Monday, July 31, 2017

Just So Stories

I don't like reading baby books to the baby. They're so boring. It's stuff like "red, blue, green, yellow...purple!".

So instead, I read her the "Just So Stories" by Rudyard Kipling. I got the idea, after they were mentioned in Matilda. I only knew "The Elephant's Child", growing up. They had a VHS of that story, done by Jack Nicholson. That was the best story of the entire book.

Other good stories were "How the Whale Got His Throat", "How the Camel Got His Hump", "The Beginning of the Armadillos", "The Cat That Walked By Himself" and "The Butterfly That Stamped".

I disliked "The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo"; it wasn't much of a story. As for the others, I'm ambivalent about them. The two stories about Taffy were cute, but "How the Leopard Got His Spots" struck me as vaguely racist. He gets his spots from a black person touching him; the idea being that someone touched their fingerprints all over a leopard, and their fingerprints left several groups of five spots.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Castlevania

My friend Jeddy recently wrote a review of Castlevania: Circle of the Moon, which confirms what everyone already suspected: I am an idiot for liking this game.

Seriously, though, I liked the game. It was my introduction to the Castlevania series; my grandmother got the game for me when I was in high school. I liked it a lot, with its exploring and collecting and cool magic system that the series immediately got rid of after this game.

The prevailing opinion of gamers and the Internet is that Circle of the Moon is not a good game. People prefer the NES and SNES games that came before it. That's a perfectly valid opinion. The series adapted accordingly. The sequels became more similar to the SNES games, and less like Circle of the Moon. Game #2, Harmony of Dissonance, is about half-SNES and half-Circle of the Moon. Game #3, Aria of Sorrow, is full-blown SNES style, and it's the GBA game that's most popular.

At least, I'm pretty sure that's what happened. Not having played the SNES games, I can't be sure.

So the Internet and fans in general think the series got better, with each new GBA game. I'm sort of the opposite, 'cause I liked the first game the best, and I wasn't too happy to see the series move away from it.

Maybe I'll do a walkthrough for the game someday. Probably not, as it'd be a long walkthrough, and I don't think it'd appeal to my subscribers, who prefer casual adventure games. And can I just say, the speedruns for this game are incredible! I had no idea that it was possible to get through the game without killing a single enemy (besides the bosses). Not only is that possible, but it's ideal for timesaving.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance Challenges

I really hope my Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance - Nuzlocke videos will be popular.

I know, my attempts at playing Fire Emblem Gaiden and Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest were both unpopular, to the point where I cancelled the walkthroughs halfway through. But maybe third time's the charm for Arlgefumph Plays Fire Emblem?

I would love to replay the game, with a different challenge! I love playing strategy games with challenges. Here are some possibilities:
  • Ike Solo
  • Girls only
  • Sword users only
  • Laguz only
  • Magic users only
  • Mounted units only
  • Lance users only
  • Greil merceneries only (i.e. only Ike, Titania, Boyd, Oscar, Soren, Mist, Rolfe)
I've done Ike Solo before; it's not too difficult. It's mostly just time-consuming, because he maxes out somewhat quickly, and then you have to wait about ten chapters before he gets a story-based promotion. Since Ike Solo is a real possibility, I think you can tack that onto any of these challenges to make them easier or more palatable, if you're having trouble. Like, "Girls Only + Ike" or "Magic Users Only + Ike".

Friday, July 28, 2017

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance: Nuzlocke

My walkthrough this week will be the first half of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. That's the GameCube Fire Emblem game.



I did the game with a Nuzlocke challenge, which I adapted from Pokémon. Here are the rules.

1. You can only get one new character per chapter. If there are multiple characters in a chapter, you get the first one who talks, and you kill all the rest. This makes the game extremely different! For one thing, the game likes to give you new characters in groups of two to six. So your party will be much smaller than normal.

I ended up getting several characters I rarely use (Tomrod, Devdan), and missing out on characters I regularly use (Marcia, Reyson). It ended up being the case that there were no archers in the Nuzlocke party.

2. No resets. If a character dies in battle, you can't restart the battle and try again. This rule is designed to avoid cheating, and it caused much suffering whenever a good or useful character died unexpectedly.

3. You can never have more than the maximum number of characters. Each battle has a character limit, and you can never go above it. This didn't end up being a problem for me, since I had too many deaths.

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 34

Playing this game in French changes the timing of conversations. Let's use the opening conversation as an example. For reference, I talked about the English timing here.

