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Jothra Conquers the Universe!

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    The door opened for the first time in months. Years? It was hard to keep track in the darkness of the cell. Well, maybe cell. For all he knew, it could be a wine cellar, a regular cellar, or even an underground phone booth. It really was awfully dark.
    As the bright sunlight seared into his squinting eyes, his hand slipped slowly to the jagged, broken piece of 1x4 he had broken from the floor ages ago. It had taken a long time to sharpen it to a point by rubbing it on the rough, stone walls, but time had never been at a premium in the darkness.
    Stone walls? That should have tipped me off, he thought. Not a phone booth. Dummy. He prepared himself for a leap, though he was almost completely certain he wasn't up to fighting his way past anyone more dangerous than a punch-drunk mallard.
    â€œOh, put that away,†said a thin, creaky voice above him. In the glare, the voice was far more defined than the silhouetted body from which it issued. “I know you've been down there ages, and you've never known who or what was eventually going to open this door, but how much damage do you think a sun-blinded man in a hole can do to a person standing four metres above him?â€
    â€œFair point,†said the man in the hole. It was a tad disappointing that the makeshift weapon would never see any real use. It had been his only companion throughout his interminable stay. He'd even named it Wilson. He decided he may as well live up to a few cliches and ask a few questions while he waited for his vision to adjust. “I'll eventually care who you are, but I think first I'd like to know why I've been trapped in a big hole in the ground. It's been hampering my lifestyle.â€
    The shape at the top of the pit had slowly been forming itself into a bearded old man. His robes were old and worn, but immaculately maintained. His dim grey eyes seemed ages younger than the rest of his face, flashing from under the floppy brim of his cartoonishly pointy hat. His left hand held a familiar-looking brown sling pack. After a pause, conveniently long enough to allow even the slowest of readers a chance to finish reading this paragraph, he finally spoke.
    â€œI am here...from the Rebellion.â€
    â€œThat's great, but I asked--â€
    â€œMy fellow elders and I have been seeking you for a long time. It was only through long years of searching that I found you in this magically hidden trap.â€
    The old man made a strange, strained expression, and the man in the pit suddenly found himself rising, as the floor below him moved improbably up to ground level.
    â€œYou were lured here by Ogrod the Dreaded, the dictator and ruler of all Lodbrok. He knew even then that you are the only person who can end his reign of terror over our entire galaxy.â€
    The man in the no-longer-a-pit stared blankly. The old man sighed.
    â€œDo you know nothing of your heritage? You are a direct descendent of some of the earliest heroes of the vikings, the age-old enemies of Ogrod's trollish kind! The vikings bloodymindedly found there way into all kinds of strange places, including the very planet upon which we stand! It is here that, centuries ago, your ancestors toppled Ogrod's mighty empire, and left a free world in their wake before returning to Earth! I'm afraid he has returned, and has spent your imprisonment re-entrenching himself upon this unfortunate world.â€
    â€œThe planet Lodbrok? I'm on another planet?†the former pit dweller exclaimed. “This is a tad out of my comfort zone.â€
    â€œYour name is Jothra. You were once a strong scout on your native world, before Ogrod managed to snare you in this trans-dimensional interplanetary trap. Now you are free, and it is time to meet what, for lack of a better word, we shall call your destiny.â€
    The old man handed Jothra the sling pack. “You recognize the satchel, of course. It is yours. It was rescued at great cost from Ogrod's vaults. It is empty at present, but I have a strong feeling that you will not succeed without it.â€
    Jothra did not try to hide his confusion or concern as he took his bag. “What do I do now?†he asked the old man.
    â€œYou will find your new base of operations in a wood beyond that ridge.†He pointed a bony finger to the west. “Once there, you will have time to take stock of your situation, and begin preparing for what is to come. You must earn your way into the fold of a guild. This will take time.†He handed Jothra a small piece of tattered paper. “When the time comes, find this address, and one of my fellow elders will assign you appropriately.â€
    â€œThat's it? That's all you can tell me?â€
    â€œNo. There is one other thing.â€
    A piercing, animal scream came from behind a nearby hill. The old man started to fade. Just before he vanished entirely, he uttered one last word.


Intro thread!

MyCurrent Goals:

  • I want to hit the magic‭ ‬10,000‭ ‬steps number‭ ‬(wherever it came from‭) ‬every day,‭ ‬without fail.‭ ‬I have a three-day-old Fitbit One,‭ ‬so I'd better take advantage.‭ ‬I'm a teacher,‭ ‬and‭ ‬one who spends most of every day on his feet,‭ ‬but that doesn't even get me halfway there.‭ ‬This should be an easy one,‭ ‬as long as I can make myself get off my duff and do it.‭ ‬It's just walking,‭ ‬right‭?
  • Do something active,‭ ‬above and beyond the step counter,‭ five days a week.‭ ‬Bicycling‭? ‬Ideal‭! ‬Stationary bicycle‭? ‬If I have to‭! ‬Running‭? ‬Well...maybe I'll save that for the next challenge.‭ ‬Lifting weights‭? ‬It's not my favourite,‭ ‬but I always feel good when I'm done.‭ ‬All of this will make it into MyFitnessPal,‭ ‬which will in turn share it with the Fitbit.
  • ‬Watch what I stuff in my craw.‭ ‬Do I really need those Smarties‭? ‬Probably not.‭ ‬Do I really need to make that much pasta‭? ‬I doubt I'll even finish it if I try‭! ‬I make my own meals anyway,‭ ‬so I'll just start watching them a little more carefully.‭ ‬I'll use MyFitnessPal,‭ ‬linked to my Fitbit,‭ ‬to make sure I'm hovering around zero remaining net calories per day.

