Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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It’s time for a bulleted list!

As usual, I have so many things I’d like to blog about and so little time, mostly because all of the aforementioned things taking up all of my time1. So, in the interest of getting all these things out of my brain, I give you this brain dump in the form of a bulleted list:

  • After a year and a half, all the hard work of the organizing committee (of which I was a member as a program co-chair) led to a highly successful Canadian Evaluation Society conference at the start of May. I’ll be writing up more specifics on the conference content on my other blog2, but I do have to say that I am so happy that the conference was extremely well attended and everything went off without a hitch. And also that I’m relieved to have a lot fewer meetings in my calendar going forward!
  • The week before the conference my team and I had to make a surprise move to a temporary new office space3. It’s just four blocks from my old office space, but it’s surprising how many new restaurants there are to discover that I never realized were so close by4! Also, one of my coworkers brought a breakfast sandwich maker to the new office and now I live in heaven.Breakfast sandwich maker
  • The temporary new space in which I’m working lacks a phone, so work is getting me a Blackberry. So now I live in 2006. Even more sadly, Pokémon Go is not available on BB (at least not in a very functional state from what I’ve read) (or else I’d be able to double my productivity when it comes to evolution binges when I have a Lucky Egg!).
  • Speaking of Pokémon, I have caught all of the Pokémon from the initial release in Pokémon Go that are available to catch in North America, plus the Australia-specific one5 + all the babies. The last of the originals that I caught was the one I wanted the most: this Flying Spaghetti Monster Pokémon: Tangela
  • Of course, before I caught all the originals, Niantic released a bunch more Pokémon, so I still haven’t caught them all! I have caught a fair number, including this tree: Pokémon
    This communist6 teddy bear: Pokémon and this thing that really needs to pee (both male and female editions. You can tell she’s a girl because she’s wearing lipstick) UntitledUntitled
  • And one more thing about Pokémon. Among the new group of Pokémon that were release, there were two that allowed me to test the question of “If there were a Pokemon that looked like a spider, would my fear of spiders or my love of catching Pokémon win?”
    Pokémon
    Pokémon Given that I’ve caught 151 Spinaraks and 15 Ariados, I think I have my answer.
  • I took a sewing class with Cath and Stephanie as my thing that I learned in April (towards my goal of learning 12 new things this year). There’s a whole blog posting on that which I have partway written, so stay tuned! I’ve also learned something new in May, so that will be another blog post!
  • I’m co-teaching a class in the summer intersession (read: a 12 week course that’s taught in 6 weeks, so I’m extra glad to be co-teaching it!). I don’t really have anything to say about it, but it’s taking up a bunch of my time, so I thought I should probably include it in this laundry list of random things.
  • I’m still loving Strong Side! I’ve just started my third program. The first program was 5 weeks of building a foundation, then there was 5 weeks of hypertrophy (i.e., building muscle), and my new program is 5 weeks of intensity that is probably going to kill me. I’ve only done the instructional week, where the trainers teach you all the exercises in your new program, but you don’t have to do nearly as many sets as the following four weeks. Thursday is my first day on my own for this program where I will have to do eleventy billion sets of all kinds of things that will surely make me exhausted. But I can really see some significant improvements in strength since I started going there, so I’m going to trust the program!
  • There was a provincial election in BC on May 9 and it ended up in a hung parliament. The BC “Liberals” (which I put in scare quotes because the party that goes by the name “BC Liberals” are not liberal at all – they are conservative) won, on the initial counting of the ballots on election night, 43 seats in the legislature m, which is one seat shy of a majority. However, there are more than 170,000 absentee ballots that weren’t counted on election night and some ridings had very slim margins that could easily flip based on absentee ballots – including one riding where the NDP won by just 9 votes! They’ve started the count of the absentee ballots and the NDP are now up by 101 votes in that riding, but there are still more that have to be counted tomorrow, so it’s still possible that the “Liberals” could win that one. If that flips to the BC “Liberals” and none of the other ridings change hands, there will be a majority government and things will continue on as they were before the election, but with fewer MLAs in the ruling party7. But if everything stays the same as the election night results, or if seats flip to the NDP, we could end up with BC “Liberal” minority or, if more seats flip to the NDP, we could end up with an NDP minority, and in either minority scenario, the Green Party holds the balance of power. Needless to say, we’ll be waiting with baited breath for those absentee ballots to be counted!
  1. In fact, as I’ve sat down to take these notes from my phone, where I’ve been writing this blog posting in bits and pieces on my Skytrain commute, I noticed that I haven’t posted anything March 31 and it’s somehow the end of May now!! []
  2. Which I am sure are far too boring for anyone to want to read! []
  3. I actually have two offices and to clarify, this is for my non-hospital office. []
  4. I bring my lunch to work most days, so it will take me awhile to try all the ones I want to try []
  5. I caught the kangaroo one that you can only catch in Australia when I was there last fall. I did not catch the Asian one when I was in Hong Kong (due to not having a data plan and there being very limited free wifi around) and I haven’t been to Europe since Pokémon Go started. Clearly I need to book a European vacation! []
  6. I keep calling that bear a communist because the crescent on his reminds me of the sickle on the Soviet flag. Scott thinks it’s more of a Turkish teddy bear. []
  7. Unless a BC Liberal MLA dies, crosses the floor, or resigns due to a scandal, and a riding is subsequently lost in a by-election. []

