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Old News Archives:
(If you'd like to read about my travels in Japan, China, or another location, check out the Travelogues page.)
(If you'd like to read more about Ink, check out the Ink section.)

Year 1: 8/11/2003 - 8/9/2004
Year 2: 8/11/2004 - 8/10/2005
Year 3: 8/11/2005 - 8/9/2006
Year 4: 8/11/2006 - 8/10/2007
Year 5: 8/13/2007 - 8/8/2008
Year 6: 8/11/2008 - 8/10/2009
Year 7: 8/12/2009 - 8/9/2010
Year 8: 8/11/2010 - 8/10/2011
Year 9: 8/12/2011 - 8/10/2012
Year 10: 8/13/2012 - 8/9/2013
Year 11: 8/12/2013 - 8/8/2014
Year 12: 8/11/2014 - 8/10/2015
Year 13: 8/12/2015 - 8/10/2016
Year 14: 8/12/2016 - 8/9/2017
Year 15: 8/11/2017 - 8/10/2018
Year 16: 8/13/2018 - 8/9/2019

12/9/2019 Off to Hawaii

Not much to say. In a few hours Zack and I will be off to Hawaii. If all goes well, PV updates shouldn't be affected (though they will take place a few hours later than normal due to the difference time zone).

Later!

Josiah

12/6/2019 Last weekend

Just a few more days and then off to Hawaii. Pebble Version updates shouldn't be affected, though the update time will shift by a few hours due to the big change in time zones. At this point, I'm done with classes (though I still have a meeting today) but will have a ton of finals to grade (and one to write). And, well, I guess that's it for now. Still need to pack and get a few other things done before the trip.

Have a good weekend!

Josiah

12/4/2019 Rush to the finish

There's a lot going on right now. This is the last week of classes and there's a couple other work related things (one rather exciting, one extremely annoying) that I'm also trying to get done before the week ends. And not just because of the end of the semester, but because on Monday Zack and I are off to Hawaii (Connie will be joining us a week later). That means there's also a handful of around the house type things that need to be taken care of before we leave. And then, immediately after arriving in Hawaii, I actually need to jump right into grading finals so I can get them finished before deadlines. So yeah, I'm really looking forward to winter break, but I still have a pretty hectic week or two ahead of me.

Later!

Josiah

12/2/2019 Museum day

It's the last week of class. And then it's off to Hawaii, though I'll still have to grade finals and stuff when I'm there. Anyway, let's get the travelogue entry done.

November 24th (Sunday): The National Museum of American History
Before Connie and Zack returned, I wanted to go to DC for a day to see a museum or two that I hadn't gotten to yet. Top on my list, the National Museum of American History. It's a huge museum with a wide variety of exhibits. They're not really organized in any particular way, so I just went from floor to floor. I started out with the founding of the US and creation of the government. Next up, immigration, followed by one tracing the history of an old house and the families that lived in it. All were fairly interesting, and they had some cool artifacts, especially from the country's founding. But one of the coolest things in the museum (though you can't take pictures) is the original Star Spangled Banner. As in, the actual flag that inspired (and is sung about) in the national anthem. Then, for something quite different, a section on American innovations, which featured some notable American inventions and a few pop-culture items from famous TV shows.
I ate lunch in the cafeteria (the menu isn't as diverse as, say, the Native American Museum, but still fairly good) then on to another floor for more pop-culture, both modern and classic. There was even a little section with video games that heavily feature the US (such as Earthbound and Red Dead Redemption 2), and another about the history of audio/music playback devices. Moving on, there was a section dedicated to American presidents and first ladies, and another about wars in which the US was involved (with the main focus being on the Revolutionary and Civil Wars).
Moving on to another floor...an exhibit about food? Um, ok. Sort of about the history of food production and distribution in the US, tied into how people at different times ate. It even had Julia Child's kitchen. Next up, the Hall of Transportation, which was a lot more interesting than I expected, as it was less about showing off different types of vehicles, and more about how the creation of different methods of transportation, roads, and the like, changed the way people in the US lived. For someone like myself who has driven all over the country, it was interesting to think about how many of the highways that we currently take for granted didn't even exist when my parents were young. Next, a bit more pop-culture with the Batmobile and Ralph Baer's workshop (if you don't recognize the name, he was an important figure in the early days of the video game industry and also electronic toys in general). Finally, I finished in a section on American enterprises (which also had a lot of notable inventions and pop-culture items).
I'm pretty sure I forgot to mention a few exhibits but that's the highlights at least. I took a fairly leisurely pace through the museum, though I did tend to skim a bit in some areas, and it ended up taking me most of the day. Personally, I found it to be one of the more interesting Smithsonian museums (though that certainly depends on personal preferences). There's a kids play area as well, which would have been useful if Zack was along with me. I'm a little disappointed that I only managed to visit one museum, but it was a fun and interesting day.

Later!

Josiah

11/29/2019 Back together

Connie and Zack have returned and we're all set for our slightly late Thanksgiving today.

I still need to get those photos done, however, so I'll aim to get that travelogue entry up on Monday. Enjoy the holiday weekend and I'll see you then!

Josiah

11/27/2019 Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers! I'll be celebrating a day late due to Connie and Zack not getting home until tomorrow afternoon.

Back on Sunday, I spent the day in DC exploring a museum. I'll have a travelogue entry about that up at some point, but right afterwards a couple of things came up that, while not especially serious, have been rather annoying and time consuming. As a result, I'm not really in much of a writing mood, plus I'm behind on my grading and photo sorting so it'll have to wait. Right now, I have to get back to that grading and then it's off to get some of my Thanksgiving dishes cooked ahead of time.

Later!

