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!