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Conquius Seeks the Cloud Giants Pt. 2


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Conquius Seeks the Cloud Giants Pt. 2

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For my last 5-Week Challenge, Conquius Seeks the Cloud Giants, I started on the path to Certification in Google Cloud Platform. Along the way, I established my regular lifting habit. For this challenge, I'm completing my Certification, and expanding on my lifting routine.

 

#1. Complete my Google Cloud Platform Course and Pass my Certification Exam   |   Reward: Level-Up!

  • Complete Sections 21-25 of my Google Cloud Platform Course on Udemy (Weeks 1 and 2)
  • Prepare for my Certification Exam by taking daily Whizlabs GCP Practice Tests (Weeks 3 and 4)
  • Schedule my Certification Exam, and pass on the first try (Week 5).

 

#2. Even Sicker Lifts   |   Reward: +1 STR

Last challenge, I established my habit of lifting 2x/week. Bench and Squat on Mondays, OHP and Deadlift on Thursdays. The plan was get in, do my Core Lifts, get out. No warm-up, no cool-down, no accessory work. This Challenge, that changes. I'm introducing warm-ups, cool-downs, and accessory work, but with the caveat that a workout with none of those things is better than no workout at all. Thus, I'm introducing the following point scheme per workout:

  • 2 Points - Core Lifts
  • 3 Points - Warm-Up, Core Lifts, Cool-Down.
  • 5 Points - Warm-Up, Core Lifts, Accessory Work, Cool-Down.

The goal is 30 points over 5 weeks. Going above and beyond may (may) include rewards.

 

#3. No New Stuff   |   Reward: +1 WIS

The goal itself is self-explanatory, but I want to talk about the impetus for this challenge, give some caveats, and lay down some rules.

 

Before I left on my bike trip last year, I moved out of my city apartment, and stored all of my earthly possessions (other than what I carried on my bike) in my parents' house. When I got back, I knew another move was on the horizon. I bought the audiobook version of Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, listened to it over a few days, and reduced said possessions by at least half. I spent the rest of the year very cognizant of my spending, because (a) I had just discarded most of my possessions, and had found myself in the mindset of buying only what I needed, and (b) I was unemployed. No income.

 

When I moved at the start of this year, I had to buy a lot of stuff. Not re-buying stuff I got rid of, mind you, but I had to furnish an entire home office / guest room, build out my home gym (really just had to buy floormats), and various bits and bobs like rugs and decor to make my new place livable to the standards of my roommates. Once I was re-employed with a well-paying job, that spending continued. I bought new computer peripherals, fidget toys, office clothes I hate, bike clothes, bike accessories, et cetera. I wasn't buying myself out of house and home, but I felt like I had reverted somehow. I feel that I am more susceptible to advertising, and more prone to seeking gratification through buying things.

 

On top of this, I like to think of myself as a conscious consumer. I understand that what we buy doesn't define our identity, but giving my money to an industry (when I have a meaningful alternative) is tacit approval for that industry and what it does. I disapprove of animal agriculture for how it turns animals into faceless commodities and destroys the environment; I disapprove of fast fashion for exploitative labor practices and mass-producing clothes that shed microplastics; I disapprove of Amazon for the mistreatment of their workers, union busting, and profiting off of immediate gratification. The list goes on. As such, I want to align my purchasing habits with my personal ethics as close as humanly possible. There are some areas in my life where I'm really good at this, and there are some areas in my life where I have room to improve, namely clothes, electronics, and bike gear.

 

Whenever I talk about "ethical consumption" with one of my roommates, she returns to her adage, "You have to draw the line somewhere", and she's right. Unfortunately, she usually follows it up with "I don't have the time or money to risk spending $150 on jeans that might not fit, just because they're ethically made. I need jeans now, so I'm going to buy the $30 stretch jeans off Amazon." I don't love her decision, but I don't begrudge her for it, either. She and I are in different financial positions. I do have the money, so over the next five weeks, I'm going to give myself the time, and push up where I draw my line. Additionally, I'll be looking into online resources for purchasing secondhand clothes and gear (looking at you, Patagonia Worn Wear and REI Used Gear), and in-person resources such as local thrift stores.

 

So the challenge is this: No New Stuff. I'm drawing my line in the sand, and holding my ground against hyper-consumerism and immediate gratification. I can purchase obvious things like food and household goods. I can purchase anything needed for the continued regular function of my bicycle (e.g. new tubes). In the case of the catastrophic failure or destruction of any of my possessions, (e.g. my tent bursts into flames), I can replace it, so long there is an immediate need for it, and I try to find a used or secondhand replacement first.