Josiah

11/25/2019 Moving on

Sorry, really not in the mood to write about anything today. There will probably be a travelogue entry on Wednesday.

Later!

Josiah

11/22/2019 One more week

Connie and Zack will be returning on Thanksgiving day (it was supposed to be a couple days earlier, but the flight got canceled). So we'll actually be celebrating the holiday on Friday instead. Anyway, it will be nice to have them back, though I still have a couple more things I want to get done before that. I did, however, totally finish the work I was doing in my office and library and nearly everything else on my list. Took longer than expected, but I'm happy with how it all turned out.

Anyway, I think that's about all for now. I need to get some rest and then finish a final few tasks.

Have a good weekend!

Josiah

11/20/2019 Catherine Full Body

Well, I've been saying that I'll write about Catherine Full Body so I might as well do it today.

The original Catherine for the PS3 and Xbox 360 was a favorite of mine for its very original story and gameplay and how much nuance it gave to the central conflict. Basically, Catherine is the story of Vincent, a 32 year old guy with a dead end job whose long time girlfriend, Katherine, is pressuring him to get married. He, however, likes the status quo. Then, he meets a flirty younger girl, Catherine, who is all for having fun and living in the moment. The story focuses on Vincent's struggle to decide between these two women and, on a larger scale, how he wants to live his life, while also trying to keep his relationship with each woman secret from the other. Meanwhile, Vincent begins having strange and deadly nightmares which connect to what's going on in his waking life. It's unique, clever, and, remarkably enough, avoids being preachy and forcing a "correct" answer on players.
Fully Body is an upgraded port for PS4 and Xbox One. It adds a lot of excellent gameplay tweaks, including a whole new set of puzzles in Remix mode for both the nightmares and the Rapunzel arcade game, lots of online play features, etc. Even the sections with Vincent and his friends in the bar have been improved. So, lots of quality of life improvements, lots more puzzles (if you like the puzzles), and a super easy mode (if you don't like the puzzles). So far, so good. Then there's the additions to the story. For starters, there's a few new cutscenes which further flesh-out Vincent's relationships with Catherine and Katherine. Both of them also get a new ending (which, after fulfilling a very simple condition, replaces their respective bad endings), which are interesting (Catherine's especially). Once again, so far, so good.
And then there's Rin... Rin (short for Qathrin (yeah, they really had to grasp at straws for that spelling)), is an entirely new character and potential love interest. She's integrated surprisingly seemlessly into the game, to the point where, if you never played the original, you wouldn't know she was added in. However, she's given so much emphasis and screen time early on that she pulls a lot of attention and tension from the Catherine / Katherine dynamic, which is a problem. What's worse, if you don't end up on Rin's route, she leaves very abruptly about two thirds of the way through and is barely mentioned afterwards. That's needed to get the focus back on Catherine and Katherine, but it feels really awkward and will leave you wondering why she was even there to begin with. Of course, that's not an issue if you end up on Rin's route (which diverges a good bit from the other two, complete with a new final level and boss), but it has its own problems. To avoid spoilers, I won't say what the theme is. However, I'll say that some people will be thrilled that a route based on said theme has been included. Others will appreciate that it's there, but have no real interest in exploring it. And still others will hate the very concept. There's also the fact that Rin's route carelessly spoils a few major plot twists and it gets really weird the further you get. I feel really bad for any new players who manage to trigger Rin's route on their first playthrough (which, given the conditions, seems unlikely though certainly not impossible). So I have to say that, whether you like her theme or not, the over all story is just better without Rin. And most of the reviews I've read, even those who really like Rin's theme, seem to agree with me on that regard.
Which puts me in a weird position. Catherine Fully Body has a lot of great gameplay additions and tweaks and the new scenes with Catherine and Katherine are good as well. So if you liked the original Catherine's gameplay and want more, Full Body is easy to recommend. If you just want to re-experience the story, you might (or might not) find Rin's content interesting, despite the issues, but I wouldn't say that the new story content on its own is worth buying Fully Body. On the other hand, if you're a new player who never played the original Catherine... Full Body is the better version in most ways, but Rin's presence hurts the main story enough (outside of her own somewhat problematic route) that I kind of want to recommend picking up a copy of the original version of Catherine instead.

See you Friday!

Josiah

11/18/2019 Stranding

I spent a while yesterday playing Death Stranding. First off, it's one of the best looking games I've ever played. The story setup is rather intriguing as well. As for the gameplay... It's very unique. I almost want to call it a walking simulator. The one true walking simulator (as opposed to all those games where you just move around and look at things), thanks to the emphasis on balance, terrain, etc. But there's a lot more to it than that. Anyway, I might give it a more detailed write-up after I've gotten further. Right now, I'm only 6 or so hours in. I probably will write a bit about Catherine Full Body later this week though, now that I'm pretty much done with it.

Anyway, I don't have any grading to do this week so, other than yesterday's half-day Death Stranding marathon, I'm planning to use the time to work through the remaining items on my to-do list. A bit disappointed that I'm not done with it yet, but nothing that's left should take all that long.

See you Wednesday!

Josiah

11/15/2019 Weekend

Looking forward to the weekend. I'm hoping to get most of the remaining things on my to-do list done and I also want to start Death Stranding. Of course, Pokémon Sword and Shield are coming out today to. But I probably won't be starting on them for a little while. Not because I have any particular complaints, but because I want to play Death Stranding and finish my Alola dex in Sun/Moon first.

So, off to it.

Josiah

11/13/2019 Getting fit

I've been playing Ring Fit Adventure nearly daily for the past couple of weeks so I'm going to write a bit about that today.

