Tag Archives: gnome

We Are Now A ‘FitBit Ultra’ Couple — NOT!

The exact ‘blue’ and ‘pink’ FitBits we have.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.


by Anura Guruge

No, no, to every ones amazement, especially Deanna’s sister who was adamant we would not last a year, we are still together, BUT I ditched my FitBit Ultra 33 days after Deanna gave it to me. It just won’t Synch and that drives me nuts. So here is one post of my frustrations with FitBit on October 5, 2012. I will write another post as to how and why I finally dumped it. Thanks.

It was my 59th birthday on Tuesday (which was the excuse for the whale watch and Dim Sum). In addition to a British style garden gnome (given that I got very nostalgic when we watched ‘Gnomeo and Juliet‘) which was very cute and 100% accurate (though made in China), I, to my surprise, also got a ‘blueFitBit Ultra. Wow.

Click ….

Last year, because she found a free 12 month offer, I was getting ‘Maxium‘. It was never a magazine I was ever partial to. To me it is a compromise magazine for nerds in glasses who are petrified of girls. But, I was delighted to find that it actually had some decent articles and reviews — especially on high-tech nerdy gizmos. That is how I found the FitBit.

After her back surgery Deanna was back to exercising and the FitBit looked neat. It is basically a fancy, electronic, USB-equipped [i.e., plugs into a PC] pedometer — on steroids. I looked it up; it was available from Amazon and I got it for her for Christmas 2011. She loves it. Over the Summer she has been uttering phrases along the lines that it is her most treasured possession! It never leaves her side. She even sleeps with it — because it monitors sleep patterns (another rationale for getting one for her). She lost it earlier in the Summer. She was beside herself. We looked everywhere. I told her to get another one. Three or four days later she found it among her clothes. We still have a few scares, especially after we have been to the beach — the kids very used to the cry: ‘have you seen my FitBit’.

Though I run around 2 miles, up a steep hill (Prospect Mountain Road) wearing weights, 5 to 6 days a week and swam nearly every day during the Summer (including this Monday, though the water is now noticeably cold), not to mention going up and down the 3 flights of staircases we have in this 4 story house more than most because my ‘office’ is on the 4th floor, Deanna loves to accuse me of being sedentary! So getting me a FitBit was a way for her to see how physically idle I really am. So yesterday was the first day I wore it. I don’t know how it gets calibrated because there is no calibration process, e.g., measuring your average stride. So, just like a computer mouse it must have a few small accelerometers that measure movement. Yesterday evening we both took two short. controlled walks to see if our 2 FitBits measured the same number of steps. They seem to. Going out we kind of walked independently, though we were supposed to walk the same. Per the FitBits we were 10 steps out, I taking more. Coming back Deanna made sure she matched me step-for-step. FitBits matched!

So all the data is available to see on the FitBit by pressing the one and only button it has. But, you can also have it uploaded into your account at FitBit.com. I am having problems getting my FitBit to synch. Could be the USB connection. Since I am loath to install ANY non-mission critical software on my work PC, I installed the FitBit software on one of my backup computers — this one running Windows XP so I can use FrontPage 2003 for my Web updates. So, this is what it has for me for yesterday, September 5, 2012:

I am not 100% sure, as yet, about the veracity of the figures. I am not sure I really traveled, using my feet, 4.15 miles. Yes, I ran ~2.25 miles. Floors climbed is a calculated height based on angle of elevation and something like 10′ rise. Running up the hill fudges that number. Climbing up to the top of the Seattle Space Needle doesn’t impress me. I used to regularly climb to the 2nd observation deck of the Eiffel Tower. 2,304 calories burned is average for an old guy like me. It would appear that I would have burned about that anyway.Devanee cracked me up. She is the master of the FitBit having studied the mother’s for so long. But, she didn’t know what the FLAME symbol stood for. She called it ‘Heartburn’! So, she goes you had 2,000 heartburns.

So … that is it. We are the FitBit couple now.

Destination Imagination (DI) New Hampshire, Appraiser Conflicts of Interest Bothers Me

I have a long, and until now very positive, history with New Hampshire Destination Imagination (NH-DI). All 4 of my kids have taken part in DI. Consequently, I have been involved one way or another with NH-DI since 1996. My son, who did NH-DI for four-years, won State twice, in 1999 and 2001, and went onto DI Global Finals in Knoxville, TN.

