Sunday, January 30, 2011


If you must know, I'm posting this because a) I don't generally post personal things, b) working normal hours means that I've put NFL Training Camp workouts somewhere after laundry and dishes, and c) I discovered an extra pair of boots last night.

I ordered a couple of pairs of shoes from Kohl's a couple of weeks ago – their shipping is painfully slow, almost like the experience you get when you shop at Sears[1] – and they arrived today. (Incidentally, I also got some gloves, neat little things with the things on the hands where you can connect some kind of warming device. That might be helpful ...) They're the black shoes that I wore when riding last year; basically, my workout shoes. The current ones have some miles on them, so I thought it would be a good idea to get new ones, take advantage of the current sale, and push the existing shoes down the ladder of uses.

I doubt most people do this, so I'll explain: for "normal" shoes, I have three categories: workout, normal use, and lawn use. When I get new workout shoes, the old workout shoes become normal-use shoes, and so on. Sometimes I get rid of the lawn-use shoes if they're in bad shape, and other times I save them for that one time in a year when you need shoes you really don't care about.

So. The two new pairs move to the workout slot (to be rotated), the old pair becomes a casual pair, and the old normal-use pair joins the lawn pile. I thought about all this, checked out my shoe rack[2] to see where they'd go, and then thought it might be time to do inventory again ... and while I was thinking that, I was counting. I counted the shoes on the top rack, then the bottom, then the ones underneath, and then ... boots?? Boots go in the closet (snow boots, not some other kind of boots). And yes, the winter boots were in the mud/laundry room, but these were definitely boots.

I don't remember buying them. They make sense, though. They're not quite winter boots, lighter, I think, so I could wear them with jeans. (Slacks, no. When it snows and I have to wear slacks, I just assume I will be stepping on the back of my pant leg and occasionally getting snow in my shoes.) They're in the walk-in closet[3] because they go with pants. Otherwise, they'd go in the hall closet.

Anyway, I thought you would be amused to know how many pairs of shoes I have. I prefer to have different shoes for different purposes, and while I do throw out worn (meaning holes, faded colors for good shoes, that kind of thing) shoes, I don't throw out shoes that aren't worn often.

Casual dress shoes (for Friday casual through business casual): seven pairs. Two brown slip-on pairs, two black[4] slip-on pairs, three brown lace-up pairs. (The lace-up ones are older and of slightly different colors. Naturally, there's no good way to get a belt the same color as the one you already have unless you happen to remember to wear it when you go to the store to get one.)

Dress shoes: three pairs. Not sure why I have the third pair. I think maybe the other two looked just a little scuffed.

Casual shoes: two pairs, the black New Balance shoes and a low-cut boot-type pair.

Lawn shoes: two pairs, the old pair (still in decent condition, not quite ready for the trash) and the until-recently-casual pair.

Sports shoes: four pairs, one for football (flag football, from several years ago), one for golf, one for bowling, and one pair of high-tops for basketball, a pair that could probably be retired given that I haven't played in many years.

Flip-flops: one pair, purchased with my carefully-acquired Pepsi Points a long time ago. (Wikipedia says it started in 1996, but I think it goes back farther than that.)

Slippers: one pair, carefully stowed away where the cat cannot get to them. (She forced me to get rid of my last pair. Some things do not go back on your feet.)

Boots: two pairs, as mentioned above, one for snow and one for not-quite-snow.

That's either 20 or 21 pairs, depending on whether you count flip-flops, which I wouldn't wear other than on a beach or to sand volleyball. Sounds a little extreme, doesn't it? But I don't like to throw things away if there is any use left in them, and a good number of the shoes come from changing dress codes or from infrequent situations. (Suits? sigh.)

My feet generate quite a bit of heat, which means it doesn't generally go well if I wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row ... thus multiple pairs for several different activities. The bowling shoes were necessary[5], as were the other sports shoes, I suppose. It does work better when you have the right shoes for a task.

So it all makes sense to me. Some might see me as either a hoarder or insane, but I prefer to think of it as being prepared for anything.

Well ... I don't have shoes for curling yet ...