To try and keep my challenge posts shorter, I'll keep my story stuff in here, as well as keeping track of my goals in both threads. Excitement!


Here we go‭!

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    Jothra ran as best he could, but his years in a magical pit-based piece of prison-themed real estate had left him short. He risked a look over his shoulder, then stopped dead, with a look of complete disbelief on his face.
    â€œAre you kidding me?†he asked the giant shape that was rapidly moving toward him.
    It was about 30 feet long, green, and looked exactly like a pet lizard with a giant fin glued to its back. It was a classic, old-timey science fiction trope come to life. He was being chased by an honest-to-goodness Slurpasaurus!




    Despite his disbelief, Jothra took a few more gulps of air, and continued his run. He soon reached the woods, and breathed a sigh of relief when the slurpasaur refused to follow him into the trees. Jothra decided to keep moving anyway, just in case the giant lizard changed its mind.




    Less than five minutes later, Jothra found the base the old man had told him about. It was empty, and quite small, with nothing but a kitchen, living room, washroom, and bedroom. Jothra had no idea how the interior plumbing worked, or where the pipes led, but he was several terrified running steps beyond caring where the water for his hot shower came from. He stayed under the water for what seemed like ages, but was really only 20 minutes.
    When he finally exited the shower, at first it didn't register on his mind that he found a nice, thick towel hanging from the rack. What he did notice, upon exiting the bathroom, was that his small house was now suddenly filled with stuff. His stuff.
    His furniture sat in the living room and bedroom. His clothes filled the closets. His dishes filled the kitchen cupboards. His books filled the two beautiful, enormous birch shelves in the living room. His guitar, a custom steel-string acoustic, leaned in a stand in the hall. And, most excitingly of all, his two bicycles sat, one above the other, in a wall rack in the bedroom. It was set up exactly the way he would have done it himself.
    On the coffee table in the living room was a note:

    We of the Rebellion have reacquired your possessions from Ogrod's vaults. We hope you will feel at home in your new headquarters.
    Along with this note you will find our last gift to you until you have earned your way into one of the guilds. It is a Model FB1 Tracker Unit. It will allow you to track your progress, and, more importantly, is the key you will soon need to travel between Lodbrock and the Rebel Lands on Earth. Do not lose it, and do not allow it to fall into the wrong hands.
    --The Rebellion

    Jothra picked up the small, black and purple device. It was smaller than his thumb. As he brought it closer, the screen flashed HELLO...WESSLEEY. Puzzled, he looked back at the note.

    P.S. - It calls everybody Wesley. We don't know why.

    Sticking the note to the refrigerator (where was the electricity coming from?), Jothra set his jaw, and prepared for the hard work ahead.


Day 1 was pretty simple, though it was a lot of work. Since it's Easter break, I didn't have my job to get me moving around, so after an hour-long bike ride, I took an 8000 step walk. I was going to finish the stepping goal in Wii Fit (probably in Island Cycling or something), but it was way too nice out, so I braved the slurpasaurs again.


Fitbit Numbers (the ones most related to my goals, anyway):

Steps: 10,285

Floors Climbed: 10/10

Very Active Minutes: 87/30

Calories In/Out: 2568/3542


Other Activity:

Bicycling: 00:56:17

AVS: 25.28 km/h

MXS: 42.11 km/h

Av. Cadence: 60 (I know, I know...I'm a gear masher. I should really try spinning faster.)


I was on a nearby highway that rarely sees any traffic, so I played Zombies, Run!, which works perfectly well whilst on a bicycle. In my head, I heard "slurpasaur" instead of "zombie" the entire time, because sometimes my brain is like that.


In case anyone is wondering, most of my worldly possessions were in storage (well, a shed) for the five years between my finishing my teaching degree, and me finding gainful teaching employment. I'm still enjoying the novelty of having all my stuff again, so I just had to work it into the story.

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    HELLO...WESSLEEY read the tracker as Jothra tucked it into his belt. He was ready for another day of exploring the strange world around him. He had determined that the hilly plain to the east of his headquarters was empty of anything but slurpasaurs and animals too dumb to stay away from fast-moving, giant, carnivorous lizards. To the north and south were forests and mountains, similar to the sub-boreal forests of his youth. Today, it was time to see what he could find in the valley to the west.
    One thing he had noticed was the smattering of well-packed roads scattered throughout the woods. These were as hard and smooth as an asphalt road back home, so he threw on his bike gloves and helmet (though he was willing to bet it wouldn't do much good if he found more slurpasaurs out there), grabbed his sling pack, and took his road bike down from its place on the wall.




    Outside, he straddled the Blue Meanie (everyone else names their bicycles, right?), and after an extremely short ride, found himself in a village!
    â€œI should have come this way on day one,†Jothra said to himself. During his pit-dwelling days, talking to himself was, counter to all expectation, one of the few things that helped him stay sane. “There's a market over there, and my fridge is down to a bottle and a half of V8 and about a dozen containers of cottage cheese.â€
    Jothra had found the Fire Village, and decided it was time to meet a few other denizens of his new home.


You can tell I don't draw bicycles too often. Yeesh.


I spent most of Day 2 out of town. I really did go from my house to the grocery store, but I walked rather than cycling. I brought my road bike with me, and meant to ride it longer, but an annoying creak from my shoe cleats prompted me to cut it short for some (most likely successful) repairs.


Fitbit Numbers (It really does call me WESSLEEY. I call it "Mr. B."):

Steps: 10,090

Floors Climbed: 9/10

Very Active Minutes: 56/30

Calories In/Out: 2657/3407 (Mr. B. says I'm "in the zone". I'm going to assume that's not a euphemism.)


