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.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Current Projects

I'm currently in the middle of recording a playthrough for Agatha Christie: Evil Under the Sun. I like the game, and it's got a great hint system to prevent players from getting stuck. The game takes a remarkably long time to get to the murder mystery, though. As in, about five hours. The murder is in Chapter 5 of 7.

I'm also in the middle of recording Case 3 of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Spirit of Justice. The investigation section was fairly long, but I'm not complaining, because it was super-easy to edit. With the trial segments, I have to keep switching between the DS screens. That's a hassle. With the investigation, I just keep the camera on the top screen the whole time, no need to ever adjust it. Nice and smooth!

From those projects alone, I have about 40 videos to watch and make descriptions for. So that's...6+ hours of footage to go through. Yuck.

Other projects are book reviews, and I can't wait to get back to my normal book review schedule, since it's been a mess this whole month. I read the wrong book, I read the Hardy Boys graphic novels for some reason, and Baby-Sitters Club #30 showed up in my reading pile, even though that's four books away on my schedule.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

New Cardinals

Pope Francis announced the next group of men who will be Cardinals. The list contains seven men from countries that don't currently have Cardinals, including three countries (Bangladesh, Central African Republic and Papua New Guinea) that have never had Cardinals before, ever.

Three Cardinals are from the United States. One is Archbishop Cupich of Chicago, who is often called a Pope Francis Bishop. Cupich has been on the fast track for promotion since 2014; he got to go to the 2015 Synod of Bishops, and he's now on Congregation of Bishops (i.e. he's one of the top dogs who helps pick out new Bishops).

One is Archbishop Tobin of Indianapolis. I don't know much about him. He spent ten years as the Superior General of the Redemptorists, and worked in the Roman Curia for two years.

The third Bishop Farrell of Dallas. Since August, he's been working in the Roman Curia, as prefect of one of the new offices that Pope Francis opened (the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life).

Traditionally, Cardinals are tied to the biggest, most important cities in the United States, like New York and Washington, DC. Chicago has normally had a Cardinal, but Dallas and Indianapolis have not. The two main cities in the United States which have traditionally had Cardinals, but currently don't, are Philadelphia and Los Angeles. The retired Cardinals attached to those cities are still alive, although they're too old to vote in the next Papal Election.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Baby Boomer Candidates

I'm told this will be the first election ever, where Millennial voters outnumber Baby Boomer voters. Will that have an effect on the election? Maybe! I think the generation gap would be more pronounced, if we had a Millennial candidate.

There has never been a Presidential candidate more recent than the Baby Boomer generation. (All the non-Boomers lost in the primaries this cycle.)

It's possible we'll see the first Generation X candidate will run in 2020, against the reelection of Trump or Clinton. On the other hand, Clinton and Trump are on the older end of their generation. Someone on the younger end of their generation, like President Obama, would be in their early 60's and still make a formidable candidate. So it's possible 2020 will also be Boomer-dominated.

Ronald Reagan was the oldest US President, being age 77 when he left office. If we consider that to be the absolute cutoff age, then 2040 is the last possible election with a Boomer candidate. Then again, life expectancy has increased four years, since Reagan's death, so a President who is in their 80's wouldn't be too far out of the realm of possibility...

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Final Debate

The third and final Presidential debate was yesterday. Thank goodness it's over. Here are all my general thoughts!
  • Both candidates seem to think the election is rigged against them. Trump says outright that he thinks the election is rigged, while Hillary says that Russia is trying to rig the election by hacking her emails and releasing them.
  • Both candidates criticized Russia, although Trump prefers to criticize China. Someone needs to tell them that the Cold War ended decades ago. No, but seriously, I dislike how both candidates are so cavalier when it comes to international conflicts. The news reports about how the situation in Syria right now could lead to World War 3 are terrifying, and I'd like both candidates to be firmly opposed to it.
  • Trump refused to say if he would honor the final results, if he lost the election. If you remember, he said the same thing in the primaries, multiple times. It's a business negotiation tactic. I don't think it's a good one, but it certainly gets him lots of headline news articles.
  • The moderators need some way to force a candidate to answer a "yes or no" question. Currently, the moderator does this by repeating the question over and over again, and it's kind of painful to see the candidates deliberately not answer a direct question, multiple times in a row.
  • On Facebook, the debate seems to have started a battle of the sexes, which reminds me of the kerfuffle over the all-female Ghostbusters movie, only worse. Last I saw, both sides are unintentionally competing, to see who can say the most offensive, sexist things. I'm staying out of it.
Nancy Drew for President, 2016.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Nancy Drew Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake Speedrun

Since I played Nancy Drew: Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake recently, I figured I might as well look into speedrunning it. Let's see what the current world record run is like...

