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January 2009 monthly report

This is my thirteenth monthly report. To review introductory comments and the purpose of these reports, please refer to the initial report made for January 2008. For more overall planning and goal-managing, see the Project page. Text in italics is copied from the previous monthly report for reference.

Looking back: January 2009

January will be a little bit hard to plan, because a lot out of the ordinary will happen, such as my parents coming to Taiwan for vacation and my moving to Gaoxiong. Since I will join my parents, it is almost impossible to tell how much time I will have left for personal projects such as studying, exercise and creativity. That being said, I will set ambitious goals and do my best to accomplish them.

Physical – I will remove going to the gym from my schedule from now on, basically because I do not plan to pay for that after I have moved. Also, it is much more convenient to focus on exercises that can be done at home. However, since I do not yet have a chin-up bar at home, I will still do that in the gym. Since I only have half the month available, I will aim for four sessions in January, aiming for the one-arm chin-up of course. Coupled with this, I will do four squat workout sessions.

No great progress here, but the five sessions I did weren’t enough to expect that. I did some minor improvement on the one-arm chin-up, but nothing worth noting here. Still, the goal was easily achieved.

For the handstand push-ups, I have decided to start the one hundred push-up training program, but of course, I am going to do it vertically instead of horizontally. I have really no idea how long this will take me, but since I want to solidify my handstand push-ups anyway, I thought I might as well do it in an interesting way. My intention is to follow the program as written, with the only difference of adding the word “handstand” before every “push-up”. I will begin this challenge on Monday 5th and will write about it more then, so stay tuned.

Since January consisted of four complete weeks, I had four chances to complete various weeks in the program. I was very close to managing the first week on hard (the rightmost column), but failed on the last day. Next week, I felt that I needed to rest more to avoid injury and only completed two days on the medium difficulty. The third week was successful on the medium level, and so was the first try on the second week. This means that I’ve finished two weeks on the program, which isn’t bad at all. My current record stands at 17, but that is at the end of a session and not fully rested.

The one-hand handstand is slowly, slowly progressing, but I need to practice more if I want to reach any notable results this side of my thirtieth birthday. I intend to practice one-handed handstands twenty sessions during January. I know this is ambitious, but since it is mostly balance, it should be okay. I shall have to look around for progressions from my current level, but the overall goal is twenty times.

I practiced roughly fifteen times out of twenty, which I think is okay considering that I’ve been travelling for the past two weeks and have had little opportunity or time to practice. I did spend a lot of time reading about the one-handed handstand, though, mostly on Gymnastic Bodies (a highly recommended site) and it seems like this skill might be too difficult right now. I have made some progress, but not much.

New for this month is the planche, a skill I have thought about for a long time, but never really started practicing towards. It will take a long time, but following Christopher Sommers’ guide over at Dragondoor will probably be a good start. As he specifies, the initial exercises can be performed everyday, but I will settle for twenty times during January. In short, the practice amounts to holding a static position of increasing difficulty for a total of 60 seconds every day. Right now, I can manage the second progression (tucked planche) for about 14 seconds.

Progression was fast for the first two or three weeks, leading to a record of 35 seconds (more than twice that of last month!) but towards the end of the month, I felt results dropping constantly and decided that it was due to lack of either nutrition and rest. Thus, I decided to rest for a while. In all, I did sixteen sessions out of twenty, still not bad.

Same as last month, I intend to complete my auxiliary exercise program eight times. This is not very hard workout, but it keeps me focused on some things which are pretty useful for my diving.

I did the eight sessions, but I’m beginning to question some of the exercises in this routine, not because they are bad, but because I’ll get them elsewhere. The jumping, I’ll get from the diving, together with abdominal and back workout. Also, the planned front lever and planche exercise also taxes the back and abdomen pretty much.

Also new for this month, I intend to take up stretching more seriously again. Right now, I stretch for warm-up and after heavy exercise, but not very much. I will try to stretch a total of five hours during January, not including warm-up.

Five hours wasn’t enough, because I did that without trying very hard. Only stretching after exercise and some more relaxed stretching is enough to accomplish this goal. The stretching was pretty ambitious in the beginning, but dwindled almost to nothing during my vacation. I still find this very hard to keep up.

Creativity  – With travelling on the agenda and lots of Chinese to study, I think creative projects such as novel writing or role-playing related stuff, will have to stand back the coming month. However, I do not want to lose the momentum for the novel writing, so I will try to write at least 10 000 words in January.

Success! I have written roughly 10 000 words since the beginning of the month. That means that I’m about halfway through part one of the novel and I’m gaining momentum. I’ve come to terms with writing the way I do now (i.e. not caring much about quality, but focusing on writing anything at all). Also, a determination to finish part one and then write something else for a while has helped me to focus.

