Saturday, August 22, 2009

More Madden and a done broke Mac

My old iMac is kicking up some dust on me. Literally and figuratively. My OS isn't mounting the HD. Not good. Everyone's favorite flashing question mark / Picasso logo is in play.

More on Madden:

I've started my franchise now with adjusted sliders for the CPU run game (bumped up) and on the All-pro difficulty at 13 minute quarters. I tested it on multiple exhibition games and it seemed to work well. I'm now through 3 pre-season games and pretty happy with results to this point. One thing I am enjoying more and more as I play is the tackling system this year. I think it is the best I've ever seen. It only took 20 years. Imagine that, getting tackling right on a tackle football game.

Hopefully I'll be writing more from my Mac at home soon.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Madden 10 with Bowmore

So here is some of what happened in my first full game:

All settings were on default, just an exhibition, 15 mins with accelerated clock runoff of 15 seconds. Redskins vs. Browns.

Now... I know that playing with full clock time like a real game doesn't work well in almost any sports game, let alone Madden, but it was worth a shot. Hey, you never know.

Final score 44-30 Redskins.

The first three quarters were fine. It was a 21 to 10 game and I was thinking that this was good. Stats were there, Portis was starting to find his grove. Campbell was playing well, nothing outrageous. He did have a couple good passes, but a couple way off the mark as well. I was in Madden love, so to speak.

Then the wheels came off in the 4th quarter. I'm keeping in mind that this is just one full game so I won't go on and on about things. But I do have the last two iterations of the game to go off of, plus about 4 of the titles around the Sega Genesis days. I feel like if I'm up in a game the CPU AI gets crazy toward the end.

I had two interceptions for TDs and a 57 yard bomb to Cooley. Quinn had a 74 yard bomb to Hubbard. The Browns also had a couple solid drives in which it seems there was nothing I could do.

Either way... 15 min quarters are waaaay too much and the default difficulty setting is too easy (or was it just the Browns?). I'll dial it back to 12 (as usual) and bump the difficulty. I'll also mess with how often and well the AI runs the ball. the Browns had 449 yards total offense, with only 36 on the ground. I know the addition of Haynesworth was going to be a good thing, but, come on.

I ended up with 389. 120 on the ground. Campbell was 13-18 and a 151 rating. Quinn was a ridiculous 23-43, 439 thru the air with 4 INTs.

Again, just one game on out of the box settings. Overall, the 1st three quarters felt very right and were very enjoyable. However, much tweaking to go before I get in the the franchise modes.

Menus look great, overall graphics and gameplay are solid. We'll see where it goes from here.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wendy Update, Warts and All

Wendy got rubbed down this weekend. Plus, she was taken out for her first real drive (not my 1st gear forward, then reverse). It's taken some work to get her going to this point. Tie rods for the driver front wheel and new break line for the same wheel. But she was taken out by my girlfriends brother and law. Seems simple to say just a couple things, but it is getting to that point that has to be taken into account. Anyway, we've gotten the tax, title and tags taken care off, along with the insurance. After a small oil leak is fixed tomorrow she is ready for the long trip from Circleville to Columbus. After that she is going to get some exhaust work done (very loud right now).

Soon after that the cosmetic work will begin. Interior progress has already been made. I've gotten a new arm rest for the center console, new grille and key locks.

It's really been fun to start restoring a car back to life. I'm not sure at this point how far I will take it so we shall see.

A large part of this restoration is figuring out who and when fixes will be made. The money and time in actually fixing something is much less then figuring out who will do it and how and for what price. All in good fun though.

One of the fortunate things about getting all this done is no state or county inspection. You hear that people? Ohio has none of that. If you have read any of my posts on my favorite car, the prius, you would understand. Inspections are a joke.

I think Audrea aka. Buttercup, is going to get me for posting one of these pics. It's okay buttercup!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Clunkers Top 10 by Model

There is a little confusion about the top cars gettin' got by trade ins. American auto makers make multiple classes under each model. The ten I posted before were specific to class. Here it is more by body style. Ford is really doing well. Larger vehicles are doing well.

Rank /Vehicle /4WD /Includes Hybrid
1 Ford Escape /Yes /Yes
2 Ford Focus /No /No
3 Jeep Patriot /Yes /No
4 Dodge Caliber /Yes /No
5 Ford F-150 /Yes /No
6 Honda Civic /No /Yes
7 Chevrolet Silverado /Yes /Yes
8 Chevrolet Cobalt /No /No
9 Toyota Corolla /No /No
10 Ford Fusion /Yes /Yes

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Clunkers Follow Up

I wrote a couple months ago about the 'clunkers' plan and asked if it made financial sense. While the jury is still out on that one, it is for certain that people are out there wanting to buy, buy, buy.