In English, Nancy's options are "That's right. Are you Emily's guardian?" and "Emily told me your name. It's...". In French, Nancy's options are "Exact. Vous etes la tutrice d'Emily?" and "Emily m'a dit votre nom. C'est...". As you can see, they're basically the same. The time difference is likely to be negligible.

There are five points, where you pick what Nancy says. In both English and French, it's faster to pick the second option, in points 1, 2, 4 and 5. With 1 and 4, the second option is faster, because Jane's response is shorter. With 2 and 5, the second option is faster, because Nancy says fewer words.

Interestingly enough, the third point where you pick Nancy's response is different in French! In English, you want to pick the option "Is she all right?". That's faster than the second option, where Nancy says, "Maybe she's just...you know, still thinking about her mom." In English, Nancy pauses while saying this line. In French, Nancy doesn't pause. So the second option is faster in French!

It's not THAT much faster. It's .07 seconds faster to pick the second option, if you're playing in French. It's 0.4 seconds faster, to pick the first option, if you're playing in English. So the time difference between the two languages is about 0.5 seconds, for this particular conversation option.

Still, it's interesting how one conversation option is faster in French, and the other is faster in English.

I timed the entire conversation in both languages, following the fastest conversation route. Overall, there is a 3.22 second difference between the two versions. French is faster.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Max Holchek Interview

The Nancy Drew podcast did an interview with Max Holchek, who worked on Nancy Drew Games 4-12. He voiced Nicholas Falcone and served as a creative director.



There were interesting tidbits in this interview! He picked out the books that they based games on, and he tried to switch genres every other game.

The thing I found most interesting? The decision to make two games a year was not the original plan of Her Interactive. It was more or less forced on them, when the publisher decided to change the price of the games. They either had to double their production or halve their staff. I'm sure fans of the series are grateful they went with doubling production.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Matilda

Mary listened to Matilda by Roald Dahl as a book on tape recently. I was mildly interested, since I liked the book when I was younger. The movie was good, too.

The book reminded me of The Twits, another book by Dahl. That first half of that book doesn't have much plot. It's just two mean people, playing mean pranks on each other for a long time. Matilda follows along that pathway. It's just her, playing a series of pranks on her parents. She makes them think the house is haunted, she dyes her dad's hair and she glues his hat to his head.

About halfway through, the book switches gears and Matilda goes to school. She meets a nice teacher, and she butts heads with a memorable villain named the Trunchbull.

Matilda develops telekinetic powers at this point, which I thought was amazing when I first read the book. I'd never heard of anything like that! Now that I'm older, I'm a bit more skeptical. WHY does she get telekinetic powers, all of a sudden? The last chapter of the book indicates it's because her brain's potential wasn't being used, but that sounds fishy to me. Miss Honey was giving her fifth-grade lessons (or at least, fifth-grade books), so her brain was more actively used and stimulated in school, compared to the first half of the book where she sat at home all day. You'd think the powers would have shown up then, instead of conveniently showing up right after she meets the main villain.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Channel Organizing

I've mentioned this before, but I'm not sure how to organize the various demos and things I've done on my YouTube channel. There are some games that I've played the demos of, like Phoenix Wright 5 and Bravely Default: Flying Fairy. There are other games, where I've tried out the game for fifteen minutes and just called it a demo.

I've got them spread out over various playlists. Some are in "livestreams", some are in "demos" and some are in "backlog clearing".

Maybe I should just delete the old demos, which nobody watches anymore? I should switch the livestream demos over to demos, even though they were livestreamed? I'm not sure.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Female Link

Before Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was released, everyone I know was super excited because the game would feature a female Link. I have no idea how that rumor got started. Obviously, it was false. Maybe people were confused with the female Link character, Linkle, in Hyrule Warriors Legends.

I was thinking about it the other day, and Zelda games really like having dual overworlds. There's the light/dark overworlds in Link to the Past, there's the good present/evil future worlds in Ocarina of Time and Oracle of Ages, the giant world/small world in Minish Cap, the normal world/twilight world in Twilight Princess and so on.

I think a female Link would follow along that precedent. That is, a female Link would be part of a game, where there's a male world and a female world. It could be that Link's the only person who can travel between the two worlds, or it could be that Link has the ability to change genders. Both scenarios would fit in with the series precedent.

That seems like an awesome premise for a game to me! I think there is a big potential for confusion and awkwardness, though, because the game developers will most likely follow Japanese standards for male/female behavior. Japanese beliefs on gender don't match with American beliefs on gender, obviously. That was a problem with Case Three of Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies. A big plot twist was that a person of one gender was secretly a person of the other gender, complete with stereotypes like "only males yell loudly" and "women cannot resist putting on dresses". I think I'd prefer a game without a female Link, as opposed to a game with a female Link that follows stereotypes that are unknown to me.

