Friday, January 31, 2014

Choices

People want elaboration on what I said yesterday. If you have a choice between two actions, there are three logical possibilities:

1. A choice between two good actions
2. A choice between two bad actions
3. A choice between a good and a bad action

If the two choices are polar opposites, then you are in Situation #3.  Logic dictates that it is impossible for two actions to be polar opposites, while having the same moral classification.

The philosopher Aristotle would disagree.  He teaches that there can be two opposite actions which are both bad. Here's a chart to illustrate this:

Opposite ActionsBad Version of #1Bad Version of #2
Love and HateLoving my neighbor's wife, i.e. adulteryMurdering my neighbor's wife
Truth and LiesTruthfully insulting peopleLying to get away with murder
Exercise and LazinessExercise yourself into a comaNever exercising ever

Aristotle concludes that the right thing to do is always in the middle of the two extremes.

---

Also...



"Admonish the sinner" is #3 on the list of spiritual works of mercy.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Three Things Thursday


1. I didn't really watch the Grammy's or the State of the Union this year. What can I say? I'm not interested in seeing millionaires applaud each other.


2. But, oh man, the morality police came out of the woodwork, after both events.  Left and right, I saw people saying, "You shouldn't judge other people! They can say or do whatever they want."  This is a false argument, which pretends to carry weight by vaguely resembling something Jesus said. The truth is that freedom itself is not moral.  Just because you are free to do something, it does not mean it is right for you to do it.


In the same way, I see a lot of pro-choice people make the fundamental mistake that "choice" itself is moral.  No.  If there is a choice between two opposite actions, one is a right choice, and one is a wrong choice.  Choose wisely.


Of course, you could always have a choice between something bad and something worse, in which case, most ethics tell you to pick between the lesser of two evils.  Hopefully, you have the ideal Christian choice: between something good and something good.


3. "You shouldn't judge other people, or how they act" IS ITSELF a judgment on other people and how they act.  Seriously, if you say that, you are judging other people, and you are therefore a hypocrite.


To further the hypocrisy, you'll notice people who follow the "no judging" rule never apply it to positive judgments, such as "I support the President" or "such-and-such is good".

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Nancy Drew Marathon

Okay, this is it! I am officially going to try this Nancy Drew Mega Marathon thing! Games 1-5 are installed on my computer, ready to be played.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIxq9Ql2ms0


And if it doesn't work? Well, I guess it'll just be a Q&A Session. But it should work! I hope it works.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Job Problems

The other day, I looked up information on Disney's 1981 The Fox and the Hound.  I was a little surprised to learn that the men who worked on this film are basically the same men who are in charge of animated films today.

This was a problem for me, when I graduated from college and wanted to get a job in animation.  There is basically no way for anyone to break into the field, because it's run by old men who have been in their jobs for over 30 years.  That's pretty tough competition, and they don't show any signs of retiring soon.

Actually, this is a problem for my generation in general.  People in their 20's/30's aren't getting high level jobs, because all those positions are already taken.  Since companies aren't creating any jobs, our only hope is to wait for the older generation to retire.  They've got 30-40 more years of job experience than we do, so it's hard for us to replace them in any other way.

Sadly, I'm told that the current trend is for companies to not replace retired workers.  After all, it costs money to promote workers.  Companies prefer to take the retiree's work and hand it out to the remaining employees, with no increase in pay.  I've seen that happen in several places.  So-and-so retires, and the company says there's not enough money to replace him, even though the only way that could be true is if So-and-so worked for free.

Remember the 90's, when the Dot-Com Bubble was growing?  Companies were excited about the newfangled computers and Internet, which was the future of business.  For a while, it was a trend to replace old employees with the new, computer-literate generation.  We should get that trend going again.

In defense of the older generation, the majority of them can't retire, even though they want to.  The government keeps cutting pensions and social security, and banks never give out interest rates higher than 1%.  Most of the people who bought houses before 2007 are still in trouble, because the mortgage costs more than the actual house does. Although I know many people in my generation who are angry about the job market and economy, I like to think the younger generation sympathizes with the older generation when it comes to debts and not having enough money to live on.

Monday, January 27, 2014

More On Football

I don't know. I find it hard to believe that football is such a strenuous sport that a one-hour game, once a week, is too much for players to handle.  Hockey players smash each up other a lot, just like football, and they can handle multiple one-hour games per week.   I wonder how often boxers and pro wrestlers fight each other.


Actually, I think soccer is probably the most strenuous sport. It's about 90 minutes of nonstop running.  Isn't cross-country skiing the sport with more cardio than soccer?


