Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Oregon Trail Romance Collection, Stories 1-3

I read the first three stories in The Oregon Trail Romance Collection. Now I'm less interested in writing a Love on the Oregon Trail game. I don't mean that in a nasty way. It's just that these stories fall into the "Christian fiction" genre, and I'm very unfamiliar with this genre. I'm not sure I could do it justice. I'm not a female or a Protestant, and those seem to be the two major requirements for readers/writers of this genre.

The stories play out like PG soap operas. A male and female character are forced together, due to circumstances beyond their control. They slowly develop feelings for each other, and the story ends with them declaring their love. The story is more about the slow buildup to their romance, than it is about the passionate, whirlwind romance you'd expect from the romance books they have in drug stores.

The Sagebrush Bride by Amanda Cabot. Avice and Raleigh decide to fake-marry each other for a year. She needs to escape an arranged marriage with a bad man, while he needs someone to watch his newborn child. He struggles with getting over the death of his wife, and Avice struggles to repress her feelings for him. I liked this story.

Beckoned Hearts by Melanie Dobson. Widower Molly Goodwin has lost her way, ever since the death of her husband. She helps a man named Payton, when his sister-in-law becomes ill. I couldn't get into this story, and I skipped it after a few chapters.

Shanghaied by the Bride by Pam Hillman. Blake is "kidnapped" by a woman and forced to be part of her wagon's part. It's not really a kidnapping, because her family got the last wagon and he got the last mules, so they'd have to team up, no matter what. The premise played out in a fun way, and the story had a neat supporting cast. I liked it.



Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Midnight in Salem Characters

On Facebook, Her Interactive has been releasing art for the characters of their upcoming game!





I think they look spiffy. I honestly don't have much to say about them, though.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Miss Clue Updates

Two updates were made to Miss Clue this week.

#1. The game now has a "restart" feature. You can restart any chapter from the beginning again, which comes in handy if you run into a game-breaking glitch. I've found two such glitches so far, making me think that this game underwent no testing before release.

I'm glad to see they're at least trying to deal with the game's problems. Hopefully, they gave the same feature to the other games in the series. Haunted Garden glitches if you leave the game during the opening cutscene.

#2. They announced the next game in the series, "Trials of Salem". Coming this October, you have to help a woman who's been accused of witchcraft, and...wow. I know "Miss Clue" is a knock-off of the Nancy Drew series in general, but it's pretty gutsy for them to release a Salem witch game, around the same time that Her Interactive plans to release a Salem witch game. (We don't have an official release date yet.)

If anything, this is giving credence to the idea that Miss Clue is staffed by people who used to work for Her Interactive.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: The Final Scene



One problem I didn't discuss was the kidnapping timeline. The culprit plans to kidnap Brady Armstrong at a very specific time, going so far as to make an alibi and sync it with Simone's arrival at the theater. The problem? Brady isn't there. It seems ridiculous that the culprit puts that much effort into a kidnapping at a specific time, while leaving "time of the victim's arrival" completely up to chance.

You could say that the culprit timed the kidnapping, to coincide with Brady's interview with Maya. But if that's the case, why is the culprit 100% unprepared to deal with Maya's presence? Plus, the game indicates that Brady had no idea about the interview in advance. That's why, when he enters the room and sees Nancy, he has no idea why someone else is there.

In the book, there is no interview. It's just Bess, breaking into Brady Armstrong's dressing room, because he's hot. And by coincidence, she does it around the same time the kidnapper breaks into his dressing room.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Banders Pathway

Some people have requested a Banders pathway in Cat President. What would that look like? Here's one possibility. The storyline starts after the second debate, where Oreo and Thunderpaw have a huge catfight.

Chapter One: There is the fallout from the debate, which reveals that Thunderpaw and DJ Nibbles have ruined each other's campaigns. Frisky's campaign ended earlier in that pathway, so that only leaves three viable candidates, plus Banders. Thunderpaw is angry and fires the heroine, and Banders hires her immediately.

