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Lydy's Anarchist Revival Meeting

11th August, 2016. 5:19 pm. Pokemon GO, After About a Month

The app says that I started playing on 7/12/16. It also claims that I've walked about 85 kilometers. It's not right about that. It is, in fact, the world's worst pedometer. While there have been Pokewalks where it clearly was not counting my steps, it also has a bad habit when indoors of sending my avatar to run around to various, improbable places. Some nights, my avatar will clock two kilometers while I'm just sitting there. However, if you discount 25 kilometers (which I think is a little high) that still means that I've been averaging two kilometers a day. Now, by most standards, that's not a lot. But it's important to note that this is two kilometers more than I would have walked on my own. As I've previously noted, I'm not so much a sedentary creature as a sessile one.

It doesn't really feel like I've increased my stamina. I'm still very slow, and easily winded. But I am willing to undertake longer walks than I used to be. It may be that this is merely building on previous successes, and I was always able to walk those distances, but there might be additional stamina involved. I am also more willing to take more circuitous routes, including ones with hills. (Ok, hills by Minneapolis standards. They aren't hills that, say, a Pittsburgher would call a hill. But they wind me, nevertheless.) Most notable, though, is that I don't hurt at the end of the day like I did the first week or two when I was taking regular Pokewalks. I also feel antsy when I watch my avatar wander around when I can't. I _want_ to get up and walk, some nights. This, this has never happened to me, before.

I've never been a fan of walking for the sake of walking; I find it supremely boring. I usually read a book while walking (and, no, I don't run into things or people, although very short people moving fast are my biggest hazard.) So, going for a walk is always a difficult sell. If I overcome my natural impulse to remain at rest, then the problem is that there isn't really any reason to stop, either. Since I am walking for exercise, and not to get to a specific place, I walk until I am too tired to walk any further. Which sets up a really bad reward system. The reward for walking is being tired and hurting. Yay! Let's do that again!

Pokewalks are slow and punctuated by pauses to catch Pokemon. Which works very well for poor, old, overweight me. And I get cute pocket monsters, and spinny disks with prizes. Lots of little rewards along the way to keep me moving, and then if I walk far enough, I hatch eggs which give me more pocket monsters. If I'm bored while walking, I can pull up the Pokedex, or my list of captured Pokemon, or admire my list of medals, review my inventory, and hey, there's another Rattata, let's catch him. I am going to be sad when it gets cold and this isn't a reasonable thing to do. I wish there was an indoor module, which could link up to a pedometer app on your phone and provide Pokestops at random intervals when, say, walking around a mall, or an indoor track at the gym, or something like that. Because, seriously, there are months of the year where walking around with the phone out like this is not workable in Minnesota. Many, many months.

On the game mechanics side of things, although I haven't done a careful, controlled experiment, I have the strong impression that my catch rate is improved by continuing to walk when I toss Pokeballs, instead of stopping to catch yet another fucking Weedle. This does run the risk of walking out of range of the target, and then they escape. So if there's a pocket monster I particularly want, such as an Eevee, I will pause. But if it's just another rat or pigeon, I tend to keep on walking while I try to catch them. If they escape, it's no big deal. I have seen the claim that critters get harder to catch as you go up in levels. My own feeling, again utterly unscientific, is that the more of a particular Pokemon you have caught, the harder it is to catch them in the future. Now, this will track with levels, as when you catch Pokemon you get experience points which cause you to level up. But really common monsters, the rats and pigeons and worms, appear to be much harder to catch than the rarer ones, such as the Eevees and the Electrobuzzes. While higher combat power critters are usually harder to catch than lower ones, low powered common critters actually appear to be harder to catch than higher powered less common ones. This does not, however, apply to Pikachu. I caught my third one today, and man that was tough. Magikarp are starting to get hard to catch, which is a pain, since I need 400 candies to evolve one. I'm told they turn into a really cool sea dragon. I only have 130 Magikarp candies, so far. On the other hand, I do have a Tentacruel, and that's pretty neat.