[1] I don't know, I guess some people still do. Just pretend I asked them and they confirmed it for me. (return)

[2] What, most guys don't have shoe racks? Oh, right. And most probably leave their clothes on the floor, rather than sorted by type in separate hampers so as to assist in putting together compatible loads of laundry. Of course, if you've had cats long enough, you don't leave such things on the floor. Anyway, shoe rack = neatness. You know, fastidiousness. Raven. (return)

[3] Of course I have a walk-in closet. It's kind of hard to build a modern three-bedroom house without one. What am I supposed to do, keep my clothes in the spare bedroom because I don't have two X chromosomes? That's a bit much, don't you think? (return)

[4] duh. Black belts, black shoes. Brown belts, brown shoes. Srsly. Guys have maybe three rules to follow – the others being "don't wear stripes and checks/plaid" and "don't wear closely-matched colors"[6] – so of course I know this one. (return)

[5] because you've seen a bowling alley, and you've seen other people's feet. (return)

[6] Well, if you're a woman, that's how you'll think of it. For us, it reads "Don't wear the same color pants and shirt unless you are actually wearing a uniform." "Color" in this context means "the word I would use to describe the color." Doesn't matter if it's actually the same: if it's close enough that I might use the same word for each, then one has to wait for another day. (return)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

NFL Training Camp, 60-Day Workout: Day 8

So I remembered that being at work for a full day kind of fills your schedule. Updates running a little late. This is Thursday's workout.

Why would you work out indoors in Atlanta? Do you remember Super Bowl Weekend?
Day 8, the start of week 2. We start moving up the coast, this time visiting the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Today's trainer is Michael Turner, yet another player who is similar to me only in height. I decided against working out with Matt Ryan mostly because of his nickname, which I find too dumb even to repeat here.

Torture with a smile.
This workout reminded me of one difference between a female trainer and a male trainer. If I were working out with, say, Jillian Michaels, while I was lying on the floor, unable to lift my arms or legs, as my vision dimmed, I would at least be able to look at an attractive woman, and my last thought before I died of exhaustion would be "She's smiling ... I think she likes me," while she'd probably be thinking "Srsly?" With a male trainer, my last thought would be "I wonder if he's going to tear out my liver and eat it?", and his reaction would probably be "I knew this was a bad idea. None of these guys are in shape."

I find it interesting that even a program can identify a specific workout at which you struggle and make you do it again and again. Upper-body weakness? No problem. Here are some shoulder presses. Now repeat them. Here, hold weights up while you squat. Do that again. Now pushups. Ha ha ha!

I had problems with three exercises. During the hammer curl, somehow the game was reading the sensor movement backward, so when I lifted my arms, it thought I'd lowered them, and vice versa. Basically, when this happens, I just try to figure out how long I'm supposed to hold the position, and then I do the reps on my own. If the game catches up, fine, and if not, I either go through the motions without the weights to get credit for the workout, or I just skip to the next one.

The reverse crunches failed again ... the only way it knew I'd lowered my legs is if I put my feet on the floor, which defeats the purpose of the exercise (to keep your abs working the whole time). I just did the reps on my own and skipped the exercise.

Finally, the QB Window Challenge was a disaster, possibly because I needed the Wiimote in my passing hand. Same problems as above: up was down, forward was backward. It's really disappointing because I like some of these exercises, but it just seems like too much of a pain to figure out how I'm supposed to be doing them.

Another workout tomorrow, then an off day, and then back-to-back workouts again ...

Humans and Their Ability to Live in Higher Gravity

I found this on my computer. WTH?

Purpose: To determine what effect, if any, higher gravity has upon humans.

Method: Examine a human performing a normal, everyday task, first at normal gravity, and then under successively greater gravity.

Details: Subject was seated in front of computer screen and given a simple task to execute. (Task appears to be called Zuma Blitz; further details irrelevant.) Subject was allowed to repeat task several times. Scientist C then approached to closely observe subject's motion. After establishing baseline performance, C aligned head with subject's arm so as to properly measure exertion under normal and strong gravity, gradually increasing pressure with each repetition to simulate increasing effects of gravity. After completing application of sufficient gravity, C left the subject and began thoroughly washing contact areas.

Conclusion: Humans are ill-equipped to perform even cursory tasks in stronger gravitational fields. Performance decreased as increasing force was applied. Also, Zuma Blitz is boring.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Random thoughts

  • I make a quick trip to Kohl's to make slight updates to my wardrobe for my impending on-site contract. I return about 3:15 to find that cats are asleep on various pieces of furniture.