Other Activity:

Bicycling: 00:30:02

AVS: 24.74 km/h

MXS: 32.64 km/h

Av. Cadence: 58 (I spent too much time either messing around with my left foot/pedal interface or slowing for cars with their brights on.)


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     With his new groceries (mostly more V8 and cottage cheese, really) in his mysteriously-powered refrigerator, Jothra decided to head out again. After all, the fresh air was doing him wonders, and for someone who had spent a long time living Plato's Cave in a completely non-allegorical way, sunlight was still novel.

     This time, despite knowing better, he decided to head into the slurpasaur plains. After all, he was on a bicycle! From what he had seen, outrunning the goofy-looking movie lizards should be easy enough on two wheels. Jothra was mighty curious about what might be on the other side of all those giant lizards.

     He threw a leg over his aluminum steed, and set off into the east.

     For all of 20 minutes, Jothra rode quickly over the hilly plains, without so much as an inkling of slurpasaur attention. What's more, in the distance, he was pretty sure he could see another town far off on the horizon, though through the distant fog it could be anything. Unfortunately, it was while his focus sat so heavily on what was ahead that he heard the telltale primal scream.

     A slurpasaur snapped from his left, and another from his right! Jothra put on an extra burst of speed, and managed to put some distance between himself and the monsters...

     ...Until he suddenly found himself sliding painfully across the ground.

     “Ow!†he shouted. It was a deep and meaningful statement, sure to be immortalized in the annals of history. It was also the most polite word he shouted, and certainly the most printable. His frustration was warranted, however; he was lying on his left side, his hip already beginning to throb, and his right hand bleeding from the inside of his thumb. A cursory examination of the ground immediately drove him two or three notches on the obviously well-researched and standardized Jothra Surprisedness Scale of Perplexion.

     “Train tracks?†he shouted at the – yes – train tracks. “Here? And why are they wet? And on...is this macadam?â€

     Yes, it was. He managed to struggle to his feet. His left leg was throbbing dully, while his right thumb was casting off all subtlety and aiming straight for intensely painful. He could also feel something tender near his left elbow, but he knew he didn't have the time to worry about it. There were monsters afoot!

     Apart from some cosmetic scratches on the right shift lever and some pretty torn up bar tape, the Blue Meanie was clearly unharmed. Jothra could worry about his own injuries later. First, he had to get past the two slurpasaurs to make it home alive!


Today, I forgot the first rule of cycling over wet train tracks: 90 degrees, idiot. Anyway, I managed to tank it on some tracks that I honestly forgot were even there. It's more than a little embarrassing. Fortunately, the bike just needs some new bar tape, and I just need to be nice to my bruised upper thigh.


That's what happens when you leave while it's snowing, bike in an area you rarely visit, in another town, without using your tiny cyclist brain.


Anyway, I was 3000 steps below my walking goal, because I had only made 5000 before I flew ass over teakettle. I managed almost a couple thousand more after I was ready to walk again, but then midnight hit, and the Fitbit started logging them for the next day instead.


To make up for it, I minimized calorie consumption in the evening.


And you know what? Accident or not, it was actually a pretty nice bike ride. So there is that.


Fitbit Numbers (Mr. B. also gained a cosmetic scratch, but it's fine):

Steps: 6,782

Floors Climbed: 30/10 (walking up and down my parents' stairs, over and over, which hurt like crazy go nuts at first, but helped me loosen the leg back out)

Very Active Minutes: 46/30

Calories In/Out: 2301/3060


Other Activity:

Bicycling: 00:29:17

AVS: 23.03 km/h

MXS: 33.03 km/h

Av. Cadence: 59 (Not surprising.)


I should be back on for proper walking tomorrow. Of course, I'll let you know if that changes for any reason.

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     Jothra should have been sitting. His leg was, after all, a tad on the sore side, even if he was pretty sure it was just an awkward bruise. He had no idea where to search for any painkillers in this place, either. Regardless of his discomfort, however, he knew he couldn't be too idle. Restful, yes, and careful, certainly -- a more serious injury would effectively hobble him for who knows how long -- but idle? No.

     Since bar tape seemed unlikely to be growing on trees, he was instead using some carefully horded electrical tape to patch the wrecked section of his bike's bar tape. It would do.

     Suddenly, as he looked up from what he was doing, Jothra saw an old man watching him from the doorway.




     It wasn't the old man from the pit, though he was certainly similar. The old man held a long willow staff in his hand, and Jothra got the impression it spent a lot of time slapping wrists. Or possibly kneecaps.

     "I see you've managed a boner move already," the man said. Jothra said nothing. There was absolutely no way to respond to a comment like that from someone that old.

     "Nothing serious. It's a bit achy when I sit down and stand up."

     The old man, with astonishing speed, smacked Jothra's left thigh with his staff. Jothra winced, but managed to choke back a yelp.

     "You'll live," said the old man, apparently oblivious to the fact that Jothra had just told him the exact same thing. "Take this. Be careful in your training. Do not render yourself useless when the time comes to join the guilds."

     Still rubbing his leg, Jothra took a tube of some strange ointment. All it said on the container was "Leg Stuff: For Legs. DO NOT USE ON NOT LEGS."

     "Thank y--" Jothra started. But the man was gone. Jothra shrugged, and went back to his minor bicycle repairs. He wanted the bike ready when he was.


My leg feels much better today, and my elbow and thumb are just about back to a slightly (and temporarily) uglier version of normal. I don't actually have Leg Stuff: For Legs. DO NOT USE ON NOT LEGS in my possession, but it was nothing some old-fashioned, normal painkillers couldn't handle. I don't like taking them, but sleep is awesome, and so are working quads.