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If Pokemon were hockey fans

I was chatting with Cath during the Canucks-Leafs game yesterday and this conversation happened:

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And while I can only think of two other people besides Cath and I who might find this amusing (i.e., those in the overlapping area of the Venn diagram of hockey fans + Pokemon Go players), I find it ever so amusing that I had to blog it.

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Inventory

“Inventory is evil” is what my supply chain management prof always used to say. Inventory is your money being tied up so you can’t use it. Inventory is risk – risk that you’ve put your money into making that product, but maybe you won’t be able to sell it or it will get stolen or eaten by rats or go past its expiry date or become obsolete. Inventory costs you money because you have to store your inventory somewhere. “Inventory is evil” is something I’ve been experiencing vis-a-vis Pokémon1.

In the Pokémon game, you get 250 storage spots for all the little pocket monsters that you catch (or hatch or evolve). But when you live and work in heavily Pokéstopped areas, you end up catching lots and lots of Pokémon – way more than 250, though lots and lots of them are multiples of ones you have2. Since the objective of the game is to catch each different type of Pokémon, you need to have enough room in your inventory to store all the different types, but given how often you just keep catching the same type you already have, you quickly run out of space! You can “transfer” your Pokémon to the professor in exchange for candy (which frees up a spot in your Pokémon inventory) but (a) that requires the hard work of tapping icons and words on your screen, (b) many of the Pokémon are sooo cute and I don’t know what the professor is doing to them (but it can’t be good), and (c) my pack rat tendencies. It’s actually mostly (a). I tend to catch Pokémon as I go about my day – walking to the Skytrain station, on the way to the grocery store, etc. – so it sort of fits with the flow of my day, but cleaning up my inventory requires concerted effort just focused on playing the game, and since I’m not typically a gamer, this is not something I’m used to. Once you fill up your storage, you can’t catch anymore Pokémon until you either transfer some out or pay money for more storage spots. This is where my cheapness overtakes my laziness3!

I mostly do my Pokémon inventory management on my Skytrain ride. I sort the Pokémon by name so that I can see which ones I have multiples of, check out which one is the most powerful (or which two if I’m keeping an extra one around to evolve4.), and then transferring the superfluous to the professor. It’s a lot of work! Also, while doing this important work, I’m often interrupted by my phone vibrating, which signifies that a new Pokémon has spawned where I am so I have to get out of my inventory box and go catch it. Since my Pokémon are sorted alphabetically by name, I often clear out my extra Caterpies and Drowzees, but less often get to my Spearows and Zubats. Case in point, I seem to own all of the Tauroses5:

All the Tauroses

Or I did. After I took that screen shot, I transferred a bunch to the professor and now I have a tonne of Tauros candy – I used as much of the candy as I could but apparently cannot power him up anymore until I become a stronger trainer.

