Meta Post – Mr. Charlton, Fake Journalist

The last post I wrote blew up over what can be lovingly referred to as “A stupid internet debate.” What started as a harmless post regarding Trump as a lousy candidate quickly turned into a debate regarding Global Warming. I’m not entirely sure how that happened, but like I said, stupid internet debate. I was challenged with finding GIS data regarding global warming. So I started digging.

Now, it really wasn’t all that hard to find a pile of raw data for GIS analysis regarding global warming. It took the sleuthing of about a thirty second Google search to produce data I could throw in a program and start making maps. In fact, the company that makes ArcGIS, the most popular GIS program on the market, has a pdf on modeling maps with climate change in mind. The information is out there, and it’s not hard to find.

But I wanted to go deeper. I wanted to know how this information was gathered. I wanted to talk to experts. I wanted to correspond with people on both sides of the argument. Everyone who chimed in on the stupid internet debate I had going was not an expert. I’m certainly no expert when it comes to climate change. Hell, I’m hardly a drafting expert and I held that position for over a decade.

The only problem with all of this, is that the job I just described, gathering information, corresponding with experts, presenting the information so that it can be understood by non-experts is a job for a journalist, and I’m certainly no expert when it comes to that. So the task I had laid out for me was another hurdle, one that kind of paralyzed me from writing about anything on this blog for the last couple of days. I sat there, writing Harry Potter / Ninja Turtle cross-over slash fiction instead. As fun as it was to have Michelangelo fall in love with Hermione and have Harry bump heads with Leonardo over leadership duties, it certainly wasn’t getting me anywhere.

I did what I always do when I know nothing about something. I got some books and I started doing some research. This means that it’s going to be a bit before I can talk about climate change and do it justice. I have to get a better handle on the science behind the theory. I have to start sending emails and I have to start making phone calls. I’m determined to do the subject justice, and who knows? Maybe I’ll find out that I’ve been blindly following a hoax, and the Earth is perfectly fine and there’s no need for alarm.

Seriously though, who reads books anymore?

Learning from some books! Like old people do!

The topic of climate change is going to be brought up again on this blog again, you can count on that. In the meantime, the Olympics are starting up next week, and it looks like it’s going to be an utter disaster. I’m certainly no expert on the politics involved in the Olympic process, but I know what a train wreck looks like.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. You know what? Harry would be getting along with Raphael so much better because they’re both emotional hotheads, Donatello would be crushing on Hermione ’cause of brain, and Ron would be skateboarding with Mikey and getting into wacky high-jinks. We all know Leo would be ass kissing Dumbledore.


p.s.s.s. Gonna try out the ol’ alt text thing. Gives people reading it on a computer just that much more of me.

The Republican Flatform

The big news this week in America was the Republican National Convention. If there’s one boon to the economy in Cleveland, strippers are raking it in, as Republicans are known to drop cash like crazy at strip clubs during the convention. So Trumps plan to stimulate the economy is already taking effect. Except for this poor girl.

I’d love to talk about what went down during the convention, as the hottest topic was the fact that Melania Trump’s speech was plagiarized. We’re not entirely sure who she plagiarized her speech from, as the debate rages whether it was first Lady Michelle Obama or My Little Pony’s Twilight Sparkle. I couldn’t actually make that up if I tried.

Twilight Sparkle speaks out against plagiarism.

We’ve finally gotten a look at the Republican platform, and it’s pretty vague and under whelming. Their website is still hosting the platform from 2012. Right now, the platform indicates stimulating the economy, tightening security, international trade, building a wall to deal with immigration from Mexico, and a return to the good ol’ fashioned values of the 1950’s nuclear family by having the most anti-LGBTQ platform to come from Republicans. We’ll go in order.

The republican economic platform has one of the usual tropes; lower taxes. Even of this has never worked to stimulate any economy, it’s still paraded out as the base of every conservative platform. No surprises here. Except Trump has flip flopped on this issue. At first he was going to cut taxes for everyone. Then he was going to raise taxes on the rich. He was musing to raise the minimum wage to $15 dollars across the nation. Then he’s going to let the states decide. The Republican platform doesn’t have a firm footing when it comes to wages and taxes.

What is something worth mentioning is the way the wave of self employed ‘gig workers’, like Uber drivers. While Hillary has mentioned that she’s completely against these so called entrepreneurs, the Republican platform has absolutely embraced them. Even though many civil servants have, from policy makers to mayors, have derided companies like Uber for being unsafe, unlicensed, and illegal, it’s really no surprise the republicans have embraced this unregulated new industry. The jury’s still our whether or not these new companies are actually good for the economy.

