Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Viva la Revolution! :: Death By Movies : We Do It So You Don’t Have To

September 5, 2012 Leave a comment

Viva la Revolution! :: Death By Movies : We Do It So You Don’t Have To.


Death by Television — Life on Mars: Some Things are Just Better in Britain | Death By Movies

August 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Look! My first official post over at Death by Movies!

Go check it out and show us some love!


Death by Television — Life on Mars: Some Things are Just Better in Britain | Death By Movies.

Friends don’t let friends drink and write…

April 11, 2011 4 comments

I know I used to write fanfiction and even (gasp) ran a somewhat popular fanfiction archive for Buffy the Vampire Slayer “back in the day”… For this I apologize emphatically, and assure all actors involved that my standards were very strict: no more than one sheep per ‘fic. Period. No exceptions.

I left the fanfiction “community” for many years and have only recently begun to dip my toe in the cesspool of literary castoffs again. (Why? Because I’m a glutton for masochistic punishment. And most of my favorite shows are on break. As a result I indulge my morbid curiosity and sense of ohgodwhatthefuckwasthat?!?!) The one thing that being in that group of aspiring writers did teach me was to watch characterization, make prose more creative and natural-sounding, and always check to make sure you’ve spelled your words right.

Something I think that is overlooked far too often is word usage. Another thing would be proper characterization. Seriously, people, if you’re writing a fanfiction piece about (let’s say) Bones, do us all a favor and keep the characters in check? Nothing makes me laugh more sarcastically, before scrambling for the brain bleach, like a fic where Brennan is using slang accurately and offering to quit her job to be the little woman at home for a brooding Angel Booth.

Wait a minute…

See what I did there?
Read more…

Homework helpers…

September 26, 2010 Leave a comment

Admittedly, I’ve been lax in posting for the last week or so.  All I can do is offer up my apologies and blame my inattention to blogging on being overwhelmed with caring for a hyperactive toddler, painting models, driving the husband to/from work, difficult algebra homework, and knitting.  Not necessarily in that order.

Math has never been my strongest subject. I had a test due today, and my brain started checking out after the second or third problem.  After much Google-searching, I found the Mathway: Algebra Problem Solver.

Now, before you think that I cheated using this program (which is possible, and I thoroughly frown on such a use), I actually only input similar problems.  Girl scout’s honor.  I have a personal ethical standard with regard to that sort of thing.

The reason I like the program, however, is because it gives detailed, step-by-step instructions on how the site solved the math problem entered by the user.  So, say I have the following problem on a math test:

I would input a similar problem into the math program, such as:

The math program then takes my problem and dissects it, step-by-step, using the mnemonic PEMDAS (Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction).  This way, I can see exactly how to solve such a problem and apply it to the question that’s giving me so much grief.

Also, the site lets you generate custom worksheets based around similar problems to what you’re asking about, or generate random problem worksheets based on specific algebra categories.  This way, you can focus your studies on whatever areas are giving you the most difficulties and go from there!

In my opinion, as long as the individual remembers not to cheat, this is a perfect tool to use for the online student, or any parent who’s having difficulty with their teenager’s math homework!

Categories: Reviews, School

My baby can read…

September 3, 2010 Leave a comment

My youngest is almost 17 months old, and she already has a grasp of what some words are and what they mean, even though she still doesn’t really talk. We’ve had her watching Your Baby Can Read DVDs (that are sold on television, etc.) for the last two months.  Now, I’m integrating flash cards.  In preparation for the flash cards, I bought a cheap white board and wrote down three words from her videos.  She toddled over to me and I asked her to point to the word “clap”.  She clapped at me.  I repeated my request and she studied her options. (I had written down clap, wave, and hi.)  After a couple of seconds, she pointed to the correct word.  We went spastic at her and clapped and said “good girl!” repeatedly.  Then she stole the white board.

The videos for Your Baby Can Read are a bit expensive (costing in the area of $200, if you go through the television ads), but they work.  They’re based on the principle of memorization at an early age.  Once the children have memorized the first 50 words, the videos change it up, adding “-ing” and “-ed” to the words.  The videos also elicit interaction from the kids watching them, asking them to point to the body part indicated by the word on the screen, or asking if they have seen that particular word anywhere before.  My daughter is in love with Sprout (formerly PBS Kids television station), but she’ll drop everything she’s doing in order to watch the Your Baby Can Read videos and smiles the biggest we’ve ever seen when she can identify a word before the kids in the video say what it is.

