Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Crafts

Above are four wooden hanging decorations that I bought unfinished from Dollarama. Unfortunately I do not have "before" pictures to show what they looked like before I painted them. I found them last year in the seasonal section of the store which usually includes craft decoration supplies partaining to the holliday or season. I painted them using Acrylic craft paints, some of which can be found at Dollarama as well in the craft section.

Baby Chicks

I chose to use colours typically associated with Easter and Spring such as pale pinks, purples and yellows, Lime Green, and Turquoise Blue. Though pale shades are often used in Easter decorations, I also included darker shades of pink, purple, yellow, and green because all shades are usually found in nature. Easter is closely associated with the beginning of Spring and end of Winder, new life, and thus with nature itself, so I thought it was important to include other shades typical of flowers, grass, the sky, etc ... I also outlined or drew features such as eyes using a dark, inky pen after the paint was dry.

Close-Up Images

Easter Bunnies

For the Easter Bunnies I outlined eyes, noses, whiskers, and other details with pencil before going over them in pen. I chose to give them a cartoonish rather than realistic appearance. I also chose to use two different shades of green for the grass to add more colour. I added some flowers to the background of one decoration to make it more colourful. Since the shapes of all four decorations are those of the Easter Basket, I painted the basket handles each with three different colours of stripes. While the stripes don't actually look woven like a basket, I do think the colours chosen give the right effect. If I could redo the pieces, I would probably choose shades that compliment each other more for the handles, and would paint the stripes to look woven in the stile of baskets.

Close-Up Images

Friday, April 1, 2011

Why I Love Wii Fit!

Greetings fellow bloggers! I have taken a sabbatical from writing about the fascinating world of socks to put most of my energy towards physiotherapy. To be specific, I have been told that the best treatment for my Fibromyalgia is daily aerobic exercise, and so for the last 3 months I have been exercising daily using my Nintendo Wii.
I have had Wii Fit for a long time now, but have only been able to use it regularly since the start of the new year. For the last two years the game was sitting in our living room closet barely used, and I felt wasteful and guilty for having asked my parents for it in the first place. But now that I have started a new medication, my energy and motivation is greatly improved, so I am now able to be more proactive about my condition. Now that I am actually physically capable of exercising regularly, I am so thankful that I had the Wii Fit waiting for me. For the last 3 months I have been completing my aerobic activity using Basic Step and Advanced Step. Originally I was only able to complete 15 minutes of aerobics per day, repeating the 3 minute Basic Step workout 5 times. Now I am able to complete 35 minutes of aerobics per day, repeating the 3 minute Basic Step 5 times and the 5 minute Advanced Step 4 times.

I should note that I have never been much of a “gamer,” the only video game I had any real experience with was Super Mario Bros. 1 released in 1985.

And when I asked my parents for a Nintendo console for my birthday, I only wanted one that I could use to play the old Super Mario games from my childhood. So basically, when I ripped off the wrapping paper and found the strange, unfamiliar Nintendo “Wii”, I was actually quite disappointed. I also felt pretty stupid that the included game disc included what I thought to be childish games. Tennis? Golf? Bowling? Who wants to sit in their living room hitting

balls back and forth by pressing buttons with their game contro

ls!? I might as well play the old Pong game from 1975!

Not being very tech-savvy, I had no idea at first that this console came with a motion-sensor, and thus game play involved actually exercising with the Nintendo. I felt rather stupid upon discovering this, as I had actually shouted at my parents for buying me such a boring, childish game. I decided to try to find out more about the games that were available for this console, and came across Wii Fit and its accompanying balance board. I immediately recognised that this could be useful in my rehabilitation from Fibromyalgia and discussed this with my parents. After many wild-goose chases for the recently released product, my father finally came home with one and my mother and I were overjoyed. When I registered my information on the game while awkwardly learning how to use this new-fangled technology, I became very quickly discouraged. My Wii Fit age wasn’t too bad, but I was informed of my weight in such a way that you would think I was as obese as it was possible to be! Furthermore, when I actually attempted the 3-minute Basic Step, I felt stupid for even thinking I was capable of using this device to exercise in the first place! Clearly this was designed for complete jocks who had no physical health problems and who probably coasted by at university on football scholarships. After such discouragement, I didn’t touch the gadget for months. I did get it out occasionally, however, to try to complete the aerobic exercise necessary for my eventual independence, and each time it was with the intention of using the device regularly at 3 times per week at the very least. Despite my good intentions, I had only used my Wii Fit, on average, once a month for the last 2 years! Now, that’s all changed. This year I have used my Wii Fit almost every day for the last 3 months – almost 90 days in a row. I have used it more in the last 3 months than I have in the last 2 years. This really reaffirms for me that my lack of physical activity has not been due to laziness – despite what the average ignorant asshole destined for Hell seems to think – but that it was simply a matter of being on the wrong medication. Now I know that no matter what insecure girls with body image issues try to convince me of, I am truly hard working when it comes to my health and fitness, and any lack of work on my part is due to legitimate problems that caused legitimate obstacles. In other words, the insecure girls who hate their bodies who have actually pressured me to exercises might as well have pressured a quadriplegic to stop being lazy and taking the elevator, and to take the stairs in order to heal their paralyzed limbs.