I'm still having fun, and I've sort of figured out the gym battles and have won a bunch of battles and even captured some gyms, now and again. I never get to stay as a defender for very long, a couple four hours, maybe. They're still my least favorite part of the game.

The other thing I find interesting is that there seems to be a pretty broad range of ages playing this game. Today I ran into a young woman with a baby in a stroller. I have had a long conversation with a guy my age with a sensitive fannish face. I had a lovely encounter with a twenty-something couple very earnestly talking about cheap breakfasts and which gyms they felt they needed to defend. I came across a small clot of teenagers at Lake Calhoun all working on conquering a particular gym, and I have had one of those weird, sideways conversations that I tend to have with eleven year old boys where I'm really not sure we're on the same planet and I'm pretty sure they hold me in deep contempt. Which, given they're eleven, seems perfectly fine to me. Broad range of ages. But...all of them white, and all of them middle class, near as I can tell from a glance. Now, I am in the Great White North, but my neighborhood does have a fair number of Hispanics and African Americans, so... I dunno?

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26th July, 2016. 9:49 am. Pokemon GO, Eleven Days Later

It is not a game without flaws. So many flaws! The fact that it crashes frequently is amazingly annoying, and it is not improved by the fact that I have to reboot my phone in order to get a good, clean start. My phone has been badly behaved, lately, so it doesn't always reboot cleanly. This may or may not be the fault of Pokemon GO. There are all sorts of issues with the game mechanics, I suppose. I am not a gamer, and cannot evaluate this.

The thing about it, though, is that for eleven days in a row, it has gotten me to take at least one ten-minute walk. I am walking a kilometer or two more per day than I ever did, before. Now, a kilometer is about 1300 steps, so vastly short of that 10,000 steps that everybody was all het up about some years ago. But that's still 1500 to 2000 more steps than I would have taken without it. This can't be a bad thing. (Ok, the tripping over curbs, that is a bad thing. But I'm getting better at avoiding that.)

I've seen several think pieces on Pokemon GO which hold forth in alarm about various aspects of the game. It's possible they get more sensible several paragraphs in, but I tend to bounce out after the first paragraph or two sound the alarm about how there are fewer Pokestops in poor neighborhoods because poor neighborhoods have less public art and fewer institutions. I think that there is an interesting article to be written, here, but the ones I've bounced out of all seem to think that the problem is Pokemon GO, rather than the fact that too many of our people live in poor neighborhoods with few amenities. Pokemon GO could provide an interesting lens into what is where and why, but it is not the problem, guys. You know what other neighborhoods are vastly impoverished when it comes to Pokestops? Rich, white suburbs. There was a fascinating article I saw a link to a while back (on Making Light, maybe) about mapping the elevators in New York City. And a map showing the presence of elevators does, indeed, provide an fascinating look into population density and wealth distribution in the city. But no one was suggesting that the presence or absence of elevators was, in fact, the problem.

The other thing I've seen in my Twitter stream is a friend concerned about the ableist aspects of Pokemon GO. I'm not really sure how to think about this. My friend is a very smart person, who has done a lot of really useful and creative thought about inclusivity and ableist assumptions. But for me, Pokemon GO is largely a very inaccurate pedometer with a stellar reward system. For me, it's not really a competitive game. I've fought a couple of gym battles, and man, that's boring. I like collecting the pretty little monsters, and I like evolving them. I like walking to the Pokestops and spinning the disks to get prizes. I like being encouraged to go to places I don't normally go to get rarer Pokemons. I like the fact that I'm becoming more sedentary and less sessile. For me, an older, very out of shape person, it doesn't feel coercive or alienating. I'm very aware that a lot of players are way ahead of me, because they have more time and more energy and can walk a fuck-ton farther than I can, but I don't find that upsetting. However, I may be missing something important. I do very much think that inclusivity is how we build humane, resilient systems. But I'm not sure how to design a walking app that doesn't, in the end, privilege people able to walk.

