The Stepdad and the Great Pokemon Kakuna Hunt

Pokemon Go on the go.
Pokemon Go on the go.

Ok, Kakuna is a Pokemon. We didn’t specifically go hunting for him. Or Zubat. Or Rattata. Or a bird called Pidgeotto. But we did go on our first HUNT.

What is a hunt? Well, let me start at the beginning.

After much consultation with the Boyz, I loaded up the Pokémon Go game on my iphone 6. It was free. I like free. Oh, there are ways to spend a lot of coin on this game, but for now, it costs me nothing.

Then I chose myself an avatar/trainer that looked like some amine-thin youth. I picked hair –  blue –  and a color scheme – orange – since I root for Holland during the World Cup. Then I was good to go.

I logged in, and my first Pokémon appeared. Right on the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world’s chest. So I grabbed it. The Pokémon, not her, ah, you-know-whats.

The Pokethrow. Or Pokeflick. From imore.com
The Pokethrow. Or Pokeflick. From imore.com

To grab a Pokémon, you have a ball at the bottom of the screen. You FLICK, Joe, FLICK!!! the ball at the Pokémon, or more specifically at the circle encircling the Pokémon and if you hit it, you capture it.

If you really know what the hell you’re doing, and you’re good at this whole flicking thing, then you aim for the green (or yellow or red) circle inside the circle and if you hit, you capture a more maxed out Pokemon.

Or not.

Seems those silly things will escape, too, which took me a few minutes to realize. But once you capture one, you get experience (to level up your trainer), and some candy, which you can use to give your Pokémon more power or ‘evolve’ it, and some stardust, which you also use to give your Pokemon more power.

I have to say, that whole capturing thing was kinda fun. Had I been smarter, I would have found out that if you don’t capture the 1st three that come along, you get a Pikachu, and I do love Pikachu (mostly cuz it’s the only Pokémon I know.)

With that, we drove off to Fort Langley. AKA, the big city. Now, to be fair, downtown Vancouver would really be far, far better, but that drive is long and hard, so the Fort seemed a good alternative.

Pokemon Go Map of uber-awesomeness
Pokestop. On the left. Beside the Avatar

And it totally was. The key, apparently, to gathering as many Pokémon as possible is to find a spot that has a lot of Pokestops. Now what the hell are they?

They appear on your Pokemap that you have accessed with your Pokefingers and looked at with your Pokeeyes. They look like a block on a stick when far away. When you get near one, it looks like a big circle with another circle inside and another circle inside of that. I think my picture shows this better than I can describe.

The Pokestop. Usually at some monument or sign (like for a trail or where Michael J Fox once peed.)
The Pokestop. Usually at some monument or sign (like for a trail or where Michael J Fox once peed.)

At the stops, you can also get supplies. Once you find one and it goes all roundish, you tap it and then you swipe the picture you see. Very often it’s a sign. Like telling you you’re on a trail or near a spot captain Vancouver peed on or something like that.

So, in the Fort, we found a ton of Pokestops and the boyz got super excited. Heck, they weren’t the only ones. There were tons of people there. Sure some were shopping or drinking coffee and actually talking to people, but there were also hordes of people in small groups wandering around like us, looking for Pokestops or parked against a statue waiting for the Pokémon to come to them.

The Boyz and I went to all of the stops we could find, gathering balls, eggs, potions and things I didn’t have a clue about. The balls are obvious. You throw them to catch the Pokémon, which I was informed, anyone should know who’s ever played a Pokémon video game (which I have not.)

Eggs are placed in incubators which you get automatically as you level up. By walking, yes walking, you can hatch them and they become Pokémon. So, while you’re meandering around looking for Pokestops, you’re also working on hatching your eggs (and actually exercising!)

Cool, right?

A gym. Or battle arena - where you can take on other players. from Imore.com
A gym. Or battle arena – where you can take on other players. from Imore.com

The other things you’ll see on your Pokemap look like big towers built by aliens. (A place that the Pokémon dudes decided to call a ‘gym’ for some stupid reason. A gym?!?!?) That is where you battle other Pokemoners. Pokemites? Pokeplayes? However, we didn’t get into that on this adventure (the reason being, we had level 12 Pokemon and the dudes ruling the gym had, like, level 1534!)

