Poutine is still the best portable entertainment system

Just got back from a weekend jaunt to Montreal, where I ate smoked meat for three meals in a row and watched the Canadiens lose pitifully to the Capitals (Seriously. The 4 year olds in the half-time show made more shots at net than the Habs in the first period). We also went up to the top of Mount Royal and noodled around McGill campus, so it was worth driving eight hours through a snowstorm to get to.

We also patronized Rue Ste. Catherine and the Underground City, and unexpectedly walked away with an Electric Blue Nintendo DS. I am irate that Silverlotus pressured me into buying this contraption, although partially it’s because it forced me to acknowledge my own primal geekdom to get cool gadgets.

I must confess, in an age where the other console makers are busy reinventing – or should I say, rerendering the wheel, I respect Nintendo’s ingenuity and eagerness to break new ground. And I don’t mean gimmicky stuff like the best-be-forgotten Power Glove, but a portable gaming device with a touchscreen, wireless chat, backwards compatibility with Game Boy Advance games, and now an organized wireless online gaming network. I’m impressed that they’ve also taken Clayton Christensen’s book on disruptive technologies to heart with their new “Blue Ocean” corporate strategy.

Even the guys waiting in line to buy the new Xbox tonight are playing Nintendo DS.

Michael Palin should come up here

5 things about small towns:

# There is a big ol’ dog sleeping on top of someone’s roof – and no one looks twice
# The auto body shop sells cellphones. The gift shop sells laptops. The Chinese restaurant sells postal services.
# When booking a room at a local motel, you are asked if you wanted to buy the establishment
# The diabetes specialist is also the dietician and director of food services at the local hospital
# For fun, kids stuff snow down night deposit boxes

Fun facts about the other towns:

# Sudbury’s winter RIDE program (read: drunk driving checkpoints) is called “Operation Rednose”.
# The local Timmins Shoppers Drug Mart has just finished their Shania Twain lookalike contest.

Toronto to Sudbury to Chapleau to Timmins and back

061%20Lamp%20fixture%20in%20Sudbury%20airport%20lounge.jpg This week, I have been traipsing around up in northern Ontario on a business trip. We’re bringing wireless broadband and next-generation IP applications to the small logging town of Chapleau. It’s a really nice, small community, the people are friendly, and the poutine is probably the best I’ve had in the province.

One thing is also gets is snow, and a heavy weather forced our 15-seat chartered turboprop to land in the small Sudbury airport for the night. We had a nice square meal at a place called Mr. Prime Rib, and headed out the next morning. I apparently fixed Sudbury airport’s Wi-Fi access while Chapleau plowed their runway and the mechanics de-iced our plane with a hand pump sprayer. In Chapleau, we hit the runway so hard we bounced back into the air; the pilot explained he was trying to avoid skidding on the icy surface.

Gaming News

product_image.jpg My globe trotting ways have put a damper on my game plays, but I’ve had a chance to sneak some game time behind the PS2 and PC. Thanks to a new SATA hard drive, I’ve been mostly going through the gauntlet of entertaining demos, such as _Fahrenheit_ (different), _Total Overdose_ (funky), _Serious Sam II_ (it’s hard, still haven’t finished it), and _Need for Speed: Most Wanted_ (cops _and_ customization?! yay).

In the PlayStation: _We Love Katamari_. In a market that has a dozen shooting games, a hundred sport franchises, and a thousand regurgitated sequels of both, Katamari Damacy stands as one of the most innovative games since Tetris and Bejewelled. Ironically, it is the sequel, We Love Katamari, that outshines the original. The two minor problems of the original – lack of variety and short game time – have been addressed, making this game bigger, better, and more outlandish than before. BTW, its creator, Keita Takahashi, recently floored GDC Europe with his whimsical answer to their discussion question, “What do grannies like?” Takahashi won hands down with his cat-shaped controller social RPG thingamabob

On Steam: The multiplayer “_The Hidden_”:http://www.hidden-source.com/ and the singleplayer “_Halloween: Pumpkin Night_”:http://home.r-ben.com:8000/~halloween/?s=home. Both spooky, both intriguing ideas. In The Hidden, you and the entire server hunt and attempt to bring down an invisible, superhuman mutant. In Halloween, you play a trick-or-treating teenager who accidentally unleashes supernatural forces from a creepy house on a hill. It has a few maddening puzzles made opaque due to lack of instruction and bad programming, such as figuring out how to pull the dumbwaiter and yourself up to the attic of the spooky house, but it was still a fun, short diversion.

Day 8: It was criminal to wake up that early

_The following is from my journal from our wedding trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for Friday, Sept. 30th_. We will resume regular scheduled programming shortly:

200%20The%20sun%20appears.jpgLast day in the hot, hot sun. Woke up absurdly early with Woofer and V to catch shots of the sunrise. I got a few good shots, and a few more bug bites to add to my collection (Aside: They’re not mosquito bites, and they are extremely itchy). Tried my hand at the air rifle range, and I’ve decided to never make Woofer cross because he’s a bloody crack shot.

For the first time the entire trip, the water was cold and the surf stormed ominously. So we sat by the beach, had our last view of the “Historia Channel” on TV, had a nice square meal and head to the airport.

And Shell and JK, who arrived late and would depart on Saturday, went jewellry shopping at the hotel boutique. Here’s a (paraphrased) exchange between Shell and the shopkeeper over a small silver necklace with Mayan designs on it:

Shop Guy: For you, special price, 900 [pesos].
Shell: I don’t know…that seems a lot. Does it look good on me?
SG: If you buy now, 850!
Me: Too expensive. It’s only sterling silver.
SG: What do you think is a reasonable price then?
Me: 500.
SG: Ha ha ha!
Me: The design is nice, but the metal isn’t worth much.
Shell: I’ll think about it. Thanks anyway.
SG: Wait!! I’ll sell for 550!

Turns out Shell didn’t have any cash on her anyway…
P.S. Attention all travellers, the lounge between the two duty free shops (which sell identical things for identical prices but compete against each other) does not have a PA system. You can miss your flight unless you walk downstairs. I would know.

Day 7: Flavour of the week

_The following is from my journal from our wedding trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for Thursday, Sept. 29th_:

159%20Aww%20they%27re%20swans.jpgWith my duties as groom complete, today was a quiet day. Silverlotus and I met with the photographer. Armed with an Apple 17″ iBook, the photog let us pick which photos to print out. So we did. And then Woofer and Aunt F showed up to look at the photos. Then Silverlotus’s parents came by to take a look. Then JK and Michelle showed up…

Basically it took us ninety minutes to look at 60 pictures.

Woofer and Aunt F went on a canopy tour, zipping on foxlines among the tall leafy trees. We floated on the surf, trying to catch a big wave. In the afternoon, it was our turn to be the rubberneckers, as yet another couple walked down the aisle to the gazebo.

The real kicker was learning about the resort gossip. Apparently most of the guests thought we were the prettier couple. So there.

P.S. Playing Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” to Silverlotus doesn’t get me nasty looks anymore.