Yugto- a fundamental transition or development of a story or phenomenon

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Today’s Word High July Prompt immediately reminded me of the picture I took when out hiking a while ago, of the change from ‘Grug’s hill’ to the golden hills. While this blog was primarily started to write about reading adventures- Around the World and Throughout Time- I have always meant to write about some real life adventures as well… thus the tab for ‘the Physical Realm’. So here is a short story about my hike, the first section of the Heysen trail. The place names are all ones I made up as I went along-except for Kangaroo Island- so don’t try to google them!

We arrived at the Ferry Terminal not long before it was due to take the crowds of city folk across to Kangaroo Island for the weekend. We got the second to last parking space, and went against the norm by walking straight past the ferry to head over the hills.

With the beach on our right and the small brown hills on our left, we walked away from the bustle, with the sun on our backs. Winter was late in coming this year, so the main vegetation was small scrubby bushes, the salt-loving kind that are hardy and wirey- just like most sea going people.

We passed a tiny cove, flanked by 5 metre high cliffs, and spotted a lone fisherman who had somehow managed to pick a path down to the narrow strip of sand. Lunch was at a rocky shore filled with little rock pools. It was a lovely view until you turned around and saw what I am guessing is a power station based on the sign warning of electrocution.

The low bushes and succulents were replaced by plants that for all the world look like a sleeping Grug. There were scattered Grugs in the valley, and then row upon row of Grug trees, neatly in rows, on top of Grug Hill. Until suddenly there was a fence. And no more trees. On the other side, there were low lying undulating hills covered in golden hued long dry grass. The sun was now overhead, and the grass appeared to shimmer as it was gently rustled by the wind.

After a few sparse, golden hills, we came to a valley which was dotted with small eucalyptus trees. It was the Valley of the Butterflies. Every tree and bush had several butterflies. There was constant motion- at any given moment the butterflies on a particular bush would decide that rest time was over, and there would be a puff of butterflies rising and fluttering around the bush.

Next, we came over a rise and were surprised to see what looked for all the world like an alien space ship, nestled in a steep valley, without any obvious tracks to get in to it. Have a look at the picture- what do you think it is?

We spotted a dolphin family out to see, then another close to shore. We stopped to watch the 8 strong family that frolicked in the waves just below our vantage point, but unfortunately my nephew had taken it seriously when we told him that the sharp rocks pointing out of the surface of the knoll were the teeth of a giant shark. “We are standing on the bottom jaw of a humongous shark!” I had told him, “so big that we can’t even see the top jaw! But who knows when he might chomp down on us!”

Soon his insistence we move on out of danger wore us down and we continued quick march. Through the land of the sheep, who from their posing at the top of the hill, looking imperiously down on us, obviously thought they owned the place. One a few hundred more hills (maybe 2-5 realistically) and we reached ‘the end’ of our trek. There was a spectacular view down to the beach, which was only slightly marred by the fact that we still had to trek down the hill, and then up at least the same height again to get to the second car we had left at the end car park earlier. The hike to the car actually ended up being the hardest part of the whole trip, not helped by the fact that dad had thought there was only 200m distance between the 2 carparks, and parked in the furthest one, when it was in fact closer to 2km difference! Oops!

Regardless, after a full day of driving and hiking, it was nice to just sit in the passenger seat of the car and be driven home as darkness fell, watching the beaches, and trees, and the new giant Buddha fly by past my window.


Pokemon Fever

WordHigh July Day 16- Marahuyo (adj) to be enchanted

Pokemon go has arrived in Australia, and enchanted young and old players alike (although by old I mean those who watched the original series, not the elderly, but it is possible there are some geriatric players out there too…)


I found the intro was not really that helpful, so here are some of my tips.


Finding pokemon:

