Friday, July 31, 2009

More Madden 10 and You

The more I get to thinking about this years Madden I think I get more worried. I am, by no means, a Madden expert. I hadn't picked up a Madden title between the years of 1994 and 2008. That's a pretty good - long time. 2008 was terrible. Even for a casual player, like myself. Fumbles everywhere. Fancy menus, but no features. It was strange. Last year I picked up the 20th anniversary edition. I was impressed with it. But still, as many like to mention, STILL behind a game that came out 4 years previous called 2k5. I loved 2k5. For all the folks out there saying it was / is a better game then any Madden, I have to say you are correct.

Electronic Arts is Big Business. 2007 and 08 Madden where HD showcases on a new system. Nothing more. Gameplay was terrible. Last year, I felt that things where dialed in a little bit. It was a pretty good game, but still had some of the frustrating quarks that 08 had. In fact, that almost all Madden's have had.

I guess the reason I'm spending the time to write another post on this is that with previous HD versions the Madden hype has been bad. All bad even before the release. But this year? All seems to be good. It's interesting to me to take a moment and record that this is the case.

We'll see if the game is up to snuff.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

John Madden 10

It's very confusing. Madden video games have been around since, well, a long time. I purchased the XX anniversary edition last year. I guess just saying '10' keeps it simple. Well, other then the fact it is only half way through 09.

All that aside (an no EA/Evil Empire stuff here), a new Madden game is only a couple weeks away and I actually think I will be getting it again this year. That's three years in a row now. Ridiculous? maybe. But I have a couple reasons for doing so. 1st off is, I love football season. I signals fall, it connects me to my past (family is big Redskins fans) and also... I won my fantasy football league last year using Madden as a tool to victory. The previous year? Well, last place of course. It was fun last year as I made it to the top of the heap against fellow co-workers and friends. It meant something to me as I stuck with players I root for and denied trades for better players with questionable character (this tactic was used the previous year. It led to last place, and no one taking my team seriously). How did I get off on this tangent?

Anyway. I'm thinking of trying to scrounge up an online league this year with Madden. Reading up all I can on it. I actually pretty excited about it. Last years game was a huge step up from the previous year. It's almost up to 2k5 level. I'm thinking the game will be even better this year. Hope it works out.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

1988 update

The 88 Camaro is on it's way to being drivable. But before it is I have to update the type of car it actually is.

2.8L V6 MPI OHV Sport Coupe. Not the IROC I mentioned earlier. Too bad. Anyway, the CarFax has been done and she's all clean! (always good news for a 21 year old car).

Friday, July 24, 2009


Ah, the year. 1988. The year of 8-8-88. Middle school. Also, as it just so happens, the year of my new car! That's right. A not-so precious 1988 IROC-Z Camaro base model V-6 manual is in my possession. For a while now I've been obsessing over getting an old car and now it has finally happened. Well, in actuality, it is for the sweetest lady I've ever known, BUT she can't drive manual yet, sooooo... I got it for a song. Alas, however, a song is all it is worth (well, worth maybe a PS3 and a couple games, I'll put that purchase off for a bit).

The goal is to turn this ogre...

Into a princess...

Okay, well... that's the goal. Get on your short jean shorts, grow yer mullet, rip off your t-shirt sleeves, and crank up the Styx. It's a Camaro!

I'll leave with this...


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Planned Obsolescence & My Chair

I just got finished with attempting to fix my desk chair.

Two or three months ago the arms (plastic) cracked. I could still sit in it, but do do so further would cause the entire thing to crack and fail. I know that any 6'5" 230 lbs fella could test just about any little thing he sits in, but I noticed that the engineering of the chair wasn't poor or cheap... it looked as if had been purposely made to fail.

The areas where the chair needed the most structural strength were right where the designers decided to bore holes and put the bolts in to attach it to the underside of the seat cushion. I mean, even the shape of the plastic elbow rests forced even more pressure on these areas.

When it broke I just moved it aside and used another chair thinking, maybe I could fix that later. Not the chairs fault. I'm a bigger guy. Well, the time came today to brace the old thing up. I examined the chair trying to figure out the best way to brace it and realized that with all the subtle curves in the plastic I could only possibly go with a bracket about 4" long (and even that I couldn't use any other place but the side of the chair handle.

I headed out to Lowes and got some cheap brackets and screws. It cost me about $3.00. I even purchased twice as much as I thought I needed. Anyway, I'm sitting in my chair with little fear that it will collapse on the floor now. It looks terrible, but it saved me from buying another chair of similar quality at about 40-60 bucks.

So where am I going with this? Well, have I somehow, inadvertently, hurt our economy? Is the company that makes these chairs all the sudden out of another 50 bucks cause I didn't buy a new one? Oh no! Let me check who made it...

Looks like we've got a well traveled chair here. Wow... first off it isn't plastic... it is polyurethane foam... Manufactured in Canada by a place called Office Star Products... individual parts made in China... sold at Target. So designed in Canada---parts fabricated in China---put together (well, mostly) back in Canada---and sold at Target. Interesting. How is that cheaper then making it in the U.S. again? Opps, there is a warning... check the bolts every three months... Are you kidding me!?

I'm reading up on what's called Planned Obsolescence. I'm not an industrial engineer, or designer, nor am I a marketer. The term came up recently with me when Michael Moore brought it up in a letter about GM. After reading it I thought about my chair, thought about the simplicity of it in comparison to a automobile. I know every single piece and part of a car is designed to breakdown at some point on purpose, from the shocks, breaks, tires, batteries, paint, gaskets, heads, lifters, down to each and every nut and bolt that holds it together. I also know that their engineers know when each one of those parts will fail... right down to the mileage and weather condition. They plan it. One could say that everything we purchase we make is designed this way from our Apple products to our clothing. It's a business philosophy that has Americans wanting to buy new homes instead of "used" ones.

