#597 – Gotta Catch ‘Em All, But This One In Particular

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Today my wife, our house guest, and I drove two and a half hours one way for the chance to catch a very specific Pokémon.

Some folks might think this to be a little excessive, but bear with me, it was warranted.

Pokémon Go has hundreds of Pokémon available in the game, but not all of them are available everywhere. Each continent has its own regional-exclusive critters that you can’t catch anywhere else in the world. If you happen to have one of those regional Pokémon from a different continent, it’s almost always a sign that someone’s been traveling.

Our house guest is very much into the game, and as such has found ways of tracking specific Pokémon almost in real time. His research showed that there was a bit of an anomaly with one of the regional Pokémon – the South American regional, Heracross, is only available south of the 29th parallel.

That parallel crosses south Texas, which means that some places in Texas have been reporting Heracross sightings and captures.

Our trip today took us to Victoria, Texas, where Heracross has been popping up regularly. We spent hours setting lures and traveling between them to see what the lures attracted. We went to many places in town that had Heracross sightings, hitting Pokéstops along the way for supplies.

The trip was very productive. I restocked my supplies and caught several new-to-me Pokémon during the day. Both my wife and our guest had similar results, although our guest didn’t catch as many new Pokémon, since he’s much more active in game than either my wife or I. But despite getting advice from players in town, we didn’t find a Heracross.

Eventually we decided we needed to make the trip back to Austin, so we grabbed a bite to eat, checked a couple more places, and then headed home. While we were heading out of town, our guest was checking our route, and as we approached one corner, he called out “HERACROSS!”

We pulled into the convenience store and frantically pulled up our game clients in order to catch this elusive prize. It took some of us a few tries, some of us only one, but all three of us eventually captured the Heracross. Triumphant, we wrapped up the game and drove home.

It was a fun day and a good time was had by all.

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#592 – As Advertised

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Yesterday I mentioned that today we were likely going to do laundry, and maybe show our houseguest our new apartment complex, before heading off to one of our favorite restaurants to grab a bite to eat. That’s pretty much what we did today.

Except the part where my wife stayed home from work because her sinuses were absolutely exploding and she could barely move. And the part where we all went to a coffee shop and played Pokemon Go for a couple hours.

The Pokemon outing was lucrative. Restocked on supplies, and caught a couple of rare Pokemon, including my most powerful capture to date.

Tomorrow is likely going to be spent putting laundry away and generally taking it easy. Neither my wife nor I are feeling particularly well right now and I think a relaxing day is in order for us.

The Most Amazing Sunday

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I had the most amazing Sunday yesterday.

It started out not too well. We got an email at 8:15 am announcing that, due to a ruptured water main, they had shut off the water to the entire complex. So my wife and I spent the morning debating whether we were going to need to go buy a few gallons of water in order to get us through. (Regular readers of this blog may remember that we generally have up to four gallons on hand in the fridge at any time, so we weren’t desperate for water just yet.) Fortunately, they got the problem fixed and got water restored before we needed to make a run down the corner.

Soon after the water was turned back on in the early afternoon, we showered and decided to head up to Round Rock (a suburb of Austin, not far from where we live) and have a cup of coffee at the coffee shop downtown, and maybe check to see if there were any PokéStops around the area.

My wife drove, as she usually does, and as we were getting close to the downtown area (which isn’t that big, but it’s very nice) I pulled up the Pokémon Go app to get the lay of the land.

And I was struck speechless.

Within sight of our apartment in map view, there are three PokéStops and four gyms. The Pokéstops are at their closest 200 meters apart or more, with a third one at least a quarter-mile away. (We’re in between the two furthest Stops.)

In downtown Round Rock, there were eight PokéStops within two blocks of one another, and the four most central all had lures going. (Lures are a 30 minute buff that significantly increases the spawn rate of Pokémon in the area around the PokéStop. This buff is effective for anyone that’s within range of the Stop.)

We parked, and that’s when I looked up for the first time.

I saw a family of six, mom, dad, three daughters and a son, all walking along the sidewalk in front of our car, all presumably with the PoGo app up and running. There was another family that followed shortly thereafter, with most of the family holding their phones out in front of them. We got out of the car and turned toward the coffeeshop.

There were at least two dozen people just standing out of the way or sitting on the ground on the corner, playing PoGo. We managed to grab a table outside the coffeeshop and I kept watch while my wife went to go get coffees for us. (Her order fluctuates depending on her mood, I almost always get the exact same thing wherever I go, so it’s usually easier for her to go get coffee than it is for me to remember what she wants that particular day.)

That’s when I noticed that from where I was sitting, I could hit four and sometimes five Stops, based on how accurate the GPS tracking was at the time. (Like anything else using GPS technology, there’s a margin of error from a precise reading.)

So we stayed there for a good hour or more, taking turns hitting the Stops (once you hit them for supplies, they take about five minutes to reset so you can hit them up again) and wandering up and down the block grabbing supplies from the other Stops in the immediate vicinity. Whenever a new Pokémon would appear, we’d catch it (or try to, at least). The area was so thick with Stops that it was a little difficult trying to zero in on the Pokémon while tapping on the screen.

Eventually my wife decided that she needed both air conditioning and an outlet to charge her phone, so we moved into the coffeeshop. Most of the Stops were accessible from the back of the place as well, and we’d still occasionally take sojourns outside to collect supplies from the Stops down the way.

