Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Baby Rosie

Great news, everyone! Katie gave birth to the baby this week! Say hello to Rosie, daddy's little detective!



So here, let me tell the entire story. We were late in getting to bed on Sunday night. As in, so late, we didn't bother to load the dishwasher and move laundry. We just decided we're tired, it's late, so we'll do those things in the morning.

Around 11:30, Katie's water broke halfway. It took about 10-15 minutes to call the doctor and confirm that yes, that's good enough to count as a full water breaking in Katie's case. So both we and Katie's doctor had to get to the hospital right away.

Problem #1: The snowstorm that shut down the Portland Metro Area had not completely abated. There was still some ice/snow on the roads and our driveway. We made it to the car, and I started to get the snow/ice brush from my truck, but the trunk was frozen shut. So we had to sit in the car for five minutes and do a manual defrost until it was safe enough to drive.

It was kind of a weird drive, in that I was rushing to get there as soon as possible, but I was also going extra-slow due to the weather. The good news is that there was NO traffic, because it was midnight, but still, I didn't get there as fast as I wanted. Especially since Katie's contractions started for real during the car ride; I wanted to get her to the hospital as soon as possible.

Problem #2: Mary. We thought we'd have to take her to the hospital with us, but guess what? Our neighbor was outside, letting their dog poop. At midnight. Lucky for us the neighbor kept such odd hours that day! The neighbor was put in charge of watching Mary, until Grandpa came to get her. Lucky for us, he was awake, too. His weather problems were way worse than ours, though.

So we got to the hospital around 12:30 AM, and went directly to our room. Katie got changed, and the nurse checked Katie's progress. She called in another nurse, for a second opinion. Meanwhile, the contractions started getting worse. The nurses agreed that the childbirth was happening SOON, so they started to rush things. We didn't get the "checked in" paperwork done until the next day.

Katie planned to do an epidural, so they got the epidural doctor in as soon as possible. As you may know, you have to lie perfectly still, so the epidural can get put in properly. You may also know that it's hard to lie still, when you're going through minute-long contractions. The doctor tried to get the epidural done in between contractions, but they were too close together. Katie had to suffer through a contraction without moving, so they could put it in.

From what I understand, the epidural is a drug cocktail which numbs the lower half of your body. It starts from the toes and slowly goes upwards until it hits waist level. It takes about 30 minutes, but Rosie didn't want to wait that long. It ended up being an involuntary natural childbirth. It went very quickly, but it was still incredibly painful. Having numb feet doesn't help during a childbirth, you know? You want the whole bottom half of the body to be numb.

I have no idea how they define the labor proper, but that was from 2:08 to 2:15. The head became visible at 2:12 or 2:13. So that was a fast labor! They put the baby on top of Katie for a while, and I took lots of pictures. Here's the best of the bunch.



As you can see, she came out purple and messy. There was no opportunity to clean her up, which was listed in the baby birth plan that we brought with us, but we didn't find it until the day after.

It wasn't very long before they had me sit down, and they put Rosie in my lap. Here's the picture of me holding her for the first time.



They needed her (and me) out of the way, because Katie hemorrhaged. I won't go into the gory details, but Katie lost four pints of blood, which is about half the blood in a human body. She had to have an emergency blood transfusion while they worked. There were 7-8 medical personnel in the room the whole time, and Katie had multiple IVs, in addition to the epidural.

They didn't finish until after five, which means Katie spent longer in post-labor than pre-labor and labor combined. Our doctor confirmed that this is the #1 cause of death during childbirth in third world countries. It's not the actual childbirth part; it's the inability to get blood transfusions in case of emergency. We are very, VERY lucky this wasn't an involuntary bus or home birth, due to the winter storm. Katie probably would have died if that had happened.

For the first day, I was in charge of changing diapers and everything, simply because Katie had trouble moving her arms. It's hard to move your arm with an IV going into the back of your palm.

On the second day, I went back to work. And on the morning of the third day, we went back home. It seems weird to say "morning of the third day", when it's just two days and some odd hours, not three full days. I dunno. I still have a weird sense of time now. I imagine I'll adjust eventually.

Anyway, Rosie is born! I think I'll use this as an excuse to take a vacation from blogging for the rest of the year. See you in 2017, everyone!

New York Introductions

I finally got a chance to watch the new Captain America movie. Captain America and Spider-Man have a conversation that goes something like this:

Captain: Wow, you're pretty good! Where are you from?
Spidey: Queens.
Captain: Cool. I'm from Brooklyn.

In real life, do people from New York introduce themselves like that? When I'm introducing myself to someone, and I don't know where they're from, I say, "I'm from Portland". I don't say "I'm from Mount Tabor" or "I'm from the Pearl District" or whatever. I just refer to the closest big city that people may have heard of, even though I don't live in the city limits.

Now I'm reminded of a Nancy Drew fanfic I wrote where she and the Hardys go to New York, and the author assumed you knew the intricate details of where things are located in that city. New York is a really big city, if I'm not mistaken!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Luna

Our dog Luna is half-Pomeranian and half-Shih-Tzu. Basically, a fluffy dog mixed with a fluffy dog, to give a fluffy dog overload.

You might recognize shih-tzus as the dogs that usually have their hair up in a bow. That's not just a cute fashion accessory. You have to pull the dog's hair up, away from the face, because otherwise it covers up their eyes, and they can't see. Either you trim the hair, or pull it back.

Since Luna has a Pomeranian-shaped skull, the hair covers more of her face than it normally would, to the point where her eyebrows sometimes cover her eyes. We try to keep her hair trimmed, but it doesn't always work. As best as we can figure, Luna doesn't see more than three or four feet. If we're playing fetch with her, and the object goes farther than that, she gets confused and can't find it.

Here's a picture of Luna, which kind of shows off the hair on her head covering up one eye. Mostly, the picture shows how her big old whiskers get in the way and make trimming her hair impossible.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Snow Day Continued

The snow was pretty nice, the first day of the storm. Everything was serene and peaceful, and the snow made everywhere glow. It was the perfect powder for skiing, because it was deep but still soft enough to walk on.

Then it was the next day, and the snow was still there. It's too cold to melt, so it just sort of...froze in place. The status of the snow varies from place to place, obviously. The places where it partially melted have ice that's more slippery and dangerous. The roads are mostly clear, but the sides of the roads are covered with nasty-looking dark snow.

Katie slipped twice on the ice, and her OBGYN told her outright that her options are to induce labor now, or to not go outside at all until the ice is gone. She chose the latter option, because the forecast calls for sprinkled snow showers all this weekend. Maybe. The weather people all agree that we'll have a day and a half of light snow, but they keep changing the forecast for WHEN it will happen. After that, it will slowly get warmer. I imagine we'll have to wait until it's above freezing all day long, before the snow and ice disappear.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Snow Day

We had a snow day! It snowed about 1-2 inches in Portland on Wednesday, and 2-3 inches in the outside areas. This snowstorm completely shut down the entire city.

(Pauses a few moments so people on the East Coast can finish laughing.)

All the train lines shut down, and it took me five and a half hours to get home. Problem #1 was that my bus home got trapped outside of the city, with a lot of other buses. Problem #2 was that the highways got shut down. Like, people just parked their cars and walked away, because they couldn't drive. So we had one-lane highways, at most.

Katie and I both got home around 10 PM, so Mary had an involuntary sleepover at a friend's house that night. The good news is that Katie did NOT have an involuntary winter bus baby. The bad news is that school got cancelled, but work didn't. That's always a fun situation.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Las Posadas

This week, our church is doing Las Posadas, which is a Hispanic Christmas tradition. I'm kind of bummed that I'm missing out on it two years in a row, because I understand Spanish enough to translate what's going on to my wife and kid.

As I understand it, las posadas is sort of like a play. Someone plays Joseph and Mary, looking for a place to stay. They go to the first inn, but they get told that it's full. They go to the second place, the third place, and so on, until they reach the last place, where the innkeeper agrees to let them stay in the stable out back. The end.

The format is pretty simple, so it can be easily adapted depending on how many people there are. At our church, they have designated adults at certain places, to be the innkeepers. Everyone else is part of the group, looking for a place to stay. There is some singing and pinatas. Overall, a nice little event for the kiddos.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Magnus Chase 2: The Hammer of Thor

I read Magnus Chase 2: The Hammer of Thor recently. I liked the book, and I'd say it's just as good as the first one. There are two new characters, unless they were in the first book, and I forgot about them. The first is Amir, the person that Sam is engaged to. He's in the process of learning about the Norse mythology stuff, and he is rightfully FREAKING OUT. That type of character can be annoying, like in Indiana Jones 2, but it works here, because Magnus knew Amir long before the mythology stuff ruined their lives.

The second new character is Alex, who is a shapeshifter and also transgender. That was a really neat idea. She can change forms into whatever animal she wants, but her own personal identity is fluid, so she can never quite match it or keep up with that. An interesting conflict, to be sure. However, at times, the author gets a little TOO heavy-handed with the issue of supporting transgender rights, to the point where it feels like he's preemptively calling you a transphobic bigot if you ever disagree with a transgender person about anything ever. Or maybe I'm just a touch oversensitive to those issues, because I occasionally get a lot of grief for being a male who plays female Nancy Drew games.

The story is typical of the Rick Riordan books. Our heroes have to fetch a magic item that the gods have somehow lost. There is kind of a clear road map they have to follow, from A to B to C, but they keep getting tangled up in random 50-page sidequests that focus around a particular mythological character. These include challenging giants, visiting Hearth's evil father, going to Thor's house, and so on. The overall story is that they have to get the skofnung sword and wheel, so they can trade it for Thor's lost hammer at a wedding.