Ring Fit is Nintendo's latest attempt at a fitness video game, following Wii Fit and Wii Fit U. As a long time DDR player, I'm no stranger to mixing games and exercise. I also played Wii Fit U for a little while a few years back, though it failed to hold my attention for too long. Anyway, Ring Fit was one of the rare games that caught me completely off guard. As in, I don't remember ever hearing a thing about it until release, when I happened across a review. And, being a game designer, I follow game news pretty closely so I'm normally at least somewhat aware of every notable upcoming release. Anyway, that review interested me and, with Connie and Zack having left for China a couple days before, I had already been planning to get my exercise routine restarted, so I grabbed a copy and gave it a try. But enough with the backstory.

Ring Fit is a Switch games that comes with two accessories, a leg strap and a pilates ring and you attach one Joycon to each while playing. Unlike most other exercise games, Ring Fit actually has a full fledged story mode. At the start, you accidentally release a very muscular dragon who was sealed away by Ring, a talking ring. Said dragon it out to...do something that's probably not good (so far, I'm not really sure what he's after beyond working out and making monsters appear) so you team up with Ring to put a stop to him...by exercising! The game is part platformer, with you running through the levels (by jogging in place) while getting past different obstacles (squatting to activate spring boards, squeezing the ring to create blasts of air to blow open doors and such, pushing the ring against your abs to crush rocks, etc.). The environments are actually pretty scenic (if a bit repetitious), and the game does a good job steadily introducing new mechanics and mini-games along the way. Though navigating the levels is only half of it. A good chunk of gameplay is made up of RPG lite type battles against various monsters (mostly themed after different exercise gear). But instead of stabbing or shooting the monsters, you defeat them by exercising at them (while drinking the occasional smoothie for buffs and healing). Yeah...best not to think about it too much. The story isn't meant to be taken very seriously but it's kind of amusing and gives you a reason to keep going. Anyway, battles involve choosing from your selection of exercises and doing a number of reps (based on your chosen difficulty level) to attack. Early on you'll be doing a whole lot of squats and ring presses but soon you'll be unlocking a steady stream of new exercises. as you gain experience points and level up. Add in AOE ranges and enemies that are weak to certain types of exercise (legs or arms, for example), and there's enough depth to keep things fun and, as with the exploration, new mechanics are periodically introduced as well. The story seems to be long enough to last for at least a couple of months of frequent play (though that's a guess; all I can really say is that I'm nowhere near the end).

Anyway, there's a ton of different exercises and activities to help you get and stay fit. One complaint I had about Wii Fit U was that it just wasn't a very intense workout. I never felt like it really pushed me. Well, I have no such complaints about Ring Fit. Based on my age and fitness level, the game started me out at a difficulty of 21 (out of 30), which I bumped up to 22 about a week later. I've been playing for 20 - 40 minutes a day and by the time I finish I'm often hot, out of breath, and a little sore. But I can tell that my muscles and stamina are improving. Assuming you play the game properly (use a mix of exercises and don't try to cheat the movements) it actually makes for a surprisingly intense and balanced exercise routine. Plus, it makes doing all of those exercises a lot of fun. I often find myself falling into the "one more level" mentality, just to push myself a bit harder and/or see what's coming next.

Long story short, I'm really enjoying Ring Fit. I'm finally getting back in shape and I'm having fun doing it. Plus, unlike many exercises tools or routines, I think it'll succeed in holding my attention for quite a long time.

Later!

Josiah

11/11/2019 Phase 2

When Connie and Zack went to China last year, my big project here at home was setting up my library and office downstairs. Which came down to assembling a lot of shelves then unpacking all my books, games, movies, etc. Well, Connie and Zack are in China again and my big project this time is...doing more stuff in my library and office. Specifically, I'm finally putting in some wall shelves to display my figurines. Which means unpacking and organizing said figurines (a pretty big job). My parents also sent me a few boxes of stuff that had been sitting at their place for a while. But now that they're moving to Hawaii full time, and I have a house again, we figured it was time I finally got it back. So I need to sort and unpack all that too. Anyway, that's what I've been working on lately and I'm making good progress, but I probably need another two or three days to finish. Unfortunately, the next few days are going to be dedicated to grading. But hopefully, by early next week, I'll finally be fully unpacked for the first time since I left Hawaii. Maybe I'll post some pictures when I'm done.

Later!

Josiah

11/8/2019 Busch Gardens

Ok, travelogue time.

