Hello world. Again.

So much has happened since I last posted here.

After all that training I wrote about I did finish the AIDS LifeCycle–riding all the way from here in San Francisco to sunny Los Angeles. I ran in a few more half marathons; lifted literally tons of weights; watched my son graduate from college and graduate school; visited Hawaii, New York, Minnesota, Italy, and Death Valley (in the winter) with my honey; took on new professional responsibilities at work; spent some time in hospitals; got robbed. The usual highlights that make up a life.

Why start writing notes here again?

Mainly for the exercise of writing which for me is currently limited to well-worded e-mails. But also because I got fed up with how heavy-handed Facebook, my writing platform of choice, has become. I went in all those years ago with eyes wide open knowing I would be providing Facebook (and Google, and Twitter, and Tumblr, etc.) with a trove of personal information which they would turn around and monetize. I was willing to give up a little bit of privacy for the ability to connect frictionlessly with family and friends all while posting what I hoped were funny and/or bizarre observations. I was writing fewer and fewer thoughtful pieces here on my blog and tapping out more and more pithy posts on Facebook. I enjoyed watching goat videos, watching memes spread across the web, and the endless parade of wedding, anniversary, or new baby photos. Like everyone else I poked, liked, and commented with abandon hoping for that dopamine hit from a like in return. After a while, though, I gave more thought to my privacy.

So I stopped liking things.

Then I tried to limit the barrage of ads which began to clog up my timeline.

Then the 2016 election happened.

I’m not going to get into a back and forth over Russian election hacking and Facebook’s witting or unwitting part in it, but I had had enough. I still have a Facebook account, but I no longer post there, I’ve begun to take down some material, and I will be locking down some more parts of the experience based on instructions like those found here: https://www.theverge.com/2018/3/20/17140422/facebook-personal-data-deletion-how-to-cambridge-analytica-privacy-scandal-trump-campaign.

And that’s how I find myself here now–trying to disengage from Facebook and post thoughts, notes and observations where almost no one will ever see them on this more personal platform.

And on Twitter.


I’m Not A Qwitter

Pretty sure they didn't unfollow me
Pretty sure they didn't unfollow me

A quick update on a story from the beginning of the week.

You may recall my dismay over losing sixteen Twitter followers at once. Since they had all quit at exactly the same date and time, I chalked it up to my uncovering some sort of machine-driven alien plot. After all, if you’ve ever tried to get sixteen humans to do the same thing at the same time, you know how difficult that can be. Only hive mind-driven cyborgs could pull off a stunt like that. The truth behind this seemingly coordinated mass defection, however, is a bit more mundane.

I believe most if not all of The Twitter 16 unfollowed me simply because I wasn’t following them. Furthermore, they probably unfollowed me quite recently, and the Qwitter servers saved up all the quit messages and sent them to my e-mail box at the same time. While I’m only assuming the behavior of the Qwitter servers, I have some good evidence I lost followers simply because I wasn’t following them based on a comment to my post. A comment which contained the message: “Mystery solved”. The comment included a link to a story written by @thirstycrow for his off topic blog. One of the Twitter 16 had read my post and responded with more backstory explaining what had happened.

That night I saw a tweet in the person’s feed, a blip.fm song reference about which I made an @reply comment. Then I typed out a direct message and sent it off only to be told that I can’t send a direct message to someone who is not following me. Strange. I checked my small list of followers and, yep, I’d been quit….Better to just un-follow and move on…Well, as it turns out I hadn’t been quit. I had mentally checked the box that said this person had followed me when I received the direct message when in fact he had not. (I backtracked through my email trash and found no ‘This person is following you on Twitter’ message.) I had not offended him by not responding, and he had not un-followed me.

So, no alien plot against the world unmasked. Only bad Twitter ettiquette on my part. Had I followed @thirstycrow and the rest of the Twitter 16 when I received their initial follow all of this would have been avoided. Lesson learned.