    Suddenly, Calle wakes up, and apparently this sequence of thoughts runs through her head: "mid-afternoon ... the car just pulled into the garage ... OMG HE'S TAKING ME TO THE VET!!!!" She jumps off the couch and does her stealth run (not at full speed, tail down) into the bedroom to hide in the corner. (Apparently it wasn't all-out avoidance mode, because she wasn't under the bed.)

    I went into the bedroom and found her, petted her for a little bit, and returned to the living room. Shortly after that, she came out to confirm that she knew all along I'd just been to the store and that this was no big deal.
  • I love when the water company actually comes out to your house to read the meter instead of just estimating it and discovers that your "water usage" for the money is 0. (Once it was less than zero, and no, I didn't get money back. The variable cost is actually relatively low here compared to the fixed cost per month, at least for a single person.)
  • I hold a very dim view of people who park on the street when they have four perfectly good parking spaces already, especially during snow season. Thanks to some jerks at one end of the neighborhood, we have a narrow one-lane road instead of a wide two-lane road. I keep hoping that someone will careen through late at night and scrape away half of the offending cars, but it hasn't happened yet; fortunately, I've also yet to see an accident between cars trying to squeeze through that gap late at night.
  • About Brady Hoke: I don't know. He is not the person I'd have chosen, but then my job doesn't depend on the next Michigan coach winning 10 games and punishing Ohio State the way the NCAA ought to be.[1] Hoke does want the job, doesn't need a lot of money (yet), and did oversee improvements at both of his previous stops. Fixing defense and special teams should be easy – they can't get much worse – but if the offense undergoes a significant decline, especially if Hoke and Borges eschew the spread for an old-school attack, Hoke's tenure might be short.

[1] I may be wrong, but I don't recall the use of complementary cars being standard for all students at Purdue. Maybe I went to the wrong dealership. (return)

Monday, January 10, 2011

NFL Training Camp, 60-Day Workout: Day 5

Where are my back-to-back off days?

Day 5, the second of back-to-back workouts, followed by two off days. Sounds like the NHL. (I think the NBA takes four days off after back-to-back games.)

I have virtually nothing in common with this man.
Looks like the Detroit Field Trip of Dominance, otherwise known as Florida. Today's workout was in the last of three stadiums in the state, Everbank Field in Jacksonville. (Apparently it's no longer Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. Sorry, can't push those updates out to the Wii.) I stuck with Maurice Jones-Drew, partly because he's one of the few NFL players shorter than I am and partly because I wanted to ask him about not being able to play in week 16, possibly costing me a chance at the league title.[1]

New drills today: the WR Challenge and the RB Obstacle Course. The WR Challenge wasn't much of anything, actually, but maybe because I'm on Medium ... first you jog, then you're supposed to run in place or lunge toward a "cone" (imagine that you're standing in the middle of a six-foot square marked by four cones, one at each corner) depending on what the narrator says.[2] I didn't have to lunge at all, just run or squat and then stand back up.

Next was a DB test (huh? I thought we were on offense), where you lunge up, left, or right depending on what the narrator says. More jogging, then a route-running drill where you run in a straight line and raise your hands when he says to ... in theory, the speed at which you run affects how far you "run" after the catch, but either that doesn't happen in this part or the lack of a left-leg sensor meant it wasn't catching my speed effectively. Maybe I just need to raise my legs higher. Anyway, the effect was that I coasted through each route.[3] I think we ran at the end, but whatever. End of the WR Challenge.

The RB Obstacle Course started with a tire drill (left-right-left-right, slowed down of course as the WR drill was), then jogging, then running through obstacles: punch left or right to stiff-arm tackling dummies or jump to clear arm tackles. This one went pretty quickly, which makes me wonder about the WR drill.

After that, it was the usual selection of exercises and stretches, focusing mostly on the lower body. I was prepared this time and had the leg sensor strapped tightly to me.[4] I only had to "skip" one workout, so I got more credit this time.

Afterward, I found that I'd moved up into the 6th round, to pick 190 (30th pick in the round because we're ignoring supplemental picks). Hello, conference championship loser![5] Purchased the Panthers helmet, did a quick check of achievements, and then shut down the Wii for a couple of days. I'll be back on Thursday.