In tooling around the web I've found a few things worth reading on this topic. But as always I want to find out where it first came from. Why did it come up?

Here is something worth reading; it is called Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence (1932), by Bernard London. It touches, very frankly, on things we still see today. I mean, look at the "Cash for Clunkers" program. Government sponsored obsolescence, of which Mr. London writes about. Buy new cars, keep Detroit turning!!! ugh.

Most people want something new. It's almost built into us. I'm not saying, by posting this, that I've not seen what goes on (particularly in the computer industry and software). I'm not all the sudden discovering an anti-consumerist attitude 40 years too late. Nor am I having a 'gee, now I see where all the do-it-yourself stuff comes from. I'm just saying that an 80 year old philosophy for getting us out of the depression is still in use. And that is interesting to me. Heck, ever our bodies go obsolete. But, by golly, I'm sitting on my old chair, aren't I?

So why the picture of an old 1968 Camaro up there? I think it because it reminds me of a time when it new design, more powerful engines, and innovation drove the auto market. Now that I'm getting older I am starting to subscribe to the belief that US automakers have not designed a good car since the '70s. Good old fashioned innovation took a back seat to bottom lines and GM has suffered for it. What ended up happening is that GM was forced to tone down the gas guzzlers an make poorly designed dog food crap 10 years too late. Then, in the late 1990s the had to learn the same lesson over again with SUVs, 10 years too late and are AGAIN making crap to try and keep up with Honda, Toyota, and VW, when those guys never really changed at all and didn't have too. They made (make) a quality product with good design. We are in the same auto cycle we were in during the early 1980s. It's painful to see.

I don't believe that building smaller compact cars will help GM get back on it's feet. They can make an efficient engine in a big car if they want. Tricking a customer by just selling a tiny car is a joke if quality and commitment to it aren't there. It has to a revelation in quality and design that does it. GM can point to it's own successful history to help. The former CEO of General Motors, Alfred P. Sloan stated in 1941, "Today the appearance of a motorcar is a most important factor in the selling end of the business—perhaps the most important factor— because everyone knows the car will run." Recently, it seems, GM wanted mechanical obsolescence and successful refreshes in design. That failed. What they got were lemons and a mid-nineties Oldsmobile Bravada.

How about I help GM out:

That was in the 1960s. GM is still behind. Catch up and lead damn it.

It's funny to me how they sold the Saturn line. It is a sad misstep for them but a huge gain for Saturn (and Penske, the company who purchased them). It is also sad to me that they are closing the doors on Pontiac. The G series of performance cars look great and are well built up here in Ohio (Lordstown). I'm also looking at Saab, who for the better is going back to Sweden. Then there is the mighty Hummer, a brand who, while being a monstrosity, sold very well and was at least interesting and different. That is going to China. Right where my chair was made.

Hey maybe I can design the next Hummer compact, have the parts manufactured in China, import them back to North America and assemble/distribute them from Canada, then sell it to Wal-mart and make a $7 hr employee sell it here in the United States upon trade of a an older union built American so called clunker! I could even set up customer service in India!!! Everybody wins!!! oh, wait...

Friday, July 3, 2009

10 Cent Beer Night

How could I have missed the anniversary of one of the best baseball stories of all time. 35 years ago last month was 10 cent beer night in Cleveland!

From Wikipedia:
The riot

In the ninth inning, a fan attempted to steal Texas outfielder Jeff Burroughs' cap. Confronting the fan, Burroughs tripped, and Texas manager Billy Martin (thinking that Burroughs had been attacked) charged onto the field, his players right behind, some wielding bats.[3] A large number of intoxicated fans – some armed with knives, chains, and portions of stadium seats that they had torn apart – surged onto the field, and others hurled bottles from the stands. WJW producer Tony Lolli then suspended the station's live telecast of the game. Realizing that the Rangers' lives might be in danger, Ken Aspromonte, the Indians' manager, ordered his players to grab bats and help the Rangers. Rioters began throwing steel folding chairs, and Cleveland relief pitcher Tom Hilgendorf was hit in the head by one of them. Hargrove, involved in a fistfight with a rioter, had to fight another on his way back to the Texas dugout.

Among the Indians players suddenly running for their lives was Rusty Torres, who was on second base at the time, representing the winning run. In his career, Torres wound up seeing three big-league baseball riots close up; he was with the New York Yankees at the Senators' final game in Washington in 1971 and the Chicago White Sox during the infamous Disco Demolition Night in 1979.

The bases were pulled up and stolen (never to be returned) and many rioters threw a vast array of objects including cups, rocks, bottles, batteries from radios, hot dogs, popcorn containers, and folding chairs. As a result, umpire crew chief Nestor Chylak, realizing that order would not be restored in a timely fashion, forfeited the game to Texas. He too was a victim of the rioters as one struck him with part of a stadium seat, cutting his head.[4] His hand was also cut by a thrown rock. He later called the fans "uncontrollable beasts" and stated that he'd never seen anything like what had happened, "except in a zoo."[5]

As Joe Tait and Herb Score called the riot live on radio, Score mentioned the lack of police protection; a riot squad from the Cleveland police department finally arrived to restore order.

Later that season, the team's promotion of three additional beer nights were changed from unlimited amounts to a limit of four cups per person. American League president Lee McPhail commented, "There was no question that beer played a part in the riot."[4]