Pokemon Go: Day 4

I think it’s day four.

For those of you unaware, wondering about all the weird people glued to their phones outside major landmarks and stores, Pokemon GO released last week. The game is AR, where Pokemon are placed in our own world, and we go catch them.

There are gyms and poke stops at places marked by Google Maps. The gyms have people vie for power to show they are the very best. Some of these gyms are really hardcore, and I feel lacking with my 200 power, compared to the 700 I often see.

I digress.

The last few days I’ve gone on several walks. We walked downtown when visiting my brother, from nine to ten at night. I went for walks with my niece and nephew to catch some Pokemon and collect a poke stop.

The first night, my brother and I walked around three blocks, and I was winded. In this moment I had a realization: The game would make me fit or kill me.

Yesterday I bought a bike so I could go down to the lake which is two and a half miles, in order to catch water Pokemon. Really, the idea is to start this as a Pokemon thing, then make it so I bike pretty much everywhere in the city, even if not Pokemon related.

What I learned is bikes are hard. There’s the balance thing and peddling. This one has gears, so it’s figuring out how much friction and which gear to be in for the best peddling. I found a good middle ground that lets me get going good enough.

In time I was pretty capable on the bike, though it was a little weird. I’m in my 30s, biking around a bunch of high school kids. Really need to knock someone up so I can share this with a kid and not look all sorts of creeper.

However, I was living the dream. Those of you who never touched Pokemon or grew up don’t get it. This dream has been 20 years in the making. I mean, I only hardcore got into it in college, but I still have some of the old school stuff.

On top of that, some people are living this out to extremes.

15270731.jpg

There is a gym out in the ocean, in the middle of a bay, because there is a landmark out there. These two women got a kayak and went out there to battle the gym and claim it.

“Well that’s just nuts,” you say. That’s because you don’t get it, you didn’t live the game. I just finished the end of Omega Ruby. You enter a volcano to capture a massive dinosaur. There is a gym where you climb a rock wall to reach the battle. You bike for miles, which now that I’ve tried, I wish I had started this quest as a 12 year old where the bounce back is quicker.

To point, these two women are living out dreams twenty years in the making. They saw a test and challenged it to prove they’re the very best like no one ever was.

Now others did take it from them, but that’s not really the point. Sure it’s cool to have and hold gyms, but there’s something I really loved about Pokemon: it was as much about the journey as about being the best. The destination is impossible. There’s always someone better. It’s all about how you get there, and these two women got there in style.

Anyway, now I have a bike. I’m excited to get on my adventure, even though there’s not a whole lot immediately around me. Looks like it might be a mile or two bike ride just to hit good places, so I’m guessing my chunk is going to burn off pretty quick. Should be good.

Happy hunting to the other trainers out there!

The Witcher: Morality

Witcher 3 spoilers ahead!

I’ve learned a lot the past couple days about morality through the Witcher 3. I mean, I had before, but I looked some things up on Reddit, and it taught me even more.

There were three crones in a swamp. They kept an orphanage of kids. These children were unwanted by their parents because the parents couldn’t afford to feed them, so the children were sent to the witches.

These children had a keeper. She was an old woman, and also happened to be the baron’s wife I was looking for. I went to the crones and asked for them to free the woman, and they said as long as I did a deed, they would free her from her burden. I agreed. I’m a witcher. I do deeds.

I was to go to a local village, find out about an evil spirit in the area, and kill it. Easy. I’m a witcher. I kill evil spirits.

I go to the village where they practically worship the crones. It’s creepy in that, “If I never come back here, I’m okay with that.” Which elevates to, “I’m never coming back here again,” after you see some of their rituals.

The villagers point me to a tree. I go to the tree, get under it to the roots, and there’s a weird growth that’s breathing. Weird may not be the right word. Really weird.

lady of the woods.png

Basically a breathing grouping of fleshy chestnuts.

 

I am a diplomatic soul, and honestly an enemy of the crones could very well be an ally of mine. If I kill the crones, they’ll let the woman go too. Because they’re dead and can’t really say anything about it.

The spirit tells me it will defend itself if I try to kill it (I already slayed a werewolf it used as protection, so really what was the tree going to do? Bark at me? Get it?). It gives me the option of freeing it, and it will go far away.

There was a book on this spirit. She-Who-Knows. She went by several names: She-Who-Knows, Lady of the Woods, the Mother. All creepy monikers. I like to know my enemy, so I read the book before proceeding. She was a pretty good ruler of the peasants. She only took sacrifices once a year. Then she started to increase it. She went mad and the countryside was drowning in bloodshed, so her daughters, the crones, locked her away.