Oh! Speaking of stereotypes that are unknown to me! In two different books, the Baby-Sitters Club denounces the stereotype that men have to order dinner for their wives at restaurants. I honestly never heard of that stereotype before. Is it common? I can see why the girls would NOT like it, though. Having someone order for you, without consulting you first? That's a jerk move.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Old Clock Speedrun Planning 33

Ha ha ha, you thought I was done planning the speedrun for Nancy Drew: Secret of the Old Clock? You are mistaken! I went back to the game for a bit, to see if I could learn anything new. I don't have access to the game's programming, so I could be 100% wrong about these things. In fact, I probably am. But hey, I spent a half hour wasting my time on this, might as well get a blog post out of it!

Richard Topham doesn't appear, until you talk to Emily and exit through the front door of the Lilac Inn. If there was a way to glitch the game into thinking you've talked to Emily, you could get to Richard Topham earlier. Like...I dunno. Click on Emily to start the conversation with her, then immediately click the menu button to save your game? That way, the game thinks you've started the conversation, but doesn't think you're still in the conversation?

There's also a brief moment in the opening scenes where you have access to the cursor. That's right after Jane leaves the podium, and when Emily discovers the missing jewels. If there was a way to turn around or move places during that brief moment, you'd skip the rest of the opening scene. You could leave the Lilac Inn immediately and talk to Richard Topham; the game would proceed as normal. You'd have to go back to the Lilac Inn to ask Emily about Jim Archer, but you have to go back and ask her about her mother's middle name anyway, so that's not TOO bad.

Any suggestions or ideas as to how to get this to work? It'd be a neat timesaver.

I also discovered that all the people in the trivet fetch quest don't show up, until they have to. That is, if you visit someone early, they won't be there. You have to meet Mrs. Sheldon to make the phone operator appear, you have to meet the operator to make Mrs. O'Shea appear, she has to tell you about printing the tickets before the tickets appear. Too bad there's no sneaky way to cut out most of the trivet quest by fishing early, or something like that.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Several Questions

I got several questions posted as a comment to one of my posts. Let me answer them rapid-fire.

1. How did you discover that some ND puzzles and story lines are optional?

Some of them, I was deliberately looking to see what could be skipped, for speedrun purposes. Others, I skipped accidentally, and I didn't discover they were a thing until I replayed the games.

2. How did you find out Lani Minella disliked some of the ND puzzles when she played the games?

Phoenix, one of the Nancy Drew interns who talked to Lani Minella, told me so. I have never talked to Lani, either directly or indirectly.

3. How many times have you played each and every ND game?

Five times each, I'd say. More like twenty, with the ones I've done speedruns for.

4. Which ND game do you think you have played the most times?

Message in a Haunted Mansion. It's short, so that's ideal for speedrunning.

5. Who is your favorite ND character?

Let's go with Nancy, this time around.

6. Who is your least fav ND character?

Whoever gives you a ton of chores.

7. After your first game was Haunted Carousel, which was the very next game you played?

No idea.

8. If you could only play one ND game ever again, which one would it be?

Right now, The Final Scene is a game I want to revisit.

8. What is your favorite part of being a father?

I like watching Rosie develop and learn new skills.

9. What is Mary's favorite part of being a big sister?

She likes playing with the baby.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull (French)

Here's the latest video in the Foreign Nancy Drew marathon!



The French version is DEFINITELY faster than the English version, as it cuts out some of the dialogue. For example, the part where Bess tells Lamont what order to look up. According to the text box, Bess is supposed to say the number out loud, before Lamont searches through his index. The game cuts out Bess' line and goes straight to Lamont searching through the index.

Solving the graveyard puzzle was incredibly difficult, because most of the character names are puns. The only one I understood Marion Nett, or "marionette". I was able to get the names "Grant" and "Tammy Tasselman", simply because they're the same in both languages. The others were a nightmare to figure out, and I'm sure it took at least twenty minutes.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Star Trek Voyager

Well, my wife and I finished watched all the episodes of Star Trek Voyager. It's an okay show. The two previous Star Trek shows both got really good in Season Three. Voyager waits until Season Five, before getting good. I wish the show had improved much earlier, instead of improving past the halfway point.

My main problem with the series is its wasted potential. The premise is that our heroes are stranded, 70 years from home. It's almost impossible for them to get back alive. Also, half the crew is dead. They're forced to team up with their mortal enemies in order to survive. About two episodes in, neither of these things matter anymore. Everyone acts like normal officers on a normal mission, to the point where they could be only 7 days from home, and you wouldn't know it.