  • Like 5

Conquius, Level 5 Cavalier

 STR: 10.5  | DEX: 8  | CON: 12  | INT: 13  | WIS: 8  | CHA: 10.5

"Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim."

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I expanded on Goal #3: No New Stuff. It's a bit of a read, so TL;DR my purchasing habits have fallen out of line with my values. The goal is to take some time to realign, and do the research necessary to make better decisions.

  • That's Metal 1

Conquius, Level 5 Cavalier

 STR: 10.5  | DEX: 8  | CON: 12  | INT: 13  | WIS: 8  | CHA: 10.5

"Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim."

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In addition to adding warm-ups, cool-downs, and assistance exercises to my routine, I'm also tweaking my overload scheme on Bench and Deadlift to a Starting Strength-esque progressive overload scheme. 3x5 Bench, 1x5 Deadlift. Working Set weight progressively increases by +5lb for Bench, and +10lb for Deadlift. Bench will eventually change to +2.5lb, Deadlift will eventually change to +5lb. Both of these lifts feel far too easy right now, and are significantly behind compared to OHP and Squat. I intend to close the gap.

 

With that being said, here's my routine. Squat and OHP actually change week to week based off of a 4-week cycle. Below, I'm showing the set/rep/weight scheme for Volume Week.

 

Monday

Warm-Up: Jump Rope for 2min or until warm

 

Core Lifts

  • Bench: Work up to 3 x 5
  • Squat: Work up to 3-5 x 3-5 @ 94% 5RM

Assistance

  • Front Plank: 3x(30s plank / 1min rest)
  • Right Plank: 3x (15s plank / 30s rest)
  • Left Plank: 3x (15s plank, 30s rest)
  • BSSQ: 2-4x5-8@30lb
  • Leg Curl: 3x10/leg w/ 35lb resistance band

Cool-Down

  • Single-Leg Straddle Stretch
  • Butterfly Stretch
  • Pretzel Stretch
  • Pigeon Pose
  • Pectoral Doorway Stretch

 

Thursday

Warm-Up: Jump Rope for 2 min or until warm

 

Core Lifts

  • Overhead Press: Work up to 3-5 x 3-5 @ 94% 5RM
  • Deadlift: Work up to 1x5

Assistance

  • Lying Leg Raises: 4x10 (I intend to do a Convict-Conditioning style progression scheme for these, eventually moving on to Hanging Leg Raises)
  • Chin-Ups: 3-5x10 w/ 100lb resistance band. (See above, but instead of manipulating leverage to increase load, I'll be using lighter resistance bands.)

Cool-Down

  • Single-Leg Straddle Stretch
  • Butterfly Stretch
  • Pretzel Stretch
  • Pigeon Pose
  • (I'm taking recommendations on delt stretches)
  • Like 5

Conquius, Level 5 Cavalier

 STR: 10.5  | DEX: 8  | CON: 12  | INT: 13  | WIS: 8  | CHA: 10.5

"Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim."

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Weekend Bike Trip got cancelled this weekend due to bad weather 😑 Next weekend we're all free isn't until June.

 

That's ok, I'm getting in plenty of cycling now as it is. I brought my old bike, Cerberus, back from my parents' house, and gave him some TLC. Cerberus is a 2011 Surly Cross Check that I built back when I was like 16 (fun fact, I was on NF at that time), and was built as a steel road bike. Jormungandr, on the other hand, is a heavy, bombproof steel touring bike, which I've been riding almost exclusively for the past year, often loaded down with panniers stuffed with camping gear.

 

You can imagine how much faster I was hopping on Cerberus 😅

 

Anyway, Week One Progress is going well. It's astounding how much less is demanded of my time when one of my goals is to not do something. One of the pitfalls of doing research online about clothes, however, is that your algorithms just start feeding you ads about clothes to buy. I might take a page from Atomic Habits and Make it Invisible, aka cut down how many ads I see at all by uninstalling Instagram. Might be good not only for reducing advertisements, but also for WFH focus reasons.

 

I'll update at the end of the week, as per usual.

  • Like 3

Conquius, Level 5 Cavalier

 STR: 10.5  | DEX: 8  | CON: 12  | INT: 13  | WIS: 8  | CHA: 10.5

"Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim."

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1 hour ago, Conquius said:

heavy, bombproof steel touring bike

Love this description!

