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Pokémon And The Need For Unadulterated Joy

PREFACE: I actually started writing this on Saturday and kinda forgot about it. It was going to mainly be instructional/How To for the non-gaming crowd. But with all of the RNC talk this week Pokémon has been my happy place. Me and the kids LOVE it. So does Donnie. We curled up in bed the other night showing off our new captures for the day. I have several friends who love it and we bond over the silliness of it and it’s keeping me sane so I wanted to revisit the entry and publish it today so all of you all can find a little escape in your world. Beware of a little of repeating of items from the stuff I wrote Saturday to the stuff I wrote this morning. I didn’t have time to really edit for duplicate info!

IMG_6308Y’all. I really dislike games. You name a game trend and I’ll tell you how/why I never got into it. My Mom worked for a guy who owned an arcade growing up and I could only get minorly excited about it because I just never got into the arcade games. I had a few I liked well enough, just to keep me busy, but it was never something I got excited about. I haven’t jumped on any phone game trend I didn’t play console games and the only tabletop game I ever really got into was Yahtzee with my roommates back in the late 90s.

But I’m totally dorking out over Pokémon Go. AS IS MY ENTIRE FAMILY.

I had a request from my friend to maybe try to explain it a bit so here it is. I’m not a gamer though, nor am I a writer about gaming, so this is basically one non-gaming Mom sharing the links/articles she used to help her make sense of it.

It’s not entirely intuitive, even to gamers or people who have played other versions of Pokémon games. I thought at first that my cluelessness was simply inexperience, but it seems a lot of people who grew up with all of the various Pokémon games still were/are a bit clueless. So, the links have become necessary. I have Googled TONS about Pokémon in the last week.

First? You should catch Pikachu as your first Pokémon. I did not know you could even do that (the down side of starting playing before the first week is over is you miss out sometimes on tips/tricks people discover that first week) but everyone else who did has done it. Here’s your link about that.

Catching Pikachu first.

Now, the basic idea is you catch Pokémon. And really? That’s basically all I’ve done. I went to a gym to battle once to just see what it meant (more on that in a minute), I battled in a gym once that was “occupied” by someone I knew I could beat (I guarded that gym for a glorious 2 hours), and I practiced in a “friendly” gym once. BUT THAT IS IT. Three battles. So don’t worry about battles yet if you don’t want.

So…you catch Pokémon. There’s still some debate about how much “skill” is involved. Once you get past a certain level, they will start escaping. But the basic idea is to try to throw the ball in the middle of the shrinking circle. It seems that the green circles are “easy” and the yellow are “medium” and red are “hard” but really it seems to be more random than that to me. There’s one guy who is a green but I have a terrible time catching (ZUBAT) and there are others that are easy to catch but NEVER seem to want to stay in the ball and keep escaping (VENONAT) so I’m not sure there’s a perfect system to explain the difficulty.

Catch all the Pokémon you can at first. You need practice and you need to level up to start opening up more options. If you run out of balls? Find your Poké Stops. Their marked by the simple blue tower in your map. I’ve found a few on my main drag away from my house so sometimes I’ll just detour when I’m going places. There’s a church with one so I’ll just pull in, spin my Pokéstop, and pull out. But we also have walks we go on to the local ballfield where there’s 3 nearby and we can walk around to all 3 and then circle back and the 5 minutes will have expired so we can spin again! When they’re purple you have to wait (I think about 5 minutes). Every time you spin them you get SOMETHING as long as you’re close enough. The further in the game you get, the more non-Pokéball items you get.

List of items you can start getting at various levels.

Every time you “level up” the game gifts you a bunch of cool stuff too. SO! Just focus on catching Pokémon and spinning Poké Stops until you get at least past level 5. That’s when you pick a “team” and you can finally battle. I’m Team Mystic. There’s only 3 teams and if you WANT to battle then I would drive the parts of town you live/work in and find out who occupies the most gyms and choose a DIFFERENT team. If you just want to be able to “practice” and not have to battle, you’ll want to choose the team with the most gyms. I’m blue (there’s blue/red/yellow) and there’s not a lot of blue gyms on my end of town. The gyms that are your color are the ones you can “train” in. The others you have to actually “battle”.

