12 September 2008

Take a Hike Ike: What You Can Do to Help Evacuees

Currently, the Dallas Convention Center Shelter is housing more than 900 residents that have been evacuated from Houston and the surrounding areas due to the nearing threat of Hurricane Ike. As we all watch our TV screens to see the most up-to-date path of the hurricane, you might be compelled to help our fellow Texans. Here's how you can help:

Donations to help purchase food can be made to the North Texas Food Bank through their Web site: www.ntfb.org.

Donations to help purchase other essentials can be made to the Salvation Army through their Web site: www.salvationarmydfw.org.

Volunteers may register for assignments with the Volunteer Center of North Texas through their Web site: www.volunteernorthtexas.org or by calling 866/797-8268.

Cash donations to help provide other assistance can be made to the American Red Cross by calling 800/RED-CROSS or at www.redcross.org.


02 September 2008

Bring the Outdoors Indoors

While rifling through my mail last Friday, I unknowingly discovered a box holding the main source of my weekend entertainment: Namco Bandai's Active Life Outdoor Challenge for Nintendo Wii. Let me just preface this entry by saying that I absolutely detest video games. Really, I cannot stand them. Why? Beyond the violence, gore and male-intended content (of most adult games at least), I’m not one to spend hours at a time sitting on the couch … that is, unless there’s a Law and Order marathon on TV! But that’s beside the point.

When my father decided he wanted to give into the video-gaming frenzy and purchase a Nintendo Wii, I rolled my eyes. But my apathy soon changed. Now I jump at the chance to play a pick-up game of tennis with my mom (yes, my ‘rents are technologically-savvy!) or bowl against my younger brother. I can see why this gaming device is the hottest thing since sliced bread (and why kids can’t get enough of it).

So, when I opened my mail to find a reviewer’s copy of the newest Wii game, The Outdoor Challenge, I couldn’t wait to visit my parents’ house and take the game for a test drive.

Outdoor Challenge is a part of Namco Bandai’s Active Life games, meaning that it’s similar to Wii Fit (read: you have to get your butt off the couch and participate). In the Outdoor Challenge, players stand on an Active Life Mat, reminiscent of Dance Dance Revolution. Players can compete (in one-person and two-person games) in a series of activities, like mountain boarding, log jumping, kayaking, mine-cart driving and – best of all – mole stomping. (Yep, you read that right.)

Imagine this: a room of four adults bouncing around on a mat while yelling, cheering and falling to the couch exasperatedly out-of-breath due to the on-screen challenges. It was a blast. (Several times my marathon-running dad joked that he was going to have a heart attack!) The games are physically challenging and require a great deal of focus, balance and agility, yet they're kid-friendly and can be adjusted in difficulty for young followers.

I haven’t fully changed my opinion on video games. But this new addition has me one step closer to becoming a believer. Snag yourself a copy of this game when it hits shelves later this fall and have your own family gaming night. (Don't forget to take water breaks!)