Monday, May 19, 2008

Wii Fit!

Back in early April, we bought a Wii game set, together with the Wii Sports and Wii Fit software. I had seen some commercials for Wii Fit, and somehow, it seemed fun, especially the balance games.

Well, I LOVE it! It turned out to be much more interesting than I expected. I like the balance games, but also the yoga, muscle exercises, and especially the aerobics. Before we got it, I was sceptical about the muscles exercises (what can you do
I guess some Wii games have been available in the U.S. for awhwithout weights) andthe aerobics (what can you really do in the living room, with than small board), but it turns out that you can do quite a lot. I still will go to the gym to lift weights, but the Wii is good for days when I don't have time to go to the gym. The balance games can also be a way to relax in-between stints of working at the computer.
I guess some Wii games have been available in the U.S. for awhile, but Wii Fit is just going on sale there now. The New York Times has an article about it.

I'm surprised to find that one of my favorites is the boxing aerobics. Somehow, it is really fun to punch at the screen, and it works up a sweat.I set it at the advanced level, which is a 10 minute workout, but it is so fun that sometimes I take a short break--drink some water, and do a balance game--and tehn come back and do it again. (Note: Wii Fit is set up like many video games--when you first start, you can't try all the activities. You only get to have some of them after you have spent some time with it. You don't get to do the boxing until after you have done some of the other aerobics first.)

Probably the funniest thing is the "zazen". I guess that it is probably called Zen Meditation or something like that in the English version. It's offered as one of the balance games, and I guess it's meant to be more silly than anything else. You sit on the board without moving, looking at the candle on the screen, while your hear noises in the background meant to distract you. If you move, you get whacked! I've tried it a few times, and once I was really distracted, by a friendly cat rubbing up against me to be petted. I had to laugh, and I got whacked!

Anyway, I love Wii Fit, and I am hoping that in a few months or so, there will be a second edition with more exercises and games.

There are lots of Wii Fit videos on YouTube, including this parody. It's not quite doing nothing; "Leaning-side-to-side" and "sticking-out-you-leg" are not at all as easy as this suggests!

The Wii Sports is kinda fun too. It has bowling, baseball, tennis, golf, and boxing. Masashi has used this a lot more than I have, but we recently bought a second control so that we can play against each other. We've just done the bowling so far, but I have teased him about wanting to try boxing!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Typhoon and Earthquake

The news both from Myanmar and China is hard to imagine. But at least in China, we know what is going on, and we can see that the government is doing something.

I always donate money after big earthquakes, in Japan and in other countries. It's a kind of superstition--if I donate the money, the big earthquake won't hit here. And of course, I donate for other reasons...tsunamis, and this time, typhoons. But this is the first time I have made so many donations in such a short time. First, because of the sudden rise in food prices, then for typhoon and earthquake victims.

For international situations, I usually donate through Mercy Corps, because they have partnership with local NGOs in many countries, and they are also rated very highly as a charity for which a relatively low percentage goes to overhead and a high percentage to actual aid.

For donating to disasters within Japan, there is always something set up through the post office (actually, for big international disasters too). Almost no one has checking accounts here, so postal money orders are a common way to send money. They always announce the postal accounts to send money to on the news, both for domestic an international emergencies; I used to try to quickly write them down, but I them discovered that the post office has a list of them. All you have to do is go there and say "I want to send money to X", and they'll show you the list of organizations collecting money.

It's really depressing to have so many natural disasters in such a short time...and the situation in Sudan getting even worse, with a possible war between Sudan and Chad.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Starting again...

I stopped updating this blog for awhile, and when I went back to it, I discovered that the photos had disappeared... (There is an explanation, but not interesting enough to write about here.) So I lost motivation to blog. But then I got an e-mail from a friend I hadn't heard from for awhile, and he mentioned that he had read the blog, so I've decided to start it back up again.

The first thing is writing this message. The next thing will be to put a few pictures back up.