The 1002nd day

On the 10th of September, 2007 I started a small project that my friend Lee introduced me to. The idea was simple enough: a to-do list of 101 items to be completed within 1001 days. Those 1001 days ended at midnight last night, and it is time to take a look at everything I managed to do on that list within the ~2.75 years. The list will be posted below.

1. Sponsor a child.
2. Offer to buy a homeless person a meal without being asked.
3. Do 10 chin-ups.
4. Read a non-fiction book.
5. Get a job.
6. Meditate every day for a week.
7. Draw a picture.
8. Go for 40 hours without eating.
9. Watch all the Lord of the Rings films in a row.
10. Write a letter to someone I’ve never met in person.
11. Go to an art gallery.
12. Go to a museum (wax or otherwise).
13. Not talk to anyone for a whole day.
14. Have a real sword fight.
15. Hug a stranger.
16. Get into uni.
17. Visit a Buddhist temple.
18. Go on an Edmund Rice Camps for Kids WA camp.
19. Give $300 or more to India.
20. Go rock climbing.
21. Take a massage course.
22. Pass four of the Zelda games.
23. Campaign/protest/rally against something.
24. Dress-up for some reason.
25. Attend a yoga or tai chi class.
26. Sit in the city and write stories about interesting people.
27. Rip an apple in half with my bare hands
28. Have a drum lesson.
29. Climb in through a window rather than use the door.
30. Play laser tag.
31. Celebrate Day of the Ninja.
32. Eat a whole apple, even the core.
33. Watch at least three episodes of “24”.
34. Go to the movies by myself.
35. Learn first aid.
36. Watch a documentary.
37. Get drunk.
38. Do the Wii Fitness test 100 times.
39. Buy a work of art.
40. Become an official member of Amnesty International.
41. Go to a real party.
42. Go to the zoo. Pay homage to the penguins.
43. Get my P’s.
44. Have my tarot read.
45. Take someone out to lunch.
46. Make something out of a cookbook.
47. Hold a hand stand for 5 seconds.
48. Try aikido.
49. Visit Katie’s house.
50. Pass Final Fantasy X.
51. Pass every song on Guitar Hero III, all difficulties.
52. Read (or at least skim read) all of the Childcraft books.

53. Watch at least three new animes.
54. Play Dungeons and Dragons.
55. Hug a male.
56. Re-learn all the Hiragana characters.
57. Learn Morse Code.
58. Play a game of poker.
59. Get “Age: 20” 100 times in the Wii Fitness Test.
60. Catch a train to somewhere I’ve never been.
61. Ride a pony.
62. Taste Dr. Pepper.
63. Solve a rubics cube.
64. Complete a jigsaw puzzle.
65. Watch the third season of Heroes.
66. Go to a play.
67. Try archery.
68. Run up a downwards escalator.
69. Give someone a bouquet.
70. Try a dessert I’ve never heard of before.
71. Learn three new piano songs.
72. Ride the campus courtesy bus.
73. Wear contact lenses.
74. Learn 100 new words.
75. Get a pet dog or rabbit.
76. Punch someone in the face.
77. Learn calligraphy.
78. Give a waiter/waitress a tip.
79. Learn to cook.
80. Sit an IQ test.
81. Go ice skating.
82. Join a gym.
83. Officially start learning another language.
84. Go overseas.
85. Ride a bike to the city (or somewhere equally painful).
86. Cosplay for an anime convention.
87. Walk somewhere that takes more than an hour (on foot) to reach.
88. Buy a CD from a busker.
89. Do a front flip or barrel roll.
90. Sit down in a park to read a book or write a story.
91. Donate blood.
92. Enter a competition.
93. Write on every single page of my 2007 diary.
94. Get a zippo lighter.
95. Attempt to drink an egg.
96. Read a magazine from cover to cover.
97. Ride a roller coaster.
98. Buy a doll from Oxfam.
99. Take swimming lessons.
100. Finish reading the rest of the Rurouni Kenshin manga.
101. Go to Scitech.