  • I found the quickest way to find pokemon is to just keep walking, fast as you can
  • Pokemon spawn (appear) and disappear at various times and places. Some places they are more likely to spawn. While you would think the little spurts of leaves would be there because a pokemon disturbed them, it doesn’t seem t be the case. You would also think that pokemon would be in parks and things like that, but I have found they are mostly where people go. So a park with a tennis court, playground, and memorial is a great place, but the big national park with tracks you can walk on for hours without seeing anyone has hardly any. Just walking the streets also often gives you a lot of them.
  • Using incense and lure modules seems to cause a pokemon to come to you at about one every 5 minutes. In most areas I can find pokemon more frequently than this when walking, but they are useful if you are trying to take advantage of wifi, heating or shelter and want to stay still. Incense can be used anywhere and only affects you. Lure modules are used on a pokestop, and affect everyone nearby. Lure modules are great when there are a couple pokestops close to each other, as using one on each doubles the spawn rate. I think I started to get lure modules at around level 5. You start with some incense.
  • In the bottom right of your screen there will be a little box that shows what pokemon are nearby. It will show a shadow if you haven’t seen one yet, or a colour picture if you have. Next to the icon will be a number of footprints from 0-3. Zero means it is close enough to catch. One means close, three means- at least a few blocks away. Because there is no indication of what direction they are, pokemon 3 footprints away can take a long time to find, and they may run away before you get there. If you watch when the number of footprints increases and decreased, you can use geometry to work out the direction they are in.
  • You can also hatch pokemon from eggs, and get the evolved form by evolving a pokemon when you have caught many of it to accumulate enough candy to do so. (see other sections)


Catching Pokemon:

  • When a pokemon is near enough, you will see its image appear within your radius on the map, and your phone will vibrate.
  • If you choose to try and catch it, tap on it
  • You can then see it against a backdrop of the real world, using your camera, or a cartoon world. If it is in ‘the real world’ you need to point your camera in the right direction to catch it. If using the cartoon backdrop, it will always be in the centre regardless of which way you face. Thus the cartoon is often easier if on the move.
  • Swipe the pokeball towards the pokemon and let go. There is depth- the earlier you let go the shorter the throw. You can throw a pokeball over the pokemons head even when you were aiming straight at it.
  • The circles that appear over the pokemon when you are throwing indicate how hard it is to catch (red= hardest, green= easiest, the number above the pokemon also gives an indication), where to throw, and when to throw- try to throw when the moving circle is at its smallest as this increases the chance of catching it.
  • Curve balls increase the chance of a successful catch- instead of aiming straight at the pokemon, have a slight curve in the path your finger makes, with the last part before you let go aiming at the pokemon, but slightly from the side. For some reason if it rains I always do accidental curveballs.
  • As you level up the pokemon get stronger and harder to catch, but you also start receiving raspberries and ultra balls, which increase the odds of success.


Gyms & Teams

  • At level 3 you will be asked to choose a team, red, yellow or blue. I recommend both seeing what teams your friends are on, and what teams seem to be strong in your area. I did neither and my friends are evenly divided on all teams, and all the gyms near where I live are held by strong red teams. It is easier to take control of gyms if there are multple, strong player either near your area, or are friends you can go for a walk with and play together.
  • At a gym controlled by your team you can ‘train’. If you can beat any of the pokemon already in the gym, then you gain experience, and the gym gains prestige, which makes it harder for another team to take it over.
  • If a gym controlled by your team has a free spot you can join the gym, and earn in game money (pokecoins) and stardust for each day you stay there.
  • If there are no spaces in your teams gym, a new space will open when the prestige of the gym increased a certain amount, and you can then put your pokemon in.
  • You can fight against an enemy team. If you beat any of the pokemon you get experience and the gym loses prestige. When prestige drops a certain amount, the lower level pokemon in it will be kicked out. When it drops to zero the team is kicked out and you can claim the gym for you team.
  • If you fight or train but can’t beat even the lowest pokemon in the gym, you get no experience and the prestige doesn’t change.
  • I find even in a seemingly strong gym, my pokemon don’t end up staying there long, so I recommend collecting your coin as soon as you finish going to the gyms you planned to visit. You can do this in the store.


Currency/Getting things

  • Pokecoins: used for buying things eg inscence, lures, and storage upgrades. Earned by being in a gym, or buying with real money
  • Stardust: used in conjunction with candy to level pokemon up, earned by catching pokemon, being in a gym, levelling up etc
  • Candy: a form of currency which is specific to each species, earned by catching that species, and used to level up that species.
  • You can get free pokeballs, eggs, raspberries etc from pokestops. Pokestops are generally at monuments, signs and buildings. They are the little blue cubes that turn to a disc when you are close enough to activate them. You tap on them, spin them, and they give out items and turn purple. Once they turn blue, you can reuse them.



  • You get eggs from pokestops, and then put them in an egg incubator
  • Egg incubator: you always have one which you can use forever. You can buy a 3 use incubator, or get it when you level up, and maybe from a pokestop.
  • Each egg will say how far you have to walk for it to hatch- eg 2, 5 or 10km, once you have walked that far (after having put it in an incubator), it will appear on your screen, crack and hatch.
  • 10km eggs have given me really good pokemon. 2 & 5 give average-good ones.
  • You tend to get a fair amount of candy along with the pokemon, which helps with levelling them up.



