How the XBox 360 changed my run on Tuesday

Or, rather, how it changed the way my brain works when I’m out running.

My relationship with my significant other was forged over many games of SuperMario Bros. on the Nintendo. This was circa 1990, when people still used cassettes and the Internet was still developing its eyelids. Since then, we’ve upgraded to a new gaming system every five years or so. This year marked the move from our beloved Playstation 2 to the XBox 360.

Although the purchase coincided with Christmas, what’s the point of waiting until some arbitrary date (December 25) to start enjoying it? We could well be dead by then. No time like the present to start frittering away time and working up to a good case of carpal tunnel syndrome.

We ordered a number of games (sword and sorcery for him, post-apocalyptic mayhem and alien destruction for me). But they look pretty complicated. So for the test drive we inserted the Indiana Jones Lego game that came with the system (suitable for 10 year olds and brain damage victims). Let me tell you, this game is like video crack. We’ve killed entire evenings this week in front of this brain-bender.

Brain bending is the point of this post, which I’ll get to. The game forces you to look at your environment in a new way and engage in creative problem solving. This translated into the real world for me on a rainy day run. Our running path follows the Bronx River and, in one section, it’s forced to go underneath the parkway of the same name. Unfortunately, the environmental engineer didn’t consider the effect of heavy rain on the river. As a consequence, when it rains heavily, the path under the roadway is flooded.

In the past, upon arriving at this spot and seeing six inches of water where a path should be, I opt to risk my life crossing a busy parkway, around a blind corner. On Tuesday, however, I had a completely different reaction. For the first time, I noticed a steel handrail with three horizontal rails running alongside the entire flooded area. “Hey,” I thought, “I can put my feet on the first rail, brace my knees against the second, and grip the third with my hands. Then I just need to scoot along the rail past the flooded part.”

And so I did, feeling very clever at having found an alternative to sprinting across two lanes of 50mph traffic.

Now I’m wondering how many other people have figured that out. And what percentage of them are 10-year-old video gamers.

Damned chipmunks

After the About page, this page is the most popular page on this blog. Hardly a day goes by when I don’t get hits from people searching for “baby chipmunks”. For some reason, this drives me crazy. I’m half tempted to remove the post so I don’t have to see it at the top of the most trafficked pages every single day.