Education – Since we have finished our text book and will focus on revision, I will have a lot of time to study other things. This is very good timing, because next semester I am going to study at another university, which uses a different text book. My goal for January is to finish all the books up to the book we will be using next semester. Of course, I will also spend a lot of time revising, but that is nothing new.

This is not quite a success, but not a complete failure either. I’ve revised some during my vacation, but not enough. I’ve completed the three books leading up to the book we’ll use next semester, but I haven’t revised what I’ve learnt so far. Still, there’s almost two weeks after my vacation ends to the start of the semester, so I should be okay as long as I stay focused then.

Lucid dreaming – Since this seems to be progressing well without any serious effort, I might as well enjoy it and just be careful to write down whatever experiences and reflections I have regarding lucid dreaming.

Lucid dreaming requires focus, something I haven’t had time for the past month. Still, I had one lucid dream. I realise that the progress isn’t fast, but as long as it requires almost no effort at all and still continues moving on, I’m not inclined to change anything.

Looking forward: February 2009
This month entails settling into a new life in a new city, but since the semester doesn’t start until mid-February, planning shouldn’t be too difficult. I’ll keep some goals moderate and somewhat tentative, though, because I’ll need to establish some new habits before accelerating.

Physical – This month, I’ve decided to try a somewhat different approach to handbalancing. I’ve realised that although endurance is perhaps not a goal in itself, it’s something extremely useful to have when practising. Most coaches and gurus advise that practise should only continue as long as quality remains high, and since high endurance means that good form can be kept longer, it indirectly leads to faster learning. I’ve sketched out a small program to follow, and although the order and amount might have to be adjusted as my lack of experience in this field bumps in to solid reality, I’ll try to complete this program ten times in February.

20 x 5 seconds handstand
25 free handstand push-ups
10 minutes working towards press to handstand
5 free handstands, maximum time
15 minutes total time wall handstand (normal)
15 minutes total time wall run (once a week)

I feel that the planche workout is working, but that I do to much else focusing on the same muscles. I’ll try to do the planche exercise in combination with the above program to allow for at least 48 hours rest between sessions. Thus, I will not try the twenty sessions from last month, but rather be satisfied with ten. I also want to begin working towards the front lever, but right now I lack equipment to do that (I need to find a chin-up bar, which shouldn’t be too difficult). Once I have one, I’ll start trying out the various exercises, but I won’t set a specific goal for February.

In addition to all this, I’ll be able to start practising diving again, probably as much as possible, but since I’m here to study Chinese and not diving, I’ll try not to overdo it. This will take care of a lot of auxiliary training and perhaps my coach will have more diving-specific exercises to perform. I’ll include them as I go along.

Creativity – Finishing part one seems like a reasonable goal for the novel.This means approximately 10 000 – 15 000 words, a fair amount, but in no way much. In addition to this, I’ll try to sketch out five short-stories in some way relevant to the novel, although not directly concerning its story.

I also want to start writing a story in Chinese, and since I’ve already outlined the plot, I want to start writing and finish the first part, say at least 1 000 characters.

Education – I need to take care of proper revision of everything I’ve learnt so far, and I need to do it before the semester starts. I’ve kept my reading ability and pronunciation constant, but my writing ability has declined over the past three weeks. I intend to go through and revise what I’ve learnt so far and fight the interval filter to zero for these categories of characters. Also, I’ll add all the new characters from our new series of text books and make sure I know how to read and pronounce them (but not how to write them) before the semester starts. This is some 700 items, so it will take a while.

Furthermore, if I really want to keep my options open for next year (I mean after the summer), I need to find something nice to study here. This doesn’t mean that I’ll stay here, it just means I think it’s stupid not to apply. However, some courses I’ve looked at so far required certificates of my Chinese ability, which I’m unable to get for many reasons. If I haven’t a clear plan when this month is over, I’ve no choice but to go home after the summer. Indeed, that is probably to be the outcome anyway, but I’d rather make it a choice than a requirement.

Having moved to a bigger city with a more specialised college (focused on foreign languages), it should be very easy to find people to do language exchange with. Since I don’t know yet how much time I will have for various activities, I can’t think of a reasonable goal to set aside from writing an ad and see what people turn up. That I intend to do, at least.

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  1. Alex’s avatar

    Du borde recensera Sommers senaste bok.


  2. Olle Linge’s avatar

    Jag har än så länge bara läst jättemycket som finns online av honom, men Building the Gymnastic Body står på min önskelista i alla fall. Har han givit ut något efter det får du gärna upplysa mig om vad!