That’s pretty evil. I mean, when an entity crosses the lines for your bar of “You’re evil,” there’s something wrong.

So this is pretty cut and dry. I can kill the crones later, but this creature must be put down. Then it tells me something. “The crones eat the children.” I’m not going to lie, not a shocker.

QsqEwqR.jpg

The body parts hanging out of their bags tipped me off.

“I can free them, and then I will go far away.”

Now she has my attention. She can free the children, they will be able to live out their life, and this may weaken the crones and give me a chance to kill them. Heck, maybe the spirit and the crones clash and I just need to finish off what’s left of the monstrosities.

I freed her. Told the villagers the spirit wouldn’t bother them anymore. They cut off an ear and gave it to me for me to give to the crones. I told you it wasn’t a preferable vacation spot.

I return to the children are freed. Good job. However, in punishment for losing the children, the woman I was trying to save was turned into a water hag. I can’t show pictures. They’re too grotesque. The crones are also not dead, and a great evil has been loosed into the world. But it’s not my problem.

I go back to the baron, tell him what happened, and we marshal a small force to invade the swamp. Background on the baron and his messed up family.

This all starts because the baron wants you to find his wife and daughter, for that he’ll give you information on your adopted daughter.

Ultimately you find out the baron was a great soldier, was out a lot, his wife ended up sleeping around with another man while he was out, eventually left with him. The baron found her, was going to bring her and his daughter him, but when he saw the man plowing his wife, the woman he loved, he murdered him. The wife hated him, she was forced to live with him, and basically it spiraled into the wife trying to commit suicide, kill the baron, and the baron drinking and beating his wife. Fantastic family environment. The daughter became a warrior cultist. To be honest, I think it’s an improvement.

However, the baron loves them dearly, even if he’s wretched at showing it, and he charges to certain death, stating to the Witcher he’d rather die then let his wife to her fate.

We went to the orphanage, killed a lot of monsters, found the curse on the wife, and went into a cellar. I had to pick a doll and if I pick the right one, curse lifts. Pick the wrong one, she dies.

I did both ways. One way she burns up and it’s horrible. The daughter’s really angry. The other way the mother dies slowly, but in her normal form. She says goodbye. The daughter warms up slightly to her father. Either way, the baron goes home, hope drained from his eyes, and says, “Come back to the manor. You’ll get your pay there.”

As you approach the courtyard, everyone is gathered around a tree. A tree that baron is swinging from. The first time my breath caught. I looked away from the TV. Then I steeled myself and moved on. The stakes were too high, the Witcher said, when picking between two evils. It was better to pick none, but if you have to pick, never look back.

I was a little shaken, but it wasn’t going to ruin my day. They were horrible people. I saved a bunch of children. There was an evil spirit roaming the countryside that one day I’d likely get paid to kill. I wasn’t thrilled the spirit was out, but she seemed to have gotten her head on straight. Despite the outcome, I justified what I had done. Oh, and the evil spirit slaughtered the creepy village. Now it’s a wraith farm I visit from time to time when I need wraith supplies. But they picked the way they’d live. The children didn’t.

I checked Reddit because I knew there was a path where they survived. There was a way to keep the woman and baron alive. The woman was still wasting away and they had to go searching for a cure, but they did. It was a sort of happy ending, if you could ignore the children getting eaten.

On Reddit people said that was the good ending. They saved the family. They were able to destroy an incredible evil. The loss of the children was acceptable. I was blown away.

Yet the death of the baron and wife, the slaughter of the creepy cult village, the loosing an evil entity on the world was okay to me. I rationalized it, or at the very least reached a point where I was okay with what I did. Mind you, for the most part I try to block out those decisions, where it led, the lives which were lost. But I found people rationalized the death of those children in the same way I rationalized the death of the baron and his wife.

It’s a video game, but don’t we do this in real life?

Our current election. My Bernie friends were adamant that Bernie was the only choice and Hillary is a horrific choice. They posted article after article about how bad a pick Hillary was. Now Hillary is likely the DNC nominee. Their Facebook lights up with why Hillary is a great candidate. Yet she’s beyond corrupt and unethical.

Republicans swore they’d never vote for Trump. Fortunately most my conservative friends still refuse to vote for him, but there are those who not long ago claimed he was a mad man, and now they say he’s the person our nation needs. He’s a self-serving narcissist.