Chapter Two: Banders is asked to come up with some policies. He wants to sell the White House for kibble cash, and turn the Lincoln memorial pool into the world's largest litter box. Heroine is frustrated, trying to get him to come up with something coherent. Maybe he can confuse "taxes" with "Texas".

Chapter Three: Banders flubs his big TV interview and spends most of the time, talking about a movie he saw last night, which was actually a dream he had two weeks ago. His poll numbers go through the roof.

Chapter Four: Heroine is at a loss to explain why Banders' new poll numbers, until he is mobbed by a group of all-female reporters. Women find him irresistible, and they want him to be President! He's sooo cute!

Chapter Five: Banders is challenged to make a policy to end starvation. His solution? Take every women in America out on a dinner date. Heroine complains that he sounds just like Frisky, and she's at a loss to explain why she's so upset over the idea of him dating someone else.

Chapter Six: Thunderpaw shows up to protest one of Banders' speeches. It gets ugly, especially when Banders' fangirls (the FANders) get into the it. Banders ends up losing the second state to Rover.

Chapter Seven: It's crunch time! Only a candidate who won one of the three states can be selected, and there's only one state left! Banders is determined to win now and PROVE to his brother that he's a worthwhile cat. He decides to buckle down and study...but then he gets kidnapped by the Fanders.

Chapter Eight: Heroine does hostage negotiation with the Fanders, who refuse to release him until he names a state after them and makes "fangirl" a tax-exempt class. Banders makes this promise to them, and as soon as they let him go, he tells them he'll break his promise, because that's what politicians do. The Fanders are too impressed by his political prowess to be upset.

Chapter Nine: Banders thanks Heroine for saving him and says that she's much better than the crazy women he's used to dealing with. I will find some way to make this semi-romantic. Also, maybe I can include a ridiculous song parody in here. And maybe Thunderpaw and Banders can be reconciled to each other.

Chapter Ten: Final debate! Banders is reasonable and gives a grand speech, conceding the race to his opponent. Then he reveals that it's Opposite Day, and he doesn't mean what he says. After this, he pivots on every single issue. Nobody knows what he really believes now, but everyone thinks he's on their side. His poll numbers go up, and he wins the third state.

Is this a good storyline? Should we start making Banders DLC? I dunno! If I write it, I'm sure it'd end up being slightly different from what I wrote here.

Friday, August 26, 2016

EWW Final Scene Preview

I finished editing Everything Wrong With "Nancy Drew: The Final Scene". The video will go up Sunday, but here's a little sneak preview for you blog readers. I'll delete it, once the real video is public.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cat President

My new game, Cat President: A More Purrfect Union, is available for purchase! I hope you buy it and enjoy it! This is the game I spent all of November writing!

It's a parody of typical dating sims, specifically, the ones made by Voltage. I played several of their games, and it didn't take me long to realize that there are some personality types that are reused in every game. These include the pervert, the angry man who insults the heroine all the time, the nice guy, and the young guy. There are also storylines that get reused every game, like the tragic backstory, the romantic rival, the guy getting sick and revealing his innermost feelings, and the woman who gets super-close to your love interest, which causes you no end of romantic angst, until it's revealed that she is his relative, not his girlfriend.

I realized that there is a lot of crossover potential between these generic personalities and the people running for President. Like, you had the angry insulting candidate, the nice guy candidate, and the young guy candidate. So I put "Presidential candidates" together with "dating sim", and it worked amazingly well! You try to manage a Presidential campaign, while having romantic misadventures. It's not too unusual for the dating sim genre to dabble in politics, seeing as there are "date a prince" and "you're the prime minister's daughter" dating sims.

