Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Soap Opera Relationships

I've always been a little skeptical, when people say relationships or marriages are all about feelings or emotions. In general, it seems like a bad idea to base something on a feeling, because feelings are temporary and fleeting.

You see this in soap operas all the time. The characters have superficial relationships, built on passion and romance. Six months later when their feelings change, they decide, oops, guess they weren't really in love after all. So they break up or get divorced and restart the cycle all over again.

When I was still watching "General Hospital", Sonny and Carly were getting married for the fourth or fifth time. That's a lot of breaking up and getting back together.

So I don't like the idea that marriage and relationships are all about feelings. I want a higher standard than that. I happen to like the Catholic idea that love is an action, a conscious decision, an act of the will.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Refunds

I saw "Already spent my refund on" was trending on Twitter the other day. As an IRS employee, that hashtag makes me nervous. I would strongly advise everyone to NOT spend your refund, until you actually get it. Okay?

Don't say, "I'm getting a $2,000 refund in two weeks, so I'm gonna spend the money now." Your refund could get held up because you're missing a form. Or because there's a typo with your bank account number. Or you could be the victim of the Identity Theft Case From Hell.

The most painful reason that a tax return can get held up? The taxpayer forgot to sign it. If you don't sign your return, you can't get a refund.

People will occasionally ask, "I don't have a pen on me right now. Can I sign my return in pencil?". There are currently no laws, indicating what you have to sign in, so you can use pencil, pen, sparkly glitter crayon, etc. As long as the signature is valid, that's all that matters. I wouldn't recommend signing in invisible ink, though.

Monday, March 27, 2017

California Diaries

I'm feeling pressure with my book reviews, because I've got over thirty Sweet Valley High books available on Amazon Kindle Unlimited. My subscription runs out in June or July, so there's a time limit! I think it comes out to one book every two days, so I can get to them all? I'm not sure.

The California Diaries series is also on Kindle Unlimited. That is a spinoff of the Baby-Sitters Club series. It's the "mature spinoff for older readers", which seems just as common as the "lighter spinoff for younger readers". That is, Baby-Sitters Club, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys AND Sweet Valley High all have both spinoff of those types.

California Diaries never caught on, for two main reasons. First, the timing was off. It premiered so close to the end of the main series that they didn't have much time to get many books out. Three books per narrator, that's all. The same problem occurred with Nancy Drew On Campus and the one Nancy Drew manga series.

Second, the series is handwritten. As in, the font they used looks like an eighth-grader's handwriting. I had a hard time reading the one book from the series I own, just because of that. I don't know if other readers had the same problem, but that was a major downside for me. If it is difficult to read the book because of the handwriting, I'm less likely to read it!

Thank goodness I've got the eBook version. That has the downside of editors who did a sloppy job getting the text into eBook format--some sentences are cut off halfway through, that sort of thing--but as least I can read all the words.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Games on Steam Greenlight

"The Pizza Delivery Boy Who Saved the World" is on Steam Greenlight. Please vote for it, so it can get released! I'm told that Steam is revamping its procedures in the near future, so the sooner we get the game pushed through, the better!

We also have "The Francy and Friends Collection", which has "Francy Droo 2", "Trapped in a Soap Opera" and other games. Vote for that, too!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Runes Puzzle

I was playing "Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor" the other day. I wondered why Nancy never told Linda about the runes puzzle, which is right below the plaque with the curse. The curse itself tells you to solve the puzzle, after all. That is relevant information which Linda should know.


"Linda! Linda!" Nancy cried, bounding in the room. "I figured out how to undo the curse!"

"You have?" Linda asked. "But that's impossible!"

"It's not," Nancy said. "It's right there, in the third paragraph of the plaque. 'Prove thy worthiness and memorialize here the innocent one so wrongly condemned for saving lives. Else consider thyself right and truly cursed.' See? You're only cursed if you DON'T prove your worth!"