[1] I lost by quite a bit, and it wasn't MJD's fault for being unable to play through yet another injury. I blame the commissioner for requiring us to set our lineups prior to the first game of the week. (return)
[2] Yeah, the players never actually say anything. Another "drawback" to using low-density discs on the Wii rather than high-density discs on the 360 and PS3. Drawback is in quotes because really, do we need each individual player to voice the same instructions? No, we don't. (return)
[3] You may recognize this as the Randy Moss Exercise. (return)
[4] I forgot to mention that I jumped out of the sensor yesterday. Ha ha. Who says white men can't jump? (return)
[5] The rules are here. Non-playoff teams pick in reverse order of record, then teams are grouped by the round in which they lost and then reverse order of record, which means right now, 21 through 24 are KC, Indy, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. I could end up in Seattle![6] (return)
[6] Actually, I couldn't. The Seahawks would have a worse record than the other CC loser and would thus pick 29th. You may have heard something about their record somewhere.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

NFL Training Camp, 60-Day Workout: Day 4

In which we learn that EA does not understand UI design in the slightest.

Yes, there is no entry for yesterday; I'm not going to write every time I sit on my couch. Off days, remember. So this is the third workout of four this week (Monday is next, then two off days).

Today we virtually visit Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Not Tampa Bay. Don't be silly. Build a stadium in the middle of a body of water? It can't be done.) My suggested trainer was Barrett Ruud, but in an attempt to avoid typecasting, I chose Ronde Barber. Basically, I wanted to ask him about that issue of Cat Fancy.[1]

I got to try the QB Read and React and Punting Challenge. The idea behind Read and React is that you're shown a pass pattern and where the receivers will be, then targets pop up in green or red. Throw to the green ones, don't throw to the red ones. Not so bad. Punting consists of swinging your leg, woo. You have to do it quickly, though ... one step and kick. Not a big fan. Of course the real problem is that you don't get to decide which leg you use. I kick left-footed, so I had to move the sensor to my other leg.

There was also a QB challenge that consisted of walking, the passing part I did on day one, and jogging. (QBs don't run, I guess.) This was the game where you run in place and zing the ball to receivers between linemen, with follow-through determining distance, at least in theory; in practice, the ball did what it wanted to, sometimes literally. I found that on several occasions, I was told to raise my throwing hand when I already had it raised, and when I lowered it, the ball was thrown. Very disappointing.

Naturally, I had the problem with the game thinking I was moving on other occasions, so I had to skip those exercises ... well, I didn't skip them. I did them on my own and then "skipped".

I made it through intact, went through the cooldown exercises, and started to buy items. Fortunately, I did well enough at the Punting Challenge (mostly by kicking weakly and watching the ball roll toward the target) that I was able to purchase several items. I realized I hadn't bought the Lions helmet yet, and that there was probably an achievement for that, so I did. Two achievements there (one for buying a helmet and one for buying my team helmet) gave me more points, so I did more buying ... and I remembered how poorly EA designs interfaces.

Now, keep in mind that this is the Wii, so there's already a handicap (slower processor than the 360 and PS3). To buy items, you go to that team's shop, where it displays everything related to the team. If you want to buy something else, you have to exit to the list of teams, then click on the team you want, and then it has to load those items. Each section (shirts, socks, gloves, etc.) loads separately as
well, so you spend a lot of time waiting. Of course motion controllers aren't designed for precision in the first place, and the game isn't compatible with Wii Plus (which probably contributes to other issues as well), so you spend a lot of time trying to find the correct spot to click. sigh.

As I try the different workouts, I find that the inaccuracy of the sensors is a pretty big issue. At least I can still do the exercises ... it'd be interesting to see how this would work on the Kinect, but apparently it isn't going to be released for the 360. (Perhaps that says something about their motion detection.)

[1] Nuts. It was Warrick Dunn. Never mind. (return)

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Told you so: things they didn't fix after all in Madden 11

Back in June, when I was playing Madden 10 regularly for an online franchise league (we're just wrapping that up now), I wrote about things they needed to fix but wouldn't because I'm skeptical like that. (Not that you'd noticed, I hide it so well.) Of course I forgot about the rant shortly after I wrote it. But yesterday, when I was poking around looking for a specific post, I found it again, and I thought it might be a good idea to pat myself on the back for reading the future.

Problem: Madden Moments don't always explain the goal correctly. (The example I gave was a description that said you needed to tie the game when actually you had to win the game.)
Status: Unknown. I played through the Madden Moments, but don't remember if they were described correctly.

