Pokémon Go Released!

Pokémon Go is out and it’s awesome!

I’ve been loving the game so far. It motivates me to walk more, give me something fun to do with my wife, and its fun to compare my collection with my friends’.

I'm a heretic because a Rattata is in my Top Ten.
I’m a heretic because a Rattata is in my Top Ten.

Chances are if you want to play the game you’ve already downloaded it and tried it out for yourself (or you own a Windows phone).

For those of you that haven’t tried out the game yet, here’s how it works.

The Pokémon Go tracks your location on a stylized version of Google Maps. As you move around in the real world, your little avatar in the game world moves around as well.

Just me in my house with a view of a PokeGym at the local park.
Just me in my house with a view of a PokéGym at the local park.

Occasionally little Pokémon appear on the map. If you tap on the Pokémon you get taken into a little capture game.

What a fearsome pidgeon...
What a fearsome pidgeon…

The Pokémon are captured by swiping the Poké Ball to throw it at the little monster.

There’s a percent chance of catching the Pokémon based on its strength and rarity. You can increase the chance through accuracy, a timing mechanic, throwing curveballs, feeding the Pokémon a fruit before you hit it with a Poké Ball, or using a stronger type of ball like a Great Ball or Ultra Ball.

Poké Balls are slowly used up, but you can get more by clicking and using Poké Stops on the game’s map. Each Poké Stop drops about three items.

Pokémon are also acquired by hatching eggs. Eggs are hatched by placing them in Incubators (you only have one to start) and walking a certain distance, just like in the original video games!

Pokémon are leveled up and evolved by feeding them candies. You get more candies for a particular type of Pokémon by catching more of that type.

Your character in the game has a level as well. Your level goes up by doing pretty much anything in the game but progress slows down at higher levels.

Those are the basics. Now for the avalanche of links and advice for more advanced players!

List of rewards for leveling up: http://www.ign.com/wikis/pokemon-go/Level_Rewards_and_Unlockable_Items

Save evolving Pokémon until you have a Lucky Egg to get double the experience: http://gamerant.com/pokemon-go-guide-how-to-use-lucky-egg-to-level-up/

Don’t bother with powering up your Pokémon until you’re about level ~15. You just won’t be strong enough to handle gyms until then: http://gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/274816/how-to-efficiently-use-stardust-in-pokemon-go

There are two sites set up that allow you to search and locate Pokémon without having to wander around your neighborhood to find that rare one you’re looking for: http://pokehuntr.com/ and https://pokevision.com/

Gyms fluctuate super rapidly. I haven’t been able to hold onto two for more than a few minutes. It’s probably a better idea to take over a few gyms and collect a small defender bonus than to try to max out.

Move sets are important but no one really knows what’s best yet. Higher power is good but it also means your attacks are slower. Because move sets change when a Pokémon evolves its best to wait to Power Up your Pokémon until after they’ve evolved. The Power Up will cost the same either way.

Same Type Attack Bonus (STAB) is in Pokémon Go! Having alternate types might be good to surprise other trainers though.

There are particular areas with rare Pokémon in them, but its likely that areas for most of the released Pokémon are close to where you live. No need to travel, especially with the ability to get Pokémon from eggs.

Pay attention to your surroundings when you play, don’t leave trash by Poké Stops, and don’t trespass onto people’s property while playing.

If you have so many Potions and Revives that you can’t get anything else from Poké Stops you can throw items out. It’s better to use the items for taking over gyms, but that’s probably too time-consuming for most players.

There’s no single source for Pokémon Go information at this point. A few Wikis have sprung up. I’ve started adding to the most developed one. You can too if you’d like! Pokémon Go Wiki

Thanks for reading! Now go catch em all!

-GoCorral

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Mother’s Day 2015

My mother passed away a few years ago, but I am lucky to have a wonderful step-mother to spend Mother’s Day with.

My wife and I drove back home in the morning to visit our mothers. I dropped her off and spent a little bit of time with my parents-in-law before going over to my parents’ house (they live in the same city).

My parents were out at the farmer’s market when I got there (a Sunday tradition for them). I played with their dog a little bit and puzzled over the mail I was receiving there. Apprently I now have a subscription to Car and Driver magazine for some unknown reason.

When they got back they announced a surprise, my best friend would be visiting as well! Apparently his parents were spending some time in the Netherlands so he’d been hanging out with my parents for company.

We chatted a bunch and made snickerdoodles. The cookie baking was a Mother’s Day activity so we joked non-stop about it. My friend and I got on our knees to be “children.” We pretended to mess up the recipe by adding “one and a half eggs.” The usual stuff.

The cookies turned out really good, obviously due to adding one and a half eggs.

We went on a walk up to “the dish.” Everyone in Palo Alto already knows what that is but I will explain for those of you who don’t know.

A lot of Palo Alto attractions are remnants of the two big owners of the land around there, Stanford and Coutts. Stanford owned a huge amount of land in the hills behind Palo Alto.

