What up with Twitter? Part 1

I don’t know how many conversations I’ve had in the last few weeks about Twitter. Apparently it has reached critical mass in my group of friends. (I’ve secretly been hoping for that day for quite some time. Twitter is boring if you don’t have any friends on it!)

Twitter takes some explaining, I’ve found out. It’s actually quite useful, quite informative, and quite entertaining. So, I’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do. Listen up.

First some Twitter basics, so that you will understand later what I’m talking about:

1- The verb for using Twitter is “to tweet.” The noun for the updates made on Twitter is “Tweets.” People that use Twitter are sometimes called “Twits” or “Twitterers”.

2- The basic premise is that you “Follow” people or keywords, and people follow you.

3- When you follow someone, whenever they make an update, it will show up in your timeline. The timeline is somewhat like the old Facebook stalker feed, before Facebook went and got all weird and hard to use on us.

4- Tweets are by nature very short messages. They are limited to 140 characters, which is conveniently almost the same limits on text messages.

5- Twitter is very easy to update. You can tweet from almost anywhere. I tweet via text message and via two different web interfaces, depending on where I am.

6- It is very easy to get updates from those you follow. I don’t, but you can get tweets from some or all of your followers to your phone. I mostly get them on the web, but also through my chat client Digsby.

So, that’s the basics of Twitter. Tune in soon for the three reasons I use Twitter: ambient awareness, productivity, and accountability.

Celebrate National Poetry Month!

April is National Poetry Month. I didn’t know. No idea!

It turns out it’s only been around since 1996, but still, that’s 13 whole years when I could have been celebrating an obscure and arbitrary holiday, and I wasn’t.

It’s time to change that.

Here’s how I propose to do it:

Write Poetry.

Pretty simple actually, but here’s what that means. I will write poetry during NPM, but I also want you to write poetry this month. After all, it’s not really a celebration if I’m the only one that shows up to the party. Know what I mean?

It’s April 13th already, so there’s still plenty of time, but remember, April is one of those tricky months with only 30 days in them. I invite you (if you are reading this, that means you’re invited) to write a poem, short or long, rhyming or not, iambic pentameter or free verse, and post it in the comments or post it on your blog. I’m also carrying around my fake Moleskine a lot lately, and if you want, you can write your poem in that, which I will scan and put up on my writing blog as bonus material. I’ll try to sum everything up here at the end of the month.

I’ve been writing and reading poetry for most of my life. Here are some things that I’ve learned about writing poetry:
1) Writing poetry is manly.
2) Writing poetry is fun.
3) Poetry doesn’t have to mean anything.
4) Poetry means so much more than just what you wrote down.
5) Poetry doesn’t have to be about serious subjects.
6) Poetry heals the soul.
7) Poetry doesn’t have to rhyme.
8) Poetry doesn’t have to be hard to write.
9) Poetry doesn’t have to be good.

There are exactly zero excuses for you not to write a poem this month. Zero! So do it. Invite others to do it. To get you started, here are all of the poems that I’ve written so far this year. I’m sure that I I’ll be adding a few more. Added bonus: I just dug up an old account I had on allpoetry.com. Here are some vintage 2006 poems.

So go! Write Poetry! Breathe air! Live!

Why I did it

On Friday, almost on the spur of the moment, I signed up to run the Meteor 10K on Saturday, part of the Martian Invasion of Races in Dearborn. I had originally played with the idea of this race as a tune-up midway through my training for the half-marathon, but those hopes were dashed by my misunderstanding of when exactly the race fell. I was expecting it to be at the end of April, but when it turned out to be at the beginning of April instead, I lost a little interest in it.

Last week was a fairly good week for running, after completing the treadmill challenge with an 11% improvement and a successful short run earlier in the week. I was vacillating a little back and forth with deciding on this race. I thought that I was capable of running the 6.2 miles of a 10K, but I wasn’t sure. After the last few failures, I think I had a lost a little bit of confidence that I was on track for half-marathon goal.

One of my co-workers had been training for the Martian Half-marathon, and my supervisor had been planning to run the Meteor 10K as well. By Friday morning, I was feeling good, and decided I should just take the plunge, and do it. I hesitated throughout the day, not really sure if I was going to do it. At one point, I pegged it at 95% certainty, which is like saying yes, but with an escape hatch if I chicken out. After work, I went over and registered.

At that point I got the pre-race jitters, even though I was focused on making this a training run and nothing more or less. That, I think, is also an important part of practicing for a run. But I was in, and at the very least, I had my new technical running shirt (which for me is a huge motivator).

As it turns out, I’ll do almost anything for a Technical Shirt. Isn’t this one wild?

It turns out I was exactly capable of running 10K. The race went very very well. I stopped for short walk breaks at 2 and 4 miles, just like my plan has me doing. I maintained a fairly consistent pace, right at 10 minute miles, right on plan. The race started out cold and windy, but after about mile 2 you stop noticing that. Around mile 4 and a half, we ran by the Henry Ford Estate, and there were delicate bluebells blooming alongside the road. In short, it was a beautiful day for a race.

More importantly, however, was the sense of accomplishment that came with it.
March, as you may have heard, was a difficult month for goal achievement for me. I struggled with my writing goal, and I struggled with my running goals. The two long runs that I attempted failed. In fact, I was supposed to have been at 7 miles by now, and I hadn’t successfully completed anything longer than 5. Tackling this 10K, for which I hadn’t specifically trained, and actually feeling good at the end of it was validation that things would work out.

Here’s the race. I got a new toy: a Garmin Forerunner 305, which is a GPS watch that will let me track my runs better.

Treadmill Challenge update

Today I did my final run for the treadmill challenge. I was a little shin-splinty, and I’d taken a week off because of it, but it was today or never.

I spent most of my training time on the road, and had a few failed runs in there. I didn’t get as much running in as I wanted. But I did in fact feel really good while I was doing my run today.
My final run was 2.32 miles in the 20 minutes allotted for the treadmill challenge. Since my baseline was 2.09, my improvement was a solid 11.00%. I think that’s fairly respectable.
So how are the rest of you doing? Sometime this week or next let me know how it went.