But Mike York, who commented on yesterday's blog post, makes a good point.  Football is extremely violent, resulting in a huge number of concussions and physical trauma.  It certainly slows down the pace of the game, when everyone on the field is basically trying to put each other in the hospital.  If I had my way, I'd probably cut down on violence in football by handing out suspensions left and right.


Another problem I have with football is the fact that every year, a lot of the coaches get fired because the team didn't win an arbitrary number of games. This year, five coaches were fired; last year, it was seven.  Yes, other sports fire losing coaches, too, but it is a yearly ritual in football, which basically gives the message that "winning is everything".


On a personal note, I don't like how football players feel the need to do stupid little victory dances, after every single play.  It would help if there was some variety to football victory dances, but pretty much every player on every team does the same victory dance. Guys, build up your repertoire.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Football

The Superbowl is a week from now. I'm not a big fan of football, because of the huge wait in between games. I'd rather watch hockey, baseball or basketball, where the teams play multiple times a week, not just once a week.


Both teams get a week-long break before the Superbowl, which seems like too much for me.  I'd improve the football playoffs by making them like the other sports, with each round of the playoffs being a "best 4 out of 7" competition. Football's current "best 1 out of 1" setup is kind of harsh. I'm sure there are many teams who lost the playoffs, just because they had one bad game.


It takes three wins, to win the football playoffs. In the other sports, three wins doesn't get you out of Round One of the playoffs.


There's also the problem that most of a football game is timeouts and waiting for people to get into position.  Why do they run the clock, when players are getting into position?  You should run the clock when they are actually playing football.  Also, I have a hard time getting into the game, since the TV networks run commercial breaks after every single play.  Sorry, but it's hard to focus on a sport if they take three minute breaks every half-minute.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Nancy Drew: The Hidden Staircase


Huh, there wasn't much of a reaction to the idea of a Nancy Drew Mega Marathon.  I might do it anyway. My girlfriend is busy on Saturdays, so I don't have much going on.


Well, besides for all the writing I keep putting off, and the video walkthroughs.


One writing project I really need to hurry up with is my review of Nancy Drew: The Hidden Staircase.  This is the second book in the Nancy Drew series.  I have the original 1930 edition, and the rewrite, and let me tell you: the original is so much better.


I only read the first few chapters, but both versions start with Nancy meeting Nathan Gomber/Gombet. In the original version, the two of them get into a huge fight, and he tries to hit her, prompting her to call the police.  In the rewrite, Nathan is more of a sleazeball than a hothead, and Nancy politely asks him to leave.


Maybe it's just me, but I thought it was more interesting to see Nancy get in a fight than it is to see her calmly discussing legal matters.  Nathan is definitely more dangerous in the original; in the rewrite, he's more of a con artist than a dangerous person who is likely to kill you.


The rewrite has five fewer chapters than the original, so it condenses things a bit.  In particular, the storyline about Nancy going to solve a mystery at a haunted house.  This gets brought up in Chapter One of the rewrite; I'm on Chapter Three of the original, and Helen Corning is still nowhere to be found.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Nancy Drew Mega Marathon

I'm once again thinking about doing a Nancy Drew marathon. It'd be nice to marathon Games 1-29, in preparation for Game #30.


(I'm guessing Game #30 will be released around May, like Games #28 and #26. #24 was released in June.)


I'm just trying to work out the logistics of when and how this will be possible.  I was thinking of doing a live marathon on Youtube, every Saturday from now until May.  That's a total of thirteen weeks, so...seven weeks of me playing two games, and six weeks of me playing three games will equal to all 29 games, plus Secrets Can Kill Remastered, plus the Dossier games.


I know Youtube's new marathon feature can do the Nancy Drew games which run in a window. I don't know if it can record games #1-15, which run in automatic fullscreen.


Unlike the 2013 Scary Nancy Drew Games Marathon, I'd have to record in half-hour segments. Also unlike that marathon, there won't be a minute-long delay between me recording the video and people seeing it.


Possible downside: There will basically be no reason for me to do Nancy Drew marathons after this.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Abortion Math

Last year, I did a little math on abortion rates. People were interested in this, so I thought I'd do it again.


Abortion was legalized in the United States in 1973. The population that year was 211,357,000 source: US Census Bureau).  Currently, the US population is 317,405,228 (source: US Population Clock).  So in the past 41 years, the population has gone up by 106,048,228 people.  During the same period of time, 57,043,095 children were aborted (source: US Abortion Counter).


The numbers haven't changed much from last year. It's still a 35-65 split, with 34.97% of children aborted, and 65.02% of children born.