Initially the list was very hard to produce, and over the years I made many amendments along the way as I thought of better goals or different ways of phrasing them. Here is the list of edits!

EDIT: 68 has been changed from “Get a boxing bag” to “Run up a downwards escalator”.
EDIT: 25 has been changed from “Go to a real party” to “Attend a yoga or tai chi class”.
EDIT: 101 has been changed from “Do the splits” to “Go to Scitech”.
EDIT: 73 has been changed from “Get contact lenses” to “Wear contact lenses”.
EDIT: 41 has been changed from “Throw a shuriken” to “Go to a real party”.
EDIT: 98 has been changed from “Pay back all my financial debts” to “Buy a doll from Oxfam”.
EDIT: 66 has been changed from “Voluntarily go to some kind of performance (eg. circus, concert, play etc.)” to “Go to a play”.
EDIT: 51 has been changed from “Pass every song on Guitar Hero III, all difficulties” to “Pass every song on Guitar Hero III, Hard Mode”.
EDIT: 40 has been changed from “Get a state alchemist’s pocketwatch (from Fullmetal Alchemist).” to “Become an official member of Amnesty International.”
EDIT: 80 has been changed from “Write a play” to “Create a postal stamp”.
EDIT: 35 has been changed from “Read all of Sunshine’s blog” to “Learn first aid”.
EDIT: 31 has been changed from “Celebrate the International Day of the Ninja” to “Celebrate Day of the Ninja”.
EDIT: 80 has been changed from “Create a postal stamp” to “Sit an IQ test”.
EDIT: 21 has been changed from “Obtain all the Animorph books” to “Take a massage course”.
EDIT: 99 has been changed from “Touch a celebrity” to “Take swimming lessons”.
EDIT: 82 has been changed from “Sleep outside (preferably under a bridge)” to “Join a gym”.
EDIT: 71 has been changed from “Learn to juggle bowling pins/knives/flaming torches” to “Release an arrow from its bow”.
EDIT: 79 has been changed from “Go to a shooting range” to “Learn to cook”.
EDIT: 85 has been changed from “Use only chopsticks for every meal for three days” to “Ride a bike to the city (or somewhere equally painful)”.
EDIT: 14 has been changed from “Have a real sword fight with bokken or shinnai” to “Have a real sword fight”.
EDIT: 83 has been changed from “Wear a cape/cloak for an hour or more” to “Officially start learning a new language”.
EDIT: 71 has been changed from “Release an arrow from its bow” to “Learn three new piano songs”.
EDIT: 52 has been changed from “Eat a whole apple, even the core” to “Read (or at least skim read) all of the Childcraft books”.
EDIT: 54 has been changed from “Help an old lady carry her shopping/cross the street” to “Ride a wheelchair”.
EDIT: 65 has been changed from “Make a shirt” to “Watch the third season of Heroes”.
EDIT: 38 has been changed from “Spend a whole day in the library, from the hour it opens to the hour it closes” to “Do the Wii Fitness test for a month straight”.
EDIT: 38 has been changed from “Do the Wii Fitness test for a month straight” to “Do the Wii Fitness test 100 times”.
EDIT: 61 has been changed from “Ride a horse” to “Ride a pony”.
EDIT: 48 has been changed from “Join aikido” to “Try aikido”.
EDIT: 27 has been changed from “Start weight training” to “Rip an apple in half with my bare hands”.
EDIT: 32 has been changed from “Look at all the new deviations on my deviantART account” to “Eat a whole apple, even the core”.
EDIT: 54 has been changed from “Ride a wheelchair.” to “Play a game of Dungeons and Dragons”.
EDIT: 72 has been changed from “Learn the language Al Bhed” has been changed to “Ride the campus courtesy bus”.

As you can see, I had moments of hesitation and uncertainty, but more or less managed to do most of the things on the list! One of the conditions I set at the commencement of the 101 in 1001 was that for every article undone, I would donate $5 to charity. With thirteen items remaining, that’s a relatively small sum of $65, which I’ll forward to Oxfam. However, I’m not giving up. Those goals are still goals, even if I’m overshooting the deadline. I’m disappointed in myself for not bothering to put aside the time to do some of the simpler items, or preparing for some of the larger ones, especially as the close drew closer. Nevertheless, I’m not giving up, and plan to enjoy pursuing my goals.

Although I may stop crossing them off a list, there’s still so much I want to do in life, so much enrichment to be had. Perhaps, as I have grown these nigh three years, I might start a new list with new directions… We’ll see.

It’s been a pleasure.

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Hello world!

So! After five and a half years of blogging with Windows Spaces they have made a move towards WordPress. I think I like the change and how clean this site looks, but I will miss the background of that curious boy looking up into space through a telescope. I don’t have time at the moment, but I’ll customise and fully pimp out the site in the future.

Speaking of not having time, this seems to be an increasingly regular occurence. You know, I made the change to studying part-time in order to have more time to study. Instead I justified taking on new hobbies and commitments, instead becoming busier than ever. In high school I followed the philosophy “You’ll always have the same amount of time, it’s up to you how much you fit into it”. I figured that in a week you could have no commitments or ten and the week would be just as busy, with more or less achieved. I don’t think that’s such a good rule to live by. Parkinson’s law is that work will expand to fill available time, so you’ll always be busy no matter how hard you try to get it all done. It’s just doing work that counts. And lately, I think I’ve gotten my priorities wrong with study somehow piling up, readings going undone as I struggle to hand in overdue assignments. It’s amazing how I let myself end up in such situations, but I guess I just enjoy procrastinating.

So, I’d like to end this blog entry with a short note to myself. Xin, now is that time you’ve been putting your work off until. Today is the day you knuckle down and get everything done. There will never be tomorrow, so don’t wait until then to do what you have to, and to do it damn well.

Now, onto a more important blog entry which has been somewhat overdue…

Body Combat

About a year ago, probably more, Eugene started going to the gym. At first I was really happy that he was making a choice to look after his body, but I wasn’t sure how to show it in case it came off as offensive. After a few weeks he was still going, and I didn’t think much of it. He’s been going ever since, three to five times a week I think. He’s been really working hard, and coupled with a significant diet change (starting with leaner meat and less fatty foods, to like six carbs a day now) he’s really gotten in shape. He was by no means fat before, but he’s really toned down and become surprisingly muscular.

I once went with him to one of the outdoor training classes his personal trainer holds- after the first half hour of the hour and a half, I had to lie down because I was too dizzy to continue. We thought it was low blood pressure, but sadly when I later investigated, I was just unable to keep up the pace. Eugene on the other hand ploughed through, doing the harder variations of the exercises and doing them quickly, without apparent need for rest. I’m really impressed with how healthy he’s become! He recently invited me to a Body Combat class, which I understood to be a kind of aerobics with moves inspired from Muay Thai, Boxing, Karate, Taekwondo and various forms of Kung Fu. Considering my shameful attempt at the last class I joined him in, I thought this would be right up my alley and I could keep up with if not surpass the instructors. Foolish, foolish me.

The hour-long class was a lot more aerobic than I anticipated, spent almost entirely bouncing on the balls of the feet, interspersed with punches, knees, kicks and a block or two. Come ten-to-nine, I was quite tired and looking forward to the end of class. And when the clock rolled past nine o’clock, I realised that we started at 8:30, not 8, and I was barely halfway through. I tried to maintain form, keeping my guard up and making the hits count, but I was just so tired that I began to shortcut my technique towards the end in favour of conserving energy. Now I am by no means unfit, but as I discovered, neither am I at the top of my game. I was particularly impressed with the instructors, who were yelling out encouragement and talking all the way through the course, as well as working hard for the full hour. And Eugene didn’t seem to tire at all- he told me at the end of class it was the easiest session he’d been in. Holy crap. As we were driving home, we were talking about our styles of exercise, and we’re both more for sprinting than endurance. I offered to race him from the end of the street back to our house, just to see if he was indeed a faster sprinter, and it was only mildly surprising to discover he was.

So there you have it! My brother is faster, stronger and more endurant than me (if that’s a word). I still have flexibility on him, but that’s no great feat and he could overtake me if he wanted to. I’m proud that he’s transformed his body so wholly, and it inspires me. To be perfectly honest, I’m pretty scared of going back- I pushed myself so hard and yet fell so short- how much harder must I push to get results? To the limit, every time? Beyond the limit? It’s a pretty wrecking experience to give it your all and still not be quite good enough, but maybe I’m taking it the wrong way. I might not be ready for another class for a little while, but I can (and should) still commit myself to becoming healthier, if not for combat, for my body’s (and my pride’s) sake. Guess I’ll continue to see where my limits lie.

Housesitting

Recently, Rebel Empire travelled to Melbourne to perform at Worldcon- a convention held in various places across the globe every year. They worked very hard over the past few months to put together a performance that was half stage and half movie, telling the story of two jedi padawans investigating the mysterious disappearance of their master. It’s all very exciting stuff, and I’m keen to see footage of how they all went.

While he (and his partners) were gone, he asked me if I would do the honour of looking after his house and pets in his absence. That big old house, alone with Bethwyn, with an impressive theatre room, hundreds of movies, all the consoles from the past two generations, and a beautiful dog and three skittish cats to look after? Heck yes! So Bethwyn and I moved into our sensei’s house for about ten days to make sure everything kept functioning and everyone was eating. And let me say this: it was awesome. Specifically the days when I chose not to do any study were the best- hanging around the house with hundreds of DVD’s and various series to watch, games to play, books to read and study to do (the last two of which I did very little). Plenty of training, learning to cook and clean regularly, getting an idea of the responsibility of walking a dog, and most importantly learning to juggle commitments. We were going to clean the house more thoroughly (we even bought a cobweb brush which got very little use but was sorely in need of purchasing), but it was pretty spick and span in anticipation of our arrival. It was really wonderful spending so much time alone with Bethwyn, doing housework and looking after her when she was sick, but it was at the cost of study time or going out to social events. Bethwyn always takes priority, but it did get a little frustrating at times how much housework I had to do in tandem with assignments and meeting friends. I guess it’s just about not doing too much in too short a time, but I have the nasty habit of filling all my free time with new things to do, so I never "get enough time".

Unfortunately, those happy days with the massive movie collections and dozens of games, the feeling of independence is going grocery shopping and cooking every day, the constant (sometimes too insistent) presence of friendly pets and life with Bethwyn in general have passed now. It was an amazing experience, and truly the best place I’ve ever lived in. I hope some day to get a house or apartment that Beth and I can move into for a longer period of time, but we both got a good taste of how wonderful it will be, as well as some of its challenges.

Welcome home Kaneda-san! Welcome home Cameron! Welcome home Ju Bean! I hope you found everything in order.

EDIT: Actually, there is one more thing I’d like to say. I learnt something valuable from this amazing excursion. Having a place to look after (minus laundry and long-term cleaning, like mopping, dusting or disinfecting) was really enjoyable. The independence aspect of it was great, but even more enjoyable was having a place to come home to with Bethwyn. I learned that no matter where we are, no matter how many spiders or how much housework, living with her is the most wonderful thing in the world, and anywhere we’re together is a place we can call home.