In addition to my Pokémon storage, I also have a limited inventory for carrying around items in your bag – Pokéballs, Megaballs, and Ultraballs used to catch , plus Revives and Potions used to heal your Pokémon after you force them to fight at a PokéGym6. This used to be a problem for me, as my I kept getting messages that my bag was full – again, you could pay for a bigger bag, but I’m way too cheap. I often throw out Revive and Potions, because I don’t fight at PokéGyms that much, so I’d rather have room for more balls7. But in the past week or so I’ve found that not having enough inventory room is not my problem – my problem has been that I keep running out of PokéBalls! Which is probably because I keep running into situations like this one:

All the Pokémon

I ran into this gaggle of Pokémon outside my pet store when I went to buy food for the kitties. I ended up catching 11 Pokémon in a row there! Hence why I keep running out of Pokéballs!

So, yes, it seems it’s feast or famine when it comes to PokéInventory – either too much or too little. Inventory really is evil.

  1. Yes, I’m still playing Pokémon, even though everyone else is so over it. Because I have a bad case of completism and I’ve still got 38 Pokémon that I haven’t caught yet! []
  2. You have to catch multiples of the same type of Pokémon because (a) catching Pokémon gives you experience points (XP), which is how you level up (which makes you more powerful, lets you catch more powerful Pokémon, and gives you useful objects) and (b) it also gives you candy, which you need to evolve or level up a given Pokémon. []
  3. My friend Cath and I (the only two people I know who are both still playing, made a solemn vow to not spend any actual money on this game. We only get items through either getting them for free at Pokéstops or getting them for free when we level up or earning PokéCoins for free by putting our Pokémon on gyms. []
  4. Or extras if I’ve given them a particular name, like my Meowths, which I named after my kitties – an idea I stole from Cath []
  5. I appear to have a Tauros nesting ground right outside my home and right outside my office so I catch them all. the. time. []
  6. If this is your first time at PokéGym – you *have* to fight! []
  7. Although, I have this feeling of guilt for throwing away perfectly good Revives and Potions because it feels wasteful….. even though I’m entirely away that they are *imaginary* and I got them for free at PokéStops! []

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At the Ballina Airport

Now I’m at the Ballina1 Airport. I have much to blog about, but I think that will have to wait until I get home, as I’m having far too much fun sightseeing and Pokémon-ing and whatnot to spend my time on my computer. But probably the most exciting thing about our time here was that there was a great white shark attack at the beach over from the beach we were boogie boarding at2 – they are big beaches, so it was about 20 km away, but I’m sure a great white could swim 20 km no problem3. The least awesome thing was the two giant cockroaches (like about 1.5 inches long) that showed up in our kitchen yesterday. Apparently having a banana on the counter was not a fantastic idea4. Also, we didn’t see a single kangaroo here, despite driving through a “kangaroos next 5 km” area twice5. The best part of the trip was that my friends from high school Tanya and Greg joined us – they are currently living in Melbourne and came out to Byron Bay to hang out, which was super awesome! But I will blog about our adventures more later – looks like it will be time to board the plane soon!

  1. Pronounced Bel-in-ah, and not Ba-leena, like I assumed before I came here. []
  2. My injured hip wasn’t up to surfing, so this was the next best thing. []
  3. Don’t worry, Mom, we didn’t see any sharks and we are leaving now! []
  4. Thank the FSM that this happened on our last day and not the first day. Neither of us slept well last night, even though Andrew killed them both and we took the banana and the garbage can outside. []
  5. But during the day, so they were probably all sleeping. []

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Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon

So I ran a half marathon last Sunday. And despite it being my second worst finish time of the 14 half marathons that I have run, it turned out to be the one that required the most perseverance and I am actually proud to have finished, yet a bit mad at myself for even having run it. As I mentioned previously, I was suffering from a gluteus medius issue that was so bad it was causing me to limp and it hurt to run. And nothing I was doing was working – it was like it was too tight to even get it to stretch at all, no matter how much I tried. Then I went out for dinner with my friend Linda and she told me about a physiotherapy treatment called intramuscular stimulation (or dry needling1.). This technique uses acupuncture needles, but instead of poking the needles into things that have never been scientifically demonstrated to exist, they insert them into tight bits of muscle. It seems like the idea is that your muscle is confused and thinks it should be shortened into this tight piece of agony and isn’t getting your message to just chill the fuck out already, so you poke it to sort of reboot the system.