Margins of Error:


1. I do not know if the abortion counter includes ectopic pregnancies, which make up 2% of all pregnancies.  Rape/incest has made up 690 of 71,000 abortions this year, or 0.97%.  So let's say there's a 3% margin of error, as those abortions most likely would have been performed, regardless of the legal status of abortion.


2. The increase in US population since 1973 is 106,048,228.  This is not the number of live births in the country, since it includes immigrants who became US citizens in the past 41 years.  The Census Bureau is saying we have over 40 million immigrants currently, and I've heard an estimate of 47 million deaths since 1973.  So unless someone knows where we can get statistics of the number of immigrants and the number of deaths since 1973, that'll give us an additional 3% margin of error.  I'm told many immigrants are not registered, so...um...that'll be a hard margin of error to reduce.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Death at Cape Porto: A Dana Knightstone Novel

Here is my video walkthrough for Death at Cape Porto: A Dana Knightstone Novel. Dana is a novelist who can see ghosts, and this time she is in Portugal, trying to help a man who was unjustly convicted of murder over fifty years ago.














Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mulan 2

I watched Mulan 2 on Christmas. The best part of the movie was probably the reprise of "A Girl Worth Fighting For".

I was a little surprised to see that Mushu became a minor antagonist in this movie. He spends about half the movie trying to break up Mulan and her fiancee, until he realizes this is a horrible thing to do.

One of the bad things Mushu does is wreck the journey, so the entire group gets lost.  This led to an extended version of the "men refuse to stop and ask for directions" joke.  It was kind of painful to watch that scene, actually.  First, it completely conflicts with the moral of the story, "gender stereotypes are bad". Second, ever since the invention of the GPS, that joke has been outdated.  Really, when is the last time someone used a paper map while driving on a road trip?

Overall, it was okay, but certainly not as good as the original.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Worst of Blackmoor Manor, Chapter 16

Here is Chapter 16 of my parody story, Nancy Drew: Worst of Blackmoor Manor. Today, Nancy solves three puzzles!
 
---


Nancy woke up at midnight, and she went downstairs. She was slightly impressed that all the lights in Blackmoor Manor were still on at full power; it must cost a lot of money to keep the manor running all the time.

In the library, Nancy logged onto the computer again. This time, it accepted her request to go on a ghost hunt. The instructions appeared onscreen.

Don't tell my sister, but there are ghosts in Blackmoor! Thirteen of them, to be exact. The problem is that they're very shy, so they only appear in quiet places, like the library, the conservatory and the great hall. What's worse, they'll only appear for a limited amount of time. But if you can find and touch all thirteen ghosts in the time you're allotted, I'll give you a prize, one that I guarantee you'll enjoy!

A timer appeared onscreen below this message. She tripped over herself, in her haste to start searching. She found a grand total of three ghosts, before the timer ran out.

This was the first of many attempts to find all the ghosts. First, Nancy found all the ghosts in the library. She reset the puzzle, then found all the ghosts in the Great Hall. She reset the puzzle again, then found all the ghosts in the hallway.

Then she took a bathroom break and lost count of the ghosts she had found, so she started over. Eventually, Nancy found twelve ghosts.

"WHERE IS GHOST NUMBER THIRTEEN?" Nancy shouted, in a very quiet voice that didn't wake anyone up.

She soon noticed an odd spiral staircase, in between her room and Jane's. Nancy walked up the stairs.

*WHOOP!*

*BWAAAA!*

*DING!*

The stairs made weird sound effects as Nancy climbed up them. The stairs led to a dead end, containing ghost number thirteen. Nancy quickly pressed it.

Below the ghosts were a series of levers. Nancy pulled them, and they made weird sound effects, just like the stairs. Realizing this was another Penvellyn puzzle, Nancy tried duplicating the order of the sound effects. After some trial and error, she solved the puzzle and received a key.

"Hooray!" Nancy said. "It's a key to...somewhere!"

Nancy slipped the key in her pocket and returned downstairs to Alan's computer. It had a special message waiting for her.

Congratulations! You're one of the few people who have seen all thirteen ghosts of Blackmoor Manor! Now for your reward. In the East Hall, there is a lever disguised as a hat rack. Pull on it, then enjoy!

Nancy complained for a while about how the Penvellyns were forcing her to tramp all over their manor in the dead of night, before going to the East Hall. When she pulled the lever, a large section of the wall retracted, revealing a slide. Nancy sat herself down and started sliding.

"WHEE!" Nancy cheered as the slide spun around. On the wall, Nancy could see a strange-looking target. Before she had time to register this, the slide ended. She found herself downstairs, having exited through a hidden cache behind a statue.

"I'm doing that again!" Nancy said.