Though I am not yet completely able-bodied, I feel that Wii Fit has helped me a lot with my Fibromyalgia in the short time that I have been using it. I love this game for the following reasons: 1. Users can easily see their improvement over time, which is extremely encouraging as it shows evidence that practice has been effective.

The motion sensor, Balance Board, Wii Remote, and Nunchucks can register your movements, and thus determine your accuracy in each activity. Your accuracy is then used to determine your score, which is then shown to you on a top 10 list of your best scores. So each time you attempt a specific activity, you can see how your accuracy compares to your previous attempts. Seeing your score improve is evidence that your accuracy has improved and thus users can feel that they have achieved results. Even an improvement by 3 or 4 points from one day to the next is evidence of improvement. This is extremely important to me because I have never felt that practicing a sport or physical activity has led to improvement of my skill or fitness. Perhaps this is because I have always had physical problems, but I always felt to some extent that exercise was futile. With Wii Fit, I always see even the most minor improvements. 2. Wii Fit rewards users for their accomplishments and completion of various activities by making available new activities or harder versions of the exercises. This allows users to feel a sense of accomplishment and reward, while allowing for some variety and novelty in the activities. 3. Several Wii Fit activities are creative, fun, and humourous, which allows users to have fun while exercising. Fun and humour should never be under-estimated! One of my favourites is a game called Penguine Slide, in which the user’s avatar is dressed in a penguin costume and has an audience of cheering penguins who are all very supportive and encouraging! The game takes place aboard a floating, wobbly ice berg, on which the user must shift their weight from the right foot to left and so on in order to catch as many fish as possible. The music alone makes this game worthwhile, but the fact that I am surrounded by penguins who seem to be big fans makes me smile every time I play this game! Watch a demo of Penguine Slide by clicking on the screen below. 4. Wii Fit games can allow users to participate in existing sports which the user may never have played, and may never get the opportunity to try. One aerobics activity I often played is called Rhythm Boxing. I enjoyed this because I have never before taken boxing lessons or even an aerobics class that involves the use of a punching bag! For people like me who have health problems, this is a wonderful feature, as some of us cannot often leave the house any time we wish!

I would also like to note that a famous character with a famous health problem has been known to use a Nintendo Wii for just this reason. Fans of HBO’s True Blood may recall the scene in which Vampire Bill Compton is seen on a bright sunny day on what appears to be a golf course. At first this is quite confusing, as the vampires of True Blood cannot go outside during the day as the sun burns their skin. As the camera slowly zooms out, viewers see that Vampire Bill is not playing with a real golf club, but is holding a Wii Remote, and that he is actually in his living room playing Wii Golf, and it is in fact night time. Even True Blood vampires use the Nintendo Wii to exercise and participate in activities that their condition would otherwise render impossible! You can see Vampire Bill Compton playing with his Nintendo Wii in the True Blood clip below:
5. My favourite thing about Wii Fit has to be that it gives me something to look forward to each day.
This might seem a little bit silly to some people, but the combination of the above 4 qualities make Wii Fit the highlight of my day. It makes me feel good to see that I improve in each activity, and it makes me feel good to think of how much more aerobics I can do each day compared to when I first started. I love the novelty of the activities, and this is why I eventually purchased Wii Fit Plus. This has 15 additional activities, and I am trying not to try all of them right away so that I'll have something new to master. The fun and humourousness of the activities is also important to me because I do not often get to go out and have fun in the same ways that other young people my age do. Often, just discovering a new activity or option about the game can be entertaining, though other young people who are more used to video games may not find these new discoveries as amusing as I do. And of course, I get to feel good about knowing that everyday I am doing something to improve my health and ultimately lead me to be more able-bodied and independent. But in the meantime, Wii Fit is allowing me to make up for experiences I wouldn't otherwise be able to have right now, such as Boxing, Kung Fu, and Skiing.

In conclusion, I would just like to say that people often comment on our use of technology, expressing a fear that we are in fact becoming to dependent on technology. I don't deny this. But if the wheel is an early development of technology, then this means that the wheel chair is in fact a product of technology. Wheelchairs are a product of technology that make it possible for people with disabilities to be mobile and allows for a degree of independence. For people with certain disabilities, the wheelchair is an extremely important piece of technology. So while I agree that our increasing dependence on technology is disturbing and often unnecessary, I will also be the first to say that, for those who are not perfectly able-bodied, technology makes it possible to experience life and remain independent - whether it is the wheelchair aiding in mobility, or a video-game that simulates sports to aid in physiotherapy and rehabilitation from a health problem.

Maybe reliance on technology is only disturbing when we are able to live comfortably without it and its use ultimately causes us not to use our own abilities and thus to eventually lose them altogether. But maybe technology should be praised when it makes it possible for us to do what we otherwise could not and aids in our health and independence. Maybe the key to judging whether a piece of technology is beneficial or harmful is to determine whether it leads to dependence or INdependence.
To learn more about Wii Fit visit