The game is also a vague parody of Internet humor, because it's got a lot of cat pictures, random song quotations, weird political conspiracies and puns. Mostly, if I found something weird/interesting on the Internet while writing the game, I tried to work it into the story. For example, there is a shady villain who controls the election from behind the scenes, the viral video of someone scaring cats with a cucumber, and others.

African Chicken

Recipe #2 was spicy braised African chicken. With this recipe, you use a tablespoon of olive oil. Put it in a skillet, along with salted chicken. You cook it for 5 minutes on each side, then put the chicken in a pot.

Then, you add two onions, which were sliced into rings. Cook them for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently. The recipe tells you to add raisins, 1/2 tsp of curry, ginger, cardamom, and 1/4 tsp of cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Very spicy stuff, and um...stuff I didn't have. Oops. I added what I could, and you get spicy onions.

You put the flavored onions on the chicken, then add a cup of chicken broth and a half-cup of white wine. I didn't add wine, myself. You cook on low heat for an hour, then you uncover and simmer for 15 more minutes. Serve over couscous.

In the end, it tasted like...slightly flavored chicken. Not a lot of payoff, for such a long recipe, but then again, I didn't have some ingredients. Still, I'm just about ready to give up on chicken recipes. No matter what I do, it always ends up tasting like chicken that I dropped spices on, two minutes before serving. Next time, I'll skip the whole complicated setup and just dump random spices on. It will probably end up tasking the same!

The onions were the interesting part of the recipe, because they become stringy, thanks to how you cut them and heat them. I might try making onions like that again! I'd make them plain, though. That's better than super spicy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Steak Rub

I finally found a new cookbook to try out! It used to belong to my aunt. She marked pages with good recipes, but did not mark out which recipes were the good ones. Oops.

First, I tried Peppery Smokehouse Steak Rub, which is fancy because it's steak. I almost never cook steak, because there are over ten kinds, and I can't tell the difference between them. With this meal, I got the steak which doesn't have bones, and which isn't super-expensive.

Oh, yeah, and this is a rub recipe. I didn't know what rubs were, until I started dating my wife, and we went to Buffalo Wild Wings, and I looked like an idiot for having no idea what the menu/waiter meant. Rubs are dry sauce, which you rub into the meat before cooking. Let it stand for 10 minutes or so, in order for the rub to settle into the meat.

So, with 6 steaks, the recommended rub ingredients are...3 tbsp paprika, 2 tbsp pepper, 1 tbsp garlic powder. Also 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp rosemary and 1 tsp thyme.

It ended up tasting fine. I'd say it had too much paprika. Mary didn't like it because it was too spicy. I probably won't cook it again, but hey, now I have a better idea of what rubs are.

Monday, August 22, 2016

IRS Job

The IRS has some full-time seasonal jobs. Their busy season is January to April, which doesn't quite match up with the baby's birth in December, but it's close enough, by jingo.

I applied to the job and took their online job simulation test thing. The test is designed so you can complete it, even if you know absolutely nothing about taxes. Still, it's a good thing I got certified in advanced tax law! Knowing about the Earned Income Credit ahead of time was a big help! I was able to know that the one person doesn't qualify for EIC, even without checking the specific rules for that credit.

I think the only thing I got wrong was mixing up Stanford with Stamford. I guess I have a west coast bias, when it comes to city names.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Baby's Name

We want to name the baby Roseann Gray, after my grandmother. She was named after her two grandmothers, Rose and Anne. And while it's a nice family name, the problem is that there was a popular TV show named "Roseanne". Everyone will think we're naming the baby after the show! Not to mention, baby Roseann will suffer from a lifetime of people misspelling her name, by adding an extra "e" on the end.

Is it possible to name the baby Rose Ann? Back in the 80's, it was a trend to have double first names. You see it in the Baby-Sitters Club series, with Mary Anne and Emily Michelle. Very rarely do those girls get referred to by only the first name. They're both part of the first name.