She ran upstairs and used the slide again. This time, instead of sitting down, she stood up on the slide. It was hard to keep her balance, and she almost fell over three times, but that way, she was able to punch the target. She heard a clanging sound, before she smashed her head against the wall.

Nancy immediately fell unconscious. Her last thought was about how standing up on a slide which ends in a tunnel is not a good idea.

When Nancy awoke seven hours later, she was on the floor of the Great Hall. A tiny watch piece was on the ground beside her. Standing over her, with an angry look on her face, was Ethel Bossiny.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Worst of Blackmoor Manor, Chapter 15

Here is Chapter 15 of my parody story, Nancy Drew: Worst of Blackmoor Manor. Today, Nancy gets the password to Alan's computer.
 
---


Nancy decided to tackle all of the puzzles in alphabetical order, because hey, why not? First on the list was Alan Penvellyn, who set up a puzzle on his computer in the library.

Nancy headed all the way to the library. Nigel was inside, typing furiously on his computer.

"Hey, Nigel," Nancy said. "Are you working on your memoirs?"

"No, I'm doing a typing program," Nigel said. "I hope to get my words-per-minute counter up by at least 10%. It's my New Years Resolution!"

"Erm...it's good to have goals," Nancy said. "I'm looking for Alan Penbellino's computer. Is it in here?"

"It's in the back," Nigel said, gesturing towards the rear of the library.

Nancy thanked Nigel and went to the computer. It was on a table, under a large mask. Nancy moved the mouse around, and the screen came to life.

Welcome, Alan! Password?

"What's the password for the computer?" Nancy asked.

"I have no idea," Nigel called from the other side of the library. "I'm a historian. Modern people aren't really my bag, you know? I prefer my humanity to be more aged. Anyone under a century old is not interesting to me!"

He must not go on a lot of dates, Nancy decided.

Nancy left the library and thought for a moment. If she wanted to learn the computer password, she would have to ask Jane, Linda, Mrs. Drake or Loulou. Nancy decided to talk to them in alphabetical order, because hey, why not? She went upstairs to Jane's room and knocked on the door.

"Who is it?" Jane called.

"It's Nancy," Nancy said.

"Please, come in!" Jane said.

Nancy entered the room and inquired about the password to Alan's computer. Jane grinned widely.

"I know the password, but if you want me to tell it to you, you have to play a game with me, first."

Nancy groaned. "Which game?"

Jane pulled out twenty cards and put them on the floor. "This is a matching game. You need to find all the matches, but if you make more than ten mistakes, you have to start over."

Nancy didn't do very well with the matching game, until she got an idea. Pointing at a picture on Jane's desk, Nancy asked, "Whoa! You had a gerbil?"

Jane turned to look at the picture. "Yes, its name was Freddy. It died about a year ago."

While Jane was talking, Nancy quickly flipped over the cards and looked at them. She flipped them back over, by the time Jane refocused her attention on the game. After that bit of cheating, Nancy had a much easier time winning the game.

"You did it!" Jane said. "Okay, the password on the computer is on Alan's coat of arms, plain as day. But there's nothing on the computer that's very interesting. If you're looking for something to do, you should play a game with me instead!"

"Maybe later," Nancy said. "I'm all 'gamed out' right now. Which coat of arms is Alan's again?"

"The one with Loulou on it," Jane said.

Nancy made her way downstairs and found the correct coat of arms, which read Purgamentum exit. She went to Alan's computer and used that as the password. Thankfully, the computer accepted it.

Welcome again, Alan! Are you ready to go on a ghost hunt? Yes/No.

Nancy clicked on yes.

Sorry, my watch tells me that it's currently daytime! The ghosts only come out after midnight. Please return later!

"Well, there is clearly nothing else I can do which is worthwhile," Nancy decided. So she went upstairs and slept until midnight.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Disney Movie Titles

When I watched The Little Mermaid recently, a four-year-old girl picked it out. She didn't call the movie by its name; she said, "I want to watch Ariel".


This has happened to me before.  I remember one little girl who told me she wants to watch Jasmine.  Apparently, she doesn't know that Aladdin is the title character of the film.  Then again, she can hardly be blamed for that. She's a little girl, and Disney markets Princess Jasmine to girls about a million times more often than they market Prince Aladdin to boys.


And this is part of the reason why I still think it was a bad decision to rename Rapunzel as Tangled.  There is nothing wrong with naming the movie after the main character. In fact, it works much better than using a passive verb.


What alternate title could have been given to Frozen?  The original title was The Snow Queen.  Also, now that I've seen the movie...holy moly, the original preview was horrible and had nothing to do with anything.

Friday, January 17, 2014

More on The Little Mermaid

Yesterday, one of the commenters asked why my discussion of The Little Mermaid only discussed piddling little things.  That's because I was trying to be nice.  If I had to be honest, I'd say that The Little Mermaid is a bad movie with great songs.




