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Rainbow Dragon's Dares

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    Thank you Whirly Anek

    The internist was useless. He spent 10 minutes questioning my father about his MS symptoms. He then mis-diagnosed him as having primary-progressive MS (he doesn't, he has secondary-progressive MS) and told us there are no treatments for primary-progressive MS (therapeutic options for chronic-progressive MS, whether primary or secondary, are indeed limited--but we already knew that!) So that was a waste of time. But at least it was only a phone call and not a stressful and dangerous road trip to some far away clinic.

    At least my father is improved from the UTI now. He's still on the antibiotic, but he feels and outwardly appears to be back to himself. I made him chicken fajitas last night, and he ate his pre-illness usual amount of food and was able to feed himself without making much mess.


      That's great news that your father's doing better. I hope you're all able to have some time to recover now.


        The Great Backyard Bird Count is on!

        a female red-bellied woodpecker looks out over a caption which reads: How many birds can you find?  24th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, February 12-15, 2021

        The count runs from today through to the end of the day on February 15. You can participate from anywhere in the world, no matter your level of birding experience. Check out How to Participate if you are new to the count and want to give it a shot this weekend.

        Bonus: if you want to take a deeper dive into bird geekery, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Birds of the World website is free to access for the whole weekend. Birds of the World is an online encyclopedia of birds which contains all kinds of cool and interesting facts about specific bird species.


          So glad that your father is improving! Having his appetite return must be very encouraging!

          Thanks for the bird links! I would really like to get better at identifying the birds in my area. I particularly have trouble with all of the little brown and/or grey ones.


            Thank you Zastria Mamatigerj !

            Mamatigerj the LBJs (little brown jobs) are challenging! If you have a smartphone, the Merlin Bird ID App can help you to identify them (and other birds). If you don't have a smartphone, some of Merlin's features are accessible via a computer. Go to and click on the "Try Merlin" banner at the bottom of the page.

            If you have a bit of money to spend and really want to learn your LBJs, the Cornell Lab has an excellent Sparrow Identification Course. It's a bit pricey, but the content is good, and proceeds from course sales go to support the lab. The Bird Academy courses do come on sale from time to time.


              Year 51 Goals Progress - One Month In

              I've set some monthly goal posts to track how I am progressing with my Baker's Dozen Goals for my 51st Orbit Around Sol. Most just break my overall goals down into 12 equal segments, but a few are weighted to expect more progress during the summer months and/or completion before the end of the year. Here's how I'm stacking up against my targets one month into the year:

              Goal for the year: 1000 km running.
              Goal for February 13: 84 km
              Achieved by February 13: 95.1 km

              Goal for the year: 3000 km total distance
              Goal for February 13: 250 km
              Achieved by February 13: 259.5 km

              Goal for the year: 100 hours yoga/dance
              Goal for February 13: 8 hours 20 minutes
              Achieved by February 13: 2 hours 34 minutes

              Goal for the year: sub 22 minute 5K
              Goal for February 13: 27:30
              Achieved by February 13: 28:30

              Goal for the year: 50 push-ups in 1 unbroken set
              Goal for February 13: 15
              Achieved by February 13: 16

              Goal for the year: achieve an unassisted press-to-handstand
              Goal for February 13: no benchmarks established yet
              Achieved by February 13: N/A

              Goal for the year: complete "Ornithology: Comprehensive Bird Biology" course
              Goal for February 13: Chapter 3
              Achieved by February 13: Chapter 3*
              * Chapter 3 includes a lot of supplementary material, some of which I have not yet looked at. The course is set up such that the supplementary material sometimes involves quite deep dives down interesting rabbit holes. I love to explore those rabbit holes! But doing so at the expense of forward motion is not always in my best interests. So, for the purposes of goal tracking, I'm going to consider a chapter complete when I've read the compulsory text and passed all of the quizzes.

              Goal for the year: 100 nature journal entries with sketches
              Goal for February 13: 0
              Achieved by February 13: 0

              Goal for the year: 100 complete bird counts submitted to eBird
              Goal for February 13: 0
              Achieved by February 13: 22

              Goal for the year: learn the songs and/or calls of 100 bird species that breed in Chatham-Kent
              Goal for February 13: 10
              Achieved by February 13: 10

              Goal for the year: complete the Fluenz French program through Level 5
              Goal for February 13: Level 1 Session 24
              Achieved by February 13: Level 1 Session 24

              Goal for the year: pass French fluency tests for reading, writing, speaking, and listening
              Goal for February 13: no benchmarks established yet
              Achieved by February 13: N/A

              Goal for the year: achieve an unassisted pull-up
              Goal for February 13: no benchmarks established yet
              Achieved by February 13: N/A


              on or ahead of target: 8/13
              behind target: 2/13
              still no established targets: 3/13

              I'm not too worried about the 2 behind target results. I had hoped to run a 28:30 5K this month since I was able to do that last summer. But then the weather turned colder. Snow and ice and winter running gear all have significant negative impacts on my speed. So I'll most likely remain behind the eight-ball on this goal now until the spring. But no worries. I'll be able to catch up once the weather turns warmer. As for the yoga, frankly, it's amazing I managed to get any in this past month at all. But I'm figuring out how to shift things around so I can better fit yoga into my schedule. So I expect to be able to catch up here soon without too much difficulty.