Do these girls have middle names? Like, Mary Anne Beth Spier. Is it possible for someone to have a double first name and a double middle name? Mary Anne Jo Beth Spier. That's a mouthful!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Friday, August 19, 2016

Jobs

Katie and I have to change our job situation, in order to pay for our baby.

She works for the IRS, and the United States government doesn't offer paid parental leave. At most, it'll offer a woman twelve weeks of unpaid leave. She can use sick leave to spend more time at home, but that's not paid either. Vacation time is paid time off, but ha ha, vacation time is highly regulated and restricted, so using that isn't really an option.

[Insert angry rant about the government not updating its maternity leave policy since 1993.]

I kind of wish I was the one who was pregnant, not my wife. I mean, I'm the househusband who stays at home all day, kind of. It'd be easier on our finances if I was the one whose work was interrupted by the pregnancy.

Mostly, my jobs are YouTube and the pizza delivery gig. I do other stuff, like this blog and videogame development, but those don't make over $100 a year. And of course, taking care of the dog and 7-year-old doesn't pay at all.

So I need a new job! Maybe another part-time job, like writing videogame walkthroughs for Big Fish Games. I heard that pays pretty well, for a part-time job, but I have no idea how to apply for it. I'd also love ghostwriting Nancy Drew / Hardy Boys books, but they don't accept applications. Darn.

The baby is due in December, so maybe I can get a seasonal job. Are there full-time jobs in the November to February range? Because that way, Katie can take the full twelve weeks off for childbirth, and we'd still have a full-time paycheck coming in.

The worst-case scenario is for me to get a second fast food job, because two part-time fast food jobs, plus YouTube, kind of make enough money as a full-time job. Add the money that we've saved in the new baby fund, and we could make it work! Maybe! Obviously, a high-paying full-time job would be a lot comfier.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Baby-Sitters Club Ending

So, it looks like the Baby-Sitters Club series gets a little weird towards the end.

First, there's a character shuffle. Dawn is kicked out of the series, to make room for a new baby-sitter named Abby. Jessi and Mallory narrate books about half as often as usual, until they just sort of stop narrating altogether.

Then, there's a shift towards more mature storylines, like child abuse, Claudia being sent back a grade, Stacey's boyfriend getting depression and Kristy going "too far" with her boyfriend. The series ends with Mary Anne's house being burned to the ground.

They had a sequel series called "Friends Forever", where things seem to mostly calm down and get back to normal, except one with a kidnapping mystery. For whatever reason, Ann Martin still used ghostwriters the whole time (with two exceptions). I wonder why the attempts to get people interested in the series again did NOT involve having the original author write more books.

The weird part? The spin-off Baby-Sitters Club series seemed to be doing fine. Little Sister and California Diaries kept trucking along, well past the cancellation of the main series. The Baby-Sitters Club mystery series ended shortly before the main Baby-Sitters Club series, but I'm not sure if that's due to poor sales, or because the one ghostwriter (Ellen Miles) got sick of writing them.

In the end, it was decided that all Baby-Sitters Club related books would stop production, in 2000. That's around the same time Animorphs got cancelled. I remember people blaming Harry Potter for the cancellation of long-running children's series, because it was such a huge cash cow that Scholastic didn't need any other serials, especially serials that looked outdated. Other long-running children's series--Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High--got the boot around 2003-5.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Pregnancy Cravings

People seem interested in my wife's pregnancy, so I figured I could talk about it some more. This is probably a once-in-a-lifetime event, after all!

At the childbirth class, the instructor made each couple say their favorite and least favorite thing about being pregnant. The two things that came up most were alcohol and food cravings. Some women miss being able to drink, while some men love having a non-drinking wife, who can always be the designated driver. This hasn't been an issue with us. I'm a sad drunk, so I generally avoid drinking to begin with. Plus, it's pretty mean for me to say, "Hey, Katie, you have to go out drinking with me. Just sit in the corner for an hour until I'm ready for you to take me home."