Last year I was an Assistant Team Manager. This year my wife and I were both Team Managers. I was also an Appraiser and appraised at the Sanborn Regionals (Kingston) on March 17, 2012. My wife and I both attended DI Team Manager training workshops this year, and I, in addition, did the online Team Manager and DI Appraiser training offered by the ‘DI University’. [That our 11-year old ended up as the Gnome at Kingston was a bonus.]

So, I have no axe to grind with NH-DI. I have been a great proponent of NH-DI and have enjoyed being a part of NH-DI.

So what is my gripe?

When my elementary team competed on March 10, 2012, at the Kearsarge (N. Sutton) Regional Meet, in the ‘Coming Attractions’ challenge, I was shocked to see that two of the appraisers were from our school! One of them had even attended our last dress rehearsal the week before and had spoken at length with the kids about their performance.

Until that point it had never crossed my mind that NH-DI permitted such Conflicts of Interest.

Right after their performance the kids (ranging in age from 8 to 11) asked me how it was possible that they were judged by two of their teachers! They found it incongruous.

We did not do well in the challenge, mainly due to stage fright. But, we came 4th out of 10. Here are the results. Given the blatant Conflict of Interest we feel that there should be an asterisk next to our placing! We don’t feel good about it because we know of the Conflict.

So there is my issue. Plain and simple. NH-DI should let all concerned know, from the get go, that it is possible to have Conflicts of Interest when it comes to appraising. That is it. Period.

I just want transparency. NH-DI should publish a list of all the appraisers and their affiliations. That way everything is all above board.

Yes, many sports employ ‘partial’ judges and Olympic ice skating and free style skiing comes to mind. But, the affiliations of the judges are always disclosed.

To me, having these secret conflicts of interest totally undermine the integrity and credibility of NH-DI.

In my opinion, it is not fair on the kids. They put a lot of effort into the competition. Let them have a perfectly level playing field — SANS suspicions of Conflicts of Interest.

What have I done?

Right after the competition, on March 14, 2012, I e-mailed Jim Heedles the Regional Master for that event. I also contacted, via e-mail, Kara Swedlow, the NH-DI the Affiliate Director. They, for obvious reasons, want to play down this issue. I also tried AskDI@dihq.org but they just referred me back to NH-DI!

I have also spoken, by e-mail and in person when I attended the March 17 event, with a number of NH-DI officials. All of them expressed ‘surprise’ at what I had to say and ‘promised’ to look into it. But, nothing has happened — and I can fully appreciate that NH-DI does not want their results and reputation to be compromised.

The young lady coordinating my appraising on March 17 had asked me via e-mails whether I had any conflicts of interests. I informed her that I had none at the meet that I was officiating — but told her what had happened at the March 10 meet. She assured me that they try very had to avoid such conflicts.

So imagine my shock when one of the appraisers I was judging with, on March 17, informed us that he was a teacher at the school that had just performed — and he had appraised!

I spoke with the coordinator. She was aware of it, but said that the teacher had assured her that he did not know any of the kids in that team.

Come on! All I am asking for is transparency. With DI there should never be any doubts or suspicions that the kids did not get a fair shake of the stick.

Thanks for reading this. I feel much better now that I have got this off my chest.

Anura Guruge

Devanee Is The Gnome At NH Destination Imagination (DI) Kingston Regionals On March 17, 2012

This was serendipitous to say the least.

I was an appraiser for that meet and Devanee came with me because she enjoys going to DI meets. They were looking for a person to wear the costume and they spotted Devanee, looking bored, sitting on a bench at 7:30 am (the appraisers having to sign in at 7am). It was great. She did a great job. This was even better than her performing at DI the week before. She was the star at both the opening and closing ceremonies.

Here is Devanee with me, after the closing ceremonies – 12 hours after we got there at 6:50 in the morning!

Anura Guruge, DI, destination imagination, gnome, Devanee

Devanee and I.

For more pictures of Devanee as the irrepressible gnome check these two links:
1/ Opening ceremonies at which she danced and greeted each team.
2/ Closing ceremonies at which she also did her stuff.