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The Arruvia Conspiracy - Downshifting


WhiteGhost

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Previously on The Arruvia Conspiracy

 

Intro Cut-Scene: Shadows and Voices

Spoiler

 

    In the shadows of the narrow alley, a hooded figure moves silently forward along the wall trying to get a better view of the street.  The street is deserted except for two men standing beneath a dimly lit LED billboard, advertising a luxury sedan.  WhiteGhost’s eyes linger on the advertisement for only a moment before shifting his focus to the two men in the street. 

    “Man, it would be nice to move around the city in that instead of creeping through shadows all the time,” he thinks to himself before shaking his head to clear his thoughts. 

    At 3 o’clock in the morning on a Tuesday in Aldenton it would not be uncommon for a drunk office worker to be dragging himself home from a “client meeting” or perhaps a group of students from ACC, the local community college, to be finishing off a round of bar hopping.  These two, however, are as out of place in this low income neighborhood as orcs in Rivendell.  One of them is short and fat, with a receding hairline and deep grating voice, the other is tall and muscular with a nasal, rasping voice. 

    “I wouldn’t want to run into that guy in a dark alley,” WhiteGhost thinks to himself, chuckling inwardly about the irony of the idea.  Both men are dressed to the nines, the shorter man in a dark blue Italian double breasted pinstripe suit and highly polished black wingtips, and the other in an off-white bespoke seersucker suit and brown leather cap-toe derbys.  “Strange things are afoot at the Circle-K,” WhiteGhost thinks as he inches closer to try and catch their conversation. 

    “The BVI SPV could funnel mez cap through the Cayman holdco, it wouldn’t even hit the listco,” the nasely voice says in hushed tones.  Even in the dim light of the LED billboard, Whiteghost can see the shorter man roll his eyes. 

    “We’ve been over this! You have the routing info, I’ll message you when they execute the SPA.  Now let’s get out of here before someone sees us.  Who knows what kind of lowlifes might be lurking in a stinking dump of a neighborhood like this.  Both men instinctively look around, but WhiteGhost is well concealed in the shadows.  

    “I have no idea what all that means, but sounds like these jokers are up to no good,” WhiteGhost thinks as he slowly creeps deeper into the shadows.  “I better get out of here too and go find Blinky, if anyone would know what this is about, it’s him.”

    Suddenly the LED billboard changed to show a flashing bottle of a new diet soda that had just been launched.  The light from the LED screen dissipates the shadows and both men are suddenly aware of the figure crouching at the mouth of the now fully lit alleyway.

    “Mishmash ‘n’ meatballs,” Whiteghost curses under his breath as he races back into the alley with the bruiser hot on his heels.  Unfortunately, this alley is a dead end so getting away from this guy is going to be a bit of a climb.

 

 

 

 

Level 2: A Blinky Mess

Spoiler

 

      WhiteGhost reaches the end of the wall and takes a bounding leap off of the back wall, tic-tacing over to a window ledge and pulls himself up. Afraid that looking over his should to check his pursuer will take precious seconds, he focuses on shimmying up a rain gutter until he reaches the edge of the roof.  Only once he has pulled himself over does he risk taking a look to see how things are going.  To his delight, the big man is still on the ground of the alley, trying in vain to grab the fire escape ladder.

      WhiteGhost breathes a sigh of relief

      “Well, that wasn’t so bad, but I am going to need to be more careful so I don’t get recognized.  It will be a lot harder to find Blinky if I have people looking for me” he thinks to himself as he sets off at a brisk run across the rooftops.

 

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      Blinky lives in a nondescript 3rd floor apartment in Indian Flats, a middle income neighborhood on the West side of town.  He started out as a CIA forensic accountant many years ago working in the organized crime unit, but he traded sides and went to work as a financier for a mob boss who made him an offer he apparently couldn’t refuse.  A couple of years ago he got caught embezzling his boss' cash and as punishment got his eyelids cut off, hence the nickname.  He now works as a freelance financial advisor, supplying his services to white hats, black hats and anyone else with a lot of cash and something to hide. 

      When WhiteGhost gets to Blinky’s place he finds the front door hanging from just the top hinge, twisting slightly with every gust of wind. 

      “I guess I’m not the only one who needs a word with old Blinky,” WhiteGhost mutters under his breath and he slips silently through the broken doorway.  Inside, Blinky’s place has been completely ransacked.  Drawers have been pulled out and dumped on the floor, his bed has been flipped and the bedsheets are strewn wildly around the bedroom.  His bookshelves have been pulled down and the floor of the living room is a sea of books.  

      WhiteGhost takes a look at the computer desk and smiles to himself.  The guys that did this clearly were not professionals, just some low level thugs who didn’t understand Blinky’s world.  The computer keyboard has been smashed to pieces and there is a hunting knife sticking through what remains of it, pinning it to the desk.  The monitor has been knocked to the floor with a fist sized hole through it.  However, the tower under the desk is untouched and apparently still on, the cooling fan creating a dull hum in the background.  Empty diet cola bottles litter the floor and a half eaten burrito is mashed under a tipped over chair.  Apparently Blinky was interrupted unexpectedly.

