Monday, January 26, 2009

There is no excuse for me

I have been bad. I have not posted in forever. I am sorry to all three of you. Really though, I've been nutso busy and I have no excuse except that it involves work, friends, booze, cheap women, a classy woman, and sleep. I also jumped in a frozen ocean, but I'll let you sort that all out.

In lieu of a real post I give you this funny photo, and wish you a good night and week, because I won't be writing until after Medium and I visit the Red Wings in D.C. this weekend.

Maybe Damman will get off his ass and write something.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Your Mass has an Effect on me

I am driven to review a game from last year, primarily because I did not review anything on this blog prior to a few months ago and this one deserves it. Now I tend to give my opinion on matters which I feel could help others make decisions, or experience something new/fun/life affirming. Far be it from me to ever expect a video game, album or beer to do these… wait… no, I think those ARE exactly what could change a life. So without further adieu, Mass Effect.

I completed M.E. in November of ’07. Lately I have been inundated with new games, so many in fact, a whole month was renamed. I still have quite a few on the shelf to play. Oh hello there Bioshock. Yes I know you were the game of the year in 2007. Yes I know I still have not opened you. Yes, Yes, whatever. For some reason, I have no desire to open the new ones, and since I cannot find NHL 2009 at any fuckin store in Baltimore, I went back to Mass Effect for a second go.

M.E. is what they now call an action RPG. Unlike a Japanese RPG, when you have girlish looking male characters that stand in a line and take turns combating opponents, an ARPG plays like an action game, while still giving you inventory management, experience points, and upgrades. Mass Effect presents a dizzying amount of each, for upwards of six crew members on your space ship. Yes, given that there is a space ship, this game is in space. Humanity joins galactic alliance, thing threatens humanity, you discover thing threatens the entire galaxy, you save the galaxy. Pretty simple.

Mass Effect shines and deserves my second play through, and maybe your first, for a few reasons. #1, there is hot human on alien sex.

Oh, you still need more? Ok, fine. The game bleeds dialog. Not only do you get the voice acting of the guy who did the Navy “Get a life” or whatever it said commercials, but you get a lot of really talented voice work saying hours and hours of words. This really does equal a complex story, and a deep universe back story. If you take the time to read the notes, listen to the characters, hours of game play can become hours of story time.

The universe is a fun, fresh take on space. I like the mechanics of space exploration, and species interaction. The story is mapped out in a way you can go do a lot of side things, or follow the main plot. It is nothing that has not been done before, but it made it feel unique and new.

The bad? Horrid pop-in graphics as each scene loads, really dumb driving missions, and idiotic enemy AI. The downloadable story missions from XBL were not really worth play either.

When all is said and done, Mass Effect is THE game that got me into RPG playing, and is worth a shot. It was worth me spending some lunch time writing about, and worth you picking up for $19.99 in the bargain bin.

Score: 4 out of 5 hot lesbian alien sex scenes

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Album You Missed: Forget What You Know

(The Album You Missed is a recurring feature which describes a great album from the past that well, you might have missed and should probably go out and listen to. Seriously, just even download it on-line, it will take you 6 minutes.)

Some albums will stick with you forever, push you to explore new, similar sounds, or cause you to rethink what you thought you knew. For me, Forget What You Know did this. Midtown had been around the scene for a good while when this 2004 release came out on Columbia. The release would be the band's first off of Drive-Thru records, and ultimately their last. The New Jersey quartet made one hell of an impact with their third full length though, and it is one you shouldn't miss.

The two part guitar laden harmonies that the band came to be known for stick with them into this disc, but maturity in both voice, production and content was a new asset. From the first full track To Our Savior, you get the gist of the LP. Dark themes about love, family, and friends are the messages found in every line. The second track, Give It Up, will be well known to video game fans as it appeared in Madden 2005 and Burnout 3. The track would also be Midtown's only chart achieving song, reaching #32 on the US Modern Rock list.

Creativity in composition reached new highs for the group with God Is Dead, Nothing Is Ever What It Seems, Manhattan and the closing track So Long As We Keep Our Bodies Numb. The last 15 minutes or so of the album, all on the finale track, are worth every second. Some of the highlight, toe tapping hits on this beauty along with Give It Up are Empty Like The Ocean and Hey Baby, Don't You Know. In the end, there are 14 tracks, and 14 reasons this is one album you just cannot afford to miss.