"And how exactly do you 'prove your worth'?" Linda asked sharply. "I have no idea what that means!"

"It means all you have to do is put Elinor's name into the puzzle, to avoid being cursed," Nancy said. She pulled out a piece of paper with a grin. "And I've got Jane's papers on Norse runes."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Linda said. "Puzzle? Norse runes? Have you been cursed, too? A curse that prevents you from making sense?"

"No," Nancy said. "The picture slides open. Didn't you notice that?"

"It WHAT?"

"You just put your fingers into the little hole where the eyeball is, then you slide the picture away to reveal some Norse runes," Nancy said. "Then you spell out 'Elinor' in runes. It's pretty simple."

"Why did you stick your fingers in the eyeball--whatever," Linda said. "I'm going to see this for myself. Only..."

"You don't want to be seen. I understand," Nancy said. "I'll leave the rune alphabet stuff here, then I'll play a game in Jane's room to distract her. Will ten minutes be enough?"

"That would be wonderful, thanks."

Nancy went to Jane, and they played a game of Bul together. They had been at it for less than ten minutes, when Linda entered the room, looking happy, healthy and a tad hairy.

"It worked!" she said. "The curse is undone! I'm no longer turning into a werewolf! And solving the rune puzzle opened a secret passageway!"

"That's wonderful! Did you explore it?" Nancy asked.

"No way! I've had enough of hidden passageways to last a lifetime!"

Jane was confused. "Huh?" she asked. "There's a rune puzzle near the curse?"

Linda's eyes narrowed. "Jane, what do you know about this curse?"

"Uh oh," Jane said.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Eyeball Picture

I'm working on "Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor". It's going to take a while, since I did a four hour livestream of the game. I'm in the process of rewatching every minute of those four hours and taking notes.

Something which always confused me about the game was the LouLou word puzzle. Where did it come from? As Jane says, she explored the hallway and only found "a funny picture". It's some weird eyeball thing. But when you click on it, suddenly, there's a parrot puzzle. And when you back away, the eyeball picture is there again. What's up with that? There is a sliding sound when Nancy zooms in on the picture, and I guessed it was Nancy sliding the picture aside? Like, the puzzle is on the backside of the picture?

Well, I finally figured it out. It's not obvious with the LouLou word puzzle, but it's obvious with the eyeball picture on the runes puzzle. The picture itself slides open. As in, Nancy puts her fingers in the eyeball and spreads the two halves apart, revealing a puzzle underneath. You can see the sides of the eyeball on the far left/right edges of the runes puzzle.

I'm still wondering how Nancy knew she had to pull the picture apart to reveal a puzzle. That's not intuitive.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Values

I saw a YouTube video by Bishop Barron last week, about tolerance and inclusivity. He mentioned that every society has certain fundamental values, which people prize. In our society, we prize things like tolerance and inclusivity, freedom and liberty, and love and truth.

Sometimes, the different values can come into conflict. We've seen this recently, with some people saying hateful, intolerant things. Does that trump their right to free speech? If we decide to censor someone or not, that's making a judgment call over whether we prize freedom or tolerance higher.

A moral dilemma that I've seen people propose is whether or not you should tell your best friend that their new haircut looks awful. People say that's making a judgment call over whether we prize love or truth more. I've never quite understood that conflict; it always seems to me that you should tell your friend the truth because you love them. Love and truth don't have to be in conflict, in that case. It seems more to me that the truth flows from love, as opposed to love being against truth.

Bishop Barron makes the point that if love is your highest virtue, there are times when it will come into conflict with tolerance and inclusivity. You can think of a teacher who loves their students, but isn't going to tolerate misbehavior in class. And that's good; it's better for the class overall, if misbehavior and distractions are eliminated. Does this mean the teacher is an oppressive bigot? No, because the teacher is operating out of love, wishing the well-being of the students.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Everything Wrong With Suggestions

As usual, I've got some "Everything Wrong With" suggestions that I'm not sure whether or not to include. What do you think?