See, the goal, as far as I can tell, is to get a Pokemon, evolve it to a more powerful Pokemon, then evolve it again to the ultimate uber Pokemon and then brag about it to your friends in a mean and cruel manner. Or, you can also take that uber Pokemon to a gym and battle other players and then brag about that in a mean and cruel way to your friends.

Fun times.

IMG_9049[1]And then we found where people had dropped ‘lures’. Lures, I was told by The-Youngest as he hopped up and down with excitement are like incense – which explained exactly nothing, really. But incense is used to attract Pokémon faster. Like free booze for people. Or free wifi.

These lures are placed by people at a Pokestop so that everyone, but mostly their friends, can benefit from lots of Pokémon flooding into the area. It’s actually kind of social. If you can grab a group of people and they all go on a hunt, you can use lures, which last 30 minutes, for hours and rake in the Pokémon while talking to each other. Or at least watching your screen next to someone.

Pokemon Go at its finest.
Pokemon Go at its finest.

 

In the end, we spent a good 90 minutes on our hunt, partially walking around, partially sitting and waiting by lures. However, we did it all together. Us boyz. And that makes it totally fun for me. I love listening to what they have to say about life or Pokémon or music or how best to kill someone in Assassin’s Creed.

We caught about 20 Pokémon, leveled a few of them up, evolved one or two, and then returned home.

It was a good way to spend a few hours.

 

For those who prefer a Pokevideo, there is one below.

Pokemon Go – Joe, Did You Know

I know what everyone’s been waiting for….Some Pokemon Go advice from The-Youngest.

He’s watched the videos, read the guides and played around with his ipad a lot, so he’s pretty sure he knows what he’s talking about.

At least according to him.

As with all advice I get from The-Youngest, it always starts with “Joe, did You Know…?” So, when reading the advice below, first add “Joe, did you know…”

My thoughts are in red.

  1. …that you need stardust to evolve your Pokemon or power it up?
    see the Pokemon? See the candies? See the stardust?
    see the Pokemon? See the candies? See the stardust?

    (Stardust is gathered by capturing a Pokemon or by leveling up your trainer. It is vital stuff, cuz, you know, it’s stardust. Plus, you also need candy which is gained by capturing Pokemon or by transferring them to some creepy guy called the professor.)

  2. …you can use someone else’s wifi if you don’t have yours? (what he’s saying here is that if you have a kind brother or very accommodating parent you can get them to create a hotspot on their phone and piggie-back off that signal.)
  3. …you can’t get hatch eggs while driving around? Plus, it’s not safe. (both things are true. To hatch an egg, you have to walk a certain distance. Apparently, the designers of the game knew there’d be people like me who’d just want to go for 100km drives and hatch 300 eggs, so they did something that stopped that. It blows. Cuz now I have to actually walk.)
  4. …when the grass starts to rustle near you, there’s a Pokemon near you? (still not sure if you walk towards it, you can find it faster.)
  5. …that you don’t have to walk around looking at your phone. It’ll vibrate when something’s near.
  6. …that if you’re a high level (trainer), you get a better chance at rare Pokemon? (this makes sense)
  7. …that the Pokemon feet below the Pokemon show how close that Pokemon is. (So, if there’s 1 foot beneath a poke-creature, it means it’s 100m or less. 2 feet, 200m etc.)
  8. …on the map, if there’s a sparkling Pokestop,
    lure
    Pokestops that look like they’re having a party means there’s a lure and that means there’s more Pokemon a’comin’.

    it means that a lure is there and you can get more Pokemon, so like if you see a lot of lures, then a lot of Pokemon will spawn? (We saw that on our great and epic hunt. More on that later.)

  9. …No. Look at your screen. Stop. Did you know that a Pokemon can escape? (and mine just escaped. Apparently, even when you throw a Pokeball at it, it doesn’t remain caught. Sort of like how I tend to catch fish.)
  10. …that there are better Pokeballs? (Wait, what? I want better balls! I must have better balls!) You can use them to catch higher CP (combat power) Pokemon so they don’t escape. (Honestly, this isn’t a concern right now. I may suck at using my balls, but all I’m seeing is basic, baby Pokemon.)

