not meet it. But I should apply to more. Especially since I haven't heard anything from anyone last week. S: 5 per week A: 4 per week B: 3 per week C: 2 per week D: 1 per week F: None BONUS: Land a great paying jorb Re-establish minor self care items. Wrist stretches Meditation Better sleep hygiene Maybe pike practice Any feedback would be great so that I might solidify these things.
  2. Alright. I'm kinda miffed at myself for only half-assing the past two challenges. Fitness: A: Physical Activity 3+ times a week. Pass/Fail. I've got two and a half weeks of summer break before grad school kicks back up again. Though I'll be out of state for a good five days in that period. But for the next week and a half, I can definitely go to all four swords classes. I need to get back into my body weight routine. Once school starts, I'll have class Mondays and Wednesdays, which means I'll be missing out on two of three sword classes, so I will definitely have to stick to the body weight. Also I kinda wanna get into rugby shape because I have become rugby trash/my father but with rugby instead of hockey. P: 60 pull ups a week. Grade scale. Well, I should be getting at least 45 a week from the BWF routine alone. But I really need to get in shape for that ring muscle up that is my goal for the year. That rapier class I took really got in the way there. But this should make me post each day, and keep on the rest. Life: T: At least one big home task a week. Pass/Fail. Hey, I changed the kitchen faucet today; so that's this week ;D Some projects: Finish that cardigan that I was knitting for my wife. Replace the kitchen faucet. Bag and board all the comics TBD D: Get that blasted Django server running. Grade scale for effort (C for concerted effort but no advancement. B for running. A for checked in code) I've been struggling with this OpenWorm project I've been working on for ten days now and while I can get the server to run, I can't seem to get any pages to load. I've got a feeling that the structure of it is off on my computer, so I've put the call for help to the group to see what they have to say.
  3. Snow drifted gently from the heather-gray skies above, settling a blanket of white stillness around the courtyard. The priory was quiet on this early winter morning, the cold keeping everyone in their beds long past the sun's late rise. Kyellan swept the stones clear of the snowfall, though he knew he would be doing the same a mere hour later. The elder brothers could not traverse slick walks, and there was no sense inviting injury when it could so easily be avoided. The world seemed impossibly quiet, with all the animals in hibernation and the birds flown to warmer climes. A gentle chirp startled him out of his near-meditative state. He looked up to see a small, red bird sitting atop the stone wall. He knew its kind well, but the crimson starlings flew south in the late autumn... and yet more, something seemed strange about this one. Its feathers seemed startlingly dark, almost the color of a drop of blood. The bird cocked its head at him, chirped again, and then exploded from the snow atop the wall in a spray of white, and was gone. The world returned to its softened silence. Kyellan shook his head. Perhaps the bird had merely been lost, or left behind by its fellows. A sad state, indeed, but he knew naught of the affairs of birds. With the stones at last cleared, Kyellan set aside his brush, shook his gray cloak and gloves clean of the snowfall, and returned to the eastern common hall. A cheery fire now burned in the hearth, spreading its welcome warmth throughout the stone walls. Kyellan gratefully shed his snowy cold-weather gear and took a chair beside the fire, rubbing his chilled hands. His right still ached faintly from that training accident two months ago, but every day the hurt grew fainter, and his grip stronger. "Good morning, Ky," said a voice, which warmed him almost as much as the fire itself. He turned and smiled at Athe, his blood-sworn sister. They had taken the oath of service to the Sentinels together, and though the ceremony had been the first time they met, a bond of friendship like Kyellan had never felt before had been forged between them through trial, hardship, and learning. "And good morning to you, lazybones," Kyellan grinned. "I see you've taken to rising with the bears, rather than the sun." She rolled her eyes and pulled up her own chair to the fire. Her auburn hair glistened in the flickering light from the hearth, and glared at him briefly from beneath her eyelashes. "You always take the best spot in the morning." "And if you'd get up earlier, you wouldn't have this problem." "If even the Knight Commander sleeps in on a morning like this, you can hardly blame me for doing the same. Don't worry; after the morning meal, I'll be in plenty of shape