1. Who is the woman on the cover of the box? There's no one in a red robe in this game.
2. "There's something out there!" It's pretty out of character for Nancy to shriek in terror at a scary noise.
3. The hand cursor in the opening scene, on the door knocker, tricked me into thinking I have to click in order to proceed.
4. How did [culprit] do the voice and growl at the start of the game?
5. Just like "Danger on Deception Island", this game has a Russian expert who left their phone number in a textbook.
6. Why did Elinor forbid people from hunting the Blackmoor Beast? That was never explained.
7. "Refrain from mucking about with items that aren't yours". Nancy follows Mrs. Drake's orders to stay inside, but she totally ignores Mrs. Drake's orders to not
8. "And then...and then what? And then she changed the subject." Nancy's heavy-handed dramatic cliffhanger.
9. How does using the computer open up hidden panels all over the manor?
10. Nancy types of Nigel's memoirs, but where did she get them in the first place? Is she copying off of handwritten pages? Because there are no pages in this scene.
11. After the chanting scene, the lights turn on, the second Jane's door shuts. How does THAT work?
12. How does solving the door puzzle cause the well to be filled?
13. Why does Ethel make such a big deal out of the fact that only the initiated can find the forge? Nancy is uninitiated and has no problem solving the mystery.
14. Nancy should still be able to move the statue, after Nigel puts a cloth on it.
15. Nancy is forced to solve the dragon and gargoyle puzzles every time she enters the hidden passageways, but with all the other puzzles, she only has to solve them once.
16. You can play the game through and win without finding the letter about the hair cream, which makes things a bit confusing.
17. Someone said "airport codes" in the game were wrong. What does THAT refer to?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Wizard of Oz Argument

My friends had a pointless argument over "The Wizard of Oz" the other day! Normally, the pointless argument I hear about that movie is whether or not it's an extensive metaphor for World War Two or the Great Depression or something. It's not. The book was written in 1900; therefore, the author was not lampooning events which happened decades later.

No, this argument was over Glinda. She asks Dorothy, "Are you a good witch or a bad witch?", later adding "only bad witches are ugly".

The first person says this is an insult, suggesting that Dorothy is ugly. Dorothy is clearly pretty, and since bad witches are ugly, Dorothy can't be a bad witch. Why would Glinda ask that question.

The second person says "only bad witches are ugly" does not mean "if you are a bad witch, you are ugly"; it means "if you are an ugly witch, you are bad". It is possible for there to be a bad witch who is incredibly gorgeous. That doesn't contradict the statement "only bad witches are ugly". Glinda's statement is about all ugly witches, not about all bad witches.

Who wins the argument? Should we go back in time and correct the movie script, to make it more clear? Do my friends have too much free time?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Cliffhangers

I was wondering about cliffhangers the other day. It's pretty standard for Nancy Drew to run into several cliffhangers per book. She always seems to get herself into danger and get right out of it, that Nancy Drew.

Sometimes, I feel kind of sarcastic with cliffhangers. Like, I feel they're a total waste of time, a cheap gimmick to keep readers' interest. I know that Nancy isn't ever going to be seriously injured or die. Quit pretending otherwise, books.

I think it annoys me more when the cliffhanger is quickly introduced and immediately dropped. Like, Nancy is walking around, and there's a GUNSHOT! Oh no! Cliffhanger! Next chapter, the first paragraph says the gunshot was just a car. Nancy continues on, like nothing happened. There's no real need to interrupt the story with a fake scare like that.

I dunno, I was just wondering why I dislike some cliffhangers, and other cliffhangers I'm okay with.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Rosie Update

Rosie is two and a half months old now*. She can smile more easily now, and she most often smiles when she's looking at someone who's smiling at her. The doctors call it "social smiles". She gives social smiles much more often than she smiles of her own accord.