1 hour ago, Conquius said:

You can imagine how much faster I was hopping on Cerberus 😅

Yes, I can. Zoom!

The Way

Better Now than Back Then

Better Now than Later On

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Sections 21 and 22 of GCP are complete! The finish line is within sight. Sections 23-25 are paltry in length, comparatively. I should make short work of them next week.

 

Completed Section 21 earlier this week, on Wednesday, I think?

Tried completing Section 22 last night, but I just didn't have the energy for it at the end of the work week. On top of that, the Section's subject matter (Identity & Access Management) is dry as hell. My partner agreed to do some body-doubling today. I'd work on my course, they'd work on a class they're also taking for work. Got it knocked out :D

 

Lifting is also complete for the week. May as well do a Week Re-cap since I'm done with everything, even though my weeks usually restart on Mondays.

  • Like 2

Conquius, Level 5 Cavalier

 STR: 10.5  | DEX: 8  | CON: 12  | INT: 13  | WIS: 8  | CHA: 10.5

"Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim."

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Week One Progress

 

⛈️ Google Cloud Platform - Complete

Sections 21 and 22 are complete. Only about 90 minutes of content total, but certainly some of the driest material of the whole course. Wrapping up the Course Material next week, and moving on to Practice Tests.

 

🏋️‍♂️ Even Sicker Lifts - Complete. Monday: 5pts   |   Thursday: 5pts.   |   Challenge Total: 10pts

Started each workout with a warm-up: a 2 minute jump rope session, or until I was warm, then of course doing warm-up sets for each of my Main Lifts. I used to spend a lot of time warming up doing foam rolling and stretching, and I didn't find it particularly useful, so my warm-up is going to be getting my body warm as simply as possible.

 

Main Lifts feel good. I'm going to start calling them my Main Lifts instead of my Core Lifts. I'm excited to put weight on my Bench and DL.

 

After Main Lifts, I followed up with my Assistance. My Assistance includes some core work - planks and leg raises - which is rn the most challenging, and leaves me with the most soreness. BSSQ and Leg Curls on Bench/Squat days help with any imbalances, I'm just getting used to Leg Curls. I'm using a 35# resistance band with one end wrapped around my power cage, and the other around my ankle. Chin-Ups on OHP/DL days are interesting. I'm still getting used to using Resistance Bands for Assisted Chin-Ups. I can do maybe 3-5 unassisted in one set, and that number sharply declines in subsequent sets, so I'm using Resistance Bands to help grease the groove, as it were.

 

Cooldowns are lower-body stretches. Nothing new under this sun.

 

🛡️ No New Stuff - Complete

Interesting phenomenon here - I thought that this was going to be a challenge about resisting temptation. I thought that I would have to uninstall Instagram just so I could see less ads. I haven't uninstalled Instagram, I haven't even stopped looking at ads. I'll even click on them and check out the products on the page, I just feel no desire or compulsion to buy anything. I can't remember where I read it, but I'm reminded of the difference between saying "No" and saying "Not Yet", namely that it is far easier to say "Not Yet" than "Not at All". I think the fact that this challenge is time-boxed is making it easier for me to casually browse stuff online without feeling the need to actually buy anything. I haven't decided whether this is good or not.

 

On the one hand, I'm satisfying the requirements of the challenge by not buying anything. On the other hand, am I stretching a piece of proverbial elastic that's going to snap back into place once the Challenge is over, causing me to just do a bunch of online shopping?

 

I think as long as I'm using this time to define not only my buying ethics, but also what kinds of clothes and gear I want for the foreseeable future, then I'm going in the right direction.

 

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  • Like 3

Conquius, Level 5 Cavalier

 STR: 10.5  | DEX: 8  | CON: 12  | INT: 13  | WIS: 8  | CHA: 10.5

"Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim."

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On 5/14/2022 at 6:02 PM, Conquius said:

I'll even click on them and check out the products on the page, I just feel no desire or compulsion to buy anything.

This is great. I did something similar with candy bars. I just kept saying, let's wait 2 hours and if I still want it, I'll get it. It was a good stepping stone for me. Now, I don't eat candy bars at all.

Keep it up!

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The Way

Better Now than Back Then

Better Now than Later On

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On 5/14/2022 at 11:02 PM, Conquius said:

am I stretching a piece of proverbial elastic that's going to snap back into place once the Challenge is over

 

Well the point of a 5 week challenge is to build a habit so hopefully not, however I'd see how you feel throughout the next few weeks - if you're finding yourself more thinking 'not yet but oo soon' then maybe it's not doing what you're wanting! If you're 'not yet and maybe sometime' then it may be working.

