Aldon Hynes's blog

#Ingress #MissionDay Update

It has been a while since I participated in an Ingress event. I’ve just been too busy with other things. I have been doing minimal daily ingress, mostly just enough to keep some of my streaks alive.

Today, I was supposed to go to a poetry picnic, but it got cancelled at the last minute, so I went to “Mission Day” in New Haven. People who play Ingress gathered on the Ingress Green at 11 am to start their mission day. They came in from Maine and New York City. Many wore their team colors, blue or green, carried flags, and had t-shirts, buttons, or other symbols of their participation.

In Ingress, you go from portal to portal, capturing the portal if the other team has it, hacking to portal to get more gear from it, and creating links, which joined together create fields. There are also missions where you interact with a group of different portals. Then there are groups of missions that some people participate in.

In Ingress, you get various badges for your participation. Some of the badges are for participating in large Ingress events. Others are for accomplishing various tasks, and you get different levels of badges depending on how many times you’ve completed the task. Having played for a long time, it is harder and harder to get new badges. Partly, these days, I am looking at hypothetical badges for multiples of the highest level. For example, the highest level recharger badge is for recharging 25 million XM. I am currently at 266 million. I celebrated getting to 10 times the top recharger badge and figure the next celebration will be at 12 times the top recharger badge.

Likewise the top Guardian badge is for holding a portal for 150 consecutive days. My record is 365 consecutive days, and my current oldest portal I’ve held for 141 days. For consecutive days hacking, the top badge is for 360 consecutive days. I’m currently at 471.

For Glyph hack points, the top badge is 50,000 points. I’m up to 90,000 points and approaching two times the top badge. For total hacks, I’m about 12,000 hack short of the second highest badge, having added 213 hacks today.

One badge that I haven’t done much with is the one for participating in missions. I completed 13 missions today, getting me the silver badge, but still leaving me many missions to go. For the distance walked badge, I’m current at 2,731 kilometers, having walked 13 kilometers today. That is a little bit beyond the 2,500 kilometers for the top walking badge, but a long way from the next multiple of that.

Another badge I am approaching and will hopefully get sometime this year is for the total number of portals captured. I’m currently at 14,610, which is 390 away from the second highest badge. Mission day was a good day for capturing portals. I capture 103 portals today. 48 of these portals were ones that I had not captured in the past, pushing me over 2,000 unique portals, but I have to hit 5,000 to get the next badge. Likewise, I visited 66 portals I hadn’t visited in the past, although I’m still a long way from the next badge for total portals visited.

I did deploy 549 resonators, pushing my total over 121,000 resonators deployed, but I still have a long way to go.

All in all, it was a good day, made all the better by running into various Ingress friends throughout the day.

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The Sacrament of Animal Crackers

I open the box
of animal crackers
wondering
what they signify
to me.

I count them,
arrange them,
looking
at the different species
and broken pieces.

It is a writers’ prompt.
What do these crackers
represent?
What is their story?

I stare blankly,
waiting for inspiration
but all I can think of
are the forty nine
who died
at The Pulse
a gay nightclub
in Orlando.

Who were they?

I think of the nine that died
in Charleston,
the twenty six
in Sandy Hook.

I think of Columbine
and Aurora,
of San Bernadino
and Virginia tech.

Who were they?

I eat the animal crackers
remembering
the innocent days of my childhood
and those who were killed
because they were different;
because they were gay,
Latino,
black,
or simply
because they were in the right place
at the wrong time.

What if
every time
we ate
animal crackers,
or anything else
for that matter,
we remembered;
we remembered the victims,
the broken,
the grieving,
and those who sought
to bring love
and compassion
for everyone?

These are my animal crackers
broken for you.

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Psalm 42 in 2016

“Why art thou cast down, Oh my soul?”
“Why do you write like you’re running out of time?”
“Why aren’t you running for office again?”
“These things I remember as I pour out my soul”,

“how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng”;

The festive throng,
like those at The Pulse
or The Bataclan.

Yes. I feel God is calling me,
calling me to something important,
something I do not yet know
or understand.

Yet the path seems unclear,
the hurdles insurmountable.
What can I do
in the face of such suffering?

How much difference
does my smile,
kind word,
or prayer
for the homeless
alcoholic
in the street
near my office
make in a world
where one deranged man
can easily kill fifty?

How can I make a difference
when it seems like such a struggle
to simply provide for my family
and help keep the house clean?

How can I find joy
amidst all the suffering
toil
and fatigue?

So I write,
“like it’s going out of style”,
and pray
and say a kind word
to those around me
who are suffering
even more than I am.

It’s all I can do,
the rest is up to God.

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Daily Morning Devotion – June 15

It is hard for me to pray during this time of great grief. I spend extra time in contemplation, just being with God, just letting the Spirit pray through me with groans and sighs too deep for words. I pray of specific friends, many LGBT or close friends and relatives of LGBT people, who are grieving or in fear.
W, P, A, T, Y, D, and R all come immediately to mind.

For me, I don’t know anyone who was killed directly but a former classmate of mind had a friend murdered in Orlando. I pray for those who grieve, and for each person who died. Here is a list of those who have died, their pictures and a brief bio.

In a Facebook group, I pray for whom prayers have been asked, especially for M, K, J, E, T, B, and M.

Finally, I get to a point of thankfulness. I offer prayers of thanksgiving for C and for S who have shared great prayers online. I offer prayers of thankfulness for those who have organized vigils across our country and for those who have attended these vigils. I try to share information about the vigils when I hear about them.

I end my daily devotion with the lessons and prayers for the feast day of Evelyn Underhill and download some some recordings of her writings.

Now, I move on to start my daily tasks.

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Reflections on Orlando

Terms of Engagement

I seek to have open and honest discussions about what has happened. Fundamental to this is a willingness to listen to what others are saying and a willingness to change one’s own opinion. If you are trying to score points for your side, I’m not really interested. If you believe that President Obama is a Muslim or was somehow involved with the Orlando shootings, I cannot take you seriously. I cannot even be your friend on Facebook. The same goes to people who believe that the right to have a weapon that can fire over 180 rounds a minute or have magazines that contain more than ten rounds trumps the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Grief

My first reaction is grief and sadness. I recognize the desire to address the problems of hatred and gun violence in America. It is urgent. However, I believe it is important to own our grief, to sit with our grief, to not rush off to do something right away, as a means of not dealing with our grief. If you haven’t wept for the victims in Orlando, for those who loved them, and for our country, that may be the most important thing you need to do right now.

Solidarity

A friend posted on Facebook

Reach out to someone who is Latinx and a member of the LGBTQ community and let them know that you value and support them. If you don't already know someone like that, it's time to make a new acquaintance. Their heartache knows no bounds today.

Current estimates are that about .3% of the population is trans. What percentage of the people you know are trans? I have around 3000 friends on Facebook. Off the top of my head, I can think of seven friends that are transgender. To match the demographics, it should be about nine, so I’m about in range. There are probably others that are I just don’t know their gender identity.

Three to four percent of the population identify as LGBT. I don’t know what percentage of my friends identify as LGBT, but that sounds about right. A my friend above suggested, if you don’t know someone who identifies as LGBT, you need to find some LGBT people to become friends with.

Likewise, about 17% of the population is Latinx. What percentage of your friends are Latinx?

You need to show solidarity and shared grief with Latinx and LGBT friends.

Praying

Another friend posted

Don’t Pray for Orlando, Fight Against Hateful Ideology

As many of you know, I am exploring becoming an Episcopal priest. I understand the need for calls to action, but I believe saying “Don’t Pray…” is misguided. It creates a false dichotomy and promotes black and white thinking: either we pray or we do something.

If we say instead, don’t JUST pray, or don’t pray without doing something, or don’t pray as a political statement as an effort to avoid taking responsibility, then we are saying something much truer and more important. Prayer should change us. Prayer should move us to help make the world a better place.

Congressman Jim Himes framed it very well in his speech, No More Silence. Moments of silence are important to deal with grief and to show solidarity with others that grieve. However, if your job is to serve the common good and when you are asked what you are doing to address hatred and gun violence in this country, and all you offer is silence, you are not doing your job. “When you bow your head and think about what you will say to your God … there will be silence.”

Counter Narrative

Besides the obvious efforts of improving gun safety in America, there are other things that we can change. A good starting point is to think about counter narrative. Congressman Himes does a little bit of this in talking about the victims. Do you know more about the gunman or the victims? We need to know the victims. You can start with this list.

The official narrative talks about the gunman’s support for ISIS. The official narrative doesn’t talk about his interest in the New York Police Department, his posting selfies of himself in unofficial NYPD garb. It doesn’t fit the story that people are trying to tell us.

There is another counter narrative that people may mention in passing, but doesn’t seem to get as much attention as it should, the gunman’s history of domestic abuse. This counter narrative jumps out at me because of a Muslim woman I know who was a victim of domestic abuse. In Muslim communities, too often women who suffer domestic abuse are told to be quiet about it, to not speak out. We need to encourage all people, and perhaps especially right now, Muslim women, to speak out against domestic violence.

Religion

Some of my atheist friends are quick to blame the violence on religion. They claim that no one kills people in the name of atheism. They may even be so bold as to claim that atheists have no beliefs. They may believe that, but it sounds self-contradictory to me. Blaming people of various different religious beliefs, include a belief in “No God” and the religion of “atheism” is just as bad as blaming people of various sexual orientations, gender identities, races, or ethnicities.

In the discussion about the “Don’t Pray” post, a friend wrote,

in this country, right now, religion has been playing a dangerous role in promoting hate speech and violent acts against those who don't fit the mold. So right now, religious organizations across the country need to take a hard look at the part they have been playing in the outbreak of gun violence and mass murders.

This is something many of my religious friends have also been saying, especially my Methodist friends lamenting the lack of support for LGBT people at their General Conference which recently ended. It is something many of my Episcopalian friends have been talking about as they celebrate the decision of the Scottish Episcopal Church at their synod to pave the way for allowing same sex marriages, despite threats from others in the Anglican Communion.

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