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Lydy's Anarchist Revival Meeting

4th October, 2016. 11:11 am. Egg-spectations

So, the last two 2K eggs that I hatched were, respectively, a Pikachu and a Charmander. Very exciting. And the last two 10K eggs I hatched were a Jinx and a Scither. WTeverlovingF? I have several Jinxes (which are both horrifically racist and sexist), and another Scither. Mind, I do also have other Pikachus and one other Charmander, but how is it that the 2K eggs are ever so much better than the 10Ks?

Pokemon Go, an everlasting font of delight and confusion.

P.S. Sharon, I have used my very first tag, just for you.

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28th September, 2016. 6:20 pm. Pokemon GO, Ten Thousands Steps, and Health

So, I'm back from my second Pokewalk of the day. According Pokemon GO, I clocked about eight kilometers, total. This is approximately ten thousand steps, that magical number of steps that people were so enamored with a bunch of years ago. When I was working for the university, they gave everyone a very cheap and crappy pedometer, and gave us brochures on how easy it would be to incorporate those ten thousand steps into our daily routine. Park a couple of blocks further away from work, take a short walk on your lunch hour... and so on. The promises of health benefits mentioned cardiovascular improvements, but most of all, they stressed weight loss. So much with the weight loss.

I have Thoughts about this. First of all, I'm whacked. Tired and foot-sore. The idea that this is something I could easily incorporate into my daily life is fucking nuts. And the idea that this is something that everyone has the time and physical capacity for is deeply insane on so many levels. The brochures they handed out claimed that people take about 5,000 steps naturally during their day. However, I doubt this claim. My best estimate is that I get maybe two to three thousand steps in in the normal course of a work day. That leaves between five and six thousand steps. If a kilometer is about thirteen hundred steps, we're talking four to five kilometers. Average walking speed, according to the Google, is five kilometers an hour. That means finding an hour of extra time in a day, every day, to walk. I don't know about you, but that's kind of a lot of time during my work week. I can usually manage two kilometers a day, about a kilometer before and after work, but more than that is hugely difficult to manage just on time.

The claims that this will improve your health are... well, I dunno. I've been walking every day, sometimes as much as ten kilometers in a day, but usually at least two, for two months. I have seen exactly no change in my weight. My tight navy scrub pants do fit a little less snugly, which suggests that I may have traded a little bit of fat for a little bit of muscle, but not by very much. I may well be doing my heart and lungs all sorts of good, but I've also given myself several fairly small asthma attacks, and heart stuff you mostly don't notice until you have catastrophic symptoms or death.

Which leads me to BMI as a measure of health. Medicine, as a discipline, has this problem: it really has no good measure of health. Medicine is much better at measuring disease. If you have, say, Stage II Breast Cancer, that actually means an actual thing. It tells you useful things about your probable life expectancy, and provides a useful gauge for how aggressively you should be treating your disease. And while it is perfectly possible to make mistakes, if they kill off the cancer, they generally know that they have done so. If you've got pneumonia, they can usually figure out if it's viral or bacterial, and design a treatment program for it.

Health is largely measured by absence of symptoms or disease. And that's because health is holistic, and man are bodies complicated. At this point, the medical profession is pretty sure that health is enhanced by avoiding carcinogens, being physically active, and eating nutritious food most of the time. Exactly what is a carcinogen, how active, and what exactly is nutritious is under debate. And that is partly because all of those things interact complexly within the human animal, and with the unique biological machine that is each person. None of this is measurable. However, activity and food consumption correlate with weight, and weight, weight is measurable. It's nicely objective. This height, this weight, this BMI, man is that something that fits nicely on a chart. And, it's bullshit. It doesn't measure health. It doesn't even correlate as well as they say it does. I think that doctors rely on it so heavily because that's the only thing they have. They can't actually measure health, at all. But they can put you on a scale. And so they do.

In sum, I did my 10,000 steps today, and I am happy about the Pokemon. So there.

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26th September, 2016. 9:35 am. Taco Tuesday Party, November 8th?

I took Election Day off work, on the grounds that there was no way in hell I was going to be trapped in a room with someone I needed to be professionally polite to who was watching the returns on Fox News. Also, I like tacos.

If I held an election party with tacos, would anyone come? I realize that it's a school night, but I could make a little taco buffet, and we have a rather nice flat screen television, and really good wireless internets. This does require, you know, cleaning. Also, the tv is in the cat accessible portion of the house, so if you're hugely allergic to cats, that will be a problem. But I kind of think I'd appreciate some hand-holding come the day.

I'm also thinking margaritas.

Any takers?

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10th September, 2016. 1:37 am. Lady Jane Grey: Marking Time

Days since I adopted Lady Jane Grey: 367 (more or less, I forget if there was a leap year. Maybe 368. Any gate, Sept. 7th of last year. I didn't know I was adopting her at the time.)

Days since Lady Jane Grey has bit anyone: not sure, but many, many months.

Days since Lady Jane has pissed on my boyfriend's head: 8

Days since Lady has pissed on my bed: 3

So, um, a work in progress.

I had to buy a new comforter. I loved my old comforter, a very well-constructed, 100% down-filled, Calvin Klein comforter with a really high fill factor. Which needs to be dry-cleaned. At $40 a pop, I just can't do it anymore. So, I bought a down-alternative comforter which can be washed and dried at home. It's not as fluffy, it's not as much like cuddling into a cloud as the other, and it isn't as cool in the summer as my other, but it's launderable. Haven't decided what to do with the nice comforter. It's badly stained (coffee, fountain pen ink, sweat), and in a plastic bag after the last incident. I should probably just throw it out. But, you know, if you put a duvet cover on it, you don't seen the stains, and it's ever so nice... yeah. Well. Should just toss it.

I don't really know how to resolve what ever issue there is. LJG spends most of her time hiding in the kitchen under the dishwasher door. She really likes being petted, but doesn't come out from her cave very often unless there's a person, right there. I'm annoyed with Nuit about this, but don't have a good answer. I wish I could afford a good cat psychologist.

Still, LJG is a lovely, funny, friendly, fluffy cat. And when she's not pissing on my bed, she's a marvel. I love her a lot. I just wish we could resolve her issues with Nuit so that they were both happier.

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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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