to beat you all around the training yard." Their shared laughter was interrupted by a throat-clearing from the doorway. Kyellan looked up to see the weathered face of Marcthelion Irontree, Knight Lieutenant, and the man in charge of their training. They immediately sobered, and rose to attention. "The Knight Commander summons all Sentinels and Companions to the Great Hall. Immediately. A message has arrived from the capital." Irontree's deep voice was grave. ---------------------------------------- Okay, so I gave this a fair amount of thought. I've decided that I've kind of played out the Star Wars theme over 2015, and despite the fact that I still go to lightsaber class every week, I think it's time to give the Jedi thing a rest. So, since I also make some kind of claim to being an author, I've decided to go with something original this time. We'll see how it goes. Like the running challenge I did last summer, I'm going to add a bit to this story with each update post I make throughout the month. This is all-new... I'm making this up as I go along, folks, so bear with me. You're seeing the writing process here--first draft, little editing, and no outline. Let's see what happens. Anyway, on with the challenge goals! This new 4-week thing is interesting, so we'll keep it light this first time out. Goal 1: Track calories every day. I've been making great progress on my weight loss since I picked MyFitnessPal back up a few months ago, and I'm starting this challenge somewhere between 210 and 215. (I'll get an exact number tomorrow.) That means I'm down somewhere between 20 and 25 lbs from where I was in the summer. Don't change a system that works--I'm actually getting toward fighting shape, and I want it! The holidays are over, and I'm once again in full control of my food. On the bright side, I only had a couple of tough days throughout the holiday season, so I actually kept making progress instead of being set back. Goal 2: Run 5k once a week. In preparation for the June Tough Mudder in Vermont (which I'll be running with Oramac, and anyone else who wants to join us! ) I've been running once a week with my buddy. He pushed me through a 5k training route back in mid-December, and since then we've also run a 4-mile loop and a different 5k trainer. It's been great! My first 5k time was 44:59, and last time it was 38:11, which I'm pretty happy about. Goal 3: Injury Recovery via Sword Training. I'm still working off the hand injury I got back in November, but it's getting better. I'm gently trying to work my grip back into shape via my lightsaber and my longsword. This is a careful and tricky process, but it's very important. Level Up Your Life: Track every expense for the month in YNAB, and reconcile it all at the end of the month. The wife and I have been working with YNAB through December to great success, and I want it to continue. We've already worked ourselves from being pretty far behind to being back on track, and I want 2016 to be a carefully managed year, money-wise. We've got our Germany trip coming up in September, and I want to figure out just what my salary can do when it's put to real priorities instead of disappearing into the ether. ------------------------------ That's what I've got. Looking forward to seeing everybody else's challenges as we roll into 2016!
  4. Live for the Kill He catched up with them at midnight at a small farmstead near the mountains. It was too late for farmers to be awake but yet the light of the fireplace and a few oil-lamps shone clearly through the cloth –covered windows.†It’s gotta be themâ€. As he closed in, the wind carried the sound of drunken singing voices along with the smell of roasted pork. He grabbed his axe and shield and took a deep breath to calm his thoughts. “I will not turn this time. I shall strike with vengeance- man to man- and make them look into my eyes as they die†he told himself. Indeed, despite of being able to control his beasty side, he felt the need to deliver justice in a more refined way. Tonight it would be steel what torn his enemies apart, not claws. It’s only four of them. Four drunken bastards will not prove a challenge to the wolf-warrior. He walked through the door as if there weren’t four werewolf-hunters inside. -“I’ve been after your trail for a couple hours. For a group of hunters you are not very good at covering your tracks†he told the men- -“Who in the hell are you? Start talking before I slit ye’ throat!†one of them said -“It does not matter who I am. What matters is what I’m after: I seek the scum that ambushed my brothers on the fort south of here!†-“He’s a wolf! End him!