      WhiteGhost hooks up his tablet to the computer through an HDMI adapter and discovers a TOR browser open, with TrueCrypt and Bleachbit running in the background.  If Blinky didn’t have time to close these, he must have really been in a rush to get out.  The TOR browser is open to a Lelantos email account, but most of the emails don’t make any sense.  It seems Blinky was encrypting his messages manually before entering them into the encrypted system.  Given the types of people he deals with, he couldn’t afford to mess around.  The last email received, though, was not encrypted.  Opening it up, WhiteGhosts finds a Darknote XDN blockchain showing transfers of large sums of bitcoin to accounts in varying countries with Switzerland, Russia, South Africa, China, India and Mongolia coming up the most.  The email sender is merely identified by a single letter: H.

      “No time to worry about that now,” WhiteGhost thinks to himself. “I need to find Blinky and get to the bottom of this.”  He reaches down to unplug his HDMI cable, and decides to pull out the hard drive for later.  As he pulls it out, he notices a yellow sticky note stuck to the inside of the computer tower.  He pulls it off and finds “WG38.2946071.-80.3132366” scrawled in pencil.

 

 

 

Level 3 - A Little Help

Spoiler

 

      Smack!  A red hand print shows clearly on WhiteGhost’s cheek where he has been slapping himself every few minutes to keep himself awake.  Looking down at the computer screen dejectedly, WhiteGhost lets out a long sigh.  I got nothin’ 

      WhiteGhost has been wracking his brain for the last three days trying to figure out what the message from Blinky could possibly mean.  He has run every decryption program he could think of but nothing was working.  He had spent hours combing through the recovered hard drive for decryption codes or any hint of what encryption methods Blinky preferred but every lead was a dead end.  WhiteGhost had even considered asking an anonymous hacker group such as the Shadow Brokers for help, but without knowing who was involved he just couldn’t risk it.

     The sun broke through a crack in the curtains, and WhiteGhost let out a curse in frustration. “This is beyond me.  I’m gonna need some help…

 

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      It didn't take long for WhiteGhost to figure out where to go. He had heard of Hazard, the godfather of the local Assassin organization, but had never really interacted with him.  He asked around and was able to arrange a meeting.  

      "What can I do for you, kid?" Hazard asked.  His tone was neutral but through the look in his eyes and the steel in his voice WhiteGhost knew this was a man with a background.  Swallowing nervously, Whitghost handed Hazard the scrap of paper he had recovered from the inside of Blinky's computer tower.  "I think this is some kind of code, but I have run all of the decryption programs I know but have come up empty every time.  Does this look like a code you are familiar with"?

      Hazard took a long look at the characters written on the note.  WG38.2946071.-80.3132366”  He closed his eyes, leaned back and was put his arms behind his head as he thought.  Suddenly, Hazard opened his eyes, stood up and strode over to a bookshelf and started scanning the titles, searching for something specific.   Looking over his shoulder as he searches, Hazard looks directly at WhiteGhost "I assume this note was written specifically for you? The WG at the beginning can be ignored as it simply sates who the note is for.  The rest..." Hazard pulls a large atlas off the shelf and start flipping through pages until he finds what he is looking for.

      "The rest is merely latitude and longitude coordinates.  What you are looking for is here" he says as he stabs his finger into a map. "Looks like you are going to be making a trip to West Virginia.  Middle of nowhere, it seems.  About as far off the the grid as you can get...

 

 

 

 

 

Level 4 - Off the Grid

Spoiler

 

      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.

 

 

 

 

Level 5 - Dead End

Spoiler

 

      After many hours of combing through the voluminous data in the software, WhiteGhost is able to track down all of the transactions.  At first, it seems these companies are all being bought by seemingly independent private companies, but it doesn’t take much digging to tell that they are all just shell companies. 

      “Interesting, but not very helpful,” WhiteGhost mutters to himself. 

      Without any other leads to go from, WhiteGhost spends the next few weeks trying to dig up the shareholders of the acquiring companies by poring through government filings, drilling up through complex offshore holding structures in various tax havens and ultimately coming to numerous anonymous individuals holding proxy stakes through a number of Swiss accounts. 

      “This is a dead end,” grumbles WhiteGhost.  “Even if I could hack into each of those accounts and find out the identity of each holder, I don’t have the time or the resources to track them all down.”   

      Waiting until after dark to avoid unwanted attention, WhiteGhost head back out for another visit with Blinky.  Once he is back inside in Blinky’s cabin, Blinky yanks closed all of the curtains and plugs in an audio jammer.

      “I don’t think anyone knows I’m here, but we can’t take any chances” Blinky says as he sinks into a chair next to a table covered with a stack of binders and few empty soda cans.  “What do you have?”

      Pacing back and forth, WhiteGhost explains to Blinky about the shell companies and proxy shareholders, continuously watching Blinky, looking for any sign of hope.

      “Well,” starts Blinky “It isn’t impossible to track down these individuals, but there’s no guarantee those people are even real.

WhiteGhost slumps into an empty chair dejectedly.  So that’s it?

      “Well, I think we have gotten all of the information we can with our current information,” Says Blinky slowly. “We need to go out and get some new leads.

WhiteGhost stares at Blinky uncomprehendingly as he mutters angrily “What do you think I’ve been doing for the last 3 weeks?