Towards the end, the book talks about Norse wedding traditions. The dowry goes to the bride's father, not the groom's family. I thought this was setting up for a big plot twist at the end, because of who Alex's parents are, and how they technically don't fit the tradition as described. (I'm trying not to give spoilers, here.) But no, I was wrong, that ended up not being important at all. Okay, then. I fail at foreshadowing!

The book goes on for several chapters after the dramatic finale, which I thought was very well done. I particularly liked that. I didn't like the final cliffhanger, which was "OMG, Percy Jackson is going to get involved in this story!". That's not the first time we've seen this end-of-book cliffhanger from Rick Riordan...Still, it was a neat book, and I'll definitely read the next one in the series.

I wonder what mythology Riordan will tackle next, after Egypt, Greek, Rome, and Norse. Like, Lloyd Alexander and J. R. R. Tolkien already wrote AMAZING series based on Welsh mythology, and it would probably be impossible to do Christian mythology while having it still fit in with the pre-established Roman mythological canon that Riordan has developed. (Plus, it'd be hard to do Christian mythology without offending a TON of people.)

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. I feel like I've been neglecting this blog lately. I'm sorry. I also feel like I've been neglecting my book reviews. I've been working on the same set of reviews since...October?

2. The baby's due date is coming closer and closer! Katie's fake contractions keep getting worse, and every time she goes to the bathroom, I start to worry that her water will break. Which kind of makes the blog writing problem seem worse! I want to have a lot of blog entries prepared in advance, because I will probably not have any blog time once the baby is born.

3. I just realized we haven't done Christmas cards this year. Um...maybe no one will notice.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas Eve: Midnight's Call

Here's my walkthrough for Christmas Eve: Midnight's Call.



I actually bought the game in 2015 and I sat on it a whole year, just so I could release it around Christmastime. The game is pretty focused on the winter/Christmas theme, although I'd say Santa is kind of a jerk. He introduces himself by making a joke about how awful the main character's sister is. Not nice, Santa.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Nancy Drew Podcast

I haven't mentioned this yet, have I? There's a Nancy Drew podcast, where they interview voice actors from the various games.



They started with Ned Nickerson's voice actor, then the culprit from game 2, then the two leads from game 2. I guess they're tackling the games in chronological order. I think it's pretty neat!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Most Visited Sites

I posted this on Twitter the other day...



The good news is, Internet Explorer has changed its "frequent websites" list back to normal. Chrome, however, STILL has the one website which I only visited once in October and never again. Also, it has the log-in page for Ticketmaster, and the main signed-in page for Ticketmaster. I don't know if the doubling-up on websites is good or bad. I'm just wondering where the fanfiction page went.

Oh, I haven't had a chance to write or read fanfiction in months, now I'm sad.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

New Game Purchases

I bought four new games on Friday:

  • Immortal Love 2: The Price of a Miracle
  • Spirit of Mystery: Chains of Promise
  • Dark Dimensions: Blade Master
  • Cadenza: The Kiss of Death

Where should they go on my "games I own, which I'm going to record" list? At the bottom? For reference, the list currently looks like this:

  • Phoenix Wright Case 4
  • Agatha Christie Mysteries
  • Love Chronicles
  • Maestro: Dark Talent
  • Spirit of Revenge: Cursed Castle
  • Spirit of Revenge: Elizabeth's Secret
  • Dark Parables: Swan Princess
  • Christmas Eve: Midnight's Call
  • Spirit of Revenge: Florry's Well
  • Miles Edgeworth 2, Case 3
  • Other pathways in the Spy Fox games
  • DOS games
  • Hardy Boys 2: The Perfect Crime

If there's any game you think should get bumped up in the standings, just leave a comment here, letting me know. Hardy Boys and the four I listed above are the new entries on the list, since the last time I consulted you on this list.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Agatha Christie: Evil Under the Sun

This week, I played the first chapter of Agatha Christie: Evil Under the Sun. I wasn't planning to have the first chapter last a full week. It just worked out nicely like that.



Yesterday, they released the sequel to last year's Immortal Love: Letter from the Past, which is a game I loved. As in, "buying the new game and playing it immediately" just jumped high up on my to-do list. This is probably going to mess up my YouTube plans, huh?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Recording Detective Barbie 3

I mentioned Detective Barbie 3 the other day, because I'm doing a walkthrough for it. Recording this game has been a pig and a half, I assure you! I normally use a Hauppauge PVR to record console games, but this game doesn't cooperate with the Hauppague's HD input. Maybe because it's a PS1 game, being played on a PS2.

So I have to use the old-fashioned red-yellow-white cables to output the game, and I think the problem is that I've got old cables which don't work so well anymore. They can't go a full minute without dropping the signal at least once. For whatever reason, when I actively record with the Hauppauge, the cables drop the signal about 25% more often.

When the signal drops, my TV turns black and says "no signal", while the recorded footage just drops those frames. Syncing up audio and video just plain doesn't work, because the video ends up being a lot shorter than the audio.

So...here's my ridiculous workaround!

For the audio, I turn up the TV volume to the maximum and shout over it, to do commentary. For the video, I record the Hauppauge's preview box. I don't actually record with the Hauppauge. So the final video will end up being pretty jumpy with a lot of dropped frames, but no blackscreen. It's the best I can do.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home

I got a chance to see Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home. I would have seen it earlier, but it was always checked out at my local library, whenever I visited. I guess that's a testament to its enduring popularity.

The premise of the movie is that an alien spaceship is attacking Earth, sending out weird messages that pretty much destroy all technology. This is happening at the same time our heroes are returning to Earth. So they're the only Earth spaceship which still works, meaning they're the only ones that can save the planet.

It turns out that the aliens are whales. Space whales. I thought that was a joke, but it's 100% serious. About every million years or so, the alien space whales stop by Earth, chat with a few humpback whales, then go back to their own planet. But humpback whales are extinct at this point in history, so our heroes go back in time to 1986 to find some whales.

I'm not a big fan of introducing time travel into the movie series at this point. That just begs the question of "why didn't they use time travel to avoid any of the problems in the previous movies"? But to be fair, the original Star Trek TV series featured a lot of "we're time travelling back to the same year this series was made", probably because it's cheaper to film live in San Francisco than it is to build a future San Francisco set and film there.

So our heroes crash land in 1980's San Francisco, and just enough of their computer equipment has failed, in order to give everyone a job to do. Kirk and Spock are the main characters, so they have to find the whales. McCoy and Scotty have to find some kind of whale cage, while Sulu finds a way to transport it. Uhura and Chekov have to find a nuclear power source to run their ship.

The movie is pretty funny, with a lot of "our heroes are super confused" jokes, and thankfully, there was only one joke that fell flat, because it relied on a 1980's pop culture reference that I've never heard of before, ever. It was cute to see Spock start swearing in order to fit in, just because that's so out of character for him. It was funny to see Scotty try and fail to control a computer by talking to Siri, because he ended up looking like an idiot who talks to machines. It was neat to see McCoy argue medicine with a real doctor, and it was at least kind of funny that nobody understood Chekov's accent. Kind of.

I can totally see why non Star Trek fans enjoy this movie. It's not high philosophy and technobabble! It's a "fish out of water" humor script, with occasional action sequences (they get the nuclear power source by robbing a military base). There's a minor romance element to it, which was better than I expect, compared to the original series, where the "romance" was mostly an excuse for hot girls to wear revealing outfits.

I'd say the only think I didn't really like were the parts where the movie got put on hold for a few minutes, so they could deliver a "save the whales" speech. That was just as heavy-handed as the "buy organic food!" lectures in Nancy Drew Diaries 9, whose name I don't remember, because I just remember it as the organic farming book.

Also, if I'm being picky, I didn't like how our heroes focused on saving one specific pair of whales, when they easily could have taken any pair of whales from the ocean, no problem. Nope, our heroes have to focus on the only pair of whales in the world that are in captivity and have media attention on them. Guys, you're only making your job harder on yourself!

Overall, a great film, space whales and all. It was fun, funny, and well-balanced. I'd say it's my favorite of the movie series so far! I can see why people enjoy the (loose) trilogy made up of Movies 2-4. I hope movie #5 is just as good, but I know that it won't be, because it's the movie everyone hates. Sad.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Electoral College

People have been talking a lot about the electoral college recently, since Hillary Clinton lost the Presidential election, despite getting about two and a half million more votes than Trump did. I've complained about the electoral college in the past, myself. I appreciate how it at least tries to make every state relevant in the Presidential election process, but in reality, only a handful of states make a difference in elections.

My history buff friend was inspired to look more into what the Founding Fathers were thinking, when they made the electoral college. As it turns out, they were thinking that every election would have three or more candidates. The electoral college makes a lot more sense, if there are three viable candidates. It's hard to get a majority vote, when there are more than two candidates. Heck, the Clinton/Trump election only had two viable candidates, and even then, nobody got 50% of the vote.

My friend also says that the Founding Fathers expected the electoral college to tie more often than not, which is why they went into such detail about what to do, when nobody wins the electoral college.

Also, the electoral college was partially a practical decision. It wasn't feasible for them to have national elections, even one that only covers thirteen states on the East Coast. It was way easier to let every individual state handle its own election, then report that result to the people in DC.

Today, the numbers we use for the electoral college are based on state populations, as determined by the Census Bureau. However, those numbers aren't accurate for voting purposes, because the majority of people don't vote. Some Founding Fathers wanted to base the electoral college numbers on the number of voters, while others didn't. This was part of a big argument, which eventually led to the 3/5 compromise.