Score: 5 out of 5 Zechs

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Like a movie but better cause it has a real bimbo

Where is Joe the Plumb… Reporter when we need him? It appears the financial crisis has broken the mind-goo of its first villain. This guy, Marcus Schrenker, was a big shot “wealth management” advisor who could possibly have to answer questions posed by the SEC (not the football conference) about shady happenings.

Mr. Schrenker, pictured there with his trophy blonde, fled the state of Indiana and attempted to fake his own death by crashing his plane in Florida. His one fatal flaw was actually showing his real drivers license to authorities when he emerged from a swamp, saying he was in a canoeing accident. Then he checked into a hotel under a fake name, and then split. He is now on the run from the government, with all of his assets frozen.

This would totally make for a bad ass Fugitive 3, or did they already do one of those? Either way, all we need is him to come out with some great line like “The kid with the glass eye stole your investments!” That would make a great movie.

In all reality, I hope this guy dies in the swamp. I think nothing would be more fitting than the assholes who ruined so many lives thanks to their greed, ended up offing themselves in ridiculous ways that provide the most entertainment for the populous.

Tune into CNN, MSNBC, or your favorite news channel with some popcorn and enjoy this one. It is like a free movie.

Details on the story via Gawker.

In further news, I apparently was bitten by a monster spider or something, and my elbow is like the size of a friggin baseball. If I die, cremate me and sprinkle my ashes in Joe Louis Arena. Do it! You would totally get on the news.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Dig it deep please.

Holy shit. I need to buy a bomb shelter. Hold on. I do not own any land to place said shelter. YOU buy a shelter, and dig it in nice and deep. After doing this, please invite me over. I’ll bring the beer.

Why the panic? Remember “Joe the Plumber?” America’s favorite conservative talking point in the race for president? Yea, he happens to be a war correspondent now and is over in Gaza telling everyone that they shouldn’t report on wars and that if anyone punched him, he’d kick their ass.

This is why the world hates us. Shit like this.

This is why I need a bomb shelter.

CNN link to all the good quoties.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Even old dogs learn new tricks

Many of you may know that I am currently underwhelmed with my job. A lot of that has to do with my current rotation. (A real quick explanation to those I don't always talk to: I am essentially in an engineering training position. Every few months I go to a new office to work under a new boss in a new part of MDOT.) Most of my rotations have been, while not exactly outstanding, enough to keep me occupied. A few of them have been great, allowing me to use actual knowledge I gained in college and at times even challenging me. The one that I leave today... has been far less than stellar. It involved no complex thinking whatsoever and, for the most part, consisted of me driving around and around Macomb County measuring and taking inventory of various aspects of the state roads.

So, begining Monday I head off to a new task; the reason why I'm actually writing this post. I will be working to develop and implement a Pavement History Database. I know, sounds pretty boring. It honestly probably will be. But the part that excites me is that this doesn't really exist yet in MDOT. It's new.I get to figure out what works best, what information is important, how to gather it and format it.

You see.. Civil Engineering is a very old profession. 99% of the things we do have been done before (obviously this isn't true for the R&D aspect of the profession, but that's not where I am). Even when you are doing something as complicated as design work on a bridge, there are several accepted ways to go about calculating what you need to do. There is a generally accepted way of documenting your work. And there is somebody who has done it all before who can point you in the right direction or determine if you're completely wrong. So the fact that I have found a task, even a small one, that has not been done before in my organization.... is pretty exciting to me.

Oh, I have to add something. There is a webcomic I have been reading the past week or so called xkcd. The author is, I am guessing, some sort of grad student in math/programming/electrical engineering or some related field. I came across this comic and could not help but appreciate it. Please note, for every comic there is a rollover caption. I sent it to Damman and his reply made me laugh: Does this validate you? Am I giving him too much credit if I assume he meant "Hey, you shouldn't need webcomics to feel good about your job". Regardless of what Damman meant, I do not worry about appreciating engineering. I don't want to sound like I am bragging, but there are seriously very few things in the civilized world that have not been touched by engineers. What I do worry is that we (engineers) are sometimes the only ones who realize and appreciate that.

