Morning Kick Start · 23 July 2016

I get a little writing kick start in the morning with six-word stories. Not every morning, but I write those tiny stories whenever I get a prompt. Which makes me a little dependent on those offering the prompts. But that is okay, I write whether I get the kick start or not. It is just what I do. After all, I am a writer. Or at least I strive to be.

But back to those six-word stories.

Each morning before I write, I check through my social media, Facebook and Twitter. I look to see if my writing posts have garnered any likes or comments on Facebook and like or comment back. I like a few posts from my family and friends too. And sometimes I get a little lost in the whole voyeurism that is Facebook. But mostly, I just do a quick check to see what is happening in the world of my family and friends, and then check the status of my latest blog post.

Once I get onto Twitter, I look to see if I have any notifications. If somebody followed me, I usually put them in one of my lists. (I do not know exactly why, but I pretty much stopped following people. Oh sure, I do add people to follow from time to time, but mostly, I just put them in a list.) Then, I look for those six-word story prompts.

One of the people I follow, Kelsye Nelson (@Kelsye), puts out these six-word story prompts on a regular basis. Not every day mind you, but often enough that I like to use them as kick starts. One week, she put out a prompt every day and I was so happy. Then, she missed a day the next week and I was devastated. Okay. Not devastated. But I missed having the prompt. It was like having a slight withdrawal. I wrote a quick six-word story about missing my six-word story prompt (actually two that turned into a little rhyme). And I addressed it to Kelsye. (#6Words is kickstart for writing day. @Kelsye Missing my #6Words prompt today.)

The result was a new prompt (about morning routines). And a bunch of mentions in people’s tweets. Not that they were really mentioning me, but it was fun seeing that I had caused a little commotion in the Twitterverse that day. Kelsye put my handle out there with her prompt and so I got to see people’s six-word stories that day. I could look at other people’s six-word stories all the time, but this time, they were responding to me and I kept getting notified that they were responding to me. I came to see that there is more to this social media thing than meets the eye. Or something like that.

I actually like to post something new on Twitter each day whether it is a response to a six-word story prompt or a question or comment to the Twitterverse. It is part of my routine. And when that post is a story in response to a six-word story prompt, I give a sigh of relief. For on those days, I get a little kick start. I get to tell a story in just six words.

Six-word stories. Great morning kick starts.

(P.S. Hyphenated words just count as one.)

© 2016 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Pokémon GO · 16 July 2016

Gotta catch ‘em all. Again.

I know they are not real, but people are wandering around towns all over the world searching for Pokémon. They are using their phones playing Pokémon GO to look for and hopefully catch all the Pokémon. At least in their area.

Now if you do not know what Pokémon are, you have probably been living under a rock for the past twenty years or so. Or you have not had contact with anyone under the age of fifty (or older). Or maybe you just do not keep up with the times in any manner. Digital or otherwise. At any rate, if you do not know what Pokémon are, you might not understand why people are wandering around your neighborhood with their phones out, giggling and pointing to each other’s screens.

It is funny. We have all seen people walking around with their phones out, but they are usually texting people rather than talking. Young people seem to interact with their phones almost exclusively anymore. Whether they are walking and texting or sitting down somewhere, everybody seems to have their electronics out. And often they are communicating to the person right next to them. Not a word can be heard. Just tap, tap, tapping. Tapping on the phone before.

But now, the youngsters (I almost said young whippersnappers) seem to actually be talking to one another. They look at their phones as they are walking, but they show each other stuff and smile and laugh and talk. Actually, talk, talk, talking. Talking to the one before. It is almost strange to see them interacting. Instead of zombies walking around attached to their phones, the kids (and young adults) seem to be actively engaged in life. Or at least pseudolife. Or maybe augmented reality life.

At any rate, it is nice that young people are talking about more than video games (sorta). They are talking about how much they walked. About where they went. About how sore they are. About what they caught. It is as if they knew how to communicate all along, but they just needed something to talk about. I know. Pokémon are not real creatures. But they are everywhere. You just need a phone to see them.

But maybe I should go back in time a bit.

I must admit that I am probably the one who got Thing 2 started on video games. After all, I got him a Game Boy for his second birthday. He has had a device in his hands ever since.

That first game, was Pokémon. I believe it was the red version. (There were only three versions back then, red, blue, and yellow.) It was a simple video game really. You were Ash Ketchum (or you could put in your own name) and you wandered around the screen looking to catch all the Pokémon. Pokémon were just creatures with strange names like Pikachu, Charizard, and Squirtle. They were cute little things that looked like crosses between two animals or a plant and an animal. Or sometimes, they were just real animals morphed into something that did not look quite so real.

Once you caught these Pokémon, you could train them by using them to help you catch other Pokémon or taking them to gyms where you would compete with other trainers. These trainers were just the computer and you had to beat them all to get to the final boss. Once you caught enough Pokémon to beat all the gym bosses, you beat the game. But you could still catch more Pokémon until you got them all. Unfortunately, even if you caught all the Pokémon in your version, you could not catch all of the Pokémon unless you traded with people who had the other versions. (I never really thought that was catching them all.)