But – like I said – I’m on level 14 (UPDATE: I’m on 17 now…still not battling.) and have not any of that necessary to enjoy the game!

Now…to level up you increase your XP which are the points you accumulate as you go about the game. Here’s a good list of points unrelated to battling:

Catching a Pokemon with a Curveball————-10
Catching a Pokemon with a Nice Throw————10
Catching a Pokemon with a Great Throw———–50
Spinning a PokeStop—————————–50
Catching a Pokemon with an Excellent Throw——100
Catching Any Pokemon—————————-100
Hatching a New Pokemon————————–500
Evolving a Pokemon——————————500
Catching a New Pokemon————————–600
Evolving a New Pokemon————————–1000

Now…once you accumulate a bunch of Pokémon you’ll see you have enough candy to evolve the guy. BUT! There are all sorts of opinions about when/how you should evolve them. And some of them are conflicting. The one thing I’ll say is DO NOT just evolve them because you can. At least READ some stuff about it. This is a good article about a few things related to evolving.

10 Thing I Wish I Knew When I started Pokémon.

Now, one effective thing I did was I waited until I got to level 10 (there was some point explanations for that) and then I used some things I had accumulated in leveling up and followed this guide here and used my lunch break to go from level 10 to level 12 in 30 minutes. Also fun evolving trick I missed: Rename Eevee before evolving it to force the game to evolve it into the one you want.

If you want to know what all you have you click your Pokéball and click “items” and it shows you what’s in your bad. Most of it you’ll recognize from Poké stops but I didn’t know I also accumulated stuff when I leveled up. I have found Poké stops to be at: Parks, Post Offices, Churches, Statues/Art at Local Restaurants, and beautification awards.

One of the things you’ll start getting at Poké Stops are eggs and those you have to incubate by walking. You can’t really trick the system any other way b/c it recognizes speed and works with a GPS. I’ve been disappointed by the eggs, truthfully. I keep getting 2K eggs (takes walking a 2K to incubate) and they only launch common Pokémons and even my 5K eggs are only hit/miss. I only have one incubator left (the infinity one you can keep using) and 9 2K eggs waiting to incubate and it just irritates me because I want my steps to go to GOOD eggs. Not stupid 2K ones! Oh well. You did get 500 points for hatching so I try to remember that. (Update: I did finally start getting 10K eggs and the first one I hatched was a DAMN EEVEE. I have so many of those guys I now have ALL THREE evolutions. Luckily they can be pretty powerful so I tried not to be too mad.)

The best part about the game is finding out the places in your town where the most activity is. Our downtown park is HOPPING. People put lures in at Poké Stops (You get lures, leveling up to 9 I think) and it attracts Pokémon to that stop for EVERYONE to try to catch. You can see them on the map because pink petals will be flowing out of them. We went downtown on my birthday and there were people EVERYWHERE. It was super fun. I’m also convinced the rare Pokémon only show up at places with lots of activity b/c the local reports show them at all of the hot spots. Donnie gets WAY more rare Pokémon around his office downtown than I do ANYWHERE.

UPDATE: Like I said…I started this entry this weekend and never finished it and after the big speech at the RNC last night I need Pokémon to distract me so I’m going to just add in a few things I’ve learned the last few days.

  • Save your evolutions to when you’re using a Lucky Egg if you can because you get DOUBLE the points.
  • Choose the “XL” size of the Pokémon to evolve when you go to evolve.
  • If you don’t have enough candy to evolve yet, transfer in some non-XL versions (or lower CP) for more candy.
  • If you hope to be good at battling/occupying gyms, pay attention to the Pokémon guarding the gyms you see – those are typically the ones you want to focus on powering up because they’ll have the highest capacity.
  • The arch above the Pokémon’s head tells where his CP value falls on his available range. THAT RANGE INCREASES WHEN YOU LEVEL UP. I did not find that out until yesterday. Stardust increases your CP.
  • But it’s okay to not to want to fight. I just want to collect all of the Pokémon. That’s my goal. I’m playing around on friendly gyms or if I see one manned by someone much weaker than me, but mainly it’s about collecting for me!
  • There are lots of cool things waiting for you at higher levels. Here is a good list.