I wonder how the electoral college would look like today, if it was based on the number of actual voters, not just potential voters! I bet the map would look pretty different, whether we left out the potential voters entirely, or if we counted them as 3/5 of a person each. California and Texas would probably get fewer electoral votes, while Ohio and Florida would get more. (And in the following election, every state would vote in record numbers to try to assert electoral college dominance.)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Francy Droo Three

Fans of the Francy Droo videogame that I wrote--buy it today!--will be glad to know that the sequel has been mostly finished! The next step is reviewing the game and testing it. On my end, the next step is playing through the whole thing and taking note of everything I'd like to tweak or change. ("That comma looks weird. Let's get rid of it.")

Actually releasing the game is a complicated matter that I won't get into right now.

I have vague plans for a third Francy Droo game. When I first pitched the concept years ago, I wrote three different sample mysteries. I turned the first two samples into actual games, so why not the third one? I call it Francy Droo and the Speed Dating Sham. I think that's a cool name.

The general idea is that Francy and her friend Katie go speed dating. Francy meets a guy named Frank Harvey, who is also an amateur detective. Frank brags / tells Francy about a case he just solved. Frank would be the only guy at speed dating who's memorable. The other guys would be bland palette swaps of each other, and the speed dating event unexpectedly gets cancelled partway through.

You get to chose which guys you want to meet again. No matter what option you pick, Frank Harvey reappears and enlists Francy's help in solving the mystery of why they called off the speed dating event, with no warning or explanation. That's as much as I've got right now.

I kind of had the idea that maybe Frank solved two cases recently, one being a brief parody of Nancy Drew #1, and the other being a brief parody of Nancy Drew #3. You can hear about one at speed dating, and the other at the second scene with Frank. Is that what people want to see from these games? Or would it be better for Francy to solve her own, unique mysteries? I feel like this might be a nice compromise, in that you get a brief scene with a more direct parody, but the real mystery is its own thing.

(I have no idea how I would parody those two Nancy Drew games, by the way, so the entire idea might bet scrapped.)

(Also, I checked my original pitch for the game. It says "Francy has an older sister" and "Katie has a tomboy cousin named Henry". I guess those were subplots I was thinking about when I wrote the pitch?)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Land Before Time: Journey of the Brave

I finally got to see this year's new movie, The Land Before Time: Journey of the Brave. It is the fourteenth movie in the series, the first movie since 2007.

I loved it! I give it nine Nothronychuses out of Yutyrannus. Both of those being the dinosaurs with feathers that appear in this film.

The movie is a semi-sequel to the tenth movie, which is the last movie in the series that I enjoyed. The story is that Littlefoot's father, Brom, comes to visit him every year. This year, Brom was injured, while trying to save a celebrity cameo character. Now he's dying and needs help escaping his inevitable lava death. Littlefoot and friends travel a long distance to reach Brom and save him.

Major props to this movie, for not shying away from the topic of parental death. The death of Littlefoot's mother dominated the first movie, but all the sequels either ignored it or glossed over it, as inappropriate material for a children's movie. This movie goes into detail about the death of Littlefoot's mother, because that's his main motivation for saving his father. He doesn't want Dad to die like Mom did, he's scared of being all alone, and he still has some survivor's guilt, because Mom died to save him.

Not that Littlefoot is actively angsting over his tragic backstory. He's still a happy singing dinosaur who has fun adventures. But I liked how the movie had a serious element to it.

I also liked how the movie had Ruby and Chomper in it! It's good to see that they acknowledged the existence of the short-lived TV series, and besides, their subplot was entertaining. They were paired up with the celebrity cameo, Littlefoot's grandfather and Cera's father, and it worked surprisingly well to have the oldest characters and youngest characters interacting with each other. (On a sad side note, they had to recast both of the older male roles, because their voice actors died.)

The movie does retread some old ground. Littlefoot and Cera get into a fight and decide to split up, in a sequence that is more or less a repeat of the original movie. The subplot with Petrie finding a bunch of followers was entertaining, albeit pointless. My least favorite subplot was the one with Etta, which was the other celebrity cameo character. It seemed like she was there, mostly so they could have her sing a good song.

The music was amazing, by the way. It's been months since I saw the movie, and the tune for Hot and Stinky still pops up in my head occasionally. I would probably have the first song memorized, if I saw the movie more than once.

Overall, it was a good movie. It's WAY BETTER than the thirteenth movie, which is all I was hoping for. If the series doesn't continue after this, then we can say that it went out on a good note.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: The Haunted Carousel Suggestions

I'm now taking suggestions for things to include in "Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: The Haunted Carousel"! I went through my playthrough of the game and wrote down everything I could think of, but you people online always catch a few good problems that I missed!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. I did the math on my YouTube results so far this year. It looks like I made $38.36 more on YouTube in 2016 than I did in 2015. That means 2016 is the first year ever where I made more YouTube money than the previous year! Hooray! Granted, it's not a huge increase of profit, but it's still impressive, considering there wasn't a big Nancy Drew game release to bring in a lot of views, like every other year of Arglefumph's existence.

...I'm still making nowhere near full-time minimum wage, though, so I can't quit my day job. Shoot.

2. In terms of view counts, my current estimate for the year is 5,046,046, about 97% of last year's 5,172,184 views. Again, I'm sure a new Nancy Drew game release would have tipped me over last year's performance. Maybe. Checking my blind playthrough of Nancy Drew: Sea of Darkness , it looks like each video got around 3,000 views for the year. 25 times 3,000 equals 75,000...which isn't enough to cover the gap.

3. Last year, my expenses were $3,414.09, and this year, my expenses were $1,905.59. (10% of all my YouTube money goes directly to my network.) Mostly, I saved money by spending way less on books for book reviews this year. So if we're talking net profit, then I made a lot more money on YouTube this year. Hooray!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Portland Protests

Last week, I had a run-in with the Portland protests. You might have seen them on the national news, because one of their protests turned into a riot. When I first heard about the protesters, my initial response was confusion. Why are they protesting against Trump in a city where Clinton won over 75% of the vote? Wouldn't it make more sense to protest against Trump in an area that is populated by Trump supporters? Also, they keep trying to shut down traffic, by blocking bridges and freeways. What's the point of doing that?

The protesters shut down Fifth Avenue, which is the city's main bus hub. Both of my routes home were delayed as a result. That made me really, really mad. I didn't vote for Trump! I'm just a guy who's trying to get home to have dinner and see his family! Why do they feel the need to ruin my commute? Seriously, they could have moved over one block and avoided all this drama.

I didn't actually see the protesters, because there was a police barricade. The police lights kept flashing blue and red, making it hard to see in that direction. At one point, the protest moved closer to where I was. The protesters got louder, and I could make out individual chants, like "No Trump! No KKK! No racist USA!". Previously, it was all a bunch of indistinct shouting, mostly dwarfed by a policeman on a megaphone, giving instructions. The police barricade moved closer to me at this point, with the lights getting bigger and bigger.

I don't know about you, but when an angry mob and police are coming towards me in one direction, I go in the other direction. I walked far enough away, to be out of range for the protest, and went to a different bus stop. The bus was late, obviously, and filled with a bunch of angry people who weren't able to catch the previous bus home.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Detective Barbie 3

There is a third game in the Detective Barbie series!  It was released for the PlayStation, and I think that was a bad decision. It probably would have been better, if they released it for both PlayStation and PC, like Barbie Super Sports. As it was, most fans of the PC series did not jump ship to the PlayStation, and the series got cancelled.

It was also a bad idea to switch to PlayStation, because it has obvious technical limitations. All the characters are blocky and unrealistic looking. The rooms in the game are too large for the PlayStation to handle, so each one gets split up into multiple screens. It made travelling around in the game a little more tedious, because you have to go through multiple rooms, to go through one room, if that makes sense. There are a few rooms which aren't split up into multiple screens, but they're mostly empty rooms that are all pallete swaps of each other. I'm not sure why the game felt the need to include six empty, identical rooms.

Another limitation of the game is that Barbie can no longer move in three directions. She can only move up, down, left or right. To move diagonally, you're forced to zigzag. You can't use the joystick to control her; you have to use the directional arrows. And the arrows work, according to the direction the room is facing, not according to the direction Barbie is facing. That took a little bit of getting used to, but I can give it a pass, because the other Detective Barbie games have odd controls. Still, I don't like how the controls were downgraded, compared to the previous games.

In good news, the minigames were definitely upgraded! They are more fun and less frustrating, with the exception of the bottle-catching minigame. I got stuck for about an hour in the game, because I didn't realize you absolutely have to WIN the minigame to continue. That was almost impossible, because I had technical issues with my Playstation. About every five seconds, the screen went black and said "no input received" for a second or two. Try playing a fast-paced minigame when your screen keeps cutting out! (Incidentally, these technical issues ruined the video footage that I recorded. I'll try recording it again, but I'm not hopeful.)

The mystery itself was more streamlined, which was good, because it's a lot easier to figure out what you have to do, in order to progress. In the previous games, it was far too easy to get stuck and wander around aimlessly. My only complaint would be that interacting with the suspects was mostly removed from the game. You can talk a suspect twice, at most. In the other games, each suspect had at least three distinct conversations.

The tool setup in the game was tweaked a bit. I think it could have been improved, because you need three separate tools in order to take a fingerprint. (You have to take six fingerprints over the course of the game.) It would have been easier to have ONE fingerprint tool, so you didn't have to switch tools three times, in order to perform one action.

The game also has a nice multiplayer feature, which I didn't use because I don't have a second PlayStation controller.

Overall, I'd say it's a good game, or at least, it's on par with the second game. If only it had been released on the PC, without those glaring graphical limitations! Then it would have definitely deserved the title of "best game in the series so far", as opposed to being the game that killed the series.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Missing Nancy Drew Games Clips

Recently, I posted the alternate ending to the third Nancy Drew game! It's more or less the same as the normal ending, except the culprit says something different. The audio files for both endings are in the game's audio folder.



