Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Mayan Adventures, Week 1...

It's been a week since we started the "Raiders of the Mayan Adventures", and it's going really well.

The workouts are solid and I've gotten used to Maya's cadence, as well as the way that the sets and transitions work inside the program. I also now recognize the icons that are used to denote rest time, quick drinks, double sets, and more in the timeline at the bottom of the screen which really does offer a great deal of support.

I'll write more after Friday's workout (workouts are 5 days a week, 30 minutes a day and the pace is very aerobic) about the program. So far I am down 6 pounds, and feel a bit strug-out, but in general have more energy than prior to this adventure.

Another Unfortunate Movie Title...

I can remember well the day my wife and I went to see "The English Patient". We went there with the knowledge that there were some significant war overtones, some planes, and probably a love story.

We were pretty much bored with "The English Patient" and wouldn't take the time to see it again.

I noticed an advertisement recently in front of a CNN News download for a movie called "The Constant Gardner" which just so happens to star Ralph Fiennes again and I have to wonder - is there ever though put to movie titles like this? The subject matter looks outstanding in this one, but the title: Eeek.

What do you think? Are there other movies that have missed the mark on creating a title? Can you name one?

I Like Tar-Get and I Cannot Lie...

For those of you that thought you were dreaming, you're not: That newest commercial for Target back to school line of merchandise, IS an altered remix of Sir Mix A Lot's "Baby Got Back.

For those of you that have forgotten about the original lyrics of this very infectious jingle, let me refresh your memories...

I guess everyone's gotta get paid :)


Blockbuster in a Different Light...

Those of you that have taken the bold steps into the Blue and Yellow doors of Blockbuster should know that you now have an option taking cues from the popular online video rental services that have sprung up over the years.

Gloria and I have, for about 2 months now, taken part in Blockbuster online - a service that sends us 3 DVDs at a time, as per a custom "que" (also known as "MyQ") that you can create, modify and add to at your leisure via a very nice online interface. The cost for the 1st 4 months is just $9.99, but after that the cost will increase to $17.99 (a recent development).

All in all it's been a very good experience. For those wondering how it works, Blockbuster charges your credit or debit card per month, and sends you 3 DVDs at a time. After watching them, you can send them back all at once or one by one, and Blockbuster then sends you the next one set in your chosen online listing and mails them out right away.

The mailing service is probably the strongest piece so far of this service. We mailed out the most recent discs at 1:30pm yesterday afternoon, and in my Email at 7am in the morning was confirmation that they had been received and that three new ones had been mailed out.

Initially when I heard that the cost was going to increase from their regular $14.99 to $17.99 I had thought about cancelling the service, but I think we're going to stick it out. We are definitely not regular "renters" but it's nice to have some movies "ready to watch" that we don't have to take time out of our day to go and get.

Next Three Arrivals:

--- Suspect Zero
--- Black Cadillac
--- The Original Assault on Pricinct 13

What do YOU think about services like this? Would you/do you pay the money? Do you take part in services like this (Netflix, etc)? How do you participate in things like this?

Imagination Perfection -- in a Hollowed-Out Head...

The most recent edition of the Simpsons makes it's way to DVD in a new "Homer-Head Package..."

For a couple of months now, many a message board has been alive with activity, claiming everything from "how novel" to "but it won't match the rest of my collection... (sigh)."

Not to be outdone, nor to not accomodate the angry hoardes, Fox added in a square card that is detailed below...
Inside the box-head is a little card:

It states:"For all those who fear change...For all those anal-retentive nerds who like their DVD boxes to line up perfectly on the shelf...For all those who dislike storing their digital media inside a hollowed-out human head, have we got a deal for you!Just call:1-800-223-2369for a very derivative, old-style, just like-new before box with almost nothing new or creative to annoy or terrify you. Enjoy!"

The phone number leads to a short joke message, which leads to a phone operator that gives you a website address to order and pay for your box, and SHIPPING FEES.nice.
The web address is simpsonsdvdbox.com

Kudos to fox for appealing to the whining, and for coming up with something new.

I'll jot a blog review over here later on this week.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Peetah... A Legend is Gone...

