Ryan Berry – Personal Column

I don’t want to brag, but I’m on Level 2

Have you caught your first Pidgey or Metapod? If you have no idea what those are then you probably aren’t as cool as me. When I say cool what I really mean is nerdy. The only reason I even know what they are is because I am raising two nerds and my oldest nerd brings her nerdy boyfriend (or nerdfriend) over to the house. Yes, my wife and I are raising Pokemon Go fanatics (what I really mean is lunatics.)

For those with their heads buried int he sand the past week or two, Pokemon Go is the latest fad sweeping the nation. This mobile app is getting Pokemon aficionados off their couches and encouraging them to discover their town. I’m not really sure how much of the town you can discover with your head down looking at your phone. Maybe they can go back and look at the pictures of the Pokemon they captured to see where they were.

Many of these gamers are discovering that bright orange-yellowish ball of gas most of know as the sun. They are using their legs to walk more than a few feet to the kitchen or bathroom. They are walking miles in order to level up and collect as many Pokemon as they can. For some, this is the first time they’ve had real exercise or if you will, nerdercise.

The game has had its share of success. A dead body was found by a gamer searching for Pokemon. There are also a few witty players. Like the one who took control of the Pokemon gym at the Westboro Baptist Church (the one infamous for bashing homosexuals). He named the pink Slefairy of the gym Love is Love.

Gamers getting their nerdercise should also be cautions for more than the obvious reason – looking down at your phone while crossing the street to get to the Pokemon you just spotted. There was a report of armed robbers luring individuals to an area and then doing what armed robbers tend to do.

Pokemon Go also has a tinge of controversy when the Holocaust Museum and the museum at Ground Zero asked the game makers to take them off the list of places where the cartoon characters can be found. It is probably not a good idea to be getting excited about capturing a Pokemon and shouting “Yahoo” in a place that is a memorial for mass murder.

As for my family of nerds, they are looking for the color characters with weird names everywhere. We were driving home from Troy and from the backseat I hear my oldest daughter yell, “Stop!” There was a Pokemon training center at the church in Pleasant Hill. As I passed the church she politely asked if I would turn around. I politely declined.

There is a huge nerd network (nerdwork for short) of players telling other players where they can find Pokemon. When a co-worker shared there are at least seven Pokemon Stops along Broadway in Greenville I tried to be sarcastic when I tested my oldest nerd and told her the news. The sarcasm in my text went unnoticed. I got the reply, “Yesssssssss!” She and her nerdfriend immediately planned a trip to visit historic downtown Greenville.

I haven’t told this to anybody, but I secretly downloaded the game. I wanted to see what it was all about. It took me 45-minutes to figure out how to sign-up. I kept getting a message they were limited the number of sign-ups because of tremendous volume of players and I should try back in an hour. Now that I have it, I have no idea what to do with it. I visited a Pokemon Stop and just started at my phone for about a minute before I went home. On the bright side, I did capture two Pokemon, I don’t want to brag, but I’m on level 2.

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My Wife’s Motherly Lessons

With our oldest child nearing adulthood, I find it hard to believe my wife has been a mother for over 17 years. I don’t say it enough, in fact I probably say the opposite more often, but she has been an excellent mother to both of our daughters.

I guest I should explain why I don’t tell her she is a great mother too often. I don’t like self-loathing. Whenever she gets in one of her “whiny baby, thumb sucking” moods and starts complaining that she is a horrible wife and a horrible mother I do what every husband wants to do, but most won’t. I agree with her. I’m unbelievably dumbfounded when she gets mad.

We are not a family with a lot of compassion. Don’t get me wrong. If a situation calls for a genuine compassion, we’re very supportive. But, it’s got to be something like the death of a family member, friend or pet. Heaven forbid any of us get injured doing something. You pull a muscle – rub some dirt on it. Have a bone sticking through the skin? Pop it back in place and quit whining. Run face first into a screen door…We will show compassion for that, but it’s usually for the person rolling on the floor with laughter. It doesn’t get much more serious than not being able to breath from laughing too hard.

