The Philadelphia Phillies: End of An Era

The last two seasons have been tough in Philadelphia. After a glorious run as one of the best team’s in baseball, the Phillies crashed back to Earth. Charlie Manuel, a beloved figure for anyone who’s followed the Phils, was tossed aside. Roy Halladay, a player who more than anyone made Philadelphia a destination for free agents, retired after two injury-riddled seasons. It was a magical time and now it is over.

The next phase is a familiar one. The Phillies will likely be hard to watch for a long time. With commitments made to an aging core and little to no talent in the farm system, the boom has gone bust. For anyone who remembers what happened to the team after 1993, we know what happens next. It won’t be pretty, but we’ll still be in the stands, basking in the ballpark, thankful for the memories the Phillies gave us.

No Goal But Mileage

It’s been a while since I called myself a runner. After running consecutive marathons in ’08 and ’09, I took a long hiatus. Turns out being awake all hours with a sleepless infant isn’t conducive to distance running. I tried coming back in classic couch-to-marathon style last year, only to injure myself about halfway through training. After months of physical therapy, I still didn’t feel quite right, but that didn’t stop me from trying again this year, only to meet the same end. It’s been frustrating since I still want to run that Boston qualifier I just missed in freezing temps in ’08.
A few weeks ago I started running again. Just three miles, five times a week. No goal but mileage. It’s taking me back to a time before I had a Garmin watch, before I micromanaged every step I took on a run. I’m just out there in the cool fall air putting one foot in front of the other. I’m feeling better than I have in years. Turns out running without a race in sight is helping me build the base I need to get back on track.
Well, that’s not entirely true. I signed up for a half marathon at the end of March. I couldn’t help myself. I need a reason to stay motivated during these long, dark winter months running alongside the Cooper River. In the meantime, I’ll be logging miles at a snail’s pace until I feel good enough to push toward my real goal of qualifying for Boston.

What’s the Future of Blogging?

Two interesting things about blogging lately:

First from Marco Arment

Then from Robert Scoble on why he’s using G+ and Facebook for blogging.

I tend to agree with the former, but I’d much rather do what Scoble is doing. Why? Because it’s much lighter weight than coming here to write AND it doesn’t have the audience built-in that other social networks do. I see that Share button when I’m in Gmail and think, “That would be so easy!”

What’s keeping me from making the switch? Audience. Sure, I have never been good about writing every day, but WordPress makes it easy for people to find stuff I’ve written about since I started blogging. Google+ is getting better at helping people find me in the context of other search results, but it’s not quite the same.

But why not LinkedIn? Tumblr? Medium? They’re all interesting places. I often think I should use LinkedIn as my default social network and share out to Twitter from it!

Put another way: why shouldn’t I switch to G+ or Medium, you know, beyond owning my platform?

To me, the long tail benefits are worthwhile. WordPress is easily bookmarked and shared. Google+ is a neat little ecosystem, but that’s just it: it wants to be self-contained in a different way that most other networks.

The Principled Purge

If you haven’t already seen it, Ian Rogers’ blog post on pruning Twitter is quite good. He followed me back when I wrote about digital music; I don’t write about that anymore, ergo he unfollowed me. It makes all the sense in the world. Why is it so hard?

I wrote Unfollowing Is Hard back in 2012. I pared back to 500 people. It felt like an accomplishment. Could I ever get under 200 like Ian? Doubtful. Even if I followed his lead and turned Twitter into real-time RSS, I’d find myself in the same fix. I pulled over 800 blogs into RSS at my peak! I’m a sucker for information. I just can’t help it.

Worse, I’m sentimental. There are people I’ve been following since I joined. We’ve had lots of laughs. They’ve watched my son grow up. How could I leave them now if they’ve not graduated to Facebook friend status?

That’s what I like most about Ian’s post: clearly delineated friend profiles that identify where they should go. His birthday rule is the best. He transformed Facebook into Path. He just unfriended his way to it!

I call it the principled purge. This isn’t just rip it up and start again; these are malleable platforms and we should evolve as our use cases change. And if you get scared you can always cheat with a handy list!

Why I’m Switching to Android

I wrote about renewing my iPhone vows about a month ago. I’m changing my mind. Why? A combination of curiosity and convenience.

I’m not going to discount the number of posts from influencers like Matthew Ingram, Guy Kawasaki and Robert Scoble, but the tipping point was really friends who’ve adopted Android with their latest phones. Whether they were entrenched Apple users or smartphone newbies, their move to Android was inspiring. It made it seem less intimidating to ditch the familiar for something a little more challenging. I mean, I haven’t thought seriously about a smartphone purchase since I first bought a smartphone nearly five years ago. I wasn’t going to make this decision without help.

Why now? It’s easier. Android apps have grown up. Most of my most used apps are available and those that aren’t can be replaced with comparable apps. More importantly, I’ve come to realize that my dependence on basics like Gmail and calendar are better solved with a native platform. I’m also unreasonably excited to try some of the UI tweaks, like Ubuntu-style app launchers and the like. Being able to reinvent the experience is something that will keep me interested as well.

Saying Goodbye to My CD Collection

I started packing up my remaining CDs last night. I’ve finally realized that no matter how often I tell myself that I’ll rip them to a drive, or that I’ll fall in love with the medium all over again, they will only collect dust in a dark corner of my house. Don’t believe me? Look how many times I’ve lied to myself about it!

I’m ridding myself of a collection I’ve built over 20 years. With a little effort, I could turn the entire thing into a Spotify playlist in about an hour. It’s hard not to feel defeated. How often did I spend money better spent on food or clothes on music that I barely heard? I’m still finding unopened CDs with receipts that are a decade old. Now I’ll sell them for pennies on the dollar and be glad.

I’m doing my best to not be sentimental about it, but it’s brought back memories of trips to record stores around the world. My R.E.M. CDs have been with me since I lugged them to Denmark as a 17 year old! I can still remember how much I cherished the 40-odd albums I took on exchange. I remember when my collection ballooned to 120 carefully curated discs in grad school. I spent time manicuring it, trading in to trade up, budgeting as best I could to have a collection my peers would respect. It grew to nearly 1500 discs when I mothballed it in the walk-in closet. Now as I pack it up and prepare myself to sell it all, I shake my head with every obscure disc I find encased in shrink wrap.

If you or someone you know would like to own a music collection that immediately makes it seem like you came of age in the ’90s, you might want to stop by AKA Music in the next couple weeks. It’s only fitting that I take them back to the place where I spent so much time and money on the music I’ve loved most.

Why I Switched to Poster

You may have noticed some changes here recently. Here’s a hint: fresh content! Want to know my secret? The Poster app! Now I know we’ve all heard that the iPad is not a content-creation device, but I’m finding it pretty easy myself. In fact, I haven’t reopened my MacBook once, not even to change my blog theme!

Why do I like it so much? It doesn’t try to do anything more than allow you to draft, schedule and publish content. I don’t need a reader baked into the app, or to see stats on my personal blog. I just want to dive in and bang out 250-500 words about something I liked enough to write about. Like Poster! If you want to start using your iPad for blogging, you should check it out.