Fitbit Numbers:

Steps: 11,045

Floors Climbed: 14/10

Very Active Minutes: 64/30

Calories In/Out: 2621/3441


Other Activity:

Bicycling: 00:24:38

AVS: 26.73 km/h

MXS: 43.65 km/h

Av. Cadence: 61 (slightly better...ish?)


I cut the ride a bit short, because my leg was getting tired. Surprisingly, it didn't hurt any more than before when the ride was finished, which is nice.


I had already made half my steps at a library book sale this afternoon, so I killed the rest with a walk to the convenience store.

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     When Jothra returned from a beautiful -- if damp -- walk to the village in the rain, he found a new face in his house.

     Well, a sort of a face.  A very fishy face.



A very fishy face.


   "Blub," said the...person? It looked like a man in a fish suit. Actually, it looked like a man in a fish in a suit suit. In keeping with this strange planet, however, Jothra could tell that despite its cheesy appearance, he was probably looking at some sort of genuine fish person.


     "Can I help you?" Jothra asked as he shed his damp coat, and hung his pack by the door.

     "Blub," said the fish person. "Blub blub."

     Well, it said blub blub, but Jothra heard "I was just getting out of the rain. I can't stand the stuff." It was probably the little tracker the old man had given him. It was full of surprises.

     "You're a--"

     "Yes, I'm a fish. You Land Apes are always so judgy," snarked the fish person. Jothra wasn't sure if it was the fish or the translating tracker that settled on "judgy," and he was pretty sure he didn't want to know. He was still trying to figure out how the fish person could put on his tie when it didn't have any arms.

     "I have a message for you from the Fish Queen," said the fish person abruptly. "She says that when the time comes, both she and the Bird Man King are behind you."

     Jothra took a quick look to ensure that the fish person hadn't meant they would be literally behind him, because that was the kind of thing he was learning not to take for granted around here. When he turned back, the fish man was already out the door and heading into the woods.

     "Hey," shouted Jothra. "How can you walk so fast without any legs?"


Hello, internet! My return is both something and whatever! And Jothra is finally meeting some of the other denizens of Lodbrok! Finally.


As promised before my protracted internet shortage: yesterday's Fitbit numbers! It was raining a little, which makes almost all exercise more fun.


Fitbit Numbers:

Steps: 10,557

Floors Climbed: 14/10

Very Active Minutes: 59/30

Calories In/Out: 2491/3337


Other Activities

Bicycling (to and from work, because it was in a bike-friendly place for a change): 00:18:02

AVS: 15.72 km/h

MXS: 30.52 km/h

Av. Cadence: 53 (the Slow Amble is very pleasant, I must say.)


Bicycling (down the highway into a headwind): 00:19:01

AVS: 22.28 km/h

MXS: 30.71 km/h

Av. Cadence: 61 (not bad, for me)


Bicycling (back home, because all headwinds are tailwinds when you turn around): 00:11:09

AVS: 37.79 km/h

MXS: 46.75 km/h

Av. Cadence: 68 (I did some stretching when I got home. My legs sure needed it.)


My numbers will be more accurate (while still allowing me to sleep sometimes like at all) if I report next-day from now on. So I will. More posting tomorrow!

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A mysterious city? Now we're talking!


     Feeling better, Jothra had headed back out into the plains, this time more vigilant for both carnivores and errant train tracks. He found neither, and the farther he travelled, the more sure he was that there was a city of some kind on the horizon, set against an enormous castle with a giant O on the front. Was this the castle of the Ogrod the old man had warned him about? Mind you, for all Jothra knew, it could be the castle of Orco, and He-Man could be waiting there with a lesson for him about how much it hurts to lie.

     He was distracted from the city again. This time, however, it was by a scream from somewhere to his left.

     “Aww, hell,†he said to himself, as he immediately struck out toward the noise. He wasn't ready for this kind of trouble yet, was he? He was still getting used to moving again, apart from a little lingering bruising from his crash the other day. As far as derring-do was concerned, he could tell he was still a wreck. But he knew if someone was in trouble, he had to help. If not him, who else?

     As he pedalled over a smal rise, he saw a human, or something like one, bent over something on the ground. Fortunately, there weren't any slurpasaurs around yet, though even in his short tenure as a local, Jothra knew it was only a matter of time.

     He skidded to a stop, breathing a touch too hard for his liking, and opened his mouth to speak. It stayed open, but no sound came out. The woman before him had what looked like cheap cardboard wings protruding from her back, but Jothra could tell they were, somehow, completely natural. She noticed him standing there, and raised herself to her full height. This might have been more impressive if she hadn't been, at most, five feet tall.



Nice wings. Are they corrugated?


     “Who are you?†she demanded, as if he were offending her sensibilities just by existing. "Why are you staring? Say something!" Her pitiful cardboard wings flapped slightly in agitation. Her purple (really) eyes flashed defiantly.

     “My name is Jothra. I live in the woods over there.†He gestured to the west. “I heard you shouting. I admit, the wings kind of surprised me.â€

     “What, you've never seen a Bird Person before?†she harped. Jothra was impressed by her apparently effortless ability to make him feel like she had caught him doing something embarrassing, like eating garbage or sticking Twizzlers up his nose.

Desperate to change the subject – hopefully into something that involved less shouting at him personally – he noticed the small, dark red 10-speed racing bike she had been bent over. The chain had broken, leaving the bicycle hobbled.

     She noticed is gaze. “My steed is damaged. I have not the tools to repair him.†She snorted in disgust.

     “It looks like a normal enough chain. I think I have a chain breaker in my seat bag.†She looked at him with a slightly (very slightly) softer expression as he fumbled to get his bike tool out of the small bag behind his saddle.

     He was interrupted by a nearby roar. He and the Bird Person locked terrified eyes.