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Level 22 Rogue Ranger

Welcome to the Dungeons of Doom; locate the Amulet of Yendor ♀ on Level 26

Challenges: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 1415, 16, 17, 18, 1920, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26

 

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Week Two Progress

⛈️ Google Cloud Platform - Complete! Challenge Milestone Achieved!!

I gave myself a light load this week. I originally intended to tackle it Wednesday, but I ended up going on an impromptu bike ride to help my mood. My partner went into the office super early Thursday, our offices are in the same general direction, so I hitched a ride and got to the office an hour before my usual work day starts. I ended up knocking out Sections 24 and 25 that morning. That means that I am officially done with all of the Course Material with my Google Cloud Platform Course! 17 Hours of Content, defeated by a consistent application of effort, aided by regular planning, and encouragement from those around me (NF Community, and my lovely roommates). I am now entering the Practice Exam Phase of my Challenge.

 

🏋️‍♂️ Even Sicker Lifts - Complete. Monday: 3pts   |   Thursday: 3pts.   |   Challenge Total: 16pts

Phoned it in a bit with lifting. Monday and Thursday, I just got in, warmed up, lifted, cooled down, and got out. That's fine. This points model is meant to be flexible. I stayed consistent to my plan, hit my new 5RMs, and earned points.

New 5RMs:

Bench: 135lbs       |       Squat: 215lbs        |       Deadlift: 225lbs        |       OHP: 105lbs

 

🛡️ No New Stuff - Complete*
I made a discovery earlier this week that I can't find my camping towel. I needed it for something this week (reason undisclosed, building to something for a future challenge 😏 ), and didn't have it. I'm also planning on going camping in the first weekend of June, and according to the parameters of my challenge, I could replace it, so I did. It also helps that I didn't particularly like my old camping towel (too small) and REI is having their biggest sale of the year.

 

I've done a lot of research as part of this Challenge, namely about the sustainability of various clothing fabrics, and I've reached a couple of guidelines I'm happy with. I'll share my research in an upcoming post. In an effort to make this more than a practice in collecting (figurative) underpants, I've also collected a list of brands with clothes that (a) I like and (b) fit my guidelines, and intend to buy some when the need for new clothes eventually arises, including (literal) underpants.

 

This next part is going to be a stream-of-consciousness word scramble about the difficulties of this challenge, so I'll put it under a spoiler. Feel free to skip.

Spoiler

There are a couple of things that are difficult about this challenge, namely when it comes to clothes. When you endeavor to spend good money to buy durable sustainable clothes, you have to make sure that you actually like them, that they fit your style. That's pretty difficult when you're like me and don't really have a well-established sense of style. (I like cargo pants and combat boots. Polo shirts look good on me, so do some flannels. I used to be a big cardigan guy, but now I'm seeing the light of crewneck pullovers). So inadvertently part of this challenge has been trying to figure out and establish my sense of style, and how well that sense of style aligns to my values. Because if I'm at a stage in my life where I'm very intentionally buying clothes, I should make sure they're the right ones, right? Should I make sure that whatever I'm buying is appropriate to wear to the office? I'm a software engineer, so how much does that matter? One thing I'm grateful for is that I'm very much at peace with the size/shape of my body, and don't intend to change that significantly. I care more that my body is capable of doing the activities that bring me joy (weightlifting, cycling) than what those activities do for my body type. That should make it easier to buy "fitting" clothes, right? Well maybe. A sticking point for me is that I'd like to be able to try on clothes before I buy them. I think it adds on a couple of necessary barriers before I spend money on something. I already know it looks good on me, feels good, and matches my body type. I also think that online retailers have put in significant effort into reducing the barriers between advertisement and checkout in an effort to separate people's money from their wallets, which I have disdain for. On top of that, I can't tell you how many times I've bought clothes online, then been dismayed at how they fit once at home. Unfortunately, this desire to try on clothes first at odds with the fact that a lot of "sustainable" "durable" clothiers are online-only retailers. I know that a lot of these retailers have good return policies, but (a) returning clothes is a hassle, and (b) even if I get that full refund, the money is still "spent" in my mind, and I've been disappointed. I think the heart of the issue is that if I'm spending money buying clothes that I'm going to wear for a long time, that align with my values, they need to be perfect (well fitting, matches my style, durable, sustainable materials, ethical production) and I'm afraid of them not being perfect. Typing this out made me realize that I went through the same mental hurdles when I was considering going vegan. I was so sure that it was the right thing to do (still am), but I was afraid that I'd hate it for some reason, and revert, thus compromising on my values in favor of my personal food preferences. This is also helping me realize that I'm a huge perfectionist. I'd rather do nothing at all than do something and have it be less than perfect. What's the solution here? Stop being such a huge perfectionist. Well that's not going to happen overnight, so I think for now, I'm going to bite the bullet, buy something that meets my values, accept that it might not be perfect, and not let that deter me for the future.