We have two obvious evils, but we’ll vote for one because it’s not as bad as the other. We even decried it as evil not that long ago, but now that it’s the only option, we’ll do it.

We do this all the time. I, however, really like Geralt’s advice on picking the lesser of two evils.

 

 

Warcraft

 

Today I saw Warcraft. The critic reviews on Rotten Tomato were 27% as of this writing. The audience reviews were 83%. I was nervous. Could it be another Dungeons & Dragons debacle?

I already saw how they were working the CGI. The graphics wouldn’t be crisp how we know them, but they would have the slightly over sized, sort of cartoon feel that I remember from the games. Not World of Warcraft, but Warcraft III. I was not disappointed.

The story was entertaining, the dialogue was decent, the world was glorious. Overall I was highly entertained, I was enchanted by the vastness and magic of the world, and it had several call backs to Warcraft.

People harp on the story. It stuck to the game, it was entertaining, but I also wouldn’t say it’s the most inspiring thing I’ve ever seen.

They go after the characters. I admit there were probably three or four I cared about. The rest I couldn’t pick out of a line up.

Despite the flaws, the short comings, I enjoyed it a great deal. The magic looked good. The battles looked good. The orcs looked good.

It does set up for a sequel. I hope it gets the chance. The chance better include more on elves and dwarves, but I’ll take what I can get for now.

If you like fun fantasy, go check it out. If you can’t put aside your inner critic to enjoy some entertainment, then move on and see something else that’s boring and no one cares about.

Why I refuse to use self-checkout

Every time you go into a Target, Walmart, your local grocery store, and so on, there are always those banks of kiosks, usually four to a group, where you can check yourself out. There is one person per four to watch for any issues and just to make sure you’re staying honest. One person, with your help, is doing the job of four.

I recently went to Target, standing in a normal lane, when the guest services manager (I can’t remember the actual title…GSA?) came over to me. “Sir, you can use one of the self-checkout lanes. They are open.”

This was helpful. There was no lane that was short, and by that I mean it was mom shopping for the family and they were literally on the last roll, box, bag, etc., of everything, so they’re doing about $200 of shopping in one go, with $5 items.

“Thank you, but I’ll stay in my lane.” It wasn’t even a hot cashier. I mean, let’s be honest, there is a certain look that goes with about 50% of any Target cashier.

Why would I stay in that lane?

I want that cashier to have a job. Every time you go to those self-checkout lanes, you’re denying that person work in the future. You are validating a system. It’s a system where one person does the work of four.

I get why they’re doing it. Labor is expensive. Even at $7.whatever it is, let alone at $15. Even more so for small businesses, though large ones actually have the financial backing to do something about it.

But I believe in paying people. I believe in interacting with people. I prefer doing all my banking at the bank, not through the internet. I prefer talking to a person compared to a phone purgatory. It’s something I truly believe in, and for that, I will never use the self-checkout, no matter how long the line in the usual lanes. Because I believe in people. And sometimes I believe in interacting with people, even if they aren’t the hot cashiers that seem to litter Target.

What causes do you believe in? What do you do in order to stay true to them? What inconveniences do you incur?

Captain America and Hope

Captain America is the embodiment of the American dream. He is courage and strength. He takes the field against impossible odds, stands up for the ideals of freedom and liberty, and fights for what he believes. He is hope.

He stands against Hydra, a secret organization that believes in controlling the populace. Only through complete control can you achieve peace. Strife comes from the ability to make decisions.

hail_hydra_by_wlayko111-d6tb4ym.jpg

However, recently Steve Rodgers said, “Hail Hydra.”

Unfortunately I haven’t read it. I’m starting at the beginning and I’m only through the 90s, but we live in America and nothing has ever stopped anyone in America from speaking on what they haven’t seen, read, or been to.

With that in mind, here is my issue with Steve Rodgers, Captain America, saying, “Hail Hydra.”

Cap has been killed. This I did read. After the Civil War, he’s shot. As a martyr, he unified a people. He continued to be the hope on a battlefield, a rallying cry against impossible odds. His symbol may have been broken, but it was not tarnished.

This was not death. This was not clean. This was corruption. This was the spoiling of a hero. Marvel didn’t kill Captain America. They killed hope.

This is what bothers me and makes me sad. Captain America was not simply a man. He was an ideal. In this simple phrase, he betrayed that ideal.

I hope he is a triple agent. I am disappointed in the decision, but then again there’s plenty Marvel does that disappoints me (like Last Days). However, in the end they are more often than not great storytellers, and I’ll stick through it. I just hope they do right by Cap.