     “We'd better hurry with that,†he said.

     “Agreed,†she, well, agreed.

     They set to work.


I didn't actually meet any hoopy Bird People yesterday, but I did go for a nice ride down the highway to Nanton. Unlike the city in the story, Nanton isn't very mysterious. It is, however, about 50km away, and is full of cool antique stores, so I think I'll bike there one of these days (once I'm sure I'll be able to get back).


Anyway, Fitbit and other!


Fitbit Numbers:

Steps: 11,902

Floors Climbed: 32/10 (mostly these were actually hills)

Very Active Minutes: 94/30

Calories In/Out: 3498/4311


Other Activities

Bicycling (away, very slight tailwind): 00:32:35

AVS: 29.07 km/h

MXS: 45.20 km/h

Av. Cadence: 71 (I tried spinning faster, and I think it meant fresher legs at the end, so hooray!)


Bicycling (Back home, then past it into Vulcan for batteries, then back home again): 00:49.18

AVS: 24.29 km/h

MXS: 45.97 km/h

Av. Cadence: 66


Before I knew I was only making half of the magically recommended 10,000 steps per day, I was having trouble keeping calorie counts in budget. Between the walking and the cycling, I'm actually making larger meals than before to meet my basic requirements (especially since I'm avoiding a lot of junk food). Exciting!


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     It only took a minute for Jothra and the Bird Person to fix her chain, but even that was almost too long. Something new appeared from over a rise; it looked like a giant stomach with four legs (lined up all in a row, somehow), two spindly wingy-things, and a single large eyeball on a stalk.

     Oh, and about eighteen million teeth.



This is really a thing? Really?


     “RAWRR!†it roared. This isn't an onomatopoeic description. It said “RAWRR!†in a booming voice that sounded exactly like Louis Armstrong with larynx trouble singing underwater in German.

     "We'll come back for the bikes,†said the Bird Person lady. Her pathetic-looking wings flapped furiously, and she immediately shot into the air, while Jothra's mouth fell open.

     “Oh, come on,†he said, throwing his arms in the air. “With those wings? You really expect me to believe--â€


     “Oh, right.â€

     Jothra didn't even have time to mount his bike. He ran for his life.

     I'll walk back for the bike tomorrow, he thought. But other than that, I'm calling it a rest day.


It really did seem like I should force myself to take a rest day. I still did my Fitbit steps, but the only time I spent on my bike was the 3km round trip to the grocery store. It was so short I didn't bother recording it.


Fitbit Numbers:

Steps: 12,498

Floors Climbed: 9/10

Very Active Minutes: 51/30

Calories In/Out: 2536/3468


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     After an unusually restful day, Jothra slept fitfully (though he couldn't tell you why). When he rolled over to find the clock reading 4:5E (he'd been meaning to replace that clock), he finally decided to stop trying.

     After a breakfast of some local cereal ("Woot Poofs"? Seriously?), he walked into the bright morning sun, and had the world to himself for a couple of hours.




Except for the Woot Poofs, this is exactly how yesterday morning went. No fooling. Up early, cereal, bike ride, shower, then time to relax before work.


I had an entire highway completely to myself, and all the sunshine I could ask for. Good times.


Fitbit Numbers:

Steps: 10,047

Floors Climbed: 13/10

Very Active Minutes: 69/30

Calories In/Out: 3161/4095


Other Activities

Bicycling (nicest morning in ages!): 00:48:44

AVS: 26.37 km/h

MXS: 49.97 km/h

Av. Cadence: 65


(P.S. -- The grey in that sunset was totally a processing accident. That's the kind of accident I can get behind.)

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Have I really been updating here for a week and a half already? Sweet.


     Jothra kept on keeping on, because he frankly didn't have the time to write stories over the weekend. At least he remembered to keep track of his progress in case any of those weird old men showed up.


Anyway, I was away from computers for a couple of days, though unfortunately not because I was out jumping into shark-infested waters or longboarding down a volcano or something (guess who finally saw Walter Mitty!) But at least I was still Fitbitting, and my road bike was kicking around.


Fitbit Numbers (for Friday):

Steps: 10,760

Floors Climbed: 2/10

Very Active Minutes: 13/30

Calories In/Out: 2423/3186


This ended up being a "rest day," because I drove to Lethbridge and spent the evening doing bicycle repair (finally fixed my bar tape! Also: new SPD pedals! My last ones were pretty cheap, and it was starting to show...) That marks my two open quotation mark rest days close quotation mark for the week (which technically ended Thursday, but for ease of reference I think I'll use Saturday as my end day each week).


Fitbit Numbers (for Saturday):

Steps: 10,718

Floors Climbed: 30/10

Very Active Minutes: 57/30

Calories In/Out: 2837/3358


Other Activities (for Saturday)

I woke up early, and left for a 42 minute ride at ten to six. It was damp, but the rain didn't start gushing until about three minutes after I got back to my friend's place.

Bicycling (nicest morning in ages!): 00:41:53

AVS: 22.84 km/h

MXS: 48.68 km/h

Av. Cadence: 61


I know it's 1 a.m. on Monday, but I'll still wait until tomorrow to post Sunday, because consistency is the key to consistency, and also because I would like to do some drawings to go with the last couple of posts.


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Sometimes, even strange other worlds get rain.


    Sunday passed without much change, though Jothra continued his training as best he could under the limitations imposed by the weather...


I know this is pretty fast on the heels of my last rest day, but it's a new week. Thank goodness I built in that cushion, because I didn't get back into town until after midnight, and I had to get up earlier than usual for work.


Fitbit Numbers (for Sunday):

Steps: 10,356

Floors Climbed: 28/10

Very Active Minutes: 23/30

Calories In/Out: 2108/3006


I hit my step goal, but didn't squeeze in anything else.


