Running the prairie

On Sunday I ran in the Rattlesnake Master Run for the Prairie 10k.

Usually I expect that I’ll write a post when I participate in an event like that, but it turns out that I don’t have a lot to say about it. It went fine. I ran very slowly, which I expected because I’d done all of my training very slowly, but I did not come in last, which was nice.

I’d suffered with a nagging sore foot for several weeks leading up to the race. The pain was in the heel of my right foot, which made me figure it was probably plantar fasciitis. I think I’ve figured out though that it’s actually peroneal tendonitis. Understanding that gives me a clue toward recovery. The peroneal tendon, which reaches down the outside of your ankle, through the heel, and then forward across to the inside edge of the front of your foot, is heavily involved in balancing, especially standing on one foot. I do a lot of single-leg standing as part of my taiji practice and teaching, and since figuring this out I’ve been especially careful about being gentle with myself in this part of the practice, and in just a few days I’ve finally seen dramatic improvement.

The realization didn’t help in time for the race though, and my foot was a little sort right along. It wasn’t so sore that I thought I was doing real damage though, so I just ran the race anyway. It did impact my gate a bit, which meant that my opposite-leg knee started hurting about halfway through the race.

Part of the reason for this post is to test the GPX exporting at Polar (which had been broken for a while) and the GPX tracking plug-in that I’ve got here (which has been updated a couple of times since I last successfully got a GPX track exported from Polar). So, here’s the track of my run. The heart rate data doesn’t seem to be working.

Total distance: 6.3 mi
Total time: 01:23:36

(I didn’t want to fiddle with my phone at the start or finish of the race, so I started tracking my run about 5 minutes before the start of the race, and then I forgot to turn it off until about 5 minutes after I crossed the finish line, so both the time and the distance are a little off.)

My official time was 1:17:13.4 meaning a 12:26/mile pace. That’s as fast as I’ve run in years. (Overall results. Age-group results.)

It was pretty cold at the start—cold enough that I didn’t manage to get my race number in my pre-race selfie:

It had warmed up a lot by the end of the race, when I captured the selfie up at the top with Jackie (who along with a lot of the Master Naturalists had volunteered in the race).

Fixin’ to update my blogroll

I’ve had a blogroll since I first started using blogging software instead of rolling my own site with hand-coded html and php. Even before that—almost 20 years ago, when I was getting set to go to Clarion—I was linking to the websites of writers I knew. Probably a dozen people in my class (or the Clarion West class of that same year), plus a few teachers, editors, and other writers that I had some connection to had blogs, and several others had websites. I made a point of linking to all of them.

I kept it up pretty well for a while, following people to their new sites and new links as they acquired domains and changed software. I figured one big benefit of getting to know a crop of fellow new writers was being able to link to one another’s websites, and then preserve those connections as (to varying degrees) we became famous. But various things—time, differential success, fashions in internet presence—have made blogs and blogrolls less of a thing. At the same time, my interests have expanded in other directions besides writing.

Sometime in the next week or so, I’m going to go through my blogroll and check what I’m linked to. I’ll delete dead links, and shift sites to the “website” category if the blog is there but no longer being updated. I’ll make similar changes to my list of websites. (Note: as part of my “Facebook is evil” thinking, I’m going to be dropping people whose only link is to a Facebook or Instagram page. Sorry, but: Evil.)

If you’re on my blogroll but your site is moved or idle, let me know what you want me to do—link to your new site, keep you on the blogroll (because you’re going to start blogging again one of these days), etc. If you’re not but want to be, let me know that too.

Emoji test: 🌸💃🧚‍♀️🧜‍♀️🌸

This is a test to see if emojis show up in post titles and post content. (Emoji functionality seems quite flaky in comments.)

Some emojis: 🌸💃🧚‍♀️🧜‍♀️🌸

(Interesting. They’re there, at least in the preview, but they’re from a different character set than what I see when I paste an emoji from elsewhere. Here’s two I’m typing: 🦔❤️. Yeah: Again not what I see when I pick an emoji via the native special character typing on the Mac; the native Mac hedgehog is facing left rather than forward, and the heart has some fancy tonal shading.)

Worked out an images workflow

I mentioned a few days ago that I’d got my microblogging working about the way I wanted. There was one exception to that: my “images” workflow.

There’s pretty good “media library” functionality built into WordPress, but I’ve always found it a bit too blog-centric in how it works to be a good general solution to images hosting.

I was a Flickr user from way back, but when the new owners ruined it I decided I should host my own images, and ended up going with Lychee to provide self-hosting functionality.

Lychee works great, but it took me a while to sort out how to integrate images hosted there into my blog.

Here’s what I’ve ended up doing:

  1. Upload images to images.philipbrewer.net. The Lychee software lets me keep them private or make them public, and it lets me organize them into albums. It also produces an RSS feed of all my public photos.
  2. If I want to use one of my photos in a blog post, I select the photo in Lychee, click on the share button, and select “direct link” to get a link to a .jpg file. The default is the full-size image, but I can edit the link to get a link to a medium or small image if I prefer.
  3. In my blog post I insert the image as usual, except instead of selecting the image from my media library, I click “Insert from URL” and paste in the link I acquired in step two. If it’s the main image for the post I also paste it into the “use this image” field in Open Graph (a WordPress plugin I use to generate the metadata so that links shared in Twitter and Facebook use the image I want). If I want to, I can also specify the Lychee page for that image as the target URL if you click on the image.

Here, for example, is an image I took yesterday:

The utilities right-of-way past the U of I research fields is mowed until you get to the solar farm, but after that there’s a long stretch of tall weeds. Not impassable, but not a path either.

Pretty much everything works the way I want it to now. The images are hosted on images.philipbrewer.net, I have access to small, medium, and large versions of the images, and an easy-enough way to include them in a blog post.

Two things that could work better:

  1. A one-click way to get the link for the images pasted into all the right places in a new blog post, so I’m not having to go back and forth to make the image block, get one link, paste it (usually twice), then get the second link, and paste that one.
  2. A one-click way to get a srcset, so that my pages can be more automatically made responsive.

Still, after a bunch of posts where I was testing things out, in which things didn’t work quite they way I wanted them to, I’ve now got things just about set.

Using my microblog

Often—I’d say usually—when I craft something to post to social media I end up disappointed eventually. In particular, when I want to refer back to it and find that it’s lost in the depths of Facebook or twitter and I can’t find it, or can’t refer to it in the way I want to.

I think I’ve got this problem solved now, via micro.blog, which is social media done correctly.

Use micro.blog like this: Have your own blog that generates an RSS feed. Sign up for a micro.blog, and configure it to watch that feed. It will build a twitter-like timeline out of your blog posts. There’s a clever detail about how it does so: Your regular posts will just be posted with your post title and a link. But your short, status posts—your tweet-like posts—show up with the full content instead of just a title and a link. (You signal the difference to micro.blog by omitting a title on your status posts.)

I set up a micro.blog a couple of years ago (I was a backer on Kickstarter), and was very pleased with how it all worked, with the sole problem being that nobody reads my micro.blog feed. My frustration with that, however, has finally prompted me to do something that I’m always loath to do: Spend money.

I signed up to spend $2 a month to have micro.blog forward my feed on to twitter (and, of course, to support micro.blog). A link to this post will show up with the post title. My status posts are showing up as tweets, just like they’re supposed to.

Going forward I’ll still post to twitter, but generally just replies and retweets. With those exceptions, my plan is to publish all my content here and let micro.blog handle the rest.