She is a great mother that does a lot of our children. She makes sure they have what they need and has taught them some amazing lessons. From the day they were born she has drilled into their heads to make good decisions. I can assure you those lessons are paying off. The lessons that I’ve taught aren’t nearly as amazing. Because of me they know how to blow paper wads through a straw and the best way to flip ice off a spoon in a restaurant – not exactly life lessons.

My wife has also taught them to laugh at themselves. When the were younger and would come home from school upset because of something someone said or because of something they did, she stressed you’ve got to learn to laugh at yourself or you will be miserable. Our oldest has come a long way in learning this lesson. Our youngest is getting there, but still has a little work to do.

My wife has a tremendous sense of humor and definitely has the ability to laugh at the unexpected things that make life fun. My wife recently took our dogs to the shot clinic, which she has done every year since our girls started 4-H. Our Chihuahua has always had an issue with getting shots. Her very first shot resulted in a allergic reaction and a very puffy face. She has since developed a ritual: get a shot – pee on the table. This year there was no allergic reaction and she did not pee on the table. Finally, success!

My lovely bride was all smiles when she threw her purse across her shoulder, put the dog under he arm and headed back to the car. A stop at the local store revealed the trip to the vet was as successful as previously believed. She reached into her purse to grab her wallet only to learn the Chihuahua has left a solid deposit in her purse. It was then we knew my oldest daughter had learned another lesson from my wife. Terror struck and she fled. My wife was understandably upset with the dog, but more than that she needed a place to wipe her hands and my daughter was the perfect target.

A few minutes later I got a call. “I’ve got a story for your next column.” You might expect the call came from my oldest daughter, but it came from my wife. My beautiful wife continues to teach our daughters lessons. This one just happens to be its okay to let your dad embarrass you.

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 Why is hard to answer

Why? That is the question I’ve been struggling with over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been in the news media for nearly half of my life, but I’ve never had an event…a tragedy..touch me like the horrible crash that claimed the life of two beautiful teenagers, Hudson and Katlynn Nestor.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time this type of horrific accident knocked the wind out of a community. I’ve felt horrible when other young people have succumbed to injuries from accidents and couldn’t recover from an illness. I’ve been to candlelight vigils and I’ve interviewed teens that have received grim reports from their doctors. They have all moved me emotionally.

This time was different. This time it really hit close to home. Hudson and Katy were classmates of my children. Both were the same age as my children This time I watched my children grieve. I’ve covered Hudson as he played soccer and my oldest shared a locker with him in the soccer locker room. I’ve see Katy standing next to my youngest daughter during choir concerts.

Why is one of the five W’s every reporter learns to ask when right a story – Who, What, Where, When and Why. Why is usually the hardest question to answer. We can gather facts to know how something happened, but knowing why it happened isn’t easily explained. Why them? Why now?

Why? It was one of the first questions my youngest daughter asked and I’m sure it is a question that family, friends and anybody that has heard the story continues to ask. I keep searching for a logical answer to that question, but deep down inside I know there is none.

Maybe I’ve been trying to answer the wrong question. Perhaps I should be answering the question – What? What can I do to give comfort long after the public gatherings have concluded and family and friends find themselves alone with their own thoughts? What can I do to memorialize the legacy of these two young people and others that have left us at such a young age? What can I do to let my children know how much I love them?

Two things really stood out to me at the candlelight vigil and then as I walked through the receiving line at the viewing. First, the number of lives a person touches in a short amount of time and that it’s the little things that are remembered by family and friends. It’s a smile or laughter that burns bright in a memory. Even if you didn’t know them they most likely touched your life. It may have caused your hearth to ache for their family or maybe you hugged your children a little longer.

Secondly, while many of us wanted to give comfort to the family, it was really the family giving comfort to us. It was the hugs they handed out freely as the classmates and friends walked through. It was the words of encouragement they spoke and a reminder to always show your family you love them. I am in awe of the strength the Nestor family has shown this past week.

As an aside, rumors that may or may not contain truths or partial truths regarding the circumstances of the crash will continue to circulate over the next few weeks and possible months. They are irrelevant. The only facts that really matter are two beautiful young persons have been taken from us and there is a family that is hurting and will be hurting for years to come. Unlike the message of the cliche, time doesn’t heal all wounds.