Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Wii Arm

So I know it is still early, but both of us here in the Smith household have experienced what we are dubbing "Wii Arm."

On Sunday we were able to purchase a Nintendo Wii (the new console from Nintendo). It is quite the revolutionary console, in that almost all of the controls are done by waving the "Wiimote" around in the air. For example in a baseball game, if you are the pitcher you simulate throwing a baseball, and you character throws a baseball. If you are the batter, you swing the wiimote like a bat and your character on the screen swings his bat. Well after we spent a few hours playing tennis, bowling, boxing, baseball, and golf we both woke up the next morning with "Wii Arm."

It is probably best described as tennis elbow on the inside of your elbow instead of the outside.

I have experienced controller thumb before, but I can honestly say this is the first time my body was "sore" from playing a video game, and we both went to bed physically exhausted from playing the video game... but that isn't a bad thing!

I applaud Nintendo for getting kids up off the couch (and adults too!) and being physically active while they play their video games, lets just hope "Wii Arm" doesn't become the new debilitating illness that people start claiming disability for!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Here’s a shocker. I love Wal-Mart. I know it’s almost always on the receiving end of bad press. It ruins neighborhoods. It puts small businesses out of business. It wrecks the balance of trade. It pays its workers poorly and treats them mean. It makes overseas workers into slaves. That's what the news says. The truth is that Wal-Mart is a major blessing for most Americans who live close enough to one to shop there and for the people who work at them. My smart friend C.L. Werner in Omaha made the point really clearly. When a Wal-Mart opens in a town, he said, it's as if everyone in the town got a raise. That's because the stuff at Wal-Mart is so much cheaper than that same merchandise was anywhere else. This is not a trivial thing. Now, don't get me wrong. Target and Sears and K-Mart and J.C. Penney and Brooks Brothers also sell good stuff usually at bargain prices, but they do not have the same reach of stores, the same astounding prices that Wal-Mart offers every day. This makes the people who shop there richer. Price matters a lot to most people.

I am sure Wal-Mart is stiff competition for the stores and supermarkets across America. I feel bad for the people who lose their stores because of Wal-Mart. But not everyone is a store owner. Everyone is a consumer, and Wal-Mart is about as good a friend as the consumer ever had. Is Wal-Mart ruining the balance of trade? Well, let me put it like this: I buy American whenever I can find it.

But there are a lot of things that are just not usually made in the USA any longer. Toasters. Hot pots. Color televisions. Underwear. Since the goods are almost always made overseas, why not buy them at the best possible price? By the way, if someone knows of a good American made toaster, please stand up and shout.

Is Wal-Mart wrecking small towns? Not the ones I see, which are mostly in North Idaho. Those towns are booming. And the closest you get to a town square is the Wal-Mart, where neighbors visit with neighbors in the aisles all day and all night, in air conditioning, out of the rain.

Is Wal-Mart impoverishing third world workers in sweat shops? Heck, no. Conditions in those places are far from ideal. But they are far better than working on the farm or begging in the streets or selling themselves into prostitution or whatever they were doing before they came to work for foreign suppliers of US stores. The gains in prosperity in the developing countries because their people can sell to America through Wal-Mart are astounding. As to the people who work at Wal-Mart, they seem to me to be bright, alert men and women who work there because it's the best they can do in their town or at their age. Plus, they seem happy. The usual clerk at Wal-Mart gives a lot better service than the clerk at Tiffany. I would like it if they were paid more, but they are in a competitive labor market. And what about those greedy stockholders? A lot of them are those same Wal-Mart clerks, many of whom got rich from their stock.

In the real world, Wal-Mart is as much of a boon to the American shopper as the Sears catalogue was long ago.

Jeer at it all you want, all you cool people, but, it's progress, big time.

That was an article written by Ben Stein (yes THAT Ben Stein) that I found to echo my feelings on Wal-Mart pretty much spot on. I recommend you check out Ben's site and click on "Stuff Ben Wrote" as a lot of his articles are really good.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Getting Rid of Myopia

Nearsightedness is something we deal with here at the Smith home. Shalisa has been wearing glasses since the 9th grade, and though Ryan owns glasses, trying to remember where they were placed last tends to be a bit of a hassle to wear them regularly.

Shalisa used to wear contacts quite religiously, but over the years finds them to get too foggy or irritating. She likes wearing glasses for the fashion of it too, so the simplicity of just throwing on a pair of glasses doesn't bother her too much, but it would be nice to be free of it. Especially on the beach or snow, as both activities are more of a glasses free zone, but contacts lend it's own set of problems. Once while in Rome one contact became so uncomfortable that Shalisa took it out and held it in her mouth for some time before popping it back in hoping to resolve the pain it was causing, all accomplished while standing in a line to climb the dome at St. Peter's...talk about inconvenient!

So, it's time for an eye exam, and Shalisa was doing a bit of research to find an alternative to her current contact lenses. She's thinking about daily lenses, and has tossed around the idea of LASIK. LASIK seems to be out - something about an eye forcibly pried open while an optician who went to a training seminar cuts a flap in the cornea and shoots it with a laser seems a bit too much like a horror film for her. There was an alternative out there though that had never been presented before, and seems a bit appealing to Shalisa - Orthokeratology, otherwise known as Ortho-K or OK. Basically it's a hard lens that is fitted to the eye for nighttime wear. This lens reshapes the cornea, and after a small amount of time should offer perfect or near perfect vision without the use of glasses or contacts. It has minimal side effects, and is reversible (should one decide it's not the option they want.) The lenses would need to be worn each night to reshape the cornea, or perhaps only every other night. But waking up in the morning and popping out a lens and not worrying about it for the rest of the day - or couple days - sounds inviting. Just something interesting, and a LASIK alternative for those of you out there with a bit of Myopia.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Cybernations, ROXORS

So I have been playing an online nation simulator for almost 8 months now, and I absolutely love. I figured I might as well drop a link in here to cybernations and tell you guys how much fun it is (if you are in to the whole, online nation simulator game).

If you do decide to join up, message me in game at Diskord of Sheltonians, I can give you some foreign aid to help get your nation off the ground, plus point you to some great alliances for protection, if you are so interested.

Anyway, check it out at: www.cybernations.net

It is great fun, only takes about 10 minutes a day (unless you really get into the politics and stuff, then you can spend hours and hours each day dealing with that, but that isn't a requirement to still have fun).

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

the justin: christ-follower vs. christian

the justin: christ-follower vs. christian

Great post by the .justin, these videos are AWESOME.

[HT: MarkO]