Okay – that should work. Ask any questions in the comments!

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But Seriously, I Want To Hear More Policy Discussions From Paul Ryan.

I think…if I could really convince people of the US one thing during this political season, it would be to CHECK THEIR BIAS. I’ve often referenced a two-point system for determining bias.

  • You can’t think of anything good to say about opposing politicians because your media sources and social contacts never discuss them favorably.
  • You can’t think of anything bad to say about the politicians you support because your media sources and social contacts never criticize them.

These things are hard and if you swing REALLY far on one side of politics like I do – you have to constantly be checking your bias. Not allowing yourself to write blank checks to policy proposed by your side…that’s a hard one. I want to just say, “Oh – the Democrats pushed it? I support it.” Because that’s EASY. But that’s completely illogical – I won’t even register as a Democrat because I don’t agree with them on everything, why write a blank check to approve everything?

And then the harder part is to not immediately hate every idea proposed by Republicans. I have to REALLY make myself dig into policy proposals sometimes. The VA reform stuff is a perfect example. I wasn’t 100% for or against either side of that, but I tended – when I would read into it – to side with the Republicans on the discussions.

But – I’ll be honest – while I’ve tried to avoid bashing Trump, I really can’t think of any stance of his I support or can speak about favorably. BUT – I think that’s not a media/social bias (because I can name off a few people I know personally voting for Trump) as much as it’s really hard to find policy in his rhetoric and he’s not served in government before so I can’t find bills he’s helped author or things he’s spoken out agains in terms of legislation. He is like a Kindergartener in the governing body so I have no report cards to look back on.

HOWEVER – I did hear an interview with Paul Ryan the other day and I really want to hear more from him about his ideas for Welfare reform. I’m a bleeding heart liberal so obviously I support TANF and other government assistance programs, but I’ve often been frustrated by how simple the programs are in that we don’t do a lot to fund job assistance. I know it’s because – in terms of staffing – it’s cheaper to just write checks. These programs don’t have budgets for checks AND training, but I do often wish there was a wider scope to these assistance programs.

Paul Ryan mentions briefly about how transportation and mental health are often the causes of the joblessness and that he’d like to customize assistance programs in cases like that and that piqued my interest! That’s a GREAT idea! Lack of transportation complicates EVERYTHING. You’re limited to the range you can look for jobs (has to be within walking distance or accessible by public transportation) and you’re limited on schedule if you’re dependent on public transportation. Especially in areas without much to offer in terms of transit.

AND YES. Mental health issues definitely thwart job efforts. TOTALLY.

Neither of these issues will be solved by small checks that just merely help people survive. So I love the idea of recognizing more specific hurdles and helping individuals jump those. But the way I understand things, that type of customization costs MORE in terms of staffing and funding. Does anyone know of any Paul Ryan policy proposals that outline these ideas more? I’d love to read about them.

And this is how I sleep better at night. I often worry I’m part of the problem with politics because I do swing SO FAR LEFT on so many issues. I can’t shift my beliefs on things like Reproductive Rights and the Death Penalty and LGBTQ Equality Issues and Legislative/Criminal Justice Reform…but I can do my best to look at specific policies in as many cases as possible and instead of making blanket assumptions based on the side that’s proposing them…I can maybe try to find nuances since government and legislation is a complicated system and it deserves not to be oversimplified into black/white and good/bad.

A Homemade Lullaby

One of my Go-To stories to tell is how I thought – until the age of 9 – that I was the BEST SINGER IN THE WORLD. In my head, my voice matched those on the radio and in church I sang loud and strong like I was the leader of the choir. I sang in my room, in my shower, EVERYWHERE. I loved to sing and I was the singingest singer in all the land.

And then – one day in 3rd grade – a girl name Michelle sat next to me at school mass and quietly told me after, “Hey. You really can’t sing very well but you do it REALLY LOUDLY so I wasn’t sure if you knew or not.”

WHAT?

I went home and immediately recorded myself singing on a tape and played it back and HOLY SHIT, Y’all. SHE WAS SPOT ON. I WAS TERRIBLE.

I mean, there’s “kinda bad” and “can’t carry a tune” and then there’s “causes blood curdling agony” and I was much closer to that final level on the scale of terrible singers and I was OH SO DAMN LOUD.