(Just so nobody takes this the wrong way... by no means am I attempting to downplay the importance of anyone else's occupations. Obviously I realize that we all do our parts to make the world what it is.)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

How Champions Move

OK I shall begin with an overdue pat on the back for my former roomie, Ninja Monk teammate, and new 3B Fantasy Leagues Career Points leader… Eric Goedtel!

Yes, with his Traditional Football league win, he thrusts (we can all picture him thrusting past Korey) ahead of Baby Bop by 3 points, 15 to 12. Ken (who placed 2nd on the season) and Andy sit tied overall in career points at 10, with Andy taking the 3rd ranking thanks to having 2 Championships to Ken’s 1.

Once again, this year we had three first time point recipients. Mike pulled off the inaugural Dynasty Football league win over newcomer Jonny, who gets 2 points for his first ever season, making him the leading percentage leader with a 200% value. Newman also secured his first point with a 3rd place victory in the same Dynasty league. And of course following my horrible semi-final choice of QB, I racked up a point for 3rd place in Traditional, giving me an astounding 4 points in 13 seasons, good for 11th in the rankings. No one can ever say this commish cheated.

So in evaluating our nerd prowess, my brother (who sits right below me at 12th overall, king of 3rd place finishes) and I pondered moves per season. Do champions draft well, manage well, or just get lucky with their auto-drafts and ignored rosters? Well I think soon I’ll break down that stat on a slow day and look at it. But here is some food for thought. Ken, when he won his hockey championship in 2005, had a 3B Leagues record of 83 ridiculous roster moves. In 2007 he finished second in the league and moved a season high, and 2nd over all for 3B, 62 times.

The lowest total of moves to ever win anything? Slick Nick’s 2003 Football team with 5 goddamn moves the whole year. His abomination of a team was 6-8 at regular seasons end. As the 7th seed he upset #2 Andy, #3 Eric, and #4 Korey en route to his stolen championship.

The lowest move total ever to have any kind of success was Bill Hard in 2006’s hockey league. With one brilliant move I wish I could see, he finished .500 on the season and took 4th place in the playoffs.

Six players in our league’s history have made zero moves on a season, all of them finishing out of the playoffs, and half finishing dead last in the leagues. Newman in 2003 Hockey, Newman and Dave in 2004 Football, Lindsay in 2005 Football, Pat in 2006 Hockey and Newman in 2007 Hockey. Newman my friend, there is some explanation as to why you took so long to get 1 point.

All of these fun point stats as well as complete archives of our leagues can be found on the 3B Fantasy sports home page. Food for your clickity click thoughts.

From AO to Z, hockey is full of heroes and the world full of villians

Excuse me while I rant about sports for a moment. Actually, this is about much more than sports, it is an open inquiry into honor, heart, ethics, crime and of course, hockey.

I will begin with a story I heard about Alex Ovechkin this morning.

There is a man, aged forty some years, who is a tremendous hockey fan. He lives in Buffalo and for the most part is a Sabres fan, but Alex O is his top dog. This man used to be an avid player himself, but a degenerative disease, I believe MS, keeps him from that passion now. He fills his time playing fantasy hockey, and Alex is his star recruit.

This man decides to write Ovie, and tells him his life story and how much Ovie inspires him. At the end he asks pleasantly and simply enough for an autographed picture. Time passes; nothing is heard back, and then one day the phone rings. A man from the Sabres has called with the message that Alex Ovechkin has left a package for this guy with the Sabres and has instructed them to give it to him ASAP. AO himself will check back in to be sure he gets it. Well sure enough, the man and his mother travel to the arena and receive said package. Inside is a note from Ovie, in which he recalls how much this story meant to him and how touched he is that this man is such a big fan. AO does not have any pictures of himself to give, but hopes this other gift will make up for it.

Alex has given the guy a game worn, autographed, All-Star game jersey. This is not just a jersey he grabs one night and plays in. Not a jersey that is a replica of his All-Star game one, but THE jersey he wore that night. I think they wear like one per period. Some have to go to the Hall of Fame, some other places, and probably one or two the player keeps for himself. Well Ovie gave his up for a man he has never met. That is heart, that is love for the game and the fans, and that is what makes our sport so special.

Let us turn to what makes the world a horrible, but yet magical place for children, and really all of us.