Her facial muscles are still developing at this point. She can make the "m", "g" and "w" sounds more clearly now. She can do two syllable words now, too! It's all unintelligible things like "wa-ga", but that's a step up from doing "waaa" "gaaaa" in separate breaths.

This past week, she seemed less social than normal to me. She sometimes does the baby version of conversations, where she coos at you. If you respond to her, she'll give you a different coo. It's incredibly cute. But sadly, I must be coming home from work too late, because all I get is grumpy nighttime Rosie. She gets grumpy around 8 PM every night, before going to sleep.

She's still not sleeping the whole night through. We are trying to get her used to sleeping in her crib, instead of sleeping with one of us on the couch.


*She'll be three months by the time this posts. I wrote this over a week in advance.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

DBZ Fanfic

I just wasted a whole bus ride, trying to write a DragonBall Z fanfic. If you've seen my DBZ fanfics, you'll know I'm particularly fond of Season Seven of the show. That's the season with comedy and high school romance, the one where Gohan goes to high school and starts a double life as a superhero.

Sadly, the show quickly goes back to being a serious action show, and Gohan's brief moment of being the official main character disappears.

Gohan has a secret identity, like most superheroes. I've seen dozens of fanfics where his female love interest tries to expose his true identity. My fanfic idea was the reverse. What if SHE was a superhero with a secret identity, and he's trying to expose her? She occasionally fights crime as herself on the show. What if she did it as a disguised superhero? They could have superhero fights, trying to expose each other's identities, and stuff.

I didn't get very far, in writing the fanfic. All I did was have the idea of reversing the standard story, because I'm tired of seeing the standard story. I'm also tired of seeing the standard reverse of that story, which is "exact same thing happens, except Gohan is dark and serious instead of a comedy goofball".

Friday, March 17, 2017

Paper Mario 64

It feels like my Paper Mario (N64) walkthrough has been going on forever at this point. The good news is that the end is near! I'm going to post Paper Mario videos for the next two weeks, which will take me to the end of the game.


Editing the videos proved to be more difficult than expected, because my recording equipment shrunk the game screen. Like, the title screen of the game is a full 640 by 480, same size as a Wii game. But the rest of the game is smaller, with black bars about 40 pixels wide on all sides. I don't know if it's a Wii emulation issue or what, but I started cropping the black bars out of every video, which doubled the editing time.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Backlog Clearing

I did a series of backlog clearing videos last week, when I noticed there are about ten games that have come out this year, which I'm interested in.



I'm hoping to use these videos to gauge people's interest in these games, because I personally like all of them, and if it were up to me, I'd do walkthroughs for all of them.

Wait. It IS up to me to decide which games to walkthrough. Well, then. It'd still be nice to know which ones are popular, so I know what games to start working on first.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Agatha Christie: Death on the Nile

Walkthrough progress is slow, because I'm playing "Agatha Christie: Death on the Nile". I talked about it last week, and I'm sad to say I've only progressed about 1/6 of the game since then.

The problem is that the hidden objects challenges in the game are incredibly slow. Each one is supposed to take a half-hour. You're challenged to find about forty items, over five different screens. The game keeps a helpful tally for you, on each screen. For example, it will say "31 items left to find" when you've got 31 items left.

The problem is the game is a BIG FAT JERK, and so "one item" doesn't mean "one item". Pretty much every room has multi-object puzzles, like "you have to find five brushes". All five brushes, together, count as one item on the tally list. But all five brushes are counted separately, for hint purposes. So really, the tally is useless and doesn't indicate the true number of items left.

The only way I can get through the game is by cheating. I take a screenshot of the challenge, then I go into the game files, which have pictures of all the possible hidden objects I might find. This works some of the time. Half of the file names are in Russian, so I have to guess what the items are.

So each level starts with me taking pictures of the hidden objects challenges, then I close the game and go through each challenge one by one, until I've found all the objects. This takes a long time. I return to the game with my solution, only to find out that my solution is wrong because of something ridiculous, like the game thinks the "picture" is actually a "photograph", so it doesn't count.