November 3 (Sunday): Busch Gardens and Howl-O-Scream
When I went to Busch Gardens Williamsburg back in the Spring, I was mostly focused on Zack so I didn't get to go on many of the rides. But, with Connie and Zack in China, I decided to go back get a better feel for the park. This ended up being their last full day of the season, and the last day of Howl-O-Scream, their Halloween event. While Howl-O-Scream doesn't really kick into gear until the evening, there were still decorations up all over the park. Anyway, as previously mentioned, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is sorta European themed. You start out in England and there's also, Ireland, France, Germany, Oktoberfest (which is essentially still Germany), Italy (which is also broken up into two areas), and...Northern Canada? Not to mention the two kids areas (Land of Dragons and Sesame Street).
Anyway, I made my way slowly through the park, checking out all the rides, shops, etc. as I went. In addition to that VR motion simulator I rode last time, there's a number of roller coasters. I'd say The Griffon is probably the best one in the park. Though all the big ones are fun, if sometimes a bit on the short side. One that really surprised me was Verbolten, which looked like a pretty simple and low intensity coaster at the start, but ended up having a lengthy dark section with a surprising twist. The newest ride is Finnigan's Flyer, which is a giant swing, not a coaster (there's a new coaster coming next year). A lot of fun, at least as long as you're ok with heights.
There's also animals. Not as many as, say, Disney's Animal Kingdom or Busch Gardens Tampa, but they've got wolves, bald eagles, and a lot of other birds. I even ended up hearing the eagles chirping(?) at something when I passed by in the evening. Didn't sound like I expected. There's also that pet show that I saw with Zack last time.
So I walked around and tried different things out. Unfortunately, my neck was a bit off (it's a chiropractic thing) so I had to take a break between coasters to avoid getting really motion sick, but it was still fun. Due to the time of year, a few attractions were closed (water rides, for example). Maybe next time. I will note that the European theme isn't especially deep. Not like, say, Epcot, which can be fairly educational in addition to fun. But it works. As a note, the best place to eat is in Italy (which has a lot more than just Italian food).
While I'm not big on Halloween, I figured I might as well stay for a bit of Howl-O-Scream. And besides, the sun sets really early these days. Before the main event there was a family friendly Halloween...disco? There was still a bit of time to kill before it got dark, so I decided to save some time and line up by one of the haunted houses. I ended up going through three of them (out of six), just because I was there. They seemed pretty much in line with the other theme park haunted houses I've been in (not counting Disney's Haunted Mansion, which is much higher quality but also much more family friendly). You follow a twisting path through loosely themed corridors filled with creepy decorations, dismembered limbs, and people in costumes trying to scare you. All fine, I guess, but they just don't do it for me. For one thing, stuff like that doesn't scare me in the least. Plus I'm extremely hard to startle (you basically have to catch me entirely off guard and even then it's iffy). In the end, the only time I was even a little surprised when when the girl behind me freaked out and hit me in the back. And since I'm not in love with the bloody horrific style Halloween aesthetic (pumpkins and ghosts can be kind of fun through), there just isn't much attraction. At least when I'm by myself. They can be kind of fun to visit with a friend, especially if he or she scares a lot more easily than I do. Outside of the haunted houses, there were also sections of the park where costumed actors roam around and try to scare you as you pass by. Once again, I don't care that much either way, but watching some other people scream and run was amusing. What I would have been more interested to try were the special Halloween escape rooms, but they cost extra and weren't open that weekend anyway.
So, to summarize, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is a pretty good theme park. In this general area, I'd still give Hershey the nod for its larger selection of rides and coasters, though Busch may have more for younger kids and a bit more variety when it comes to food. As for Howl-O-Scream. If you're looking for a big fancy teen - adult Halloween event, it seems like a pretty good one, even if I personally don't care too much either way.

Later!

Josiah

11/6/2019 To-do listing

I haven't had a chance to sort my photos from Busch Gardens so no travelogue entry today. Probably on Friday.

Without any grading this week, I've been trying to work hard on my to-do list for the last couple of days. And I'm making decent progress. Unfortunately, at the same time, I've been coming up with new things that need to be done and taking care of those things has slowed my progress on the original list. With a bit of luck, I'll have most of it done by the end of the week...but who knows.

Another thing I've been doing a lot of lately is exercising. I picked up a copy of Ring Fit (Nintendo's latest exercise game) and have been putting in around 45 minutes on it nearly every day. I'd always intended to get my exercise routine going again while Connie and Zack are gone (lack of free time is the usual reason when I skip it) and Ring Fit is giving me a new way to go about it. It's actually pretty fun and a serious workout. As both a game and an exercise method, Ring Fit is far superior to the old Wii Fit series. I'll probably right a more detailed review of it in a week or two once I've made a bit more progress.

And, I guess that's it for now. Got a full day of work (my job) and then back to the to-do list.

Later!

Josiah

11/4/2019 Recreation

I was thinking about switching to a different character for strip #2300 but decided that it's not really a good place in the story for that. So, instead, here's the start of a little bonus series I've thinking about. I suppose it's a few years late to be making Pokémon Go jokes, but what the heck?

Things have calmed down a bit for me. Enough that I've been able to get a bit of extra video game time in. I also went to Busch Gardens yesterday for their last regular day of the year. Expect a travelogue entry later in the week. Now though, I do need to get back to work. It won't be too busy (at least not this week), but I've still got a lot of things on my to-do list and, without too much going on for the next few days, I'm hoping to get through most of it.

Later!

Josiah

11/1/2019 Rush

Sorry, I'm running really late today so I don't have time to talk. But I'm looking forward to a much calmer and more relaxing week ahead.

Later!

Josiah

10/30/2019 Ugh...

It's been a long day. Teaching, MFA course work, then grading around 70 papers. So I'm pretty burnt right now. And in the morning I've got another day of teaching, MFA stuff, and grading to look forward to. With a bit of paperwork mixed in. Yay... Ah well, things should be a lot more relaxed come Thursday.

Later!

Josiah

10/28/2019 Changing plans

I was hoping to go to Busch Gardens yesterday but the weather had other ideas so I'm putting it off until next week. I was thinking that I'd go watch a movie instead, except that the only one currently in theaters that I want to see isn't playing near here. So I decided to stay home and keep working on my to-do list. But even then things didn't go my way since my vacuum broke, which kind of screwed up my plan to get the vacuuming and mopping done. So yeah, kind of an annoying day. But, on the bright side, I did get a lot done. Just not many of the things I originally had planned. Anyway, I'll be keeping busy this week. The next couple of days I'll be focused on grading and then, after that, back to the to-do list. I could spread things out a bit more but the sooner I get everything done, the sooner I'll be able to focus on Aurora's Nightmare, and some more fun activities.

So, back to work.

Josiah

10/25/2019 On my own

Connie and Zack left for China on Wednesday to visit my inlaws for the next month or so, which means I'm home alone. So what am I going to be doing? Well, I do have a couple of fun outtings planned but, for the most part, it's not going to be anything too exciting. Aside from my usual work, I have a big to-do list I want to work through. A lot of stuff around the house and the like. And, after that, I'm hoping to do some work on Aurora's Nightmare, which I haven't had much time for over the past month. So yeah, that's all for now, though I may have a travelogue entry next week, if the weather cooperates.

