How To Get the Most Enjoyment Out Of Pokémon GO

Trainers can now live the dream.
Source: Game Rant

So, like every nerd in America that grew up with it and has been asking for it since the invention of augmented reality gaming, I freaked out when Pokémon GO finally went live in the U.S. In fact, I’m literally writing this after an hour long hike through my neighborhood to get a feel for the new world (thanks for contributing to my fitness regiment, by the way).

However, I’ve already started to see some complaints on the horizon; ones that aren’t entirely the fault of the game.

So, in an attempt to help future trainers and speaking as a veteran of Niantic Inc.’s last AR explore-a-thon – Ingress, here are some tips to keep you safe and happy on your new Pokémon adventure.

Tip #1: DON’T train and drive

Shame on you all; you aren’t even wearing seat belts.
Source: AlphaXXI @ DeviantArt

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it was a HUGE problem back in my Ingress days. People would hack and attack portals while behind the wheel and stare at their phones instead of watching the road. And I foresee similar problems here.

Fortunately, the way Pokémon GO incorporates your phone’s camera makes the most important aspects of being a Pokémon Master impossible to do from a car anyway. You need to be able to look around freely to see wild Pokémon and line up your throws (yes, you have to aim your Pokéballs in this game).

Still, that isn’t much consolation from people who ignore the next item on the list.

Tip #2: While you’re at it, don’t train and WALK

Now imagine if it really WAS a tanker truck.
Source: Mike-Dragon @ DeviantArt

I realize this may seem counter-intuitive to some, but let me explain.

There have been complaints of people staring intently at their phones while walking and not seeing the oncoming car as they cross the street BEFORE Pokémon GO showed up (thanks for that one, texting and social media). Now we ALREADY have reports of that happening with Pokémon GO.

My advice; make use of the game’s vibrate function to give a tactile alert when a wild Pokémon shows up. Or, better yet, invest in a half-way decent pair of earbuds and listen for the sound of them leaping out of the tall grass.

Speaking of things to invest in…

Tip #3: Get a power bank

No, not THAT kind of bank…
Source: pokemonbank.com

This is something everyone with a smartphone should have anyway for emergencies, but it’s nigh crucial to get the most out of Pokémon GO.

Like IngressPokémon GO uses your GPS to track where you are in relation to key in-game locations –  gyms and Pokéstops in this case. The problem is that your GPS is a MASSIVE power draw. That, combined with the power needed to run the game, ensured that my battery was half-dead by the time I finished my aforementioned morning hunt.

To that end, you should have a portable power bank handy to keep you in the game if you intend on any extended trips. To help you out, here’s a fine article on Digital Trends to aid you in shopping around. Personally, I’m fond of the EasyAcc solar power bank.

Tip #4: Don’t forget to take a break

The benefits of TM44.
Source: fishki.net

We gamers are used to being told to peel ourselves away from marathons of our favorite games to stave off the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. But even a physically active game like Pokémon GO requires you to not over-do it.

While it’s good to get out and exercise (believe it or not, PokéFitness is a thing), It’s a good idea to take at least 2 minutes to catch your breath for every 10 minutes of moderate to strenuous work. Also, keep a bottle handy for water or a hydration pack if you’re CRAZY dedicated to your jog.

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The Agent on Fitbit (or How Wearable Technology Has Changed Me)

It’s amazing how I reflexively look for these things on people now.
Source: fitbit.com

So, I mentioned how I’ve been losing weight like crazy recently. In fact, I stepped on a scale for the first time in over a year to see that I’ve dropped nearly 30 pounds.

In light of this, my roommate was generous enough to grant me the gift of a new Fitbit. Honestly, with my love of transhumanist technology, you’d think I would have embraced wearable tech long ago.

My problem was that I wrote it off as a gimmick; no different than virtual reality headsets and 3D televisions. I thought it was just another useless toy to gather dust on my shelf… until I actually snapped it on.