Someone asked on this blog if I'm going to look for other missing Nancy Drew game clips. I have kind of found one! At the end of Nancy Drew: Secret of the Scarlet Hand, Nancy confronts the culprit. Her only dialogue option at this point is "Why are you doing this?".

It seems that, originally, Nancy had two dialogue options here. I can't find what the second option is, but I found the culprit's response! The culprit says, "Must you be so crass? To me, it's a psychic thing--a state of oneness, if you will, with the laws of supply and demand." I wonder what Nancy said, to cause this response. I guess I'll have to search through the game's audio files some more. Maybe I can even make a video of it! Although it wouldn't be a video, it'd just be audio clips. Hmmm.

Are there any other "missing" Nancy Drew game clips that I should be looking for? I know there is an alternate take of one of Miwako's lines in Shadow at the Water's Edge, but it's literally just that: her saying the exact same line, with a slightly different cadence. I'm not sure if that's worth making a video for.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Weekend Work

I'm still figuring out how to balance my YouTube work, with my new full-time maternity leave job. On the bus ride to and from work, it's pretty easy for me to watch my videos, review them for any problems, write video descriptions and figure out thumbnails. I can use my headphones and not bother anyone.

So I guess that means weekends are for the YouTube work I can't do on the bus, such as recording and editing videos. Right now, I've got a few walkthroughs that need major editing. With Phoenix Wright, I use specialized software to crop the videos, before I edit them together. It's not that bad. It's just time consuming, especially at the parts of the game where you constantly switch between screens. Yes, it's a few extra minutes of work for me to include a ten-second clip, where I select "yes or no" on the bottom screen.

Fire Emblem Path of Radiance Nuzlocke and Paper Mario N64 are long games, and they're console games. That means the audio and the video are done in separate files, and they have to be synced up manually. Let me tell you, it's not easy. I tried to get the timings right, by doing a "three, two, one, GO!" countdown whenever I started recording. But usually, the audio is about a half-second off. The good news is that I do silly voices in the Paper Mario walkthrough, so it's pretty easy to tell if my commentary is ahead of the video or not.

The nasty part is when the video footage itself has syncing issues, which happens more often than I'd like. (I'd like it to happen never.) The easy solution is to run the video through a converter; converting it to an .avi file seems to do the trick, two-thirds of the time. The other third of the time, I have the harder solution of removing the audio and manually syncing it up. That happened with Paper Mario video 15, for some reason. A few seconds of audio magically disappeared, during the part where Mario plays a gramophone. I have no idea why or how that happened.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Friday, November 25, 2016

Baby Birth Suitcase

I don't get Black Friday off, so I'm working today. Sadness.

They say to pack a suitcase to take with you, when the baby is born. You're going to be in the hospital for 2-3 days, after all. Mary and Katie have been super excited about setting it up, while I've been hands off.

Let's see what's inside this bad boy! Hmmm...mostly clothes. Food includes a plastic bag of peanuts, a box of granola bars and a can of Surge. (I suggested that as a joke. I guess they took me literally.) There's also travel-sized toiletries and a book for Katie to read.

I might have to slip a phone charger in there. I'm going to call Mom, after the baby is born. She has volunteered for the job of calling every relative we have who is currently alive, and maybe even some relatives who aren't. Then I'll make a post about it on Facebook/Twitter?

I'll try to write a lot of blog entries in advance, so you people won't be left out. I'm currently writing a full week of entries, every single weekend.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm thankful that our new baby is coming soon, and that I found a maternity leave job which fully covers Katie's maternity leave period! Things were really dicey there, for at least a month.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Baby Birth Plan

Our plan for the baby birth is simple, as least as far as hospital instructions go. We don't want a water birth. We want an epidural, and if there's an episiotomy, we want the blood cleaned off the baby before they give it to us.

When I first heard "episiotomy", I was super-psyched, because I rarely get a chance to activate my "2008 Greek/Latin Valedictorian" mode. "Epi" is a place pronoun, meaning "on top of" or "on the side". "Sio" means...uh...I'd have to look it up. "Tomos" means "cut", and uh oh. That doesn't sound good. A word with "cut" in the definition that deals with blood in childbirth. That doesn't sound good at all.

As for the rest of the birth plan, well...we had to make a few plans, depending on the scenario. (Will I be home? Will I be at work? Will it be an unexpectedly early birth, when Katie is still at work? Will it last many hours, or will it be a short labor?) In general, if I'm not there, Katie will ask someone else to take her to the hospital. The list of people to ask includes grandparents, neighbors, friends, etc. If all of them can't help, and I can't help either, then Katie is stuck taking the bus or walking to the hospital. She can walk there in under an hour, but still. We don't want that to happen.

There is a designated person, whose only job is to come collect Mary and watch her. If that person can't make it...then Mary gets promoted to Katie's full assistant and comes along to the hospital. Mary is probably going to insist on helping to carry the hospital stay bags, which is fine. She can do that and keep busy.

The best possible scenario is Katie going into labor, right when my shift ends, on Friday of a three-day weekend. Christmas and New Year's are both three-day weekends, so it's possible! And that way, I don't have to take any time off of work.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

YouTube Schedule

I've got a tentative schedule for my YouTube channel now!

  • Phoenix Wright: Case 2, all the way until Thursday.
  • Friday - Miss Clue Chapter 3
  • Saturday - Miss Clue Chapter 4. I don't know if there will be a Chapter 5 or not. So that's throwing a monkey wrench into my plans!
  • Final Week of November: I'll do a Twitter poll, asking if it should be Phoenix Wright, Campfire Mysteries 3, Paper Mario or Agatha Christie: Evil Under the Sun. I'm pretty sure Agatha Christie will win.
  • First week of December: I repeat the poll, except last week's winner is removed from the list and replaced with Christmas Eve: Midnight's Call.
  • Second week of December: I repeat the poll, except last week's winner is removed from the list and replaced with whatever.
  • Third week of December: If Christmas Eve hasn't won a poll yet, then I'm posting it this week.
  • Fourth week of December: Another poll decides what I'll do next. Phoenix Wright, Paper Mario and Agatha Christie are all long games that will take multiple weeks to finish, so they'll probably be on the polls for a while.
  • Sometime in December: Vlog with the new baby!
I like having people decide the video walkthroughs, via Twitter poll. I dislike not knowing exactly what will be posted when, super far in advance.

Monday, November 21, 2016

New Job

Last week, I started the maternity leave job! Since I work for the government, and since I don't know their social media policies, I'm going to play it safe and say absolutely nothing about the job besides for "I work for the government".

Adjusting to the new schedule isn't easy. My bus into town leaves shortly before the daughter's school starts. My bus out of town leaves one minute after work ends, and I guess that must be the final rush hour bus, because the next bus doesn't come for 40-50 minutes later. UGH!

I'm still trying to get used to the new schedule. Right now, I'm hoping to get some YouTube work done on the bus. Or at least, I hope to do all the YouTube work that doesn't involve talking out loud. So that'd be watching videos and writing descriptions for them, writing book reviews, and coming up with problems for the Everything Wrong With videos.

Last week, I did writing for NaNoWriMo, wrote descriptions for four videos, and finished a partially-done book review. That was pretty much it. It sounds like a lot when I put it that way, but it's less impressive when you consider that this is a space of, I dunno, ten hours. Maybe when November is over, I'll get more of the YouTube stuff done on the bus.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

More Baby Q and A

Okay, I'm finished reviewing The Eight Strokes of the Clock. I did that week of reviews, partially because I knew I'd be super-busy with my new job, and partially to avoid talking about the election of President Trump. Now that I'm done, let's get back to more Q and A's about the baby!

I read baby powder is very dangerous to your health, what do they recommend to use instead?

Our instructor at the childcare class said that baby powder can be dangerous, simply because it's small particles in the air, around someone whose lungs aren't fully developed yet. Baby powder isn't medically necessary; it's just a cosmetic that makes the baby smell better. Helpful, but not required. We got some baby powder in the baby shower, so we'll probably use it a little, but we won't go out and buy a new one once we're out.

(Several comments about sleeping with the baby. People confirmed that the general recommended practice is to have the baby close to your bed, but in its own separate bed.)

We haven't decided the sleeping system yet. Katie is thinking about moving the crib next to the couch-bed and sleeping there, but I think that's unfair to her. She says some couples do it, where the male is the one who has to get up and bring the baby to the mother for nighttime feedings, but that's unfair to the male.

My daughter just outgrew the car seat that goes with that system and now getting her in and out of the car is a struggle. Did you guys get a baby swing?

We were given three baby swings. I have no idea what to do with them.

Do you sometimes get recognized in public as the Nancy Drew Guy or the guy from the internet?

Never.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

At the Sign of Mercury

The final mystery in The Eight Strokes of the Clock is At the Sign of Mercury. Lupin's lady friend gave him this "impossible mystery" as a joke challenge, at the start of the book. The challenge was to find a good luck necklace that was stolen from her, seven years ago.

Lupin says he has the solution. In order to get the necklace back, she must go through a series of very specific instructions. (He will later admit some of the instructions were unnecessary. He included them to make it more mysterious/adventurous.) The general idea is that she wears a certain outfit and goes to an antique store dedicated to the god Mercury. She has to order the man inside to give her the necklace, and she can't ever show weakness.

The man completely freaks out, and he pretends to faint. She stays firm. But when he pretends to kill himself, she cries in fear and hits the gun away. That breaks her cover, so to speak, and the man realizes this is all some crazy prank.

Lupin is forced to step in and explain things. The man and his wife worked at the manor, when the necklace was stolen. Both of them are Corsicans, and that instantly made Lupin suspicious, because all Corsicans are very superstitious. He figured that they stole the necklace to get the good luck, especially since they're running a store dedicated to the Roman god of luck.