Later!

Josiah

10/23/2019 Still more commentary

Looks like I forgot to announce that I was skipping Monday's update due to the last day of Sukkot. Oops... Anyway, barring something unexpected, there shouldn't be any more skipped updates for quite a while.

The commentary for strips 356 - 360 is finished, completing the current batch.

Later!

Josiah

10/18/2019 More commentary

The commentary for strips 350 - 355 is up!

Have a good weekend!

Josiah

10/16/2019 Commentary!

I owe you guys some commentary from last month's donations, so here's the first batch covering strips 341 - 349.

Later!

Josiah

10/11/2019 And continue some more

Yom Kippur is done and I'm caught up on my grading...at least for a few days. Nice to have some calm days for a change. Speaking of which, the High Holy Days aren't over yet so there'll be no update on Monday since it's the first day of Sukkot.

In other news, it looks like I'll be going to Japan next summer! Another professor and I are going to be taking some students to Tokyo for a tour. It'll be part sightseeing, part visiting various game developers. Doing a Japan tour is something I've been thinking about for quite a long time, so I'm excited to actually give it a try. And hey, as long I'm going over there, I plan to follow it up with a family vacation to other parts of Japan, and possibly a bit of China as well. For now though, there's still a lot of planning that needs to be done.

Anyway, have a great holiday weekend (happy Columbus Day!) and I'll see you on Wednesday.

Josiah

10/7/2019 The holy days continue

There will be no update on Wednesday due to Yom Kippur.

We took Zack to a local carnival yesterday. Would have been kinda boring for me, but he had fun. Otherwise, I've just been trying to get caught up with all my work. With a bit of luck, I should be done with it later today. Not much else to say. I've got a couple of things I wouldn't mind writing about, but I need to unwind and rest a bit before I get back to work so I'll save them for later.

See you Friday!

Josiah

10/4/2019 Catching up...again

That virus, or whatever, hung on a bit longer than I expected but I'm pretty much full recovered now. Even managed to finally do some apple picking yesterday so I'm looking forward to doing some cooking. But, before that, I still have a bunch of work to catch up on. I got behind a bit thanks to Zack's illness and then the combination of the holiday and getting sick myself really didn't help. On the bright side, I think things will be calming down for me soon. But I'll have another busy week or two before that happens.

Have a good weekend!

Josiah

10/2/2019 Double ugh...

Fortunately, Zack has completely recovered. Unfortunately, I caught whatever it was he had (too little sleep plus a couple too many drinks from Starbucks because of that). It didn't really hit me until Sunday afternoon as we were getting back home from the Renaissance Festival (which was great, as usual, though I don't think it needs another travelogue entry). I've had worse, and I'm probably 80% better at this point (hopefully 100% by morning). But it made an already busy week even crazier.

So yeah, lots to do. I'll write more on Friday, if I have the time.

Josiah

9/27/2019 Ugh...

That title really sums up how I feel right now... Anyway... It's the last few days of the Aurora's Nightmare Kickstarter so if you've been on the fence, now's the time. Also, there will be no update on Monday due to Rosh Hashannah.

But that has nothing to do with my how I'm feeling right now. Zack got a bad fever starting Tuesday night. It eventually got the point where I left work early on Wednesday so we could take him to urgent care. Fortunately, it seems that it wasn't anything too serious and he's doing pretty good now. But it led to a lot of stress and a couple of nights with very little sleep. It also left me a bit behind on work, which I'm currently struggling to catch up on. Add in a few other things and I'm exhausted and kind of burnt out. Hopefully I'll be able to relax and recharge a bit over the weekend, though I still have a lot of work that needs to be done...

Anyway, I'll see you Wednesday.

Josiah

9/25/2019 Final stretch

There's only a few days left in the Kickstarter for Aurora's Nightmare, my visual novel. It still has a ways to go to reach the goal so I'd appreciate any pledges, shares, etc. That said, from the beginning I knew there was a good chance that it wouldn't be successful. Getting a game successfully Kickstarted these days is pretty difficult if it's not tied into an already famous designer, development studio, or license. It's not impossible, but there's a ton of luck involved. Or you can spend a whole bunch of money advertising, which is a big risk since, worst case, the campaign still fails and you wasted the money. Best case, you might have to use a decent chunk of your Kickstarter money to pay back those advertising fees. Fortunately, even if the campaign fails, I'll still be able to complete Aurora's Nightmare with the save level of quality seen in the demo. I just likely won't get to add in some nifty (but unnecessary) extra content.

Anyway, we'll see what happens. Oh, and speaking of money, the PV donation gauge has gone up so I'll be writing another set of commentary soon. For now though, I'm off.

Later!