It’s amazing just how much of myself has changed in just four days after starting to use what I initially thought of as nothing more than a glorified watch/step counter. More so than just my physical health, my Fitbit has contributed to my mental health as well by changing the way I view and do things every day. I exaggerate nothing when I say that, since getting my Fitbit…

I’m more proactive

A Fitbit is more than a step counter. Depending on the model you get, you’ll be getting a device that carefully tracks your specific actions (walking, moderate/strenuous activity, sleep habits, diet, etc.) and gives you set goals you work towards for each one.

I find that being given a solid data set to achieve gives me a more tangible finish line-like end goal to strive for. As such, it feels like I’m actually doing something as opposed to just running around like the proverbial headless chicken. And with an actual goal in sight, I’ll make any excuse to reach those goals.

“Oh, you’ve got coupons for Bed Bath & Beyond? Let’s go browsing so I can get some walking in!”

“You need help moving your furniture? That’s cool; I needed to get my active minutes in anyway!”

“Dinner at Applebee’s? Well, I have been PAINFULLY underbudget on my calorie intake the last few days. Why not?”

Yes, it’s not as altruistic as I’d like it to be, but at least I’m contributing.

Also, these activities often rope other people in on my fitness crusade. This means they get the benefit as well. Which brings me to the fact that…

I’m more competitive

One of the features of Fitbit is that it acts as a fitness-centric social media network. You can add all your friends with devices, compare progress with one another, and challenge others to outperform you.

Basically, Fitbit taps into my most primal instincts as a gamer.

But it’s not just about wanting to outperform others, I actually want to see them race ahead of me. Remember, these are my friends. I want to be the best I can be, But I also want to keep just far enough ahead of them to cheer them on and goad them into trying to overtake me.

Yup, I’m The Gingerbread Man of physical fitness; constantly keeping my sweet, tasty, sugar-frosted ass just far enough ahead to shout, “you’ll never catch me.”

I’m more confident

One of the problems I share with my father – one we were recently discussing, by coincidence – is how I feel terrible  if I take a day of rest because I don’t get anything done. The problem is that I actually DO get things done; I just don’t see them because I’m doing them for  people other then myself.

You know who does see it? My Fitbit.

I wear this thing 24/7 (with the exception of showers when I plug it in to recharge), including at my day job. And I will tell you now – I now know where all of the weight I lost is going.

My job can best be described, according to my Fitbit,  as roughly seven hours of light walking covering over a mile an hour only intermittently broken up by a collective 30 minutes to an hour and a half of heavy lifting (depending on how much the previous shift left for me to do) taken in 15 to 30-minute intervals. The end result of my evening’s work burns over 3,600 calories a day and I can typically only fit HALF that in my stomach before bedtime during the work week.

Oh, and I’m quick to remind you that, because New Hampshire labor laws are BULLS***, I don’t get scheduled breaks.

Once someone (or something, in this case) made me realize that, you’d better believe I feel indestructible.

Fitbit made me realize that I’m stronger – physically and mentally – than I ever gave myself credit for.

I understand my body better

Another cool feature of Fitbit is how it links to other Fitbit products. Namely, our apartment scale.

The scale not only measures and tracks your fluctuations in weight, but your body fat percentage as well. This gives some nice insight on how the body works.

For example, I’ve actually managed to put a few pounds back on in the last few days. HOWEVER, my body fat percentage has been steadily dropping. The reason for that is simple: muscle mass is four times denser than body fat. So a cubic inch of muscle is going to have more weight than a cubic inch of fat. I may not be losing weight, but I am trimming and shaping my body.

This in conjunction with the sleep tracker to identify what keeps me awake, the water tracker to remind me not to dehydrate myself, and more, the act of having such a thorough data set helps me to understand my body far better than if I was going alone.

Now would be the part where I’d write a witty send-off, but the roomie just challenged me to a daily jog-off and I have to make her earn it. Take care, Field Operatives!

