Writer’s Block Is a Decision · 24 September 2016

I am going to say something that aspiring writers everywhere will hate me for. But I am still going to say it.

Having writer’s block is a decision.

People who do not write for a living or who do not write every day but still hope to someday write for a living will vehemently disagree with me. They will spout and fume and might even put some disparaging remark on my social media or web sites. I welcome it. After all, a page view is a page view. A reader is a reader.

Now, I am not one to create conflict for the sake of conflict (or a page view), so I maybe I ought to just say that the thought of writer’s block is mythology. To me and just me. But I cannot do that. True, my conclusion is from my own experience, but I still need to say that writer’s block is a decision. A decision made by the writer.

I wrote about a phenomenon I called Writer’s Constipation a few years back, but was not keen on telling the world that writer’s block is a decision. A couple years ago, I wrote a poem about tweeting that intimated my thoughts about writer’s block. But now I must be forceful and tell the world that what we all thought was writer’s block is merely a decision. An excuse not to write.

I have come to this conclusion after many years of wanting to write followed by many years of writing. Those years of thinking that maybe I might want to be a writer some day were wasted years of wishful thinking. Those were the years of merely writing when I was inspired. When I felt like something stirred within me. When I had to write lest some blood vessel in my brain would burst and all those words would spill out on the ground wasted. Those were the years when I sat down to write and succumbed to the mythical writer’s block.

When I finally started writing in earnest, I only wrote once a week. I figured I could harness all my writing abilities into one day of getting something ready for my blog and posting it. I could just spend part of my weekend doing my writing thing. And even though some of those posts were far from polished, they made it onto the internet each week without fail. Or nearly so. But I was actually writing. Even when I was not inspired. Even when I had nothing to say. Even when I could have had writer’s block. That was the start of my doubts as to the reality of writer’s block.

To the newb, writer’s block is a convenient way to not write. It is a great excuse to take the day off. It is so entrenched in the psyche of every would-be writer, it is a wonder there are any writers at all. But the writers know. They know it is an excuse. They know, but not all will admit that writer’s block is merely a decision not to write.

I know that writer’s block is a decision because I almost made that decision today. I almost succumbed to my own desire not to write this particular day. I almost made the mistake of thinking that I just want to be a writer instead of actually being a writer. So instead of making the decision to use writer’s block as an excuse, I wrote. Nothing earth shattering, but I wrote.

So to all the students writing essays. To all the would-be and aspiring writers. To all the writers who know better. Stop using the age-old excuse of writer’s block. There is no such thing. Unless, of course, you recognize it for what it is. A decision not to write. Realize that you can write if you just put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard. Realize that writing is like any other job. You just gotta do it. Realize that Yoda was right.

Write or write not. There is no writer’s block.

© 2016 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Free TV · 17 September 2016

They said that there was not very good antenna reception here in Monroe, Washington, but I hooked up a couple antennas and now we have free TV.

When we first got rid of cable a few years back, I got an inexpensive antenna that looked like it came out of the fifties. I tested it in the living room and we just got one channel. Even so, I was not deterred. I hooked it up in the attic figuring the added height would give us more channels. I did not want to put it on the roof because I did not want the large monstrosity poised on the roof like the skeleton of a hang glider. Nor did I want to put bolts into the roof and get possible leaking. Besides, my parents used to have an attic antenna hooked up and they live as far away from all the towers in Spokane as we do from the ones in Seattle. I figured if an attic mounted antenna was good enough for my dad all those years ago, it ought to be good enough for me now.

After mounting the antenna in the attic and hooking up the cables, I was all set. I was excited as the TV tried to tune into the digital signals being broadcast by stations far away in Seattle. Nothing. I spent what seemed like hours in the attic repositioning the antenna to try to get as many stations as possible. I even turned the antenna more to the north of us to try and get signals from a different town a bit closer. Still nothing.

I went back to, put in our address, and got the map of stations near us and what we might expect to see. The website said the same thing the guy at Radio Shack said. There is not much reception here in Monroe. But I was determined. After all, we had already cut our ties to cable TV. But Netflix did not have news, which was what my wife wanted. And there was not much streaming news on either our AppleTV or Roku. Which was why I put the antenna in the attic in the first place (after a few months of no live TV).

I finally found a spot where we got stations. Okay. One station. FOX. My wife was not excited, but I was satisfied. We had real TV and no cable bill with an inexpensive one-time purchase. Plus, there was not an antenna on the roof. No gargoyle to leer down at me. And as an added bonus, we could actually watch a few Seahawks football games.

After about a year of just one station, I was the one who wanted to get a few more channels. I am not a huge sports fan, but I do like to watch a college or pro football game from time to time. Plus with fantasy football, I wanted to see those statistics on the bottom of the screen almost as much as I wanted to see my mom’s beloved Seahawks play each week (she is a huge fan).