Have you tried turning my muscle off and then turning it back on again?2

I did a (very) quick look at the research literature and, unlike acupuncture which has definitely been shown not be any better than a placebo, there really isn’t much research on IMS to know if it’s effective or not (at least as far as I can tell from my quick look). So I figured that it at least has some biological plausibility and I was desperate, because I knew I couldn’t run the race if something didn’t give. So I decided to try it as a Hail Mary pass.

It’s a very interesting sensation to have someone poke a needle in your muscle. It doesn’t hurt, but it feels… unusual. Also, when I told the physio that I wanted to be able to run a half marathon in 3 days, he decided to do electrical stimulation with the needling. So in addition to stabbing the muscles, he also electrocuted them. That felt in some cases like he was just flicking my leg and at other times it just made the muscles twitch repeatedly. Oh yeah, and a lot more muscles were messed up than just the glut med. The TFL ((a.k.a., Tensor Fascia Latae.)) was solid like a rock (which my massage therapist had also noted) and the quads and hamstrings were too. So he stabbed and electrocuted a whole bunch of parts of all of those muscles.

After the treatment, I could immediately stretch my hip more than before the treatment3 and it continued to loosen up a bit more each day. Could it have been a placebo effect? Entirely possible. Would it have loosened up in those days even if I hadn’t had the IMS. Maybe they would have, been there’s no way to know!

The physiotherapist’s advice was to try a little 1-2 km jog on the Saturday and see if it was loose enough to run. So we made our way to Kelowna on Saturday and then I went for a 2km jog, which I was able to do, but with a shooting pain with every step. It would get a teensy bit better, but if I stopped, say, to catch a Pokémon, when I restarted, it would hurt as much as the start of the run. What to do? What to do? I was of two minds: the one that said “Maybe it just needs a bit more jogging to loosen it up4. If it loosens up as much over tonight as it has the last few days, I’ll be fine. What if that happens and I don’t do the race – I’ll be walking around all fine and then I’ll want to kick myself! I can’t miss another race this year!” And then the other one that said, “What if you injure yourself more by running on this injury? That’s how you got this injury – running on the not fully healed sprained ankle! Do you really want to jeopardize your upcoming trip to Australia? The race fee is a sunk cost!” So Andrew made me an offer – I’d  start the race and if after 5km, I’m still in pain, I could call him and he’d come and pick me up. So that’s what I did.

Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon route 2016

Long story short: my hip was considerably looser the next day and combined with the race day adrenaline, the first 15 km were slower than I’d usually run a race, but faster than I’d expected given the circumstances. My hip didn’t hurt, it was more just uncomfortable. As I passed the 15 km marker, I thought “I’m glad I did this, I’m going to finish much sooner than I thought, maybe I should text Andrew to let him know as he might not go to the finish line in time to see me” and no sooner did I think that than a pain shoot through my hip – pain that would continue to shoot on every step of the remaining 6 km. Every volunteer I passed gave me a look of genuine sympathy and a kind encouraging word that I could do this. As I crossed the finish line, I was glad I was wearing sunglasses because maybe that would make the tears of pain streaming down my face less noticeable.

Kelowna half marathon 2016 - finish line 2

Me at the finish line. You can see the pain on my face.

Some thoughts on the race itself:

  • The route itself was gorgeous – it officially replaces Victoria as the most beautiful race route I’ve run. It started in the Vibrant Vine vineyard, ran through some wine country and farm lands, down a giant hill, through some neighbourhoods, and finished up in a park by the lake, where a wine festival awaited. I’d really like to run this race again when I’m not injured so I can more fully appreciate it.
Kelowna half marathon 2016 - actually smiling

This is me at some point before the 15 km mark, where I was only in mild discomfort. Or as I call it now “the good ole days”.