Now we get into one of the major points of the republican platform; security and safety. Even though violent crime has been falling for decades, the republican party still wants you to understand that you are not safe. Ever. Conservatives will decry crime is rampant in on streets, children are at risk, and that Satan himself is risen and is selling Meth for blowjobs. Even if this is statistically untrue. It’s always been one of my major concerns with most conservative platforms, the selling of fear in exchange for votes.

International Trade.


Trump has made a point of wanting increased protectionism. He’s not a big fan of NAFTA or the TPP, and purportedly wants to create new trade deals. He’s been incredibly vocal about China, mentioning rampant piracy and intellectual property theft. His proposals so far are making a lot of nations nervous, as the world economy is already weak and the last thing it needs is Trump swaggering through and making an already poor situation worse.

Next up is the famous Trump wall. If you’re a contractor or civil engineer down south,  you’re probably salivating over the prospects of a massive wall that borders Mexico. The cost of this wall would be so absolutely staggering it could very well bankrupt the nation, especially one determined to lower taxes and take in less revenue. Even if Trump’s supporters are under the impression it might be an allegory for stricter border, the Donald is adamant it’s going to be a an actual, physical wall. If Trump is going to be elected, I’m suggesting that everyone buy shares in concrete and mortar suppliers, as that industry will explode.

Regarding the LGBTQ community, the Republicans have pretty much solidified their platform with these words; Fuck gay people. That pretty much sums up how they’re going about it.

Here’s the crazy thing. Trump doesn’t really need a platform to contend in this race The latest polls show he’s right behind Hillary after the convention. His supporters don’t care. The problem with that is if you implemented even half of what Trump is proposing, then you’d have an economic catastrophe.

Trump isn’t a politician or a leader. He’s a weasel in a suit. He wants to make America great again, but unless the Republicans shore up some better ideas, then the only thing that’s going to be great is the next depression.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. This is going to be a crazy election year.


Trouble in Turkey

This week has been a parade of entertainment in the Western world, as we continue to gawk at the spectacle that is the Trump candidacy. Colbert and Stewart are back in full form, Trump’s entrance song at the RNC was written by a gay man while the platform singles out the LGBTQ community, and Melaina Trump decided the best way to give a speech was to give someone else’s speech a go. Right now, everyone is having a bit of a laugh at the whole spectacle, while crossing their fingers that the next president of the most powerful nation on Earth isn’t a reality show celebrity with zero political experience.

At the same time, Turkey has declared a state of emergency.

Recently, the Turkish army staged a coup, an attempt to overthrow the government. If you understand anything about Turkish history, you’ll know this happens somewhat frequently. Turkeys military has often intervened in the governments affairs, in 1960, 1971, 1980, and a half-coup in 1997. This is somewhat to be expected, as the military in Turkey doesn’t have to answer to politicians. In the case of civil unrest, weak civilian leaders, or in a state of emergency, the military is allowed by law to step in and take control of the government, albeit temporarily. It’s written into the Turkish constitution.

There was another attempt at a coup recently, and it failed.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has declared a three month state of emergency after the failed coup, and has began a purge of civil service staff and security forces. More troubling is that any member of Academia is barred from leaving the country, and Erdogan has demanded that all the Deans of 1577 Universities resign. Understand that when a country decides to go after everyone who went to University, you know the country is in some serious trouble.

And it’s not just those who oppose Erdogan who are being targeted. A number of his closer staff have been arrested or have been given the boot. These moves are incredibly paranoid, similar to the purges of other regimes such as Russia during the Stalin years, or North Korea every time a new Leader is given the seat of power.

There’s been a lot of talk comparing it to other dictatorships, which is certainly what Turkey is looking like these days. People mention Stalin, the rise of Hilter and the Third Reich, the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot, the Chinese cultural revolution of Mao Zedung. All of these revolutions have something in common, which is an attempt to control the populace by limiting the knowledge they have access to.

Anytime a mention of science or reason getting pushed aside for a political reasons, I get a little nervous. It’s the first step in having a less educated populace. A less educated populace can be convinced to support a system that doesn’t have their best interests in mind.

The truth is, almost every government in some way wants to limit the amount of information you have access to. The former Conservative government in Canada barred environmental scientists from discussing their findings. The current Liberal government is keeping tight lips regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The battle between Hillary and Trump is the battle of two people who have absolutely no problem lying to the populace, whether it’s about classified emails or the dream of a massive wall with no hope of getting built.

If you’re a regular citizen, you might feel hopeless at the current prospects of the planet. First, I want you to know that things aren’t nearly as bad as the seem. If you’re reading this, then you probably have shoes on your feet, some food in your stomach, and most importantly an internet connection. You have the power to be informed. I don’t want you to get angry, I don’t want you to be upset. Politics already has enough passionate people, and as far as I’m concerned, the only place passion belongs is your trade, your art, and what you do in the bedroom. If you see something that makes you mad, whether it’s a meme, a news article, or a video, understand that someone worked at that to make you feel that way. They manipulated you into feeling something by not giving you all the information.