The animation is definitely sub-par for Disney.  Ariel's head grows and shrinks erratically, from shot to shot.  Her hair usually stays the same size (not always), and whenever she pops her head out of water, sometimes it's dripping wet (like when she watches Eric on the ship) and sometimes it's 100% dry (like in meeting Scuttle).




The timing is also off. In the first part of the movie, it switches from night to day, depending on the mood of the scene.  Oh, it's daytime when Ariel sings Part of Your World?  Guess what, two seconds later, it's nighttime while the humans are on the ship and using fireworks.  Ten minutes later, after the drowning scene, Ariel takes Eric directly to shore and it's daytime again, so she can sing a reprise.




The end of the movie is more consistent with what time of day it is, but I think that's only because "Ariel has three days as a human" is a major plot point.  Either way, I would demand a refund, because Ariel's three days is more like two and a half days, since she doesn't become human at sunset.




Gah, the end of the movie is kind of frustrating.  What happened after Kiss the Girl?  Are we seriously supposed to believe that Eric and Ariel rode back to the palace in silence?  Like, he tries kissing her once, then seems to completely give up on the idea.  THAT IS DUMB.  Here is a more realistic version of what happened after the song:


Eric: Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean for the boat to tip over! Are you okay?
Ariel: (nods and smiles at Eric reassuringly)

Eric: (helping her up) We...we should get back to the castle and dry off.

Ariel: (grabs Eric and makes out with him passionately)

Sebastian: Sweet hot lovin', that should end the spell! 

THE END OF THE MOVIE!!!!







Seriously, Ariel has no sense of urgency when it comes to kissing Eric.  I know that you can't rush true love, but she could at least do something.  There is no reason why Ariel cannot initiate the kiss with Eric.  The fact that she doesn't even try is stupid.


Speaking of stupid, I am upset that Sebastian does not tell King Triton about the deal with Ursula, until it is literally too late for him to do anything about it. Sebastian threatens to tell Triton immediately, and then he doesn't because, um...true love or something.  Sure, that's a good reason for Sebastian to stay in the human palace where people keep trying to kill him.


Did Ursula-Disguised-As-A-Human really intend to marry Prince Eric?  If the wedding hadn't been interrupted, they would have been married before sundown.  Just saying.


My girlfriend and I both got confused by Ursula's introduction scene.  She was confused as to where Flotsam and Jetsam are during the scene.  It seems like they are in Ursula's house, because she talks to them.  However, they can't be in her house, because Ursula's magic glass which is connected to their eyes shows what Ariel is doing.  So either they were spying on Ariel already, or Ursula doesn't really need their eyes to spy on Ariel.




The thing which confused me was Ursula's throwaway line, about the days before King Triton showed up, when she lived in the palace.  What is this?  Ursula used to live in the palace, and King Triton dethroned her?  Why can't we learn more about that backstory?  That seems more interesting than "whiny teenager feels misunderstood by parents".




Also, dang, King Triton is abusive.  I bet that's the reason his wife is no longer around.




















---




In a more direct response to the commenter, Ariel could not have used tides to get on and off the shore that quickly.  She is so far away from the shore that she would have had to bring Eric there during high tide, then she waited two hours until low tide.  Of course, the movie is inconsistent about how far inland they are (the far-off shot has them several feet away, the shot of Eric standing has him two inches away), so I guess there's some wiggle room.  Either way, I maintain that there should be marks on the sand somewhere in that scene.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bank Woes

I always start my New Year's Resolutions after my birthday. One of my resolutions is to be a responsible adult and do fancy banking things with my money.


When I moved to Oregon, my plan was to leave a big chunk of my money in California.  The money would get lots of interest, and when I came back, there'd be a huge pile of money waiting for me.  It wasn't easy, but I finally managed to get the highest-earning interest rate the bank offers.


After a year, my money earned...wait for it...fifteen whole dollars.  At this rate, it will take over 600 years for the original amount to double.


So I'm switching to a new, better money plan this year.  Part of that plan includes getting a Roth IRA, which is bank for "retirement fund".  According to Discover's IRA calculator, if I dump a third of all my money into the fund now, I will have about half a million dollars when I retire at age 68.


Sounds good to me! I like the idea of owning half a million...wait a minute...


I'm sorry, I made a mistake. According to Discover's IRA calculator, the only way I can have half a million dollars at retirement is if I add $800 to my fund every single month for the next 40 years.


Okay, let's try this again. Discover offers a 1.8% interest on IRAs, and that interest compounds, so after forty years of them holding my money...