Three Interesting American Statistics (That You Should Think About Before Saying Another Country Is Weird)

I have a deep fascination with other countries and the culture of their citizens. I often find that when I explore a persons culture deeper, I find new and interesting views and practices that I try to incorporate into my own life.

However, the problem with being a cultural hobbyist is that, when I share my discoveries with breathless enthusiasm to others, I will undoubtedly find that one person who responds with a shallow, “Man, those [insert nationality, culture, or creed here] are weird as hell.”

This is hair-pullingly frustrating to me since A) that’s a statement that smacks of insensitivity and general apathy for others in an increasingly globalized society and B) if they bothered to look outside of their own head space for a second and take an introspective look at ourselves, they’d realize that there’s a fair amount of evidence that maybe WE’RE the weird ones.

We do things so radically different from other counties that it’s kind of jarring to think how strange we look to them. For instance, did you know…

Americans Are REALLY Quick To Throw People In Jail

“What’s that; a litter bug walks free? Stone him!”
Source: economist.com

It’s a problem for everyone; eventually someone is going to think that they can do what ever they want, start doing things that hurt others, and some unfortunate judicial system is going to have the task of doling out the proper punishment. However, what’s considered right and wrong is dependent on how strict that country-in-question’s laws are.

Apparently, American laws are either shockingly strict or we have too many people that think that they’re above them. According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, there are 698 incarcerated Americans for every 100,000 American citizens. That gives us the world’s second largest prison population just behind The Seychelles in Africa and a population that’s more than twice the size of Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Switzerland combined.

Now, I’m not saying that we are a bunch of up-tight jerks in this country, but I am saying that we would probably do well to reassess our laws to make doubly sure there are no victimless crimes on the list.

Americans Spend A Lot of Money On Schools (Which Doesn’t Seem To Change Much)

My taxes are paying for this?
Source: Deesillustration.com

We seem to like to talk about how we need to improve our education system in this country. Unfortunately, it seems that the answer always boils down to, “Throw money at the problem until it goes away.” But it’s somewhat obvious that doing so isn’t fixing anything.

Currently, the U.S. is fifth in school spending with a price tag of $115,000 per student. This wouldn’t be a problem if not for the fact that A) we are admittedly mediocre in terms of education and B) the Slovak Republic, who scored similarly to us in 2012 assessments, spends only $53,000 per student.

The actual factor seems to be socio-economic class rather than school funding. So, maybe we should focus more on helping people to help themselves first before giving that fat sack o’ loot to the local campus.

The Fat, Lazy American Stereotype Is Only Half Right

Apparently, you do and you just didn’t realize you’re using it.
Source: fitoverfourty.wordpress.com

If there’s one universal image of America in the minds of other countries, it’s the image of a rotund slob sitting in his reclining chair with a big bowl of Macaroni and Cheese. But the truth about that stereotype is much stranger than even most of us may know.

Yes, it is true that, among 11 to 15 year old Americans, 30 percent of them are medically classified as overweight or obese; making us the leaders in the obesity epidemic. But the problem is not with our lack of activity. According to a study by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, 26.8 percent of those same 11 to 15 year olds perform moderate to vigorous exercise and physical activity daily. That makes us the third best among the other 33 OECD nations.

This leads me to two conclusions; that maybe there’s another reason why we’re all going the way of the Violet Beauregard and that maybe all the medical panic over this “obesity epidemic” is a load of crap and creampuffs.

Breaking Your Beautiful Body: Diets and Supplements That Do More Harm Than Good

Source: The Eye of Abyss (http://beachhutting.wordpress.com/)

If I can open a beer bottle on your rib cage, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.
Source: The Eye of Abyss (http://beachhutting.wordpress.com/)

One of the many admirable people I follow on the Internet had her Twitter account hacked recently – on her birthday no less. And to what ends you may ask? Nothing more than to flog their bogus weight loss crap by PMing all of her followers.