As for food cravings, it seems like the women go, "Hey, I'm craving a cheeseburger right now. Drop everything you're doing and go get me one." And the man has to get the food as soon as possible, just like in Lady and the Tramp. Some of the guys like the excuse to get cheeseburgers at weird hours. Some of the girls like the excuse to boss their men around. Katie hasn't had any food cravings, beyond an occasional coffee once a month, but she doesn't feel the need to make me into her personal chauffeur.

So, I dunno. It seems like the other pregnant couples in our class like to boss each other around. The guys force the girls to be their beer caddies, while the girls force the guys to be their food caddies.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

DS9: Bloodletter

I read Star Trek: Deep Space Nine #3: Bloodletter recently. This book has been badly received by the fans, for good reason. The author clearly hasn't seen the show. Maybe the author saw the pilot episode, but that's it. So everyone is out of character, and the storyline doesn't fit the show. On top of that, the story is incredibly slow, bogged down by plenty of sections with no dialogue or character interaction.

The general premise is a good idea, though. The Cardassians are building a space station on the gamma quadrant side of the wormhole. Uh oh, the bad guys are making Deep Space Nine 2.0! Commander Sisko is kind of mad because his boss cut his budget this year, so he purposely lets the Cardassians go ahead with their evil plot. That'll teach the Admiral not to underfund Sisko's projects!

...I told you everyone is out of character.

Our heroes have to do something to stop the Cardassians, so they decide to "claim" the area, by putting a mobile medical unit there. Apparently, interplanetary law works just like parking spaces at a crowded mall. Dr. Bashir and Major Kira are given the mission of flying the medical unit, which is bad news, because he keeps trying to seduce her. Meanwhile, she's suffering from PTSD and a spiritual crisis, over the time she slaughtered a group of monks in a hostage situation.

The religious stuff is kind of awkward, partially because the author was forced to invent a religion, and partially because the villains have the same name as a real-life group of monks. The Redemptorists are a bunch of gullible idiots, led by a madman named Horen. He kills one of his men, to prove how evil he is, and he gets the other men to smuggle him onto the mobile medical unit, so he can kill Kira.

Constable Odo solves the mystery, by performing psychological torture on the Redemptorists. He uncovers the murder plot against Kira, just in time to save her. Kind of. See, Part 2 of the book is when things get intolerably slow. Mostly, Horen sits around and waits for Kira to appear, while Kira cries and hides. Eventually, Bashir and Kira stop Horen by blowing things up. Oh, and Bashir spends about 100 pages talking to the wormhole aliens. That subplot didn't go anywhere, and it felt like a 100-page timewaster, an excuse for Bashir to be somewhere else, so he couldn't help Kira earlier.

So, that's the book. Like I said, it's not good. I give it a 2 out of 10, because it had two good ideas: the Cardassian plot to conquer the other end of the wormhole, and the wormhole aliens having an identity crisis. Other than that, it's an overly long book where everyone is out of character, and the story doesn't match the TV show at all. I would not recommend reading it.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Copyright Claim Update

Okay, I have an update on the recent copyright claim! The good news is that it was removed, with absolutely no effort on my part.

(I probably would have done something, but I didn't have Internet access yesterday.)

The bad news is that the exact same people slapped a copyright claim against my Nancy Drew: Ghost of Thornton Hall video, from the 2014 Mega Marathon. Again, they're claiming the visual content from an early part of the game. Since "wait a few days and see if anything changed" worked last time, I'll try it again!

UPDATE: The copyright claim disappeared! Great! I wonder if making the videos private for a while did something to reset the copyright claims...

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Pregnancy Stuff

I got some comments on Thursday about pregnancy stuff, so here's a followup!

Katie is having problems with sleeping, because she naturally moves around while she sleeps. That's fine, normally. When you're pregnant, that means you wake up in the middle of the night and discover half your body is numb. Currently, Katie is using the "create a pillow barrier" method to avoid the problem.