And while that moment was heart-breaking and embarrassing, I’m weirdly grateful to Michelle because I might have gone on to an embarrassing moment on American Idol without her.

But I still love to sing. And I still sing. I just do it much softer AND I make sure I tell my story often enough that everyone around me is aware that I know I’m terrible so they don’t have that awkward moment of hearing my voice and then thinking, “Oh god…” because…It doesn’t matter! Kim knows she’s a terrible singer! So we can just enjoy her terrible singing with her!

Or something like that.

When E was a baby I would do what all parents do, I would sing him to sleep. I often sang church songs because they were my favorite, but I also made up one that I sang the most often because it was simple and easy to sing.


Oh E-li-ah, E-li-ah,
I’ll always
Love you!
Yes I always
Will love you
No matter
What you do!

And I would sing it over and over and over.

Then I had Nikki and it turns out


Oh Ny-oh-ka, Ny-oh-ka,

fits perfectly. So she heard the song a million times too. And then with a slight change in rhythm I was even able to do


Oh Wes-ly, Oh Wes-ly,

and sing him the same song.

So it was my thing, I guess. And lately, Nikki has really wanted the calming lullaby/back rub before bed so I’ve been reviving the tradition of singing my homemade lullaby. Her anxiety hits her hardest at night and she gets sad and scared and she really likes the relaxing effects of a back rub combined with a lullaby and it MAKES ME SO HAPPY because, she doesn’t care how terrible I sing. I love when she asks for it because first – it gives us a little bit of a callback moment to infancy and she’s growing up so fast those moments are cherished. But I also love that my voice and my lullaby can still soothe her even if Simon Cowell would have shunned me.

Truthfully, it’s more of a whisper and doesn’t require much tune so even a terrible singer like myself can’t screw it up too much. When I composed it during E’s infant years I made sure to keep it soft and uncomplicated so that anyone overhearing my lullaby wouldn’t be in too much agony. But it is still singing and I always joke with her about how happy it makes me she wants me to sing to her even though I’m a terrible singer. Last night I laughed and said, “I should record this and do a blog post about it.”

She said, “Mom! Do it! Because it’s a great song and you wrote it!”

HA! So not only does she not mind my out of tune voice, but she is also impressed that I came up with it ALL BY MYSELF. Turns out she also loves that it is customizable. She’s always thought it was pretty amazing that I had a song that I could stick the kid’s names into.

See? Whisper sing. The secret of all terrible singers.

It’s a small moment in her life, this lullaby/backrub moment. But I still think it’s one that will stick with me because she needs me and as she gets older that’s more and more rare. And it gives me ONE THING I can do to help her with her anxieties.

John Green Quote On Anger

On Fear, Anger, Outrage…and the People Who Profit From It All.

After the 2012 election all of my conservative friends and family (because I’m a small blue speck in my big red family and state) were posting about being worried for our country and so I wrote this to try to give them ways to be productive with their Fear or Anger or Outrage. I’ve heard this Fear and Anger and Outrage continue for years with conservative pundits at every turn of the Obama administration. It always makes me giggle a little when it was used in response to his legislative efforts because I tended to be frustrated the Obama administration wasn’t pushing more liberal legislation so I would often think, “How is it you’re scared of how liberal this legislation is and I’m pissed off it’s not liberal enough?”

But then I started hearing my side express Fear and Anger and Outrage all the time in response to Donald Trump. And I started kinda understanding the, “I’m so scared for our future!” attitude. A little. But, because I’ve seen it on the other side, I forced myself to have perspective. What did I always tell my conservative friends and family? “There are three branches to government. Obama is just one piece, he doesn’t have as much power as you think he has. One person can’t destroy the country as easily as you’re implying.” I started reminding myself all of the things I told everyone who hated Obama. And I became more at peace with it. I wish I loved Clinton enough to push her platform, which I do support. But, I have a complicated relationship with Hilary Clinton, so it’s hard. I adored Obama so I could easily be proactive and push the things about him I liked. It’s harder with Clinton because she has so much baggage. So, as much as I support her platform and have been impressed with a lot of her political career, it’s hard for me to be proactive against Trump without just being ANTI-Trump.