The sections in between the hidden objects challenge are okay, but I'm really getting bogged down by the hidden objects. There are twelve challenges that you have to get through. I'm on #7 right now.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Theology of the Body

The conference I attended was about Pope Saint John Paul II's Theology of the Body. Theology of the Body is interesting in general, but it seems even more interesting today, with all the discussion of transgenderism and gender dysphoria.

The Catholic view of bodies is colored by the theological battle against Gnosticism in the first century. The Gnostics were spiritually-minded, and they said the soul is more important than the body. There were several variations of this, ranging from "the body is evil while the soul is good" to "the body is unimportant" to "my body is not part of me".

Catholics countered with a dualism, saying that humans are both body and soul. One of the speakers at the conference explained this, by saying the correct terminology is "I am a body", not "I have a body". "I have a body" implies that I am somehow separate or different from my body, in the same way "I have a wristwatch" implies that I am not the wristwatch.

Further, Catholics believe in the resurrection of the body, where the physical body literally rises from the grave. Based on some Scripture passages I can't look up right now because I'm on the bus, people generally agree that this will be a "perfect" body, the perfected version of the body. This has meant different things to different people. To C.S Lewis and the last Narnia book, this meant everyone is in their 20's again. To Saint Augustine, this means a body that you have complete control over; no more unconscious physical reactions or unwanted thoughts. To some artists who have drawn pictures of saints in heaven, this means the body you had during the pivotal or crowning moment of your life; to other artists, this means the body you had during the majority of your life. I have to wonder if, for transgender people, this concept of "perfect body" would involve being the opposite gender.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Ephesians 5:22

I went to a church conference the other day, where the priest mentioned Ephesians 5:21-33, the part of the Bible where Saint Paul talks about how wives and husbands should act towards each other. That particular section is very hard to hear with modern ears, and it comes across as sexist and anti-feminist. Most people stop paying attention at line 22:

"Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord." or "Wives should be obedient to their husbands as to the Lord"

The priest explained that "subordinate" doesn't mean what we think it means; it actually means something more like "support" or "lift up", which is decidedly different from "obey". I know Greek and Latin, though, so I thought I'd take a look at the original words.

The official Latin is "mulieres viris suis subditae sint sicut Domino", "women should be to subject their men as to the Lord". My dictionary is giving me half a page of definitions for "subditae". "Subditae" is literally "sub" + "do", "under" + "place", so it's "place under", "put under", "lie under" or "underlie", "be located under". Definition #2 is "bring under" and "subject", with "subdue" being an uncommon version. Definition #3 is "bring on", "furnish", "supply", "yield", "afford". Definition #4, which I've never seen applied to this passage, is "substitute" or "take the place of".

The original Greek is "Αἱ γυναῖκες τοῖς ἰδίοις ἀνδράσιν ὡς τῷ κυρίῳ," "the women to their own men as to the Lord", and oh, hey. There's no verb in that line. Like, at all. It's "the women [insert verb here] to their own men, as to the Lord". Normally, if the verb is missing in Greek or Latin, you assume the verb is "is". So that'd be "women are to their own men as to the Lord".

But in this case, people assume the author is reusing the verb from the previous sentence, "ὑποτασσόμενοι ἀλλήλοις ἐν φόβῳ Χριστοῦ", "be subject to one another in fear of the Lord". "ὑποτάσσω" is literally "ὑπο" + "τάσσω", "under" + "arrange/order", especially with the military meaning of "arrange troops", "set up your army". The military meaning pervades most of the definitions here. Definition #1 is "place under", "arrange under", "assign". Definition #2 is "shelter", "draw up behind", "post in the shelter of", and from this, we get Definition #3, "subdue", "subject", "make submit", "make to submit", with the passive "to be obedient". Definition #4 is "underlie", "imply", "be associated with". Definition #5 is "put after", "subjoin", "append", "follow". Definition #6 is a grammatical definition, "govern the subjunctive tense of a verb".