Hey, it looks like it's based on those speedrun notes I talked about yesterday! Neat.

This game is very linear and straightforward. There are no real tricks or timesavers in the game, besides for skipping the optional "test water in the well / Roman numerals" puzzle. Other than that, the speedrun is mainly doing all the puzzles in order.

You start by setting up all the Red Knott stuff at the start of the game, before you use the boat for the first time. So that means you switch to daytime and check the boat to learn you need a sparkplug. Then you switch to night and meet Red. After the ghost dogs scene, you ask Red for the sparkplug. He gives you the task of getting bird pictures. You have to switch to daytime, fail to get a bird's picture, then switch back to nighttime and tell Red that you scared some birds. He will tell you to get cameo gear from Emily. That's all the Red Knott stuff at the start.

So then you go to Emily. You ask her for cameo gear, and she forces you to do the dozen little critters scavenger hunt. You do that for the gear, then you use the gear to take all the bird pictures. Switch to night and talk to Red, and he tells you about the hawk tree. Switch to daytime and take the hawk picture, and get through the ensuing "woodshed on fire" death trap. Finally, you're done with the chores that Red gave you, in exchange for the sparkplug!

While you're doing the big chore run, you'll want to get the three floorboards from the outside area, as well as the sandpaper from Red. You use them to get into the basement, where you find a picture of Vivian Whitmore. Bring the picture to Ranger Akers, so he can identify her. Call her, and she agrees to send you the key to the speakeasy, in exchange for the picture. Ranger Akers will later give you the key.

When you get the key, you can access the speakeasy and the endgame challenges. I'm going to guess that speakeasy key doesn't show up at the ranger station, unless you've gotten all the bird photos, otherwise you could skip a big chunk of the game.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Nancy Drew Speedrun Notes

When I did the 2014 Nancy Drew Games Mega Marathon, I prepared by making notes of how to get through the games and solve the puzzles.

Occasionally, I went back to the notes afterwards and turned them into basic speedrun outlines. Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake is a good example; all I did was sort the list of things to do in semi-ideal order. (More on that tomorrow!) My plan was to eventually go back to the notes later and shore them up into a solid speedrun strategy.

In August 2015, I put all those notes online, at the request of gavinscousin. Gavinscousin is one of the three moderators of the Nancy Drew series at speedrun.com. Since then, some of my notes have been used for speedruns and developed into more complete outlines. I'm glad that I was able to help in some way!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Nancy Drew: Midnight In Salem - Update

Her Interactive released a letter recently, giving us a status update on their next Nancy Drew game. They say that they are "not in a position to confirm a launch date for Nancy Drew: Midnight in Salem" yet, since they have not made as much progress as they originally expected.

Obviously, as soon as they can announce a launch date, they will. There wouldn't be much reason for them to keep the launch of the game a secret.

The website for the game has been updated as well, with this story description:

After Frances Tuttle, the last direct descendant of infamous Salem witch trial judge John Hathorne, passes away at age 102, his home, the Hathorne House, becomes city property. The mayor is currently in the process of deciding which candidate among our suspects is fit to manage the estate as a new tourist attraction, protected as a National Historic Place and has named Steven Danforth as the judge. On the night of October 21st, Steven’s young son Jason is found locked inside the upstairs library of the Hathorne House, with the room engulfed in flames. The child is rescued by the police, who discover upon entering, that the room is totally locked from the inside! Not only that, but the boy has no memory of who brought him to the room, or how he got in there – only reporting terrible visions of a “vile ghostly woman” with glowing eyes who spoke to him from within the fireplace flames. Earlier that evening, the police were tipped off by locals, who witnessed the boy dancing through the streets as though he was “bewitched.” As a result of her unique appearance and the town’s allegations, Mei Parris finds herself accused of witchcraft.

Sounds like a locked room murder mystery to me!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake

I'm currently working on Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake! Please leave me your suggestions.

If you need to jog your memory about this game, Mary and I did a livestream of it on Wednesday. It was interesting to see how Mary was scared of the game's environment. I've played the game so many times at this point that walking around the creepy old cabin doesn't bother me anymore. (That and I know that nothing scary happens with the ghost dogs after the first ten minutes.)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Three Things Thursday

1. The Ancient Greek word for "spit out" is "eptousa". It contains the same "ptoo" sound that our English word, "ptooey" does. I think that's neat.