  • While the race as beautiful, the logistics weren’t the best thought out. For example, the website mentioned nothing about a shuttle bus taking runners to the start line, so we expected Andrew to be able to drop me off there, but then out of the blue the road was closed and they said I had to go wait for a shuttle bus. Since people weren’t expecting this, they didn’t allot time for it and they had to delay the race start to allow for more people to arrive on the shuttles. Even with that, I heard that some people didn’t get to the start line until after the race started because they had to wait for the bus they didn’t know they’d have to take.
  • Another example of poor planning was that the place to pick up your gear that you’d checked and your wine glass that was required for the wine festival tastings was at the very end of the festival compound, which meant you had to walk all the way to far end to pick up your stuff and then all the way back to the entrance to the festival to go to wine tastings. This was particularly bad for me since I was in a lot of pain and walking was not something I was wanting to do at that particular time.
  • It was different to run a race at the back of the pack. I mean, I’m not a top finisher by any stretch, but I’m used to being in the top half to the top quarter. Being at a slower pace meant I did have more time to look around and enjoy the scenery – though I guess that part of that was also the I chose to do that to try to distract myself from the pain.
  • I also had more time and attention to think about things. Who were my fellow runners? For how many of them was this their first half? Their 50th? Who else was running hurt, pushing through despite the pain? I thought about the saying that you should “Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” What battles were my fellow runners fighting, physically or psychologically, that you just can’t see from the outside? What motivated them to run today? And conversely, who was having the best race of their life? And who else was in this for the wine?
  • I also thought about my dad. I find I do that often when I’m running, because I know he was a runner before I was born. Also, my dad was very stubborn and I was being stubborn too, by running this race.
  • The race medal was awesome. When I first saw it, I didn’t clue into what it was and just thought “It’s huge!” But it turns about that it’s a coaster for your wine! It’s easily detachable from the ribbon so you can actually use it! Though I’m sure I’ll just hang it on the wall with my collection5

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    I do love a good race medal.

I’ve spent the past week since the race limping around – I saw the physio on Wednesday and he said I have acute bursitis and maybe acute tendinitis – and I saw the massage therapist today. I had to skip my hockey game today because I can barely walk, let alone skate. Here’s hoping the 16 hours of flying I have coming up on Wednesday doesn’t kill me!

The one silver lining – well, in addition to the awesome race medal and all the wine – was that I finally caught the damn Mankey that had been eluding me in Pokémon Go. Mankey isn’t that rare of a Pokémon – I just could never seem to catch one, until now ((Of course, once I caught one, I ended up catching a few. Now I just need to keep catching them so that I can evolve one into a Primeape!)!

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  1. As opposed to “wet needling”, i.e., injecting you with stuff []
  2. Props to Kalev for coming up with this line in a convo we were having yesterday []
  3. By which I mean to say – I could then stretch it more than 1 mm. []
  4. I had some bad shin splints earlier this year that took about 5 km of jogging before they disappeared, so this wouldn’t have been unprecedented. []
  5. Speaking of which, my medal rack is too full – I need a new one. But I don’t have time to deal with that right now, so that is after-Australia Beth’s problem. []

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A visit from my mom and my niece

Hey remember that time that my Mom and my niece came to visit me? Of course you don’t, because I didn’t blog1 or tweet/Facebook/etc. any of it while they were here because we were having way too much gallivanting (and perhaps spent all of our tech-related time catching Pokémon instead).

Highlights of their trip included:

  • the New Westminster petting zoo (which I’d never been to before, despite being a New Westie for several years now!)

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    My niece holding a bunny at the Queen’s Park Petting Zoo in New West

  • the Vancouver Aquarium, where we petted rays and saw beluga whales, dolphins, otters, sea lions, and much more
  • Science World at Telus World of Science2, where we did the spy exhibit. Wasn’t really any science to it, but it was super fun! It was challenging enough to keep us engaged through all the parts of the exhibit – and my niece was the master of figuring out the clues! For the record, we totally figured out who stole the computer chip and why!
  • New West StrEAT food truck festival. It was insanely hot out, but that didn’t keep me, my Mom, my niece, Kalev, Andrew, and I from checking out all of the 88 food trucks. Among us we had an Aussie meat pie, a Japadog, bubble tea, a tacotino, pizza, hurricane potatoes, a Beaver tail, and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting!