So I don’t do anything. But I definitely I don’t talk about being Scared or Angry or Outraged because that’s completely unproductive and I feel like it actually increases the divide in our country.

Here’s the crux of it all and what REALLY deserves our Anger and Fear and Outrage. Inflammatory media profits from our Fear and Anger and Outrage. Conservative media has been making money of people’s fear of Obama for years and I just ignored it as I didn’t consume that type of media on a regular basis. But now media on MY side is doing the SAME THING with Trump. Now – of course I believe it’s more warranted because I don’t like Trump – but I still stand by that fact that fear-mongering is a COMPLETE WASTE OF ENERGY. And those who post FB statuses or Tweet about being “scared” of our possible future with Trump – WITHOUT OPENING RESPECTFUL DIALOG OR PROMOTING ANOTHER OPTION – are adding to the fire and lining the pockets of these media companies with more cash.

Here’s the tough truth of it all and the point of me writing that entry after the 2012 election. If you are HONESTLY scared, then your time is better spent proactively pushing your candidate or even constructively educating those around you about the things you dislike about Trump. Instead, if you post something like, “If Trump is elected, our world is over…” then you are only FURTHERING the divide from Trump supporters and people who are maybe considering him bristle against your words because they feel like you made it personal and now they’re not going to listen to anything you say. Maybe find reasons people are voting for Trump and counter those instead?

If you are HONESTLY scared, then talking about your Fear and Anger and Outrage is pointless and makes Trump supporters more dedicated and pushes on-the-fence voters away. I get expressing these feelings that wake you up at night, but understand that you might be making the problem worse.

And you’re totally stoking the fire inflammatory media profits from.

After all of the tragic police shootings lately I’m seeing a lot of people talk about their fear in more of a non-political light. So I won’t be as snarky and I won’t roll my eyes as much as I would with people who are like, “IF THE OTHER GUY WINS THE WORLD WILL END!” Because fear of an increase in violence is a much more concrete fear than fear of an elected official in a democratic system with a decent checks and balances.

But it is still pointless.

I encourage everyone to openly talk about their fears. It’s healthy. But there’s a difference between, “Hey guys – I’m getting scared about this increase in violence, anyone else?” and “Here we go again. Another shooting. I’m scared for our country.” One is a vulnerable admission that encourages dialog, the other is just snarky outrage that stokes the fire – again – that inflammatory media profits from.

Because, truthfully? Violence is actually REALLY on the decline. But our media companies are profiting from our outrage anyway. I come back to this video a lot.

This is my favorite line:

“Anger combined with sustained effort can lead to real change.”

And that is my point of all of this. Anger and Fear and Outrage are all reasonable feelings that can inspire real action. Even if the action is simply starting a respectful conversation with people from the “other side.” But with the rise of social media and the microphone it gives all of us, I feel like I’m seeing more Anger and Fear and Outrage and not as much productive conversation or real action. And this makes me frustrated because that means that these inflammatory media companies are profiting off of our stress and THAT IS THE ONLY CONCRETE RESULT OF SAID STRESS.

Be scared. Be outraged. Be angry. But first:

1) Participate in dialogs and be open to the idea that you might not have reason to be AS scared or AS outraged or AS angry as your internet tells you to be and
2) FIND A COURSE OF ACTION THAT WILL HELP SOLVE THE PROBLEM THAT SCARES YOU.

I have a friend from high school that started being really active in a gun control lobbying group in Tennessee after Sandy Hook. THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT. Whenever there’s a shooting I’m certain it triggers her Fear and Anger and Outrage so she writes another letter or knocks on another Congressman’s door or attends another fundraising event.

She’s putting her energy towards enacting change and not allowing her words to turn into dollars for media companies profiting off of our Fear and Anger and Outrage. She does research. She has conversations.

I’m not saying there’s no place for straight up profession of Outrage. Lord knows I do it often enough. I’m just saying that the status quo lately is ONLY THAT. We are sharing out links that stoke our Fear and Anger and Outrage instead of trying to solve the problem. Does Donald Trump really scare you? Have you talked to anyone considering voting for him? Because you’re not going to change minds if you won’t even open a dialog with the other side.