When the show started getting good again, they remembered the "stranded far from home" premise, and we had about five memorable episodes that take place in our home galaxy. These episodes starred Barklay or the Doctor. There was also a neat subplot of our heroes getting letters from home.

They didn't go back to the premise of "half the crew are former rebels", which I guess makes sense. They've been acting nicely for five years. No need for them to suddenly turn evil, although we did have a mind control episode where they did just that.

I think something which dragged the show down was the large cast. It's got too many characters, and remember, the original Star Trek had three main characters. The other characters were mostly just props, although Scotty the Engineer managed to become an ascended extras. Voyager wasn't able to successfully juggle so many characters; I think they should have gotten rid of a few of them.

I'd suggest getting rid of Harry Kim. I liked him a lot, but he was unimportant to the show. I'd also get rid of Chakotay, who was in basically every episode, but it felt like he wasn't. It felt like he was missing, for a season or two. It doesn't help that his main character trait is "stoic"; the show has too many stiff characters as it is. I think it was the right decision to get rid of Kes; as the DVD commentary from the producers said, she just didn't work, even when they tried multiple things with her.

The Doctor is great, as is Seven of Nine. I'm sure someone must enjoy the Neelix/Tuvok dynamic, or else they wouldn't keep showing it. I'm ambivalent about Captain Janeway. It's clear that fans of the show love it, when Janeway is forced into a rough situation, and she makes tough decisions, like in "Year of Hell". I personally don't like that. Yeah, it's nice to see her kick butt and take charge, but I'd like to see her do that, without being forced to go through awful situations first.

My wife and I are split on how we feel about the other characters. She hates the Bellana/Tom romance, which is basically the only romance on the show. I liked Bellana as a character, although I didn't like her gratuitous nude scenes. Tom has an interesting backstory, being the criminal son of a celebrated admiral, but I think there were too many "Tom plays with his newest car/obsession" episodes.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Life Overview

I mentioned high school yesterday. Hard to imagine that I'm twice as old as I was when I first entered high school!

I have a hard time remembering high school, without cringing. I was pretty awkward and made stupid mistakes a lot. I also wrote awful poetry, fought with my parents, and occasionally hated everyone. I started doing videogame walkthroughs in high school, though, so it's not a complete loss. And I was President of the English Club for a semester, until the club was cancelled due to lack of interest!

It sounds awful when I put it that way, but I got a neat t-shirt and theme song out of it.

College was a lot like high school, with all the bad parts amped up, because nobody had any parents to keep them in check. Seriously, everyone behaved like idiots without any self-control. I hated most of college and high school. If I could go back, I'd probably change colleges. Or at least, have a different major. Go into business or computers, something which pays better than ancient languages. But college is when I started my YouTube channel! I saw it as a natural extension of videogame walkthroughs.

The other major periods of my life since then have been "Michael has no idea what he's doing with his life", "Michael is studying to become a Catholic priest", "Michael has no idea what he's doing with his life, Part Two" and now I'm on "married with kids". When I read some old posts from this blog, it feels like I'm reading something that was written by a totally different person!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

This Blog

I feel like I haven't had enough time to keep up with this blog, recently. I mentioned Facebook yesterday, and I honestly feel like I don't have enough time to keep up with my Arglefumph Facebook page! I try to write a new post for Facebook every day, even though it's usually a generic post like "here's the latest video I've posted today!". But half the time, I'm scrambling to come up with something, and I post late.

Keeping up this blog is harder, as I usually write more than a single sentence. The baby takes up most of my free time, but I think my wife is part of the problem, too. I now have someone in real life who will listen to the random thoughts and ideas I come up with! I don't have to resort to using a blog for human contact anymore!

This is the first time that's been the case since, um...high school? High school.

Anyway, I'm not cancelling the blog quite yet, but don't be surprised if I try to transition away from the blog and onto Facebook for my random Nancy Drew writing.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Book Reviews

Okay, now that my Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription has run out, I can stop reading Sweet Valley High books. I feel like that's all I've read so far this year, after reading 33 books in six months.

I've recorded the audio for all my Sweet Valley High reviews at this point; I just need to pick out pictures and sync them to the audio. My wife and I joke that my book reviews are glorified PowerPoint presentations. The reviews I'll have, when I'm done, are books 52 53 57 59 67 79 81 83 91 94 99 100 105 112 126 127 128 129 130 131 141 142 and 143.