This got me to considering how far we go to obtain that “perfect body” or become the “model of health” without thinking about the inherent dangers on the path. So let’s take a look at some of the finest in modern day Snake Oil.

The “Cabbage Soup” Diet

According to its supporters, The Cabbage Soup Diet is a seven-day dietary plan that claims that you will lose 10 pound by it’s end provided you stay on its feeding schedule with as many snacks of cabbage soup as you want. And while cabbage is certainly preferable to a bag of chips, there is a reason why we eat a wide variety of foods and not just bland cabbage broth.

The weight loss you’ll see is from water, not fat. This means that the weight will be back as soon as you go off the diet. Also, the lack of nutritional value in cabbage, which is low in protein and high in salt, can rob you of healthy fatty acids (yes, there are healthy fats) and complex carbohydrates leading to fatigue, urinary problems, light-headedness, and uncontrollable gas (ever hear of “Cabbage Farts?”).

The Low Carb/“Atkins” Diet

Most people know about how stupid this diet is by now, but that hasn’t stopped some people from attempting this overly-complex starvation process on themselves.

As mentioned above Carbohydrates are essential. They are the primary fuel source for the body. Without them, the body starts to consume your muscle mass – not your body fat – for energy which can further hinder your fat burning ability. Add to that the fact that low carb “meal replacements” often contain unhealthy additives and that these diets usually result in an increased risk for digestive and cardiovascular disorders resulting from low fiber intake and it’s a wonder anyone still swears by these monstrosities.

Appetite Suppressants

Here’s the great whopping hot mess that got this little conversion we’re having now started in the first place. The theory is that, “I must be fat because I eat to much. Lets trick my body into thinking it’s full.”

Most suppressants are chemically similar to most amphetamine drugs and carry the same dangers; nervousness, heart palpitations, high blood pressure and more. Plus, as I’m sure those who can follow a logical progression have already learned, not eating when you need to means you’re STARVING. And that means you suffer all the ill effects of that without knowing that all you need to stop the pain is a burger.

Diet Soda

Oh, wow! A delicious and sweet-tasting soft drink with no calories? That sounds great!… Or it would be if you weren’t lying to my face.

The fact is that the artificial sweeteners used in diet sodas, namely aspartame and saccharin, actually INCREASE weight gain rather than halt it. It seams that nature and physiology have trained us to expect a lot of nutrition to accompany sweet-tasting food. However, since diet soda has no caloric value, our bodies instinctively start on a feeding frenzy to compensate for the confusion and get something worthwhile in our stomachs. Also, there’s reason to believe that aspartame is a known carcinogen just in case you needed another reason to avoid it.

The Final Point

Most of the commercial success of these fad diets and supplements comes from marketers and corporations feeding off of the most basic primal emotion of its consumer base: fear. We’re all afraid that if we don’t match some physical ideal, we will somehow become worthless to society.

What this fails to consider is that a) the physical ideal is a function of biology and environment rather than fashion, b) which fashions are physically appealing is a function of individual personality and psychology rather than group focus meetings, and c) even when the body is spent, the mind can still be useful and desirable.

Sooner or later, everyone will learn as I had to that the body can and will lose its luster over time and only personality and intellect will remain behind. However, they must be cultivated, trained, and routinely maintained. Stay healthy in body, but don’t do so at the expense of mind and soul. Also, make sure you’re actually being healthy.

Get Your Nails Did (And Other ‘Girly’ Activities That Guys Should Totally Get Into)

Source:toptenthings.com

“Oh, sure. YOU think I look silly, but at least I’m comfortable.”
Source: toptenthings.com

Gender roles, those social norms that we prescribe to others based on their sex, have been a topic of controversy for sometime but have been getting a great deal of attention recently. It was only a few months ago that the animated television show “SheZow” caused outrage among parents believing it was promoting a transgender agenda.