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26th July, 2016. 9:29 am. This I Believe

Ginger jars make perfect urns for cat ashes. I have a Blue Phoenix ginger jar in which Lilith resides. It's a lovely fussy, flow-blue pattern, very like a prim maiden aunt, which Lilith strongly resembled. I just got a rather nice ginger jar with persimmons on the side for Arwen. Will decant the ashes into it later. Persimmons seem to suit Arwen just fine. I found it on eBay for not very many monies, which is also nice.

I miss my cat. I would have promoted Lady Jane Grey to "best cat, grey" but she pissed on my bed, again. Promotion will have to wait until I figure out how to fix this. Am considering Feliway diffusers. Meanwhile, I'm keeping the bedroom door closed.

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18th July, 2016. 6:48 pm. And Then There Were Four

I have four delightful, frustrating cats: Naomi is Arwen's littermate, and likes to bully David. Ninja is a fine black cat, the most cheerful cat I have ever known. Nuit is Ninja's littermate, and very sweet, except for her hobby of bullying Lady Jane Grey, and I really wish she'd stop that. Lady Jane Grey has been auditioning for the role of "best cat, grey," but keeps on getting intimidated by Nuit. This is a problem I need to solve.

Arwen died around noon on Saturday at the vet's, at my instigation. At the moment, I feel just fine, not upset at all. On the other hand, I have carefully replaced her footstool at the foot of my bed, after I used it for something, and have not yet thrown out her thyroid medication in the fridge. I'm still pretending.

The title also fits my dead cats, come to think of it. Arwen is the fourth cat I've had to let go. Ember, Lilith, Cholmondley, and now Arwen. I miss them all very much.

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14th July, 2016. 7:14 pm. More Cheerfully -- I have questions -- but don't laugh!

So, I downloaded Pokemon GO. Also Ingress, because, seriously, why not? They are both pretty damn opaque to me.

So, first off, Ingress, which doesn't crash nearly as often. Which is a plus. On the down side, what the fuck? Seriously, what am I doing and why am I doing it? I did the training missions, but I am finding myself with a severe lack of motivation to do anything. Why am I hacking portals? Why am I linking portals? Why am I attacking portals? Why should I hack versus attack versus... I suppose if I'd paid more attention to the "briefings" I'd have a better idea, but honestly, WTF? I do not have any emotional resonance with the idea of being an "agent." The sides are opaque, so I chose blue because it's a prettier color than green. And I'm a bit baffled by the game mechanics. I'm not sure I understand the controls, or anything else, really. But over all, I am desperately looking for a reason to care. I know some of you play this, and at least one person (hello, Patricia) is passionate about it. Could you please explain both the raison d'être, and also the game mechanics, please?

Onto Pokemon GO. The very beginning is considerably more accessible, I'll give you that. I've never played any previous iteration of Pokemon, so I have no idea what's going on or why, but there are cute little animals, and if I throw balls at them, I get to add them to my Pokedex, so that's kind of cool. It crashes all the fucking time, which is irritating. I had to ask a very nice stranger how to get Pokeballs out of the Pokestops (never occurred to me to spin the fuckers), and I am currently a level 4 for no apparent reason. There are gyms, and I guess I battle my Pokemons? (Insert look of quizzical disbelief, here.) There's something about powering them up, which I suppose has to do with the gym battles, and evolving, and I have no idea what that is, and there's a bar under my game name which I guess has to do with...power? Not even sure. And I have a back pack, so I can carry things? Are my pokeballs in the backpack? So very confused. And why do I want to battle my Pokemons? Wouldn't I rather just be friends with them? They're cute, even the stinging bug ones. Again, can someone explain both the back story and the game mechanics to me? I mean, I tried googling "how do I get pokeballs" and the articles very kindly told me to go to the Pokestops, but didn't tell me I had to spin them, so I visited a bunch of Pokestops before the nice young woman explained things to me. How do I get coins? What is a Pokestop module? Why would I want one? Arghhhh.