Midwives and doulas are totally different! The woman teaching our childbirth class doubles as both, so that must be where I got confused. The Greek word for midwife is "maia", which doubles as the word for "female doctor" and a nice name for older women, something like "granny". The dictionary says there are instances of this word being used as "foster mother" and "real mother", and this is why languages are difficult.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Copyright Claim

Weird, possibly bad news today! Someone filed a copyright claim against my Nancy Drew: Ghost of Thornton Hall videos today. Specifically, the second video of my walkthrough for the game.

The claimant is someone called ARose Games, a channel that played the game two years ago. The channel has posted no videos since. It appears to be a subset of the the more popular Arden Rose channel, which I've never heard of, but it has 1.4 million subscribers. Wow!

It looks like Big Frame, which I assume is her YouTube network, filed the claim on her behalf. I'm 100% sure that they do not own the visual rights to the game.

So, what should I do? File a dispute? Wait a few days and hope it blows over? Try to contact Arden Rose? In the meantime, I'm going to be cautious and make the video private.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers

I'm starting to read the Hardy Boys: Undercover Brothers series. That's the 2005 reboot, coming on the heels of the 2004 Nancy Drew: Girl Detective reboot.

The Nancy Drew reboot didn't change much. All it did was give the three girls a new personality trait--clumsy, mechanic and tech guru. Nancy's father, boyfriend and housekeeper were all left the same.

By contrast, Undercover Brothers changes a LOT of things. Frank and Joe are now secret agents, instead of freelance amateur detectives. Their friend Chet is now a buff fitness expert. Their girlfriends (and all their other friends) don't seem to exist anymore. Aunt Gertrude has been replaced with Aunt Trudy, who is a doddering old lady instead of an awesome crime-fighting spinster.

Mom is also no longer a crimefighter, but a somewhat clueless librarian. It seems like every book has a scene where Mom almost finds out about their double life as secret agents, but then she doesn't. Ha ha, silly Mom! Dad is semi-retired now, which is probably the best of the character retools. It kind of explains why Dad flip-flops so much between "guy who's intimately involved with his son's mysteries" and "hands-off guy who never gets involved in his son's mysteries, yet has no problem buying them new motorcycles and chemistry sets all the time".

The secret agency that the Hardys work for is ATAC, American Teens Against Crime. It's founded on the idea that unprepared teenagers are better crime solvers than professionals.

I'm still working on the first book. The first chapter made me groan, when it said the culprit was pirating DVDs of Spider-man 6. Even I know that movie doesn't exist. Also, the chapter introduced the male version of Deirdre Shannon. I have a feeling this Brian Conrad guy is going to show up in every single book from now on...

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. Hey, we figured out why the summer camps are so crazy! Or at least, why the college kids in charge of traffic had no idea what they're doing.

Turns out they're NOT college kids. They're high school kids. The only reason they were at the camp is because they have mandatory service hours to fulfill. So it's a nasty combination of people without driving experience, people who don't want to be there in the first place, and people who want to waste as much time as possible. That 100% explains why they did a bad job of traffic flow.

2. We're taking childbirth classes, and I had to stop myself from laughing when the instructor starting using the word doula to refer to midwives. That word is Greek for "slave". It usually gets translated as "servant" today, but trust me, it means "slave". Specifically, someone who was born a slave, as opposed to someone who was made a slave.

3. Speaking of baby stuff, I should note that movies and TV are wrong, when it comes to morning sickness. In real life, morning sickness lasts all day. Makes sense, right? A woman is pregnant all day, not just in the morning, so if pregnancy is making her sick, it'd happen all day long.

We're past the morning sickness point, and at the "mother constantly has to change sleeping positions" point. Sleeping is difficult.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Pokémon Go

I've been trying to play Pokémon Go, but I've been failing.

Problem #1 is that I don't have a good data plan on my phone. I need to use as much of the data as I can, for my job as a pizza delivery driver. So that means I can't play much, outside of my house or the library's free wifi.

