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Category: Personal

That Time I Tweeted

So the other day I quickly tweeted a few things.

The aftermath was wild. The first tweet got just over 1 million impressions. Around 48K people interacted with it. 8K likes. Jake Tapper is now following me, but I’m more fanstruck by Eric Heisserer.

The retweeter with the biggest audience was Cory Doctorow, at 437K. He also picked it up for Boing Boing, although he didn’t ask. On the one hand, he didn’t need to ask. On the other hand, Dorkly politely checked with me first. On the third hand, someone at Boing Boing photoshopped Trump’s hair on top of Eric’s head. Meh, screw them.

After Doctorow, the retweeter with the most followers was this voice actor whose name I’m spacing, at around 100K. From there it follows the usual distribution. I spent two days hoping nobody with a million+ followers would pick it up. “OK, guys, you can stop telling Critical Role to look at this now.”  I watched it spread through liberal online journalism Twitter (you know, Vox et al) and through Catholic Twitter (“wait, is that a Jesuit priest?”). If I had to guess I’d say it was mostly spreading through tabletop gaming circles, though. That’s just a kinda wide set of circles now.

I only had a handful of people yelling at me. Some people felt I was naive for thinking kindly of Catholics; those people kind of missed the point. I met and chatted with a few really cool people and I have about 500 new followers, all of whom I followed back. I will trim a few over time (sorry, but if you retweet Louise Mensch as a reliable source I’m gonna be elsewhere) but in general I feel like I have expanded my Twitter universe in a cool way. I also reconnected with a few old friends and had a brief but nice conversation with my freshman year roommate, which oddly allowed me to let go of some stuff I’ve been carrying around for decades.

Three reporters chatted with me. None of them found a story in the tweets, although one guy has another angle he’s working on. I think that’s correct. I don’t have a good enough memory of that year to build a story. I just had an emotional anecdote with a killer stinger and a call to action.

I’m really happy about the call to action.

Final lesson here: tell your stories. You never know what’s going to resonate.

We Did A New Thing

I was expecting the whole cruise ship experience to be cheesy as hell and possibly not enjoyable without a heavy dose of irony. However, at the tender age of forty-eight, I am keenly interested in new classes of experience and the idea of using a very large ship as a sort of hermit crab shell was intriguing. Also, Alaska.

My short review: that was actually reasonably fun. Alaska is flat out gorgeous and historically fascinating, so you should visit it if possible. There is no way to visit southeast Alaska from the contiguous 48 without a significant investment of time and money; given that, it makes a bunch of sense to unpack your stuff into a big floating hotel rather than unpacking and packing and flying and unpacking and packing and so on. I wouldn’t recommend a cruise for the sake of the food, the entertainment, or the social opportunities — YMMV on the last, I’m a bit of an iconoclast — but all of the above are just fine as side elements to a cruise focused on seeing the sights.

Details: we took Holland America’s MS Noordam on a six night cruise departing from Vancouver. We spent a day cruising the Endicott Arm, stayed in Juneau overnight, and stopped for most of a day in Ketchikan. We also had two full days at sea.

In a little more detail…

New Travel Gadget

I’d been using the Wirecutter-recommended Accell Home or Away travel surge protector for travel until recently. It’s really good, but it only has 2 USB ports and when I started traveling with an external battery, that was too few. One USB port for my phone, one for my tablet, and none for my battery? Sad. In theory maybe I stop traveling with my tablet but then I add in my headphones, which charge via USB, and I’m back where I started.

Plus I just got this watch, so.

Anker 6-USB Port Charger Thus, I picked up Anker’s 6 port USB charger. It’s not a hub; it’s a small brick around the size of a very full men’s wallet that plugs into a wall outlet and charges a bunch of USB devices at once. I don’t imagine it’d do great with six items plugged into it, but it’s fine for phone and tablet and external battery. Anker’s other gear has performed very well for me (cables, car USB adapters), and this seems similarly solid from one trip’s worth of experience.

Speaking of Kindness

Every year, if at all possible, I walk to raise money for suicide prevention. It’s an important cause for me because four years ago, my friend and housemate Wyatt Parkinson killed himself in the house we (and Susan) lived in. Susan found him. It’s a really horrible thing to have happen.

I’m walking again this year, in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am looking for donations, that being the point of the walk. We’re also happy to have company. The first walk we did was right after it happened, and it was tremendously important to see hundreds of other people mourning the same kind of violent occurrence.

If you can’t give, or if you’re one of the generous people who’ve given already, a link to this post or to my fundraising page is also appreciated.

Suicide is one of the top ten causes of death in the United States. The suicide rate in the US Army is at an all time high. (I write that most years, because it keeps going up.)

The number to call if you’re feeling suicidal, by the by: 1-800-273-TALK.

Thank you for reading.

Circles

So here I am back in the SF Bay Area. What goes around, etc. In related news, I’m employed again, so that’s good. The first week on the job was good; I am looking forward to making the second week even better.

We found a house up in Redwood City, which gives me a half an hour commute to Palo Alto for work and puts us in reasonable range of the city. It’s also pretty convenient to 280, which makes Santa Cruz and San Jose very feasible. I like the location — hadn’t ever lived up there before but I think we’ll enjoy it. Fingers crossed.

Hobee’s is still Hobee’s. Fry’s is still Fry’s. There are good farmers markets which I wasn’t smart enough to take advantage of the last time I lived here. Kepler’s has gone way downhill, which is sad.

Housewarming party to come as soon as we get settled.

Austin Rain

Lake Travis, 46 feet below normal It’s intensely green in Texas right now. The rhythm is familiar to me from California: long months of brown, followed by intense green while it’s raining. In February, we had 3.04 inches of rain, up from an average of 2.34 inches. January averages 2.1 inches, but we had 4.7 inches this year. November and December were above average as well. We need it after the summer; when Susan and I got here, the ground was hardtack dry.