The only non-Sweet Valley High book reviews I have ready are Hardy Boys Casefiles 6 and 17 and Baby-Sitters Club 37-39, plus Baby-Sitters Super Special 5. I wrote reviews for the next four River Heights books, but I haven't recorded them yet. I find it amazing that there are only four River Heights books after this. I'm gonna finish that series relatively soon! Maybe. Or maybe Sweet Valley High's huge backlog will get in the way. Maybe I'll Facebook ask my fans how to proceed.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Supergirl

Mary and I are watching the Supergirl TV show together, and it's really good. The show strikes a balance between stereotypical girl parts (like love triangles) and stereotypical boy parts (like punching aliens). So there's something everyone can enjoy!

My favorite character is Supergirl's boss, who drops a lot of funny one-liners like "Get me a salad. I don't care what type it is, as long as there's a cheeseburger on it." Sadly, her funny one-liners got replaced by random pop culture references, which I guess are supposed to be kind of funny, but they're more self-aggrandizing than anything else.

We're currently working our way through Season One, which came out in 2016. There are some painful references to the 2016 Presidential race, between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Like one episode, with the racist politician who openly rants about aliens. Or the episode where "the walking personification of white male privilege" tries to discredit Supergirl's boss by publicly releasing her emails. Those are the more obvious examples. I have to imagine they received some backlash for interrupting the superhero cartoon with political lectures.

[Random side note: Just saw the episode where Supergirl has to disable a nuclear bomb. I paused, on the shot which shows a map of the United States, with red lights for all the places that are being bombed. The only place in Oregon getting bombed is Medford. What?]

Mary sometimes complains that the special effects are too CGI. I tried telling her that is the only type of special effects that exists, nowdays. It actually reminds me a bit of the Quidditch scenes, in the first Harry Potter movie, in that the greenscreen shots look better and more realistic than CGI shots. They should lean more heavily on that.

Overall, I'd give the show a thumbs-up. I like it so far.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Fairly Oddparents

My wife and I were talking about long-running TV series the other day, and I couldn't help but think of The Fairly Oddparents. I liked that show when I was younger. I haven't seen it in years, but it seems to me that it went through several distinct phases.

Seasons 1-3 were really creative and inventive, coming up with neat ideas based on the premise of magical fairies who can grant every wish. It was good stuff.

Seasons 4-5 were not so good, as the show became more of a generic sitcom. Creative premises were replaced by more typical premises, like "let's do an episode based off a movie" and "celebrity guest star episode". Also a lot of "reuse a previous idea/character that was popular", which was hit or miss. That was when I stopped watching the show, and it was cancelled.

The show was uncancelled two years later. Seasons 6 and 7 introduced Poof, the new main character. I don't much care for him, myself, but I enjoyed those seasons. The show went full-blown comedy at that point, and I liked that. Off-the-wall comedy works well for the show.

Season 8 was a strange one, with only six episodes. They made each episode double-length. The show was basically the same, but longer episodes made it different enough, to keep it fresh.

Seasons 9 and 10 tried to shake things up, with a new main character each season. I haven't seen Season 10, but Season 9's new main character was kind of a failure. He was a weird Rick Moranis parody, and I'm told he hasn't been seen since.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Harbinger Maze

I just finished writing the video descriptions for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Harbinger. I doubt I'll write a full review for the game, but I wanted to complain about the maze. The maze in that game is straight-up awful.

The main reason it's awful is because of the drones. Every time you take a step, there is a 40% chance of drones appearing. You need to shoot the drones off the screen, or else they shoot you, and it's game over. Turning left or right counts as "taking a step", for the purposes of the drones. It's really hard to get your bearings in a three-dimensional maze, when every few seconds, you have to do a shooting challenge.

The other reason why it's awful is that it comes with unnecessary, unexplained rules. The maze has four exits, not counting the one you enter from. You need to visit the four exits in a specific order. If you visit them in the wrong order, sorry, you have to go back and do it again. This isn't as bad as it could be, since the maze is mostly a one-way trek. There are only two places where the pathway splits for real; all the other pathway splits lead to dead ends. Still, basically no one is going to visit all four exits in the correct order on their first try. That would require a ton of luck.

The first two exits you want to visit are generator rooms. Those are simple. Go into the room, push a button, then turn around and go back into the maze. I'm not sure why you have to visit the one generator room before the other. They're not connected in any way.

The third exit leads to the central control room, and the walkthroughs I saw recommended to visit this room FIRST, as you can turn off the drones from here. The drones are such a huge pain, going out of your way to disable them as soon as possible is definitely a good idea.