However, there are few good guides out there as well for anyone starting out. Most of the rest of the world has been doing this for a while, it’s just us Canadians that are new.

http://ca.ign.com/wikis/pokemon-go/Things_Pokemon_Go_Doesn%27t_Tell_You

http://www.imore.com/pokemon-go

Pokemon Go By Joe – top 10 hints from The-Oldest

Pokemon Go on the go.
Pokemon Go on the go.

Before I take you on our first epic Pokemon Go hunt, let me give you a list of 10 things to remember as told by The-Oldest. 13. (My thoughts are in red).

1) Don’t forget to charge your phone (or tablet.) Seriously do that. There’s nothing worse than seeing a ‘rare’ and not being able to get it because your phone died.

2) Hang out in areas that have wifi, cuz that’s how people are getting them.

3) Get rid of multiples that you have to upgrade your one Pokemon. Take the best species with the candy you’ve traded in your other Pokemon for (ok, that makes no sense to me). Get candy for selling the guys you aren’t going to use. (Ok, I kinda get that.)

4) Please, please, use pokestops. Always. They are good.

5) Do not use you incense right away. Use it on a walk.

6) I was told Beethoven, at the very end of his life, had a piano with 7 octaves. (ok, I think he got a bit distracted here.)

7) Try to do a run every day to catch them all.

8) Get good at flicking Pokeballs. Do not drag it, flick it, no, no, if you drag it, he’s going to attack you in real life. You have to flick it. FLICK IT. No, stop, you’re dragging it, again. Flick it!!!!

9) Stay alert or you’ll get run over by cars (or kids on skateboards, or moms with strollers, or kids on bikes looking at their own Pokemon Go maps. Basically, stay alert!)

Give me 6 months and I'll be one 6-pack away from being this guy
Give me 6 months and I’ll be one 6-pack away from being this guy

10) About the team thingee. If you want to join Team VALOR, you’re evil. Join Team MYSTIC, and you’re a nice guy. Join Team INSTINCT, and you’re an idiot.  That’s right. (FYI, he says he’s joining team Instinct). Each team has to do with a legendary bird. Zapdos = yellow. Articuno = blue. Moltres = red. You can look them up. They’re very famous.

So there you have it. Does this help? No? Well, The-Youngest has some ideas, too. Stay tuned.

And if you don’t want advice from a 13 year old, here’s another link…

http://www.cbc.ca/news/trending/pokemon-go-tips-canada-how-to-catch-em-all-1.3683698

Pokemon Go

pet rocks
Ah, pet rocks, those were the days when fads made sense

I’ve been alive long enough to remember a lot of fads. You know, things you thought were awesome that then slowly fade into obscurity. Water beds. Pet Rocks. Dressing in women’s underwear (wait, what, that wasn’t everyone? Well, ah, errr, uhm, never mind, then.)

So it’s time to dive into the latest craze. Pokemon Go.

So why not begin a new series?. Let’s call it Go-Pro. Wait, crap, that’s something else. Joe-Go? Go Pokemon, Go? Joe Does Go? Joe-Joe-the Pokego?

Oh, hell, let’s make it simple. Pokemon Go by Joe.

Pokemon Go, perhaps the greatest fad of all time.
Pokemon Go, perhaps the greatest fad of all time.

First up, what the hell is it? I mean, sure we’ve all seen like a billion posts on facebook and I think there’s an epic fails youtube channel set up (and let’s face it, we all know there’s a Pokemon go porn channel set up somewhere), but what IS IT?

Lemme esplain.

To quote a friend, ‘it’s like geocaching or orienteering but with big invisible imaginary creatures.” But that may be like saying a snargle nifster is like a boonafer gork. It means very little.

So, lemme esplain better.

Pokemon Go Map of uber-awesomeness
Pokemon Go Map of uber-awesomeness

See, there’s an app that you can download onto your phone or tablet. That app creates a funny looking map, not unlike google maps or something you’ve seen on the GPS navigation system in your car. Using a character you create, you wander around that map finding, well, Pokemon (and Pokemon items.)