      “Go back to the beginning, of course!” exclaims Blinky.  Those fellows you saw in Aldenton probably know what’s going on.  Mr. Demerara, The Partner from Pentadin, will probably know more about the shareholders because I suspect he structured those accounts himself.  I have a feeling, though, that the other guy may be more likely to provide useful information. 

Why’s that?” WhiteGhost asks, his curiosity peaked.

      “Think back to the initial conversation you overheard,” continues Blinky “Demerara was being very guarded about what he said and was doing everything he could to keep the other guy quiet, remember?” Blinky grinned slyly “I imagine it wouldn’t take too much persuasion to get the big fellow going.

      “Brilliant idea!” exclaims WhiteGhost. “I just need to track that guy down, and I have a few ideas where he might be…

 

 

 

 

Level 6 - Q&A

Spoiler

 

     Back in Aldenton, Whiteghost was putting together a plan to track down Muscles, they tall guy in the seersucker suit he first saw meeting with Demerara, the big wig deal broker from Pentadin. 

     “If I were a stacked & jacked white collar criminal with impeccable fashion sense where would I be hanging out” whiteGhost mumbled to himself as he was scanning ‘Like a Local’ for possible places the guy might be.  I’m guessing he’s not going to be at any book clubs or poetry slams…  Let’s see… Maybe I could check the Crossfit Box

     “Yeah, I bet this guy is one of those crossfitters – the perfect place for vain fitness nuts” he thought to himself absently as he continued scrolling

     “Hold on, this is it” WhiteGhost blurted out, then looked around to see if anyone noticed.  He was sitting at a bus stop bench as he scrolled through the app, keeping one eye on his phone and one eye on the busy street ahead of him.

     After making sure no one was watching him he looked back down at his phone, and the announcement lighting up his screen. 

 

     WhiteGhost grunted quietly as he struggled to fit into the jacket he just happened to find lying around in a locked closet in the staff changing room in the hotel basement.  It hadn’t taken long to pick the lock, but it would have been even faster if it had been a key padlock. Combination locks were never his strong suite. 

     Looking down at the nametag a smile came to his face.

     “Tonight, I am Juan Dominguez” he laughed as he looked at his blond hair slicked back behind his ears.  If anyone asks I’ll just tell them my family comes from the colonies at Juarez

     “If my Spanish were better, I may actually get someone to believe that…

     His thoughts trickled off as he checked his watch; 30 minutes to show time.

 

     When he first saw the announcement the other night, he knew getting tickets to this event was going to be hard.  It isn’t every day that the world’s fastest growing beverage company teams up with the world’s largest lingerie brand and the hottest company in athletic fashion for a one night only fashion show to launch their newest product” he mused. 

     He had tried getting a ticket, but this was an exclusive party and only the only people getting into this event are the rich or well connected.

     “And the serving staff, of course” he thought with a smirk.

     There would of course be media present, but those credentials were getting extra scrutiny tonight.  With an event this hot, every fashion blogger and Youtube celebrity trainer was trying to get in.  Unless you were on the specific invite list, though, you might as well be James O’Keefe trying to get into a Planned Parenthood board meeting.

     Buttoning up the jacket and straightening his tie, WhiteGhost headed up to the hotel catering center to grab some hors d’oeuvres. 

     “I need to get there a little early to get the first choice of trays” he thought to himself “they guys with the champagne and caviar get the most attention but the least scrutiny

 

     WhiteGhost took advantage of both the anonymity and the broad access afforded him by the service jacket and tray of expensive champagne and he wandered about the event keeping an eye out for his quarry. 

     “You’d think a guy of hi size would be easy to spot” he though, frustrated that he had not seen him yet.  He’s got to be here, I can’t imagine he would miss an event like this

     Still unable to find the guy he was searching for, WhiteGhost made his way towards the catwalk to see if he could find a spot where could watch the show.  It was then he spotted him.

     On the front row along one side of the low T-shaped stage he saw a huge man, wearing a bespoke white tuxedo with a mandarin collar over a burgundy vest, his black, shoulder-length hair combed back behind his ears. 

     “There you are” WhiteGhost whispered to himself.  now, let’s see what kind of information I can get out of you about those transactions

     The plan came to him immediately, but it would take some preparation.  Heading back into the service area, WhiteGhost ditched his service jacket, grabbed a tool belt and made his way to the booth.  In the confusion as the show began, he was able to pass himself off as a backup lighting technician and set himself up behind a backup spotlight on the left lighting truss.  From there he had a good view of both the stage and the large man filling a prime seat just to the side of it.

    “And now, the game is afoot” WhiteGhost thought to himself as a smile spread across his face

 

     WhiteGhost watches the show from his position on the lighting show.  Although the show itself is entertaining enough, his primary objective is observing his mark, a large heavily muscled man sitting in the front row.  As the man watches the models strut up and down the runway, WhiteGhost carefully observes the man’s demeanor, and how he interacts with both the guests seated next to him but also the service staff.

     Interrogation is one of WhiteGhost’s specialties, and he knows that there are two universal truths when it comes to getting information. First, the best source is a willing source and second, Fear Up is always the last approach.

