ANGUS BURGER SEND OFF

Did you know that McDonald’s Canada launched a new burger today? Yep, named the Angus burger, it competes with a similarly named product from Burger King. As you might imagine the new burger is made from Angus beef and with a bakery style bun. It’s meant to be a deluxe burger, thus the bigger patty and price tag.

I’ve been waiting for this burger to arrive for about a week now. I was looking forward to it for two reasons: one, I wanted to sample this new burger and two, I’m going on a McDonald’s hiatus until I get back from my vacation from Hawaii.

Let’s talk about the burger itself. My quick synopsis is that it’s satisfactory. It wasn’t horrible but it certainly wasn’t the best thing to come from McDonald’s. To be honest, I’d prefer a Big Mac over the Angus burger. It tasted kinda bland. Now this is weird but I thought the Angus burger wasn’t greasy enough. Maybe greasy isn’t the right word… maybe wet is… ok, let’s go back to greasy. I hope you know what I mean. The whole thing was just too cardboardy. Now for all the blandness, there’s actually more fat in an Angus burger than in a Big Mac, 4g more, for a total of 33g. Would I order one again? Probably not.

Now the reason why I’m staying away from McD’s for a while is just to see if I can do it. I don’t eat McD’s every day, so this isn’t really gonna make my diet that much better. I’m also still allowed to eat doughnuts, KFC, A&W and the list goes on. The thing is, McD’s is the most convenient place to get food near the studio after 5pm, so this will be a good test.

Who knows, maybe when my Hawaii trip rolls around I’ll look fab-u-lous in my two piece on the beach!

BEHIND THE CURVE

Back in the early 1980s, circa 1983 my parents bought me my first video game console, the legendary Atari 2600. Back then, the video game industry was very much still in its infancy. Video gaming was a novelty and indulged in by mostly kids. In terms of entertainment dollars, it was barely a blip on a radar screen that was dominated by movies and TV.

Today, the video game industry has grown by leaps and bounds since those early 8-bit days. Now, millions of people play video games from the very young to the old timers like me, who are slowly creeping into middle age. Most of the players are male but a recent study that I wont cite, found there are least 17 female gamers out there.

Certain triple-A titles now match or exceed blockbuster movies in both revenue and profit. Two recent examples are Halo 3 which launched at the end of 2007 and tonight’s release of GTA IV. Those two intellectual properties have reached the status of cultural phenomena. Now for a person that has been playing games for well over 20 years and actually works in the industry, I seem to miss out on a lot of the titles that get elevated into superstar status.

The first example is the Halo series. These series of games were the first set of titles that brought gaming heavily into the mainstream. People played these games that didn’t really play games before. The Halo series was so popular that even the mainstream media, who really don’t get gaming as whole, was forced to report on its success. Though the first game was released in 2001, it took me seven years to play it for the first time. I finished the whole series last week, when I just completed Halo 3.

The next example is the Grand Theft Auto series. Though I played the first game for one evening many years ago, it never really captured my attention. GTA didn’t really take off in popularity until the third game came out. I have never played GTA III, which is when most people were introduced to the series and also when the mainstream media picked up on its violent depictions. I also have no plans to pick up GTA IV.

So why have I missed out or am so late to the parties on some of these games? One of the reasons is practicality and availability. The first Halo was an Xbox exclusive when it first came out and that meant I needed to own an Xbox to play it. In 2001, I wasn’t much of a console gamer back then and to be honest, the original Xbox was a piece of crap compared to the PS2. As the years went by, there was even less reason for me to get an Xbox. The only reason I’ve even played it now was because I took it out for free from the EA library and it’s playable on the 360. The same reason goes for GTA III. It was released on the PS2 and I didn’t own one back then. I was a big PC gamer back then and the only console I did own was the PS1.

Another reason is that I’m just really suspicious of too much hype for a game. A game’s impact can be lessened because the hype just elevates people’s expectations beyond reason. In a way, I think I don’t want to play certain games because I just don’t want to be disappointed.

As for GTA IV, I certainly won’t buy it like I stated before but if someone lends me a copy in 2015, I’ll give it a try for sure.

TOSF: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

In a previous post, I detailed the intentions of myself and a co-worker in patronizing The Old Spaghetti Factory, a restaurant that we wanted to see if it was as bad as our memory served us. On Friday evenings, most people want to have a good meal, instead we going for the culinary equivalent of a kick to the berries.

The timing seemed right, we’d been working late the last two nights for a milestone, so George and I were just happy to survived that. Plus, I’d had a few beers at beer and cake, so a lot of things seemed like a good idea at the time. On our way down to the studio lobby, we ran into Simon, one of the engineering leads. We convinced him to come with us to TOSF. We may have given him the wrong impression about the place. I think he believed we were actually going to a decent place, not to an experiment.