Turning off the drones is part of a five-part matching puzzle, with the other parts being activated by the two generators. The puzzle is difficult and unexplained. The general idea is that you press both panels with the same picture on it, while following audio cues. Do this for all five matches, and you're done! The problem is that the audio cues aren't obvious, and they appear to be randomly mixed up. Last time I played the game, I knew what I was doing, and I still failed the puzzle three times in a row.

The fourth exit leads to an elevator, a hallway and another elevator. You can't get into the second elevator, unless you've solved all the puzzles in the third room correctly. There is no in-game explanation for this, like "the elevator needs power". The game just doesn't let your character step forward to the elevator. He walks partway down the hallway and stops there.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Three Things Thursday

1. Two people were flying drones in the sky, during the local Fourth of July fireworks. What a jerk move! "Let me fly a lighted drone all around, to distract everyone from the show!"

2. What's with all the reviews of Wonder Woman that say it's the first action movie with a female lead? Did those reviewers not watch the last two Star Wars movies? I didn't see the last one, but I did see The Force Awakens, and it was all about a woman with superpowers saving the world. I'd say the Jedi are superheroes, if you use a loose definition of "superhero".

3. I'm not entirely sure, but I think the Bernie Sanders people have me on file as a potential political candidate, in the next set of elections. I highly doubt that they'll ask me to run for office, though. I've posted too many silly things on this blog and YouTube; I can just imagine the attack ads, featuring my goofy dance moves. Plus, I'm a pro-life Democrat, and we tend to be unpopular with Democrats in general. Maybe I could run as a family values candidate? I have a family. That makes me pro-family values, right?

More realistically, though, they'll pick someone from Portland. Those people are way more invested in politics than I am. My interest in politics is mostly limited to writing Cat President: A More Purrfect Union. In my defense, I had a baby shortly after the 2016 election! It's hard to get the free time to focus on politics, when you're changing diapers.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Insurance (Part 2)

Yesterday, I explained that insurance is cheaper, when a lot of people are buying it, but not using it. Prices are higher if people are using it a lot, or if only a few people are buying it.

This is why childbirth insurance is expensive. Pretty much no one gets it, except for pregnant women. It's an unfortunate combination of not many people buying it, and almost everyone in the insurance pool using it. When I say "not many people" get that health insurance, I'm speaking relatively. Obviously, millions of women give birth. But the percentage of the general population who gives birth any particular year is low, compared to, say, the percentage of people who watch the Superbowl.

This is also why the government runs the Medicare program, for people who are 65 and older. Statistically speaking, people at that age are very likely to need healthcare. By putting all those people in their own separate program, it lowers the cost of healthcare for everyone else. When you don't count senior citizens, that lowers the number of people using healthcare.

I personally think we should renamed "Medicaid" as "elder care" or something like that, because as it stands now, "Medicaid" sounds a lot like "Medicare", and people get the two confused all the time. Medicare is healthcare for poor people, who normally can't afford healthcare. The idea is that this increases the number of people who buy insurance but don't use it, making prices go down. I personally think Medicare's effect on the price of healthcare is more or less irrelevant; we should provide Medicare to people who otherwise couldn't get healthcare, because it's the right thing to do. Jesus commands us to help the sick as a corporal work of mercy.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Insurance (Part 1)

I've been told that the golden rule of insurance is "insurance is cheap, when people who don't need it are buying it."

For example, let's say Nancy Drew has "getting hit on the head by a criminal" insurance. When she gets a concussion, insurance pays $5,000 for her hospital fees. If there are 50 people in the insurance pool, they all have to pay $100, to cover for Nancy's fees. If there are 100 people in the pool, they all have to pay $50. If there are 5,000 people in the pool, they all have to pay $1.

Basically, we need a lot of people who AREN'T getting hit on the head, to cover for Nancy. But say Frank and Joe Hardy join the insurance group. Now there are three people getting concussions, and everyone has to pay three times as much, in order to cover them.

Get the idea? People who use the insurance = higher cost per person. People who don't use the insurance = lower cost per person. Ideally, you could get such a large number of people in your insurance pool that prices would stay relatively stable, regardless of how often it's used. That's sort of how car insurance works. The car insurance company has millions of customers, keeping prices low.

Another way insurance companies keep costs low is by charging people on a sliding scale. That is, the more likely you are to need the insurance, the more you have to pay to get it. I remember in high school, when the guys spent HOURS complaining about the fact that they have to pay more for car insurance than girls do. Adults responded with condescending remarks about sixteen-year-old boys being reckless drivers. This led to the teenage boys complaining even more.