     As WhiteGhost recalls the two rules, his mind slips back to his training and he can picture his instructor as she repeats this mantra over and over again.  The memory brings a smile to his face as he recalls the scene.

     As the show wraps up, WhiteGhost descends back down to the ground level and approaches his target. 

     Taking advantage of the chaos as the guests begin to depart, WhiteGhost corners his prey as he attempts to get out of the aisle between the chairs and the stage

Good evening, sir,” WhiteGhost says flashing a grin “I’m a doing an expose of this event for Stacked.com and would like to ask you a few questions about how your feedback on the event

     The man stops and eyes WhiteGhost suspiciously

     “Stacked.com” he says slowly. "I’m not familiar with your publication

     “Oh, I’m not surprised” replies WhiteGhost cheerfully.  We have just been acquired by the Huffington Post, though, so my article will appear in their new Wellness and Fitness section

     WhiteGhost lowers his voice and leans in “This is still not public information, so please don’t tell anyone

     After a quick nod, WhiteGhost continues “Clearly you are the most fit man in this building, what is your secret to getting so stacked?

     WhiteGhsot continues to ask primarily fitness related questions and build up the man’s ego, but every third or fourth question he drops a leading question prepping him to talk more about his involvement in the acquisitions of the companies Blinky had on his hard drive.  No direct questions, but questions designed to touch on tangential topics: overseas travel, occupational success, and personal philosophy.

     As the man is regaling WhiteGhost with his latest travel adventure, the man’s voice suddenly trails off.  He leans toward WhiteGhost, seeming to see him for the first time and his eyes narrow

     “You look really familiar, where have I seen you before

     “Oh, you have probably seen my Youtube Channel, I have… “ WhiteGhost starts but get cut off

     “Wait a minute, I know you! You’re that guy spying on us from the alley the other night” the man growls

     WhiteGhost glances around to see that the place is now deserted except for the two of them. 

     As his eyes come back around to the man in front of him, he has just enough time to see a giant fist as it connects with his chin.

     

     And then blackness

 

 

 

 

 

Level 7 - A New Lead

Spoiler

 

      WhiteGhost groans and rolls over, blinking his eyes as the he is nearly blinded by the sunlight.  His head is pounding and he feels like he just got run over by a truck.  Looking around he can see that he is laying on the ground behind an overflowing dumpster, his clothes covered in bits of discarded food and old napkins, and a mashed soda can has managed to attach itself to his elbow.

     “Oh man, what happened?” he groans loudly as he tries, unsuccessfully to raise himself up.

     Closing his eyes, he tries to remember how he ended up here but can only recall bits and pieces.  He strains again to pull himself up, struggling with the effort. 

     The drumming in is head is like a high school marching band struggling through their first rehearsal

     “I need to rest a bit to clear my head, but this isn’t the place for it” he thinks to himself “I need to find somewhere a little cleaner.  And without the awful stench…

     Leaning over and supporting his weight on the side of the dumpster, WhiteGhost heaves painfully and unceremoniously spews whatever remained of last night’s dinner all over his shoes

 

 

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      Back is his safehouse, WhiteGhost slumps into a chair and chugs a liter of water.  His head has been pounding the whole walk home and he has a crick in his neck from either absorbing a heavy punch or from laying on it wrong behind the dumpster.  Looking his reflection in a nearby cabinet, the huge black bruise under his left eye hinted at the former. 

Closing his eyes, he tries to piece together the events of the previous evening.  It is all just bits and pieces so he sits down on a thin mat on the floor for some breathing exercises to help him focus.  After about 10 minutes or so, things start coming back

      “Oh yeah, I met with him shortly after the show ended” WhiteGhost says out loud to nobody ”I recall his name was really unusual…  Khan, something… No Khand.  That’s what it was – Khand. Khand Muscovado.  Yes, it’s all coming back to me now.

      The memories of the previous started flooding back to him, so WhiteGhost grabbed a pencil from the desk next to him and pulled a piece of blank paper out of the printer tray.

      “Let’s see” WhiteGhost mumbled as he scribbled some notes onto the paper “I knew he was working with Demerara from Pentadin, so I got him to start talking about that… What was he saying…  Oh yes, he was talking about how they were the number one international acquisition advisor in the food & beverage sector…

      WhiteGhost continued scribbling down notes the memories came back and after about an hour and a half of furious scribbling, he had the evening’s conversation pretty much worked out.  Looking over the notes, he searched for the clues he had been hoping to get Muscovado to spill. 

      And there it was – At one point the slightly drunk Muscovado had leaned in and whispered “keep this off the record mate, but we have created the world’s largest synthetic food manufacturing plant, all of the acquisitions have been funneled into the holding company through – perfectly legal, mind you – a series of offshore holding companies.” Looking around to make sure no one was eavesdropping, he continued “we are planning to issue a huge press release once our new product hits the markets.  It is going to change the world – you mark my words

      WhiteGhost dropped back into his chair and slammed the pencil down onto the table, frustrated.  

      “This doesn’t make any sense” he exclaimed, the echoes reverberating across the empty room.  This all looks completely legit! Why go through all of this elaborate process and secrecy for a miserable product launch." 

      WhiteGhost walked over to the filing cabinet and pulled out the papers from Blinky that described the transactions.  As he went over them things started to look increasingly fishy. 

