Sometimes I’m an asshole

Earlier today the following exchange happened on Twitter:

The whole thing reminds me of this great Monty Python sketch: Argument Clinic

Of course, it could also be a simple failure to communicate too (without resorting to violence).

Here are the basic facts (and why I’m also wrong):

  1. I agree with Rumsfeld that the tax code is too complex
  2. I am dismissing this criticism because of the messenger (and I’m aware that this is a logical fallacy or bias)
  3. Twitter, with its 140 character limit, is a bad place to make a nuanced argument
  4. I wasn’t making a nuanced argument, I was venting my spleen at Rumsfeld through the lens of a “conversation” (twitter’s nomenclature) with Dave
  5. I tweeted before I had coffee. This is clearly an excuse.
  6. I shouldn’t @ reply people who I don’t know personally. Something is always lost in the unwritten spaces between the tweets.

Was I an asshole? I got called one and I certainly should’ve known better than to engage on a tweet that was clearly already an attempt to respond to criticisms of the type I offered directly back.

So, yes, I was an asshole. I’m sorry, Dave.

Was it avoidable? No. People are assholes and, try as I might, I’m likely to do something else stupid in the future.

I’ll forget myself and rush headlong into a debate.
I’ll respond too quickly when I should save something in my drafts.
I’ll be passionate and vocal.

Does this mean I hope to do it again any time soon? No it doesn’t. I’m at least aware enough of the above facts (and my bias against Rumsfeld) not to make this exact same mistake.

Especially when discussing politics online (which I don’t often do because I can get riled up) I need to remember Wheaton’s Law: Don’t Be A Dick.

Related: If I really feel strongly about something, I should own it enough to blog it (see this post you’re reading now) or tweet something public and not just a reply.

Happy Internetting (and remember these are good learnings for offline behavior too)!

Funny Phrases

Since the age of two-and-a-half our 3rd child, Evie (currently age 4), has made the same request for cereal every weekday:

“Oatmeal Squares with milk and a spoon.”

She says this as though any self-respecting parent could forget the primary constituents of a bowl of cereal, but she says them every day, without fail.

On the few days in which I ask her what kind of cereal she would like she slumps her shoulders, rolls her eyes, dramatically sighs and repeats her morning mantra:

“Oatmeal Squares with milk and a spoon.”

But recently she has taken to upping the ante.
Being even more precise.
Subjecting us to specificity above and beyond.

Her newest request:

“Oatmeal Squares with milk and a spoon in a bowl.”

As an adult of reasonable intelligence, I struggle to imagine the kind of caregiver who would forget to provide a child with a bowl as the primary conveyance of cereal & milk when a spoon is already involved (as requested), but I digress.

What’s even more amazing (or appropriate, depending on your perspective) is how her younger sister, currently two-and-a-half herself, has co-opted this funny phrase.

And while the choice of cereal may be different – Imogen prefers Life to Evie’s Oatmeal Squares – the phrase is no less funny coming from her mouth. In fact it might even be funnier considering her diminutive stature and wispy voice.

I can make all the jokes I want, and it does make me laugh (most times to their dismay), but I’m going to miss this request once it’s gone. It’s a near-constant reminder that neither of them will be little forever.

I want to bottle up those words and save them with me.
I need very badly to record them saying it so I don’t forget it (or them) exactly as they are right now.
I’m writing it down here as a means of preserving the impermanent.

I think the best part about this little ritual is that now I hear the big kids playfully asking for their own cereal this way. I’ve even found myself saying it to Jenn and likewise her to me.

“Oatmeal squares with milk and a spoon in a bowl.”

It’s funny how that little, funny phrase has so much power.

A plotKML jpg of my running data from Runkeeper

Where I Run

I’m adapting more than the title of my post from the excellent Flowing Data blog, I’m also using some of their code. I was inspired by this beautiful visualization of running in Atlanta in small part because I’d like to imagine that some of my Pi Mile runs contributed to the data set.

Thanks to a small bit of technical knowledge, more than a few failed attempts at installing some software, about an hour spent in a terminal window and several late-night hours combing through Runkeeper.com, I give you my personal visualization:

A plotKML jpg of my running data from Runkeeper
I’m a creature of habit

It’s not exhaustive (since some of my running data got imported to Runkeeper via less-than-reliable sources) but it does visualize most of my runs that started at my door between June 2010 until this past weekend. It’s a grand total of 192 data files, if you’re interested, and I think it’s an intriguing look at the regularity of my path(s) as a runner.

It’s no surprise to me that my immediate neighborhood (and street I live in) get so much traffic. My “normal” routes are all out-and-back so that’s a given.

What does surprise me is what a concentrated center my running routes represent. I’d have wagered that I’m a little more adventurous, but maybe I just remember my longer, farther runs differently. Also, since I have to end up right back where I started, I can only go so far.

If nothing else this has been an excellent exercise in challenging the assumptions I had about how often I run the same route. For me the changing seasons & time of day provide much of my enjoyment, but the data doesn’t lie: I’m clearly a creature of habit.

I bet if I sliced different periods of time or lengths of my runs I’d get different results, but I like the pretty picture my feet drew. :-)

I’ve learned three valuable lessons from this exercise:

  1. The availability of awesome data (which I’ve spent a long time accumulating) & my ability to transform it into something beautiful is magical. I continue to be impressed with the tools I use while I run and what I can learn from those tools after I run.
  2. Regular running is a joy & a comfort. I knew I ran certain paths more often than others but seeing it visualized this way makes me smile. Doing certain things as a part of a regular, healthy routine is its own form of worship & meditation. This image, then, is a floor plan of my church.
  3. I’m lucky that I get to run as often as I do. I have a wonderful wife and a great life if this kind of adventure (the running, the data, the blogging) are all a part of it.

I’d love to update this post or do a follow-up that presents some of the data behind the visualization, like how many times I ran a particular route (even if it’s not exactly the same distance). I’m pretty sure I have 3 main patterns with each one having a couple minor variations for time allotted or distance I need to hit.

Or maybe the visualization does that well enough already. ¯\(°_o)/¯

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m really looking forward to filling in this map with future runs, making the dark parts darker and branching out farther from my little corner of Smyrna, GA.

Muppetmation

Muppetmation
Skip Hursh’s animated GIF that I refer to as ‘Muppetmation’

Regardless of whether you pronounce GIF with a hard or a soft “G”, you can’t deny that the simple animations have been raised to something of an art form recently.

The animation above was made by the talented Skip Hursh (Skip also has a Tumblr that’s pretty awesome.) & was pointed out to me by Beau Teague.

There’s something almost steam-powered or Rube Goldberg-esque about the GIFs he makes. They’re mesmerizing in their perpetual, looping motions and their bright colors.

There are plenty of other examples of GIFs for the masses (and for the detractors), but I think Skip’s work should really be seen by a wider audience, even if it isn’t a meme or a screencap or a reaction gif.

Happy Thursday!