              The "no benchmarks established yet" goals are bigger issues at this point. I have been working on all three, and I have seen improvements in all three over the past month. But has it been enough improvement to get me to where I want to be by my 51st birthday? That's impossible to say without benchmarks along the journey.

              Re: pressing to handstand: I can do a partial press to handstand now--by starting with my feet elevated. So a possibility here for establishing a set of benchmarks would be to set a series of progressively decreasing booster heights until I am eventually able to press up from a toes-on-the-ground starting position. Such a progression is difficult at present since my limited indoor space limits my options for handstanding safely. (I don't have room to fall out of a handstand safely. So I need to be 100% confident that I won't fall.) Once I'm able to train outside, however, I will be able to fall safely. Which will open up the things I'm able to attempt significantly. I may therefore need to simply consider my winter work as preliminary strength training and establish a benchmarks schedule in the spring.

              Re: pulling up: Benchmarks were easy when I had access to a pull-up machine with an assistive weight stack. Now I just have resistance bands. And it's going to be a long time before I'm able to switch to using a lighter band. Pulling friends: do you have any suggestions for this one?

              Re: French fluency: I first need to establish what the tests will be before I can begin to gauge how well I am progressing towards them! I am at least working on these skills daily, and I am seeing improvement on all four skills. So there's that.


                Very pleased to here some positive news about your father, RD.


                  Could you unassisted pullups benchmarks include things like dead/flex hangs for strength building, unassisted negative pullups or increasing the number of assisted pullups?

                  Looks like you've made a great start to your year, especially with everything you've had going on in recent weeks


                    Thank you Colin and Zastria !

                    That's the line along which I'm thinking too, Zastria . But I really have no idea what the benchmarks should be. I did a 60 second flexed-arm hang earlier this year. (This was already an improvement on my previous lifetime PR, which I had set as a child.) And I can currently do a 10 second unassisted negative (with fresh arms--when I do multiple negatives in a row, the best I have managed on 2nd and subsequent reps is 8 seconds). 18 months ago my unassisted negative was ~ .25 seconds. (I could not slow my descent at all!) It's impossible to judge how much of my improvement here is actual strength gains, since 18 months ago I weighed 40 lbs. more than I weigh now. I don't expect (or want) to lose much more weight now. So I cannot count on the work getting easier due to the load getting lighter going forward.

                    DAREBEE's How to Build Up to a Pull-Up guide suggests that if one can perform > 10 slow negative pull-ups it is time to try a full pull-up. But how slow is slow? And how far away from an unassisted full pull-up is 10 slow negatives? The guide also suggests that if one can perform a flexed arm hang for > 10 seconds it is time to progress to negative pull-ups. Eighteen months ago I could not hold a flexed arm hang for anywhere near the 60 seconds I did last month. But I could hold one for > 10 seconds. And yet I could not do slow negatives at all.

                    I think my best performance so far at multiple reps of slow negatives is 5 reps at 8 seconds each. Should I be working towards 10 reps at 8 seconds each? Or ten reps at 10 seconds? Or even slower? I don't know what would make for helpful targets at this point.


                      I am taggingHellYeah , here, cuz he has lots of good advice about this. As I recall hearing, the amount of “time under tension” that you can spend is the single largest contributor to forward progress.


                        Rainbow Dragon DorothyMH
                        I'll have a look... but I will need a bit to catch up...


                          There is more then one dimension to work on a compound movement like the pull-up.

                          Your self declared weakness right now are the slow negatives. If you wanna work on these, you should benchmark that exercise first. You know you hit your first milestone, when you can stop for a second on the way down. At any point.

                          From there you can progress your duration of the hold.

                          I hope that helps, ... good luck on all your goals...


                            Ah, stopping on the way down?! That’s a new one I hadn’t heard....I’ll toss that into my bag of practice moves for pull up progression Thanks for that, @HellYeah!


                              Originally posted by DorothyMH View Post
                              Ah, stopping on the way down?! That’s a new one I hadn’t heard....I’ll toss that into my bag of practice moves for pull up progression Thanks for that, @HellYeah!
                              It came to my mind as a regression of frenchies/ progression of negatives, maybe it is cause "blocking or holding a position" is a big "thing" in climbing training.


                                Good to read you dad is improving!