      “Something is definitely strange here."  he mused.  

      These transactions are all structured through unregulated markets and the source of funding was clearly being intentionally obscured as if it was being laundered.  His conversation with Blinky had confirmed this, but at the time he hadn’t thought much about it. 

      WhiteGhost needed some answers but he wasn’t going to get them here.  He needed to go check out this synthetic food processing plant for himself.  Going back over his notes he found where Muscovado had let slip the location of the facility.  He rifled through a stack of passports in the safe he picked one that would not need a visa for this upcoming trip and stuffed it into his backpack along with a stack of cash.

      “This is going to be fun, I’ve never been to Ulaanbaatar before” he said with a smile as he walked out the door.

 

 

 

 

Level 8 - Infiltration

      Whiteghost stepped off the plane in Ulanbaatar and shuddered as an icy wind blew acorss the tarmac.  The airport was small with only six gates, and even though only three of them were occupied the place still stopped a good distance from the terminal and he had to carry his bag and walk across the windswept tarmac.  
      “I guess they are called discount airlines for a reason” he muttered to himself.  
      After finding a room in a discount hotel on the edge of the city, WhiteGhost pulled up the map on his phone and checked the coordinates of the food processing company.  Based on the address filed with the local government, the facility was actually quite far from the city in the middle of nowhere.  
      “Well, that’s strange” he thought to himself.  “According to this map there is a single road that leads to where the facility should be, but nothing shows up on the map.”
      Pulling up a satellite image on Google earth only deepened the mystery – where the facility should be the entire area was blurred and pixelated.  
      “Seems somebody doesn’t want to be found” WhiteGhost said to himself” and with a grin continued “well, time to go ruin that somebody’s day

 

 

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HUNTER OF ALL THINGS SHINY

Intro Thread    Bodyweight Exercise Library   Shuffle Club

The Arruvia Conspiracy Challenges: 1, 2, 3, 4, 567, 89, 10 

Other Challenges: 12345, 6, 7, 89, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 3132, 33Humbug[Current]

Level 2 Ninja

Strength: 13 Intelligence: 14 Wisdom: 6 Dexterity:14 Constitution: 12 Charisma: 11

 

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This challenge will cross my one year Nerdiversary so I have taken a look back to see how things are different from where I started

 

One year ago I was 73 kgs with 21.2% body fat.  Today I was 78kgs with 22.4% body fat so from a body composition perspective, I have not made much progress

My very fist challenge primary goal was to get a muscle up and here I am still pretty far away.  I have to admit that @SymphonicDan was right, I was not as close as I thought I was

I still can't touch my toes without bending my knees

 

From a superficial perspective, it would seem that I have not been doing much more than spinning my wheels for the last year.  But we all know better than to look at things superficially.  We ARE nerds, after all.

 

What has improved over the last year? 

First of all, I learned how to cook.  I still make some things that are huge failures, but generally speaking, the ability to make delicious food is light years ahead of where I was last year.  

Also, my mobility has improved a lot (not flexibility as much though) and I am able to to a lot of things that I couldn't a year ago, including macacos, handstand balance, parkour vaults, and beginning flip/tricking progressions.  Am I where I want to be? No, but that's what this year is for :) 

finally (and perhaps most importantly) I have had fun this last year getting to virtually hang out with all the rest of you awesome nerds. 

 

Changes in body composition were never my focus, and honestly I am not unhappy with where I am.  However, I have to admit that I am a little disappointed at my apparent lack of progress on the muscle up front

image.jpeg.711607901e011a66373961a4973b396b.jpeg

so I spent some time trying to figure out why.  While there may be multiple reasons, I think the biggest is that I have been going about it in a sub-optimal way.  I have been focused on number of reps more than form and as such have been pretty sloppy in my execution.  Handstand pushups have been almost entirely half reps with poor form and pullups have have been mediocre at best.

 

So this challenge is going to be about changing gears.  Downshifting to be exact.  

Image result for downshift

Some people, especially those who don't know how to drive a stick, may think that downshifting means slowing down, and while it can be a method for slowing without using the breaks, it has many other more important uses.

Image result for downshifting

Downshifting is used to optimize torque which allows you to quickly accelerate.  If you are already moving at a high speed, the engine needs to rev at a much higher rate to accelerate, but by shifting down a gear you can generate more power at a similar rpm.  So in challenge terms, this means that I am going to scrap the idea of doing a certain amount of reps and focus on form and power.  In this case I will probably drop from doing 20 handstand pushups in a workout to maybe 2, but with correct form.  For pullups I will be doing sets of less than 10 (at least to start with) but focusing on getting the absolute full range of motion.  I think that by getting the form sorted, improvements will happen faster.  

Image result for downshift for speed

Another reason for downshifting is to get additional torque to get over a steep hill.  Cruising along in high gear is great, but when you need some extra power to get up a hill, you will need to get into a lower gear so that you can get that extra power out of the engine without redlining.  In some respects, I feel like I am fighting an uphill battle with regards to flexibility as well, so I am going to do the same thing here - focus on form and getting the right stretches in, but try really, really (REALLY!) hard not to care about how much deeper I am getting into the stretches.  As @Mad Hatter so wisely said a few challenges back flexibility is more than just a measurement (paraphrased - she said it way better but I am too lazy to go back and find the exact quote), so I am going to downshift my focus from trying to get too deep into the stretches and just focus on trying to do them with the best form possible 

Image result for driving steep hill

Lastly, I am going to keep having fun.  I enjoy my workouts, and my play time tends to be application of my workouts, so I am just going to keep on keeping on.  I have no idea how I will track this but for now my plan is just to treat this like a battle log and get in here an report on what I am doing.