2. YouTube work has been pretty spordaic recently, because Phoenix Wright takes so long to edit and upload and get set up. There are two reasons why it takes so long. First, they are big files, about 1.5 GB per video. That's because my iPad automatically records at 1080P, the highest resolution it can get. Second, the 3DS screen doesn't match the iPad screen, so I have to crop every single video separately. Both of those things double the amount of time I have to put into the editing process.

3. The pizza delivery job has been crazy lately, mainly because over half the employees left when school started up again. I'm one of the few people who can work during the daytime, so the boss has assigned me pretty much every weekday. I could probably use a day or two off, just to get caught up with YouTube work. It'd be nice if I could, you know, actually start the next Everything Wrong With video!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Pregnancy

Katie is now in the third trimester of the pregnancy, and you can clearly see the baby when it moves around inside her womb. Sometimes it's like a beautiful miracle, and sometimes, it's disturbingly similar to the scene from Alien where the alien bursts through the woman's stomach.

Rosey is pretty regular about when she moves around and wiggles. It's always about an hour after Katie eats. If Katie skips a meal, Rosey moves around more violently, like she's trying to convince Katie to feed her. Rosey also likes to move around 3 AM, making it impossible for us to sleep through the night. I thought we had to wait for the baby to be born, before we lost our sleeping privileges.

I can understand why some people pick "the third trimester" as the limit for abortions, because at this point, it's clear that Rosey is a living, moving human being. You can't write her off as a fetus or a clump of cells anymore; she's clearly a person. Also, we're at the point where Rosey can survive outside of the womb. In fact, some people with our due date have already given birth, according to the weekly pregnancy emails we're getting. None of those childbirth stories were particularly pretty, but the good news is that all the other kids born two months early have survived, so if Katie were to go into labor today, odds are that our baby would survive, too.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Who Will I Vote For?

Who will I vote for in this upcoming election?

Not Clinton or Trump. I believe they have both disqualified themselves from receiving my support. When you decide who to vote for, you "should take into account a candidate’s commitments, character, integrity, and ability to influence a given issue". Both candidates fail those standards.

I am quoting the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' document on faithful citizenship. They rewrite it every election season. Here is a link to the current version of the document. You can read the whole thing at your leisure. Let me quote two paragraphs.

42. As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet if a candidate's position on a single issue promotes an intrinsically evil act, such as legal abortion, redefining marriage in a way that denies its essential meaning, or racist behavior, a voter may legitimately disqualify a candidate from receiving support.

In a situation where both candidates are morally repugnant, the document suggests "abstaining from voting" and "voting for the lesser of two evils" are morally acceptable positions to take. The document doesn't mention voting for a third party, or protest votes for fake candidates, but you could make an argument for either of those actions.

36. When all candidates hold a position that promotes an intrinsically evil act, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.

Ultimately, it is up to the individual person to decide what they will do; "In the end, this is a decision to be made by each Catholic guided by a conscience formed by Catholic moral teaching" (37). Since I've ruled out both Trump and Clinton, my next step is to decide if I should go third party, or if I should not vote for a Presidential candidate at all.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Presidential Debate

I saw the Presidential debate on Sunday. Three seconds after I tuned in, there was an insult. The insults continued, more or less nonstop, for the rest of the debate. For the sake of my sanity, I treated the debate as some kind of weird performance that everyone was doing live Twitter commentary for.

Here are various thoughts I had.
  • The candidates were allowed to walk around during the debate, which was kind of strange. They kept circling each other, like the moderators were going to lower the steel cage at one point, and they needed to get into a good position.
  • Both candidates promised to set up a special prosecutor, to have the other candidate arrested. Miles Edgeworth could not be reached for comment. Some of my friends are shocked that a President would abuse their power to go after political opponents. They must never have heard of Richard Nixon, and they must not know that both Clinton and Trump been known to hold grudges.
  • They talked about taxes. In general, it sounds phony when millionarie politicians, who are funded by billionaire corporations, talk about taxes on the rich. I highly doubt they'll raise their own taxes or bite the hand that feeds them. In this specific case, Trump has the Trump Foundation and Clinton has the Clinton Foundation. They are both using a charitable foundation to lower their tax rate. I don't think either candidate has the moral ground to declaim tax avoidance.
  • Historically speaking, the President hates the Supreme Court, because the Supreme Court places checks and balances on the President, and the Supreme Court doesn't vote along party lines. (Example: The Supreme Court with five Republicans approving gay marriage last year.) Both candidates argued that they'll nominate a justice from their party, who will totally go along with whatever they want, and who will be accepted by Congress without any opposition. Yeah, good luck with that one, guys.
  • Both candidates interrupted each other and the moderator, with great frequency.
  • The best part was the ending. The final question was if there is anything positive they can say about each other. It didn't make up for 90 minutes of insults, coming after a year of insults, but it was still nice.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Backlog

To prepare for the baby, I'm making a large backlog of videos. The backlog is currently around 200 videos, although a third of them aren't uploaded yet.