The other problem is that I don't know how to play the game. I checked online guides, and they say "just walk around to find Pokémon". I need more information than that! Like, I see the leaves that are bouncing up on the map. Those have to indicate where Pokémon are, right? So I walk to those areas and nothing happens. I am literally standing on top of the bouncing leaves. No Pokémon anywhere. This game needs a tutorial.

Mary and I went to the library and caught a Pokémon there, as part of a library promotion. They had a "lure" on the building, so Pokémon were actually present. As a reward, we got a Pokémon card for Eevee. Mary picked it, because it looks like our dog, kinda.

On the way home, an eevee showed up in the game. I don't know how or why, since there were no bouncing leaves anywhere. It just kinda popped and auto-loaded the AR capture screen, without me having to tap anywhere. That allowed me to get this cool picture.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Nancy Drew: The Final Scene

I'm going to work on my Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: The Final Scene video this week. Let me know what problems I should include in my video!

I am NOT going to do a review or speedrun at this time, as discussed last month. In my review, I'll probably mention the book. In the book, Bess is kidnapped. In the game, it's a random friend of Nancy's, who has never been mentioned before and who will never be mentioned again. I think they should have kept Bess as the victim in the game. That would have been neat.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Tax Issues in ND Files 37

I'm writing my review for Nancy Drew Files 37: Last Dance, and there are problems with taxes in this book.

The story is that [character] borrowed a lot of money from criminals, in order to start his own business. [Character] has been giving them money every month, to pay off his debt. But he wasn't able to make his payment last month (April), because his taxes for that quarter were higher than expected. Now the criminals are causing problems.

Yes, in a choice between "paying taxes" and "not having your kneecaps broken", the character went for "paying taxes". That's just stupid in general. He should have used his money to pay the mob, not the government. Yeah, he'll get in big trouble with with the government for tax dodging, but at least he'll still be alive. Priorities!

Not only is this stupid in general, it is stupid in specifics. Here are three specifics that are relevant to the situation.

1. Paying off the interest on a business loan is tax deductible.

2. You can file an extension, if you're not able to pay your full taxes on time.

3. Clearly, [character] is filing estimated tax payments (because they're paying in quarterly installments). He could easily underpay taxes this quarter and overpay next quarter, to make up for it.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Murder on the Orient Express

Here's my walkthrough for "Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express"!



It's 44 videos long, so it will be a while before the walkthrough is finished. As usual, I'll only do 20 minutes (two videos) per day.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Libertarian Town Hall

I decided to watch the Libertarian Town Hall this week, because I don't know anything about the Libertarian who's running for President. I don't like either the Democratic or Republican candidates, so maybe I should try voting for a third party candidate.

The moderator started the town hall event by saying what I was thinking. He said a lot of people are unhappy with the Presidential race this week, because Donald Trump said more awful things, and more skeletons in Hillary Clinton's closet have been revealed. So there's more interest than normal in the third parities.

About ten minutes into the video, I realized I wasn't watching the Libertarian Town Hall from this week. It was one from two months ago. And I got depressed that political scandal from two months ago is not distinguishable from political scandal today. You'd think that the candidates would, I dunno, clean up their acts now that they're under 24/7 media supervision. Apparently not!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Our Father

I'm still translating St. Thomas Aquinas' work on the Our Father. I find it interesting how the English version of the prayer doesn't really match up with the Latin or the Greek.

"Forgive us our trespasses, as we [] forgive those who trespass against us". Both Latin and the original Greek put the word "and" in the spot that's marked by brackets. Since "and" doesn't make sense in that context, we translate it as "also" or "too". That puts more emphasis on the word "we", which is already emphasized by being written out in addition to being contained in the verb.

"Those who trespass against us" is actually two words. Literally, it's "our trespassers", but it's a participle, so we can translate it as a adjective phrase instead of a noun.

