Tuesday, April 28, 2009

2 Year Twitterversary Statistics: No More Than 184,520 Characters of Inanity

After eDemocracy Camp 2, I was thinking about how much Twitter had become the de rigueur conference backchannel / session notebook / fashion accessory, which I didn't think was the case for the first one just a year ago.

That got me wondering about when I first joined Twitter, so I paged back in my archives and found that I posted my first Tweet on April 22, 2007, which was just about my 2-year Twitter anniversary when I first started this entry.

[This entry, incidentally, is unrelated to any of the current "When Did You Join Twitter?" or "How long are you on Twitter?" foolishness that's been going around. Also, if you hadn't noticed, I've given up my previous petulant objections and am resigned to calling Twitter posts "tweets."]

Getting My Twitter Stats
I was curious about my own Twitter posting pattern; the quick, easy, and pretty way to look at your stats of course is to use TweetStats (which I also did), but I wanted a little more granularity. (For example, TweetStats calculates your daily average just using the days you posted, instead of looking at every day.) So I decided to pull and crunch the numbers myself.

Here's my 2-year Twitter post count:

Click through to Flickr for additional notes by Patrick.

I signed up on April 18, 2007 and posted for the first time 4 days later. My posting was pretty much non-existent until the first spike (8 whole posts in a day!) from the Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture race on May 3.

I stayed primarily with phone updates until June 14, when I got Twitterific, and you can see a general trend upwards (I switched to Twhirl on June 25), with an all-time high responding to birthday greetings (March 26).

Pulling the Numbers
To get the numbers:
* I used the Java TwitterBackup 2.5 to pull the XML file, which basically has everything (it took about 50 minutes -- it does 20 per minute to avoid hitting API limits)
* As suggested, I did a bunch of find-and-replaces in TextEdit to clean things up and remove extraneous fields
* I then pulled the numbers into Excel, where I did some serious massaging of the numbers. This included fixing the year on the previous years' posts (in the process, I may have shifted some of the dates a day... damned leap year).
* I also added in the intervening days where I didn't post to Twitter, consolidating them to get my daily Tweet count (this is where using the FREQUENCY formula came in.)
* Finally, I plugged the numbers into Google Spreadsheet to get a pretty chart, and uploaded it to Flickr to get a nice, 500px wide image.

TweetStats gave me an average of 3.2 average posts per day (with a median of 2.0 posts), though my numbers for the entire period (counting days I didn't post at all) gave me 1.8 posts per day (median 1.0). I haven't done any deeper digging; Tweetstats has a good talking points topline, and I have the raw data if I want to look any further.

Thrilling, yes?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Please Don't Shoot the W&OD Trail Signs

I guess I should give up all other pretense and just turn this into a skating blog.

I wasn't planning on going again so soon after my blister harvest, but I was in Sterling doing errands and it was such a nice day that I couldn't resist.

I started at the Route 28 overpass at about 5:45pm and headed west. There weren't too many people out that late in the day, so it was pretty uneventful. I stopped at my turnaround point, the Luck Stone Quarry Overlook, plopped down on a bench and watched the vultures gliding on the thermals for a few minutes.

There's a plaque on the bench:

"In memory of C. Wayne Tolbert (May 14, 1917 - May 3, 2000), an outstanding lawyer and avid cyclist who enjoyed many hours riding on the W&OD trail and particularly enjoyed this view."

On the way back, took a shot of traffic calming zigzag stripes painted on Belmont Ridge Road (they were mentioned on Fark last week):

And here we get to the title of the entry. I noticed something different about a "Warn Before Passing" sign just off of Smith's Switch Station -- a bullet hole:

There's also a dent in the "F" that looks to be a second bullet strike. From the back of the sign, it's pretty obvious. Nice sized, too:


Anyway, my plan for afterwards was to try Cheeburger Cheeburger (I haven't been yet) as something of a reward (or, maybe the skate was pre-emptive penance), but that went out the window and I met a few folks, sweaty and stinking (me, not them) at Jackson's to rehydrate.

The feet held up okay -- I'd duct taped over the pinch points and hotspots, and it worked okay. I guess I'm getting ready for next Saturday's Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race. Which means I'll need to get a new heel brake before then (it's worn to the nub). I'm also working on a PVC mini-Fig Rig, which I hope will be a bit more suitable for a full day on skates than the Poor Man's Steadycam (which I still haven't really used). So we'll see how that goes.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bicycle Cleavage, Crack and Bonking: W&OD Trail Skate Report

Ever wonder why oncoming cyclists on the trail wear big, shit-eating grins as they whizz by? I think it's either:

* Desire to share the joy of being outside
* A kind of rictus of effort
* Overexposure to athletic girls hunched over their handlebars while wearing scoop-necked tops

Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos of said bicycle cleavage (which should actually be "bicyclist cleavage," but the other way sounds more interesting and less creepy) when I went skating on Saturday afternoon.

It was the first really nice, over-70 degree Saturday of the spring, and I went to skate my usual Reston-to-Sterling trek on the W&OD Trail. (I note that my phone autocomplete thinks I mean "slaves" when I type "skates.")

As I Twittered, it was busy, but not crowded.

From Herndon through Sterling, there were a lot of cracks that spanned the roadway, in some places every 40-50 feet. Some were fairly wide (especially when compared to a 76mm wheel):


There's a new-ish golf course just west of the Route 28 overpass -- where the hell did it come from?