These days it’s lush. Our neighborhood is leafy, tree-lined, and half the mornings we find water dripping off the leaves onto the streets. I take Ranch to Market 2222 to work. It curves between the hills and the Colorado River, cut into the side of the hills, leaving cliffs on my right as I drive up into the Hill Country. You go right past West Bull Creek Preserve; it’s beautiful green open space out here, for the most part. Lake Travis, shown from last summer above, isn’t far.

FM 2222 My office window looks out over more greenery. It’s due to be developed sometime; there’s an apartment complex right to the left, in fact. They had three buildings planned in this office complex back in 2006, but only two have been built so far and one of ’em is empty. Recession. I think it’ll pick up again; this is a pretty busy area and it’s a natural for expansion, with a lot of residential real estate and decent services nearby. Right now, though, mostly green.

Austin: Week Four or So

Our new neighborhood, Brentwood, has a neighborhood mailing list. It’s awesome. Very friendly, lots of informal freecycling, requests for notaries, that kind of thing. Discussions of suspicious activity. It’s the back of the fence stuff you used to see all over the U.S., just on Yahoo groups.

For the last week or so, there’d been this ongoing duck saga. “Duck sighted in our front yard.” “Duck seen waddling down Woodrow.” “Oh, thank you so much! That’s our daughter’s duck!” “Duck crossing Justin.” So on.

On Thanksgiving, Susan and I went out for a walk down Woodrow up to Anderson, which is a pleasant mile or so there and the same back. When we were almost there, we passed… a teenager looking somewhat glumly at a duck. The duck looked like it was ready to run. “Hey,” I said, “It’s the duck!”

She looked at us with the sad eyes of a teenager who’s going to be That Kid With The Duck for a good while. “Yeah. It’s our duck, we finally found it. Mom got another duck to try and lure it back, but that didn’t work, but she’s on her way over.” So we moseyed onward, and when we passed her on the way home her mom was there with a duck cage. The end of the duck story. There wasn’t a post about it, perhaps because she convinced her mom to pass on further duck-related anecdotes.

Susan pointed out that while Somerville’s got a nice neighborhood feel to it, it’s unlikely that the duck would have lasted a week. I mean, it’s Thanksgiving. Someone would have eaten it. “Whattya want? It’s a duck in the street, it’s nobody’s duck… c’mon, it’s Thanksgivin’, we’re hungry. Duck’s tasty.” Probably true.

Austin’s still cool. It’s a good area for walking, so we’re walking more. The food is still insanely tasty. (Noble Pig: yum. Elevation Burger: quite good.) We should get our bookshelves next week. All is well.

Austin: Week One

We have been in Austin a week and a half. In that time I have started my new job, we’ve found a house to rent, we opened a bank account, saw two movies, caught De Danann (or at least Frankie Gavin and a band, there’s some dispute there), and I’ve eaten more Mexican food than I have in the last five years. So that’s all good.

This is a neat city. The brown is not bothering me; I had years to get used to brown nature in the Bay Area. It’s a bit browner here, drought and all, but that’s life. I had forgotten a lot of little differences that come with living in the middle of the country. There’s more elbow room for the houses, and the spaces between neighborhoods. The city has room to breathe, which I like a lot.

On Saturday, I was reminded of some important tricks that come with living in a serious college football town. Namely, why are you going near downtown and trying to eat on a Saturday during football season, you idiot? Right.

The local indie bookstore is pretty good. On the grand scheme of things, it’s not quite Kepler’s or Tattered Cover, but it’s good. Little less literary than the Harvard Book Store, but better as a generalist store. I liked it. Dragon’s Lair is a superb gaming store. Plenty of places to still check out, too.

The food is great and we’ve barely dipped into it. We picked up a couple of local food guides at BookPeople. Nom nom nom. We’ve also barely touched the music; got to get more serious about that. I suppose we’ve been pretty busy, you know, finding banks and houses and all that fun stuff. The real estate market is as frenetic as we’d heard; the place we wound up in went on the market the day before we saw it, we put in an offer immediately, we were the second people to look at it, and it had two backup offers if ours hadn’t gone through.

My job rocks. Good people, tough challenges, but that’s what satisfies me. I’m quite happy there.

Happy times.

Goodbye, Amsterdam

Not that I saw too much of the city. My business contacts took me to Pasta e Basta on Friday, but Saturday I was laid out with a nasty cold and it’s still bad enough so that I don’t feel like going into the city. Sad. The pasta was pretty good, though, and the singing waitresses were keen. They ranged from Mozart to Dolly Parton. Musically, I mean.

Now I’m faced with entertaining myself for 9 more hours in Schiphol. Sad again. Changing the flight would run upwards of $300 and it’s just not worth it. I wonder if Starbucks would let me sleep on their couches?

Frankfurt to Amsterdam

I was in Frankfurt less than 24 hours so I don’t have a lot to say about that. Le Meridian Park is conveniently close to the central train station and my corporate hosts took me to a very nice Italian restaurant.

Frankfurt Airport is a pit of hell. In retrospect I should have figured out how to get to Amsterdam by train. Perhaps other gate areas are better, but D is an endless corridor with no waiting areas or shops; these things have been replaced by glassed up smoking areas that smell, even from the outside, like stale ashtrays. Bleak as anything.

I am currently relaxing in the lobby of the Schiphol CitizenM. It’s like an upscale youth hostel with relentlessly cheery staff, a canteen, and several doses of hipster. I like it a lot. Also free movies which will come in handy if I feel too sick to bop around Amsterdam tomorrow.