...The original amount of money doubles.


How do people retire?!  This is the best forty-year plan available?!  In 2054 dollars, my retirement fund will last approximately one year!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Part of Your World (Reprise)

I might like the reprise of this song better than the full version.



I have to wonder how Ariel gets from onshore to five feet into the ocean. She moves off camera, so we don't see it. Does she roll in circles, does she summersault, does she wiggle backwards, does she teleport? No matter how she does it, it happens VERY QUICKLY.

"What would I give to live where you are? What would I pay to stay here beside you?" Your voice, Ariel. You're going to give your voice.

"Where would we walk? Where would we run, if we could stay all day in the sun?" It's funny. When Ariel becomes a human, she sits down at the dinner table, spends the day seated in Eric's carriage tour of the kingdom and sits in a boat for "Kiss the Girl". She never does any running as a human, even though she says it's one of the main attractions.

"I don't know when. I don't know how. But I know something's starting right now." Um, Ariel, RIGHT NOW counts as "when".

"Watch and you'll see. Someday I'll be part of your world." SPOILER ALERT, ARIEL, JEEZ!!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Worst of Blackmoor Manor, Chapter 14

Here is Chapter 14 of my parody story, Nancy Drew: Worst of Blackmoor Manor. Today, Nancy finds the Hidden Penvellyn Family Forge.
 
---


At the other end of the maze was a locked door. A chemistry puzzle was built into the door, and at the top was a symbol of a snake eating its own tail.

"Hmmm..." Nancy said. "A snake eating its tail. I should find out what this means before solving the puzzle. Maybe Nigel knows about it?"

Nancy paused for a moment, then reconsidered.

"Oh, no way am I going back through that maze again, just to talk to Nigel," she decided. She pulled out her phone and did an Internet search, which revealed that the symbols on the door all dealt with alchemy. She reconstructed the formulas according to the website, and the door opened to reveal the Hidden Penvellyn Forge.

Nancy knew this was the name of the room, because right next to the door was a small table with a homemade book entitled The Hidden Penvellyn Forge and You, by Alan Penvellyn. Intrigued, Nancy picked it up and began reading.

Hello, Jane! It's your Grandpa Alan! This is the big secret I was talking about! This room contains the treasure that our family's founder, Ranulf the Red, discovered oh so long ago! But before you can access it, there are a number of puzzles you have to solve first! Turn the page to learn more!

If, for some reason, you are not a member of the Pennvellyn Family, please turn to page 87.

Nancy turned to page 87.

Interloper! How dare you trespass on the Penvellyn Family Secrets? I am going to put the Curse of Blackmoor Manor on you now! Soon, you will become a werewolf! The only way to avoid this fate is to leave immediately and never tell anyone about it!

If you believe in the Curse of Blackmoor Manor, turn to the last page of the book.
If not, turn to page 88.

Nancy turned to the last page of the book.

The End.

"Ugh, that's a bad ending!" Nancy said. She went back a step and went to page 88.

Okay, fine, you win. There's no such thing as the Curse of Blackmoor Manor. Our ancestor Elinor was not a witch. She was actually an alchemist. In fact, the alchemy puzzle on the door to this room was constructed by Elinor, centuries ago. People just made the wrong assumptions when she was secretly bringing in strange ingredients from all over the continent.

The room you're standing in is the Hidden Penvellyn Forge. The first Pennvellyn, Ranulf the Red, hid his treasure inside this room to protect it. His grandchild, Milo, found the room and made a special lock to protect the treasure. His grandson found the room and crafted a puzzle to protect it. His grandson also found the room and crafted a puzzle to protect it.

You get the idea. Every other generation, a Penvellyn discovers this room and crafts a puzzle to protect Ranulf's treasure. I was the twelfth Penvellyn to enter this room since the 1300's. I made two separate puzzles to protect the treasure: one on my computer in the library, and one involving my beloved pet parrot, Loulou.

Unfortunately, there is the small chance that the puzzles I created will become obsolete, if Loulou dies or if someone decides to replace my newest-model 1990 computer. In fact, if there is a non-Penvellyn reading this, that is probably what has happened. I do hope my granddaughter Jane will discover this room, but she is only six months old right now. Who knows what the future will hold for her?

Dear reader, if there are any Penvellyns still alive, I beg you to take this book to them, so that they may discover the family secrets.

If the line has died out, then...I assign you with the task of solving the puzzles and retrieving Ranulf's treasure. The truth about our family should not remain lost to history.

Yours sincerely,
Alan Penvellyn

PS. Skip to page 10 for a description of all the various puzzles.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Worst of Blackmoor Manor, Chapter 13

Here is Chapter 13 of my parody story, Nancy Drew: Worst of Blackmoor Manor.
 