If you want to make a difference, a real difference, then stop buying into the bullshit. Stop letting your heart make decisions regarding politics. That’s what your brain is for. Start asking questions, start researching what you read, start talking about it. If you’re really worried about what’s going on in the world, start by getting the facts first. The facts are out there, you just have to wade through the bullshit.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. My entrance theme song would be silence. Man, THAT would throw people off.

Cop Killings

By now, you’ve probably heard that several officers of the law have tragically fallen in the line of duty recently. First, there was the shooting in Dallas, where five police officers lost their lives, and then the shooting in Baton Rouge, where another three officers fell to gunfire. Since the attacks, the internet has once again begun to point the fingers of imaginary justice, trying to make sense of these senseless killings.

The Black Lives Matter movement has been targeted, with people who were posting All Lives Matter quickly changing their colors to Blue Lives Matter. It was originally thought, that because there have been a number of deaths of black men at the hands of police, that these were retaliation killings. An unprecedented amount of young black men have been killed by police in recent years, and it was originally what sparked the Black Lives Matter movement. Even though the group is consistently making headlines, both shooters had little or no affiliation with the movement.

The numbers are staggering. Over 500 people have died in the United States at the hands of police officers this year alone. In contrast, only 63 officers have lost their lives in the line of duty. Looking at the statistics, the average person should be a lot more afraid of the police than the police being scared of civilians. Since 9/11, and the subsequent Iraq war, the police have been given access to a high volume of military equipment.

Being a police officer is obviously dangerous job, but how dangerous is it exactly? If we go back to look at the numbers, being a cop is dangerous, yes, but it’s certainly not the most dangerous job out there. I looked at list after list after list, and the hard truth is, being a police officer doesn’t even break the top ten. The most dangerous job in the world isn’t policing, it’s logging. Hell, even the people who pick up garbage are statistically more likely to die on the job than an officer of the law.

I’m not trying to downplay the role the police have in our society, but social media is currently flooded with police stories talking of heroics and holding dead colleagues. You don’t see posts saying ‘Everyday, I put my life on the line so that people like you can buy affordable lumber to construct your birdhouses out of’. Loved ones aren’t lining up at the door in tears every morning that a sanitation worker puts on their overalls and goes to pick up garbage cans. But if you look at how dangerous these jobs are, compared to policing, then they should be lining up at the door in tears. If we’re going to base our respect on how dangerous a job is, there should be parades for lumberjacks. There should be little kids running around, saying ‘When I grow up, I’m going to pick up trash for a living’ and we should be ecstatic at their choice.

Being a police officer isn’t hard because they’re constantly in fire fights (they’re not). It’s hard because you are having to deal with people at their worst. It’s a hard job because they have answer a call for domestic violence, and it’s the third call from this house in a month. It’s a hard job because you’re often the first on the scene to a car accident, and you see an entire family dead at the hands of a drunk driver. It’s a hard job because you’re dealing with drunks, drug users and mentally ill people, and you’re expected to maintain a calm, professional demeanor. I refer to the police as ‘having the world worst customer service gig in the world’. That’s what makes being a police officer hard.

At the same time, there’s always good in the world. In Wichita, instead of holding a protest, the Wichita Police department and Black Lives Matter had a bar-b-que. The police brought the burgers, with members of both sides bringing a mess of side dishes. I’m not going to state that everything is fine and the problems are all solved, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

People are going to have to recognize that there is a problem with the status quo with race relations in the United States, because unless there’s change, you’re going to keep seeing more of the same. I think more meetings between the Black Lives Activists and the Policing community should involve cookouts. People are a lot friendlier when they’re full.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Burgers, not Bullets.


Pokémon – I Promise I’ll Stop Talking About It.

Alright, so in the first Pokémon Go article I wrote, I talked about what it was, who was playing it, and the fact that I ran into a goddamn rattlesnake. Part two explored Pokémon as a cultural phenomenon. I wanted to discuss what made Pokémon popular in the first place. In this third and last installment, I want to talk about the actual game Pokémon Go, and review the game. The question I’m posing, is Pokémon GO actually a good game?

The short answer is no.

Games for mobile platforms, ie your phone, have exploded in the last couple of years. There are actually too many games for both the Android platform and the IOS platform. Thousands and thousands and thousands of games, most being lousy and poorly thought out. When people started making games for phones, companies and programmers saw that there was a large market for apps, and started going to work. We now have a berth of apps for phones, so many that even if you deliver a quality product, there’s little chance of success.