The plan exploded! It's taken the housing stimulus a few months to take hold, but with clunkers, they are more then half way to the 1 billion dollar cap and are voting this month whether to extend it out to 2 billion. Hard to believe.

I'm happy that the Ford Focus is at the top spot. Looks like the Corolla, Civic, Camry, and (yes) the Prius (my favorite car, see pics of Inco Sudbury Mine) round out the top five. Personally, I wouldn't have picked the Corolla or Prius in there. I was hopping for the Jetta to do well or even one of Pontiac's G series of cars. It is interesting to see Kia and Hyundai passed over in the top 5 as well.

Rank Vehicle Hybrid Combined City/Hwy mileage
1 Ford Focus No 27-28
2 Honda Civic Yes 24-42
3 Toyota Corolla No 25-30
4 Toyota Prius Yes 46
5 Ford Escape Yes 20-32
6 Toyota Camry Yes 23-34
7 Dodge Caliber No 22-27
8 Hyundai Elantra No 26-28
9 Honda Fit No 29-31
10 Chevy Cobalt No 25-30

Heh heh. Prius doesn't get a hyphen. It's just always 46 - damnit. No hills in magical fantasy car land I guess. Eh? Anyone else see the mileage range on the Escape and Camry? Strange. Roll the dice on those cars and see what mileage you get!

I still think this will increase the value of older, desirable cars. But I guess for that to matter, you have to be someone who is looking.

I'm not sure why the program is in flux right now other then maybe we have lots of fraud on our hands, maybe they want to look at providing more incentive for people "buying American" or perhaps the administration had only allotted two interns to process the now over 150,000 clunker returns.

I dunno. But let's see how the plan returns here soon. My guess is some of the rules will change (MPG possibly, or more for buying a GM, since the government owns a good bit of that).

Sudbury, Home of the Prius!

From CNW: A now defunct research group. They got popular reporting this stuff. No, I don't think they are that reputable, but this quote is very funny.

"But it's not just the clouds of greenhouse gases generated by all that smelting, refining, manufacturing and transporting that worries green activists. The 1,250-foot-tall smokestack that spews huge puffs of sulphur dioxide at the Sudbury mine and smelter operation has left a large swath of the surrounding area looking like a surrealistic scene from the depths of hell."

And now a quick quote from Moonbattery...

"[some people] are under this impression that cars run on magic, yet when you step back, cars have not changed much in over 100 years."

Wait... It doesn't run using magical powers?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hybrid Electric Fun

As I strolled the automobile graveyard last weekend one thing occurred to me... where are all the electric cars?

Yes, I know that 2001 was really the first year for a production model to come out and granted, most of the cars in there were from the last century's last decade (i.e. the '90s). But it gets you thinking. In 5-10 years are we to see more old hybrids in the junk yard? and if so, can you "pick and pull". Would it even be safe?

The quick and dirty answer here is "NO". While you may see them in the junk yard, you will not see them picked from other then for body parts. A replacement battery for an electric car will run you (new) about $3,500. Yes, that's probably not news. But that is the equivalent to 7 (count them, seven) running 1988 Camaro's. Getting a mechanic to install it, if you can find one, will run you around $900 (according to Newsweek). You're probably thinking, "maybe, if I could get one on eBay, or possibly one slightly used?" Yes, you can. But that doesn't change the cost of install or, for heavens sake, just the shear weight of the thing (150-400 lbs.). How would you ship that if you sold it on eBay again? And how do you even know how much juice is left.

On the actual manufacture of the battery (see; I'm in manufacturing, this interests me). Prius has a battery that includes Nickel. Nickel mined from Ontario, Canada. From one of the most polluted mines on earth. NASA does test lunar landings there for Christ's sake. From there it goes to China to get put together. From there to Japan. From there to here. How is that more environmentally friendly then say a semi truck? 20 years old? From Mexico? Answer is; It's not. My conscience in my head is telling me it will be done better in the future, and cheaper. Yes, little voice in my head, I am listening. But, until batteries get better engineering, and use components not yet discovered. Anyone buying a Electric car right now with the promise of a better future is burning my britches. If GM and Ford jump feet first into this like they did with SUV's and loose everything, then my hands are clean. I've spoken my peace.