Josiah

9/23/2019 Pokémon Masters

I try not to play too many mobile games, since it can be easy to get sucked into the daily grind that a lot of free to play games revolve around and I can only keep up with so much of that before they start eating up way too much time. But after reading a review, I decided to give Pokémon Masters a try. It involves a whole bunch of characters from throughout the series gathering on an island for a special tournament where each trainer can only use one pokémon. They can, however, form teams of three trainers (except for your opponents, who can sometimes use up to six for no good reason). Battles are real time and fairly fun and strategic. And while there is a gatcha system for recruiting new trainer/pokémon pairs, it's not really needed. You recruit a lot of characters over the course of the story and, shockingly, some of them are actually pretty good. And any of them are good enough to clear the story content if you power them up enough. If you want to max out your team's power, the game can get ridiculously grindy, especially for the last few upgrades, but at present that's unnecessary for all but the hardest optional content and there's really no good reason to tackle those battles anyway except for fun. The only annoying thing about battles is how they handled types. Basically, every pokémon only has a single weakness and no resistances, which really throws off people like me who have the normal weakness/resistance chart memorized. It also means that you ideally want to power up lots of different teams so you have a good attacker of every element, which gets back to that whole grindy part again. Fortunately, like in the regular Pokémon games, you can overcome a type disadvantage with a big enough power difference.
Masters is also the best looking Pokémon game yet (though Sword and Shield will change that soon) and has a good soundtrack. But the main reason to play isn't the characters. As previously mentioned, Masters features a wide variety of characters from all the main series games including player characters, rivals, gym leaders, Elite Four members, and even random trainers. As a long time fan, seeing them interact is both fun and occasionally amusing. For example, listening to a Youngster and a Lass debate the merits of shorts vs. skirts, or a swimmer complaining about how all the other swimmers just happened to wear the same suit as him. The writers really know the games and had a lot of fun with the script.
So far, I've enjoyed with Masters. I got lucky and pulled Brendan early on. Who, conveniently happens to be one of the stronger attackers, though I am disappointed that he uses a treeko instead of torchic. I just finished the all the currently available story content (which is quite a lot) without any real trouble other than the current last battle, which I had to power-level a little bit for. At this point, I think I'll keep logging in for daily rewards and some daily battles while waiting for the next set of story missions, but I'm going to avoid getting caught up in a big grind. Besides, I don't really need to. Anyway, while Masters isn't perfect, it's a fun take on the franchise, especially for long time fans, and a good choice if you need a Pokémon fix before Sword and Shield.

Later!

Josiah

9/20/2019 All the grading

It's a grading week for me, and a rather busy one at that due to the mix of assignments and some other things going on. I've probably gone though around 100 papers at this point and still have a bunch to go, plus a short paper to write. So I'm running late and a bit too burned out to write much of anything here. Hopefully I'll be caught up, or at least close enough, come Monday.

Later!

Josiah

9/18/2019 Games, games, games...

Maybe I'll start writing about video games more in these posts. On the one hand, I already spend a good portion of my days talking about video games at work so it's nice to focus on other things a bit at times. On the other hand, when I'm teaching class I tend to talk about very specific games in very specific ways so I don't always get to discuss the games or elements of games that are on my mind at the time. So maybe I'll do more of that here instead. Or maybe not... Travelogue entries aside, I generally don't plan my news posts too far in advance, it just depends on my mood at the time. So we'll see. At very least though, I'll probably be writing a bit about Pokémon Masters soon. But not today since I'd like to have a bit of time to play Catherine Full Body (the main game I'm focusing on now that I've finished Bloodstained) before turning in.

Later!

Josiah

9/16/2019 Taking Google on the road

I've had some issues with Google but I'm still stuck using them for a lot of things. For example, in our new van. It didn't come with a built in GPS. Actually, I'm fine with that since, from my experience, built in car GPS systems tend to be rather lacking compared to stand alone models. I could take the GPS out of our other car, or buy another one, but the van has Android Auto, which lets me hook up my phone to access Google maps, stream music, etc. Actually, it's kind of weird how it all works. I can connect my phone via Bluetooth to stream music and send and receive phone calls and messages. Or I can plug it in to get the full Android Auto experience which includes using Google Maps for navigation. Though there's some weird inconsistencies between the two. For example, when connected over Bluetooth, the car works with both text messaging and Facebook Messenger but not What's App. However, What's App works just fine if the phone is plugged in. Also, over Bluetooth, I can use the car's interface to select any track from my music library (well, sorta; it chokes a bit and only manages to load the first couple of dozen albums) and, when playing, it shows the track name, artist, album, art, and song length. But when the phone is plugged in, I can only select recently played music and playlists (to access anything else, I need to use the phone itself) and, when playing, it doesn't show the album name or length. Not to mention that, when I have the phone plugged in, it still needs to connect via Bluetooth as well for some reason.

Then there's Google Maps itself. While I didn't notice it in the past, after using Google Maps several times to go to the same location, I've realized that, unlike a regular GPS, it doesn't consistantly follow the same route from point A to point B. I assume it changes things up to try and avoid traffic (it does have much better traffic info than the regular GPS). I suppose that can be useful, but I'm not sure that frequently getting rerouted onto back roads is always a good thing.

Anyway, just random musings. For the most part, I like Android Auto, some weird design issues aside. I'll keep using it as long as Google doesn't start giving Google Map blacklists of businesses it doesn't want people to visit (with some of the stuff that's come out about them lately, it could happen).

Later!

Josiah

9/13/2019 Food and traffic

The Kickstarter for Aurora's Nightmare is slowly making progress, but has a long way to go if we want to reach the goal by the end of the month so be sure to tell your friends.

I went to the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore yesterday. I've written about it before so I won't go into detail. But it was fun and I found some cool products. And then I got stuck in traffic for nearly three hours on my way home because of road closures. That was considerably less fun. Though hey, I was driving our new van so it was comfortable and I had plenty of music to listen to. So it could have been worse.

Anyway, have a good weekend!

Josiah

9/11/2019 Never forget

It's been eighteen years and I still clearly remember that morning. And it's probably better that way. History shouldn't be forgotten, not unless we want it to happen again.

Josiah

9/9/2019 Corn maze

It's week two for the Aurora's Nightmare Kickstarter, and a great time to make a pledge!

And now for that travelogue entry...