Problem: The camera on place kicks isn't the usual one, above and behind the ball; instead, it's random, for no apparent reason, especially given that you might want to try to block a kick (not that I've ever done it myself).
Status: Fixed. I don't remember seeing an angle other than the correct one.

Problem: When playing another person, you're unable to see what personnel he has in the huddle; this is pretty significant given that in real life, you can't have more than 11 men in the huddle, and you obviously can't get them on the field without the defense seeing who's there.
Status: Not fixed. Too bad for you. You have to send in a defensive play almost without knowing what you're up against. This makes no sense at all.

Problem: Cut scenes are used too often, take too long to load, have no drama about them at all, and are occasionally incorrect.
Status: Fixed. Several cut scenes were removed, others (like the first-down measurement) were integrated better with game action.

Problem: Commercialism in the game; seemingly everything has a sponsor, just like a real game. (Oh joy.) Even when you play online, there's always a little box above the status bar.
Status: Mostly fixed. The ads are scaled back quite a bit in Madden 11, especially online.

Problem: The game is becoming more about button-mashing and less about execution. It doesn't matter if you called the right defense if the other guy can move the stick up faster than you can move it down.
Status: Not fixed. Apparently EA likes the idea that any RB can break tackles all year round. I haven't yet played an offline season of 11, but I'm sure I'll see RBs with 2500-yard seasons again.

Problem: Punt returners insist on fielding balls no matter where they're kicked.
Status: Not fixed. Granted, in real life PRs do field more punts inside the 20 than they did in the past, but no one ever fields a punt in his own end zone. Too bad EA doesn't see things that way.

Problem: The halftime report (in offline games) delays the game significantly because of all the video that plays. The value returned to a solo player is very, very small.
Status: Unknown. I'll have to play an offline game to see if they've done away with that.

Problem: Achievements are all about individual plays or games; there are no season or career achievements.
Status: Not fixed. I really, really don't understand this. Achievements are a great way to get people to keep playing your game, especially if it's just the same crap as last year with a few cosmetic changes and a roster update, but apparently EA didn't get that message.

Problem: The camera rocks from side to side when the ballcarrier breaks away from the last defender.
Status: Fixed. This was stupid. We're not 15. (Well, most of us aren't.)

Problem: Playbooks can't be edited. For example, there's no way to introduce 4-4 defenses, even though most offensive playbooks have plays for 22 personnel.
Status: Not fixed. It's OK, though. You can create a custom game plan! And then your DC can give you a stupid play that won't work anyway! Woo!

Problem: EA insists on presenting Total Yards as a team stat; it's a statistic that's almost never used and is never presented at team level. Total Offense (or Yards from Scrimmage for individual players) is really what you want to see.
Status: Not fixed. Of course not. EA doesn't even enforce rules properly. (They don't know the difference between clipping and blocking in the back, for example.) They're not going to get statistics correct.

So they did take care of a few things, but mostly we got the same pile of crap. But hey! There's an unlockable "3D" mode! (If you own one of those stupid TVs and want to play a game in fake 3D, I will laugh at you.)

Whoever told you that the NFL granting an exclusive license to EA wouldn't change the quality of Madden was working either for the NFL or for EA. It's been a disaster. There are new gamers who probably love what Madden has to offer and have no idea how much work EA put into the game back when they needed to in order to establish market share. I wish they would do so again.

Friday, January 07, 2011

NFL Training Camp, 60-Day Workout: Day 2

In which we learn that lineman are huge, fat creatures who can run faster than cars and also step on your soul.

Today is day 2 of my back-to-back workout days. It's impossible to work out 4 days per week and avoid back-to-back days[1] ... of course you can alternate days and have your back-to-back days be the end of the week, but that doesn't seem wise to me. Of course, right now back-to-back workouts don't seem wise to me either.

Today's workout was different in many ways, some of them not so good, most of them good. I'll just tell the story and let you decide what wasn't good. (Hint: IT'S WHEN I SHOUT. Subtlety and the internets don't mix.)

I was not actually here today.
Did I mention there was an achievement for working out in all 32 NFL stadiums?[2] Oh, the practice fields count separately. So anyway, it picks a stadium for you at random. Today it was Sun Life Stadium in Miami. Brandon Marshall was going to be my trainer, but no, he scares me, so I chose Michigan's Chad Henne instead.