The sliding scale usually has a cut-off point, where it's not financially viable for someone to get insurance. Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys are a good example. They get into dangerous situations, every single month! Each book usually has three to five scenes where they almost die or get killed. I wouldn't want them into my insurance pool, because they'd make my prices skyrocket!

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Hardy Boys: The Perfect Crime

Here's my walkthrough for "The Hardy Boys: The Perfect Crime".



I was expecting an adventure game, like the previous installment in the series. Alas, we got a hidden objects game without any voice acting, instead. It's moderately amusing, even if it's not as high-quality as the last game. I think it would be improved with voice acting and some more localization (for example, sometimes a wrench is called "wrench" and sometimes it's called "spanner").

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor in Russian

Here is a livestream of me playing Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor, in Russian!



The most interesting difference is that LouLou, the female parrot, is now Lori, the elderly male parrot. Lori's word association game was turned into a "enter the famous person's last name challenge". I think Ethel is less scary in Russian, while Linda is more scary, as she does angry wolf-breathing. Playing Bul against Jane is easier, as she is a way less aggressive player.

Also, you see the pieces of paper that Nigel uses for his memoirs. I'm pretty sure that's not in the English version. I mentioned the lack of memoir-papers in the "Everything Wrong With" for that game, right?

I'm pretty sure that there's a time difference between the English and Russian versions of the game. Speedrunners will have to figure out which version is faster! The main time difference will probably be Nancy's dialogue. If she talks faster in Russian, then speedrunning in Russian will be ideal.

I'm hoping to turn this into a 2017 Foreign Nancy Drew Games Marathon! I have no idea what the official name for the marathon should be, though,

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Video Walkthroughs

My wife wanted me to figure out how far in advance I have videos ready, for the YouTube Channel. Well, here are all the walkthroughs I've got recorded!
  • Fire Emblem Path of Radiance Nuzlocke (11 videos)
  • Ghost Trick (75 videos)
  • Phoenix Wright Case 3 (14 videos left)
  • Royal Trouble: Honeymoon Havoc (8 videos)
  • Grammar Games (2 videos)
  • Captain Warlock (11 videos)
  • Phoenix Wright Case 4 (23 videos)
  • Spirit of Mystery: Chains of Promise (12 videos)
  • Hardy Boys: The Perfect Crime (10 videos)
  • Cadenza: The Kiss of Death (9 videos)
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Harbinger (6 videos)
Oh, jeez, now I have to do math. 106 videos, not including Ghost Trick. 181 videos with that super long iOS game. I generally post two videos a day, so that's...50 days? Two months? Add another month for Ghost Trick. I guess this means I've got a pretty decent-sized backlog.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Turkey Brie Melt with Cranberry Apple Chutney

The other recipe I tried this week was a turkey brie melt, with cranberry apple chutney. I got the recipe from a Nob Hill magazine. Nob Hill doesn't exist anymore, but the recipe is still available online.

It's basically a fancy sandwich with three layers. Layer one is brie cheese slices! I couldn't find that at the supermarket, so I used muenster. Layer two is quarter-inch thick turkey slices. Again, I couldn't find that at the supermarket, so I just went with normal sandwich turkey slices. I used two slices of the turkey and cheese on each sandwich.

Layer three is chutney. I mixed a third of a cup of cranberry sauce with a splash of vinegar and a small amount of cinnamon. (I didn't have the other ingredients: raisins and minced onion.) You combine it with small apple slices, from a peeled, chopped and cored apple. It's basically just apple slices in cranberry sauce, and it's delicious. Cook it on low for 20 minutes.

The recipe recommends cooking it on a skillet, like a grilled cheese sandwich. I, um...I don't know how to cook grilled cheese sandwiches. Both Mom and my wife never let me do it, so I never learned. There's some kind of skill, involving putting butter on the bread slices and flipping the sandwich? Anyway, butter the outsides of the sandwich and cook it on both sides, on medium, for five minutes.

I liked the sandwich, especially the apple slices in cranberry. I want to use the chutney sauce on other stuff, not just sandwiches. But once again, my wife hated the recipe. She says she hates fruit sauces, and she hates apple pieces mixed in with things. So double failure.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Sausage Egg Scramble with Chips and Cheese

I tried cooking the sausage egg scramble with chips and cheese, because it seems like a recipe I can make!

First you brown sausage in a large skillet over medium heat. You add six beaten eggs and a teaspoon of garlic salt. You stir frequently until the eggs are almost set. I'm not sure what "set eggs" are, but I didn't have time to look it up, because I was sort of cooking and watching the baby at the same time.