By the way @thirstycrow and I again mutually follow one another on Twitter, and, if you’d like to read his whole account of this affair, it’s here in a post entitled: Twetiquette and Qwitters.

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“I wish I knew how to quit you.”

@ennis and @jack can't believe some of the things I've said either.
@ennis and @jack can't believe some of the things I've said either.

Apparently you can quit me.

I checked my e-mail this morning and found a whopping 23 new messages, a large number for a Sunday. On closer inspection, though, I found sixteen of them came from one service Qwitter, which “e-mails you when someone stops following you on Twitter…” Since I hadn’t received a message from them before (hey, I’m not bragging, I’m just telling it like it is), I was taken aback by this sudden mass defection of Twitter followers. “Was it something I said?” I wondered. Could my latest use of blip.fm have caused a particular song to get stuck in a bunch of peoples’ heads? Was it the occasional tweet about my daily routine?

I’d better get going. That cup of coffee isn’t going to buy itself.8:16 AM Mar 20th from TweetDeck.

Or did I rub a group of Star Trek fans the wrong way?

I like Star Trek, too, but this is going too far: » link to nytimes.com

As it turns out, Qwitter lets you know exactly what your last tweet was before one of your followers dumped you. My offending message? @bicoastalite Good heavens. You all are running machines! I don’t know why so many of my former Twitter followers found that particular tweet offensive. Perhaps they are all cyborgs who thought I was making some sort of joke at their expense. In fact, looking at the timestamps of each of the e-mails I received from Qwitter, I noticed a behavior only a machine could produce: all sixteen followers quit me at the same time. No group of humans could possibly do that.

So, I’m sorry @rents14, @abbyjaye, @thirstycrow, and all the rest. I didn’t mean to offend you with my 140 character observations and bon mots. And, if it’s any comfort to you, I for one welcome our new alien overlords.

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Mile After Mile

Hey, who's that handsome runner?
Hey, who's that handsome runner?

After seeing the site mentioned in a few Twitter posts, I decided to check out dailymile.com, “A social training log for runners, triathletes, and cyclists.” I haven’t delved too deeply into the site just yet, but I’ve already used it to log a couple of recent training runs, and I’ve enjoyed using the site.

Dailymile features a clean, web 2.0 interface with lots of colorful, Apple-style graphics and navigation icons. Like Facebook, the site allows you to connect with other users, send notes to one another, connect to events in your area, upload photos and video, all while updating a log of your activities and the changes you make to your profile. Once you sign on with an account, you can create a typical social media-style profile which allows you to include bio information, upload an avatar, and link your posts to your Twitter feed. You can tell Dailymile which activities you’re into-cycling, running, triathlon, for example-what your training goal is, and where you live. As the site grows and people begin to friend each other up, users will probably use this geographical information to form running and cycling groups or let Dailymilers know about fitness meet-ups in their area.

Of course, the main purpose of dailymile is to keep track of your training output. And while hard-core athletes who weigh themselves after each bowel movement may not find the web site robust and full-featured enough for their needs, I like the way the site keeps track of and displays the mileage and time data you input. It even calculates your pace so no more doing math in your head or using another third-party site. You can even add a note including one of the dailymile’s emoticons to let everyone know how you felt during your workout, which drives one of the cool social media-driven aspects of the site. If you post notes with a “blah”, “tired”, or “injured” emoticon, you may find yourself listed under the People tab in the “Athletes who need motivation” section. Here you can send other dailymilers a little training love with a “Congrats” or “Nice Job” blast, or, if you’re feeling a little competitive, an “I’ll Beat You” notice.

Dailymile emerged from invitation-only beta today, so, while social media stalwarts like badges and links to Twitter are already offered, integration to mapping web sites like MapMyRun.com isn’t. Until then, the I-don’t-run-in-the-shade-because-tree-leaves-screw-up-my-Forerunner-data crowd will probably stay away, but the Facebook and Twitter set will feel right at home.

Check them out at www.dailymile.com.

What are some of your favorite fitness web sites?

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