a kettlebell training log, and
a launch pad for aberrant missives

Sunday, October 11, 2009

How I Use Twitter - Or Why (Most Of) You Shouldn't Follow Me

I am @twiddlebells. I knew a couple of my clients were on Twitter and they were cool, hip people, so I signed up too. I wanted to know who their friends were, and whether they could help me spread some @twiddlebells goodness. I also have this narcissistic belief that I am wise and witty (which my Facebook friends will validate). I wanted to impress my tweeps, but soon I ran into a huge problem:

@twiddlebells hates everyone from Obama to God and therefore constantly offends people who are into Obama or God. Therefore you shouldn't follow me if you are easily offended. Chances are, I hate you too. Just because I also hate Bush doesn't make you follower-worthy to me.

@twiddlebells' likeness is represented by the picture of a kettlebell, the same one that everybody steals from Dragon Door. This, in my opinion, is slightly more interesting than the white tweetie bird in blue, green, or orange background. (How are the colors assigned anyway?) I'm sorry if the picture misleads, but I do not tweet about my fucking workouts. Therefore you shouldn't follow me if you're looking for workout ideas, or inspiration, or encouragement. I don't record, I don't track. I train, I enjoy, I do something else.

Fitness often comes hand-in-hand with nutrition. Those of you who read my tweets know that I write about cupcakes and ice-cream everyday. Ad nauseum. Cupcakes and ice-cream are an important part of my stream of consciousness, the recording of which is Twitter's purported raison d'être. Believe me, if you pay me I can show you how to eat five desserts a day (plus two square meals) and stay a Size 0, but you shouldn't follow me if you're looking for weightloss ideas, or inspiration, or encouragement, because you will hate me. I resolved on January 1, 2009 to eat one cupcake a day for the whole year. I have been outdoing myself. Yes, you hate me.

A lot of people follow each other for "networking," professional reciprocity, or whatever you'd like to call it. I respect that, if you are actually making good use of the information you read. If 500 people are following each other and pathologically tweeting and re-tweeting each other's workouts and blog links and the same fitness articles that everybody reads and writing Bravo! and Awesome! to each other - well, I have to say, WTF! I don't write about my own training, and have very little interest in yours. (I do swings and get-ups à la Enter The Kettlebell, end of story.) I appreciate the #followfriday, but really, no thank you. You shouldn't follow me if you keep tweeting about the same topic (workouts) and want me to follow you back. I won't. If you want penpals (and I like having online friends) let's do it on Facebook. (Hello my ex-Twitter-now-Facebook friends!)

I am humbled that some very accomplished professionals are following my Twitter stream. I am sorry I don't have much to add to the discourse, as I use Twitter as a private social vehicle, not for marketing or keeping up with the industry. I hate announcing my own classes and workshops on Twitter and Facebook (which is perhaps something that I should get over, but I am very much a purist). Yes, I did say I want to spread @twiddlebells goodness, but sometimes, you just want to ride the elevator without having a pitch!

I don't care about numbers, so I am not into reciprocal following. I don't use a private account because I want to make it easier for my stalkers and people in general to find me. I prune my follower list periodically. All bots, most businesses, britney.fucked.vids, and creepy people get eliminated. If you look relatively harmless, you stay. If you seem cool and different I may follow you back. Very few people make this cut. I only follow 20 entities - 3 food purveyors, 2 other businesses, 1 cartoon guy, and 14 real people (4 of whom I have not met, but would like to).