---


Eight Hours Later...

Nancy made it through the maze.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Upcoming Videos

I must not be very good at planning which videos to upload. Coming up this week, I'll continue my unpopular playthrough of Shining Force: Resurrection of the Dark Dragon.








I am adding a video walkthrough for World Mosaics to the upload list.  This is a nonograms game. Solving the puzzles is fun, but watching other people solve them? Not so much. As a result, my videos will focus on the puzzle solutions, as opposed to showing the 1-10 minutes it takes to reach those solutions.















I should probably start work on Case #2 of Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies, but to be honest, that hasn't been a very popular series either.


Oh, well. After all this, I've got a special game I'll be starting on Friday! I promise this one will be more fun.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Birthday Gifts

For my birthday, Kelly made a nice Nancy Drew cover mockup:








And Little Jackalope at the Amateur Sleuth Blog also made a little picture for me.



Thanks, you two!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Birthday

It's my birthday! I'm 28 years old now, which isn't much of a milestone.


This year, I got several birthday messages on the day before my birthday, due to weirdness with time zones. The same sort of thing happened on April Fools Day, last year. I logged onto Facebook at 9:00 PM on March 31st, and my east coast friends spoiled all the big April Fools jokes for me. Thanks, time travelers!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Three Things: Christmas Date

This year, I saw an awful lot of people get upset, because the Catholic Church is responsible for Christmas being on December 25.  It is true, Pope Saint Julian I made this the official date for Christmas, in the year 350.  Why did he do this?


1. One reason he did this was for the symbolism. December 25 is around the winter solstice, when the days start getting longer and there is more daylight.  That is a good metaphor for Jesus Christ, the light of the world, who was born into a world made dark by sin and evil, so he could bring light to fallen humanity.  "This life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." (John 1:4-5)


The downside is that pretty much every religion has an event for the winter solstice, so Christianity gets accused of copy-catting the religions that came before it.  Because winter is dark, most religious events that take place in winter involve light, such as Jewish Hannukah and the German bonfires and Christian celebration of St. Lucy.


2. With this and other calendar work that he did, Pope Saint Julian did not pick dates out of a hat at random.  He polled the Christians who were living at the time, as to when they celebrated the birth of Jesus.  December 25th was one of the common answers; dates in February and September were also common.


I guess if people in the 300's didn't know the exact date for sure, us people 1700 years later don't have a chance of getting it right.


3. Another reason for picking December 25th for Christmas is that it is exactly one week before New Year's Day.  In accordance with Jewish law, Jesus was circumcised a week after being born.  So by assigning the Feast of Christmas on the 25th, that automatically assigns a feast on New Year's Day.  I have never heard of anyone who complains about having New Year's as a holiday.


Also, the Feast of the Epiphany (celebrating the presentation of Jesus to the Gentiles / when the wise men visited the Christ child) was already set on January 8th.  December 25th is two weeks before that, so it was a good fit.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Nancy Drew: Ghost of Thornton Hall

It looks like Nancy Drew: Ghost of Thornton Hall is coming to the iPad!  Her Interactive has a webpage for it and everything.


I'm guessing it's on the iPad, not the iPhone, due to the large screen resolution. They'd have to shrink the game window down to fit on the iPhone, and sometimes that causes problems.  For example, if there's a small area that you need to tap on, it can be hard-to-impossible to do on a small screen.


The screenshots and character descriptions are the same as the PC version of the game, so I imagine that this is a direct port of the game, without much being changed.  Wouldn't it be crazy if they did change a lot, though?  Say the game has a new culprit. That'd be wild.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Airport Security

[Michael wrote this while in a grumpy mood, because airport security stopped him for having solid food which is "too liquid". They immediately confiscated the sandwich toppings because they were hungry the toppings presented a threat to the safety of the United States of America.]


Man, oh man, I forgot how much I dislike airport security.  When I was younger, it was a lot simpler.  You put your luggage through the scanner, then walked through the metal detector, and you were done.


Today, you have the added steps of having your ID and boarding pass inspected, then posing for the millimeter wave camera that takes a nude picture of you.  It takes much longer to get through security now, because of these extra steps.  The process which should take two minutes, tops, now takes twenty minutes, minimum.


My particular problem is with the luggage scanner. They want computers to go in separately, they want shoes to go in separately, they want toothpaste and deodorant to go in separately.  So I have to open my luggage in public and rifle through all of my stuff in order to follow the rules.


Smart alecks say, "Michael, why don't you keep those special items at the top of your luggage?".  Because having a heavy computer at the top of your bag makes it fall over and smash into the ground.  Good packers put heavy things at the bottom of the suitcase, not the top.


