Thursday, May 15, 2008

Finding old America in New England.

It's the middle of May, which means it's also time for adventure.

I leave first thing tomorrow morning for the big New England trip - a 10-day quest to discover the roots of our country at its birthplace. The trip starts in Philadelphia, the philosophical center of America, and continues to New Jersey, New York, Boston, and circles into Maine, New Hampshire, and then Vermont. I'll be exploring Revolutionary War sites, famous monuments to our country's birth, and the cities and towns where an entire generation of men found the courage to strike out on their own. I'll also be drinking lots and lots of beer.

Feel free to keep in touch during the trip. I'll have my trusty iBook with me, now with wifi, and will post pictures and progress to my trip blog:

Puritan's Progress

Why "Puritan's Progress?" If you remember, John Bunyan wrote "Pilgrim's Progress" - one of the most famous pieces of English literature - that was subtitled "From this world, to that which is to come." My trip isn't so grand (or so well-written), and instead focuses on "that which already came." This is a history trip, and because our country was founded by religious zealots who got kicked out of their home country, it only makes sense to apply the Puritan work ethic to my travels. And, like Bunyan's character Christian, I'm heading out of the "City of Destruction" (Jackson, MI) to the "Celestial City" (Boston? Bar Harbor? Time will tell...) in search of heavenly light. There's probably no more "heavenly light" left in New York City, or in the entire state of New Jersey, but I do seek the founding philosophy that made America such a fun place to live, work, and watch TV.

I'll have my phone on me, but I prefer e-mail, or comments on the blog. Should I happen to plunge off Mt. Washington, however, and explode in a glorious fireball-induced death, please feel free to take my stuff. Except the Wii. That gets buried with my mangled corpse.

Off I go, friends, on my annual quest. I'll return either Saturday, May 24 or Sunday, May 25 (depending on weather and gumption), with Memorial Day reserved as a return-to-Midwestern-living day.

Ben Franklin set off from Boston to Philadelphia with little more than pocket change and a heart of fire. My car will have tons more stuff, but the fire stuff is the same.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Puritan's Progress: my New England trip blog

Working on a blog for my New England trip as a way to keep my friends and family up-to-date on photos and where I'm at, etc.

Feel free to drop in and leave me a comment.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Links of the week.

That last one is interesting, because I noticed the big brew-haha that went on during the week of Earth Day. Can we really be "green" by buying (and throwing away) more stuff? Probably not.

My Wii number is 6476 1454 1227 5966

It really is everything I'd imagined.

Sure, I played "Super Mario Galaxy" at the Best Buy display this winter. Kirby and I even kicked ass at "Smash Brothers Brawl" at a console in Lansing.

But unless you see it in action, and see it sitting in your living room, there's no judging a Nintendo Wii. You must hold it and play it and experience everything for yourself.

And it all happened by pure, dumb luck. Saturday I was out testing Canon point-and-shoot cameras (deciding between the SD1000 and SD750), because (a) I take forever to purchase something and (b) I like to get the feel of the thing before I plunk down $200. I made up my mind (the SD750) and was about to walk out of Best Buy when I almost ran into a table at the front of the store. They had a Wii dispaly set up, with the new "Mario Kart Wii" everywhere, and I saw the Wii boxes sitting there.

Now, before, I've seen Wii boxes, and everytime I lifted one up in hopes that This Was The Time I was disappointed because the box was empty. "For display only," it would taunt me.

Saturday, though, the box had heft. I lifted it, and gravity told me This Time Was Different. I shook it, and even carried it up to the sales clerk.

"Am I dreaming?" I asked. "Is this for real?"

"Yes," she said. "We've had a few all week long."

Well no shit. I immediately hugged the box in my arms, and went back to the table to start grabbing games. "Mario Kart" was the obvious choice, but - having been out of the video game arena since...well, since the original Playstation - I was a virtual rookie. What cables do I buy? What controllers would I need? Did I need to buy it dinner before I took it home?

Thankfully the helpful guy in the video game section steered me toward Nintendo-shaded bliss. Yes, the one controller and nunchuck was in the box; no, I wouldn't need those component cables; yes, "Mario Kart" would replace family and friends in due time.

This is what I bought: a rechargeable battery station, a copy of "Mario Kart Wii," and the gleaming-white Wii. It cost $350, all-together.

I didn't want to spend anymore than that because I knew I wasn't thinking clearly. I called Don and told him the good news, and walked out of the store a changed man. But I knew I'd be back. "Mario Galaxy" is still out there, unclaimed, and those classic controllers to play the old standards (you can play the original "Mario Bros." and "Donkey Kong Country" - my old NES and SNES favorites!) have to be purchased.

All in due time. I got the thing home and, as luck would have it, left for Kalamazoo for the night. Sunday, however, I was back and carefully unpacking and hooking up the Wii and its sensor bar and charging the controllers. Getting online was a snap, making my Mii was a hoot, and watching the disc slot glow and throb like my iBook's sleep light was a true joy.

Now I'm planning on taking the Wii to my grandma's (I'd love to punch her legally sometimes - now's my chance) and my dad's (he'll love the golf and baseball), and to hold the First Invitational Alpine Lake Apartments Mario Kart Wii Tournament (entry fee: one beer).

My teenage years were spent either working or playing video games, but from college on I strayed from the world of Mario and Mortal Kombat. There's too much life to live, even though I sometimes will pop "NCAA Football" in and rush for a few hundred yards. Life is still too short to waste it on video games. That doesn't mean a few hours a week can't be spent racing my little brother Andrew, who lives clear out in California, and enjoying a tennis match or two with friends. That's what I like about the Wii: instead of the stanard controller/game combo the new Playstation and XBox platforms offer, with Nintendo you get a whole new experience. It's social. And it's fun.

And the search is finally over. Game on.