Now, there’s a reason I’m not particularly a fan of games for the phone. A lot of these games are free to download. You don’t have to pay anything to play these games! You would think that’s some sort of bonus, but most of these free games fall under the ‘pay-to-win’ category. The games are often difficult, but if you choose to spend some money, you can gain access to more of the game faster. You can get potions to heal you, or buy more rounds of a puzzle game instead of waiting, or buy upgrades for your little virtual farm.

Mobile game companies have figured out some pretty heavy psychological aspect of human beings while making these games. Video games operate on the same principle as sports, work, hunting, or pretty much anything. Move towards a goal, face a challenge, then succeed or fail. If you succeed, you get a little dose of happy brain chemicals like dopamine, and you turn to face another goal. Score a touchdown, get a dose of dopamine. Complete a task at work, get a dose of dopamine. Your brain rewards you when you achieve victory. The insidious thing about these ‘pay-to-win’ games is video game companies have figured out that the brain still rewards the player with dopamine if you pay to level up instead of achieving it.

Like most people, you probably haven’t dropped any of your hard earned cash on these free games, and most players don’t. There’s a few people that do spend some money of these games, anywhere from $20 to $100 dollars. The companies aren’t interested in those people, or the people who spend zero dollars. The people they’re interested in are what the industry calls ‘Whales’. You see, Whales will spend thousands of dollars on pay-to-win games. These people aren’t playing a game, they’re addicts who are being taken advantage of.

Pokémon Go isn’t as insidious. Yet. You can still buy upgrades to make the game a little easier, but for the most part it’s still pretty balanced. But this game hasn’t even been released in Canada yet, and it’s only a week old, so there’s plenty of time to upgrade the game into something that might target these Whales.

The other issue regarding Pokémon Go, is it requires what us gamers call ‘Grinding’. ‘Grinding’ is the term used to progress your character’s development by continually repeating the same task over and over again. For hours. There’s a difficult boss you can’t beat? Go out and fight low level monsters for hours until your good enough to face the boss. In the new Pokémon Go, in order to evolve your ‘Mons, you have to catch enough of that particular ‘Mon to level it up. And that doesn’t take effort or skill, it just takes time and a lot of walking around. Some people have figured out a work around. In order to fool the game into thinking they are walking about, cheeky gamers have attached their phones to ceiling fans or stationary bikes. The game thinks you’re moving, and rewards you accordingly.

Because of this, Pokémon Go as a game fails for me. I don’t actually have a phone powerful enough to play it, and I’m not going out anytime soon to rectify this. There’s enough good games out there, that you pay for with money, that are fun all the way through, and aren’t confused with chores. Because if you’re attaching your phone to a bike in your living room, and pushing the wheel occasionally with a stick to trick the game into thinking you’re playing, well, how much fun is that exactly?

At the same time, it’s the most downloaded app. Ever. And it’s getting people out and about, getting exercise and meeting other people, even if it’s to talk about Pokémon. So in the scheme of things, even though the game isn’t for me, it wasn’t designed for me. It was made for Pokémon fans, and there’s obviously a lot of them. Who cares if it’s not a great game, it’s a great way to get in shape and meet some people, especially for those who struggle with that already.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. To all game developers; Are you making a game? Or a gimmic?


Pokemon Go – Going to Get Bigger

I wasn’t exactly sure how big Pokemon Go was going to be. I knew it was going to be a hit with the legions of people who are already Pokemon fans. That was a given. But since its release a few days ago, I’ve been bombarded with questions about Pokemon and Pokemon Go. I’m going to clarify a few things about the craze, so the less informed can get in the know about Pocket Monsters, aka Pokemon.

The game people are playing right now, Pokemon Go, isn’t a new type of game. One of the developers of Pokemon Go, Niantic, released a similar game called Ingress for the Android and IPhone platforms a while back. If you have absolutely no interest in Pokemon whatsoever, but you’re curious to see what kind of game people are playing, then Ingress is your best bet. The game is played in the real world, with your phone as a tool. The game places you on a team, and then you’re encouraged to walk around to find items, located strongholds, and battle for supremacy. Pokemon Go is incredibly similar, but uses the Pokemon franchise as its theme.

Now, Ingress was wildly popular, and it has millions of players. I can almost guarantee Pokemon Go has already exceeded the number of players Ingress has. There was never a number of news stories running about Ingress, people weren’t playing the game at Holocaust memorials, there wasn’t anyone finding dead bodies in low lying areas. What makes Pokemon Go popular isn’t the game itself; there’s a number of games, including Ingress, offering the same sort of game. It’s popular because Pokemon is popular. So how did Pokemon get so big?