About half the time, I have a security officer bark at me for holding up the line, because I require three separate bins along with my luggage. They also bark at me for being too slow at stripping.  "Get your jacket off! Remove those shoes!  Take off your belt!"


From what I can tell, at any given time, only about half of the security officers are actually working. The other half are just standing around, apparently doing nothing.  In their defense, I wouldn't be enthusiastic about my job either, if all I had to do was say, "There's another line to the left" eight hours a day.  Someday, the airport might decide to fire those officers and replace them with a sign.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Worst of Blackmoor Manor, Chapter 12

Here is Chapter 12 of my parody story, Nancy Drew: Worst of Blackmoor Manor. Today, Nancy finds the final hidden passageway!
 
---

"Huh. I guess Mrs. Drake is busy," Nancy said, brushing herself off as she got off the ground. She went upstairs and stopped by Loulou's cage. "Hey, Double Lou! I know the magic word."
 
"You do?"
 
"Loulou is a very, very clever and beautiful bird."
 
Loulou made loud happy sounds. "Clever and beautiful! Too true! Too true! Loulou is clever and beautiful!"
 
"So my word is barber..." Nancy said.
 
"Leech! Lecch leech leech leech leech."
 
"Are you saying 'leech' is the next word in the sequence?"
 
"You got it, Toots!"
 
Nancy went to the hidden passageway in the East Hall. At the parrot plaque which read "barber", she spun the dials so it read "leech". The plaque accepted this as correct, and the door opened.
 
"More passageways," Nancy muttered. She walked down this one, and at the end was a familiar-looking triangle puzzle. This time, the box with triangles was on the left side of the wall. Nancy opened it and spun the triangles so they were all facing upwards.
 
The wall spun to the side, revealing a large hidden room that conveniently connected both hidden passageways Nancy had found. The room had a door, a side passageway, and a tiny box in the wall. Nancy opened the box to find a glowing rock.
 
"Hey, I can use this as a flashlight!" Nancy said. "Hopefully, it's not radioactive."
 
Nancy stepped through the doorway, and she found herself in a small room, about the size of an elevator. She opened the door at the other end of the room and went through. When the door closed behind her, she hear the room moving.
 
"Huh?" Nancy asked.
 
On a metallic fountain in front of her, Nancy could see a device. She picked it up to see that it had a map. Solve the maze of the rotating rooms! was carved on the top of the map.
 
"Uh oh," Nancy said.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Worst of Blackmoor Manor, Chapter 11

Here is Chapter 11 of my parody story, Nancy Drew: Worst of Blackmoor Manor. Today, Nancy talks with Mrs. Drake.
 
---

Nancy Drew was talking to Mrs. Drake.
 
"So, what do you think is wrong with Linda?"
 
"I don't know, and the doctors don't know. Nobody seems to know anything!" Mrs. Drake said with a hint of frustration in her voice. "All I know is that Linda is unwell, and I am to look after the manor in her stead."
 
"Actually, I was trying ask if...this is kind of a weird question...has she always had super-hairy arms?"
 
"No, of course not," Mrs. Drake said. "Why? Is there a problem with her arms? Did you see her behind the curtain?"
 
"I only saw her hand, and it was covered with hair! Like...a werewolf."
 
"Tut tut!" Mrs. Drake clicked with her mouth. "Please don't tell me that you are falling for that ridiculous old story about the Blackmoor Beast. I know you thought you saw something when you arrived, but I can assure you that Linda is not a lycanthrope."
 
Nancy had no response, because she had no idea what lycanthropy was. Instead of speaking, Nancy felt her upper lip, in order to confirm that the manor did not cause its residents to start growing hair spontaneously.
 
"Okay, I don't have a mustache," Nancy said. "That means Linda's not a werewolf."
 
"Excuse me?" Mrs. Drake asked.
 
"You're excused," Nancy said. "But I have a question about Loulou the parrot. Do you know her magic word?"
 
"Magic word? Oh, yes," Mrs. Drake said. "You see, my brother and father used to play a word game with Loulou. I never understood how it was played, but sometimes she'd grow sullen and refuse to play the game anymore until they told her that...let's see...what was it again? It's on the the tip of my tongue...Ah. They'd have to tell her that 'Loulou is very, very clever and beautiful bird'."
 
"Great, thanks," Nancy said. "There's one more thing I want to talk about, though. Ethel and Jane are dressing up in weird costumes and doing chant rituals at 3:15 in the morning, in order to pour oil in the hole in the floor. You know about this, right?"
 
Mrs. Drake threw Nancy out of the conservatory twenty seconds later.