If you can afford them, or borrow the system from a friend, I heartily recommend that you do so.  My daughter loves it, and it’s the best feeling in the world to watch her learn something new and feel proud of herself. Even if she’s not completely able to read yet, she’s got a firm grasp on language and what the words mean.  Saying “hey, arms up!” results in her grinning real big and prancing around the room with her arms over her head now…

Categories: Child, Reviews, Television

If you can’t go to Gold’s Gym…

August 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Ok, so I’ve been searching for a way to increase my exercise regimen without killing myself… And I’ve also been trying to find a way to tone my arms more, so that I can avoid the loose hanging skin as I lose weight. I managed to stumble on Gold’s Gym for the Wii (which will use the balance board from the Wii Fit bundle in some of its exercises) for $14.99 at Target today as I was going through checkout.

So, it has two options for boxing styles: You can choose to box with a Wii Remote and a Nunchuck, or you can choose to box with two Wii Remotes… I chose the latter, since I’m tired of semi-garroting myself with the cord that trails between the remote and the nunchuck. It offers Shape Boxing lessons, Pushups, agility/balance tests in the form of dodging punches, sit-ups, squats, etc. Some use the Wii Fit balance board and some don’t (so don’t worry if you don’t have a Wii Fit!).

It’s pretty intensive, even on beginner. I’m sitting here pouring sweat after only 10 minutes of Shape Boxing. Although, it’s a good workout feeling! I’m going to take a few minutes’ more beating on the Gold’s Gym and then plug it in as Wii Fit credit before continuing my workout on that!

Crazy, you say? Well, yes.

…But I’ve been fat for 10 years, dammit!

Going, going, gone! Why you should consider adding the Wii Fit to your weight loss plan…

July 16, 2010 4 comments

Note: Please refer to this follow-up post for further information and/or updates…

When I first decided to start this blog, the main idea I had was to write about my weight loss and the wonders of the Wii Fit system. This idea has since expanded to encompass multiple forms of geekery, but I still feel that this review is a must-read for anyone still on the fence about the Wii Fit program’s benefits.

I’ve never been a stick figure. I come from a long line of non-stick-figure women on my mother’s side. I was a respectable  132 lbs at 5’5″ when I was in the 8th grade, and then spent high school bouncing between 145 lbs and 155 lbs at 5’7″. During my pregnancy with my first daughter, however, I had quite a few health problems which resulted in my gaining 80 lbs in the 2nd and 3rd trimester. In the intervening nine years, I have consistently maintained a weight somewhere above 200 lbs aside from a period of six months, before I met my husband, where I weighed in at 185 lbs. The worst of it was within the last three years, when I came off of Depo Provera and ballooned 60 lbs within 2.5 months. Follow that up with getting pregnant with my youngest and you have me weighing in at 250 lbs from April ’09 through March ’10.

Before April 2010, I weighed in at 245-250lbs...

I had experimented with multiple weight-loss and diuretic supplements, vitamin B, and Slim-Fast. I started using Slim-Fast again earlier this spring. A friend and neighbor loaned me her Wii and Wii Fit in the middle of April this year.  I had started to lose a little weight, with the Wii telling me initially that I was 232 lbs, then rebounded back up to 240-245lbs by the time I borrowed the system from her.  At first, I hated it.  Have you ever been to the gym and had an overzealous trainer, or even gone on a walk with a friend who’s a health nut, and they’re constantly yelling in your face that you won’t be healthy until you’re half the person you are today? Yeah. I hated her Wii.

The first time I stepped onto the weight-sensing balance board, it took my little cartoon Mii (the avatar you create for each user of the Wii) and gave her a double chin and tent-sized waistline, pronouncing me “obese”. I had a BMI (Body Mass Index) of about 36 and it claimed I had the body of a 35-year-old. I’m 27, so this was a bit of an ego-slam. Immediately after the weigh-in, the Wii provides some balance, judgment, and agility tests. During the process, it also assesses the user’s center of balance (C.O.B.). I was always lectured about my posture while I was growing up, but I never realized how horribly it screws up one’s neck, back, hips, and knees to have a poor center of balance!