Assassin’s

Last Wednesday, AniCu (Curtin Uni’s anime club) held a modified and shortened game of Assassin’s. For those of you who haven’t heard it, Assassin’s is a game played largely across universities in America and involves a large number of people signing up, receiving information on a ‘target’ (their timetable, picture etc.), and must find a way of ‘killing’ that target when they’re alone using a variety of creative, mostly harmless weapons. Wikipedia it if you care for  more, but I personally think it’s an awesome game. It’s designed to promote a sense of "healthy paranoia" as you’re walking along with your best friend and all of a sudden they draw a nerf gun and start shooting at you. I spent some time training with my Maverick and designing my outfit so that it maximised mobility and accessibility to a variety of weapons, including but not limited to three Nerf guns, a foam sword and a spoon. The day did not quite turn out as I expected it to though- we were not walking around, searching for targets, but walking around talking to each other and trying to find out who our target was. You see, AniCu’s variation on the game, as well as being much shorter (Assassin’s can take months to finish, as once you kill you target you acquire theirs, until you are the last remaining assassin) was based on codenames. I was told I was Solineum (however the hell that’s spelt) and was supposed to kill Lithium and Xenon. Much of the game was spent asking people if they knew who these people were, and if they wanted to know anyone else’s identity in exchange. To aid with identification, fake money was stashed around campus which, if found, could be exchanged for the name or picture of your target. I spent the first two hours of the game looking for money so I could cash it in, when someone on my team came up to me and said he knew the identity of Lithium. I gave him $1000 for it and he told me, then as I went to look for the person, he poked me in the back with a ballpoint pen.

I’ve replayed the scene in my head many times. Although I don’t remember it clearly (due to shock, I imagine), he said I turned to look at him as he approached, indicating I knew something was about to happen. I guess I assumed he was going to tell me something more, but all of a sudden that innocent gesture of a poke in the ribs had assassinated me. All that training with accuracy and dodging and rapid firing and quick reloading was over. It was a legit tactic, but it was really annoying because at the onset of the game, the other members of my team and I agreed we wouldn’t betray each other, but he didn’t say anything. Unfortunately, the game I had trained for was very different to the one that played out- kills weren’t made in isolation: they weren’t one-on-one assaults when no one else was around. One person walked up to someone in a crowd, shot them and walked off. Hardly stealthy, but that was the rules, and it required a different tact. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a second chance to try again- I would have gone straight for identities and information rather than acting casual and bothering to holster all my weapons, unlike everyone who carried their guns around casually in their  hand, locked and loaded. Okay, I’m still a little annoyed it wasn’t at all about stealth so much as deception and betrayal, but there was eventually  another round with modified rules.

For those who remained, the second round was much more straightforward. There was a set playing area of about 200m squared, we were given the names of our two targets and told to kill them, then kill the team  leaders (if we could). This was much more my style. I knew exactly who I was after, and one of my targets was the former team mate who had stabbed me in the back, so I was stoked. At an attempt at being forgiving, I gave him one of my Nerf guns because his only weapon was his pen. Then the group split up, presumably to find cover. I immediately went in the opposite direction of everyone else, camping on the second story of a building and watching everyone move. When I identified my target, and essentially slid down the side of the building, stalked from cover to cover, then when I was within 10 metres, sprinted at him, firing as I did so. Unfortunately, one other person in the area started sprinting as well, and I decided to go for my target before turning to face him. It turns out I was one of his targets, and even though I shot him in the face, he had apparently got me in the back as I chased (and missed) my mark. It was a fairer, funner and admittedly shorter. The round played out a lot longer, with members picking each other off one by one. I wish I had the patience to make a more tactical approach rather than running and gunning. Next time, I hope.

So that was the first AniCu games of Assassin’s. Afterwards, most of us with Nerf guns just hung around the lecture hall shooting at each other. I got pretty good at evasion, managing to dodge most of the bullets fired at me and closing in when they needed to reload. I tried a bit of sword vs gun work, and the sword wasn’t so much a shield as an aid when dodging. There was this one amazing round though when the person was firing at me and I was running towards them. I dodged the first bullet, deflected the next two with my sword, dodged the fourth, deflected the fifth, and dodged the sixth just as I closed in and cut him from hip-to-hip with a mighty kiai. It was glorious.