"Trespass" isn't a common word anymore, outside of someone being on property that belongs to someone else. In Latin, the word is "debitor", from which we get the word "debtor". Greek uses the more generic/common word for "owe". Most Bibles I've seen use the more literal version, "forgive us our debts as we too forgive our debtors", for the version of the prayer seen in Luke's gospel.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Star Trek DS9 #4: The Big Game

I took a break from reading Nancy Drew books to read the fourth Star Trek: Deep Space Nine book. It's kind of amusing to read the books written between the first and second season. There's a lot of early installment weirdness and wrong guesses as to which characters will reappear in the series. (Poor female Klingon villains! Poor Grand Nagus' son! Poor one-shot love interest! None of you will ever be seen again!).

The story is that Quark is holding a big poker tournament, with all the minor Star Trek villains and ne'er-do-wells. The day before the tournament, the lights go out and a player is killed in the darkness. It's up to Constable Odo to solve the murder mystery by going undercover as a poker player, even though he's never played poker before in this life!

The murder mystery is pretty much a non-event. Odo does no real investigation, and the mystery is solved when the culprit pulls out a knife and starts stabbing someone else. There's no way for readers to predict who the culprit is. And here, I was expecting an actual mystery!

There are a lot of other storylines floating around. The female Klingons try to cheat with marked decks. Grand Nagus cheats, by piggybacking off of Quark's hidden camera system. Nog and Jake discover the hidden camera system and almost get caught. Doctor Bashir exists. Garak exists. Dax exists, too.

The other main story is that random energy waves are going off all the time, causing technical problems. No one is sure what is causing the energy waves, and of course, if the situation isn't resolved soon, there's going to be war!

Eventually, it's revealed that the waves are a result of Ghost Riders, who are hunting espiritu in the out of phase universe that coincides with our own. I, um...didn't understand this part. It felt like a big reference to some episode I didn't see, but...no! It was all made up for this book. Anyway, our heroes go out of phase with Romulan cloaking technology and stop the Ghost Riders. Everything goes back to normal. The end.

My score for this book is a 2.5 out of 10. It's a fast read, but the mystery story ends up not being important, and the "mysterious energy attacks" ends up being deadly technobabble. I think the only people who would be amused by the book are hardcore Trekkies, and even they complain that this is the third "Odo solves a murder mystery" book in a row.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Election Scenario

When I was writing Cat President, I threw in a couple of the weird election scenarios that popped up on the Internet, like "What if one person is secretly funding all candidates?" and "What if the Republican nominee and Democratic nominee are secretly working together?".

(The last one is the bad ending to the Frisky storyline. He falls in love with the female candidate from the other party and picks her as his VP. She picks him as her VP. Now everyone is stuck with both of them no matter what.)

So here's a new election scenario that someone has kicked around. What if neither Trump nor Clinton wins the election? What if they tie at 269 electoral college votes? Or, more likely, what if a third party candidate gets 10% of the vote, which prevents Trump and Clinton from getting the magic number of 270 votes?

This is basically the brokered convention scenario, on a national scale. When that happens, the incoming Congress gets to pick the President. Voting starts with the House of Representatives, I think. The laws covering the "no winning President" scenario--the 20th amendment--were mainly written for the scenario of someone killing the President-elect before they take office, but they apply if no one wins the election, too.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Flying Girl and Her Chum

The other day, I got an email about The Flying Girl and her Chum. That's a book by Edith Van Dyne, pseudonym of L. Frank Baum, author of the Oz series. The book is about people who get stranded on an island, I believe.

Back in 2008, I volunteered to help turn it into an eBook. I did the first 11 chapters, over 100 pages. But I somehow lost my copy of chapters 11-18. I don't know how. Ask 2008 Michael what happened there.

Well, someone in the UK has volunteered to turn it into a eBook! I sent all my files over to them. Hopefully, it'll save them some time!