I feel stupid, because in Summer 2015, I had that big marathon to clear out my backlog. I played about 60 games, and I still remember the one comment that said the marathon was "shooting myself in the foot", because it was too much content for people to follow.

Now I'm wondering if I should redo the playthroughs I did, for some of the marathon games. You know, give people more than just a day to watch them. I'd only do this for the games I like, which didn't get many views. Let me just scroll through the list and see which ones might qualify...


  • Spirits of Mystery: The Dark Minotaur
  • Nevertales: The Beauty Within
  • Sable Maze: Forbidden Garden
  • Witch Hunters: Stolen Beauty
  • Mystery of the Ancients: Curse of Black Water
  • Mystery of the Ancients: Three Guardians
  • Unfinished Tales: Illicit Love
Something like that. Those were the games I really liked. But if they were/are popular enough, I guess there's no need to redo them. Any thoughts?

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Phoenix Wright: Asinine Attorney

At the start of the week, I posted Phoenix Wright: Asinine Attorney. It's a DLC case for Phoenix Wright 6.









I thought it was entertaining, but it cost $4. It's a 40 minute case, so that's about a dollar every ten minutes. Other people on YouTube took an hour to beat the case and...wait, are you kidding me? Everyone else on YouTube is done with the game already??? I haven't even started Case #2 yet! Argh!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Phone Update

Ugh, bad news about upgrading my phone. The person at Verizon said he couldn't upgrade my phone. He couldn't even confirm or deny that my phone was eligible for an upgrade. I gave him the right phone number and address and everything, but he said the system wasn't giving him access to the account. So...either the phone doesn't really exist, or Dad put high restrictions on the account when he set it up 20+ years ago.

I guess this is a security measure, in case someone steals a phone, they can't just walk into the store and get a free upgrade. But still. I have my phone and ID right here; that should be enough to let me do something with my phone at the phone store.

The employee said that he can help, only if I get the account owner into the store. I guess that means I'm stuck, because I'm not about to fly Dad all the way up here, to get a new phone.

(I am going to be so mad, if it turns out the guy just typed in the wrong number, when searching their records.)

Thursday, October 6, 2016

VP Debate (Part 2)

Some Catholics were excited about the Vice-President debate, since both Kaine and Pence were raised as Catholics. I, at least, was hoping Catholicism would not come up in the debate, because both candidates disagree with the Catholic Church on various issues.  Talking about that would almost certainly lead to awkward conversations.

Alas, the question of faith did come up at the debate.

Kaine responded to the question by talking about the death penalty. Both candidates publicly support it, although Kaine says he privately opposes it. The Catholic Church, on the other hand, publicly opposes the death penalty. So right off the bat, the conversation about faith went into the awkward "Catholics who disagree with the Church" area.

From there, the conversation moved to abortion. Both candidates quoted the Bible to support their views, but from what I can tell, it was the standard political discussion on abortion. That is, the Democrat gave the standard Democrat response, and the Republican gave the standard Republican response. The political commentators and people on the Internet also gave their typical responses, with the Democratic commentators saying "Republicans are evil monsters who hate women" and the Republicans saying "Democrats are evil monsters who hate babies". Nobody had anything new or interesting to say on the topic of abortion, it seems. It's like the conversation would have gone exactly the same way, no matter who the VP candidates were.

So all in all, the question of faith ended up being more a periphery item mentioned in passing, rather than a central part of the debate. And I guess that's for the best, because now the Catholic Church doesn't have to do damage control and give long "well, this is what the Church actually teaches" lectures.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Vice-Presidential Debate

Yesterday was the Vice-Presidential debate! I didn't watch it, because I was too busy snagging a world record speedrun for Nancy Drew: Secret of the Scarlet Hand. In other words, I won the debate.

I did check out what my friends had to say about the debate! There were three main reactions.