Also of note: I can't find my cheap Copic knock-off, so instead of brush pen, this time you get fine-tipped Lamy Safari Al-Star. I love fountain pen lines, but they're a lot less forgiving than thick ol' brush pens (especially when you're not pencilling first). Incidentally, pen and ink aren't the world's easiest medium for conveying rain. Nope.


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    After an entire evening spent first on his bicycle and then on foot, exploring the forest in the constant cold drizzle, Jothra found yet another visitor waiting at his house.
    This one was a Fish Person, as evidenced by its peculiar seafood smell, and also the fact that it was obviously a large fish in some kind of poorly sewn evening gown. She – Jothra was pretty sure it was a safe bet to refer to this one as she – wore a crown, and carried herself with what to her probably seemed like an air of sophistication. To Jothra, it seemed more like an air of glubbiness.



A Fish Queen bearing gifts.


     “Glub,†she greeted. “I am the Fish Queen. We shall skip the pleasantries, for I do not have much time.â€
     She handed Jothra a bundle wrapped in greasy newspaper, which seemed somehow appropriate.
     He opened the bundle, and found a strange, futuristic backpack of some sort, along with some large goggles and a new helmet. He tried them on – surprisingly, the pack's straps, crossed over his chest like an X, stretched slightly to accommodate his unusually broad shoulders. The goggles and helmet were likewise tailored to his larger-than-average head.
     He looked like something out of an old science fiction serial, like Rocketship or Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe or something. He looked at the Fish Queen with a puzzled expression on his face.
     “Blub blub,†she started. “The Rebellion has been monitoring your progress through your Tracker Unit. They are developing more hope that you will complete your first challenge, and become guild-ready sooner than later. They do not have many agents on Lodbrok, so they will require your services soon.†She made that weird O-face fish make when they're floating aimlessly around a tank, then continued.
     “You are also drawing ever nearer to danger. As you continue to grow in power, Ogrod will see you as a larger and larger threat, until he has no choice but to take care of you. This equipment will help to keep you safe, and will ease your travel when the time comes.â€
     Jothra nodded. “Thanks.â€
     Like usual, however, the Fish Queen tried to slink away unnoticed, probably for dramatic effect. Based on her substantially fishy construction, however, she looked more like she was trying to goose-step through Jell-O.
     Jothra closed the door, and wondered what to do next. After he figured out how to get rid of the fish smell, that is.


I know I said I'd stick to posting next-day, but I'm awake anyway, and I want to prove (mostly to myself) that I'm not slacking off. I'm enjoying myself too much to stop now.


Fitbit Numbers (for Monday):

Steps: 11,085

Floors Climbed: 20/10

Very Active Minutes: 52/30

Calories In/Out: 2858/3644


Other Activities (for Monday)

Cold rain. My new mini-backpack (the Shimano U6) is, as it happens, reasonably water resistant.

Bicycling (nicest morning in ages!): 00:34:49

AVS: 26.24 km/h

MXS: 37.86 km/h

Av. Cadence: 65 (not bad for not being able to see the cyclometer at all in the dark, eh?)


After the bike ride, I went for a nice walk to make up the last of my steps. The rain wasn't the pleasant warm kind I like to play in, but I still really enjoyed myself.


This picture was done with a fine-tipped "Pen & Ink | Sketch" cartridge pen. I think Mikey likes it.


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     Even though nothing had happened on any of his walks so far, Jothra was aware that he could run into anything in the darkness of these strange woods. That wasn’t going to stop him, though, because...well, because it wouldn’t stop him, that’s why.
     He was aware of a strange noise up ahead, and he strained to see. His hand tightened around the Swiss Army Knife in his pocket. Not because he planned to use it as a weapon. Oh my, no. He would be better off using a tree branch, or his teeth, or -- better yet -- someone else’s teeth. He just felt better using it as a security blanket.
     Then he saw first one face. Then another. Then a third. Three strange, dromeosaurine faces stared at him in the darkness, their sharp teeth and savage claws glistening in the bright moonlight. If it came to a battle with three carnivorous dinosaurs, even small ones like these, he was finished. He couldn't escape, either; he could never outrun anything with legs like those.
     Then his stress level dropped a notch or two as he noticed each of the dinosaurs was wearing a tiny top hat.
     The nearest creature opened its frightful maw, and said:
     “Yo. Wha’up?â€
     “Hey,†replied Jothra. This seemed to please the creatures, who melted back into the darkness, allowing Jothra to continue on his way.
     Little hats? He was never going to get used to this place.



Some kind of deadly small dromeosaurs...wearing little hats?


I guess it isn't that weird, but as I wander around the neighbourhood after dark, there are never any walkers. I saw a guy walk to his car once, but all he did was grab something from the front seat, the stare at me with a creepy The 'Burbs expression on his face as he went back inside.


Tonight there were three kids dressed in hilariously stereotypical teen clothes walking the other way. One of them said "Yo, wha'up." I replied with "Hey."


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. (The most famous comma splice of all time? I'll leave it to you.)


Anyway, Tuesday numbers!


Fitbit Numbers (for Tuesday):

Steps: 10,591

Floors Climbed: 20/10

Very Active Minutes: 49/30

Calories In/Out: 2555/3538


Other Activities (for Tuesday)

Shorter ride today! I wasn't sure I would make it to the grocery store in time if I didn't cut it short. I made it. Barely.

Bicycling: 00:19:19

AVS: 24.98 km/h

MXS: 34.96 km/h

Av. Cadence: 70


Today's picture was drawn with my heavily modified Cross Aventura cartridge pen. It's the only cartridge pen I've ever found that can run legit India ink without clogging. By all accounts, this pen is impossible.