So I'm attaching a Reward to this Challenge, No New Stuff specifically. If When I make it to the end of the 5 Weeks, I'm going to buy an article of clothing that aligns with my values. It might be new, it might be used (leaning towards Used. There's a discontinued Patagonia sweater I like that I found on Worn Wear). And if it's not perfect, I'm not going to freak out about it. I'm going to be fine with it, actually. If I really like it, I'll probably post a pic. In an effort to figure out/narrow down what I want the Challenge Reward to be, I'm going to take an inventory of my clothes. Hopefully this also engenders a greater appreciation of the things I already have.
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  • Like 3

Conquius, Level 5 Cavalier

 STR: 10.5  | DEX: 8  | CON: 12  | INT: 13  | WIS: 8  | CHA: 10.5

"Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim."

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I like the idea of having a reward at the end, especially something that aligns with your values! I can only ever think of rewards being like CAKE... I tend to buy all my clothes in charity shops so I never mind too much if they don't fit or I don't like them - they just get donated back!

Excellent work on getting the Google Platform stuff done, woop!

  • Like 1

Level 22 Rogue Ranger

Welcome to the Dungeons of Doom; locate the Amulet of Yendor ♀ on Level 26

Challenges: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 1415, 16, 17, 18, 1920, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26

 

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Mid-week update.

 

I've felt 'off' this week. Emotionally 'off' early in the week, physically 'off' here in the back half, so much so that I called out of work sick today.

 

Got my lifts in on Monday, and took my sweet time with 'em. If I'm feeling better this afternoon, I'll get my lifts in today as well.

I haven't done any GCP Practice Tests yet, it was on the docket for today after lifting. I'll see how I feel. If I don't do one today, I'll do them over the weekend.

No New Stuff going strong. I might have to nab a thing or two from REI for my camping trip in June, but we'll see.

 

I'm looking forward to this weekend. First weekend in a while where I have no plans, no travel, etc. On top of that, it's a long weekend due to the holiday. Might be a good opportunity for some extra rest. I'm resisting the urge to plan things so I can have some nice, unstructured time.

  • Like 6

Conquius, Level 5 Cavalier

 STR: 10.5  | DEX: 8  | CON: 12  | INT: 13  | WIS: 8  | CHA: 10.5

"Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim."

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On 5/26/2022 at 5:46 PM, Conquius said:

First weekend in a while where I have no plans, no travel, etc. On top of that, it's a long weekend due to the holiday.

 

Sounds like you need it - enjoy!

Level 22 Rogue Ranger

Welcome to the Dungeons of Doom; locate the Amulet of Yendor ♀ on Level 26

Challenges: 1, 2, 3, 45, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 1415, 16, 17, 18, 1920, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26

 

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On 5/26/2022 at 12:46 PM, Conquius said:

Might be a good opportunity for some extra rest. I'm resisting the urge to plan things so I can have some nice, unstructured time.

Great idea. How'd it go for ya?

The Way

Better Now than Back Then

Better Now than Later On

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Hey gang! I'm still alive, I just tend to go quiet when things aren't going too smoothly.

 

My funk from 2 weeks ago snowballed a little bit. Missed some workouts, didn't do much in the way of GCP Exam Preparation, and had to buy some stuff in preparation for a camping trip. On the plus side, the camping trip was really nice.

 

I'm still gunning for that GCP Certification Exam, it's just not going to happen before the challenge is over.

 

I appreciate y'all checking in.

 

PXL_20220610_020010347.jpg.1b9b95befe0eace043308c827e6fd167.jpgPXL_20220610_020117030.jpg.543f61aa7f93e92f7ddf0e8fc489a375.jpg
 
  • Like 3

Conquius, Level 5 Cavalier

 STR: 10.5  | DEX: 8  | CON: 12  | INT: 13  | WIS: 8  | CHA: 10.5

"Perfer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim."

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