However, after considering the nature of this issue, one can’t help but think that perhaps we need to stop worrying so much about trying to fit men and women into perfect little boxes. In fact, there are a great deal of so-called “girly things” that men could benefit from.

Why Gender Roles Are Pointless

The nature of gender roles and whether they hold importance in modern society lends itself to one of the most polarizing debates of the current age. But the fact of the matter is this, gender roles were important back in the days when the men – with a biological predisposition to grow more muscle mass – were needed to work in the fields while the faster-maturing women were better suited to the emotional pressures of child-rearing.

These days, however, Transhumanist Technology is allowing us to surpass the limitations of our biology and place us on equal ground. Also, it’s hard ignore how horribly we are limited when following the codified law of our sex. Women seeking sexual and reproductive freedom are labeled as promiscuous and men are seen as lesser than a “real man” if they excel in anything other than what other men prescribe.

Humanity is quickly adapting – evolving past the need for gender roles. Soon, those who refuse the call of social evolution will find themselves falling behind and unable to cope or even operate properly. This is what happens to organisms that can’t evolve fast enough; they go extinct.

Now then, while there are certainly masculine themed activities that ladies can and should try, the sad truth is that this article is written by a predominantly male perspective and therefore lacks the right or the ability to speak accurately on it (The author wishes to encourage any female journalists reading this to supplement his article in this way). However, this means we can discuss what the guys can do in this particular way.

Paint Your Fingernails

It’s believed that the first synthetic nail polishes were developed in the 1920’s in order to conseal the dirt and grime that stubbornly refuses to leave the undersides of a ladies’ fingernails. That said, the archetypical male loves working and playing in the dirt. So why shouldn’t he make use of this tool that is openly available to everyone in the same manner?

Colored nail polish, especially the darker colors, are great at hiding the thick globs of goo that you have to scrape out from under your nails but lack the tools to do so effectively at the time. Colored nails also have the effect of drawing attention to certain aspects of the hand. For example, if you’re a man with large and powerful hands, nail polish can draw attention to your strong hands or soften them to make you look more gentle (you may have to experiment with colors and shade before you find the right effect).

Also, if you just don’t feel right flaunting technicolor fingertips, a clear topcoat can still protect your nails from being chipped and damaged by day to day work. That’s time saved filing down a nail so you don’t snag and ruin that favorite t-shirt of yours.

Shave More Than Just Your Beard

For all of those men looking to court a lady, know that many polls show that females don’t like hairy men or at least don’t appreciate hair in certain places.

The growing interest in male body grooming or “manscaping” has it’s basis in provable fact and statistics; people respond well to hair on the arms and legs of men complemented by light hair on the chest. However, hair on the back, underarms, stomach, and groin is generally repulsive. So it may behoove you to take the electric trimmer and straight razor to your bod.

Even if you aren’t concerned with looking your best, manscaping still has a hygienic advantage. Removing your body hair also destroys a potential home for odor-causing bacteria and hair dwelling bugs. So, stay clean and look good.

Wear A ‘Utilikilt’

Most men shy away from kilts because of their resemblance to a woman’s skirt, but the Scotsmen of the 16th century might have been onto something.

Medical science has uncovered a laundry list of health problems associated with wearing restrictive clothing like tight jeans up to and including infertility and digestive failure. So what better way to combat this with the least restrictive piece of menswear in history.

If you want to get in on the kilt craze, be sure to check out the folks at The Utilikilt Company. These modernized kilts run a little pricey but are built strong, intelligently designed, comfy, and will make the man concerned with image look plenty tougher. They also offer multiple styles for every occasion.

In Conclusion…

We live in a modern age where the idea of gender rolls is changing – possibly fading away all together. Much like we do with our laws, it’s time to re-evaluate what we call masculine and feminine. The Cult of The Macho is due for a revamp for the good of us all.