Once I passed through the gauntlet of ego-bruising facts and admonishments, I was presented with the Wii Fit training menu. Trust me when I say that there is something for everyone on the Wii Fit. I had never done yoga before in my life, but I found the yoga exercises in my routine fun and helpful. There are also strength training exercises, balance games, and aerobic games. I’ve become a master at the snowball fight, which gives your forearms, agility, and sense of timing a run for their money!

At this point, you’re probably asking what sort of results one can expect from the Wii Fit. My answer is this: you lose what you work off. My initial commitment was to do a half-hour workout for five days a week, burning 145 calories a session. I started with yoga exercises as a warm-up, moved on to balance games, did some basic strength training to work on developing muscle in trouble areas (abdomen, triceps, thighs, etc.), then did aerobics and cardio for the rest of the session. Since moving and encountering the stress of finals, I’ve been more than a little lax in the exercise department lately. I went from working out once a week for the first three weeks of June, then nothing from June 14th to July 7th. I logged into Wii Fit yesterday, but only to weigh myself and record my stats.

I’d like to think it’s momentum from the workouts I did at the start that has gotten me as far as I am, combined with my three-shakes-a-day on the Slim-Fast plan. However, I know that what will convince you to give the system a shot is reading about my success. Here’s the raw numbers:

  • April: Weighed between 245-250.
  • April 21st: Began working out on Wii Fit five times a week. Also, increased my meal frequency to six small meals per day, with three or four of them being Slim-Fast shakes or snack bars and the rest well-balanced meals composed of healthy carbs (wheat pasta, whole grain breads, etc.) and protein.
  • Mid-May: Went to the OB/GYN, who was constantly upset about me being “obese”, for final checkup before moving; weighed in at 230 lbs.
  • June 14: Weighed 216 lbs. (This was the last time I exercised regularly on the Wii Fit.)
  • July 7: Weighed 185 lbs. (This was with no exercise on the Wii Fit in the intervening 3 weeks, just normal errand-running and climbing stairs.)
  • July 14: Weighed 167lbs. (I’m thrilled!)

As of July 14, I weighed 185. A week later, the Wii claimed I weighed in at 167!

As you can see, I’ve lost around 80 lbs in about three months! I’m not done yet, either, as my target weight is 140 lbs. I hope to be there by Halloween, and since I somehow managed to drop 31 lbs in three weeks of no exercising, I think that’s more than achievable.

I believe the trick is in designing your own exercise regimen and sticking to a diet plan that works. With the Wii Fit, I can set my own exercises that seem fun to me, track my weight loss and BMI history, input physical activity I’ve done outside of Wii Fit (e.g. laundry, going for a walk, climbing flights of stairs, etc.), and set progress goals. I’m horrible at remembering to take pills, and always hated diet shakes. However, I found the chocolate flavor of the Slim-Fast drink mix has really improved since the last time I tried it. It’s almost addictive! I fudged a bit, though, since the mix says to use skim milk and I insist on using 2% or whole milk (Lactaid, since I’m lactose intolerant…) instead. I pretty much eat what I want for my other two meals, as Carl’s Jr. employees can attest… I’m a sucker for their Six-Dollar Burgers. I cut down on sodas, however, and substituted in Sobe Life Water of varying flavors, although Fuji Apple Pear is my favorite: it’s not too sweet and has 35% daily value of chromium, a major ingredient in diet pills.

The main benefit to using the Wii Fit, aside from increasing strength, agility, decreasing my weight, and speeding up my metabolism, is that I just feel good after a workout. I can discern a noticeable change in how my back (which has been in chronic pain for years, due to three pregnancies and multiple car accidents over the years) feels afterward, and I move around a heck of a lot faster! I’m not out of breath when I pick up my daughter anymore, and was able to give her her first piggyback ride myself yesterday! I’ve gone from being “sedentary” to “mildly inactive”, which doesn’t seem like much of a change in lifestyle, admittedly, but my husband and friends say they notice the difference.

Now for the legal disclaimer: I’m not being paid by Nintendo (who makes the Wii), Sobe, or the makers of Slim-Fast. I wouldn’t turn down a free something-or-other for my troubles, but as of this post I am not being reimbursed in any way. My results are not typical. Please do not become discouraged if your results are not exactly as fast as mine, and do not deprive yourself of food in an attempt to speed things up. Always talk to your doctor before beginning a rapid weight loss program, even if it’s of your own design.

Feel free to leave questions, comments, or your own Wii Fit success story!

%d bloggers like this: