Happy, Single, Popular, And Lucky

Sophia Park has a solid, but controversial, place on the Kilmer family tree. Her parents are Alfredo Kilmer (currently a ghost) and Dakota Park (deceased). Her grandparents are Val Kilmer and Alfred Petrichore (both deceased).

Sophia’s parents never married, and neither did her grandparents.

Sophia is happily single.

Sophia is the proud mother of Holden Eric Park. (The identity of Holden Eric’s father is uncertain.) She is raising her son in a shared-parental household.

Sophia has a few romantic interests, but no interest in marriage.

She enjoys going out on dates, but dating is difficult for her. Sophia is an Internet Superstar, with 26 million followers. She has three stars of Fame. Whenever a date brings her to a public place, she’s mobbed by fans. It’s tough to get any privacy for romantic interactions.

And then, Sophia won the Lottery.

She was awarded 1,000,000 simoleons in winnings. This brought the household funds to over 3 million.

The Kilmer family has two money trees. Suddenly, the 44,000 simoleons brought in from each harvest seems like loose change.

Sophia is receiving phone calls from Sims wanting to be her friend.

(In all the years I’ve been playing The Sims 4, this is the first time I have ever had one of my Sims win the lottery.)

Checking In On The Extended Kilmer Family

Tibia Esqueleto, who has the “Dog Lover” trait, thought it would be wonderful to give the three children in the household the responsibility of owning a puppy.

Since Jackie Hastings is retired, and thus home all day, Tibia gave her the task of finding a suitable puppy for Holden Eric, Valentin Tibia, and Raven – and the whole family, really.

Jackie picked out a male pit bull puppy named Boomer.

(The pet adoption agency listed the puppy’s name as “Bomber,” but Racheal Kilmer-Gandhi requested that they rename him something with a less violent connotation. Pit bulls have a bad enough reputation, she argued. So, the puppy’s name is “Boomer.”)

Boomer’s traits are Loyal, Jumpy, and Smart. He hasn’t yet figured out the newly installed pet door.

So, someone has to carry Boomer outside for potty trips for the time being. Just as Tibia planned, the puppy is teaching the kids to be responsible.

Meanwhile, Jackie has been alive forever, thanks to having achieved a Level 10 in Fitness. Tibia also has a Level 10 in Fitness, and so does Sophia Park. Racheal is currently at Level 8, but she’s working to improve that.

Meanwhile, the family worked together to help Sophia complete an element collection, and thus fulfill her Collector aspiration. Sophia has switched her aspiration to Parenting.

Meanwhile, Sophia Park, who is a few weeks away from aging into an Elder, has made yet another drastic change to her appearance. (Wildly dyed hair is popular in this family, it seems.)

Sophia, Child to Teen
Sophia, Young Adult to Adult

“You look just like a werewolf,” said Ami Yokii to Sophia. Ami meant that as a complement.

I’m Playing: Fallout Shelter

Last November, when I was in the rehab center, following my month-long hospitalization, Phillip bought us both Android tablets as early Christmas presents. Mine got me through many sleepless nights in that rehab center, watching YouTube videos and streaming movies on a screen much larger than my phone, but still small enough to prop in my lap as I sat in bed.

I’ve continued to watch movies on my tablet. I still prefer to read eBooks on my phone (It’s easier to hold, and lighter) but the tablet is better for reading graphic novels I’ve downloaded from the public library.

Lately, I’ve been thinking that my tablet would be great for playing games. I have a couple of jigsaw puzzle apps on my tablet that I like, but I wanted something more. I wasn’t sure what else I wanted to play, however. I tried a few puzzle games, but quickly disliked them. I thought about simulations or adventures, but nothing looked interesting in the Google Play store. (I don’t play games on my phone.)

Then I remembered Fallout Shelter.

I’d actually considered Fallout Shelter back when I was looking for apps to fill up my phone with (back when I got that QR code reader app that I couldn’t imagine I’d ever use). But I didn’t think I’d enjoy playing such a detailed game on a phone screen.

I downloaded Fallout Shelter to my tablet.

I’m having a lot of fun playing it.

Fallout Shelter is a game from 2015, in which the player assumes the role of the “Overseer” of a Vault (fallout shelter) in a post-apocalyptic world. You built and manage the Vault, and bring people in to run the machinery that produces water, electricity, food, and other essentials. The dwellers make babies and defend against attacks from the outside. As Overseer, you can send dwellers out on discovery missions in the wastelands.

I’m currently on my fourth Vault. The first two failed miserably, because I didn’t bother reading any tutorials, and I built too much too soon. I deleted both of them. The third Vault did well for a long time, but then the dwellers became sick and miserable. Happiness dropped to 12%. Part of the failure was due to me not building a science lab to deal with radiation sickness. Part of it was due to several dwellers dying in a “radroach” infestation, and me trying to earn enough Caps (the currency) to revive them, which took a while, and I learned that dwellers don’t enjoy working next to dead bodies.

I still have the save file from that third Vault. I may go back to it someday, with the skills I’ve learned from this fourth Vault.

I enjoy that for such a bleak premise, the game has a sense of humor. The beginning title sequence has a grainy 1950s television look to it. Bottle caps are the currency of the day. Dwellers have unique stats called SPECIAL (Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility, and Luck).

Part of the success or failure of a Vault comes from assigning dwellers to assignments that suit their SPECIAL stats.

The game is free to download, and free to pay. There are options to spend actual money to get things to help your Vault. There are advertisements, but so far, they’re non-intrusive. There is the option to watch an ad once every four hours, to receive bonus stuff. But, it is an option. There is also an option to watch an ad to temporarily speed up the production of a specific room. (There is an option to temporarily speed up production without watching an ad, but that comes with a chance of a negative consequence, like a fire of a radroach infestation.)

Yes, I’m enjoying playing this game on my early Christmas tablet.

The Other Celebration Event

Phillip and I rode an 8 bus from Capitol Hill to Seattle Center this morning, for the other Seattle Pride Celebration.

I’d been given the task of planning our route to get us there slightly before the parade ended, so we could see everything and avoid the majority of the crowds.

(We didn’t watch the parade. It was too hot outside, and, besides, the parade was a lot more fun when it was on Broadway, and it was smaller and more intimate.)

When I’d planned our route, I didn’t count on the 8 being rerouted because of the parade. My error worked in our favor, however, since the rerouted 8 got us closer to Seattle Center. And, we still got there exactly when we wanted to arrive.

Today’s celebration was much larger than yesterday’s, of course. The weather was much hotter – in the mid- to upper-80s.

I got a free cookie from a Methodist church, along with a talk about how not all churches are filled with hate. I thanked the lady for the cookie, and replied that she didn’t have to convince me of that.

There were many of the same vendors we saw yesterday, including the sushi burrito truck.

There seemed to be a larger percentage of artist booths, and a smaller percentage of corporate booths, compared to yesterday’s event.

There was an official Nissan booth there.

At one point, Phillip and I got briefly separated. I found him talking with some firefighters at the Everett Fire Department booth. Phillip was standing next to a headless manikin, which was lying on the ground. I said, “Phillip! What did you do?” Without missing a beat, Phillip replied, “He was like that when I got here.” One of the firefighters laughed, and said, “He called us to the scene.”

(As I was typing that previous paragraph, Phillip explained that right before I arrived, he was joking that the manikin looked worse than he did yesterday.)

You know, I don’t think I’ve ever met a grumpy firefighter.

We stopped inside The Armory for an iced latte (for me) and a milkshake (for Phillip).

I still think it’s a missed opportunity that no one has an iced coffee booth at events like this.

(At yesterday’s street fair, I was aware that I could have bought an iced coffee at either of the Vivace locations on Broadway, or Kitanda, or the Starbucks inside QFC. But I thought it would be nice to see a coffee booth.)

Phillip and I split up again for lunch, and met back under the shade of a tree. Phillip bought a bratwurst sandwich. I had my mind set on a bowl of jambalaya, but their power was out, and the guy in the booth estimated it would be 45 minutes until power was back on. It was probably just as well, I thought, since the jambalaya was $30 – not unreasonable for a restaurant, but it seemed a bit high for street food. Maybe.

I made a spur-of-the-moment decision for a plate of orange chicken and noodles.

We’d had loose plans to meet up with Charles at today’s event. The heat and the crowds were getting to Phillip, however, so we sent a text that we were leaving.

I suggested that, rather than trying to figure out the bus reroutes, we ride the Monorail to Westlake, and then Link light rail to Capitol Hill. Phillip agreed to that plan.

Phillip also wanted to stop into QFC on our way home.

At the Seattle Center Monorail station, the original ticket booths had been replaced by ticket machines, an ORCA reader, and a guy at the entrance checking tickets. It’s a better system, I think, but I felt nostalgic for those 1962 ticket booths.

The Monorail had two trains running simultaneously today. It has been years since I’d seen that.

We stepped off the light rail train at Capitol Hill Station. The escalator up to the John Street mezzanine was out of order, and so was the elevator. We were both too tired to take the stairs.

I was about to suggest that we take the platform-to-surface elevator at the Denny Way side of the station, when Phillip had a wackier, better suggestion: Let’s ride light rail to U District Station and then ride the 49 bus back to QFC. I was already sold on the idea before he added: “We’re not in any hurry to get back to our hot apartment, are we?”

We rode light rail to U District Station.

Phillip drives to work, but he’s more knowledgeable about the transit revisions in the U District than I am. He knew that the 49 now travels westbound on 43rd Street and then eastbound on 45th, and that the 49 now stops on 43rd, right outside of U District Station.

That seemed kind of backwards to me. The 49 would be turning west off of 15th – after it arrives from Downtown and Capitol Hill. But I trusted Phillip, and I trusted the sign that clearly said: “U-District Station Capitol Hill.” That means we catch the 49 here to get from U District Station to Capitol Hill, doesn’t it?

Then I saw the paper “Transit Revision” notice. It listed the routes that now stop there, including “49 U District Station.” That means the 49 to U District Station stops there, at U District Station, doesn’t it?

It’s not that I thought Phillip was wrong. It’s that I couldn’t figure out Metro Transit’s confusing signage. Phillip pointed out: If the 49 ends here, why would it be listed on the sign? I didn’t disagree, and added: If the 49 ends here, why does the sign say Capitol Hill on it?

Phillip suggested that I check OneBusAway. It listed “49 U District Station” as one of the buses that stop there. That sort of confirms that U District Station is its destination, doesn’t it?

(Speaking of Metro Transit’s confusing signage, when we were waiting for the 8 on Olive Way, I happened to notice that the sign is still backwards. It still lists routes as going up the hill, not down it.)

Ultimately, we decided to play it safe and walk over to 45th, where we were sure that the 49 would take us home.

We rode a 49 to Broadway, bought some soft drinks and watermelon at QFC, walked home, and started a pot roast cooking.

Wait, What? The Camera?

Yesterday, when we were at The Deluxe for brunch, the restaurant had their menu via a QR code. There was nothing new in that.

Years ago, when we got into smart phones for the first time, I installed a QR code reader app on my phone. I didn’t have any use for a QR code reader, but I thought it might come in handy some day. The app is from Trend Micro, and it’s called QR Scanner.

The pandemic hit, and restaurants closed. When they reopened, pandemic protocols were in place, and restaurants started using QR code menus. My QR Scanner app would have finally come in handy, except that the Opera web browser on my phone had since then updated with a built-in QR code reader, and I found it easier to use, since it didn’t have to open a separate web browser to display the menu. But I still had QR Scanner on my phone.

Phillip, meanwhile, had a tougher time. The web browser on his phone (not Opera) didn’t include a QR code reader. He downloaded an app that was too confusing to use. He deleted it, and installed an app that didn’t work at all. He deleted it, and installed an app that required siting through multiple ads before it would get to the restaurant’s menu. I lost track of how many QR code reader apps he went through. After passing my phone to him at more than a few restaurants, so he could see the menu, I recommended the QR Scanner app that I’d used and never had any problem with.

Phillip followed my advise and downloaded QR Scanner. It seemed to work for him.

So, we were at The Deluxe yesterday, waiting for our scrambles to arrive, and I noticed that the QR code on our table had instructions below it. I’d never seen instructions included with a QR code before.

I started reading the instructions, out of curiosity.

Open your device’s camera app, the instructions said, and point your camera toward the QR code. When the notification pops up, click on it, and it will open our menu.

The Camera?

Phillip was just as shocked as I was. We had no idea that our cameras could do that.

After all those apps, and web browsers, the solution was right there, built into our phones’ cameras.

Lobster Sushi Burritos

It seems like Seattle’s Pride Celebration always takes place on the hottest days of the year. It’s not true that it does, but it’s true that it seems that way.

The outside temperature was passing 70 degrees, into the low 80s, when Phillip and I walked up to Broadway (which means that it passing 90 degrees inside our apartment).

Seattle’s Pride Parade originated on Broadway, long ago. It moved to Downtown several years ago. The street fair was preserved on Broadway by those who felt it belonged there.

Today was the street fair. The parade will be tomorrow.

The street fair stretched from John Street to Roy Street. Phillip and I walked the entire length three times.

It was a good-sized crowd. It felt full, but never packed. It was amazing to see the massive crowds pouring out of Capitol Hill Station.

The booths were occupied by the usual mix of artists, corporations, churches and local businesses. There were several banks, credit unions, and insurance companies offering the opportunity to sign up for an account. Several of the Broadway restaurants set up alcohol gardens.

The Everett Fire Department had a booth.

Oddly, no one was selling iced coffee.

Back when QFC was cool, they used to have a massive tent where they handed out free samples of food and drinks. Today, they were in a booth so small that Phillip remarked that they didn’t have any presence at the fair this year. (We’d walked past it and he didn’t even see it.) They were handing out cheap Kroger-branded rainbow cardboard crowns.

I had lobster sushi burritos that I bought from a food truck. Phillip, who doesn’t like sushi, but loves lobster, declined my offer of a taste.

We browsed the booths, had drinks at La Cocina, and brunch at The Deluxe, and walked home. We spent around three hours at the street fair.

Just Raven Kilmer

Last winter, Amber Lion, Guy Albrecht, Racheal Kilmer-Gandhi, and Tibia Esqueleto went out to breakfast together.

Tibia went on and on about their and Racheal’s new child, Valentin Tibia Gandhi, and what a great, well-behaved child Valentin Tibia is, and how well he gets along with Sophia Park’s child, Holden Eric Park, and what great students they both are.

Tibia announced to Guy and Amber that, when there’s room in the household, they and Racheal would like to adopt a second child, and that that child would carry on the Kilmer name.

(When she said, “when there’s room in the household,” Tibia meant, of course, when Jackie Hastings passes on, but was too polite to put it that bluntly.)

As Amber listened to Tibia, it brought back those feelings of not belonging. It reminded her that neither she nor Guy have any place on the Kilmer family tree.

In the spring, Amber and Guy took 70,000 of the family’s 2,000,000 simolean household funds, and moved out. They moved into a modern house in the Wakaba neighborhood of Mount Komorebi.

Guy Albrecht had no opinion on the matter. He was happy enough as a part of the extended Kilmer family. He saw Amber’s point, however. He went along with the move. He does admit that he’s happier now.

With Amber and Guy’s departure, there were then six household members in the extended Kilmer family – plenty of room for a new edition, even with Jackie still alive.

Racheal Kilmer-Gandhi and Tibia Esqueleto adopted their second child. They’ve named her Raven Kilmer – no double first name, no hyphenated last name, just Raven Kilmer.

(Raven and Valentin Tibia are, of course, free to chose their own pronouns whenever they decide. But for now, everyone refers to Raven by “she/her,” and Valentin Tibia by “he/him.”)

When Tibia and Racheal chose Raven from the list of available children, neither one noticed how similar she looks to Valentin Tibia. (And neither did I, actually.) It was only after Tibia brought Raven home, and they saw her next to her brother, that the uncanny resemblance became apparent.

Holden Eric Park, who is, so far, using “he/him” pronouns, wears the hairstyle he chose when he aged from Toddler to Child. Neither Raven nor Valentin Tibia have changed the hairstyles they had in their adoption photos.

