Friday, September 9, 2011

I Smell T-R-O-U-B-L-E

Some of you will recognize the title of this post. It's the name of a Travis Tritt song.

Hopefully, you've seen this. If not, go read it now. I'll wait.

OK, ready? And for those of you who didn't read it after all, I'll sum up events. Travis Tritt was scheduled to perform a concert in Joplin this Sunday (the tenth anniversary of 9/11), partially as a morale booster for tornado victims, and the concert was to be "free." I say "free" because, let's face it, nothing's free. Everything has a cost, especially throwing a concert for a country music superstar.

Mr. Tritt just happened to find out where that money's coming from: donations to help with Tornado Relief efforts. And he did what any honorable person would've done: he backed out. Good for him.

Bad for whoever the "City Official" is that offered this money for Tritt to come in the first place.

I understand that there was the hope/expectation that through sponsorships, the cost of bringing Tritt to town would've balanced out. But as he said himself, that "hope" isn't good enough, especially to those who lost their homes/loved ones in the storm.

I've only been in Joplin 5 months or so, and I'm ready to come down on someone like a Georgia thunderstorm. I can't IMAGINE how angry longtime Joplin residents must be right about now.

Let's face facts: I'm a reporter, so it's a duty of mine to be as clear and unbiased as I possibly can. It also behooves me to try and keep up a friendly rapport with officials. However, I'm also a citizen of Joplin, and I wish to express the following as a member of the public:

I'm outraged. 

Donations to tornado victims are supposed to go to -- wait for it -- TORNADO VICTIMS. Not for entertainment. Necessities. Food. Clothing. Shelter. Things that, almost four months later, people are still doing without.

Would a concert have been nice? Of course. I planned on taking my wife to it. But not under these circumstances. This is at best a mistake that misuses these funds and at worst flat-out disrespectful to the survivors of the May 22nd EF-5.

Now, the City has responded to this whole mess: “Money from Community Fdn (Foundation) of the Ozarks was used as investment & necessary to secure entertainment for the event. Community members have been seeking sponsorships & it’s anticipated these donations will cover 100% of concert cost. In addition, Text to Give program will be associated with event and proceeds will go directly to the Fdn (Foundation). This event is meant to bring community together as a positive force in moving forward. Our efforts remain solidly focused on rebuilding this community and helping our citizens.”

While I get what they're saying, I still don't think that makes it right. Secure the money BEFORE spending donated dollars, and you won't have this kind of problem.

There are even some criticizing Tritt for making this call, saying if he were a "Real American" he'd come and do it for free regardless. I've got news for those people: a REAL American does things legit. They don't participate in things they don't believe in, and don't take advantage of others. Travis Tritt is a REAL American, and I applaud his showcase of morality and wisdom in an age where many performers and "artists" would just turn a blind eye to it.

If you want to be angry, be angry at whoever made the call to try and pay for the event using DONATED FUNDS.

God knows I am.

**EDIT** The City of Joplin's Facebook page is ON FIRE right now with upset people.

**EDIT 2: THE SEQUEL** The City's announced that while they did request a loan from the fund, they already had $85,000 to put back into it. Which makes me wonder why they didn't just plan on using that money and not even bother with the loan.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sweatin' To The Graphics

OK, this may come as a shock, but I'm a bit overweight.

Really? Nobody's surprised? Huh.

Anyway, when Lori and I saw EA Sports: Active 2 on sale at Wal-Mart for $25 last week, we figured what the heck, it's $25. If it doesn't work, at least we'll have a nifty strap-on heart monitor to show for it. So later that week, I finally got around to setting up a workout program, putting on the three motion sensors (one for each arm and one for your right thigh) and fired it up.

Oh, man. I was almost dead by the end of the first workout.

The game provides some specific workout programs, or you can custom-build your own. I went with the 9-week strength builder at first (have since gone with custom workouts for a reason I'll go into later), and I gotta say, I'm impressed. Of course, even Wii Fit has the ability to make one sweat, but the difference here is fun. I was sweating, I was sore, and I was having a good time in the process. The workouts are predictable but move quickly, and the activities (workout games such as basketball, boxing, etc) are varied enough to not get repetitive quickly (unlike Wii Fit Plus's boxing program, which I could practically do blindfolded by the time I gave up on that game).

Another big selling point is that the game doesn't force you to be humiliated daily by a piece of plastic. Weighing yourself daily is the only way to get a mark for your progress in Wii Fit; that means every time you workout, you stand on the Wii Fit board, it tells you you're fat, you eventually get discouraged at your lack of progress, and you give up. Active, however, pretty much ignores that part. You can enter your weight on a weekly basis, if you choose. You can also ignore it completely, and still get credit for actually using the product.

Custom workouts are another plus. Yes, this is technically possible in Fit Plus, but it seems to work better in Active 2, at least for me. As I said earlier, I went to building a custom workout after trying the strength building program. Mostly it was because the program wants me to run and jump; two things I'm not necessarily allowed to do since I live on the second floor of an apartment building (and my neighbors wouldn't appreciate a lot of thumping on their ceiling). The variety is very nice, and the fact that you can use music stored on your hard drive (for PS3 and Xbox 360 users) is a big plus... especially when you have hard metal playing during warm-up and cool-down workouts; it just feels MORE AWESOME.

So as a whole, I like what I see. I'm only a little over a week in, so of course this could just be the honeymoon phase, but I can see myself sticking to this more than Wii Fit, partially because we lost our board, and partially because I don't remember enjoying myself as much with that game.

Score: B+. Only way this could've been good enough for an A would be if it supported the PS Move for PS3 users; the game does support the Kinect for those Xbox fans out there (again, uncertain on the Wii version's features).

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Geek Cave Podcast #11: Captain America, GameStop, and DC's "New 52"

So... the latest Geek Cave podcast is live. Listen to it now.

You can always download on iTunes using this link right here. (link may not be active yet; give it a day or so if it's not)