Let’s rewind the clock twenty years, back to 1996. The original Pokemon games were released for the Gameboy, the handheld portable game console by Nintendo. The game was based on the creators childhood of capturing bugs. There’s two objectives to the game. One, catch all the Pokemon and complete the Pokedex, an encyclopedia of Pokemon. Two, train a team of Pokemon that’s powerful enough to challenge the other trainers in the game world, eventually going up against the Pokemon Leagues ‘Elite Four’, the best trainers in the game.

The second part of the game is straight forward. The game works on a giant ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’ mechanic. Pokemon are strong against some, weak against others. If your opponent is using fire type Pokemon, you can use water type to subdue them. Your Pokemon lineup would included matches for each Pokemon in your opponents line up. If you have a wide enough variety of ‘Mons, you can easily defeat anyone you go up against.

The first part of the game is a little more difficult. You see, in order to catch all the Pokemon and complete this Pokedex, you need to catch all 151 variety of Pokemon. The thing is, there’s two versions of the game that were released. Pokemon Red and Pokemon Blue. You can’t capture all the Pokemon with just one game cartridge. You need both copies, two Gameboys and a Link cable. The premise was, if you had a copy of Red, and your friend had a copy of Blue, you could trade the Pokemon that were exclusive to each game.

The game was immensely popular when it first came out, and there was a cartoon featuring Pokemon released at roughly the same time, with a full length feature film not too long afterwards. Kids went crazy over the both the game and the cartoon, and adults who played video games found that the game play could be incredibly complex.


You wouldn’t believe how far the rabbit hole goes.

What you need to remember is the original Pokemon video games were incredibly well thought out games with a very deep strategy system that was engaging. The other point worth remembering is that nostalgia’s a powerful thing, and we all have things from our childhood that we look back fondly.

I grew up with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers and Super Mario. If you ever enjoy any of these things, track them down and give them another look. You’re going to find out two things. First, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers were absolutely abysmal cartoons. They were really nothing more than toy commercials, and the fact that my younger self enjoyed them makes me think less of six-year-old Mr. Charlton. Secondly, Super Mario still holds up. Even after thirty years, it’s still fun to play.

Pokemon has the same nostalgia factor with people thirty and younger. My girlfriend was part of the bracket that got the full dose of Pokemon when she was a kid. So it’s really no surprise to me a free Pokemon game for the mobile platform is doing well. If you’re sick of hearing about Pokemon Go, then read below, and you’ll know how I feel.



The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Truthfully, I was always more of a SimCity kind of guy, anyways.

Pokemon Go Outside

If you’ve recently seen a bunch of sweaty, pale, unfit people who look like they generally don’t go outside very often, congratulations, you’re witnessing the phenomenon known as Pokemon Go, the new augmented reality game recently released for certain mobile phone platforms. Pokemon Go is a game that combines three things. Augmented Reality, geocaching and Pokemon. Maybe I should step back and explain what these three things are.

Augmented Reality, also known as AR, is when you can use a device to superimpose games and information right over a computer screen in real time. Let’s say your phone device has it’s email setup with AR. If you look at your table, there won’t be anything there, but hold up your phone to it, and using the camera to display your table, it will also show your email lying on the table as if it were physical mail. Now, this isn’t done with your phone typically, but with Microsoft’s Hololens, that idea is now a reality. Put on the Hololens, and an empty table can now hold a virtual board game, that responds to your hand gestures.


A Wild Koffing Appears! (in the car)

Geocaching is a game played outside, where people are given coordinates to locate with GPS devices. At this location there is usually a water resistant container, with a little log book. You find the geocache, put your name down on the log, then look for another. It’s been around since the year 2000. Think of it like a treasure hunt.

Pokemon is a video game franchise that has at least a couple dozen games under its belt. The premise is to search the game world for animals called Pokemon. These animals have powers, and you use your Pokemon to battle other Pokemon trainers. The goal of the game is to ‘Catch them all’. There are hundreds of different  variety of Pokemon that can be caught. It’s one of the most popular video game franchises of all time.

Pokemon Go combines all three. Using AR, it layers the game play on top of your phone , and with your GPS locator in your phone, lets you track them on a map. Unlike the previous Pokemon games, you can’t simply play it at home on the couch. You actually have to get up and go find the Pokemon in the real world. Because of this, there are a lot of Pokemon players out in the sunlight, for the first time in months. And some of them are getting hurt, mugged, and finding dead bodies instead of Pokemon.

Now, I’m not a particularly huge Pokemon fan. Maybe it’s because I was a tad old when the originals came out, maybe it was because I got sick of the idea of trying to obtain a hundred percent completion on every damn game that was out, maybe it’s because the only pet I had growing up as a kid was a cat who was an asshole. There’s a lot of good reasons Pokemon is not for me.