Thing 2 got all the Pokémon on his version pretty quickly. He caught and trained Pokémon all day long and beat all the bosses before the summer of his second year was over. He was quite proud of himself and his accomplishments. Okay. Maybe it was me. Maybe I got the Game Boy for my kid so I could play Pokémon. Maybe I caught them all and beat all the gym bosses. Maybe.

Well in the sixteen years since I, rather Thing 2, got his Game Boy, we have seen a lot of video games come and go. But somehow Pokémon seem to keep coming back. Different versions with different Pokémon keep showing up on the shelves. And people keep playing them.

Now, the new Pokémon GO is quite the hit. And Nintendo has done something that I did not think was possible. The company got kids out of the dungeons they call game rooms or computer rooms and got them outside. True, they are still tied to their devices, but they are walking and talking. They are actually exercising and they do not even know it. Until they wonder what those aches are, and realize they have actual bodies instead of mere avatars.

I will probably not join the fun and go find Pokémon around the neighborhood. But you never know. Even if you caught some before, once you start trying to catch Pokémon, you gotta catch ‘em all.

© 2016 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Windshield Wiper Protectors · 9 July 2016

Original by Ildar Sagdejev
licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0,
via Wikimedia Commons

Apparently, some windshield wipers have plastic protection on the blades. Not to protect them between use (that would be awkward and dangerous), but to keep them safe while they are sitting in the plastic containers on the shelf in the stores. Of course, I found this out after traveling a thousand miles with them on. (I did not take them off between storms.)

I have changed windshield wiper blades many times. On many cars. I have put cheap ones and expensive ones on. I have even changed ones where I had to replace the entire arm. Or at least some of it. But I had never put on wiper blades that had protectors on them. No big deal. Right? Just take the protector off and away we go. Sounds simple enough. And it was. But there is more to the story. Much more.

We were getting ready for a trip from Spokane to Colorado. Lots of miles. (Google it and you will find it just over one-thousand road miles.) I was going to be the chauffeur for my mom, my sister, and my sister’s two kids. Being the prepared one, my sister, Marcie, had gotten new windshield wiper blades. Her old ones needed replacing and she thought it would be a good idea to do it before the trip. Her husband was not going with us (if he had, I would be writing this story about him instead), so I, being the good big brother that I am, changed the wipers.

It only took a few minutes and they were ready. The new wipers looked nice with their shiny, yellow wiper blades. I had never seen such a thing before, but I just figured it was a marketing or branding scheme. Cool yellow wiper blades.

Unfortunately, when Marcie tested the new wipers, they did not work so well. They streaked the windshield instead of wiping it. So she thought she ought to follow the directions and clean the windshield like they said. That did not do the trick. They still streaked. But we set off anyway. On our three day trip. (Not sure if anybody else heard the ominous part of the Gilligan’s Island theme song, but if you sing “three day trip” twice, you might.)

Well, to make a short story a little longer we had a nice trip with few bugs and fewer raindrops. (Bugs necessitate wipers if they do not just bounce off the windshield.) The few raindrops that we did have made us think that the wipers were defective or needed special wiper fluid to work. Or at least we, rather I, hypothesized as much. On the last hour of the last day of the trip, the big storm came. Water cascaded from the sky. We heard the Gilligan’s Island theme again and again as the rain came down and the thunder rolled. I turned the wiper setting to as high as it would go. The water streaked on the windows and we bad mouthed the company. We said we would need to get new wipers before the return trip. And then, we bad mouthed the company some more. (Sorry about that.)

Thankfully, we got safely to our destination. Uncle Don and Auntie Judi’s house.

While we were there, we made a few trips with our Uncle Don and Aunt Judi in the vehicle. Needless to say, it rained on those trips. Uncle Don agreed with my sister and I that we needed to get some wiper blades before the final return trip. Auntie Judi was amazed that they did not work very well because she had the same brand of blades on her vehicle. We did not stop at the auto parts store though. Even though we heard Gilligan’s Island again and again.

When we stopped at the end of one of our trips in the rain, Uncle Don looked at the wiper blades. Apparently, he had never seen bright yellow blades either. Lo and behold, he found that those beautiful yellow blades were not yellow blades after all. Those yellow blades were actually yellow blade covers. After he took them off, those black uncovered wiper blades worked like a champ. They wiped the windshield clean and turned off the Gilligan’s Island music too. Uncle Don had saved the day.

Needless to say, we all had a great laugh at my expense. As they say, I had pulled a Michael. (They say it; I do not.)

You might doubt it, but my foibles and follies are real. After all, you cannot just make up this stuff. (Okay. I made up the stuff about hearing the Gilligan’s Island theme song.) And even though it ended up being a fun story, I wish I had found out in a different way that windshield wiper blades have protective covers.

© 2016 Michael T. Miyoshi

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