Lupin secretly searched the entire store, looking for the necklace. He didn't find it, but he did find the man's diary, saying that he would give the necklace back if an avenging angel from Heaven, wearing a specific outfit, demanded he hand it over. Hence, the scheme of having Lupin's lady friend wear a specific outfit to get the necklace back. The book does a good job of justifying it, but I still think that this man had a very specific set of circumstances for handing over the necklace, just so we could have a mystery.

Lupin pressures the man, and he has a breakdown, but he realizes that Lupin has no idea where the necklace is. He gives him a statuette of Mercury, thanks him, then kicks him out.

In the end, Lupin realizes the necklace must be inside the statuette of Mercury, by the shop's sign. He couldn't find it inside the shop, because it was outside. The giveaway is the man associates the necklace and the statuette with each other. Also, the statue is off balanced. Without a counterweight inside, it would fall over.

I did not like this mystery much. The detailed series of instructions was good, but things went downhill once the invisible narrator started insulting Lupin's lady friend for ruining everything, by being weak and emotional. Um, she tried to stop a man from committing suicide. I'm on her side, on this one. Besides, it's a little odd for this guy to have "fake suicide attempt" on his list of things to try, to confirm someone is really an avenging angel from Heaven. Also, it's discriminatory to have "all Corsicans are very superstitious" as the mystery solution.

Overall, I'd say that this is a good mystery book, although decidedly old-fashioned today, especially in how Lupin treats women. LeBlanc is good at coming up with interesting ideas and situations for mysteries. I don't always like how he executes the stories, though, and we have stories like this one and The Tell-Tale Film, where the premise was better than the actual story.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Footprints in the Snow

The seventh mystery is Footprints in the Snow.

It starts by introducing us to a love triangle between Matthias de Gorne, his wife, and his neighbor Jerome. That night, three gunshots are head from his house. Matthias completely disappears, and he is presumed dead.

It snowed last night, starting at 9 PM. The snow sets a firm timeline for when things happen, and the tracks in the snow show what happened. According to the footprints, Matthias de Gorne came home drunk. His house was disturbed, as if a large fight occurred. Someone dragged something heavy to the well, and Jerome left for his house, with the wife in tow.

The police catch Jerome and the wife, trying to flee the city via train. Jerome says that he and Matthias were both at the home, around 6. They made a business deal; Jerome more or less bribed Matthias with a lot of money, in exchange for leaving the country. Matthias signed the paperwork, and started a physical altercation, which explains the disturbed house. Jerome says he tied Matthias up and left with the wife.

There are a few discrepancies between Jerome's version of events and what the footprints show. Jerome says Matthias was there, several hours earlier. He didn't hear the gunshots, and he has no explanation for why something heavy, presumably the victim's corpse, was dragged to the well.

Our detective hero, Arsene Lupin, realizes that this is an elaborate frame job. Jerome was telling the truth about what happened. Matthias framed him, by dragging something heavy to the well, to make it seem like a corpse had been hidden. He then walked backwards through the snow, to make it seem like he had entered after 9. He had his father corroborate his alibi and used "he was super drunk" as a cover for why the footprints looked weird. A close examination of the footprints shows that the heel is way too deep for someone walking forward.

This is the only story from the book I remembered, years later. I forgot all the details, besides for the solution. It's a good mystery story, although I think Matthias was more of a jerk than he should have been, and the way both men treated the wife was kind of awful, in my opinion.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Lady with the Hatchet

Mystery #6 is The Lady with the Hatchet, which seems to be based on the story of Jack the Ripper. A serial killer is loose in Paris. Every time, the killer kidnaps a woman, and a week later, the woman is found tied up, half-starved and dead from an ax wound to the center of her forehead.

The killer's notebook is found, with a list of victims and days, indicating that victim #7 will be taken soon. Everyone goes over it, but all they can figure out from the handwriting is that the culprit is a well educated woman.

This time, the killer makes the mistake of kidnapping Arsene Lupin's lady friend. Lupin vows to save her! He spends three full days in his room, reading the newspaper accounts of the murders and trying to figure out the connection between the victims. When he figures it out, he puts an ad in the paper, goes through the three responses, and heads off the stop the killer.

The story had me, until the point where it revealed the connection between the victims. They are all women with eight-letter names, beginning with "H", like Hermione, Hortense, Honorine, and Hilairie. Nobody figured this out until just now, because the newspapers referred to the married victims as "Mrs. So-and-So", omitting their first names. Only two of the first names were publicly released.

I find it really, REALLY hard to believe that the police investigating the serial killer did not notice all the victims' names start with the same letter.

Well, eight-letter names that start with "H" are not common, so Lupin puts an ad in the paper, pretending to be a woman named Herminie. The killer takes the bait, and Lupin finds himself at the home of Mr. Lourtier-Vaneau, a happily-married man. After a good deal of pressing, the man reluctantly admits that his first wife isn't dead, like he claims she is. She's at an insane asylum, having been committed shortly after the death of her two children. She is the serial killer, and she kills herself when Lupin breaks into her secret hideout to save his lady friend.

His lady friend is unaware that she was a captive of the serial killer. She thought she was the captive of a random crazy woman. And around this time, her husband dies, meaning she is now single and able to pursue a romance with Lupin.

I liked this story at first. It was a pretty serious change of pace and tone, to jump to a heavy serial killer story. The way in which he deals with Mr. Lourtier-Vaneau is dramatic and exciting, as is the scene where they break into the secret hideout. It was also a minor mystery/twist to learn that Mr. L-V's wife is still alive. But I cannot get over the fact that nobody noticed all the victims have similar names. That's ridiculous. Even if the newspapers only revealed two of the first names, someone should have suggested that a long time ago, especially since they were competent enough to realize when every murder would take place.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Therese and Germaine

Story 5 is Therese and Germaine. At the end of the third story, Lupin overheard a brother and sister talking about murder. They're going to murder a married person on the cliffs, at a particular town, at a particular time.

(So convenient for Lupin that he overheard a murder plot in a murder mystery book! Also, doubly convenient that he only heard part of the plot, so there could be a mystery as to who the victim is!)

The only married couple seems to be the d'Ormevals, a nice couple. He loses his key by the bottom of the cliffs. He and his wife search for it. Afterwards, he walks to his cabin, waving off some bridge players as he does so, and goes inside. His wife spends time on the balcony for a while, before leaving.

After this, Mr. d'Ormeval is found dead in his cabin, stabbed in the back. But how could someone stab him, in a locked room? Is this related to the murder plot we learned about earlier?

Lupin finds the brother and sister at the cliffs, right on cue. He takes them to the crime scene, and a huge fight breaks out between the widow (Therese) and the sister (Germaine).

It is revealed that Germaine is Mr. d'Ormeval's mistress, and she planned to kill Therese on the cliffs, so she could have the husband all to herself. Germaine learned about the plot through some letters, and in a moment of passion, she stabbed her husband. He still loved his wife and didn't want her to be arrested for murder, so he put on a jacket to cover the knife, walked into his room and locked the door, in an attempt to exonerate her.

This story was pretty good, with nice dramatic twists in the extended explanation scene, like "the murder that happened wasn't the planned murderer", "the wife did it", "she's the mistress" and "the letters about the murder were stolen!". I just wish the setup for the mystery was better. Seriously, it's a bit of a stretch for a detective to accidentally overhear two people conspiring to commit murder.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Tell-Tale Film

Story 4 is The Tell-Tale Film. The premise is that Lupin watches a movie called "The Happy Princess", and he's so bored by it that he starts focusing on random background characters. He notes that the man playing the butler is clearly in love with the female lead. In the second part of the film, the same actor plays a crazed woodsman, who kidnaps the happy princess. Lupin suspects the actor wanted to kidnap her in real life.

On a hunch, he checks with the studios. The woman playing the princess disappeared recently, when scheduled to go to America. At the same time, the actor stole a car and kidnapped an unknown woman. Lupin believes he kidnapped the actress.

Our heroes go to the place where the movie was filmed, and what's this? The actor is posing as a real-life woodsman! Lupin spends a few days trailing him, and although the man makes a secret trip to his hostage every night, Lupin can't figure out where he's going or where she's located. (This turns out to be one of those mysteries that you can't figure out, unless you're familiar with French geography. She's on the other side of the Seine, in the same relative area.)

Lupin confronts the actor, to no avail. Then the police arrive, and Lupin tries to sneak the actor past the police. The plan doesn't work, and he's left with a rusty saucepan that the actor was hiding.

Lupin realizes the saucepan is used to bail water out of a small boat. He uses it to cross the Seine, and he finds the actress in the cabin from the movie. She wasn't kidnapped at all! She and the actor are madly in love, and they're happily reenacting the movie. The entire kidnapping was a misunderstanding!

In a dark twist, Lupin insists that she was originally kidnapped, but it only took a few hours for her to go crazy and develop Stockholm Syndrome. Lupin's lady friend feels bad for them, so Lupin does her a favor and helps the two actors flee the country.

I did not like this story at all. "Someone finds a mystery in a movie" is a good premise, but I didn't like the way it played out, with them reenacting the movie at the exact same location the movie was filmed, without any good reason why. I further didn't like how the victim went insane, but Lupin helped the couple escape and live happily ever after. No. He should have been arrested, and she should have been rehabilitated.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Case of Jean Louis

The next mystery is The Case of Jean Louis. This one seems to be more of a joke than an actual mystery.

The mystery is that Jean Louis has two last names: Vaurois and d'Imbleval. One name belongs to his mother, the other to his aunt, but he's very shifty when it comes to which name belongs to who. He was recently engaged, but he ran away, saying he has to protect his fiancee from a horrible life.

Again, since this is 1920's France, the woman can't go to Jean Louis directly. She asks Lupin to go to Jean Louis on her behalf and see what is wrong with him.