Basically, if you're not a personal friend or client (or prospective friend or client), you should have very little interest in what I tweet about, except for the funny vids or pics that we all come across each day. "Following" requires both subject and object (as opposed to "status updates" which only need you) and tweets are what keep friends continuously apprised of each other's thoughts and exploits so a recap is not necessary when they meet again. Tweets are conversational, hence the @replies. If I appear to lopsidedly favor one or two people in my @replies, it's because these tweeps tweet more and thus evoke more responses. If I appear to write about completely random things, it's because in conversation with friends you don't need to repeatedly explain the context. If you think you know the context, don't be too sure. (If I order revenge on you, I won't announce it on Twitter!) I know when my tweeps go to bed because I am a vampire and I don't sleep. If you're up late too and your profile page is where the only action is, I may just go there and hit "refresh." Periodically I find out cool things about people that way. I also love real-time tweets from an airplane, especially at times when I have to stay up late for non-vampire reasons and need some twitteine*. (@virginamerica way cool!)

Admittedly, I am not using social media in a way that might make me more money. I don't want to act in ways that I myself find annoying. Mutual annoyance, mutual masturbation, bots following bots - not my thing, go away. I'm still learning how to navigate Web 2.0 to make it enhance my relationships, not botch them. Yeah, I still hate Obama and God, but I love and value my friends for their love and entertainment value.

*twitteine: an addictive substance, like caffeine, that makes you crave for more tweets; may induce stalking-like behavior. (And you read about it here first!)

PSA: October 17 Level 1 Kettlebell Workshop in San Francisco. I don't mind people tweeting about @twiddlebells goodness!

Back To The Playground

I stopped blogging at the end of January because I couldn't think of more random things to write about myself. Of course, to the unconcerned, everything is random. To someone who cares, this is a little window from which to view the inside workings of my convoluted mind. I'm still trying to figure it out. At this point, all I can say is I know more than you do about what's meaningful for me. No, this is not an exercise of sharing. Sometimes I want to say things that I'm too indifferent or afraid or lazy to say in person, for the sake of not getting into uncomfortable conversations that highlight the need for more uncomfortable conversations. Here, I can hide behind my own polished and uninterrupted eloquence. So here we go again!

Friday, January 30, 2009

25 Random Things

There's this thing going around on Facebook where you're supposed to write 25 random things about yourself, and tag 25 friends to make them go through the same exercise. I was absolutely determined to hate whoever tagged me, because I seriously do not need any homework. So there are already three strikes out there for the three people who have tagged me so far. But since one is a long-time friend, one is an awesome client, and one is an incredibly charming guy, all three are forgiven on account of One, and I relent. I may reveal myself to be arrogant and bitchy (as if you don't already know it), and narcissistic by nature of this very act of writing randomly about myself, but these "facts" that decorate my lifescape may well be considered incidental and inconsequential. I am a private person and my memoirs are not forthcoming. The one and only decade-long sob story of my life - oh so pathetic, melodramatic, and perchance a tad tragic - has been told, listened to, contemplated upon, accepted, embraced, and released. This is not a tell-all and I do hope this sentiment is reciprocated. I have enjoyed reading about my friends' eccentricities and odd experiences, and I hope mine can equally amuse and entertain. Just please don't tell me about your botched suicide attempt or the time you had sex with your horse via Facebook.

  1. I am a vampire. I don't get anything done during the day. I like to work, train, eat, surf, and write after sundown. If I do Turkish get-ups in the daytime, I see all my hair and dirt on the carpet and I get depressed. In the evening I dim the lights and I don't see anything. I am wired biologically to sleep between 5 and 11 am. Since I endeavor to live, eat, sleep and die green, I have been thinking of getting an Ecopod for my bed. Too bad they don't make it queen or king size because I'd sure like to make out with another vampire.

  2. I don't own a tv. When I first graduated from college, I bought one and had it for three years, during which time the only show I ever watched was ER. Since then, and before the age of Netflix, internet streaming, and DVD drive, I did not watch any television. (Okay, so I bought a little watchman with a 2" screen to watch World Cup Soccer and the Olympics when they came around every four years, but that was it.) The first series that I've watched since getting Netflix was Grey's Anatomy. I like medical dramas! McDreamy is sweet and McSteamy is hot - which one are you???

