New Year's Day

New Year's Eve can be an exciting time spent hanging out with friends or strangers, watching fireworks or a band, getting sloshed or staying bone sober, but the aftermath of New Year's Day can be a bit taxing. Sometimes it's best to stay in bed until it's time for Hopping John and a hair of the dog that bit you.

On the other hand, New Year's Day can be the single best time to go and do things at places that are ordinarily very crowded. When I was a little girl growing up in southern California a friend of the family used to take us to Disneyland on the day of the Rose bowl parade, when everyone was busy at that event, and on New Year's Day. There's a peculiar hushed quality about Disneyland when nobody is there and these days I'm guessing it could even make you worry that the zombie apocalypse has happened. As the day wears on the place fills up with people trying not to talk too loudly, so if you go, go early and get the most out of your visit.

There are plenty of other places to go on the big day; pretty much anywhere you usually find crowds, but keep in mind that many attractions like museums and zoos are closed two days of the year: Christmas and New Year's Day. Be sure to check hours before you head out. On the other hand just walking around when everyone else is asleep can be an interesting experience so your mileage may vary. You might just enjoy getting out and seeing your local sights in the crisp winter air.

In other news I have some follow-up regarding ExerBeat, the video game I discussed back in July. I started exercising using this game on June 23rd and I haven't missed a day since. I've now burned more than a hundred thousand calories according to the game stats and have been around the world eight times. My fasting blood sugar dropped by about twenty points, which is great news as far as I'm concerned.

Now that I have unlocked most of the games/exercises I can use a feature of the game that I previously ignored, which allows me to choose a specified period of continuous exercise via the personal trainer mode. I'm currently doing these in thirty minute chunks, plus the daily challenges and whatever else I feel I need to do to make sure my workout is well rounded. You can choose your exercises by objective, category, problem area, and random. Under objective your choices are maintain health, relax, burn fat, relieve stress and shape up. If you don't like the exercises chosen by the computer you can rechoose. I often use the random but find it can be too heavy on one type of exercise, with fifteen minutes of stretching and not enough aerobics, in which case I ask it to pick again. (I think it's kind of cute that stress relief mostly involves boxing. I guess you're supposed to imagine that you are punching whatever or whoever is stressing you out.)

There are two big advantages that I see with using the personal trainer mode. First you get to continue exercising for a set amount of time with no need to stop and pick your next routine. Secondly you can save all the walking around the world until you're finished with your exercises. While I enjoyed the facts that you get as you reach each new destination, I was disappointed to find there are only two facts for each area, which gets pretty repetitive after a couple of trips around the world. Now I sometimes read a book while clicking my way through the around the world segment of the game. In my ideal world there would be frequent updates with new information. I'm sure that anyone with access to a Guinness Book of World Records and an encyclopedia could come up with enough facts to keep even the most dedicated ExerBeat player happy.

I'm still quite pleased with this game and the routines are varied enough that even after six months of daily use I'm not bored with the exercises. This was definitely my best purchase of 2011.

Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is from Kate Beaton, who gave us the greatest Christmas gift of all – hunks! She posted some holiday sketches for her Hark! A vagrant comic that include the hunks comic and, my favorite, a problem arising between Clara and the Nutcracker. Like all of Ms. Beaton's work these comics are delightful. Her comic style looks artless but is sophisticated and the wonky eyed look of many of her characters adds a great deal of fun to her work.