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     It started off as a normal, if surprisingly windless, ride. Jothra was more confident in the plains all the time; it was getting to the point that the slurpasaurs didn't even bother chasing him as long as he was on a bicycle. He particularly enjoyed early morning or late evening journeys, when he felt alone in the whole universe as he pedalled through the lightly rolling hills.

     The change was completely instantaneous. The air went from calm and serene to screechy and flappy!



"Hey, stop that! You aren't even real pterosaurs! Pterosaurs didn't have any teeth!"


     Things like giant pterosaurs charged at him from all directions. Pterosaurs? Well, sort of. They looked awfully rubbery, their wings flapped like each animal was hanging from the sky by a single string in the middle of the back, and they had teeth. Teeth? Teeth?

     Jothra swerved left and right as the flock -- it was probably right to call it a flock, or a murder -- continued to swoop and charge around him, snapping tooth-filled beaks and raking with large, clawed, three-toed feet.

     "Hey, stop that!" he shouted. "You aren't even real pterosaurs! Pterosaurs didn't have any teeth!"

     They chose that exact moment to lift off farther into the sky, disappearing from view. The shouting must have scared them off!

     "Yeah, that's it! Run!" Jothra shouted.

     Just as he was starting to feel smug for scaring them off, a much, much larger shadow fell over him.



In reality, I didn't get attacked by weird, tooth-filled pterosaurs. But from 2007-2009, twice per ride (on the way out and the way back), I would get viciously attacked by a red winged blackbird. He ineffectually scrabbled at the back of my helmet, which he thought was another red winged blackbird. He would scream shrilly, throwing his hilariously tiny bulk repeatedly against my head.
One day, he figured out he could reach a toe just far enough into one of the rear vent holes to rake my hair so it stuck out of the back of my helmet. I could tell he thought he was disemboweling me, because you have never heard such a triumphant flurry of bird noise in your entire life.
I miss that guy. We were bros, even if he did want me dead.
Fitbit Numbers (for Wednesday):
Steps: 10,471
Floors Climbed: 35/10
Very Active Minutes: 81/30
Calories In/Out: 2621/3818
Other Activities (for Wednesday)
No wind at all! Marvy!
Bicycling: 00:56:19
AVS: 26.44 km/h
MXS: 38.44 km/h
Av. Cadence: 68


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Jothra likes heights, but this is just silly.


     With two four-clawed feet gripping his helmet, Jothra flew through the air with all the grace and ease of a quick meal, which is what he was pretty sure he was about to become. Like many old-time special giant monster special effects, the creature belonging to the giant legs stayed conveniently out of view at all times, leaving its appearance to Jothra's not insubstantial imagination.

     He could only think of one way out, but he knew, deep in his heart of hearts, that it was, as plans go, phenomenally stupid.

     Since he had nothing better to do, he pulled the Tracker from his belt, and read the screen.

     It flashed: DO IT ANYWAY...

     Jothra sighed. The Tracker was right.


     Well, it was mostly right.

     He unclipped his helmet, and plummeted into the treetops below.


Thursday was a pretty ordinary day until about 6:00 p.m. or so, when I decided that, headwind or no, I was going cycling. I headed into a pretty fierce wind, and worked really hard for "half an hour, and then the time to the top of the next hill", which turned out to be less than two and a half minutes later. A deal's a deal, so I stopped to enter my data on my phone...and the wind calmed down to next to nothing.




But whatever. Obviously I was committed, and even without a freaky nice tailwind, the way back would be a whole lot easier than the way there, so why not?


I worked my butt off on the way back, and even spent some extra time biking through town, just to make sure I had Jell-O legs when I got home. It was totally awesome.


Fitbit Numbers (for Thursday):
Steps: 12,103
Floors Climbed: 16/10
Very Active Minutes: 94/30
Calories In/Out: 3073/4083
Other Activities (for Thursday)

Bicycling (big headwind, way out): 00:32:28
AVS: 22.10 km/h
MXS: 39.21 km/h
Av. Cadence: 65


Bicycling (Pitiful tailwind, way back plus Vulcan): 00:31:42
AVS: 30.19 km/h
MXS: 50.61 km/h
Av. Cadence: 66 (even in less-than-peak condition, my calves are deadly beef monsters, so I tend to go faster if I mash gears like I'm trying to punch holes in the ground)


Bicycling Total (averaged together): 01:04:00
AVS: 26.15 km/h
MXS: 50.61 km/h
Av. Cadence: 65.5


Oh, yeah, and I had a 12" Cold Cut Combo from Subway after, because otherwise I would have had trouble cramming down enough calories without horking back cookies or something.


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     It was a loooooooong way down, and Jothra was pretty much resigned to becoming a smear on the forest floor...but there was one thing he hadn't counted on: narrative convention.

     He was, after all, on a planet with more than a passing similarity to a cheesy 1940s science fiction planet, and where there is cheesy television, there is always the life-saving opportunity for cheesy comic relief.



Well, this is suboptimal.


     Jothra would never forget the indescribable splatting noise he made as he plunged headfirst into a small, conveniently located mud puddle. He immediately sank up to mid-thigh, which would have been no problem at all were he not upside-down.

     It took him some time to crawl out of the puddle, but he had learned a long time ago that any crash you can walk away from is a good one. He started on the trek to recover his bike, and wondered where in this weird place he would get another helmet.


In the spirit of any crash you walk away from, here's a short, barely related anecdote, because I like the sound of my own voice (even in print form).


     When I was in Grade 8, my class (the whole thing, because there were only 43 of us in Grade 8) went on a hiking/bicycling trip to Jasper National Park. I was on bike squad, because...well, because I was, that's why.