That land was never developed or turned into part of the college. Instead it is an open space preserve where you can go walking up in the hills.

At the top of one of the steep hills behind a chain-link fence is a giant satelitte dish, probably about 100 feet in diameter.

“The dish,” as everyone calls it, is part of the program to contact alien life. It sends signals out and listens for responses. Nothing yet!

We came back after the walk and opened presents. I got my step-mom a Ursula K. Le Guin interpretation of Lao-Tzu’s poetry. She likes Le Guin and both her and my dad are fans of Eastern philosophy. She seemed excited to read it and I hope it is as good as her expectations.

We hugged goodbye and I took half the cookies with me. My friend took the other half.

I went back to my in-laws house and picked up my wife there after taking some pictures. We drove back home through the heavy Mother’s Day traffic.

Happy belated Mother’s Day to everyone else’s mothers who I didn’t see yesterday!

-GoCorral

Current Library Book

The collection of fantasy short stories I got from the library.
The collection of fantasy short stories I got from the library.

Since my wife and I moved in together in Davis we’ve been going to the library a lot more.

I used to go to the library all the time when I was a kid.

I stopped going when my family moved.

Getting a library card in the new city was silently frustrating for me.

I think I got a new library card in my new hometown three different times.

Each time I’d get it, rent one thing, return it, then forget about the library for several years.

When I went back my card had expired, so I’d need to get a new one. And the process repeated itself.

My wife goes a lot more because she wants  specific children’s book for one of her lessons or a movie to watch or something like that.

I’ve been going with her and renting out one thing at a time to read or listen to (I like audiobooks).

I have Legends II rented out right now.

It’s a collection of short stories by notable fantasy authors put together by Robert Silverberg.

I liked most of the stories in this book and the previous one, Legends.

The only exception is strangely Robert Silverberg himself. I don’t like his writing style.

I originally got the book because it contains a short story by George R.R. Martin, author of the Game of Thrones series.

Martin has a short story series set in the same fictional world as Game of Thrones, but taking place one hundred years before the events of his novels.

The short story series is called The Adventures of Dunk and Egg.

Dunk is a seven foot tall knight and Egg is his squire with a shaved head.

I read the Dunk and Egg story first in Legends and in Legends II.

The other stories are also really great. Legends II has some ghost stories I’ve really enjoyed along with an Alvin Maker story.

Alvin Maker is the main character in a series of the same name written by Orson Scott Card, the same man who wrote the Ender’s Game series.

Alvin Maker is a traveling wizard in the pre-Civil War period of the USA.

The dialogue, setting, and topics in the Alvin Maker books are a lot like Mark Twain’s books. I’ve probably enjoyed the Alvin Maker stories the most out of all the short stories in the two Legends books.

That’s all for now!

-Mister Ed

Acceptance Wall

Normally I’d post something about D&D on Monday, but this week I’ll be showing off something that came in the mail recently.

My first graduate school acceptance letter.
My first graduate school acceptance letter.

I got into graduate school! Hurray! Validation!

This year I only applied to local schools as my wife is in the first year of a two year program for her teaching credential.

I applied to two programs at the college I got my undergraduate degree from and a third program at a nearby CSU (Sac State).

I’ve been rejected from one of the programs and have yet to hear back from the other one, but Sac State has accepted me! Woohoo!

Assuming the other program doesn’t accept me, I will be driving to the capital every day to learn and research science stuff.

The professor I’ve been placed with studies salmonella. I haven’t read up a lot on it, but what I saw on the papers she’s published was interesting.

Salmonella typically hurt your body in many ways one of which is by attacking your macrophage cells. Macrophages are the part of your immune system that eats bacterial invaders.

The salmonella bacteria don’t like being eaten by macrophages though. They protect themselves by putting poisons into your macrophages.

The professor has helped discover how this process works and she is attempting to harness the power of salmonella for good, not evil!

You see, if salmonella are so good at invading macrophages and killing them, they can also be used to invade macrophages and help them.

We can modify salmonella to make it deliver medicine to macrophages. This could do a number of things.

It could protect against auto-immune diseases like HIV. It could also super charge the immune system to assist the fight against other bacterial infections. These two things are some of the most sought after effects in medicine right now.

HIV is a huge problem throughout the developing world, so the interest in that is obvious.

The second effect, of boosting the immune system is even more amazing in my opinion.

Bacterial infections such as tuberculosis, STIs, and many others are currently treated with antibiotics. But bacteria can evolve and become immune to these antibiotics.

Researchers can come up with new antibiotics, but in a few years the disease will have evolved immunity to it again.

But what if you treated the disease just by making the immune system better? The bacteria can still evolve past this, but it takes much longer to do that than to develop antibiotic resistance. Possibly long enough that the disease can be eradicated entirely? That would be astounding.

While my original goal was to get entrance into a PhD program, working on making people immune to disease doesn’t sound that bad either. I think I’ll be quite happy at Sac State.

That’s all for tonight!

-Mister Ed