Jean Louis is at home with two squabbling, older women. He introduces them both as his mother, and tells the long story of his birth. Both women were pregnant widowers, who gave birth around the same time. The doctor had been called out on a case, so an inept midwife was left in charge of the childbirths. She put both babies in the same crib, and completely lost track of which baby was which. That's why Jean Louis has two mothers; nobody knows which one is his real mother. The other baby died that night, so both women laid claim to the living baby.

Jean has had a pretty horrible life, since his two mothers hate each other with a passion. Jean Louis called off his engagement, since he doesn't want to force his fiancee to live with two spiteful mothers-in-law.

Lupin declares that the story is too ridiculous to be true, so he summons the old nurse. After harsh questioning, she admits that Jean Louis belongs to neither woman. Both babies died that night; Jean Louis' father is a stranger with an orphaned child who paid the nurse a lot of money to swap his baby in and keep quiet about it. Everyone is quite happy with this resolution, especially the two mothers, because they don't have to live together anymore.

On the way home, Lupin admits that he learned about the story ahead of time from some locals, since it makes for amusing gossip. He bribed the nurse, into making up the story about the orphan child, as he was fairly confident the mothers would accept any excuse to be rid of each other forever. He was right.

This was a fun story, with the two older women fighting a lot and the overly dramatic tale of the accidental baby mixup.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Water-Bottle

Awhile back, I mentioned vague plans to make an adventure game out of The Eight Strokes of the Clock. It looks like those plans have fallen through, because someone else made a similarly-styled game.

But it's a good mystery book, so you readers won't mind if I summarize the mysteries, would you? I'll do that, for the rest of this week.

Story #2 is The Water-Bottle, and it's a straightforward murder mystery. Jacques Aubrieux was framed, for the murder of his cousin. He claims he was at home sleeping, when his wife and daughter were at the movies. But neighbors saw him leave and return on his motorcycle, with the tracks leading straight to the scene of the murder. At the crime scene, they found his handkerchief, gun and a wine bottle with his fingerprints on it.

Quite obviously, either it's a frame job, or a badly covered-up murder. The culprit stole 60,000 francs from the victim, which are still missing to this day.

Our hero, Arsene Lupin, quickly guesses that the real murderer is the man who took the wife and daughter to the movies. Since this is 1920's France, of course they had to have an escort. He learned the particulars of the situation when picking up the women, he sat a few rows behind them at the theater, and slipped out during the film to commit murder.

Lupin can't prove anything, so he bluffs like a maniac. He gets a detective on scene, saying he's found the murderer. This gets him as far as the culprit's apartment, which they search to no avail. The culprit puts a water-bottle--a water jug, really--on the windowsill, while ushering them out.

Lupin is stumped, until someone reports a fire from the culprit's room. He realizes that the culprit must have set fire to the francs, in order to hide the evidence. But how? It turns out that he put the water-bottle in a very exact spot, so it serves as a magnifying lens when the light hits it. The light went from there to the franc notes, hidden inside a hat box, starting a fire.

Lupin takes out some francs of his own, half-burns them, and puts them in the hat box. He pretends that some of the francs were not fully destroyed in the fire, and says the numbers match the stolen francs. The culprit is fooled and confesses.

The story is pretty good. I preferred the first half, which is the mystery of the murder. The second half is the challenge of bluffing the culprit and the mystery of the water-bottle, which was less interesting. People don't normally use hat boxes today, so I never would have figured it out on my own.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Car Cleaning

We're in preparation mode, for the pregnancy. We've got our emergency hospital trip bags all ready and packed, and we assembled the big ticket items, like the bassinet and the changing table, which might be the same thing as a bassinet, I don't know, they look the same to me, but I already told Mom it was a changing table so I can't go back now.

This weekend was car prep! I got to clean out my car for the first time since I took the pizza delivery job! (It still smells like pizza.) It was surprising how many pens were hidden under the seats of the car.

Katie said we should go to the car wash, which is something I've never done before, ever. The people there were amused by how I had no idea what was going on. They made hand signals, telling me what to do, but I couldn't understand. I had to roll down the window and ask. It turns out that you have to line up your left wheel with a track and put the car into neutral. Those are definitely hand signals I don't know off the top of my head!

Going through the actual car wash was, um, terrifying. Your car is moving, and all you can see are big monster shadows attacking the car. Are you supposed to have your windshield wipers on, so you can see? I'm guessing you don't. Anyway, the car was ended up looking nice, the vacuuming went very badly, and it took a long time to clean off all the leftover spots (like the ones in between the doors that you can't reach unless the doors are open). But the car is clean, and the baby's carseat is installed!

My car is now the "official" car, since its carseat latch system is more complex and secure. I know that "carseat" isn't the correct term here, because it's more like a base, with a removable baby basket. That way, buckling and unbuckling the baby isn't so much of a hassle. "Basket" isn't the correct term either. Phooey. It's going to be hard to memorize all this new vocabulary.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Veteran's Day

Happy Veteran's Day / Post-Election Hangover Day!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Baby Questions

I got some questions about the baby!

Do you agree with what the American Academy of Pediatrics said about having the baby sleep with you in your room for the first year to reduce SIDS and other sleep relating deaths among babies?

My state's doctors say the opposite; they say that the baby needs to sleep near us, but not in the bed with us. The woman who taught the class said the Notre Dame Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory is an interesting resource on the subject.

Personally, I wouldn't want the baby sleeping in our bed, because I'd be afraid of rolling over and crushing her. My wife and I sometimes move around a lot at night, because we have problems with insomnia. A lot of people tell me, "Ha ha, enjoy your sleep now while you can!", but that's impossible. I haven't slept through the entire night so far this month. I can't enjoy something I don't have.

What are you most excited about and most nervous about?

I am most excited to see Rosie and interact with her. At this point, I've been talking to and about her for so long. I just want to see what she looks like! I wonder what color hair she has! As for most nervous, I'm worried how the dog and Mary will interact with the baby. Mary, um, is not so good with holding the dog correctly. I'm worried she won't be able to hold Rosie correctly either.

I also have bad daydreams about my wife dying in childbirth, or the baby dying. For whatever reason, these daydreams seem to happen when I'm sitting by myself, alone, at a fast food place. I've broken down crying at Taco Bell and Five Guys. My wife tells me that's 100% normal. (She cries at Taco Bell, too. *rimshot*)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Election

It looks like Donald Trump won the election this year. Wow! Everyone thought he was just blustering when the polls were inaccurate and rigged against him, especially since every single poll for the past year said he would lose. I personally can't believe it. I thought Hillary had this election in the bag. Why wouldn't I? They said she had a 98% chance of winning.

I don't have time to gather my thoughts into a cohesive unit right now, so here are all the random thoughts I have.

1. It was a typical election for us on the West Coast. We voted Democrat in a landslide, and the President was picked by the rest of the country. I wonder what it'd be like to live in a place where your vote mattered. It'd probably be pretty crazy right now.

2. Once again, the predictive polling got Hispanics completely wrong, in three ways.

a. The majority of Hispanics are concentrated in California and Texas, states that are up for grabs. This lowers their impact as a voting bloc.
b. "Hispanics" is a really broad category, so it's silly to assume they will all vote the same way every time. A Cuban from Florida is different from a Puerto Rican in New York, who's different from a Mexican in California, who's different from Pope Francis.
c. Everyone assumed that Trump would do worse than Romney with Hispanics. Mitt Romney was accused of being a huge racist, in some cases he was accused of wanting to start a race war, and that very much hurt his polling numbers with minorities. He got 12% of Hispanics, so everyone assumed that would be the maximum for Trump. Instead, he got 20-30%. Putting a cap on Trump's Hispanic numbers was clearly a bad idea.

The polls got Asians wrong by the same percentage margins, but nobody seems to be talking about that.

3. Speaking of racism, I've already heard some racist remarks against white people, because of the election results. Don't be racist like that, guys.

4. My Republican friends are both happy and sad about the results. They're happy they won, but they're sad, because this means they have to spend the next four years reigning in President Trump, making sure he keeps his election promises and doesn't go off the rails. They are reticent to admit that they'll probably want to reject any Supreme Court nomination from Trump, considering that his short list (of 40) contains people they dislike.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Infant Care Class

We have infant care class tonight, so if the new President isn't decided before class starts, it'll probably be decided after class ends. Hopefully, it'll be an interesting election, where everyone's vote counts! Or it'll be like other elections, where only 1-2 states pick the President. (I've heard it's Pennsylvania and Ohio this year). Best of luck to whoever wins, because they'll probably have to deal with a lot of backlash for a while.

Our due date is Christmas, and just like the childbirth class, we're the couple with the latest due date. The majority of couples in the class have November due dates. One couple even has a due date of the 11th! Cutting it a little short, aren't they? I hope they show up to class, instead of going into labor early.

Childbirth class involves learning how to pick up babies and change diapers. Newborns are pretty much incapable of moving their necks, so you have to be careful with that. The class also involves destroying all the myths you learn from movies and books. In real life, babies don't learn how to smile until a month, at least. They also are not guaranteed to have clear skin; sometimes they have skin conditions, like acne, yellow stuff, white stuff, and blue spots. (The skin conditions have official names.)

Last week's class was focused on the first three days of life, which are usually spent in the hospital. Today, we get to hear about life at home and the first several months with Baby Rosie.

I guess this means we're on Week 33. Seven weeks left! Any baby / pregnancy questions you blog readers want me to answer?

Monday, November 7, 2016

Setting the Clock Back

Every election season, you see some flavor of this joke:

Set the clock back on Sunday, but don't set the country back 50 years this Tuesday!

A funny enough joke, although for accuracy's sake, it should probably be 40 years. I think both candidates resemble President Nixon more than President Johnson.

