Well 2009 is in the rearview mirror. I know it was a tough year for many, but for me it was quite remarkable - I made a great number of new friends and actually kept a New Year's Resolution! What made it so significant? In a way, I'm embarrassed to say, but it was the social network twitter! twitter? How so? Read on...
I opened a twitter account in mid-December 2008. My wife was already using twitter before then, and I made a lot of fun of her for doing so. Like many uninitiated, I didn't understand how the communication concept - 140 characters at time - could be useful or expressive! Nonetheless, with my account opened, I started clicking around. I had no idea what I was doing, but with my interests in Milwaukee, golf, music, food, and travel, I started looking for people that shared my hobbies. Sure enough, I found people who I found interesting and, remarkably, they found me interesting back! I also discovered a new hobby or interest: composing funny, thought-provoking, or - at the very least - properly punctuated tweets.
For the first couple of months, my twitter friends were only virtual, but I didn't have a lot of interest in keeping digital pen pals. Meeting and getting to know real people is what life's all about! By year's end, my free-time and social life was significantly affected by the new friends I made on twitter. I hesitate to write the next part of this blog, for fear that I'll leave someone out, but there are some folks who have proven just too important to not mention.
First and foremost has to be the social media power couple Tom and Marjie Snyder (@triveraguy and @triveragirl). The reason I have to put them at the top is Tom is possibly the most responsible for unleashing the beast within! My wife dragged me to a tweetup where I met Tom and Marjie. Tom showed me twitter's ropes and how I could more easily access information and find people that shared my interests. Since then we've seen each other a number of times over the year and it always makes my day to see this übercool twosome. They even let me sleep on their couch when I got really, really tired ;). That couch is still available on Craigslist. It's nearly free and there's not even been an offer! It's like my drool is toxic or something...
Anne Munkwitz (@bananza) for helping me keep 2009's resolution and for being a lot of fun. Like many New Year's resolutions, I needed to improve my fitness in 2009. January 1st, I tipped the scales at 208 pounds! I started watching what I ate and began a regular regimen of running a couple of miles a week. I ran into Anne (figuratively) minutes before the East Town Association's Storm the Bastille 5K run - I recognized her from her twitter avatar! We ran the 5K with a group of friends and since then she has kept pushing me to continue running. The big boost came after October. October is typically a lousy workout month for me as it is usually dominated by business travel and tradeshows. I've fallen out of my workout habit on more than one October, but this time, Anne sent me a message on dailymile: "I miss seeing your workout postings." - or something like that. That was just the push I needed. Here's proof: 47 miles in September, 10 in October, 56 in November, and 114 in December! Without her reminder message, there's no doubt November and December would have been 10-mile months. She even challenged me to run 110 miles in the month of December. It was a challenge that I had a lot of fun accomplishing and even ran 4 more than I needed. Thanks Anne!! (BTW - Now 190 lbs.)
Sara Meaney (@SaraMeaney), Mike Brenner (@MikeBrenner), and the Raggle Taggle gang at Brocach. Sara and her husband Mark have organized a regular open music session on Tuesday nights at Brocach. I've been a basement guitarist and singer for many years, but have seldom played out. They welcomed me into the session and gave me the support and confidence to at least try. I am sure there are sessions when they regret it (my singing needs work - lots of work!), but I think my guitar-playing at least doesn't hurt anybody's ears. And the session is always more fun when Mike joins in with his accordian, drum, and cuíca. Well maybe not the cuíca so much, but it's still a good time! Thanks guys. It's meant a lot to me and I'm really looking to future sessions. My goal is to be good by 2015. Hang on!
Joe Woelfle aka @BlatzLiquor. Joe is significant because just before I started writing the above paragraph, he tweeted me and we went out for a beer at Leff's Lucky Town. Well, there's other reasons too. Joe is an all-around good guy and sort of a Ground Zero for the Milwaukee twittersphere. I've had a blast hangin' out with him at a couple of different watering holes and somehow, with Joe's help, we're gonna celebrate those 110 December miles. I'll keep you posted. And Joe's got a big year planned with his upcoming wedding to his lovely fiancée Claire. Join me in wishing them a joyous wedding and a fulfilling lifetime together.
Bruce Dierbeck (@BtotheD). Bruce is one of the first people I met from twitter. Bruce got together with me and Kay on Memorial Day at the the Hi Hat Lounge and Garage. We were going to meet for "one". You can guess how that turned out! We had a great time and Bruce is just as funny in person as he is on twitter. Since then we've gotten together a number of times and it always winds up being a barrel of laughs. Bruce also has been a regular pusher of mine on Dailymile and I greatly appreciate it. I also greatly appreciate that he lets me make fun of Bread (the band). I'm not sure he really "lets" me, but he hasn't yet tried to maim me for doing so.
Sara Santiago and Agustin Santiago (@SaraSantiago and @AgustinSantiago). At the risk of plagiarizing Anne Munkwitz's blog, Sara and Augie are just two of the nicest people I'll ever know. We've only hung out a handful of times, but Sara's support of me and Kay after Kay's New Year's Day Asthma attack was just wonderful. We appreciated it so much. It's the kind of thing that'll put a lump in your throat and make you appreciate the power of good people and - it's really all owed to - twitter! I think if I heard somebody say something bad about the Santiagos I'd punch 'em in the throat. I'm looking forward to cigars and cook-outs in the summer of 2010!
Where to stop this blog is not an easy thing to determine. There are so many wonderful people I've met - and many more that I haven't - who have made 2009 a wonderful year. To those I've met, I look forward to seeing you again; to those I haven't, I'm looking forward to meeting you out for "one". :)