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    My niece was inspired by a photo of a child with ridiculously placed chocolate on his face on the side of the Beaver Tails truck to place some chocolate in a similar ridiculous fashion.

  • BBQ dinners, including pork tenderloin and steaks
  • Granville Island, including Lee’s Donuts3, jewelry shopping4, looking at fancy brooms (and my mom saying “How can I fit this in my luggage?” and then not buying one because she can’t fit it in her luggage – a tradition of hers when she comes to Vancouver), sitting in hammocks (and saying “Where could I hang this?” and realizing we have nowhere to hang hammocks and then not buying them – another tradition when my family comes to town), and lunch at Edible Canada.

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    This was a menu item at Edible Canada, but we were pretty sure it is actually a Pokémon.

  • Delicious pizza from Pizza Garden. Crick became obsessed with the pizza box5, even choosing to sleep there at night instead sleeping with me like she usually does. After a few days, I decided that it was time for the pizza box to go (given that it does have bits of food in it, which will get icky) and said “I’m going to take the pizza box to the compost”, and the Crick bolted from across the apartment to the box and stood on it and looked at me as if to say “You aren’t taking this anywhere!”

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    Crick is in her happy place

  • Pokemon Go! With all the walking around we did, we had ample opportunity to hunt for wild pocket monsters. We caught an Electrobuzz at the New West petting zoo, and 3 Tauros in one day! We also collected so many Pokémon that we had a whole bunch that we could evolve, so we planned it out so that we could drop a Lucky Egg (which gives you double XP6 for half an hour) and then evolved about 40 Pokémon, which resulted in me finally levelling up from Level 20 to 21 (and getting a good chunk of the way through Level 21 to boot.)) We evolved a few Pokémon that I didn’t have before – a Persian (from a Meowth), a Wortotle (from a Squirtle), a Venomoth (from a Venonat), and a Poliwhirl (from a Poliwag) – and a bunch of ones that I already have just to get the extra XP7.

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    My mom, helping us catch a wild Hypno.

  • A very exciting semi-finals hockey game in which my summer hockey team went to an eleven round shootout to decide who went on to the finals!

Lowlights included:

  • Losing the aforementioned hockey semi-final in an eleven round shootout.
  • My mom’s triple injury – she burned her finger on the first day here, she cut two fingers quite deeply on her second day here (trying to open a package with an overly sharp knife)8, and then a few days later is poked herself in the finger with a bamboo skewer while making dinner.
  1. Other than to mention briefly that it was upcoming. []
  2. That is really its name and the ridiculousness of that name makes me laugh every time! []
  3. Hands down the best donuts in the city. []
  4. My mom bought be a gorgeous necklace as a Christmas present. []
  5. As she usually does when I have a pizza box in the house. []
  6. Experience points. []
  7. I’m looking at you, 21 Pidgey evolutions! []
  8. Needless to say, there were some “Not to be trusted with knives” jokes made. []

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A Wild Pidgey Appears

When my dad was young, he and his brothers would go hunting with my grandpa. My dad’s older brother, Bob, used to say that if he died, he would be reincarnated as a duck and then one day when his brothers were out hunting, they would take aim at a duck, but would miss and the duck would laugh at them. My Uncle Bob died in a boating accident when he was 21. And then one day my dad and his brothers were out hunting and they took aim at a duck and were sure they had the duck in their sights, but when they fired, they missed and the duck quacked and quacked in the duck-like way that sounds like a laugh. Personally, I don’t believe in any sort of afterlife or reincarnation, but I always loved that story.

My dad used to raise pigeons for racing and every time I see a pigeon – which is quite often where I live – I think of my dad. In Pokémon Go, the most common Pokémon seems to be Pidgey, the pigeon-like Pokémon. Sometimes when you throw a PokéBall at a Pidgey (which is how you catch a Pokémon) you miss and I would swear that the Pidgey is laughing at me.

Pokemon GO

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Games

Jumpman_2I’ve never been much of a video game player. The number of video games I’ve ever really gotten into can be counted on one hand. I remember playing Jumpman Jr on my Dad’s Commodore 64. The main character was a pixelated stick figure who you could make climb ups pixelated rope or pixelated ladder, trying to avoid being shot by a bullet (which was a single pixel) while you.. hmmm… I can’t actually remember what the object of that game was.