Image result for I don't always downshift

  • Like 9
HUNTER OF ALL THINGS SHINY

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47 minutes ago, WhiteGhost said:

Some people, especially those who don't know how to drive a stick, may think that downshifting means slowing down, and while it can be a method for slowing without using the breaks, it has many other more important uses.

 

giphy.gif

 

I like the theme and your year recap is really interesting... Looking forward to seeing where you go from here and how your downshifting gets you there.  Also excited about stealing learning more about your workouts.

  • Like 2

Chimichanga

Level 3

Mercenary

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11 hours ago, sylph said:

 

Downshifting, not granny shifting :P

 

10 hours ago, Chimichanga said:

I like the theme and your year recap is really interesting... Looking forward to seeing where you go from here and how your downshifting gets you there.  Also excited about stealing learning more about your workouts.

I will post more on what I am doing as I do it.  Not having a specific program this time is new ground for me

 

8 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

Great challenge, I think it's really going to serve you well!

Thanks, I am operating under the same assumption :) 

 

6 hours ago, deftona said:

Here for this :D 

Well that's a coincidence, because this is here for YOU :D 

 

I woke up really dore this morning, and I pretty sure it is an accumulation of all the stuff I have been doing last challenge, so I decided I really could use a break so no workout was done today.

 

I was doing stretching last night and I felt pretty good about the side split stretches, but I still feel like my forward fold stretches are a bit sketchy.  I think I will go back and review the GMB program again and see if I can improve anything there.   

  • Like 3
HUNTER OF ALL THINGS SHINY

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The Arruvia Conspiracy Challenges: 1, 2, 3, 4, 567, 89, 10 

Other Challenges: 12345, 6, 7, 89, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 3132, 33Humbug[Current]

Level 2 Ninja

Strength: 13 Intelligence: 14 Wisdom: 6 Dexterity:14 Constitution: 12 Charisma: 11

 

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Hey, I'm participating this challenge so I was just looking out for people to follow again :)

 

Shame you haven't had as much progress as you'd hoped for the muscle-ups, but in what ways have you progressed in that direction during the last year? My advice would be to train high pull-ups. You only need to be able to do 1 rep of a really high pull-up to meet that physical requirement of the muscle-up, although of course building up a moderate volume of a standard pull-up is an effective means to that end.

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Level 25 Cyborg Assassin

[ STR 36.75 | DEX 26.00 | STA 28.00 | CON 31.25 | WIS 29.25 | CHA 24.50 ]

current 5-week challenge: March 2020

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13 minutes ago, SymphonicDan said:

Hey, I'm participating this challenge so I was just looking out for people to follow again :)

Glad to have you here, your comments are always insightful and thought provoking.  Case in point:

 

14 minutes ago, SymphonicDan said:

Shame you haven't had as much progress as you'd hoped for the muscle-ups, but in what ways have you progressed in that direction during the last year? My advice would be to train high pull-ups. You only need to be able to do 1 rep of a really high pull-up to meet that physical requirement of the muscle-up, although of course building up a moderate volume of a standard pull-up is an effective means to that end.

You have hit the nail on the head here.  I have made good progress in the technique and can consistently do jump muscle ups, even on overhead bars.  Based on this, I have concluded that my primary weakness here is the explosiveness of the initial pull.  Alternatively I could compensate for this with swing and a kip but I am disinclined to do that because my goal is really a clean muscle up.    I have tried doing a number of exercises that improve explosiveness but most of them focus on the top of the rep, which means they are susceptible to compensatory movements, and I seem to fall into this trap consistently.  For this reason, I am focusing now on 2 specific things with regard to pullups, in an attempt to improve that explosiveness out of the hole

1. Only full reps, with a pause in the bottom (and no swing).  This forces me to build up strength in what I think is currently my weakest part of the pullup.  Ultimately this first pull out of the deadhang is where the explosiveness needs to originate to really get a high pullup, so this will be the bulk of my pullup focus

2. weighted pullups.  I have never tried weighted pullups before, but it makes sense that being able to pull more than my own weight will make it easier when I am back down to just my own bodyweight.

 

Overall pullup endurance won't hurt either, but I want to get my form locked down first before I go for volume.

 

Have you got your challenge up yet?  Looking forward to see where your next adventure leads you :) 

  • Like 4
HUNTER OF ALL THINGS SHINY

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Yay to upcoming nerdiversay :)

Wow that is a lot of posts to have contributed within one year, you were suuuuuuuper active :o

 

Your recap is great, so smart to look past the superficial deceiving! Learning to cook is a big win, definitely especially if you enjoy it and it sounds like you do. Excited to see you go from here!

