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A Tale of Two Pikachus

April 15, 2004

It’s been ten days since I last wrote here. Work has really been getting in the way of my other pursuits lately. I’m cranking on the implementation of our company’s biggest customer to date, and they are very needy and somewhat dysfunctional. That’s not entirely bad, since customers needing my help keeps me employed, but it means I’ve got less time and mental energy to use on other things. I spent much of the three-day Easter weekend catching up on things at home, like laundry and mail and the stuff that I said I would do when I set my goals for this year. One of those things was exercise. I did what I set out to do in that area at least, walking thirty-five thousand steps and doing two Firm workouts. That’s enough steps to form an opinion about the Pokemon Pikachu 2, who is now my almost constant companion, just like his predecessor was.

This new Pikachu has a lot to recommend it over the previous version. First, the grey case is less conspicuous than the yellow one was, even though it has silver sparkles and a small Pikachu silhouette. It looks more grown up and professional and certainly coordinates better with my work clothes (though that’s less of an issue now that I’ve decided even though I have a waist to show off, I usually look better if I leave my tops untucked). Second, the display is color rather than black and background green. Sure, the colors are limited to yellow with red and black accents, but still, that’s more interesting to look at than no color at all. Third, the animation is more sophisticated, with more complicated movements and more detail. I haven’t seen all the things Pikachu will do because he’s still growing up, but the ones I have seen are pretty nifty. He’s learning to surf now; after spending some time bobbing in the water wearing an inflatable swim ring, he’s now paddling his board around, and I expect him to try to stand up any day now. Fourth, the counter zeroes itself out at midnight and stores totals for the last seven days in memory as well as the cumulative, so I don’t have to remember to reset it myself. Given my innate love for data, this is a very nice feature.

However, there are things that were better about the old version. This Pikachu has much smaller repertoire of behaviors when I give him watts. Perhaps this will change as he grows. Right now, he seems to have only two or three different reactions, versus old Pikachu’s dozen or so. I find myself less interested in giving him watts because I have a pretty good idea what he’ll do. No more surprise piano solos or swimming with the fishes, and that makes me a little bit sad. I’m also bummed that I can’t gamble for watts while Pikachu is sleeping. Perhaps this change was made to mollify parents complaining about their offspring playing the slots all night, but my mom doesn’t care how late I stay up anymore. Also, when Pikachu is awake and I am able to gamble, it’s hard to win lots of watts. In the old game, one was pretty much guaranteed a 500 watt win every 10,000 steps or so, but with this one it’s a much more tedious process to get a far smaller payoff. So far it’s been enough, and Pikachu and I have moved up to “Friends” status, but I do not know that I have the patience to put up with this. Pikachu might just have to wean himself off his dependence on my gifts of watts. I might just have to be okay with him not liking me all that well. Finally, the belt clip on the back of the unit is much tighter than the old one was (I’m guessing a lot of people complained about Pikachu crashing to the floor like mine did all the time before I tethered it), which means it’s harder to harder to attach to things like sweatpants, which I wear a lot of at home. The hanging loop is also much smaller, to the point of uselessness, but fortunately I was able to attach my tether to the clip part.

On balance, I’m happy with the new unit. Now if I could just make it a priority to get more walking in, I’d be all set. I haven’t hit 10,000 steps any day since I fired up this new Pikachu. The closest I came was last Saturday, when I got to 7658 on the strength of running a lot of errands in the morning, including some time browsing at Meijer while I waited for the Hallmark store to open. I was aghast when a woman who saw me looking at the guinea pigs (a necessary part of any trip I take to Meijer) asked if I was going to get one to put in an Easter basket. I’m sure my face registered shock that anyone would even consider doing that with an animal, even one with such a tiny brain as a baby cavy), and I just spluttered “No!” at her before she started talking to the pet department clerk. My lowest day was Friday, when even though I was off work and therefore not in desk sitting mode, I only took 2711 steps. I did spend that afternoon finally seeing Return of the King and didn’t even take a bathroom break, so that’s not really a huge surprise. The weather looks like it’ll be nicer this weekend than last, so maybe I’ll be able to get out some and see what’s blooming.


A year ago, I’d just been to Chicago.

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