I've also had my first Pokeinjury, I tripped over a curb and went sprawling. My left pinky finger is a little sore, and my phone is fine, so I guess that's ok. And I walked about a kilometer, so that's a good thing. The very little information I've found suggests that you can just hold the phone, not look at it, while you're walking, but I find that mine shuts itself off, and when it does that, Pokemon Go doesn't wake it up to tell me about Pokemons, so that doesn't work. Possible I need to adjust a phone setting? So very confused.

Of the two, Pokemon Go is so far more fun, and offers more reasons to stop, which is nice for a very out of shape 54 year old like me. My, but I'm easily winded. I have no idea if I'm going to play this obsessively, or not. And it's possible that Pokemon is more fun initially, but Ingress more fun over time. No idea.

So many questions.

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14th July, 2016. 6:44 pm. Shaking My Fist At God

Arwen is still alive. That's close to the end of the good news, Arwen-wise. It's very hard to tell, with cats, how much pain they're in. I feel quite confident in saying that the amount is not zero. But I am unsure of anything other than that. She is having trouble breathing. I suspect the tumor is occluding her airway. She makes raspy exhalation noises, like she's trying to clear her throat. She is still able to move around, get up and down stairs, get on the bed. She is still drinking water, and occasionally getting into small fights with her waterer. She lets everyone but me pet her.

I think she's angry with me. A couple of times, she's given me that meaningful look that she has, and made a complaint noise. She walks away from me if I approach, and will not let me pet her. I think she blames me for all this. And, really, why shouldn't she? For almost her entire life, I've been responsible for making her life happy and comfortable. I've been responsible for food and water and petting and putting step stools in places that let her get to where she wants to go. When things weren't right, she'd complain, and if I could figure out what she was on about, I'd fix it. Well, this is not right. So, why am I not fixing it? I'm pissed off at God for the current situation, and I don't even think he exists, so why should my cat not be pissed off at me? (In case you were wondering, no, I don't feel guilty. I just feel awful. I don't feel responsible. I just feel miserable.)

She continues to try to do things that she likes, or finds comforting. But increasingly, they aren't sufficient. She will get up on David's shoulder, but doesn't stay for long. She will let Pamela or Raphael pet her. Occasionally, she looks at food a bit wistfully, but no one's seen her eat in many days, and she's very, very skinny. She appears uncomfortable, but not in great distress. But as I said, it's always hard to tell.

If God existed, and I could get him to talk to me, man would I give him an earful about better design. Seriously, graceful failure is a fucking thing.

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8th July, 2016. 12:12 am. My Cat Smells of Blood

The tumor is causing bleeding in her mouth. She is drooling a lot. She smells strongly of blood. When I pet her, I get bloody drool on my hands, and I smell of her blood. Her breathing is occasionally a little uncertain, and she occasionally chokes a bit. She's lost a lot of weight, and I think she's stopped eating pretty much entirely. There are four feeding stations, so I'm not sure about that last, but the special food I put out for her in the shop where she likes to hide hasn't been touched in two days. If she's not eating that, she's probably not eating much else, either.

On the other hand, she's still getting in my lap, and on David's shoulder. She appears to very much like companionship. She purrs, and sometimes kneads. She loves us, and wants to be with us. I think she's not entirely comfortable. I'm sleeping downstairs tonight to be with her, because it's summer, and she doesn't sleep on my bed during the summer.

I talked to the vet today. There really isn't much to do. I could try to give her pain meds, but she does so hate to be dosed. And the doctor didn't think it would add much to her quality of life. I asked if I could stop giving her her thyroid medication. She's stopped thinking of being medicated as a game, and has started hiding from me when I try to dose her. He said that he thought that would be fine. So now I don't have to chase her around, and have negative interactions with her. I expect she'll be dead before she figures out that I've stopped medicating her; she still dodges when she thinks I might be out to dose her.

If she really has stopped eating all together, it's a matter of a few days.