In university my friend Therese and I enjoyed a game called Theme Hospital where you built hospitals. It was sort of Sim City-like and you had to decide who to hire (nurses, doctors, custodians, etc), what units to build (more surgical suites or more diagnostic imaging rooms?) and how many vending machines to put into your waiting room (if you put enough, you got an award from the national dental association for increasing business for them). During those times I also played NHL ’98, as my then husband got me hooked on that one.

The next video game I played wasn’t for probably a decade or so – Boogie Bunnies. It was like the various jewel matching games, but you had to match bunnies of the same colour. When you matched them they danced and giggled and blew up. I never understood why those bunnies were so happy about getting blown up, but the game was rather addicting.

Fast forward to last year, when my then boyfriend’s kids got me playing an iPhone/iPad game called Cooking Fever.  In this game, you serve meals to people at various restaurants. You can upgrade your kitchen equipment, your ingredients, and your restaurant’s interior to make more money and then use that money to but more upgrades and more restaurants. Now, I have to point out that in my youth I worked in restaurants serving food to people and I hated it, yet here I am playing a game doing exactly that, but for fun. This game really lends itself to completism, because you work to complete all the levels of a given restaurant and then you want to complete all the tasks in a given restaurant (one of which is to complete all levels with 3/3 stars), but then there is a list of achievements to complete across the whole game (like upgrade 5 of your restaurants or make a total of one million dollars from your restaurants) and you want to complete those. I’ve now completed everything in the game and so have to wait for the occasional “challenges”, where you get a limited amount of time to complete 15 new levels, or new restaurants, which don’t come out all that often because they must take a lot of work to create.

Soon after all that, my Twitter friend Jen introduced me to Neko Atsume or, as I call it, the internets kitty game. The object of this iPhone game is to attract cats to your yard by putting out food and toys for them. In appreciation, the cats leave you sardines or goldfish, which you can use to but more food and toys (why a cat would leave you a fish rather than just eating the fish is beyond me, but I guess I’m not an internets cat, so I just don’t understand how their minds work). There are special rare cats that require specific combinations of certain toys and food to show up and your goal is to get all the cars to come to your yard, get photos of them when they are there to fill up you album, and get them to come enough times that they leave you a special gift. It’s another game that really lends itself to completism.

Internet cats

A whole bunch of Internet cats in my yard!

And now we have Pokémon GO. I downloaded it to check what all the hype was about and started playing it like I do most games – I just randomly click thinks and see what happens. I’ve been able to figure out the basics – you create a character for yourself (the game walks you through this part) and then you start walking around and the game uses GPS to show your character on a map. When you encounter a Pokémon, you can throw a PokéBall at it and trap it; if you manage to do this, the Pokémon is registered in your Pokédex (which I gather is a list of all the Pokémon you have caught) and you get points that I don’t know what they are for. Sometimes you catch a Pokémon but it manages to escape from the PokéBall – I assume that these are stronger Pokémon and I need to do something in order to be stronger to catch those one – thought I’m totally guessing on that. Real life locations are PokéStops – places where you can stock up on PokéBalls that you use to catch Pokémon that you encounter, as well as other objects that I have no idea what they do. A building, a piece of public art, or other such location can all be PokéStops – you see them on your map as your wander around and if get close enough to them, then you can stock up on stuff. There are also PokéGyms, which I assume you train at to get better at catching Pokémon, but that’s just a guess because the one time I was at a PokéGym, my game playing technique of randomly clicking things was not effective – I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to do and then it told me that I lost. I think I may have to actually read about how you are supposed to play this game if I want to go any further with it.

Pokemon GO

A Pokémon in my kitchen!

Pokemon GO

A scary Pokémon I caught on my way to my massage appointment the other night

Pokemon GO

This Pokémon was in the Skytrain station. I wonder if he tapped in?

Pokemon GO

This Pokémon was in my office! These things are everywhere!

Image Credits:
Jumpman posted by Abel-Archer on Flickr

Theme Hospital posted on Wikipedia under fair use.