Enter my girlfriend, Kat. You see, Kat loves Pokemon. She has Pokemon T-shirts, Pokemon water bottles, Pokemon figurines, Pokemon hats. Not to mention she’s played every Pokemon game. I was definitely in the know when it came out on Friday, which also happened to coincide with our one year anniversary. On our way out of town for a little weekend getaway, she’s getting me to frantically check for Pokemon at the Gas Station while we filled up. I’m proud to say I caught an Abra.

After returning from our weekend vacation, where there was no cell service or wifi, which meant no Pokemon, we arrived back at home and I started to unpack. We’ve been home for three minutes, and Kat asks me if I’d like to go for a walk. I’m pretty perplexed at this point, because Kat rarely wants to go out for a walk with me. I love to walk. I walk everywhere. My body is getting old and it’s nothing to write home about anymore, but my calves look like granite wrapped in silk. I haven’t owned a car in over a decade, and it’s not unusual for me to walk for an hour to get to a destination. So I hopped at the opportunity, even if it meant we’d have to stop every once and a while to catch a Pokemon or hit up a PokeStop.


You typically find two things at PokeStops. PokeBalls and Jesus.

We head over to Lethbridge University, because there is a lot of PokeStops over there. Pokestops are a refueling point, and they’re usually a landmark of some sort. We took turns looking for Pokemon, scrambling all over the campus looking for the little critters.


The fellah was right behind me.

The game play is straight forward. You walk around a map of your city, and occasionally your phone will buzz. If you look around, you’ll see a Pokemon. Touch it to engage it, and when you do that, the game will task you to throw a ball. If you hit the Pokemon, it’ll catch ’em (beware though, even though they might be in the ball, they can still escape and you’ll have to try again). If you wait too long or miss too many throws, the Pokemon will get angrier and angrier and eventually disappear.


It took us a long time to get this shot, and Pikachu was pissed.

They’re doing a lot of renovations at the University right now, so a lot of the campus was unreachable. Now, Kat is a stickler for rules, but if there’s one thing she loves more than rules, it’s Pokemon. Soon we’re hopping fences, ignoring ‘Danger – Rattlesnakes’ signs and full on bush wacking it to find Pokemon.

Did I mention the part about rattlesnakes? Because at one point, due to construction, we had to turn around and backtrack. And guess what’s in our path, the one we just walked over? A rattlesnake. He wasn’t shaking his tail yet, but he certainly was making some noise and letting us know we were in the wrong neck of the woods.


Look! A wild goddamn rattlesnake appeared!

The really, really strange part was the Pokemon gyms. These are strongholds that can be contested by anyone playing the game. You take one of your Pokemon, pit it against the person who’s at the gym, and if you win, the gym is now yours. Other players can come to that gym and dethrone you if they beat your Pokemon. At every gym we found, there was at least two or three people, all a little out of shape and with pale skin, battling over these gyms. You’d walk up and they’d say “Pokemon Go?” and you’d nod your head. You’d see packs of video game nerds walking in the park, all of them staring at their phones.

This is the new reality of video games. Virtual reality is around the corner, so video games won’t always be the favored activity of couch potatoes. This is great because it’ll get dorks out of the house and interacting with other humans in the flesh. My girlfriend will actually go out on walks with me, as long as there’s enough Pokemon in the area. If you are out there, Pokemon trainers, just keep your head up. The real world has vehicle accidents, creeks to fall into, and occasionally, rattlesnakes.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. I’m not joking, rattlesnakes are scary.

p.s.s. There’s a Pokemon gym right by our apartment. There’s now at least three fat dudes with Fedoras there at all times.

Mr. Charlton – Master Procrastinator

Well, I fucked up pretty badly recently. Not a complete failure, mind you. No one died, property wasn’t damaged, and all of my appendages are still attached. But at the same time, I still made a huge, huge mistake, and I’m trying to figure out the best way to correct it, although there’s a good chance that ship has sailed.

Now, I’ve been known to procrastinate. Not a little bit, but an absolute master of putting things off until the last minute. I would finish homework on the bus to school, I would prepare for a test the night before. Once, in college when I was building a bridge out of popsicle sticks for a class in strength of materials, I was haphazardly gluing bit of wood from frozen treats the day before. I cut myself pretty badly, and the bridge ended up with a bunch of blood all over it. Needless to say, the bridge wasn’t the best in the class, but to my credit, it also wasn’t the worst.

Normally, I’m one hundred percent aware that I’m putting something off. It never sneaks up on me, I’m never caught by surprise. When a deadline is looming, I’m staring that asshole down the entire time, making sure not to break eye contact. It’s not that I want to put it off, it usually that I’m a sucker for short bursts of dopamine hits that are provided by doing anything else but the task at hand. I’ve developed some very poor habits over the years, habits that I’m trying to break.