Winter Classic this year, a young fan is given a game used stick by Henrik Zetterberg of the Red Wings. Cha ching, what a great souvenir for a young fan. Now the kid has gotten this at the end of the game, and I guess he and his dad were walking around still taking it all in. Well a man dressed to look “like a guard” tells them he can’t walk around with this on the premises, and they will have to give it over for safe keeping. They can collect it from security when they leave. So they give it over and come back later to get it. Surprise, surprise, it is not there and no one has even heard of this. While the policy exists, it would not have mattered because the game was over. And now we have a devastated young child.

Word gets back to the Red Wings, and the story ends happily enough with a new stick being sent to the child soon. But come on people; steal a stick from a kid? You are the worst kind of human in the world. You are the person who asks for an autograph for your “son” and then sells the damn thing on EBay. You are scum.

The people who will give this child a new stick? Alex Ovechkin and his gift? The hundreds of other great hockey players who do fantastic things that largely go un-told? You are all true ambassadors for our sport and the correct way to be a role model. With stories about Pacman Jones setting up a hit on someone and Vincent Jackson drunk driving all over the news this morning, thank god hockey has heroes like these and sad the world has criminals like the one previously described.

There are other great stories about corruption and mistrust of some of these great players. Steve Yzerman is at the center of an elaborate scheme in which a man faked his son having a terminal disease. Stevie said when it was all over, that nor will anything else not keep him from contributing time and efforts to those less fortunate.

Food for thought. Not much more to add to that today.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

My only regret is that I have boneitis

Well, I have returned from vacation. Actually I returned from vacation a week ago and then died from a super flu and was reborn as a zombie later this week. I felt kind of like those brain blob guys from Futurama. The post title was totally a better and more fitting quote to start with, along with being overused on my trip home. Thats a fair sum up of how I have been feeling. As I get over mourning the loss of half of my vacation, I turn to reflection of a few things. Fantasy sports, hockey, and daytime television.

First, I must congratulate Mikey Ford for what was an astounding fantasy football season. Counting his playoff run, Mike went a ridiculous 14-3 on his march to Dynasty Football Champion for our keeper league's first ever season. It will be of great interest to see if he holds onto this kind of success next year. Another pat on the back to Newman for also finally getting off the mat with his first ever 3B league point with his 3rd place finish. For me, if you wish to go back a few posts and read my skepticism, I played Orlovsky and I lost. I could have easily waltzed into the finals with Romo, but no, I gain a tiny 3rd place point out of the traditional league, and mediocrity continues. I am the only 3B league player to invest over 10 seasons in any sport (16) and not have a championship. Guess theres always hockey...

Turning to hockey, I have two thoughts. I was generally against the Winter Classic for a few reasons, and I have a long way to go to be charmed over by it. Am I pleased by the national stage the Red Wings had to show their style of play? Yes. Do I think this game is going to continue to succeed year after year? Hell no. College football is meaningless now on Jan. 1st thanks to the national championship being jettisoned to Jan. 18th or some shit, so most of the nation doesn't care about what is on. For me and many of our readers, we did. The Spartans got to play in their first new year bowl game in forever, which led to an overworking of my clicker thumb as I flipped back and fourth. All of the people without a specific care that day could have tuned into the classic, however, and become new hockey fans. Fantastic. Imagine how disappointed they will be next year when its 65 and the ice melts, or a snow storm ruins the game. Failure will come and The league better see this for the spectacle it is and not a crown jewel.

Trudging on with my temper towards the NHL right now, lets look at the All-Star starters as determined by the "fans." One single Stanley Cup Champion? Hmm nope. The current best player and MVP? Hmm nope. A ridiculous 4 players from the host city, 3 and 3 from two lowly western teams, and the leagues poster child cry baby? Yes, yes and yes. The fan raping of the ballots led to 3 Blackhawks, 3 Ducks, 4 Canadians, and of course Sid and Malks. I guess the blame could rest on fans of real talent for not voting, but like others, I am just accustomed to merit allowing players to start, not how many times I texted my vote.

Finally, when sick and dieing, you get lots of TV time. I learned I have way too many movie channels, and there is a lot of Hayden Christensen and Daniel Craig on the TV tube these days. Oh, I also learned I have Tory lineage in my blood, cool stuff.

Ok, back to work and back to quality posts for the new year.