  3. In high school, my friends and I used to steal the physics test the day before from the teacher's waste paper basket. I would then compile the answers for distribution. I always did my own homework and came up with my own solutions to problem sets (because I trusted nobody) but I freely circulated my science and math answers during exams for my friends to copy. Yes, I am ultra-competitive and I am not a team player, but as long as I come out on top (and I did graduate first in my class) I am actually quite generous. On the geek track it was hard to be bad any other way.

  4. The summer after high school, I received an all-expenses paid scholarship to spend six weeks in Israel. When I first learned about this opportunity, I told my parents my intention to apply for it. They said, please don't, so I did. I secretly went to the interview (which was held on the Columbia University campus), and then of course I got the award. This was an international science program hosted by the Weizmann Institute of Science with about 80 students from all over the world. I was placed in a biophysics lab and did research on graft-vs-host disease in bone marrow transplants. They took us all over the country hiking and exploring, and we spent some days in the desert conducting field experiments. I swam in the Dead Sea and climbed the Masada. This was my first most excellent adventure!

  5. The summer before that, between my junior and senior years, I got an NIH-funded scholarship to attend a science program at the University of Iowa. My connecting flight to the land of corn was on a propeller plane - scary! I landed in a lab with a graduate student whose first name was also Cecilia. My tasks: homogenize human eyeballs (donated from the deceased), put pureed eyeballs in the centrifuge to spin and separate, and perform chromatography assays on the resultant goo. I got really good at it, and practically ran the lab by myself when the other Cecilia was away for some days, and received a glowing review from the professor. We also did something terrible to a huge sad-looking rabbit, for which I deserved to be put on PETA's death list. But I have been a good vegan all these years and I gave money to SaveABunny.org - I know there are starving children in the world but this is Jill's pet project - so I hope I have sufficiently atoned for my complicity in this one atrocious act in the name of science.

  6. I love to sing and grew up singing in school and church choirs. Classical or religious choral music is what I like the most. In college, I joined the Memorial Church Choir and went to service every Sunday just for the musical and aesthetic experience. I was their bible-reading girl too. I never saw any of my classmates who were real Christians. They preferred the bible-study group thing, but since I didn't believe in hell and had an immense aversion to sitting around and "share," I stuck with the stage and the podium. I know I am still hell-bound, at least according to my mother. But you're all going down with me, so I have no fear.

  7. I have to cover my ears when I sleep. My family came from tropical Hong Kong, where it was hot and humid in the summer, and mosquitoes grew like flies, and I always had a hard time falling asleep because as soon as I dozed off, one of those blood suckers would go "wung wung wung" by my ear. Have you ever seen a mosquito settle on your bare skin, and moments later it's transmogrified into a sinister little red balloon - and what do you do? Smash it? Spank yourself and splatter and smear your own flesh and blood all over? We lived on the first floor of a high-rise building, which didn't help. They chose me over my siblings and parents, no doubt because I tasted better. I had shown up in school covered in mosquito bites. My teachers asked me if I had chicken pox. One time, a mosquito got into my ear while I slept. It escaped, but I was traumatized. I haven't seen a Hong Kong-style mosquito for decades, but I still sleep under the covers, even in mid-summer nights. For some reason, when I'm on vacation, staying in a hotel or with someone, my compulsion temporarily releases me, and I feel safe to expose my sleepy head. Which tells me I probably should go sleep around more, anywhere but on my own bed.

  8. There was a period in my life when I felt I needed some convincing that I was a good, unselfish human being, so I signed up to volunteer with San Francisco's Zen Hospice Project. For a year, I spent five hours every Sunday afternoon in the hospice ward of Laguna Honda Hospital, hanging out and helping out and trying to be all zen and mindful and embracing and spacious in my witnessing of those momentous end-of-life moments. What I learned about myself: (i) I was never really sad when someone passed on; perhaps I didn't care enough, or maybe I think death was just one big shrug. (ii) I had a morbid curiosity about the dying process, had read the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying from cover to cover, and often wondered about the bardos while still sincerely attempting to do tonglen practice for the "imminent" folks. (iii) I really hated it when little old ladies or men pinched my cheeks and said, "You're so cute!" In the end, it comes down to this: To die well one has to live well. I don't know if I'm a better person for having done this, but if I end up with a volunteer by my deathbed mucking around saying mantras, I promise not to pinch her cheeks.

