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December 2008 monthly report

This is my twelfth monthly report. To review introductory comments and the purpose of these reports, please refer to the initial report made for January 2008. Text in italics is copied from the previous monthly report for reference.

Looking back: December 2008
The next report probably spells the end of monthly reports as they have functioned previously, so I will make my best to make something good come out of it. During December, I will probably me quite busy with things not covered in these reports, so I will try to be moderate when setting my goals. As usual, I will begin with the physical part.

The monthly reports will continue, but accompanied by a separate system to manage goals on a slightly larger scale. I will post the first entry concerning this new way of getting things done tomorrow.

Physical – I think I should change my chin-up workout to greasing the groove (i.e. doing hordes of repetitions through-out the day), but the problem is that I do not yet have a chin-up bar at home. Therefore, I will set the same goal as that of last month. I will do physical workout aimed towards the one-arm chin-up at least eight times in the coming month.

I did ten. No problems. My sprained finger is almost healed now and my right side is again stronger than my left (the difference is perhaps only 5 %, but it is still a notable difference when doing workout first with one hand and then the other). I can proudly say that I can now to a fairly controlled negative one-arm chin-up (i.e. starting at the top position and lowering myself to a dead hang).

Following last months success with hand-balancing, I feel that I can leave two-handed handstands for a while. Instead, I will focus on two things: handstand push-ups and one-handed handstands. I will shelve walking in stairs for now. The push-ups need some change, because doing them with the auxiliary workout does not work. I will change to greasing the groove, aiming for 500 repetitions in December. I will begin by not touching forehead to the ground, but will try to lower the push-up gradually. I also intend to practice one-handed handstands eight times. Right now, I have no idea how difficult this is, but I will do my best to map whatever difficulties might lie ahead.

I did 800 and could probably have done much more (I thought of aiming for 1000, but thought better of it). After having done 500, I decided to take it easy for a while and rest for the upcoming challenge (see physical goals for next month). One problem with these push-ups is that they stress the lower back pretty heavily. I am not sure if this will go away with more practice, but right now I need tons of stretching to alleviate this problem.

The one-handed handstand is also a success insofar as I have managed to gain some sort of balance against a wall (I can do roughly 25 seconds on my left hand and 15 on my right). Before 20 seconds or so, balance is the only problem. Also, my results are not very stable, since most of the attempts are utter failures of only a few seconds duration.

I failed the eight times I set for the auxiliary regimen last time, but I really think I ought to try again. Since it is highly flexible and can be done anywhere, I also think my moving around or being busy should not present a serious problem. Thus, eight is the number of times I will aim for this time around as well.

Success this time. I like these exercises, although they will probably be changed next month regardless.

The vertical is progressing, I think. Including the jumping in the auxiliary workout makes it unnecessary to treat separately. I cannot reach the ceiling in my apartment with both hands yet (one is pretty easy), but soon I will. Squats and jumping will continue as before, meaning the same as the chin-ups, eight times a month.

This is also a success, but I can still not reach the ceiling with both hands. I now have roughly three weeks to achieve this goal; the outlook is pretty bleak.

Here are some results from December, with last months maximum, if available, in brackets. Results in italics are completely new.

Normal chin-ups: 22 (19)
Normal pull-up: 18 (10)
One-handed chin-up: 7 x 2 (7 x 2)
One-arm chin-up,, 30 kg assistance: 3 x 2 (3 x 2)
One-arm chin-up, 40 kg assistance: 12 x 2 (10 x 2)
Negative one-arm chin-up: 1 x 2
Negative one-arm chin-up, 20 kg assistance: 3 x 2 (3 x 2)
Negative, one-arm chin-up, alternating, 20 kg assistance: 7 x 2 (5 x 2)
Pulley-aided one-arm pull-down: 10 x 2 x 90 kg (7 x 2)
Pulley-aided one-arm pull-down: 6 x 2 x 100 kg (5 x 2)
Pulley-aided one-arm pull-down: 3 x 2 x 110 kg
Pulley-aided one-handed pull-down: 12+ x 2 x 130 kg (10 x 2)

I currently weigh 78.8 kilos, without any swimming at all, so so far I have been able to keep my weight below 80.0 kilos as defined earlier. This means that I have succeeded with all physical goals this month, which is the first time ever that happens. I feel very good about this and will set my goals slightly higher next month!

Creativity – Sad to say, I do not think I will have the time or energy to focus very much on creative matters, but the novel will be in focus. Perhaps I will be able to start writing or at least finish planning, but I will not set an ambitious goal I cannot reach.

I have finished planning the first part, which enabled me to begin writing the novel itself. I have written 8000 words so far, which is not much, but enough. The important thing here is that I have begun writing and that I have some sort of momentum. I need to increase my writing time if I want to finish this novel in the near future (say, before summer), but I think I will be able to do that.

Lucid dreaming – I think recording dreams is a good way of seriously focusing on dreams and what they contain. Even though this was a complete failure last time, I will try again.

Yet again, the results are a bit unpredictable. I did not record any dream at all, as far as I can remember, but I still had three lucid dreams during December, which is almost equal to the sum of all lucid dreams in the past. I seem to do something right, so I intend to continue this way. The key is sleeping when fairly rested, preferably in a couple of hours after going up in the morning. I have made little progress in exploring dreamland, though, but I am sure that that will come in due time.

Looking ahead: 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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