Anyhoo, as a philospher-type person, I feel obligated to point out that there is nothing inherently wrong with going back to older ideas and policies, especially if the new ones have failed. Like when President Obama lifted the trade restrictions on Cuba! That's setting the country back 65 years, but nobody complained too much about it. Plus, we Catholics sometimes get a lot of demands to set the clock back 1000 years in terms of married priests...

Sunday, November 6, 2016

NaNoWriMo

I'm trying to participate in NaNoWriMo this year! Last year, I wrote "Cat President: A More Purrfect Union". This year, I'm writing "The Pizza Delivery Guy Who Saved the World".

Since I'm so busy right now, I'm not making as much progress as I would like. Part of the problem is that I don't know how long "Pizza Delivery Guy" will be. I just write until I'm finished with the script. Chapter 1 was 14 pages. Chapter 2 was 11 pages. That's pretty different from "Cat President", where I specifically wrote five-page chapters.

If I finish the script, and it's not long enough for NaNoWriMo, I might have to write something else. Cat President DLC is at the top of my list, but I've also got a number of partly-done scripts. Of course, I've also got the new job starting next Monday, so...we'll see what happens.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers Series - Chronological Order

I just spent an hour, making a list of the Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series. These are all the books, and the graphic novels, in chronological order. When a graphic novel and a book came out the same month, I put the graphic novel first.

Graphic Novel 1
Graphic Novel 2
Book 1
Book 2
Book 3
Book 4
Book 5
Book 6
Graphic Novel 3
Book 7
Graphic Novel 4
Book 8
Book 9
Graphic Novel 5
Supermystery 1
Book 10
Graphic Novel 6
Book 11
Book 12
Book 13
Graphic Novel 7
Book 14
Graphic Novel 8
Book 15
Supermystery 2
Book 16
Graphic Novel 9
Book 17
Book 18
Graphic Novel 10
Book 19
Graphic Novel 11
Book 20
Graphic Novel 12
Book 21
Graphic Novel 13
Book 22
Book 23
Haunted Special Ghost Stories
Graphic Novel 14
Book 24
Graphic Novel 15
Book 25
Book 26
Book 27
Graphic Novel 16
Graphic Novel 17
Book 28
Book 29
Graphic Novel 18
Book 30
Book 31
Book 32
Graphic Novel 19
Book 33
Book 34
Graphic Novel 20
Graphic Novel 1 (Note: They had TWO graphic novels series!)
Book 35
Book 36
Graphic Novel 2
Book 37
Graphic Novel 3
Book 38
Book 39

Friday, November 4, 2016

Star Trek: Deep Space 9: Harbinger

I'm recording a walkthrough for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Harbinger, a 1995 PC game based on the TV series. It's a pretty good game! The main problem is that the navigation is awful. Clearly, the designers were more concerned with being faithful and accurate to the show than they were with having an overworld that's easy to get around in.

It takes about two minutes to get from one side of the game to the other. Yes, in the show, Ops and the Docking Bays are far apart. But as a player, I don't want to have two minutes of walking through mostly empty corridors to get from Point A to Point B. And you have to make this trip multiple times.

I just lost an hour and a half of progress, because the game failed to auto-save before a battle sequence, like it is supposed to. I'm debating whether to play back to where I was, or to stop playing the game entirely. I'm on Video #20, I'd be forced to restart from Video #10. According to other walkthroughs, I'm about 40% of the way through the game.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. I did the math, and it turns out that the average pizza delivery is 3.78 miles. That's to the house and back to the store, so you could say the average delivery is 1.89 miles away.

2. Both Trump and Clinton are under active FBI investigation. If you count the Anthony Weiner sexting investigation and the investigation into Terry McAuliffe’s shifty campaign donations, then Clinton is under FOUR investigations. Can...can we disqualify both candidates on these grounds?

3. Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs, winning their first World Series Championship in over a century! A lot of people I know are very happy about this, and a lot of people I know are sad that the "Cubs are cursed and always lose" meme is now dead.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Miss Clue: Trials of Salem

For Halloween, they release the first chapter of Miss Clue: Trials of Salem.





Like Peril in Pemberley, it's a historical mystery. I agree with one commenter on my YouTube channel who said they should stick to the historical mysteries which take place hundreds of years ago. Whoever does their historical research is really good! And also, it makes them seem like a unique series, rather than a cheap Nancy Drew knockoff. (Although now it seems a bit more like a Nancy Drew knockoff, since the voice actress of Nancy Drew is voicing half the characters in this particular game.)

I don't know why they split the chapter into two parts. It's not a logical stopping point. They cut off, right before the only puzzle of the chapter. It's about 80% of the way through. My guess is that they weren't able to finish in time, so they split it up. That usually seems to be the most reasonable explanation, when it comes to this series and its chapters with abrupt endings.

Pro-Life in This Election

I got a long political comment on yesterday's blog post, which I'm going to respond to today.

I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary election, and Jill Stein in the general election, because those candidates are the ones who are closest to me, in terms of social views. I've done political analysis on myself, and I'm heavily progressive in terms of social issues, while I'm moderate conservative in terms of pretty much everything else (taxes, economics). So I'm in the fun "trapped in the middle" position, where neither political party likes me very much.

The major exception is pro-life issues. I am pro-life, and most progressive candidates are not.

When I look at this election in terms of pro-life issues, I don't see much to be optimistic about. Both Clinton and Trump support the death penalty. Right off the bat, that's a huge pro-life issue where there is no choice. Neither candidate wants to end the government-sponsored murder of criminals. A vote for either candidate is an anti-life choice, at least for that issue.

As for abortion...I'm going to be honest. Donald Trump says he's pro-life, but I don't believe him. I think the only reason he says that is because he's the Republican candidate for President, and he knows he'd alienate his base if he said anything else. He's been solidly pro-choice for decades before this election, and there's even video footage of him supporting partial birth abortion in the past. Not to mention, he changed his position on abortion multiple times in late March this year, if you remember that huge kerfuffle.

That aside, the major reason I don't think he's pro-life is the way he talks about pro-life issues. He doesn't sound sincere. Compare the way he talks about them to the way other pro-life people do, like Carly Fiorina in the primaries or Mike Pence in the VP debate. They sound much more informed, sincere and passionate about abortion. In comparison, Trump sounds more like he's doing a parody of pro-life arguments that he doesn't understand or want to understand.

If Mike Pence was the Presidential candidate, not Donald Trump, then I would be much more likely to vote along the pro-life line. But the way I see it, neither candidate is offering a truly pro-life option. Anyone voting just to support pro-life issues is going to have to settle for the lesser of two evils in this election. And

As for ancillary pro-life issues, again, I don't see much to be optimistic about. Clinton and Trump talk a lot about changing laws, but the President doesn't write laws. Congress does. The President has a lot of powers, but directly writing laws is not one of them. This takes a lot of pro-life issues off the table. Who decides if Planned Parenthood gets funded? Congress. Who decides to uphold the Hyde Amendment? Congress. Who appoints Supreme Court justices? Congress. None of those are things that the President has direct power or control over.

Yes, the President can influence those things, but I'm not sure that Trump would. His specialty is negotiation. If he picked a Supreme Court Justice, I'm fairly certain he'd go with a consensus candidate, rather than a justice who is as firmly pro-life as the justice that is being replaced. I'm told that Trump's list of 40 possible replacements contains some pro-choice judges.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Pizza Job

Yesterday was my last day as a pizza delivery driver. I suppose it's only appropriate that I ended my job at the pizza place on a four-day Halloween weekend. Halloween is the busiest time of the year for pizza! In my mind, Halloween = candy, but I guess in other people's minds, Halloween = pizza.

Friday wasn't as bad as I expected. It was more or less a normal Friday, just a little busier. Maybe 20% busier? The problem is that the high school ordered 50 extra-large pizzas, and another party ordered 6. So that is 56 extra-large pizzas, all at the same time. That created a huge bottleneck of 45 to 60 minutes, where the store only did two orders. Everything else got delayed.

Meanwhile, the website still gave customers the standard "we'll have your order done in 20 minutes!" message. A lot of people complained about that. I think the person at the front cashier wants to strangle the webmaster now.

Most of the other drivers tried to set things up, so they could take multiple deliveries on the same trip. I decided not to play that game, and I just took whatever pizzas were available. I ended up taking nothing but singles that night. The closest I would have come to a double is "wait seven extra minutes for them to make a pizza, which is four minutes out the way of the one I'm already delivering", and while it would have been a nice double, that would have made both orders late. I also made a point of calling everyone, right before I left to deliver their pizza, and I was liberal with the "sorry your pizza is ridiculously late" discounts.

Saturday was busy, but it went fine, except for the part where the computer glitched or something, and it refused to let me take any deliveries. There were four different deliveries ready, and I tried every single one in turn. The computer didn't accept it. I tried to get one of the manager/supervisor people to help me out, but they were too busy. After five minutes, I still didn't know what was wrong, but a new delivery came out in the meantime, and the computer accepted that. So I ended up leapfrogging deliveries 1-4, and taking delivery 5. My apologies to everyone who got skipped over unfairly and ended up receiving late(r) pizzas.

I didn't work Sunday, but apparently, it was a disaster. A supervisor left work two hours early without telling anyone, nobody did any prep work for the big (50+ people) party that ordered everything a week in advance, and they disconnected the phone lines because they didn't want to take any more orders. I'm pretty sure someone is getting fired over this.

On Halloween proper, I had the opening shift. The first hour and a half was spent doing things that the closing crew didn't do, like take out the trash, wipe down the tables and fill all the empty food containers. I expected them to be pretty low on food supplies, so it wasn't a surprise or anything. Smart people sent in their Halloween orders early, so I made their pizzas and put them in the fridge. That way, all the night crew had to do was take them out and put them through the oven. I hope that means they got their pizzas on time!