One of the many influencial men in my life was a gentleman named Mr. Phil Kuehn - not only my History Teacher in high school, but one of the best Wrestling Coaches ever to grace the sport. He taught me much of what I know about myself, and eventually, taught me things that I've never really understood until recently. While I could spout off a bunch of great quotes from him, the thing that I have always remembered the most was his ability to get people's attention. Mr. Kuehn would get a discussion going - trying to get input from students. The conversations were for those of us who gave a shi* in general about school and -- he always understood that.

But you could always see him scanning the room as people took turns providing input to his questions about current events whatnot - the bullet-tipped eyes behind the square rimless glasses would pop from student, to student, to student - row by row, from seat to seat.

You would also see his hands begin to emerge from behind a short 12-inch custom-built podium that he had on the table at the front of the room from which he would launch his thought-provoking questions - every so slowly his hands would climb to the top edge of the oak podium until his hands cradled the edges and then --


Down the podium would come, rocketing all of those who were unfortunate enough to be drifting to sleep (and many of us who were wide-awake) from their seats - Now, completely alert, yet surely in need of a change of wardrobe, the students with wide eyes would get a quick "and what do you think of that, Mr./Ms. insert sleeping student's last name??" Surely in today's society, there would sadly be a lawsuit waiting for Phil Kuehn - ahh the somplicity of things gone by.

This was, as you can imagine, worth every minute that I spent in Mr. Kuehn's room and helps me to remember that while not everyone can provide a worthy discussion, it only takes a second to remember why you SHOULD be paying attention when you aren't.

Later, after I graduated, I visited back to Brookfield Central many times. One year, I had called to talk to him one year and got a different teacher at his extension - sadly, Mr. Kuehn had died that very same year, from pancreatic cancer. Even more distressing, the cancer had taken his life in 4 short months.

Suddenly a podium landed - and I'd always wondered if it would ever be heard again.

"What the hell is your point, Mike?" you might be asking.

Recently, another very influencial man died. One with whom I would spend almost every weekday nite with when I was home after school in the 80's. My stepmom MaryAnn called him "Peetah" and he was the sincere voice of something that people called "journalism" way back in 1983. The times of rushing to the couch to watch the most recent happenings "in the world" were the times when she said it was "time for Peetah..."

We found out this morning, August 8th, 2005, that Peter Jennings died yesterday evening and the sad irony in his death, that made me remember Mr. Keuhn so vividly was the fact that Peter announced to the public that he had lung cancer in April - a short 4 months ago.

Suddenly, another like podium lands.

I remember seeing Peter's goodbye on television in the late days of April, and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to see him before he died.

For those of you that have yet to make the choice of quitting smoking, or like habits, please take a moment to remember Mr. Kuehn's story, as well as Peter's (who was a lifelong smoker) and consider whether you will be dropping a podium for the last time, or being around to hear someone else's fall.

Rest in peace, Peetah Jennings, you will be missed.

Raiders of the Mayan Adventures -- It Begins...

Since the birth of our daughter 2 years ago, I have been incredibly lax on exercise and, man - who can deny how incredibly easy it is to throw something in the microwave and feed it to a family, especially one with the freaky schedule that my wife and I have. In all I can safely say that I packed on 35 extra pounds - all of which I could and want to do without.

As of this last month, I've been eating much more appropriately and have lost just over 10 pounds and feel much better, but I have realized the inevitable: It's time to get back into an exercise regimine.

Powerwalking has always been a great move for me and really helped me to get fit several years ago prior to my daughter's birth. The hot days of summer here in the St. Louis area are not only hot but sticky and while I'd gladly subject myself to some of the same "pain and agony" I had previously with my 4 mile-day four times a week, I can't put a baby in a stroller and toodle out and about in this sticky hotness. That means an inside option is going to be the way to go.

We have a treadmill that has been an excellent source of exercise and I've been on it on and off over the last few months since we got it. Jade, my daughter however also wants to get on and will continue to plea her case for a solid hour until my workout is done - as many of you know, kids and treadmills do not a happy fit make.