We started off with the normal stretching exercises, then went on to some cardio and some weights. This time I was clever: I've got a set of Bowflex SelectTech 552 dumbbells[3], which are awesome, by the way, but anyway I brought them into the room with me so I could reach back and grab the appropriate weights for each exercise. (These are the kind where you dial the weight you want and lift them out. In this case, I was progressively dialing lighter and lighter weights.) So I'd just turn back, grab weights, and continue.

This time, I got to do the Lineman Challenge. In this one, you run hard for 20 yards or so, do a ladder thing for 20 yards (where you step into one square, to either side of the next square, into the next square, and so on, so your feet are going outside/left outside/right inside/left inside/right), walk for 20 yards or so, run in place with your hands out for 20 yards, and then jog for 20 yards. That's not too hard the first time, but like each challenge, you do it twice in the session.

One exercises involved the run-in-place thing, I forget what they call it, for 15 seconds, and of course that came up twice as well. Fortunately, the cats were both taking power naps when I began. (They both woke up later to inspect my form. Josie found it displeasing and tried to offer tips for improvement, while Calle made sure to desalinate my left hand while I was trying hard not to move: details below.)

We did some more squats from hell. I'm not a fan of holding things in place. I guess that means I need to build strength, and perhaps that was the cause of the first problem. I did shoulder presses OK (after doing these squats where you hold the weights up instead of down), but when it was time to do lateral shoulder raises ... remember when you first got your Wii, and you were bowling, and you'd go up to the line, and suddenly your Mii would start to bowl, even though you weren't moving? Well, that's essentially what happened. The Wii insisted that I stop moving and keep my arms still, which of course I was. I tried doing a number of different things, none of which worked, so I skipped the drill.

It happened again when I was doing reverse crunches. (I'd link, but I can't find anything that shows what it wanted me to do.) The idea was to lie on your back with your arms on the floor, bend your knees at a 90-degree angle, and lift your legs up, hold them there, then lower until your heels almost touch but don't quite touch. The problem was that it didn't register that I was lowering my legs until my feet were flat on the floor. (Not sure if this is a sensor issue, a placement-of-the-Wii issue, or what.) So I made it through 8 of 10 reps before it decided I wasn't trying any more, so I skipped that. (Hint: give us four sensors next time, jerks.)

Fortunately, the two exercises that crapped out were near the end, when I'd pretty much exhausted myself. I didn't actually see spots, and I didn't actually throw up, but I suddenly had no problem picturing someone working out to that point, especially if he'd had a dinner from one of the four main food groups[5] just hours before. Let's just say that the stretching exercises at the end that involved lying down on the floor were very welcome.

With just two workouts, I've moved up to pick 199 in the draft, which I believe is the seventh pick in the seventh round. (Presumably supplemental picks are not included in the game.) It's interesting to see how tired you can get after a 25-minute workout, especially when about 5 minutes are stretching and another 5 are watching the new exercises to learn how to do them. Then again, I haven't done a full-body workout in a long time, probably not since Volleybash in September.

Tomorrow is an off day. Woo! Then back to the Wii on Sunday.[6]

P.S. I want you to know that I spent somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes trying to figure out how I had my pictures and captions set up before. Apparently when I upgraded to the new layout, I forgot I'd had some custom styles that I wanted to keep. Anyway, it still bothers me, and I'll fix it properly, but for now it's barely tolerable, so appreciate my hard work. lolz.

P.P.S. Fixed now. Stupid spans. Not what I wanted.

[1] Dear visitors from other planets, certainly you have better things to do than quibble about our system of tracking days. I know your scheme. (return)
[2] I know there are 31 unique stadiums. I'm not entirely sure that EA knows, and even if they do, I'm sure they count it separately when you work out with Jets and with Giants. Now quiet down so we can continue. kthx. (return)
[3] Yes, that's an Amazon Associates link. Yes, I will make money if you buy that equipment after clicking through my site. If you love your country[4], you'll do it. (return)
[4] Your country doesn't have to be my country. It's a free-trade thing. We have a reciprocal agreement in place.
[5] Pizza, hamburgers, Chinese food, and Mexican food. In this case, it was breadsticks, which are obviously members of the Pizza family. (return)
[6] Yes, I know I didn't actually rant. Maybe I'm too tired, or maybe my expectations are too low. Maybe next time. (return)

Thursday, January 06, 2011

NFL Training Camp, 60-Day Workout: Day 1

This is my deep, dark secret. All my life, I've wanted to be an NFL player.[1] One day I realized that the number of old, out-of-shape players in the league was 0[3], so I decided to do something about it: buy a video game.