Well, that’s it for now. Looking forward to future games. More tactics, less trust. Oyasumi.

The Most Important Meal of the Day

Whoo! First blog update of September. Yeah it’s been a while. I guess I’ve been busy living life rather than blogging about it, but I thought I’d make a quick interim (if that’s the right word) to update y’all in the four minutes I have before my shift starts.
 
First off, the 40-hour-famine! Because of my recent charity-crisis, having felt betrayed by World Vision, I didn’t collect any money this year. Not for them, anyway. I was given $15 by friends, which I’ll donate to Oxfam, but anyway. I’ve wanted to fast for years and years, and so I planned to do it over this weekend (a week after is was supposed to be). However, due to an unfortunate coincidence in timing, I have work at the hour I’m supposed to stop (right now, actually, as I type). So instead of gorging myself now, I’ll work the extra shift, then hit up Utopia for a freaking huge dinner with everything I’ve been craving in the past two days.

The most difficult part of the fast was the D&D game I was at last night- that table covered in junkfood of all sorts: Doritos, Kingston’s, marshmallows, ginger creams, Smith’s original, Mother, ginger ale, assorted Starbursts, pies and vegetable fingers, Pods for crying out loud… I couldn’t stop staring at the food! Some of them teased me goodnaturedly about it by exaggerating how delicious it was, and while I could have really gone for a sub on the way home, I held out proudly.

 
For some bizarre reason, I’ve only felt hungry twice since it started. The first time was around lunchtime the day after I stopped eating- we were walking through Carousel and all the hot food was kinda tempting. Not ravenously tempting, just mildly tempting. Like a "Yeah, I could go for some hot chips right now" sort of thing. The second was later that day at work, around 3pm where my stomach was rumbling for a few minutes straight, then promptly settled down. A little while ago I felt a kind of aching pain in my stomach, but it wasn’t really hunger. I’m still not hungry, even now. How strange.
 
Part of the reason for my doing this is to test my mind and test my body. When Kaneda was a teenager (14-17), he went for days without food as part of his training, surviving only on water and orange juice. I am doing similarly, although his training was much more intense, pushing him to his limits. In one such session, his grandfather had been pushing him particularly hard for three days, and his cuts became progressively worse as he became more delusional with exhaustion and hunger. At the end of the trial, before he was permitted to rest, he was instructed to make one final cut through a piece of bamboo, so he summoned all the strength he had remaining for one final blow. It was perfect. The bamboo seemed to split in the air as his blade cut through it, and as he finished the cut he wretched violently, vomiting before collapsing, holding his heavy sword off the sullied ground.
While I’m not going to push myself that hard without supervision, it is an inspiring story, and I too wonder how much I can take before I have barely the energy for one final cut.
 
Well, gotta go. Late for work. I’ll continue updating later. Next up: Assassin’s.

EDIT: Done! I ended up going 43 hours without eating, breaking the fast to eat a biscuit and three lollies halfway through my shift. I was just proving a point, but honestly, I didn’t need to eat that badly. I got the growling tummy around 3pm again, but that seems regular, regardless of when I last ate. I didn’t really notice any difference except being a little less energetic in the morning (though I still took Orielle for a jog- who’s Orielle you ask? Keep reading) and a little crazy due to tiredness, but I genuinely believe I could have gone another few days without noticing that much of a difference. Tell you what though, I’m feeling it now. Utopia was too far away, so we ordered pizza for dinner, and I had something like seven slices and three and a half servings of dessert, plus some fried rice, biscuits, green tea, apple juice and way-too-strong bubble tea. Normally I can eat that much comfortably and digest it off within half an hour for seconds, but it’s been like five hours and I’m still full. I think my stomach’s shrunk. An important lesson: I don’t actually need to stuff my face on principle.
I’m really glad I did it. I got to know my limits a little more, plus learned some handy tips for looking after myself when I can’t afford food, or are otherwise starving to death. Next mark: two days straight. And if I feel up to it, maybe three.