February 2009 monthly report

This is my fourteenth 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: 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.

The problem here turned out to be that most established habits compete with my set goals for my free time. I didn’t accomplish very many of my goals this month.

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.

Warm-up
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)

This was a joke. I’ve done some handstand exercises, but mostly in connection with diving. A fair amount of that kind of practise also makes one unable to do anything else (it’s both hard and stupid to embark on a tough program when the shoulders are still sore from last day’s diving). Complete failure.

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.

To be honest, I lost count, but I think I did around eight. I managed to increase my record a few seconds (it’s now 37 seconds for tucked planche), but I need more discipline than this if I’m to succeed.

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.

Diving again! Excellent! I can go there on a regular basis, usually Monday, Tuesday and sometimes Thursday or Friday. I’m extremely happy to be doing this again and I’m immensely grateful for this wonderful opportunity. I’ve been to the diving pool roughly seven times, around three hours every time.

I don’t know what happened to the goal of stretching for ten hours (it disappeared), but I think I managed to complete that one, or at least I was very close. More stretching is good, and ten hours seems reasonable without overdoing it.

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 might have managed to pull this one off if I had started immediately, because I actually had a lot of time on my hands the first two weeks. Now I have almost no time at all, which means I failed this goal miserably. I did write a few words and I have basic ideas for short stories, but nothing comes close to the goals I set. Studying comes first.

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.

To be honest, I’m not sure I need more Chinese now, but it felt like that at the beginning of this month. I haven’t started writing and I’m not sure I’d like to.

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.

No, not really. I have gone through what I knew before and I’m up-to-date when it comes to writing characters, but I haven’t incorporated the miscellaneous characters into my vocabulary and won’t do so for a while yet. My regular studying puts too much pressure of this kind as it is.

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.

I’ve found a few interesting options, now all that remains is to apply, which really is the bulk of the work. It’s not difficult, but it requires time and is quite annoying and frustrating.

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.

I’ve found lots of people, of whom I’ve met only two. I want to establish regular habits for meeting people, perhaps a couple every week. This is something which will have to form naturally, though, so I’m not going to stress it. Right now I need language exchange badly, so I’ll do my best.

Looking forward: March 2009

Physical – I have a few areas I want to keep developing, most importantly diving. Even though I’ll be busier than I thought at first, I’ll try to go to the diving pool ten times in March. That should be enough to progress.

Furthermore, I’ll keep going with planche and front lever workout; here ten times should be enough, even though more would be desirable. My current record for tucked front lever is 48 seconds.

Even though it doesn’t feel very important now, I also want to keep going for the one-arm chin-up, but at this pace it will take ages. Doing OAC workout ten times should take me a bit further down the road.

Same as for last month, ten hours stretching is on the menu for March. I need to increase flexibility in my legs, as well as abdomen and shoulders. It takes time, but it’s worth it.

Creativity – I don’t know what to do here. I spend a lot of time in front of the computer as it is, and most of my creative projects involve writing. I can keep the goal from last month to complete part one as well as write synopses for five short stories, but it might be hard to keep. Still, I need to find a balance where creative output fits into my normal life. I’m going to start role-playing here again, but that’s not the same as writing. I can feel motivation for writing role-playing related stuff is stirring, but it’s too early to do anything about it.

Education – It seems like I’ll be in a class which level is way above mine and it will require a lot of effort to survive. My goal is simply to do all the homework, prepare all texts in advance and make sure I get my 85/100 I need for the scholarship.

I’m also going to apply for an extension of the scholarship I have here, which means that I’ll have to collect and send a lot of documents to the Taiwan office in Stockholm. It’ll be a bit frustrating, but it needs to be done before the end of March.

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