Saturday, June 27, 2009

This week at Amtgard

Today at Amtgard I ran a kid's quest. I hadn't been planning on doing it, but what happened was that there were some kids there and they told me they wanted to "fight the evil ogre." Of course there wasn't any evil ogre before, but there was one now. So I left the base in order to "scout out" the area (i.e. hide the evil ogre's treasure for the kids to find.) The kids said they had a "map" that told them where the ogre was, and that they would "turn me into a crab" so the enemies wouldn't notice me. It took a while to hide all the stuff, so when I came back I said that I was delayed because "it's kind of hard to read a map if you're a crab." The first half of the quest was mostly the kids running around everywhere except where I hid the stuff, making stuff up as they went along. They said their "map" told them where the ogre's "secret weapons" were, but they kept changing their story about where the "secret weapons" were, and never actually found any "secret weapons." (Remember that it was just me and the kids; there were no actual players playing monsters.) Eventually they went over to the area where I hid the stuff. I hid four small pouches and one big bag, and said that the pouches contained the "fire gem," "air gem," "earth gem," and "water gem." They found all the gems except the "air gem" but couldn't find the last one. One of the kids said that maybe the last gem was in the ogre's "main treasure hoard." Of course I knew that I hid it on the ground in the wooded area, but I went to the place I thought I remembered hiding it and it wasn't there. Eventually they found the bag (the "main treasure hoard") and the fourth pouch was in there! (Someone must have been walking through the path in the back of the woods, saw the bag and the pouch, and assumed that the pouch belonged in the bag and so put it there.) At the end I took the ogre mask, put some armor on, and said that the armor was cursed and transformed me into the ogre. Of course they defeated the "ogre" and we all went back to town (the pavilion.) They looked at the treasure and saw lots of potions. I told themthat I had a "magical device that could detect the power of the potions" (i.e. my iPhone, which has an app on it that displays a fake "meter" that you can control by pressing a hidden button) They actually recognized the "magical device" as an iPhone, but went along with it anyway. Overall it was a very fun day, and Colleen rewarded me by giving me a "mithril armor" relic.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Weight Watchers

I joined Weight Watchers this week. Weight Watchers is a weight loss program that works in an interesting way. Each food is assigned a "point value" based on its calorie content, fiber, and grams of fat. Higher calories and fat mean more points. You have a maximum quota of points based on your weight, age, height, sex, and activity level. Then you keep track of all the foods you eat and try to stay under the point level. There is also a list of "healthy eating options" that you are supposed to have. These include fruits and vegetables, healthy oils, and lean protein. Lean protein was one thing that I thought that it would be hard for me to find because I don't like meat, but it turns out that lots of places have chicken that I can eat. Another thing is that there is a list of "filling foods" that have a low "energy density" (i.e. number of calories per gram.) These are good to eat because they fill you up without lots of calories. As it turns out, 94% fat free, butterless popcorn is a filling food.

Another interesting thing is that it also mentions "fat-free cheese." I had no idea such a thing existed, but if it does, it would help me cut a lot of fat out of my diet.

By the way, an article in Wired magazine (it's about the sixth result on google for "weight watchers" offers the following explanation for Weight Watchers' success: it turns weight loss into a game, similar to computer role-playing games. For example:

- The "point system" where each food costs a certain number of points is similar to systems in games where you spend "points" to cast spells or use special powers.

- There are rewards you get when you reach certain milestones (like losing 5% of your body weight.) This is like in computer games where you can go up in level or get rewards by accomplishing objectives.

- The first ten weeks they give you one "book" a week, which slowly introduces you to new features of the plan. For example the week 1 book just talks about eating healthy and introduces the point system for food, and later books give advice on things like eating out and exercising more. This is similar to computer games where each level introduces more features.


The only problem with Weight Watchers so far is that there is no official iPhone app for it. There are lots of unofficial apps but those only have a very limited set of features. For example the app I am using now just lets you put in foods and point values and track them (and also lets you calculate point values from nutrition data). It doesn't keep track of any of the "healthy eating" items, and doesn't have the list of filling foods. So I still have to carry around the physical book for that. It seems so 20th century.

Monday, June 15, 2009

More updates coming...

Sorry about the lack of updates recently. I'm going to be ging on a family reunion this weekend though, and I will be sure to blog all about it when I get back!