  9. I have only spent money at Starbucks once in my whole life. I was bored and hungry and rationalized my way into trying the Frappuccino which predictably turned into a cookie binge. My other three Starbucks visits were paid for by the people I was with. First time - t'was the day after my sister's wedding in the summer of 2002, in Louisville, Kentucky, a town which I had never heard of until a few months prior. My entire clan found the entire downtown deserted on a Sunday afternoon, so reluctantly we went to the airport early and sat at the Starbucks. Second time - I was visiting said sister in Washington, DC, last year. She has, since my first Starbucks encounter, begotten three offsprings and her kids apparently needed an outing, and it had to be Starbucks. Third time, and most recently - I was attending Pavel's strength stretching and super abs workshops in Sacramento in November. We managed to spend the entire lunch hour walking to the Starbucks and back. Pavel bought tea for us and nobody ate anything. I have observed that when the Chief's around, everybody automatically goes on the Warrior Diet.

  10. I once was so broke that I answered a craigslist ad to "donate" 5 cc of blood to a UCSF research project for a $20 stipend. I parked my car at the bottom of the hill and walked up towards Parnassus, a cold sweat breaking out. The thought of needle penetration made me extremely squeamish, even though I generally have a high pain tolerance and don't mind blood and gore. I met the doctor, signed the release, and he proceeded to grope around for the vein on the inside of my left arm. For someone like me with a pulse so faint that I can't find it half the time, and blood pressure low enough to qualify some folks for a pace-maker, this was not easy. He had to poke a few times to get the needle in. I was trying to be very zen about all this, staying detached, and attempting to induce an out-of-body experience. Perhaps that was why the blood stopped flowing after a few drops. The doctor pulled the needle out and started to prep my right arm. The thought of Take 2 sent me reeling. I swooned and fainted and caught myself on the table. Orange juice and crackers appeared under my nose, but both he and I knew this had nothing to do with needing replenishment. We are talking about less than 2 cc of blood drawn. I lose way more than that during my periods, and I never miss a beat in my workouts and classes. Needle phobia. The doctor told me he'd taken over 250 samples and I was the first case he had to abort for that reason. I was mightily embarrassed. He gave me the $20 anyway "for showing up," but for his parting advise, he said, "Don't ever bother going to give blood."

  11. Worst childhood trauma - I was once mistaken for a lamp post - by a dog. Enough said.

  12. (This list will get done at some point, with divine or diabolic intervention!)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Stage Right

Back in September, our taiko school presented the Meigetsu (Harvest Moon) Taiko Fest at Dance Mission Theater in San Francisco. Rhythm is the pulse of life passionately articulated and fiercely expressed. I am immensely grateful to our sensei, Bruce "Mui" Ghent, for his faith that we could actually pull this off. Bruce had a vision for us when we couldn't see beyond our own drum sticks. That's the definition of a great coach. What a thrilling experience!

Here are a couple of clips from the show (courtesy of Babs). The AV quality may not be the best, but my mom said she watched them over and over, so I guess they're alright.


This was our opening song. The stage was darkened in the beginning and I hit the first note at 1:06. For those of you who've never met me in person, I (shortie with pigtails) was on stage right / house left - which turned out to be right in the middle of this screen, front row, in line with the head of a guy in the audience. We circled around twice, but I always ended up in the same spot.


This was the grand finale. There were five of us on the front row, with our sensei in the center. Find me all the way to the left of the screen (at times cut off). At 1:50 my friend Anne Dunlap and I played a 4-bar duet.

Our 2009 show is scheduled for the weekend after Labor Day. Come see us live in action! It's way more exciting than watching YouTube!

Saturday, January 17, 2009