Hail Hydra.

Never Forget

So this song came out and just pulled on me. I mean, who wouldn’t it pull on?

Who hasn’t had that one lover that was a best friend, everything in the world, and then they walked out? I mean walked out is a general term of something happened. And then they were gone and there was a massive hole where the heart was. But as the Script says, a heart never breaks even.

I love this song, though. It’s really amazing. When I first heard it, I definitely expected a different music video. The imaginary friend just added something really beautiful to it, even though she’s definitely not talking about an imaginary friend. They can’t walk out the door.

Check out Zara Larsson’s other stuff. She’s talented. So is MNEK, but I confess I haven’t looked up his music. He just definitely has a good voice.

You will always be by my side.

Voltaire’s Fight

I’m betting some of you saw what JK Rowling said about Donald Trump. Link attached for rock dwellers. Synopsis to follow for people who fear links. I fear links. More Link. But only if I decided to kidnap Zelda.

There is a petition going around to ban Trump from the UK. There are 500,000 signatures. They call him a bigot spreading hate.To be fair, most people believe this through how the media portrays him and half of what he’s said he’s never said. He’s still not a good guy. As a libertarian/conservative I’m not voting for him. But let’s be honest, none of our options are exactly noteworthy.

Anyway, despite this petition, despite Rowling’s general dislike of Trump, she said let him in. Let him visit the UK and say what he wants to. Why? Because the same principles defending Trump’s speech defends Rowling’s ability to call him a hate-mongering bigot. Because if Trump cannot say what he’s thinking, when will Rowling be told she cannot say what she is thinking? It’s easy to be blinded by this when you’re in the majority. It’s easy to whittle down the majority when they won’t defend others.

In a writing group they posted something on how we need more diversity in our writing. Everything is white folk, and we need to liven it up! White folk for miles. Ironically being preached by white folk.

I stuck my neck out. It’s a false issue. Who cares if the characters in a cowboy romance in Texas consists of all white people? Who cares if there’s a murder mystery with white people? Who cares?

Everyone attacks. These are fun attacks too. Because you stand up for that side of the spectrum, everyone drops down that you’re a hateful bigot who doesn’t care about diversity. Oh ho ho ho. Suck my wiener schnitzel (this isn’t even a sausage, but I really like the word and it’s absolutely delicious).

The thing is my first novel is inspired by the Middle East. They’re all Middle Eastern (aside from the blackamoor and delven). The third book is inspired by India, with the fourth inspired by Eastern Asia. There are only white folk in the second book which is inspired by the Norse.

So when I throw this down to their claims of I’m not diverse, they look at me funny. Or their screens. I imagine they look at it funny anyway. Then they ask, “Why are you defending this, you’re already using diversity?”

You know the problem? If I don’t use diversity I’m racist. If I do, I’m guilty of cultural appropriation. There is no win. And if I use diversity today, what if I don’t use it tomorrow?

More to the point: why am I telling someone else how to write their story?

 

 

We live in a society that if it’s not your opinion, if it’s not your issue, you must step aside and let the village mob burn them at the stake. You can’t have the forethought to think, “Well it’s them today, but who will it be tomorrow?”

A history lesson. Two actually, but we’ll start with one. Hitler started with the Jews. The deformed. The blacks. The church sat back and said, “At least it’s not us.” Despite society pushing that Hitler was Christian, he loathed religion. His closest advisers wrote about his disdain for Christianity. In the final days, just before the war finished? He started coming for those priests and pastors. When the Christians cried out for help, they were left looking around, realizing there was no one left to help them.

That’s not a jab at Christians. It’s a jab at weakness in the face of evil, and how we’re reliving it. We look at the people being silenced and whisper, “Glad I’m not that guy,” before walking away. One day it will be us. One day writers will be looking at an older world.

Which leads into the second history lesson. I’ve told this one before. I’m a big fan of it.

John Stubbs. I really hope he had a sense of humor, which it sounded like he did, so that at least he could take some pleasure from his horrid state. I mean, before he died many years later. This story happened in 1579.

Stubbs criticized Queen Elizabeth of England. In retribution, she had his hand cut off. What makes me think he was a man of humor is his pun, “Pray for me now that my calamity is at hand.” Either way, the man suffered (nearly execution), for speaking his mind. Just as Socrates did. Just as many others have.

We are turning into that world, and there are no Allies to help revert us. We are the Allies. We are the last defense for actual freedom of speech, and if we do not stand up for those we disagree with, it will only be a matter of time until we are the ones disagreed with.

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.