The funny/sad thing is I have found that the Fear and Anger and Outrage stoked by conservative media for the last 4 years is what built the foundation for a lot of people to want something radically different in Trump. And now the other side of the media is profiting on that Fear and Anger and Outrage and the conservative media is struggling to find something to profit from.

They’re taking turns profiting off what is keeping us up at night. And every time we click an inflammatory link we are making them richer and ourselves more upset.

Instead. Let’s quit clicking inflammatory links. Let’s have actual conversations, make actual effort to promote change, find real ways to subdue the thing that scares us. But most importantly? Let’s avoid the Us v/s Them divide that ALL media profits from. Let’s not let these companies or these politicians make money off our Fear or Anger or Outrage. Instead, lets find ways to use it to make change. See if you can get people to understand your concerns instead of making them feel ignorant or stupid for voting for the person who scares you. I spent all of the 2012 election cycle shrinking under the attacks of my conservative friends and family, I refuse to retaliate in the same manner.

John Green Quote On Anger

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The Internet And Social Anxieties

The wonderful thing about the popularity of digital communications is that it allows those of us with social anxieties to contemplate our responses and our words deliberately to avoid the nasty word-vomit that tends to erupt from us when we’re feeling on the spot or anxious. I’ve had various people in my life email me nice questions about my lack of religion or my politics and I can spend time really thinking about the answers so that when they get my response it’s well thought out and researched.

But if someone asks me point-blank face to face about my Pro-Choice stance or my lack of a belief in a biblical higher power? I’m blubbering and unable to form a complete sentence and then sometimes I say stuff completely incorrect because it just comes flowing out of my mouth before I have time to think about it.

This “response time” effect also aids in social invitations. If someone invites me to something in person I get all flustered, especially if I’m pretty sure I can’t go. I don’t like saying I can’t go unless I have a concrete reason, but a lot of times there aren’t concrete reasons and so I get flustered and I sound like I am making shit up. And then I have time to panic about things like double-booking and I can think about responses and email or comment accordingly.

I was stressing this morning about a weird situation of two events happening at almost the same time at ALMOST THE SAME PLACE. I was like, “I AM GOING TO DIE FROM THE ANXIETY THIS IS CREATING.”

But then I thought about it. Trying to do both would be weird because one of them required you bring food so I’d need to explain to both invites (thankfully done on Facebook) that I had two groups to meet there that night. But how to do that and now sound like some sort of diva? “OH! Look! My social calendar is soooo jam-packed! I have two events at the same place at the same night!”

When truthfully I just choose to hang out with beer drinkers and this is a centrally-located beer place really perfect for casual social gatherings. I actually had two events there in one night several months ago. Not a social diva as much as this place is just IDEA for these type of gatherings.

I was trying to type up various responses this morning, I kept deleting and trying again, completely over analyzing my words but HAVING THE FREEDOM TO DO THAT because…DIGITAL! Not face-to-face!

But then I took another look at the times and one actually starts significantly earlier than the other. Enough that I can’t really do both, and the early one is TOO early, Donnie won’t be home in time. So! Crisis averted. I still referenced the dual events so that running into stragglers from the first group won’t make it seem like I’m dissing them, but I did it! I formulated responses (allowing for a chance I can’t go anywhere as our week’s are like that some times) I checked for spelling errors, I ran it through my social anxiety filter and I THINK I DID IT! I responded politely and effectively and didn’t hide from the chance of visiting with friends!

But god forbid I had been invited to one or both IN PERSON when I would have had to give a response face to face then I would have panicked at the double-booking and would have surely mentioned boob sweat (my Go To “joke” when I’m nervous) and possibly TRIED to joke about having two social events in one night but then would have surely sounded like I was definitely a Diva b/c I do not self-deprecate well on the spot, it always sounds the opposite of what I mean for it. I would have been fidgety and I would have cursed a lot because I also have this weird automatic response when I’m anxious, I normally don’t curse to badly but when I’m nervous the f-bombs come out like some sort of social anxiety induced Tourret’s.

But I responded after WAAAAY too long editing myself and I feel good about it and don’t think I ruined my chances to be included in future social groups.

WIN!