So I turned back to walking in retail establishments recently - late last year I got thrown out of one of the malls for "walking too fast" so it's had to come down several notches in the malls which just feels like I'm not doing anything and it surely doesn't help my waistline. They even told me that I could come back and walk after rush hour at the mall, but hell: Starting a good solid what needs to be an hour straight at 8:30 each nite? It's SOOoooo much easier to get it in right after work and be done with it. So the being patient in-retail malls and stores continued until two weeks ago. We were walking at the largest mall in our area and as I walked past an EB Games store at the mall I saw something in the window for the XBox (that's a game console that you "play" games on btw) called "Yourself!Fitness" that was a "Virtual Personal Trainer". Hmmm, a Virtual Personal Trainer....

After the Sexual Healing soundtrack music and Fast Times at Ridgemont High sparkle and scratching record sound left my imagination, I realized that this really was something that might not only help me get back into swing, but also something that my wife could jump in on. She too has packed on about 20 or so extra pounds that she always asks me about losing when the time comes to try on some old or new clothes that she is sure are "her size." So what is "Yourself!Fitness" you ask?

From the website (http://www.yourselffitness.com/ or http://www.getmaya.com) :
"Yourself!Fitness brings the expertise of a certified personal trainer and nutritionist into your home to guide you through a personalized health and fitness program. Maya, the Yourself!Fitness personal trainer, will help you choose your health and fitness goals and then she will work with you to achieve them."

Sounds pretty cool, doesn't it?

I agree - when you read on the program sounds very cool, engaging and something that (hell, like any other exercise tool) when used can really help to make a difference in your life. Shortly after finishing that walk, I logged on with my Sidekick and checked out Walmart.Com to see if we could take advantage of buying the softare with Gloria's discount and SURE ENOUGH! I also checked Google to see some reviews via a variety of game sites that are located on sites that I participate in (1) (2) (3) (4) and was very satisfied with the reviews I'd seen as well as the options that the program would provide and the potential it has is really something special as well. I was also happy to find that it was available for the PC too! $26 and some patience provided us with the program a short week later. It arrived today and I've just finished my first set with the program and I'm very enthusiastic about it.

The set up with "Maya, your Virtual Personal Trainer" takes a little more than 20 minutes total, asking you questions about your goals, your current physical make up, the current equipment that you own, and something I've never seen before: a real "test" to see what mind of physical shape your in.

After some the set up, and providing a general schedule skeleton, they give you the option of selecting the dates, frequency, and duration of your workouts per day. I've selected 5 days a week, and (of the 5 options provided that can be changed to at any time) I chose "weight loss" as my desired category. Something that they also go over very clearly and to the point is your general weight in relation to the governing standards of fitness today, so be prepared to be told that you are "not in the current category of overall fitness for your body type and weight."

Ahhh, another straight-forward to-the-point-woman just like my wife! Super! :)

It's good to see a little bit of real life inside of a program - I am thankful that they don't coddle you like many of the video/DVDs that I've seen lately.

A short but action-packed 20 minutes later, I had my heart racing, my eyes feeling like a million dollars (I always seem to have clearer vision when I work out and complete - no idea what that is), and the burn that I have is very solid for just 30 minutes of work. According to the program, I burned 189 calories while doing my series of aerobic moves and crunches and weight lifting. It's about half of what I'm used to pushing with a good solid treadmill workout, but (trumpets tout a dandy fanfare) Jade really got a kick out of watching Maya do her thing and me copying her. The program's website also has links to a variety of "Community-based" componants, and has an upgrade that you will need to be sure to get should you decide to get the program. I found it strange to have such a powerhorse computer at the house that was hobbled by this program. The patch helped bring it up to speed though so - just be aware that you'll need it on anything that isn't a stock system that meets the requirements.

So it looks like a very satisfactory Mission:Accomplished so far and providing this detail in a variety of places will also help shovel enough guilt on my shoulders to stick with this program, to stick with Maya, and get back down to my fighting weight of several years ago (a nice yet solid 200 pounds.

I will have some pictures as the time goes on of me - and I have confidence that my "Mayan Adventures" are ones that will clearly leave not only an impression on my life, but also on my future - which is what we're all striving to make better, isn't it?