Some of the bridge interfaces had widening gaps, and there was some subsidence at the edges of the trail at mile 24.5:

Lower angle:

Given the current budget realities, I'm just hoping they can at least slap some vinyl patches over some of the wider cracks.

Here we see some topped trees along the power line right-of-way:

The Bonking

From Reston (the lot off Sunset Hills and Old Reston Avenue, at the 7-11) to my usual turnaround point at Ashburn Village Road is about 18 miles round trip (throwing in a few speed runs up and down the western side of the Route 28 overpass). In retrospect, doing the full mileage for the first skate of the season was probably not the wisest idea.

On the way back, I started having some problems. The hotspots, which had been developing at the usual spots on the inside edges of my feet, had turned into full-on blisters. Big ones, too, since my feet hadn't toughened up yet.

The blisters altered my stride, and between that and just flat out bonking and hitting the wall, my quads started to cramp up pretty bad. With 5 miles left to go, I ended up having to stop for a few minutes about every half mile.

I was officially no longer having fun.

I nearly broke down and called for a ride a few times, but I eventually made it back to my car. It took a while. And my feet look pretty nasty right now.

I was pretty thrashed and almost bagged on a birthday party down at the Georgetown waterfront. But NewMediaJim talked some sense into me. Who says Twitter is useless?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Sunday in Koreatown

I went back up to the homestead for Easter weekend. Because I am hellbound, I don't usually make the trek back, so I didn't realize that every Christian-minded person on the Eastern Seaboard makes the pilgrimage up/down I-95. I guess it wasn't too bad.

After a lazy Saturday at home and Sunday services, at Mom's suggestion, we went to NYC to get some Korean food and look at the pretty flowers (alas, Macy's was closed Easter Sunday).

But the food was good -- we ended up at Kum Gang San on 32nd St. in Koreatown, NYC.

We had Bul go ki:

Shot from above:

More photos, including random strangers, and Times Square, in the full set: Easter in Koreatown, 4/12/09.

The trip home was just slightly-below average. Gas in NJ was $1.89 (cash), about 15 cents cheaper than in Virginia, which is par for the course. I made it back in just over four hours, though as I twittered, 95 in Maryland sucked, enough so that I did the 695 swing-around, taking the Key Bridge (which is actually a pretty nice drive, especially if you like refineries).

The drive gave me a chance to catch up on a few NPR Music podcasts, including the Heartless Bastards show from NPR's SxSW concert podcast. I also listened to the Liz Phair 'Exile in Guyville' show from The Troubadour, which was okay, but I thought the accompanying interview was great.

Monday, April 06, 2009

I Rarely Go Deep Enough

I'm talking about during my squats, of course. Mostly because I'm lazy and out of shape; partly because, for a time, I kept jacking my back at inconvenient intervals due to poor technique; and lastly because my right knee often makes funny noises when I try.

I'm supposed to be doing 20-rep sets for the next few weeks, which is a chance to work on cleaning up my technique, but it seems that the lower the weight I use, the fewer reps I can do.

I'm hoping this means I'm actually going deep enough for a change.

After my work set (which was more of "hobby" set), I finished up with 3 sets of 20 squats using just the weight bar (45 pounds). It took a lot out of me, but I was able to finish the rest of my workout. Well, most of it -- my body thoughtfully gives me a splitting headache just before I'm on the verge of throwing up, which gives me a chance to stop and avoid making a mess.

NCAA Final Notes
Now despite my earlier Tweet, the gym didn't have the NCAA Final on any of the TVs. Apparently I didn't miss too much, though -- UNC seems to have things commandingly in hand, and Michigan keeps getting picked, chucking up 3-pointers, and missing free throws.

I'm kind of grudingly rooting for UNC, if only in the interest of ACC solidarity (outside of Duke and UNC, the ACC had another weak tournament showing).

I had been going on a working theory that if you're Duke or UNC, you're not going to win a national championship unless you beat the other team at least twice (and it'd be a prerequisite, not a guarantee) -- it works on the Duke side, though leave it to UNC to not cooperate.

Finally, I'd just like to say that the overhead arena cam gives me vertigo.

My Brunswick Stew Is Award-Winning

[Update: 10/19/09: I am reminded by commenters that my photo was removed a few months back, though I'm leaving the post up for posterity's sake.]

I'm just going to pretend my month-long posting lull didn't happen.

A few days ago, a blog reader let me know that he was having Brunswick Stew (from a can) for lunch (via IM, not Twitter, which is how you're supposed to send your pointless lunch updates these days.)

There aren't that many brands of Brunswick Stew (from a can). I did an image search for "Mrs. Fearnow's" to take a look at the yellow-labeled can. Lo, to my surprise, I saw among the results a familiar-looking photo:


Yes, that's clearly my very own Brunswick Stew (homemade, not from a can) photo, as used in my earlier blog entry and seen below:


Naturally, I clicked through to see the image in use -- it's on the Product History page of BOST Distributing, the company that now owns the Mrs. Fearnow's brand:


Evidently, some content jockey (judging by the Web site, "Web designer" would be a stretch) needed a product photo of the Brunswick Stew (from a can) not in the can, did a Google Image Search, and grabbed my photo. (They rehosted it, so it's not hotlinked, which means I can't do any image-swap shenanigans.)

Technically, they're using my photo without permission or proper attribution (as with most of my photos, it's licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike), but I don't care about that -- the point is that they're using my photo of Brunswick Stew (homemade, not from a can) on the product page for their commercial Brunswick Stew (from a can), which is a pretty silly thing for a company to do.