Valentin Tibia and Holden Eric are still sharing the room that used to be Sophia’s bedroom. Raven moved into Guy and Amber’s former bedroom.

Raven Kilmer is getting along well with her siblings.

I Read: The Gravity Of Us

The Gravity of Us, by Phil Stamper, was published in 2020.

I downloaded it from the Seattle Public Library.

The narrator is seventeen-year-old Calvin Lewis, Jr. He goes by Cal – his father is Calvin.

Cal lives in Brooklyn. He loves New York City.

He’ll be starting his senior year when this summer ends.

Cal has 435,000 followers on his FlashFame account. He reports on local news and events. His reporting once directly caused a political candidate to lose an election.

Cal will be starting an internship at BuzzFeed next week.

Cal walks home one day with his neighbor, and best friend, Deb, to find his parents fighting again.

Cal’s father has accepted a position as an astronaut in NASA’s planned series of crewed Mars missions. Cal’s mother is not happy about this.

This new job will mean that the family will have to relocate to Clear Lake, Texas, outside of Houston.

Cal’s mother was born and raised in Brooklyn. She has ties to the neighborhood. It’s her home.

Cal will have to give up his social media platform, because of NASA’s licencing agreement, and without it, he loses his plans to become a professional journalist.

(Cal’s father never saw Cal’s social media as anything more than a childish hobby.)

(Cal sees his father as the least-qualified astronaut ever. His mother, apparently, agrees.)

Cal’s family will be moving to Clear Lake on the day that the BuzzFeed internship is supposed to start.

Cal will have to say goodbye to Deb.

(Cal dated Deb for three months, until he dumped her to date a boy named Jeremy, who then dumped Cal two weeks later. Deb was never convinced that Cal was as straight as he pretended to be. She was hurt by the breakup, but eventually accepted it. Cal and Deb successfully transitioned from friends to lovers to friends.)

Deb’s parents fight worse that Cal’s. Deb and Cal need each other. There is nothing good about this move.

But maybe things aren’t so bad after all. NASA can’t make Cal stop his live videos, can they? After all, Cal’s father signed the nondisclosure agreement, not him.

Calvin Lewis, Sr. was the last of the twenty astronauts chosen for the Mars program. All the other astronaut families are used to the media frenzy that Cal’s family finds outside of their house in Clear Lake.

Cal is befriended by siblings Kat and Leon Tucker. Their mother, Grace Tucker, is one of the twenty astronauts. She’s a pilot, like Cal’s father. Kat is a huge fan of Cal’s videos, more so, it seems, than Leon. Much to Leon’s embarrassment, Kat tells Cal that her brother thinks he’s cute. Cal thinks to himself that Leon is also pretty cute.

This is a boy-meets-boy romance. It’s a story of two people who are instantly attracted to each other, but take the time to build a relationship.

It’s about the necessity of publicity in a scientific mission. It’s also about the danger of the wrong type of publicity.

It’s about NASA being more than astronauts, more than scientists, and more than the support crews.

It’s about the commercialization of America’s space program.

It’s about Cal being used to controlling his own social media, now finding other people’s cameras pointed at him.

It’s about Cal trying to maintain a long-distance friendship with Deb while making new friends away from her.

There are discussions about mental health. One character deals with depression. Another deals with anxiety.

I especially enjoyed the character of Kat Tucker. She’s a supportive sister to Leon (she’s a year younger) and a supportive friend to Cal. But I wish the book would have told me more about her background. I wanted to know what she does, and who she is, when she’s not supporting the main characters.

It’s my one negative about the book: Kat was an interesting character, but she could have been more. She was rather one-dimensional.

I borrowed this book without knowing anything about it, other than the synopsis. I wasn’t expecting much from it other than a light read about a YA romance. It turned out to be more than that. Cal’s relationship with Leon was a big part of the story, but it wasn’t the major part of it. There were no “coming out” moments. (There was an interesting scene where Cal and Leon walk into a party, hand-in-hand for the first time, and Leon is a little hurt that no one paid any attention to them.)

This is the coming-of-age story of Calvin Lewis, Jr.

I liked this book a lot.