Now here’s the mind-blowing thing.

You actually have to wander around in the real world.

Yup, that map is real. There are Pokemon hiding on your street. In your neighbour’s yards. In parks. Sometimes in the middle of the road.

So, to catch these Pokemon, you have to climb out of your mom’s basement and venture into the sunlight. You have to walk on real concrete or grass. You have to breathe fresh air.

And avoid being killed by cars.

Real cars.

Have I made this clearer?

No, well, then let me just say it’s the biggest thing to ever hit the world. It’s about wandering around with a phone in your hand, eyes glued to the screen, trying to find another Pokemon, and trap them (using a goofy-looking real-life anime-like map.) So you can use them to fight your friends or control the world or something like that.

What would Einstein really have said?
What would Einstein really have said?

Einstein would be horrified.

But hey, if anyone is interested, my next post, will have the boyz listing the top 10 things they, as new players (noobs), think everyone should know.

In the meantime, take a look at these links.

From the Globe and Mail

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/pokemon-go-comes-to-canada-key-coverage-to-help-understand-thecraze/article30954303

From the Pokemon website.

http://www.pokemongo.com/en-us/pokemon/

Poke-wiki

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Go

Now, I’m going to download it myself, and then we’re going to head off and find something like a ratatta or meowth.

God help me.

 

 

 

 

 

Adventures in Parenting – Home Alone

Being By Yourself

home aloneHey, this is not an easy skill to learn. There are many adults who haven’t mastered it. But The-Oldest is taking this one on. He’s been booted out of daycare for the crime of being too old. Not that he’s upset by the eviction – in fact, it’s the exact opposite. He’s super excited to prove that he can be alone.

I think if it’s terrifying for anyone, it’s for the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world, aka his mom. It means he’s growing up, it means he’s alone with all sorts of knives, boiling pots of water, and strangers at the door, and it’s a harbinger of the very sad day when he gives his mom a hug and goes off to college or the school for professional Pokémon players.

IMG_4811So we prepare him as best we can. We enroll him in a course called, Kids In Control aka Home Alone. I imagine an instructor that teaches them all about how to electrify a doorknob or how to hang paint cans so they can bang villains on the head. These are things I don’t want him learning as I have an aversion to being electrocuted (and being hit in the head with a paint can, for that matter.)

But the course is really about what to do when certain things happen. What to do when someone comes to the door and wants in. What to do when you cut yourself making a wiener and peanut butter sandwich. What to do in case of a fire. Or an earthquake.

zombie guideThere is nothing, however, about what to do in case of the zombie apocalypse or an invasion by spider-like aliens with creepy tentacles.

I guess some things will still be left up to me.

FYI, there is a book. And a movie.

He’s also tasked with taking a baby-sitting course. It’s pretty much the same thing with a bit more CPR, what to do when a child chokes on a McToy and how to talk to the younger kids so they will listen.

Another FYI, there is no right way to do the latter, I personally believe it to be the holy grail of parenting.

The-Youngest is super excited that his older brother is taking the baby-sitting course. In his mind, his older brother could look after him, which means he could play ALL day and ignore anything his older brother says.

We have to tell him there is no way the oldest will be looking after the youngest on a regular basis. It’s not fair to the oldest and despite that the youngest swears on all his lego that he’ll listen to his older brother, he won’t and will likely try to see if he can make a crossbow with poisoned bolts and shoot it at the kid who points at him all the time.

So the oldest marches off to the classes like a POW in a Bridge Over the River Kwai.

IMG_4810There, judging by the notebook he’s given, he doodles a lot. About Terraria terrors and Minecraft monsters. When he brings home his book, some of the questions in it unanswered, the cover looking like a tattoo artist had made it his canvas for fantasy games, the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world and I began to doubt that he was learning anything.

So we remind him of what’s going to happen if he doesn’t pass. It’s the ‘stakes’ in a novel. It’s what happens if he fails. If he fails, he won’t be able to be alone, won’t be able to be the master of his days, we’ll find a daycare that takes older boys and send him there. Without his DS and with a list books he has to copy out word for word. Like Hamlet. Or something by Dickens.