August 30th (Friday): Cherry Crest Farm
Connie and I were planning to go to Cherry Crest Farm when we did our overnight trip to Lancaster. But the weather had other ideas. So we went back today for a day trip. This year, Zack was old enough to enjoy most of the different activities on the farm. There's a huge variety and they keep adding more each year. In addition to feeding the goats, which were the surprise highlight of his visit last year, Zack especially loved the water pumps, the wagon train, mini-town, animatronic chicken show, and the corn barn. Speaking of which, I went in the corn barn with him for a while. The dried feed corn they fill it with has got to be at least a foot deep. It's also surprisingly comfortable. I think I'd take a beach of that stuff over sand. Though it does really get stuck in your clothes.
We decided not to take Zack into the big maze this year. There's no way he'd say in a carrier or stroller the entire time, unless he was asleep, and I was worried that he might run off and get lost. So Connie played with Zack while I did the maze. The theme this year is the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. As usual, I went for the "ultimate challenge" which means not only finding the exit, but also tracking down every hidden map piece and crossword puzzle answer. It was a pretty good maze design and I scored one of my better times, making it out in a little under an hour and a half.
All in all, went spent several hours at the farm and, if he didn't need a nap, Zack probably could have played there the rest of the day. But he was getting pretty tired so we left mid-afternoon and decided to get an early start driving home. It was a fun day. The maze was great, as always, and Zack had a blast. Looking forward to going back next year.

Later!

Josiah

9/6/2019 Last chance for Kickstarter specials

While the Kickstarter campaign for Aurora's Nightmare will be running through the end of the month, you only have until the end of the week to take advantage of the Early Morning specials, which let you grab the Angellus or Nightmare reward tiers for a discounted price.

I'm still working on my photos (though I have gotten through everything else on my to-do list), so the travelogue entry will have to wait a little longer, sorry.

See you Monday!

Josiah

9/4/2019 Kickstarting

If you didn't see Monday's update, I just released the demo for Aurora's Nightmare, the visual novel I've been working on. I'm also running a Kickstarter to fund some extra content and features. There's a couple of special limited time discount tiers that are only available until the end of the week, so this is a great time to get onboard if you're interested.

In other news, Connie and I did get back to Cherry Crest Farm over the holiday weekend so I'll have a travelogue entry for that up sometime soon. But not today since I also had to spend a lot of the weekend reading through Walden for the first time for one of my MFA classes. Now, I know it's supposed to be a classic but I was pretty thoroughly unimpressed. The occasional good line or description aside, it was pretty boring and the author was as self righteous and arrogant as he was ignorant. I also had to read a critique on him and his writing afterwards and, apparently, the guy was a serious hypocrite as well. Honestly, I enjoyed the critique a whole lot more than I enjoyed Walden itself. It just goes to show that not every classic holds that designation for a good reason.

Later!

Josiah

9/2/2019 Aurora's Nightmare

For those of you who haven't heard, Aurora's Nightmare is the visual novel game I've been writing and developing in my free time. While the full game isn't going to be finished for a while yet, I've just released the official demo so you can give it a try for yourself. To coincide with the demo's release, I've also launched a Kickstarter campaign. I've been funding Aurora's Nightmare on my own and the game will get finished regardless of how the Kickstarter goes but, if successful, I'll be able to recoup the development costs and devote more time to it. And, if any of the stretch goals are met, I'll be able to add some cool extra features and content like animations and voice acting. If you're interested, please considering backing it. There's even a couple of special backer discounts for this week only. And even if you can't afford to donate right now, please tell all your friends. Kickstarters can live or die by word of mouth, so the more people who hear about it, the better.

I hope you enjoy the demo and I'll see you Wednesday with a new PV strip.

Josiah

8/30/2019 Trying again

The Aurora's Nightmare demo and Kickstarter will be launching on Sunday! I'll tell you all about it on Monday but, if you can't wait, you can check the dev blog on Sunday morning.

In other news, it's the start of a holiday weekend! One week into the semester... Anyway, Connie and I are heading back to PA today to go to Cherry Crest Farm and the corn maze. Though it's just going to be a day trip this time. So I've gotta run.

Have a great weekend!

Josiah

8/28/2019 Long day

While my work schedule this semester is better than the last one overall, Wednesdays are a little ridiculous as I have to be on campus from around 9 AM - 10 PM. At least I have a decent amount of time between classes to work on things. Anyway, I've got one more travelogue entry.

August 23rd (Friday): Hands-On House
We were planning to spend the day at Cherry Crest Farm. Unfortunately, there was a very sudden change in the weather over night and what was supposed to have been a nice sunny day turned into steady rain, wrecking our plans. As such, I ended up spending much of breakfast on my phone, looking up nearby indoor activities that would be good for Zack. On a side note, the breakfast buffet at Hershey Farm is pretty good. It has all your classic breakfast foods along with less well known local specialties (such as scrapple, though that's not something I eat).
But anyway, we settled on a visit to the nearby Hands-On House, a children's museum and play area. It was a pretty nice place, though really crowded since it looked like quite a lot families in the area had the same idea as us. There were several different themed areas including a farm, grocery store, dress up area, and factory. There was also a large outdoor area, but we didn't get to check it out due to the rain. Zack had fun, though there were a few things he wasn't quite old enough to enjoy. If you need an indoor kids' activity in the Lancaster area, it's a good option.
Eventually, we decided to get a quick lunch and drive back home a little early. It wasn't a bad day, but missing out on the farm and maze was pretty disappointing. We're planning to head back there for a day trip sometime soon.

Later!

Josiah

8/26/2019 Dutch Wonderland

It's back to work for me. I have a fairly simple teaching schedule this semester, though I'll have to see how much work my latest set of MFA classes end up being. Regardless, I should have two or three weeks before work starts getting especially busy, which is good since I have some other things I need to get done in the meantime. All that aside, I've got some travelogue entries for that PA trip Connie and I took last week.

