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Stimulus Package Extravaganza!

I received nearly $600 from the federal government to spend as I wish. I went the consumer route. Here is the list of material goods that I purchased:

Garmin Forerunner 405 ($300) - This is a watch that has built in GPS for tracking your location and movement pace. Good for running, hiking, biking, kayaking, etc. Here is an example of the tracking it does. I owned the Forerunner 205... and the 405 is definitely a step up.
• The 205 took 1-2 minutes to lock on to the GPS satellites - the 405 about 15 seconds.
• The 405 can be used as a watch - the 205 was too big and bulky on your wrist for casual wear.
• The 405 transfers data wirelessly to your PC - the 205 required a USB cable.
• The battery sucking GPS turns off after a certain amount of time of non-use to conserve battery life - the 205 doesn't.
• The 405 comes with new software, which auto-uploads your activities to the internet for free - with the 205, you needed a 3rd party (motion-based) to handle this for a small fee.

Now that I have the 405, I can now break open the 205 and try to fix it. Two of the buttons on the 205 stopped working last fall. Garmin wanted $85 + shipping to fix it. I chose to by a new GPS trainer.

Wii Fit ($90) - Nintendo is trying to pass this off as a game that gets you in shape. No. It is an exercise regime like any other. Wii Fit is a tool, not a game. You will have to work to get in shape. On the positive side, it does try to get you to think healthy, and get in a good frame of mind to get fit.

The big push in Wii Fit is posture. Everything starts with good posture and balance. There might be something to that in my case. The now infamous crookety pelvis x-ray shows that I have bad posture, and the Wii Fit balance board caught that. The problem is that the bad posture comes from sciatic nerve pain in my right leg, which causes me to favor that side. Balance board doesn't see this, so it is giving me bad advice on how to fix it. However, doing yoga and balance exercises will probably help in this regard, so I will keep doing them.

The other problem is that Wii Fit uses BMI to decide if you are normal weight or not. Wrong! At 216 lbs., my BMI is 29.3, so I am really close to obese, according to this index. I'll give you the overweight, but not the borderline obese. At 6 feet tall, I need to get down to 184 lbs. I look fine at 195 lbs. The more accurate measure is percent body fat. When (and if) I get down to 195 lbs, I will check my percent body fat, and see if my hypothesis is right.

For potential buyers, here is my recommendation. If you plan on buying this, Wii Fit is like any other exercise equipment. If you find yourself buying exercise equipment, and the equipment turns into a clothes hanger, then expect Wii Fit to meet the same fate... and Wii Fit makes for a lousy clothes hanger. The only way Wii Fit will get used, is if you like to exercise.

Car computer interface with VAG-COM software ($260) - What inspired me to get this was the engine light going on in my VW Jetta, then bringing it to the dealership. The dealership was going to charge me $85 just to hook up to my car computer. I then reminded them that the car was still under warranty, so it was free on this visit. I am 12,000 miles away from no more warranty, so it would be nice to be able to make my own diagnosis. Plus I can make soft mods to the engine to increase the power or efficiency. Although I doubt I will stray too far from stock settings. Currently modding away from stock settings would void what is remaining on my warranty.

So that is my contribution to stimulating the economy. Did you feel the bump of improvement? I sure did.