†shouted the nearest hunter as he took a swing at the Ulfhedinn with his sword. The warrior dodged the blow and struck the man’s face with his shield, shattering the bones and sending him dead to the ground. He threw his axe at the next man’s chest, where it sunk deep. The third man was dispatched with haste as he clinched to the shield of the Ulfhedinn who then pushed the hunter along with the shield into the wall, cracking the hunter’s skull against the naked stone. The wolf warrior turned around to face the last foe. Surprisingly enough, both were unarmed. It all came down to fisticuffs: As they punched and kicked each other they eventually fell to the ground and wrestled until the wolf-warrior managed to climb on top of the hunter and pounded him with his fists. Each fist was a sledgehammer of anger, hatred and grief landing on the murderer’s face. He kept on striking after his hands began to bleed and well after his foe’s heart stopped beating. There, covered in the blood of his enemies, the werewolf understood that even if he killed the murderers who slaughtered his companions and brothers; justice was far from served. More and more of this werewolf-hunter bands were forming across the kingdom to chase and kill brotherhoods of wolf-warriors. He saw it clear then; stripped of everything he had, his family, his brothers. His life’s mission would be only one: cleansing the land of such murderers. From now on… he lives for the kill. Technical aspects In order to defeat 4 enemies without turning into a bloodthirsty beast, the Ulfhedinn has to be proficient in the art of combat both armed and unarmed. this challenge will be oriented towards martial prowess. S.M.A.R.T goals Not miss a single weapons-training within my reenactment group. Practice once a week with the punching bag and establish a “punching bag day†habit. Of course this should be accomplished along with my usual strength training 2 times a week and swimming 3 times a week At the present time, I'm really working towards getting in combat shape(or in overall shape for that matter)so I can prove myself on the arena and bring honor to my group. Besides the actual combat training, my mentor-in-combat-affairs Mario is helping me develop a "warrior psyche"; a state of constant defiance and fearlessness towards the adversary and towards life in general. This should prove usefull not only on the arena but in my journey to find my better self. I'll be going on a vacation next week but I've worked out in a hotel room before. The swimming part is not a problem: I may not have a pool at my disposal but I'll have an ocean to suit my needs. I'll be returning right on time for some punching bag sparring and some waepons training the day after. You could say I've got it all sorted out... providing I dont slack, give in to beer and pizza and ruin it all. So, wish me luck fellas, let's get this started!
  5. Immortal words of a Ninjutsu instructor, some years ago: <brandishing a pair of Sai> "Right! Anyone who thinks they're Raphael from the Ninja Turtles can just ***k off!" My Karate Sensei likes to include some kobudo in the class. Specifically we have been working on a couple of Bo katas and he is keen to have us learn at least one Sai kata (once more of us have our own Sai). The other day I saw the trailer for the upcoming Michael Bay TMNT reboot and that got me thinking... I've always liked swords. Now I'm learning some Bo katas and have the opportunity to learn Sai katas... all that's missing is the Nunchucks and I've got the whole TMNT gang! So why not go for it? TMNT originally appeared when I was a kid so it's of my generation. I've nothing to loose by learning some (more) Sai, Nunchaku, Sword and Bo techniques/katas! Furthermore, why not make it a TMNT themed challenge? Well, I don't do Ninjutsu these days but I do often wear a bandanna with lizards or newt shapes on it (I don't know why so don't ask) so Karate Newt might be more appropriate than Ninja Turtle. (I'm also very much NOT a teenager ) Fitness: April: Attend gym for some kind of strength training at least twice a week. May: Some kind of strength training at least twice a week. Probably bodyweight & kettlebells. Probably in my garden. Cardio: Walking, sprinting, swimming, cycling... anything - just Move! Str +1, Sta +1, Dex +1 Con +1 Karate: Keep attending weekly lessons. Keep practising the basics - stances, strikes, blocks, kicks. Do my grading. Dex +1, Wis +1, Cha +1 Unarmed Kata: Keep practising Fukyugata Ichi and Ni. Keep practising Pinan Shodan through Yondan. Learn Pinan Godan. Learn first three "two person katas" (can't remember what they're called): Kumite Katas Sta +1, Dex +1, Wis +1 Weapons: Keep practising Bo Shodan. Finish learning Bo Nidan. Learn one Sai Kata. Buy or make some Nunchuks and then learn one Nunchaku Kata. Find or develop a simple sword kata. Learn it. Str +1, Dex +1, Wis +1 Bonus: Get my own pair of Sai. Attend the Friday class (further away - more costly to get to) Wis +1, +1 Cha.
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