Yeah, I know, I just gave oven ten possible definitions for the one word. That's what translating is like, sometimes. Since we have to pick a verb that fits both sentences, I would probably go with "take the place of" or "serve", echoing Jesus' words "serve one another as I have served you". Marriage is all about mutual service, right? I could also accept the definition the priest was offering, "support", "raise up", "lift up from below". But I wouldn't go with "obedient", because it has bad connotations in this context, and further, that definition is only in the passive tense, and this section is in the active tense.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

DBZ Star Trek

I'm surprised that there aren't more DragonBall Z / Star Trek fanfics on the Internet. I went through the few that do exist, and I only liked one of them.

Both series have an alien race of warriors, who are obsessed with fighting and honor (Saiyans and Klingons). DBZ has Frieza, the evil alien warlord who conquers entire galaxies and destroys innocents without mercy. Star Trek has elements of that, with the Borg and the Dominion conquering galaxies. Plus, Frieza and the Borg both use the same naming convention for the races they encounter; there's not much difference between "Frieza Planet 125" and "Species 125".

I kind of want to write my own crossover fic, but I don't have the time. Since we're watching Voyager right now, I'd probably use that. Specifically, I'd do the episode "Scorpion", where the Borg have been attacked/defeated by an unknown enemy. In the episode, it's a CGI monster that never talks. I'd swap that monster out for Frieza. Frieza teams up with the Star Trek crew, in order to defeat the Borg, and drama happens when they realize the only reason he's helping them get to Earth is so HE can get there and blow up the planet.

Frieza can breathe in space, too, which is something I don't think has been featured on Star Trek yet.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Open Library

Big thanks to my blog reader Meg, who suggested I check out Open Library. They're affiliated with the Internet Archive, which means they've got the fancy book-scanning machine. The machine is great. You stick a book in, the machine flips through all the pages and scans them, and gives you a complete PDF of the book. Internet Archive was hoping to use the machine to scan every book ever in every library ever.

I used to work with Project Gutenberg about ten years ago now, and I had to scan in a bunch of books by hand. I've still got a ton of files for them, just sitting on my computer. I really should work those, someday.

So Open Library has a lot of books available, and it works just like any other eBook library provider service. I think. I've never used eBook services that are available through libraries before. But it works just like a library, in that I can check out a book and read it on my computer/iPad for 2-3 weeks, at which point I have to return it. (Getting it from the computer to the iPad was a multi-hour nightmare, but it works now.)

It looks like at some point, somewhere, they got a collection of Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High books. They don't have EVERY book from those series available, and most of the time, they've only got one copy available, so if it's already been checked out, you have to play the waiting game. Still, this is a great resource for getting these out of print books.

I was thinking that, once I've finished reviewing the River Heights series, I would send my books over to these folks, so they can scan them and get them added to the library.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Kitchens Are My Life

I managed to get Mary to do some work on her YouTube channel, "Kitchens Are My Life"! Mary records a lot of videos for it, but she has a hard time actually editing and uploading the videos. The videos just sit on her iPad for months on end.

So now there are six videos scheduled, all of them from...um, I think they were done before Katie got pregnant. Anyway, a new video is going to be released on Sunday, for the next six weeks! So Mary's channel has content until mid-April. Please subscribe if you feel so inclined!

Normally, they say "like and subscribe", but I don't care if you like them or not. I'm just hoping she will hit the magic number of subscribers, 50, so I can try to switch her to a different YouTube payment plan. She's not doing it for the money, but currently, her 12 cents is sitting around in Google Adsense, which wants her to accumulate $100 before they'll pay out.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

April Fools Day

Any suggestions for April Fools Day? I was thinking of making a video, where I complain about "Nancy Drew: Midnight in Salem" and how it's been so long since the last Nancy Drew game, I'm tired of waiting, I'm giving up on the series, I hate it, blah blah blah, angry rant. Basically, it'd be a parody of all the people who have been complaining about the upcoming game.

