January 13th, 2009

krazy koati

When all the others fail to break the tape

With the Cleveland road trip at long last buried: there's some news on the home front too. One of the intended but delayed Christmas gifts was a Wii, for which we'd gotten a WiiFit thingy and a couple of games. Last week, at last, we got the Wii through some sort of marketing bundle deal thingy with Toys R We. For the first day the game box was left unassembled, with just the parts taken out of their box by my father, who likes taking things out of boxes and deciding which pile of empty boxes (in the living room, in the foyer near the garage, or in the garage) he can put the empty boxes into next. He's getting arthritic and needs the pleasures the can take from life.

The next day I was put in to set things up, and while there's not a permanent arrangement --- there are a lot of wires and we've really hit capacity on what can go through the circa-2000 designed wire holes in the entertainment center --- we were able to try out Sonic Versus Mario Olympics, in which characters I'd only encountered in the many awful fan fictions of Sonic the Hedgehog play ping-pong with each other. And then we set up the WiiFit thingy, a plastic pad I worry about breaking by stepping on, and soon spent my first half-hour of exercise-like activities and first hour of setting up my preferences so I could actually use the exercise-like activities.

My early impressions of it are favorable. The gadget is all about the positive reinforcement. It features your simulated `trainer' reassuring you that everything was a great job; and scores being given even to activities like yogic Deep Breathing; and a high score table which in case of ties puts your new score in the higher-placed spot; putting `coins' into a time bank for each minute you spend at something; and cheerily unlocking new options or new exercises when you do enough work. I'd actually like it to spend a little less time on rote sentences about how daily practice is key to developing tone or the like; I'm reinforced enough by graphs and numbers whose meaning I do not at all understand.

Among the little discoveries I've made are: over the course of a half-hour total exercise which may include things like simulated tight-rope walking I can lose nearly two pounds; while I'm fairly stable looking left-right I am terribly wobbly forward-back; and I am atrocious in the walking-in-place `balance' exercise. Also the machine calculates a ``WiiFit Age'' based on performance in two randomly chosen agility or balance exercises per day, which shows almost no sense of repeatability. While five of the seven days on it so far I've come in with an `age' about two to four years below my actual age, I managed once to come in eight years over and another fourteen years younger. Whatever it is they're measuring I don't know, but it's got numbers attached and I want more numbers.

Trivia: In 1941 Henry Ford showed off a handmade plastic car and wore a suit made from processed soybean. Source: Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire, Richard Bak.

Currently Reading: Tsar: A Thriller, Ted Bell.