Overall we were there for just shy of three hours. The four central Stops had a lure active the entire time we were there, and oftentimes a fifth Stop down the way also had a lure. I probably caught over 100 Pokémon in that time and hit well over that many Stops. I gained a level and a half, going from just barely being level 10 to over halfway through level 11 and heading into 12. My battery finally died as I was trying to catch two rarer Pokémon and that was the only frustrating thing about the day.

We went home, grabbing dinner on the way (a long-craved stop at Long John Silvers) and went home to recharge our phones and then eat.

After dinner, we put The Last Samurai in the Blu-ray player and watched that in the background of us poking our way through the Internet. While the movie was on, I decided to start evolving some of the more common Pokémon that I was accumulating a lot of. So I hit a lucky egg, which doubles XP for 30 minutes, and started evolving as fast as I could.

I lost count of the number of evolutions that I did. The most memorable instance was evolving an Eevee into a high level Vaporeon, which I later further powered up as much as I could. Going through the process of the evolutions took me from halfway to level 12 to just barely into level 14. All totaled, I gained four levels in a day. But that’s not the most exciting part of the day.

The best part of the day is that I willingly, eagerly, spent hours in a crowded area outside of the house, something that I would have otherwise been terrified of doing. And I’m looking forward to doing it again, hopefully soon, and preferably with friends.

And you know, in the broad scheme of things, it’s an important first step of getting back to normal.

Dichotomy

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I haven’t written in almost a week because I’m not sure what to write about.

My lethargy has finally reached the breaking point. I had an appointment with my psych med manager that I’ve now had to postpone twice because I was just too tired to get behind the wheel. I’ve called my general practitioner’s office to get a referral for a sleep study, and at this point the referral is over in the hands of the sleep center waiting insurance approval before calling to make the appointment. I’m almost certain that sleeping with a CPAP is going to be helpful, but I don’t know how helpful it will be.

Pokémon Go has become a bigger part of my life. I’m up to level 9, I’ve caught over 100 Pokémon total, and have a few fairly high powered ‘mons to do battle with, though I still haven’t picked a team or gone to a gym. We’ve been going out to hit a series of PokéStops – these are locations that you can resupply at for free – at night and catching whatever we can along the way. (Tonight, it’s my turn to drive so my wife can play over in the passenger’s seat.) I admit that I haven’t been getting the exercise that I should be getting playing this game, but it’s getting me out of the house on a regular basis, and that’s a good thing. Last night we went to the store and I got a little exercise there. Also last night we met a couple that was out playing just as we were, and had a nice conversation with them. It’s our first social interaction with another player, and it was a good experience. It seems silly to admit that this little game is succeeding where almost nothing was before. (Although I have to admit, I very willingly left the house to go see the new Ghostbusters movie on Sunday, and was very glad I did – I enjoyed it very much.)

That parenthetical statement reminds me – apparently I helped make this past weekend very memorable for my wife. She thanked me multiple times for making her weekend so good, and I didn’t really do much except be willing to watch a few movies with her and go out hunting Pokémon. But I’m very glad that I did it because she was obviously overjoyed with how her weekend went, so there’s that.

Today’s been kinda low key. Got some housework done, got my main three daily tasks done (well, done once I hit publish, that is), and also have been taking short little naps in between. It hasn’t been a spectacular day, but it’s been good, and I’ll take that any day of the week.

One Of Us! One Of Us!

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I don’t get this Pokémon Go thing.

It’s been out a week, and folks have been going absolutely bonkers over this game. I’ve heard a couple of negative stories, like the threesome that was waiting at a PokéStop to rob people who were stopping by for supplies, or the girl that discovered a dead body floating in a creek while hunting for the little critters. But far and away, the stories I’ve heard have been phenomenal. The story of those who were previously homebound due to anxiety getting out and exploring their neighborhoods and socializing with others. The article from Inc. magazine on how to utilize Pokémon Go as a marketing tool to maximize foot traffic into your place of business. The story of the kids who were traveling as a group, taking turns catching Pokémon, who got beat to a find by an old man walking his dog. The kid on the autistic spectrum who broke out of his routine, engaged strangers in conversations, and occasionally even looked people in the eye during his first outing with the game. The multiple stories of how the game has had an immediate and noticeable effect on players’ mental health.

I went to therapy today and discussed Pokémon Go with my therapist, and told her about these stories and more. I said that my wife had downloaded the game and was having fun with it, and that she’d let me catch a couple for her, and that she noticed that I got excited when I caught them. And my therapist told me that she thought it would be a good idea for me to download it and start playing.

So I did.

I can tell you the game is as fun as my wife made it look. I took advantage of the starter trick – let the three choices (Bulbasaur, Charmander, Squirtle) for your first Pokémon spawn, then walk away until they respawn, and keep repeating this process until they respawn with a fourth selection – Pikachu. Since I started playing about an hour and a half ago, I’ve gotten a little exercise, set off an incense from the comfort of my couch, and caught a total of eleven Pokémon while making it over halfway to level four. I don’t know what I’m going to do with all of them yet, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

Like I said before, I don’t get this Pokémon Go thing. I hope that I’ll eventually find myself out and about looking for wild Pokémon and strike up conversations with other players. It would be good for me socially, and the walking would do me a lot of good too.

One last thing – my wife’s favorite Pokémon is Snorlax, which means that I’ve grown a little fond of him as well. Neither of us have one, but the closest gym to the house is currently being held by a Snorlax.

Just don’t ask me what team I’m on. I haven’t got a clue which to choose yet.