Because I don't own a Kinect[4], the obvious answer was Wii Fit, except I already own it, and I don't use it that often. OK, the obvious answer was watching Chad Eight-Five's commercial for it. He may be a jerk on the field, but he's a hell of a salesman, and the NFL would do well to have more players like him. Besides, it was a neat idea: work out like the pros do[5] and track your progress.

Plus, they do the tracking by giving you two additional sensors, one for your upper arm that also measures your pulse and one for your upper thigh. These probably stay on better if you have an athlete's physique. (Why wouldn't they do two for your arms so that you don't hold the Wiimote so often? Don't know. For that matter, why not do both legs?)

I created my "person", synced it to my EA Sports account (more on this later), set my favorite team (Lions, duh) and trainer, which is really your workout leader (Calvin Johnson), and intensity level (medium, because really, I need to push myself). Off I went ...

So you do some stretches, then some weights and cardio, then cool-down stretches. Easy enough. Each exercise works kind of like Wii Fit: first an example, then you do it for real with the leader showing you what to do. The weight workouts want you to use this stupid resistance "band", which in my case was a silly piece of stretchy plastic/rubber, no loops on the end or anything. Fortunately, I'd read the reviews on Amazon, and several suggested that you use free weights instead. (As it turns out, you don't need to hold the Wiimote for those exercises.)

For one exercise, side plank, the Wii had trouble detecting my movement, probably because I wasn't holding the Wiimote. Other than that, things went pretty well. The passing exercise was interesting: you move your feet in the pocket and step into your throw for force ... so if you are dumb like me and don't rotate your hips, you get a lot of three-yard completions. Hello, Charlie Batch. No kicking, punting, OL, LB, or DB drills this time.

You get points after each workout, based on the duration and effort, plus bonus points for achievements, and those are what you might expect: achievements for overall time spent and calories burned, distance running, yards throwing, workouts done in each facility (practice fields plus NFL stadiums), etc. You then use points to buy things like workout gear for your player (you start off with just a T-shirt, shorts, and shoes), stadiums, helmets, stickers ... more little things to keep you going. It then can upload your info to the EA Sports Active server where it can tell the world how little they're doing in comparison to you.

I learned a couple of things today. One is that I am out of shape. Another is that, for one day at least, I can work out just like an NFL player.[6]

Actually, I learned three things. The other is that EA sucks. I was able to link this game to my existing EA account, but when I went to log in to EA Sports Active, it accepted my login, and then it wanted me to choose a display name, which isn't necessarily my profile name. WTF? I'm logged in, you dumbass. Obviously my display name is taken because I ALREADY SIGNED UP. Jesus. Either work with the EA Sports people or don't link the databases. The only thing worse than work not done is work done in a half-ass fashion.

After one day, I'd certainly recommend it. I did work up a nice sweat, utterly confusing one of the cats (the other one's seen everything before and was too busy napping to comment) and forcing me to wear actual workout clothes instead of that nice sweatshirt and sweatpants combo that hides the possibility that I may actually have eaten footballs for breakfast.

I'm to work out four days each week and take three days off: Thursday, Friday[7], Sunday, and Monday are workout days, I think. Monday or Tuesday, one of those. I promise nothing in the way of posting.

[1] until I counted the number of short, slow players in the league and combined that with my parents' (well-earned) fear of me breaking my glasses.[2] (return)
[2] like that time with the Nerf ball. Yes. A Nerf ball. They don't make glasses like they used to, thankfully.
[3] assuming that #4 stays retired. (return)
[4] it's a nice idea, but really, what am I going to do with it? Work out ... and ... (return)
[5] if they could only work out in a 4x6 area in front of their TVs. (return)
[6] and by that I mean an NFL player who retired five years ago and does sideline commentary now. Why hello, Mr. Siragusa. No, nothing at all. You must have heard me incorrectly. (return)
[7] obviously I'm not dating. This may or may not have anything to do with the footballs I ate. (return)
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