I’ve been focusing a lot on a book I’m reading, called ‘Learning How to Learn’. It’s by Dr. Barbara Oakley, and it’s basically the study of how to focus your mind, stop procrastinating, and start getting to work. It’s an incredibly fascinating read, and I’ve been picking at it for a while now, doing the exercises, writing down my progress. It’s been a really enjoyable process.

Let’s get to the part where I fall flat on my face. I’m part of a writing group, called the Bow Bottom Writers. It’s nice to be part of a little group of writers and have the opportunity to chat with other folks about it. It’s also cool that even though we’re all writers, that’s pretty much where the similarities end. All sorts of people from different walks of life are there, and it’s refreshing to be in a room full of people who you respect but disagree with on a number of subjects. We meet once a week, on Thursday at the college. We either do a writing exercise or we have a guest speaker come in and talk about craft.

We’re not a huge group by any stretch, so there isn’t a budget to have a speaker come in and chat with us all the time, so we take turns picking a topic, making a little presentation, and giving a lecture to the rest of the group. It’s a fun exercise, and it changes things up a bit.

To anyone who knows me, you can see where this is going.

Now, last night was my turn. Apparently. I say apparently because it’s the first time I had been completely caught off guard forgetting to do something. I’ve never been that blindsided before. And I should have known! I had it on the calendar, had started on the presentation already, done some research, and was slowly putting the pieces together. Here I am, and I have to give a presentation in fifteen minutes about a subject I’m not ready to give. So I leave the room, get some water, and float some ideas around in my brain. Should I set fire to the building? Should I leave right now, head back home, pack up my things and leave town forever?

All of those ideas were actually considered, even if very briefly. In the end, I sat in front of six adults, and through a combination of information I hadn’t looked at in a week, bullshitting skills I had thought I had forgotten, and the help of the woman who organizes the writing group as she asked a bunch of questions to light the dark recesses of my brain, I managed to stumble through the presentation while only losing most of the respect of my peers.

At the end of the day, everyone walked away knowing that I’m not nearly as intelligent as I play myself off to be, and that’s what really counts.

It’s weird to think that even though I’ve been reading and studying a book that supposedly helps deal with your procrastination, I hit the worst case of it in my life. Maybe that means I should go back to doing things the old fashioned way, on the back of the bus an hour before class.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. Oh my god Leslie, I am so sorry about last night. I absolutely hate Tim Hortons, but I owe you a damn coffee.

p.s.s. Seriously though, this is straight up old school Mr. Charlton right there.

Mr. Charlton – Green Thumb

I do not have a green thumb, which is to say that Mr. Charlton isn’t skilled in the garden. Plants in my care usually meet their demise, and it’s not for a lack of trying. The only plant I’ve personally grown successfully actually has a story, because it too met its demise. The story’s a funny one, but it’s one that should be told anyways.

Years ago, and I mean almost a decade ago, I went to a friend’s birthday party. Matty showed everyone a great time, and was even handing out old school goodie bags at the end. There was a number of gifts in the bag, toys, candy, gum. He really went all out. There was one curious item at the bottom of the bag though; a bean stalk in a can. When the bean sprout grew big enough, the can promised, you would be able to make out an important message on the leaves.

For some reason or another, some wires connected in my brain that suggested this was a challenge, not a set of instructions. This can of bean stalk had the audacity to call me out, telling secrets to others while remaining a mystery to me. It knew that I had no abilities when it came to gardening. Here was this can, this gift, and it was laughing at me. Smirking from the bottom of the bag. It might as well have been a can of assholes.

I was determined to read this message. I was going to find out this bean stalk’s message, and the only way I knew how to coax it out was to take care of the little fellow. So I took it home, followed the instructions of ‘put it by some light and water it every day’, and that’s what I did. Everyday, I went to the window where it was sitting, made sure he was getting enough sun, then I’d water him.

At first, there wasn’t much of anything. For the first few days, nothing. Then after that, a little bud appeared. He didn’t grow much after that. For about a week at a half, he didn’t do to much, except be tiny and green. It wasn’t wilting, it wasn’t turning brown, it happened to remain a dwarf bean stalk. Even though he wasn’t getting any bigger, I was still happy to go through the motions every day to make sure he was getting plenty of sun and water. Then, almost over night, it shot up. And it grew. It grew to need a chop stick to wrap around, then a longer chop stick, then piece of doweling rod I bought from a garden center. Soon this little bean stalk was over four feet tall, and still growing out of the same little can.

Now, not being much of a gardener, I never bothered to repot the not so little fellow, simply because I would have killed the plant. That didn’t matter though, because the secret message on the leaves was revealing itself. I’m not sure how they did it, but the letters ‘P’ ‘E’ ‘A’ were stamped onto one of the larger leaves. With still more message to come, I made sure he was getting taken care of.