The next week, he’s on task, and the week after that, and, by the answers he gives, he’s actually learning something. Over that time, we even get him to help when anything goes wrong.

“Hey, the youngest has a nosebleed! Come quick!” He tells us not to put the youngest’s head back, but have him lean forward, pinch it shut and get a Kleenex. If it doesn’t get better soon, we’re to call 911.

When I cut my hand while slicing tomatoes (and, I mean, who doesn’t), I call for him and he binds it up like I’m spurting blood from an artery.

He’s so good that I want to manufacture accidents, but the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world won’t let me hit myself with a hammer or set a fire to the neighbours hotrod. However, it’s clear that if I did either of those things, the-Oldest would be able to handle it.

Just in case, though, I give him the SAS handbook on survival. It tells you how to skin a rabbit. This may be important in any number of situations, not the least of which is I forgot to get supper. “Go next door, boy and get me that girl’s pet rabbit.”

IMG_2504Finally the day arrives for him to be alone. To be fair, with all the house showings I’ve had, I had to be over at his place, so he’s not alone, but I hide far away and let him be him. When lunch time comes, I show him how to make the world’s best sandwich. Before his mom and younger brother come home, we make tacos.

He watches TV, plays his games, puts the dishes away as part of our campaign to do good things every day and he looks after the dog when I have to jet back home for a bit.

In short, he kicks ass. He’s clearly capable of being on his own.

We’re  proud of him.

The only challenge is, much to his surprise, boredom.

Being alone means, well, he’s alone. No one to talk to, no one to fight a boss with, no one to tell that he just watched the greatest video on the top 10 Shedonisms.

And perhaps that’s the biggest lesson to learn.

How to be by yourself.

 

Being the Older Brother

Being the Older Brother

he aint heavyIt’s not easy. I think I may have been the worst older brother in history. Well, maybe not Cain-and-Able bad, but I do regret that I wasn’t a better role model, that I didn’t stand up for my younger brother, that I specialized in teasing and taunting him.

But while it’s fun to write about the youngest I’ve found myself looking after, the truth is, it’s the older brother who needs to be written about more often.

He has me shaking my head in admiration.

The only problem, it’s not good writing material.

I mean, when I say, “hey, let’s do our homework first,” he says, “Sure.” Then gets it done.

When he’s dragged to hockey practice, he doesn’t mutter a word of complaint; he sits patiently, sometimes talking to me, sometimes playing a game.

thor and lokiWhen we’re at a movie, he doesn’t suddenly need to pee in the middle of an epic battle between Thor and Loki.

In other words, he’s a delight to be around.

How can I make a story out of that?

Yet he’s got so much going for him. He’s got a pitch-perfect singing voice. It comes naturally to him so, you know, he doesn’t count it as a talent or skill.

He’s passionate about Adventure Time and Minecraft and Pokemon (but God-forbid, you say Pokemon-s).

He loves to talk about video games and movies and scientific facts.  “Did you know the Megalodon is alive?” “Or big foot?”

He loves to ask questions that always get me thinking (and often stump me.)

“So what’s the worst dream you’ve ever had?”

pokemon 2“So what’s your favourite pokemon character?” (Stumped! The smooshadon? I dunno, I seem to forget the names as soon as I learn them.)

“So what’s your favourite movie?” (For the record, the greatest movie of all time is The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – yup, all three cuz the three are one and the one is three. One movie to bring them all together and in the darkness bind them.)

Oh sure he has his flaws. He cannot understand why the 1st Star Wars movie is the worst movie of all time, (the Jar-jar Binks abomination, not the Luke Skywalker one), he gets angry his brother sometimes, and he may take life a little too seriously for an 11 year old, but what impresses me most is that he seems to effortlessly be a good guy. I’ve seen him be kind to his mom when she needs it most. I’ve seen him put others’ needs before his. And I’ve seen how caring and brotherly he can be with the youngest.

IMG_2569He talks to his brother, he plays with him, he tries to teach him life lessons (especially about Pokemon,) and, most importantly, he spends time with his younger brother.

He’s a good role model.

Better than I ever was.

He needs to be written about more.

All good guys do.