  • When you start getting a lot of pokemon, order them by name, and then for any given pokemon, send the weaker ones to the professor. He gives you candy for them.
  • This game uses a lot of battery, and needs internet data and GPS on to work- take into account how much data will cost you, and consider getting a portable phone charger if you are going to go out for long walks or prolonged gym battling.
  • Your phone will vibrate when you come across a pokemon, although not when you are near a pokestop or gym.
  • Make sure to stay safe, watch where you are going, and look before crossing roads. I strongly recommend you don’t have it on when driving (some people do)- but people have found that having a passenger look after the phones can be an effective way to go pokemon chasing. There is meant to be some kind of speed limit on the incubators, so if it looks like you are using a force other than your owns legs, it won’t count to the distance for egg hatching. So get out there and walk!


If there is anything you think I missed, or would like to know feel free to ask.


Like every new thing, in this internet age where everyone can have an opinion, there have been articles praising pokemon go for getting people outside and moving, and articles against it, for reasons I am not actually sure of because I generally avoid negative articles, many of which I think are written because people want to be negative rather than there actually being a huge societal issue.

I have so far quite a few positive things- it is the middle of winter, and I have never seen so many people going for walks in the local park. I see teenagers out skateboarding, and  groups of people huddling near a pokestop with a lure on it-chatting to people who they just met. I have friends who are professionals, who have to be serious all day, and feel a huge sense of joy in getting to relive their childhood (in a way that is not immature or harmful) in their time off. I have friends who have never liked exercise who are walking 4km per day to catch pokemon. I think it is a bit sad that a lot of this time spend outside in nature is spent looking down at a screen, rather than at the trees, birds, clouds etc.  But you can choose to look around as you walk, because as I said the phone will vibrate when a pokemon is within range. If you were someone who usually goes for mindful walks, than the constant interruptions would decrease your concentration/mindfulness of the natural world around you, but you can always choose to just do part of your walk without playing.

I think one of the other concerns people raised was about safety- people not being aware of their surroundings- and getting abducted or something… but as mentioned you don’t have to look at your phone all the time, and I have actually found that because there are usually other players around there is a safety in numbers. One time I was walking across the park after dark to get to the pokestop on the other side (which sounds like a nursery rhyme), and I had been focussing on catching a pokemon. I looked up to find I had walked right up to a parked white van, exactly the type of car that is in all the old abduction scenarios. Before I could get too startled, I noticed the man leaning against its side had his phone out. He was playing Pokemon too.


Welcome and Alons-y


Welcome to The Armchair Explorer- a blog about books. Not just reading for the sake of reading though, which I do often and enjoy thoroughly, but reading as an act of exploration and adventure.

I recently stumbled across a TedTalk by Ann Morgan, a London based writer who set herself the task of reading a book from every country in a year. As I watched, I felt my inner child stir inside with excitement. I have never been a person who has a dream career to aim for, or who planned a dream wedding years before meeting someone. Thinking back, I have never had anything in particular I wanted to do when I grew up, or anyway I wanted to change the world. The only goal or dream I remember having as a child, was to learn every language and go to every country. It was a short lived dream, as the realities of time and cost came crashing in. But the idea was joyous to me. By the end of the Tedtalk, I knew this was something I had to do.

Unfortunately, on the same weekend, I found this list of books that I also really wanted to read. I was googling search terms like ‘things I should know/learn’ and ‘books I should read’, because I had recently realised there were whole areas of knowledge I didn’t know anything about, and sometimes didn’t know I should! Just so you know, google doesn’t come up with many quality in depth results- lists including crochet and surfing weren’t really what I was looking for. Online education portals like Khanacadamy and coursera are a better starting point- you can flick through the offered courses and see if there is anything that’s a blind spot. Personally, I have always wanted to learn more about history and read the classics more extensively. That with my ongoing desire to learn languages means I often toy with the idea of going back to university and doing an Arts degree. Or I could use the wonderful world wide web and learn a lot on my own!

So now the plan is to read a book from every county in the world AND the hundred or so on the ‘liberal arts reading list’. While working full time and doing additional study for specialist qualification… Totally doable, right? In the spirit of global reading I was really tempted to also add a list of the best/most important Asian and Islamic works throughout history, but thought that might push me from being borderline crazy into actually being crazy. I don’t have a set time line. Realistically this is probably at least a five year endeavor already. We will see how it goes and take it one day, and one book, at a time.

Join me in exploring the world, from the comfort of an armchair. There are things to learn, and adventures to be had! Alons-y!