You will probably see some of these in junk yards near you soon, but you will not see anyone picking from them. You will probably see them for sale on the side of the road soon or on Craigslist for $500 soon just like any other car, but these will have a disclaimer: "$500 OBO, only needs new battery!!"

Yeah, I'll pass on that.


Here is something I wouldn't have expected from the site Gamers With Jobs. It was written by Lara Crigger and brightened up my day.

"The longer I reside in New York, the thicker and more aggressive my Southern accent has become, congealing into a soupy, lazy drawl, punctuated by the occasional "y'all" and "ain't." I listen to bluegrass now and wave to complete strangers, and I lust after collard greens with primal urgency. King of the Hill makes me giggle. William Faulkner makes me cry. And when the nights get sticky and hot, and the frogs sing just outside our windowpanes, I become so desperately, achingly homesick I fear my heart will burst.

Of course, when I actually lived below the Mason-Dixon, I sneered at fiddles and considered collards to be vestigially racist, like blackface and the word "colored." Never would I ever have been caught dead dropping the word "ain't" in polite conversation.

But the longer I'm away from home and the culture I grew up with, the more I've come to embrace it, even—especially—its most minute or once embarrassing characteristics. I've taken my memories and inflated them to staggering proportions, with the subconscious hope that if I exaggerate them just enough, maybe, just maybe, I won't forget the South—and the South won't forget me."

Well said.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pick Pull and Take

Sunday Notes in August

Just looking to log some notes on this beautiful Sunday Ohio morning.

First off we have news from the Columbus Dispatch. Tax issues are coming up to vote this week. The city of Columbus currently has a 2.0% city tax rate. It is difficult to say where this falls in the larger picture. Cities, Counties and States have different ways of looking at the same thing. From what I can tell though, there are many cities that don't have a tax and those that charge quite a bit. Regardless, some of the city leaders (see; The Mayor) are proposing a .5% increase. Seems harmless enough. People are making less, city has less money. A .5% increase is 25% tax increase. Quite the leap if you look at it that way. Others, would prefer to look at it this way... if you are paying $200 a year now, next year will be paying $50 dollars more. See how little! Hell, that only .14 cents a day! See! no big woop! Wait... you only pay $200 if you are making $10k a year? oh, well how much would someone or a household making between $50k and 70k pay more a year $250 more on top of the $1000 we already pay. Burns me up a little. And that's just to live in Columbus.

So why does the city need the extra cashola. Well, like i mentioned. People are making less so they have less. But let us look at what the city was making and spending in 2004 - $540 Million. Which was about the actual revenue of the city. What about last year? $640 million. That's correct. The city, in the course of 3 years increased it's spending by $100 million dollars. 20% increase in three years. To be fair however, revenues where going up almost at the same rate (of course the city always spending, just a little more per year). So what is the expected revenue for the city this year? $583k, back to about '06 levels. Still almost $80 million more then what it was in '03. Very good growth for the city this decade. But, with the city spending what they where getting every year they are now in a pickle... about $50 million over budget. Instead of cutting back un-necessary city functions, the city is threatening cutting back police and fire jobs. Please insert ridiculous commercials with broken windows and kids on the streets with guns. "My gosh, how ever did we make it waaaaaay back in 2006 with this amount of revenue!".

I went long on that one... So this one will be quick. A city just south of me called Grove City has cut after school athletics. A vote was put up earlier this year for higher tax and the proponents for it threatened cutting sports. It got voted down. They cut sports. This is happening in a few other cities around here as well. Has anyone else ever heard of this? It is strange. No HS football, basketball? It is strange. Anyway, the vote is up again this week. What is the culprit for that cities woes? A 66% increase in what is going out to teachers since 1995.

Ok, so off taxes for now. An update on, what is now called, "Wendy" my ride I got last week for (a song) my girlfriend (yes, named for Springsteen's song). She is doing well. Tie rods got fixed holding the driver side wheel in place. Door closes now and I got the previous owners junk out of it (including, what must have been a massive amp because the wires I pulled looked like they powered a small town). She's still got a acceleration problem, needs break pressure, but she will drive. Audrea and I tooled around a couple junk yards yesterday looking for nik-nak cosmetic stuff. We didn't find much except a completely ripped apart mid nineties Mustang which made her happy. Camaro folks dislike them with a passion. She 'booooo's' each passing Mustang.

Lastly, staying with my girlfriend. Last week she got me a great gift that I'll have around forever.

Plenty of space on there for more Super Bowl championships!