So I got another antenna. Not to replace what we had, but to enhance what we were getting.

Well, this new antenna was pretty fancy. I had researched quite a bit and found the one that could get the best signals from miles away. And one that would work in the attic. There were good and bad reviews, but I found that they were all helpful. So I got the antenna. The Antennas Direct DB8E. I ordered it from Amazon and got it in a couple days.

I was so excited.

I spent quite a while in the attic getting it all set up. I got a longer pipe for mounting both antennas, one above the other. I went to Radio Shack and got a coaxial connector to combine the signals from the two different antennas. (I did not think about what the guy said about not getting over the air signals in Monroe.) I got another coaxial cable, but forgot that I needed even one more. Thankfully, I had one at home. I got it all hooked up and pointed in what I thought was the right direction. We turned on the autotuning to search for channels. Nothing. Not even FOX. We had lost the channel that was so steady.

Well, I went back up to the attic and fiddled around. I pointed the antennas different directions. I configured them different ways. We even Skyped from the attic to downstairs to see if moving the antenna a little one way or another got more channels. In the end we finally got seven channels, including three major networks, ABC, NBC, and FOX. These had secondary (and one had a tertiary) stations too so we ended up with those seven stations.

We got more news. And more importantly, we got another station on which to watch Mom’s beloved Seahawks. Just in time.

But the story is not quite over. The weather has much to do with over-the-air signals. On a clear day, we ended up getting five more channels. Without fiddling with the antennas. Sure, two of them are broadcast in Spanish, but we now have twelve over-the-air TV stations. In an area where the experts said we would likely not be able to get any.

It has been a long time since I was enamored with TV. Maybe since we got the color TV to replace the old black and white way back when I was a kid. Still, I am happy that we have a few stations with not much on them. And it beats paying for lots of stations with not much on them.

I know I should not do it, but I am probably going to head back up to the attic again. After all, I found out that Mom’s beloved Seahawks are playing on the last major station that we do not have. Maybe I am tempting fate going up there again to adjust the antennas, but it does not really matter. After all, we do not get very good TV reception here in Monroe. But I still have free TV.

[Note: At last count, we have 15 stations. Including all the major ones.]

© 2016 Michael T. Miyoshi

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@ · 10 September 2016

The @ symbol had me running in circles for almost half an hour one day. And it was not because I was tracing it in the sand.

Since you are reading this, you know that I am a blogger. I have put out what some people might call drivel every week. And I have been doing so since 2006. When I want to take a break, I just write a few blog posts during a week and post them early and let the software take care of when they will be released. But that software which works so well for doing this blogging thing sometimes does not do what I think it should do.

I publish my blog with Textpattern. It works well for text-based sites like mine and I like how it works. But sometimes, things go wonky. (A technical term.) Sometimes things just do not do what you think they ought to do. Which is why I spent half an hour on a stupid @ symbol.

All I was trying to do was include the symbol in a reference. A hyperlink. (That really is the technical term for a link to another website.) For some reason, the link did not like the @ symbol. Including it would make everything beyond where I wanted the link into a huge link. It was driving me crazy. Especially, since I had done the exact same thing before in a previous post.

I could not find the way to fix it so I didn’t. I did not fix the error. Instead, I looked up the HTML code for the @ symbol.

HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. It is just how web pages are made. If you look under the hood of any web page, you will see stuff between triangular braces, the less than (<) and greater than (>) symbols. Those triangular braces and the stuff inside them are called “tags.” Tags are important signs to web browsers because they tell the browsers what to do (like make text italics or bold).

There are other important things besides tags that website administrators and bloggers need to know. One of those things is that every symbol has a code that you normally do not see when you just type. For instance, &nbsp; is a space. If you ever made a website and wanted more than a single space between words, you would need to put &nbsp; for as many spaces as you needed.

People use all sorts of special characters in websites, so I looked up a table to find the one for @. It is &#64;. Just put &#64; wherever you need an @ symbol and you are set. Which is just what I needed. I put &#64; in front of a twitter handle and I had the link on my website. Half an hour later than when I first started.

I guess I should not complain. There are lots of ways I could spend my time. I could clean out the garage or work on my truck (wrote this before it was fixed) or do any number of tasks that could improve my life. Or I could write and publish my work. Sure, only a few people read it (thank you one and all), but I enjoy it and some day, I might even get a little better at it. Maybe I could even make it beyond mediocre. (It could happen.)

At any rate, if you ever happen to be updating web pages or see somebody’s web page with some strange characters, look at it a little closer. You never know, maybe they tried to put in a special character like the @ symbol. Or maybe they were going old school and substituting symbols for swearing because they spent too much time trying to figure out how to get something to work right. Which is not what I was doing with the title of this piece. All I wanted to do was get a little @ symbol to print. And all it took was &#64;. Imagine that.

© 2016 Michael T. Miyoshi

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