At the moment, she's resting against David, head on his stomach, a possessive paw outstretched. If he doesn't pet her often enough, she makes a little goat-like noise of complaint. She really is the best cat.

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16th June, 2016. 9:42 am. Subject vs. object -- Orlando

Whenever gun control comes up, the anti-control people make an argument along the lines of "murderers gonna murder." This is frequently accompanied by a discussion of the poor state of access to mental health services. If it's a politician, this is often from a politician who generally opposes providing health care services, especially mental health and addiction recovery services. All of which is tiresomely predictable. But it occurs to me, today, to notice just how focused this is on the perpetrator, and how it is a point of view that ignores the victims.

I think that one can reasonably argue that a guy that goes to a night club and murders a dozen strangers is, legally and morally, identical to a guy who goes to a night club and murders four dozen people. But this ignores the three dozen people, thirty-six souls, who live in the first scenario, and who die in the second. In addition to the lives cut off, there are the friends and family. If you assume that each victim has only three people that care about them, that's more than one hundred people whose lives are not rewritten by catastrophic loss and grief. It's crass to compare one tragedy to another, but twelve dead people is better than forty-eight dead people.

I don't expect to get to zero dead people. Murderers will, indeed, murder. But I'm not so sure that it doesn't make sense to put up some speed-bumps on their road to hell.

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11th June, 2016. 9:29 am. Things I'd rather you didn't say

"She had a long life." For me, this contains the implication that I should be content with the time I had with her. I am not content. I am grieving. And the fact that I had sixteen years with Arwen means that I have sixteen years of my life twined with hers, and the gap will be very large.

"She's going to a better place." I don't believe in an after-life, nor do I find the concept of an after-life the least bit comforting.

"It'll be ok." No, it won't. There is nothing ok about this. Yes, I say that too. I told her that over and over again on the way home from the vet with after her terminal diagnosis. It's still a lie.

I also have zero interest in talking about terminal options. This is not my first rodeo, kids. I am perfectly aware of the options, and I will deal with the necessities as they come up. But at the moment, she's her own self. She's eating, complaining, and getting around about as spryly as ever. She's nearly blind in her right eye, and that will probably get worse. But she's not currently in pain.

I found out yesterday. She has a tumor on the right side of her face, which is causing the right eye to swell shut, and there is an open sore in her mouth. The doctor says that it is neither operable nor treatable. There's a minuscule chance it's an infection, and I'm giving her antibiotics for it. But it's not, and we all know it.

I have a lot of other stress going on, right now. Things are not good. And no, I don't really know what you _should_ say. I'm crap at this whole being supportive and saying kind things, too. And I won't hold it against you if you say the wrong thing. But I'm prone to flashes of anger and flashes of despair, just now. Very emotionally labile. If you nick me the wrong way, even if you say something perfectly reasonable and kind, I may get angry or upset. I'll get over it. But my immediate reactions are not necessarily on an even keel.

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3rd June, 2016. 7:00 am. Anyone have a spare CPAP?

For reasons which I don't care to discuss at the moment, I have no CPAP. And because the medical establishment is designed to make people's lives a misery, I can't just go out and buy one from a legit source. I have to, you know, go to a follow-up to be told that I have sleep apnea, a thing I've known for 20 years, and have the results of a study done two and a half years ago, results which I have read and understood, explained to me, at which point I can pay for one out of pocket, because my insurance doesn't cover durable medical equipment until after I meet my $3500 deductible.

Meanwhile, I am sleeping like fucking crap. Seriously. I feel horrible. Also, it's affecting other bodily systems, such as digestion. Which is unsurprising. I _know_ what sleep apnea does.

So, I'll probably go through the various medical hoops, but it's going to take a week or two, minimum. Does anyone have a machine they're not using that they'd be willing to lend or sell? Because I covet sleep like a drowning man covets air, or a starving man covets bread.

Oh, and yes, I've tried Craigslist. I've sent two messages to someone who looks to have a machine for sale, but they haven't responded to either.

Dear sweet god on a stick, how I need to sleep.

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