(I sometimes get those angry rants directed towards me, like I'm personally responsible for the game's development.)

But even though that could be hilarious, I think there'd be a lot of potential for people to mistakenly take it seriously, and there could be nasty comments, and no way, I don't want to accidentally stir up the hornet's nest. Maybe I should do something more lighthearted instead, like review a fictional book, "Nancy Drew and the Generic 1980's Mystery".

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Everything Wrong With Curse of Blackmoor Manor

I played "Nancy Drew: Curse of Blackmoor Manor" this past weekend. Now that I've got the video footage, I can start doing an Everything Wrong With video for it! Please give me your suggestions!

Also, please don't expect me to have the project finished in under a week.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Mystery Tales and Edge of Reality

I decided to double check Big Fish Games to see if they released any cool new games, and oh no! They've released a ton of them! As in, ten games from series that I consider to be good series, worth checking out.

The other day, I played the newest Mystery Tales and Edge of Reality games. They're on my radar because I played and enjoyed Mystery Tales: Her Own Eyes and Edge of Reality: Ring of Destiny last year.

There was some minor continuity with Edge of Reality. The scenario and characters are 100% different, and it's switched genres from fantasy adventure to horror. But two things are the same. First, the main character has a cute dog. Glad to see they kept the BEST part of the first game! Second, there is a magical bracelet artifact that lets the hero see things. Granted, it was a ring in Ring of Destiny, but it's still magical jewelry.

Mystery Tales has more continuity, because you're playing as the same character. The premise is the same, too: you're investigating a series of deaths. The character still has her time-traveling glasses from the previous game, too. So I'd say Mystery Tales is more of a direct sequel than Edge of Reality is. It's not such a direct sequel that they feel the need to go into detail about the previous game, but it's not a complete continuity reset, either.

I will play the full games...eventually? I'll try to prioritize Mystery Tales, because the last game was way more popular than the last Edge of Reality game. Yes, I do sometimes take my walkthroughs' popularity into account when deciding what new games to play!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Little Sister Books

I have Baby-Sitters Little Sister books, up to #11. Book #9 is the point where the series became "official", and they released a new book every month, as opposed to releasing a new book whenever Ann Martin had the spare time to write one.

So far, I've been reviewing the Baby-Sitters Club and Little Sister books chronologically. I wonder if I should change it, now that they're both monthly. Here are the two possibilities:

A:
Review June's BSC book and June's Little Sister book together
Review July's BSC book and July's Little Sister book together

B:
Review June's BSC book and July's BSC book together
Review June's LS book and July's LS book together

Does that make sense? I'm basically asking if I should review the two series separately, or if I should continue grouping them together, based on release date. There's no crossover between the two series, so there's no real reason to keep them synced with each other.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Who Benefits from Tax Credits?

It's the season for news articles about taxes! I've already seen some news articles about taxes, which get things wrong. That's not good! So I came up with a scenario to help highlight a problem in understanding non-refundable credits.

Let's pretend Michael owes $2,000 in taxes this year. His handsome friend Arglefumph owes $5,000 in taxes, because he made a lot more money.

Now let's pretend both Michael and Arglefumph are eligible for the fictional Hardy Boys Fan Tax Credit. The rules of the credit are that if you like the Hardy Boys series, you get $3,000 taken off your taxes. The credit can't take your taxes below zero, though. When the tax credit is applied, Michael owes $0 in taxes, and Arglefumph owes $2,000 in taxes.

Here's the big question: Who benefited the most from the tax credit? Is it Michael, because he owes no taxes? Or is it Arglefumph, who got the full $3,000 tax break while Michael only got a $2,000 break? You could make a strong argument for both answers.