And that's it! No more pizza making for me!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Hardy Boys Graphic Novels

So, I read the first two Hardy Boys graphic novels. I originally was going to ignore them, just like I ignored the Nancy Drew graphic novels, but they sucked me in with a great pitch that promised to explain all the things that were left out of the series. How did the Hardys join ATAC? Why did Aunt Gertrude change her name? Why did the Hardy Girlfriends magically disappear?

The books kind of answer those questions. The girlfriends didn't disappear. Callie left town to study abroad, while Iola left town to be on American Idol. They changed the show's name to avoid copyright issues, but yeah, it's American Idol. I've never read a book where Iola sang before, but I'm willing to accept this explanation for her absence. It certainly makes more sense than "let's pretend she never existed", which is what the Undercover Brothers books do.

As for Aunt Gertrude, there's not much of a story behind her new name. Frank and Joe called her "Aunt Trudy", and the nickname stuck. That's all. I suspect the true story is that the publishers thought "Gertrude" was too old-fashioned, so they got rid of it, like they did with Iola. Iola's name is correct in the book, but the advertisement autocorrected her name to "Lola". Ouch.

As for ATAC, the books totally ignore the story of how the Hardys first joined ATAC. Not good! I want to know how they first got recruited as secret agents. I've been toying with the idea of doing a fanfic, where Nancy Drew is recruited by ATAC, but I don't have anywhere near enough time to fanfic writing anymore.

So the books get a 2 out of 3, in explaining things that were ignored by the main series.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Cheesesteak Potatoes

My family's new favorite recipe is Cheesesteak Potatoes. We live on the West Coast, where cheesesteak is something of a rarity. There's only one place in town I know of that serves them.

Ingredients: 5 Yukon Gold potatoes, 1 cup mushrooms, 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, 1 packet thin-sliced roast beef, 1 packet sliced cheddar cheese. Optional: Green onions

The potatoes are more or less cooked like potato skins. You start with the smaller, yellow potatoes. I'd say 2-3 per person. You cook them, either in the microwave for 10 minutes or the oven for 30 minutes. (Your mileage may vary. People disagree on how long you should cook potato skins.) Since potatoes are hot, you let them sit for a while and let them cool off, before you scoop out the insides. You leave a small amount around the edges.

While the potatoes cool, make the cheesesteak meat! Use a frying pan on the stove, and cook some chopped mushrooms in olive oil. The recipe recommends a cup of mushrooms and a half tablespoon of olive oil, but that didn't seem like enough olive oil, so I added more. Cook it on medium for 5 minutes, then add the roast beef. Just rip it to shreds over the frying pan and mix it up with the mushrooms. (At this point, the olive oil is pretty much gone.) Cook it for 1 minute.

The potatoes should be cool enough to touch now. Cut them in half and scoop out the insides, leaving a small amount around the edges. Put them cut-side down on a baking tray and broil on high for four minutes. Take them out and turn them over. Line the potatoes with cheese, then put the meat mixture on top. You can cover them with extra cheese, if you want to. The recipe recommends provolone cheese, and I have no idea why. Clearly, we need cheddar. The recipe also calls for barbecue seasoning, which I guess is a way some people make cheesesteaks on the east coast? We don't use it here, so I left it out.

You broil the potatoes in the over for an additional minute, basically enough time to melt the cheese, but not so much time that it gets nasty.

Friday, October 28, 2016

President of US Bishops Elections

Blogger is telling me that last week's blog about the new Catholic Cardinals was unexpectedly popular! As in, twice as many views as the other blog entries. I guess I can follow it up with a similar blog, about the U.S. Bishops!

They're electing a President and Vice-President this year. The position lasts for three years. The ten candidates are...

  • Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the current Vice-President.
  • Archbishop Chaput, OFM Cap., of Philadelphia
  • Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles
  • Archbishop Lori of Baltimore
  • Archbishop Vigneron of Detroit
  • Archbishop Aymond of New Orleans
  • Archbishop Coakley of Oklahoma City
  • Archbishop Wenski of Miami
  • Archbishop Wester of Santa Fe
  • Bishop Flores of Brownsville

I have heard of the four Archbishops who I put first on the list. I haven't heard of any of the other candidates before.

The way the election works is that they have a vote. If nobody gets over 50%, they have a second vote. If nobody gets over 50%, everyone drops out, except for the top two candidates. Then, they have a third vote. I don't know what they'd do, if the third vote tied.

There are five other elections, for various committees. I looked at the ballot, and again, it's mostly people I haven't heard of before. The exception is the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, which is a vote between Bishop Robert Barron and Bishop Frank Caggiano. They're both good people, who I follow on Facebook. I imagine they were nominated, in part because they're good at using things like Facebook and Twitter to communicate with the modern world at large.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Maternity Leave Job

I got the maternity leave job! Orientation starts on the 14th, so that leaves me about two weeks to make as many videos as possible, before the full-time job kicks in. Fun? Fun!

We're guessing that, once the job starts, I'll get all the details as to when and how long it lasts. Hopefully, we can wrangle it so we don't have to pay full-time childcare for Mary. As in, I'll leave for work after her school starts, and we save lots of money by only having after-school care for her. Maybe?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Misleading Game Advertisements

I downloaded Mobile Strike and Game of War on my phone, because they had these cool playable ads. Mobile Strike had one where you fight off attacking tanks, while Game of War had a similar one where you put buildings in strategic places to fend off an attacking army.

As it turns out, the ads have absolutely nothing to do with the actual games themselves. They're both city creation games, like Simpsons Tapped Out. Like, occasionally you fend off attackers, but not in the way you do it, in the advertisements. It would be cool if they kept the ad gameplay for, like, a minigame or something.

I kind of want to slip in a parody of this into my next game. Something like...

Main Character: Oh, yeah! Today the new Trojan War game comes out!
Main Character: I've been waiting for this! The demo was so cool! It was this awesome fighting sim!
*Game plays. It has ultra-realistic graphics.*
Menelaus: I shall defeat you in single combat, Paris!
Paris: Nay, the gods favor me today!
*Paris has attacked! Do you counterattack or defend?*
*Smash! Clang! Clash!*
*Awesomeness!*
Main Character: Yeah, I've been looking forward to this.
Main Character: Oh, great, the game is done downloaded. Let's check it out!
*Game plays. It has cheap-looking graphics.*
Scantily-clad woman: I'm the goddess Athena! Tee hee! Welcome to Troy!
Main Character: What.
Athena: Uh oh! The Trojan army looks big and scary! We'd better defeat them!
Athena: But first, we need to build a farm to help feed our army!
Athena: Tap here to build a farm.
Main Character: What? Where's the fighting?
Athena: As you can see, there are three types of farms.
Athena: This one takes ten minutes to build, and this one takes twenty minutes.
Athena: But the Special Farm only takes four seconds to build! It costs $5, and it produces over 100 times as much food!
Athena: (At least until Level 4, at which point it falls so far behind, you'll need to pay an extra $5 to upgrade it.)
Athena: Want to buy the Special Farm for $5?
*Game has a yes button and a no button. The yes button is huge and takes up most of the screen. The no button is small.*
Main Character: Ugh! This is nothing at all like I thought it would be!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Third Party Candidates

According to news reports, there are only five states which could potentially select a third-party candidate in the election this year. The first two are Alaska and Colorado, which apparently are big on third parties. The other three are the home states of Gary Johnson, Jill Stein and Evan McMullin.

  • Alaska (3 votes)
  • Colorado (9 votes)
  • Utah (6 votes)
  • New Mexico (5 votes)
  • Massachusetts (10 votes)

It is mathematically possible for one of those states to go third party and bring the election to a stalemate, where nobody gets over 50% of the electoral college votes. Obviously, the odds of a stalemate increase, if more than one state goes third party.

What about the other 45 states? Well, any state where Clinton and Trump are near-even provides a good chance for a third party candidate to step in and take the lead. In that scenario, Clinton and Trump split the vote, as it were. Realistically speaking, though, that probably won't happen because Clinton and Trump are campaigning like mad in those battleground states.

Some people say it's possible that Bernie Sanders will win Vermont (3 votes) with a write-in campaign. He won my state of Oregon by a huge margin, but Oregon's "sore loser law" prevents him from winning Oregon in the general election. So there's no write-in campaign for him going on here.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Job Situation

Here's an update on my job situation! Like I said early last month, I gave up on getting the IRS call center job, since they put me into the secondary quality group. But it's still ideal for me to get a tax job, since they tend to be from January to April, and December through March is the maternity leave period. (More or less. It'll depend on my job situation.)

So I decided to go for a job in preparing tax returns. To do that, you need official certification. My best shot is to take a tax class through H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt. But, um...it's a little late for that. Most of the courses start in July or August. I had no idea they started that early!

Given those circumstances, my best bet is to take the Jackson Hewitt online course and put a huge amount of crunch time into it. I've got two months, thereabouts. I can do it! So I worked with the people there to get me signed up as a late addition to the course, paid the course fee, and...

Then the IRS sent me a tentative job offer for the call center job. Like, right after I mailed the check to Jackson Hewitt. Argh! The timing couldn't be crazier!

Last week, I did all of the required "next steps" for the IRS job, which was mostly filling out forms, but also involved a trip downtown to get fingerprinted by the Department of Justice. Also, all the books for the Jackson Hewitt course were mailed to my house.

So right now, I'm waiting to hear back from the IRS, as to what happens next. If it turns out they don't give me a firm job offer for whatever reason, I've still got the Jackson Hewitt course in my back pocket as a possible job. My wife says it's illegal to work for the IRS and work as a paid tax preparer at the same time, so I can't do both.