Enter my neighbor, we’ll call him J. The guy living next door was a bit a nuisance. I made the mistake a couple of months prior of knocking on his door and offering him a beer. He was a shorter guy with a Napolean complex, and introducing myself turned out to be an error, because then he was knocking on my door every other day looking to bum a cigarette. Basically the guy was a dirtbag.

One night there’s a knock at the door, and there’s J, drunk and high on cocaine. I know this, because the first thing he said was “Hey man, listen, I’m drunk and high on cocaine right now, and I locked myself out of my apartment”. I suggest that if he needs to get back into his place, he should go out my balcony, hop over the fence to his place, and go through his balcony door to get back in. He agrees, and marches over to the balcony door.

My bean stalk is in the path between him and my balcony, and he ends up trampling my plant. Didn’t knock it over, full on stomped on the sucker. He hops out the door, clamours over the fence, and succeeds in getting back into his place. I’m holding what remains of my plant when he comes back to brag of his success. He sees the dead plant, apologizes, then hurries back to his apartment. In a few seconds, he returns with two warm beers, apologizes again, then goes back home.

I never did find out exactly what the plant spelled out. Was it ‘Peace’, and offering humanity a message? Or was it simply ‘Peas’, because that’s the kind of plant it was? I’ll never know, and it will forever remain a mystery.


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton.

p.s. Thanks again Matty. If you’re reading this, that was still one of the best birthday parties I’ve been to. Every time I see a pea plant, I think about that party.


United States – Still Young at 240

The United States of America. The original melting pot. One of the largest countries in the world, both by population and by shear size. Today is the fourth of July, their independence day, the day that the United States stopped being a colony of the British Empire and became their own nation. That declaration happened 240 years ago today.

It’s a strange place, any time I’ve been it’s felt like some sort of bizarro Canada, with more liquor stores, ammo depots and gambling. I’ve only had the pleasure of going a couple of times. Two trips to Seattle, which due in part to its music culture might be one of my favorite cities of all time. I’ve been to Hawaii, when I was sixteen and probably didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have. Our family also did the Disneyland trip to California, and soaked up the Hollywood magic as well as too much sun. Beyond that, my foray into the States has been limited to day trips to Montana, Washington and Idaho. Little hops over the border, plus a short camping trip my family went on when I was maybe all of eight.

The United States is a massive country, and it’s a shame that I’ve only really experienced a fraction of it. Even though it’s still a relatively young nation, it’s a cultural power house. Their contributions to music have been stellar, with the creation of Jazz, the Blues, Hip-Hop, Rock and Roll. All of these forms of music were birthed in the United States. Rock  and Country both owe their roots to the Blues, famed for it’s Devils Note. The Blues originated in the Delta of the Mississippi, created by former slaves on the plantations.

The film industry has been largely centered around Hollywood since the creation of film. Roughly a hundred high budget movies come from the major studios, and countless other films are produced and created from independent film makers. It’s hard to think of the United States without thinking about Hollywood.

There food and drink is unreal. Even though the country is a goddamn runt when we’re talking about how long it’s been around, some of the original cuisine that hails from the States is something else. From the humble hamburger to the mighty slow roasted barbecue, the United States is home to some of the best food, period. Even though much of the food hails from other cultures, they’ve turned a lot of it into their own unique cuisine. And the beer and wine! Right now, I think some of the best beer and wine in the world is coming from the US right now. There is a ton of craft beers coming out of the States, and I’m not sure if anyone else is doing what they’re doing. Screw the Reinheitsgebot, they’re throwing in a crazy variety of stuff in their beers. Their wine is nothing to sneeze at either. Californian wines are constantly winning awards, and the entire west coast, from California to Washington is dotted with vineyards and wineries.

On the flip side, ever since the attacks on 9/11, going to the United States make me uneasy. Before the attacks, our borders were pretty open. You only needed a drivers license to get across. Now, even almost fifteen years since the attack, tensions still seem high. Border guards on both sides seem to be less friendly, more on edge. The questioning seems to take longer, more of an interrogation. Not to mention the US leads the world in mass shootings.

It’s a place that seems like home, but not really. It’s brighter, faster, louder than Canada. And for some reason, I still find myself drawn to it. I still want to go to New York and take a bite out of the Big Apple, get a slice of famous New York Za. I want to head to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, and stuff my face with Creole food. I want southern barbecue, I want lobster from Maine, I want to hit up jazz bars and the weird little museums that dot the landscape. I want a frank at a baseball stadium, hitting up a game of Americas favorite pastime.

Even though it makes be nervous, the United States is still a place I want to experience, the pros far outweighing the cons. And who doesn’t want a baseball frank?


The Illustrious Mr. Charlton

p.s. It’s just that whole section in the middle of the US I have no interest in. It just seems really damn boring.