Anyways, unlike last time, there was no wait to be seated. So if you want to know, going to TOSF in Gastown is fine after 8pm on Friday nights. Once seated, I decided to order one of their complete pasta meals, which includes bread, a starter, a pasta dish, ice cream, and after dinner tea or coffee. It’s a good deal that ranges between $10-14.

Because I wasn’t really thinking, I ordered NE clam chowder to start and then spaghetti with clam sauce. It wasn’t until I was chowing down on the chowder that I realized a significant portion of my meal constituted heavy, rich cream. The bread was fresh and the addition of whipped garlic butter was a nice touch. I love whipped butter. The chowder itself was very thick but only so-so in terms of heartiness. Nothing still compares to the chowder I had in Boston in 1999.

The actual pasta dish I had was fair to middling. It wasn’t horrible but it was nothing spectacular either. It was however, quite heavy in terms of the cream sauce and would have much preferred a white wine sauce. I didn’t even it eat it all but I sat there feeling pretty stuffed. It took effort to eat my ice cream but I did it anyways.

George went the proper route by avoiding the chowder and choosing to have the meat sauce. I probably would have done better by doing the same. George thought his meal was not horrible but it did not impress him either. Simon had some chicken wings which were quite good actually but I’m a sucker for wings anywhere.

After dinner, George went home and Simon decided to go find a movie theatre. I had to go back to the studio to get my cell phone. On the way back, I was intercepted by a few people and forced to go to a bar. Nothing eventful happened there.

LIFE AFTER PEOPLE

There was a recent airing of a History channel special entitled “Life After People”. The show focuses on how the planet would change if for some reason, human beings disappeared from Earth. They go into detail about how our infrastructure would deteriorate (or survive), what would happen to the planet’s environment, and what everything would look like in such a world.

As many of you know, I’m fascinated by post-apocalyptic scenarios. Though the show doesn’t exactly state why humans would all disappear, for my own purposes I’m imagining a world-wide zombie plague, which actually leaves small pockets of survivors sprinkled through the world. To that end, even the show’s web site devote an entire section to surviving alone in a post-apocalyptic situation. Granted, none of their tips deal with zombie specific elements of survival.

I haven’t seen the show, but I might find a torrent for it. Check out the web site for video from the show.

LVL 70 PARTY

A few of us were at work late this evening. One of my co-workers was waiting for a build to finish so he jumped onto a World of Warcraft server. He was a few kills away from getting level 70 for his character, which is the highest attainable so far.

We all gathered around while he did the final mouse click that pushed him over from 69 to 70. There was a small smattering applause. Then some pizza arrived. We all gathered in the kitchen area to celebrate the event and eat pizza.

Sometimes I’m not sure if I’m actually living the life of an adult.

LEMON NO MORE… HOPEFULLY

I went to NCIX today to pick up my replacement video card. After a slight bump in the road to recovery, it appears my new computer is running as it should.

I still have a whole crapload of programs to install and configure but seems all good now.

HOTEL SEARCH

Damn, it’s one of those nights where I run out of time to write something worthwhile for a post. I’ve spent the last hour or so researching hotels in Honolulu. It turns out my vacation this year will be Hawaii.

I have close friend who is getting married in Honolulu and the trip out there will be a great excuse to go somewhere warm and relaxing. Though the wedding is in early July, I’m trying to wrap up my travel arrangement by Thursday to beat a seat sale deadline.

The craziest option I found so far (that’s still listed in Frommer’s as a decent place) is the Royal Grove Hotel. It’s pink and it’s as low as $55 a night. It ain’t the Hilton that’s for sure but the people swear by the quaintness of the place.

THE WEATHER

Though it is supposedly spring in the western hemisphere, the weather doesn’t support that fact, at least in Vancouver.

On Friday night, after leaving a dinner engagement, I stepped outside into a full-fledged snowstorm. Though it was late April, the Broadway and Granville area of town resembled a snowy December evening. Cursing the weather, I made my way back downtown where the storm was even more intense. The flakes of snowing falling in the downtown core were huge, approaching the size of small cookies.

Curiously, when I got back home to the outlying areas of Tatooine, there was no snow at all and hardly any moisture on the ground (I guess it had been all farmed already… bada-bing!). Despite the lack of snow, it was still bone-chillingly cold.

Though the snow did not return on Saturday, it was still freezing cold. I attended an outdoor BBQ Saturday evening and by sun down, everyone was scrambling inside to escape the cold air.

Monday calls for a chance of flurries, so this terrible “spring” weather still has a chance to linger for a few days yet. In fact, for the next two days, forecasters are predicting a low temperature of just above freezing!

I better bring a scarf with me when we go for our dinner at TOSF.