Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Teckle, Teckle, SQUIRREL!

We've got a new foster pup! Her name is Sophie, she is an adult Dachshund mix. She is heartworm positive, but money was just donated for medicine so she will soon begin treatment and then be us while she recovers. "She's" blogging on Indypaws so check there for future updates. I am expecting her to be pretty pitiful during her recovery:

"After treatment, the dog must rest (restricted exercise) for several weeks so as to give its body sufficient time to absorb the dead worms without ill effect. Otherwise, when the dog is under exertion, dead worms may break loose and travel to the lungs, potentially causing respiratory failure and death."
My understanding is that the treatment is for a dog much like chemotherapy is for a human. But once she's through, she'll be ready for life with a family of her own. After this expensive treatment (about $1000 by some accounts), she will be in pain and crate-confined except for yard trips; all of which was preventable with a 10¢ per day medication. For more info, see the Heartworm Society's website.

She hasn't started treatment yet, so I'm seeing more of her usual personality than will be evident while she's treated. Sophie is a mellow girl, gets along with other dogs and kids. She loves to lay outside on the deck and watch the yard. Unlike her canine housemates, she doesn't bark at squirrels, the neighbor's dogs, or figments of imagination. She does howl with the occasional siren though, as many dogs will do. She is so very happy to get even a bit of attention, and makes an unexpectedly loud 'THUMP' when she hits the floor with her tail. Instead of chewing on toys, she likes to carry them around and then lie on top of them. She tolerates baths, nail trimming, and ear cleaning with quiet dignity. She is also an enthusiastic sleeper who likes to be early to bed, and late to rise. Her coat is a wirey, dilute black-and tan (mostly tan) and doesn't shed much.

She also has the most amusing Datsun-style lope out in the yard - she moves around, bippety-boppity, resembling one of those pull-behind toys for toddlers, where the head dips up and down as she goes. I'm trying to get her listed with some dachshund breed rescue groups too. Wish us luck!

Sophie was sheltered at Southside Animal Shelter in Indianapolis, and is listed for adoption on Petfinder.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Wii Were Weak While Wii Week Was Welcoming

I am so happy with my local Meijer for helping me to get set up with a Wii Console during their recent Wii Week event. I pre-ordered the Wii Fit from Amazon, figuring I could pick up the console after it arrived. Somehow, I missed out on noticing the cabbage-patch-doll-mania that is being applied to the Wii, until I tried to get one. Week after week I checked the store after seeing the Wii Console in their sales flyer, but I was never there before they sold out. Finally the helpful manager and I connected and he let me know about the shipment they were expecting for Wii Wiik and thought my odds would be pretty good, if I showed up when the event started at 1:00 pm on that Saturday. I tried to improve my odds, and showed up at 9 am to see if they were selling already but the manager was good to his word; the electronics department clerk did not have any and was still waiting for the shipment. One dear grandmother was already in queue waiting to get one for her grandkids. I had some appointments I couldn't reschedule, so left the store. At 12:30, I was back in line with my 8-year-old and about 10 people ahead of me; the clerk was helpful and said that they had enough for everyone in line now. This was very kind in allaying my son's fears that he wouldn't get one. We waited, chatting with the other customers and it was actually kind of fun to swap Wii acquisition stories and know our wait was soon to be over. At 1:00, the clerk passed out the units with a Distinct Lack of Fanfare and we were on our way. My husband was kind enough to wait in line also to get a unit for a friend in Georgia who was also having trouble getting one. Kudos to that store manager for moving that merchandise that day - he knows a thing or two about customer service.

So, once I had the Wii Console I broke open the Wii Fit. I like it! I really like it! And my normal attitude towards exercise is that it is fine, so long as you don't do it in the street and scare the horses. I have about as much desire to exercise as an overweight hound.

The Wii fit is engaging and light spirited enough to keep me interested. I was also pleasantly surprised at how multi-functional it could be: you can use it as a work-out diary to track non-Wii Fit activities, or as a package scale. My sons are using the rhythm boxing game to practice their Tae Kwon Do punches.

Here's my wii fit review from Amazon; I hope you find it useful:
I started using the Wii Fit a week ago. The yoga is actually fairly realistic - if beginner-level - and for what I'm doing, the specific feedback based on my movements is very precise and immediately applicable. It is like working with personal trainer - one who seems oddly deaf and somewhat out of touch, and prefers a really bland gym, however. After the yoga exercises, I got an analysis that right away picked up on some core instability I have related to a former back injury. I've been doing yoga long enough that sometimes with a live trainer, I can hide that flaw that but there was no hiding from the Wii Balance Board. I do wish it were possible to set up a series of yoga poses and run through them; the stop-and-start to go through the menus in between poses is disruptive. Just to see if it was giving generic feedback, I had the kids do the yoga too and it analyzed different things for them (and has a sense of humor - "You seem to have trouble with balance. Do you trip when you walk?") Even my child who is a reluctant reader is happy to puzzle out the words on screen in order to get to the activities. Given the fact that we're experiencing 100-year rains locally and play-outside time is limited, this has been a wonderful indoor activity. Additionally, the games are a lot of fun. The wii fit also does a nice job of integrating other user's Miis into the games so that even a user who is not currently playing can see his or her Mii on screen and feel engaged.

The only criticism I have is substantial but not a barrier to use. The single fitness goal they offer for a user is to set and track weight change. Nintendo needs to provide additional goal options, especially for kids, such as to improve balance or posture.

The wii fit will calculate a user's 'wii age' which has provided some strange values for a child. It is confusing for the kids - the wii said to my 6 year old son 'you are weaker than you should be' after he scored a 13 in his real age. I would think that for someone under X age should not have a wii age calculated. Note that he is 3'10" and 45.6 lbs, has a purple belt in Tae Kwon Do, and recently ran a 5k race and finished 3rd in his age group. I checked with the US CDC's growth charts, and his weight and age put him in the 75th height and 25th weight percentile. As another example, my 8-year-old son is pretty amused by the fact that his wii age has been variously calculated as 17, 41, and 23 on different days. So now he jokes with me that the wii says he is old enough to drive.

If the feedback for children isn't accurate, there should be some way to disable it. I wrote to Nintendo's customer service 4 days ago regarding this, but have received no response.

As a parent, I would strongly advise against having any children with eating disorders or body image issues from using the wii fit until Nintendo can correct the feedback it provides to children, or include a function that permits a parent to disable such feedback.