Anyway, that's the situation that I saw the news articles mess up on. They got tripped up over the "can't take your taxes below zero" part, as well as the idea that both Michael and Arglefumph get the tax break; it's not the case that if Michael gets the tax break, Arglefumph can't get it, too.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Everything Wrong With Secret of Shadow Ranch

I finished "Everything Wrong With Nancy Drew: Secret of Shadow Ranch"!



According to multiple comments on the video, you CAN get a conversation about Tex's birthday on Day Three. I tried, but I couldn't get it. Also, the random pink food is cattle feed; there's a hotspot for it in Tex's area, by one of the saddles you're not supposed to look at.

And while looking at the bookshelves on Day Two, I found the hidden passageway! Pull on the book in the lower/left. I'm guessing this isn't triggered until you find Dave in the hidden passageway, but I guess it's worth checking to see if you can trigger it earlier.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Sweet Valley High Books

I did an inventory of all the Sweet Valley High books that are available on Kindle Unlimited, which I can't get through other means.

Runaway (Book 21)
Lovestruck (book 27)
Family Secrets (Sweet Valley High Book 45)
Out Of Reach (Sweet Valley High Book 50)
Against The Odds (Sweet Valley High Book 51)
White Lies (Sweet Valley High Book 52)
Second Chance (Sweet Valley High Book 53)
Teacher Crush (Sweet Valley High Book 57)
In Love Again (Sweet Valley High Book 59)
Parent Plot (67)
The Long-Lost Brother (Sweet Valley High Book 79)
Rosa's Lie (Sweet Valley High Book 81)
Steven's Bride (Sweet Valley High Book 83)
In Love With A Prince (Sweet Valley High Book 91)
Are We In Love? (Sweet Valley High Book 94)
Beware The Babysitter (Sweet Valley High Book 99)
The Evil Twin (Sweet Valley High Book 100)
A Date With A Werewolf (Sweet Valley High Book 105)
Jessica's Secret Love (Sweet Valley High Book 107)
Double Crossed (Sweet Valley High Book 109)
Death Threat (Sweet Valley High Book 110)
Jessica Quits The Squad (Sweet Valley High Book 112)
"V" For Victory (Sweet Valley High Book 114)
The Treasure Of Death Valley (Sweet Valley High Book 115)
College Weekend (Sweet Valley High Book 118)
Jessica's Older Guy (Sweet Valley High Book 119)
The High School War (Sweet Valley High Book 121)
Meet Me At Midnight (Sweet Valley High Book 124)
Tall, Dark, And Deadly (Sweet Valley High Book 126)
Dance Of Death (Sweet Valley High Book 127)
Kiss Of A Killer (Sweet Valley High Book 128)
Cover Girls (Sweet Valley High Book 129)
Model Flirt (Sweet Valley High Book 130)
Fashion Victim (Sweet Valley High Book 131)
Once Upon A Time (Sweet Valley High Book 132)
Happily Ever After (Sweet Valley High Book 134)

My Kindle Unlimited subscription runs out on July 9, so...maybe I have enough time to read them all? Maybe. Let me know if there are any which sound good / should be prioritized. I'm thinking "A Date With A Werewolf" is one to get!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Editors as Ghostwriters

I recently read an interview with Ellen Miles, who wrote the Baby-Sitters Club mystery series. It turns out that she and Jan Carr, another BSC ghostwriter, both worked for the book publishers.

That's kind of sad news for me, because I would LOVE to ghostwrite a Nancy Drew book someday. But I'm just some random dude on the Internet; I can't compete with someone who literally works in the same building as the publishers.

So all of my favorite kids series--Baby-Sitters Club, Animorphs, Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew--had books that were written by editors. I have to wonder why. Is it just a cost-saving measure? Is it favoritism? Or maybe the book DID have a ghostwriter at first, but the ghostwriter did such a terrible job, the editor had to rewrite practically everything?

I'm sure there are a lot of fun behind-the-scenes stories with ghostwriters and editors. Or not. I've seen some pretty tame stories, where the ghostwriter just sent in the manuscript, and that was that.