     The rental bikes were a mess of mechanicals. One guy got a snakebite one minute out from the trailhead. One guy had a pedal come off. One girl's saddle tried valiantly to escape, but she obviously went back for it.

     The route wasn't well-marked, either. The only reason we didn't end up lost forever or eaten by bears or something is because a friend and I found some recent-looking bicycle tracks heading down the right-hand fork.

     Anyway, the mechanicals and poor signage aren't really the point. I was at the top of a pretty steep hill. I love steep hills, because as a broadly built viking-type person, I have it all my own way going down hills. I started bombing that thing like a boss.

     Suddenly, I heard a volley of shouts from the bottom of the hill, and noticed that one of the guys down there was covered in mud.


     It turns out that wasn't shade from the trees at the bottom of the hill; it was a deep pool of thick mud. My bike made it a couple of feet, then froze solid in place like it was stuck in cement. I, on the other hand, kept going at approximately warp 7.

     Before I had time to think, I found myself sitting back against a tree, coated from head to toe in black mud, staring at my still-upright bicycle. Me knee (I think it was my left?) was already swelling and stiffening, though there was very little blood.

     The rest of the story isn't very exciting, but I did have to bike more-or-less one-legged the rest of the way back to the townsite. The knee recovered 100%, though they did have to tap 22 cm3 of blood out of it first. Good times for a 14-year-old.


Ayup. There was mud in both stories, right? I think that's the only link I've got. Sorry about that.


Friday was a rest day, because I ended up taking a nap after work, and then travelling to Lethbridge in the afternoon. I already happen to know Saturday was not a rest day, so I' still on target for my weekly goals.


Fitbit Numbers (for Friday):
Steps: 10,043
Floors Climbed: 5/10
Very Active Minutes: 12/30
Calories In/Out: 2179/3062


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Three days of updates today!


Saturday I made my steps, but for family visit reasons I cut my ride a bit short. It was beautiful out, though (right up until the rain. But it was nice rain!)


Fitbit Numbers (for Saturday):
Steps: 10,032
Floors Climbed: 9/10
Very Active Minutes: 46/30
Calories In/Out: 2598/3305
Other Activities (for Saturday)

Bicycling: 00:22:18
AVS: 22.86 km/h
MXS: 35.73 km/h
Av. Cadence: 70


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Sunday I made my steps (barely), and only squeezed in a short, late-night ride after I got back to Vulcan. I explored the area that probably equates to Vulcan's small-town version of "suburbia".


Fitbit Numbers (for Sunday):
Steps: 10,009
Floors Climbed: 15/10
Very Active Minutes: 21/30
Calories In/Out: 2354/3090
Other Activities (for Sunday)

Bicycling: 00:14:32
AVS: 22.62 km/h
MXS: 32.26 km/h
Av. Cadence: 59


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     Jothra had been criss-crossing the woods for hours, discovering all kinds of new things. He had found an Ant Kingdom (they looked like people dressed in foam rubber suits), a Bear Kingdom (they looked like people dressed in foam rubber suits with hair glued on), a Moose Kingdom (they looked like people dressed in foam rubber suits with hair glued on and cardboard antlers taped to their heads), and a Dog Kingdom (they looked exacty like real dogs).

     Now on his way home, Jothra spotted a giant rabbit bounding in the grass by the trail, and decided to see if he could get ahead of it. With the best burst of speed he could muster with his tiring legs, he surged ahead, slowly closing the gap.

     The rabbit looked over its shoulder. It raised a puzzled eyebrow, rolled its eyes, and changed its trajectory just enough to take it to the road. As soon as it hit the packed surface, it shot ahead like Jothra was standing still!





     Just before it disappeared out of sight, the rabbit stopped, turned, and spoke.

     "Better luck next time, n00b!" Then it fired off into the distance.

     Jothra wasn't totally sure what to think.

     "Smartass rabbit," he mumbled.


Monday was awesome. I made my steps, but more importantly I lived on my bicycle. I have probably seen parts of Vulcan people don't even know exist. Incidentally, how can a town with 1,300 people have about 1,300 residential cul-de-sacs?


The best part was when, on my way home, I spotted a rabbit hauling ass along the ditch beside the highway. I put a huge push on to try to get ahead of it, just for fun. I was catching up, when it changed course a little, and got itself on the road. At that point, my pathetic 38.44 km/h wasn't even close to enough to catch up to the fuzzy bullet.


It was pretty awesome.


I cooled off by walking around the park/playground by my apartment. My back door, the one that leads to the path around to my parking spot, opens directly onto this park, and this is the first time I've set foot in it. Embarrassing.


Fitbit Numbers (for Monday):
Steps: 10,514
Floors Climbed: 28/10
Very Active Minutes: 90/30
Calories In/Out: 3342/4457
Other Activities (for Monday)

Bicycling: 00:25:24
AVS: 23.61 km/h
MXS: 30.52 km/h
Av. Cadence: 66


Bicycling: 00:22:13
AVS: 28.06 km/h
MXS: 38.63 km/h
Av. Cadence: 67


Bicycling (this was the rabbit trip): 00:27:35
AVS: 26.88 km/h
MXS: 38.44 km/h
Av. Cadence: 62


I forgot to measure a bunch of super slow-paced leisure riding around mini-suburbia. I'm not too worried about it.


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I love that you illustrate your own log. As for the stories, how much is based in reality? I'm trying to figure out what would constitute a moose kingdom in the Vulcan area, but I'm coming up short. The rabbit is plausible though. 

Race: Ferret | Class: Assassin | Level: 4 | STR: 6  DEX: 3  STA: 1  CON: 5  WIS: 7  CHA: 3

Battle Log | Challenges: 1, 2, 3

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