Step two is to stir in a cup of pico de gallo, a cup of tortilla chips, a cup of shredded Mexican blend cheese, and a sliced avocado. I, um, just dumped some shredded cheese on top without measuring it. Bad Michael. You're supposed to cover the skillet and cook for a few minutes more to melt the cheese.

The end result was like an omelette with sausage bits, although my wife said it is definitely NOT an omelette. She also ate zero bites of the meal. She thought I wouldn't notice, but I did. I guess we can count it as a failure.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Quinoa Chicken Wraps

Last week, I tried a new recipe: the quinoa chicken wrap! It wasn't actually a recipe, though. I saw something a fancy wrap recipe in a booklet, but the only ingredients I had were the quinoa and chicken. So those got upgraded to the main ingredients.

It was pretty simple. You take chicken breasts and cut them into pieces, then cook them in a frying pan. You cook the quinoa in a pan, according to the instructions on the box. Then just put them both together in a tortilla. It's basically a chicken burrito, except without any cheese and with quinoa instead of rice or beans. It tasted just fine to me!

I decided to make it again this week, only this time, I'm going to add a leaf of lettuce to each wrap, to make it even more healthy and wrap-like. I'm not entirely sure what the definition of a wrap is, and how it differs from a burrito, but it seems like most wraps include lettuce and/or tiny cheese bits. But when I went to the grocery store to get ingredients, I got stuck because I couldn't find the quinoa box. I found a bag of quinoa in the rice section, but it has more complicated cooking instructions than "boil in a pot of water like macaroni and cheese".

We'll see how it goes over. I'm pretty sure my family will like it, and I can add this to my official recipe book. The first-ever recipe in the book that I came up with myself! This is pretty amazing. Speaking of amazing cooking stuff, I found my missing recipe book! You know, the one that I was working on, before the baby was born. Now that I've got it again, I can go back to doing 1-2 new recipes a week! I found two cool recipes to try out this week, and spoiler alert: I couldn't find the correct ingredients for them at the grocery store, either.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July! Two years ago, I married Katie, and darned if we can remember what we did on our first anniversary. I think I tried to find a mango cake, to replace the one that was stolen from our wedding, but the local bakery didn't have mango available as a flavor. Sadness.

Enjoy the day off of work, everyone!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Latin Project

Here's a better example of what I was talking about yesterday. My current translation project is St. Thomas Aquinas' piece on the "Our Father", entitled Expositio in Orationem Dominicam. A google search for the title reveals one copy of it, and a bunch of garbage results. The singular copy is pretty good, though! It has the Latin version on the left and the English version on the right, for easy comparison. My only complaint is that they added English footnotes, when Aquinas cites his sources in the text itself.

If you look for this text in English, you get more results, but they're all the same translation. There are 1 or 2 other translations from archive.org, but those have all been mangled by their OCR program.

This particular text is basically a PowerPoint Presentation. He divides the "Our Father" into seven parts. Each part is broken up into smaller parts, and he has 1-4 points to make about each part. He made a bulleted list for the prayer and expanded on each bullet point. It took me a while to realize that's how he was organizing it.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Greek and Latin

I was a Greek and Latin major in college. With the birth of my baby, it's been impossible for me to keep up with those languages. Latin is the easier language to study, since it's more recent and uses the same alphabet as English, so I'm dropping Greek and keeping Latin. The goal is to do at least some Latin translation each week. We'll see how it works!

I'm a little disappointed that the Internet hasn't proven to be a boon for Greek and Latin studies. If only computers had been developed a hundred years earlier, when it was more common for Americans to be multilingual! Most of the time, all the good online sources are ripped straight from public domain books, written before 1923. Those people did all their work by hand, and just imagine how much better they could have done, if they had computers!

For example, textual variants. All the old manuscripts were written out, copied and recopied by hand. Not every copy is the same, and it's interesting to see the various differences. There should be a website where you can hover your mouse over a line or something, to see the different variations. That'd be neat to see for Greek and Latin texts. Also, for Shakespeare's works. Oh man, we could scan all the original texts and see them for ourselves, instead of relying on typed versions of the texts!

Also, more translations would be nice. When I'm translating something from Latin, it's useful to have one or two English translations as a guide, in case I get stuck and can't figure out what the author is saying. But most of the time, the only translations available are the pre-1923 ones. You'd think there would easily be 5+ websites, with multiple translations of a single work. There are certainly enough websites with multiple translations of the Bible. It shouldn't be too much of a stretch to imagine something like that for Greek and Latin writings.