  • My friends made bad puns, based on the candidates' names. I should have seen this coming.
  • My friends complained about the way the candidates interrupted each other and the moderator. That's pretty standard in debates, but I guess it was extra-bad this time.
  • My friends are sad that Trump and Clinton are the Presidential candidates, instead of Kaine and Pence. It seems their debate was more civil, detailed and informative. In fact, one person said that Kaine's biggest weakness is that he has to defend Clinton, while Pence's biggest weakness is that he has to defend Trump. So I guess if they were running solo, there'd be less scandal and mudslinging.
I like how everyone agrees that the debate was more civil, even though it had more interruptions.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Phone Upgrade

According to my calendar, it is time for a phone upgrade! What's the coolest new phone out there? What kind of phone should I get? My neighbor mentioned something about phone companies doing sneaky data charges this year. I should try to look out for that.

Post your phone advice here as a comment, and I'll take it into consideration while getting a phone!

...Or maybe it'll be like last time, where the phone company says that I'm locked into my parent's plan for life, and my parents just used my free phone upgrade on themselves. I hope that's not the case!

I looked into getting on my wife's phone plan at one point, but she's ALSO locked into her parent's plan for life. Kind of. The plan gives her family gives unlimited data for life; they locked into the plan years ago, before iPhones were a thing. There is no way they're changing that plan or getting off it now!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Tax Depreciation

I wrote about taxes twice this past week, so I might as well write about Donald Trump's taxes. In case you don't know, the New York Times released part of Trump's 1995 tax return, which shows that he could go about 20 years without paying taxes.

What's going on?

To put things simply, certain taxes can carry over from one year to the next. If Trump has over 900 million dollars in the "carry over from year to year" bucket, then yeah, that's probably going to last him for quite a while.

The problem is that only part of the tax return was released. So we don't know what the 900 million loss is. It could be capital loss carryover, or it could be depreciation. The money can be from stocks, or it can be from real estate. It could be an actual money loss, or just a paper loss. There are lots of possibilities.

Let me use a real-life example. I'm thinking of buying a $1,000 computer for my YouTube business. There are two ways I can deduct that on my taxes. I can either say I lost $1000 this year, or I can split it up over 5 years (the life cycle of the computer). So, for the next five years, I start off with negative $200 for my YouTube business. Basically, it comes down to "get a bigger tax break now" or "get a smaller tax break, spread out over many years".

It's possible that Trump did something like that. In fact, it'd be surprising if he didn't do that, seeing as he buys expensive real estate which gets used for a lot more than five years. And if he maximized the tax break, like an RPG player stacking a bonus, then yes. It's 100% possible, and 100% legal, for him to have set things up, so he wouldn't have to pay any taxes for over a decade. The downside being that he had to put himself almost a billion dollars in the tank, in order to make that magic happen.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers Reviews

I picked up the Hardy Boys: Undercover Brothers series when I was on vacation. I ended up writing five reviews for the series. I don't think I'll make videos and post them, because I'm in my 1980's book review block of Nancy Drew Files and Baby-Sitters Club, both of which are 100+ book series. They're gonna take a while.

What should I do with the Hardy Boys reviews in the meantime? Post them here? I've got reviews for Books 1-4 and 7. Maybe I should read/review Books 5 and 6 on the sly, just so there isn't a weird gap in my series.

The reviews hover around 1100 words, except the first one, which is extra-long because there's a lot to explain. The book goes out of its way to give the Hardys a parrot, which will appear in the background of every other book for no apparent reason. They never DO anything with the parrot. It's just there.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Tax Evasion Question

On my blog yesterday, I got this question:

why do some people go to prison for tax evasion, instead of just garnering their wages / having them pay it back. I am thinking of the actor Wesley Snipes, who said it was the accountant he hired and trusted.

There are several different penalties for tax evasion. If you're fine with reading legalese, here's a partial list from the IRS website. Whenever tax evasion comes up, Criminal Investigation decides what penalty is most appropriate, on a case by case basis.

In general, tax evasion is considered to be "negligence" or "fraud". That is, either it happens by accident, or it happens on purpose. If you wrote a "5" instead of a "6" by mistake, that's negligence. If you deliberately didn't mention your secret business that made $250,000 last year, that's fraud. Fraud carries a much higher penalty than negligence.

The penalty for tax evasion can change, depending on who's responsible: the taxpayer or the preparer (i.e. the person who prepared the tax forms.)

As for Wesley Snipes, he was arrested for not filing any tax returns. For three years, he sent absolutely no tax forms into the IRS. That is a different, less serious crime than filing a bogus tax return, but they both count as tax evasion, because someone isn't paying the correct amount of taxes.