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Level 18 Wood-Elf Assassin

 

battle log: counting the good things

current challenge: something, nothing, all the things

previous challenges: 25242322212019181716, 151413121110987654, 321

 

How cool is it that the same God who created mountains and oceans and galaxies looked at you and thought the world needed one of you, too

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37 minutes ago, lucky fire dragon said:

Yay to upcoming nerdiversay :)

Wow that is a lot of posts to have contributed within one year, you were suuuuuuuper active :o

 

Your recap is great, so smart to look past the superficial deceiving! Learning to cook is a big win, definitely especially if you enjoy it and it sounds like you do. Excited to see you go from here!

I just realized I have consistently averaged about 10 posts a day for the whole year :o .  The problem is that there are soooo many awesome people on this forum and I can't help but sign up to threads, and then feel like I should comment.  So probably about 80% of those posts are just "hey, good job" or something. Still, yeah.  That is a lot of posting...

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HUNTER OF ALL THINGS SHINY

Intro Thread    Bodyweight Exercise Library   Shuffle Club

The Arruvia Conspiracy Challenges: 1, 2, 3, 4, 567, 89, 10 

Other Challenges: 12345, 6, 7, 89, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 3132, 33Humbug[Current]

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4 minutes ago, WhiteGhost said:

The problem is that there are soooo many awesome people on this forum

 

so true!!!

 

4 minutes ago, WhiteGhost said:

So probably about 80% of those posts are just "hey, good job" or something.

 

which often means a lot to the person receiving it :)

 

awesome job you did there!

  • Like 4

Level 18 Wood-Elf Assassin

 

battle log: counting the good things

current challenge: something, nothing, all the things

previous challenges: 25242322212019181716, 151413121110987654, 321

 

How cool is it that the same God who created mountains and oceans and galaxies looked at you and thought the world needed one of you, too

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42 minutes ago, WhiteGhost said:

So probably about 80% of those posts are just "hey, good job" or something. Still, yeah.  That is a lot of posting...

Ahh never underestimate how a few words of encouragement can help someone :) 

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strava - myfitnesspal - Instagram

2019 Roadmap

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4 hours ago, lucky fire dragon said:

 

so true!!!

 

 

which often means a lot to the person receiving it :)

 

awesome job you did there!

I know that I certainly appreciate it when people take the time to comment, so I figure others do as well

 

3 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

I'm the same - I much rather take the time to post something than pushing the like button.

I usually do both :D  For many people that extra dopamine hit from the "like" notification is not nothing :) 

 

3 hours ago, jonfirestar said:

Ahh never underestimate how a few words of encouragement can help someone :) 

Thanks for the reminder.  I is easy to forget because it seems like such a small thing :) 

 

45 minutes ago, sylph said:

I'm trying to do this myself. Given my own reactions to posts vs. likes, I'm trying to invest a little more time and attention in other folks' threads.

It really takes a lot of time, though.  I could probably stand to cut back a bit, but deciding which threads not to follow is like deciding which kid doesn't get to go to the store with the rest of us because the car only fits so many... :D:D:D 

  • Like 4
HUNTER OF ALL THINGS SHINY

Intro Thread    Bodyweight Exercise Library   Shuffle Club

The Arruvia Conspiracy Challenges: 1, 2, 3, 4, 567, 89, 10 

Other Challenges: 12345, 6, 7, 89, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 3132, 33Humbug[Current]

Level 2 Ninja

Strength: 13 Intelligence: 14 Wisdom: 6 Dexterity:14 Constitution: 12 Charisma: 11

 

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9 minutes ago, WhiteGhost said:

It really takes a lot of time, though. 

 

It does, we should finally get that time thingy that Hermione used for turning back time :D

 

9 minutes ago, WhiteGhost said:

 

I could probably stand to cut back a bit, but deciding which threads not to follow is like deciding which kid doesn't get to go to the store with the rest of us because the car only fits so many... :D:D:D 

 

that's a very apt description

  • Like 1

Level 18 Wood-Elf Assassin

 

battle log: counting the good things

current challenge: something, nothing, all the things

previous challenges: 25242322212019181716, 151413121110987654, 321

 

How cool is it that the same God who created mountains and oceans and galaxies looked at you and thought the world needed one of you, too

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58 minutes ago, lucky fire dragon said:

It does, we should finally get that time thingy that Hermione used for turning back time :D

I could totally use one of those :) 

Image result for time turner gif

 

56 minutes ago, elinox said:

While I never learned to drive stick, I wish you luck on your challenge! Let's ride!

Image result for lets ride smokey & the bandit gif

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HUNTER OF ALL THINGS SHINY

Intro Thread    Bodyweight Exercise Library   Shuffle Club

The Arruvia Conspiracy Challenges: 1, 2, 3, 4, 567, 89, 10 

Other Challenges: 12345, 6, 7, 89, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 3132, 33Humbug[Current]

Level 2 Ninja

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That is a ton of new skills to be picking up and playing with in just one year, IMO. But I'm excited about your quality approach this challenge! 

  • Like 1

Raptron, alot assassin

67666564636261605958 575655545352515049484746454443424140393837363534333231302928272625242322212019181716151413121110987 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1

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15 hours ago, WhiteGhost said:

1. Only full reps, with a pause in the bottom (and no swing).  This forces me to build up strength in what I think is currently my weakest part of the pullup.  Ultimately this first pull out of the deadhang is where the explosiveness needs to originate to really get a high pullup, so this will be the bulk of my pullup focus

 

2. weighted pullups.  I have never tried weighted pullups before, but it makes sense that being able to pull more than my own weight will make it easier when I am back down to just my own bodyweight.