August 22nd (Thursday): Dutch Wonderland
Connie and I always go to the Lancaster area in PA for a day in the summer to visit the Amazing Maize Maze at Cherry Crest Farm and do some other sightseeing. This year, we decided to spend the night and make it a two day trip. Both to break up the driving and to give us time to do some more stuff.
Speaking of the drive, I decided to use it to test out our brand new Honda Odyssey, which we just bought a week ago. As hoped, it's great for road trips. It'll also be really useful when we have visitors. On top of that, it was Zack's first time facing forward in the car seat. I think the combination of that and the van's big windows kept him pretty happy since he managed to make it pretty much the entire drive without needing a phone, tablet, or anything besides a couple toys.
But anyway, we decided to use the first day of our trip to take Zack to Dutch Wonderland, which is a theme park in Lancaster that's been around for over 50 years. Now, before you read any further, I should make one thing clear. Dutch Wonderland is for kids. Specifically, little kids. If everyone in your group is at least 10 years old, there's absolutely no reason to go. Head to Hershey Park instead, it's got plenty of stuff for all ages. Honestly, I suspect even a lot of 8 year olds would have more fun at Hershey. That said, Dutch Wonderland is great for little kids. All the rides are kid friendly (either solo riding or with parents). Even Zack, at 2 1/2, was tall enough to go on the vast majority of them. And he loved it. He rode the whip five times in a row, and would have stayed on longer if we didn't lure him away to try other rides. The park isn't overly large, but there's a good number of kids rides, some shows (which we didn't watch so I can't comment on) a big sandbox and playground area, and a water park (mostly a large elaborate splash pad, with handful of small slides).
We stayed until mid-afternoon, at which point Zack really needed a nap, so we left to check into our hotel. For convenience, we stayed at Hershey Farm (not related to Hershey Chocolate), since Connie and I always eat at the buffet there anyway. While it's not the cheapest hotel in the area, the rooms are fairly nice and they've got a pool, two playgrounds, farm animals, and the buffet (breakfast is free, and you get 20% off other meals). You can even buy smoothies and ice cream 24 hours a day in the lobby, which I saw quite a lot of people take advantage of. They can also get you discounted tickets to a number of local attractions. Anyway, after Zack's nap and a bit of time in the playground, we hit the buffet for dinner (very good, as described in previous years' travelogues) and then Zack chased geese for a while before bed. I knew he loved chasing birds, but it was a bit odd to see him chasing a after a whole flock of geese that were each as big as he is. It's good that they're not especially aggressive.
Unfortunately, despite being tired, Zack really didn't want to go to sleep (he's been fighting it a lot lately), which made our night a bit more exhausting than it should have been, but otherwise it was a pretty good day.

More on Wednesday. Later!

Josiah

8/23/2019 Last hurrah

Connie and I are on our annual trip to Pennsylvania to visit my favorite corn maze. But this year we decided to make it a two day event and do a bit more in the area to wrap up the summer. Expect a couple travelogue entries next week. I was debating trying to sort through my first day's photos and get the first entry done for today...but I've had a lot of late nights lately and there's no telling how well Zack will sleep in the hotel, so I'm going to go to bed early for once.

Have a good weekend and I'll be back to work and back to PV (probably with a travelogue entry) on Monday.

Josiah

8/21/2019 So close...

Not much to say. I've been spending a lot of time doing stuff with Zack, so I'm still not quite done with my last class. I should get it finished today though. Then it's off to Pennsylvania for a last couple days of summer fun. Speaking of which, there's a chance I might miss Friday's update because of the trip. Though that hopefully won't be the case.

Later!

Josiah

8/19/2019 One more week

The demo for Aurora's Nightmare, the visual novel game I'm developing, will be released to the public on September 1st!

It's the last week before fall semester. I've got three out of my four classes ready to go, but the last one still needs a solid day or so of work. Connie and I will be taking a little trip later in the week though, which will be fun and should lead to a couple travelogue posts. For now though, I've got a busy day or two ahead of me.

Later!

Josiah

8/16/2019 On a Friday?

Been awhile since I've posted a regular comic on a Friday. Though in this case it was due to an updating error back with Monday's comic. I originally started posting Blooper Reel comics on the main page on Fridays because I was having trouble getting Top Web Comics to update its voting incentives. Eventually though, I stopped checking TWC and just made Friday Blooper Reel comics on the main page the norm. I wouldn't mind getting back to three regular strips per week, plus a Blooper Reel but, between my work, studies, and family, I'm a lot busier than I used to be and having to make one less strip per week really helps sometimes. So I think I'll stick with the current approach, at least for now.

Have a good weekend!

Josiah

8/14/2019 Oops...

It looks like Monday's comic didn't update properly (been a long time since that happened). It was added to the archives but didn't appear on the main page like it was supposed to. So, I'm putting it back up today for everyone who missed it and I'll post the comic that was supposed to go up today on Friday instead of a Blooper Reel.

Sorry for the mix-up.

Josiah

8/12/2019 Another year

Pebble Version has passed yet another anniversary. Honestly, I never thought it would continue this long. Not that I thought I'd give up or anything, but I never thought it would take anywhere near this long to finish to the story. To be fair, that's kind of my fault. I certainly could have abbreviated a lot. But whatever, we're getting fairly close to the end so there's no point in changing things up now.

Here's to another year!

Josiah





Pokemon and all related images and trademarks are copyrighted by Nintendo, one of my favorite games companies who would certainly never waste their time by trying to sue me. Especially since I'm protected under the Fair Use Rule of the United States Copyright Act of 1976. Aside from that the actual site content is copyrighted by me, Josiah Lebowitz 2003.