 

This sounds like a great plan!

 

giphy.gif

 

11 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

I'm the same - I much rather take the time to post something than pushing the like button.

 

I tried to like this and leave it at that, but I'm not strong enough.

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Chimichanga

Level 3

Mercenary

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11 hours ago, raptron said:

That is a ton of new skills to be picking up and playing with in just one year, IMO. But I'm excited about your quality approach this challenge! 

Yes, it has been a productive year, and I am pleased with what I have accomplished.  This challenge is primarily about getting me geared up to rock year 2 :) 

 

6 hours ago, Chimichanga said:

This sounds like a great plan!

Step 1: Check

Image result for execute the plan gif

 

3 hours ago, annyshay said:

This looks like a great new focus on form and quality. That story segment was so SHORT! I will try to be patient. :) Congrats on one year!

Don't worry, there will be more to the story as the challenge progresses.  I just needed something to get things started.

 

WRT the story, the part where the fighting happens is coming up.  I can either do it alone or I can write it up into a multiplayer thing similar to @Wolfpool's fireteam challenge.  If anyone is interested in joining the team, submit an application in the the box below (the one that says "reply to this topic" :) ) and I will add you into the story.  For anyone that joins, there will be real world consequences (you will be asked to do stuff - cold showers will PROBABLY not be one of them ;) ) but all are welcome and all assignments can be scaled to fit actual capabilities

 

 

 

Image result for i shouldn't have done that gif

Yesterday when I got home I was feeling hungry so apparently I mainlined an entire sleeve of oreos...

Image result for i shouldn't have done that gif

 

I followed it up with a hot dog sandwich. The only place in the city that sells hot dog buns is Ikea and it just isn't worth the hassle of getting there so hotdogs happen on regular bread - like this:

Image result for hot dog on bread

Not a great start to the evening.

 

When Mi Vieja got home we watched [Maze Runner 3: Remember back when there was actually a maze? No? We'll do some flashbacks to remind you then] which was kind of fun and I declined to eat a second dinner when hers was delivered so that was kind of a win.  I have to admit I was tempted, though, because those frog legs looked really good.

 

This morning I got in a leg workout and applied my downshifting principles as applicable. 

Jump tucks x10

Shrimp squat negatives* x10/leg.

Lunge landmines x10/leg (these are a combination of jump lunges and landmines, like really over exaggerated skipping)

Stool pistol squats**

Superhero landings 10x/side (this is another exercise I made up this morning by combining side jump lunges with landmines, the result is basically jumping and then landing in the superhero landing pose with one leg out to the side)

Back squats 3x10 at 60kgs

Romanian Deadlifts*** 3x10 at 60kgs 

Slip leg curls 5 or 6ish (I ran out of time after just the first few)

 

I only had a half hour for my workout because of a morning work meeting so I just stopped when the clock ran out.  I was going to do a bunch more slip leg curls hip bridges and goblet squats but I took what I could get

 

 * I used to do regular shrimp squats by just going down as far as was comfortable and then coming back up but I dont think I was getting as much out of them as I should.  As per the point of this challenge, I decided to do full reps AMRAP to see where I was and my AMRAP was zero :D   Instead of going back to the half rep stuff, I decided to just do full rep negatives.  

 ** Along the same lines, I wanted to see where I stood with stand alone pistol squats and as expected I could do zero.  For these, though I decided to stick with my progressions of using a stool which is not perfect but has been working for me.  I am now able to use a much shorter stool than I could when I first started and they are plenty challenging as is

*** I was going to do some single leg dead lifts but my legs were shot by this point so I just did some regular 2 legged Romanian dead lifts.  As I was doing them, I was mindful of what muscles were getting involved and was pleased to see it was working the entire back half of my body, from my calves all the way up to my posterior delts :) 

 

Doing legs today was some poor planning, though, because today is my no-drive day so I really suffered as I commuted by subway this morning

Image result for not a great plan gif

  • Like 2
HUNTER OF ALL THINGS SHINY

Intro Thread    Bodyweight Exercise Library   Shuffle Club

The Arruvia Conspiracy Challenges: 1, 2, 3, 4, 567, 89, 10 

Other Challenges: 12345, 6, 7, 89, 10, 11, 1213, 14, 15 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 3132, 33Humbug[Current]

Level 2 Ninja

Strength: 13 Intelligence: 14 Wisdom: 6 Dexterity:14 Constitution: 12 Charisma: 11

 

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5 hours ago, WhiteGhost said:

 * I used to do regular shrimp squats by just going down as far as was comfortable and then coming back up but I dont think I was getting as much out of them as I should.  As per the point of this challenge, I decided to do full reps AMRAP to see where I was and my AMRAP was zero :D   Instead of going back to the half rep stuff, I decided to just do full rep negatives.  

 

Haha weren't we discussing shrimp squats the other month, and how I found pistols much easier than shrimps? Maybe I'm not the only one after all. ;) 

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