• Thoughts on Threads


    So Meta launched their “Twitter killer” app Threads last weekend, and in a few days has amassed over 100 million users.

    This is an incredible growth rate for a new social platform. It speaks volumes about how toxic and divisive Twitter has become that people are so eagerly and actively looking for the next thing.

    Mastodon and the Fediverse have also been enjoying influxes of users coming in various waves over the past year since Musk bought Twitter. But nothing like what happened on Threads this week.

    Threads is interesting. Ostensibly built on ActivityPub, it could theoretically be a member of the Fediverse sometime in the future. This remains to be seen as they have not begun to federate, but apparently intend to.

    It should come as no surprise that I am a big fan of Mastodon and the Fediverse, the latter of which I think is the best way forward for social media on the internet.

    Corporately owned walled gardens are unhealthy and bristle against the principles of the internet, and I am hopeful at signs the network is beginning to reject them.

    The launch has been pretty impressive growth-wise. In a world where new social apps typically get launched behind an invite-code so the engineers can manage scale and growth, Meta had no such concerns with Threads- they’ve got the infrastructure and experience to operate at massive scale ready on day one, and it showed.

    Meta also brilliantly bootstrapped the service using the Instagram social graph, making it exceedingly easy for any of Insta’s 2 billion users (well the ones in the countries where Threads has launched) to sign up and immediately be connected to all the same people and brands they are already familiar with.

    And Meta clearly did a lot of preparation for the launch, lining up all the brands and celebrities, along with a verification system to prevent squatters and impersonators, cheekily similar looking to Elon’s blue check of shame.

    While I am impressed with the day one experience of Threads, and I can see the appeal for a large number of users, there is still the fact that it is owned by big bad Meta.

    Nobody should want a single company to own the entire social graph. This is clearly too much power for a single corporation to hold, and Meta has shown itself willing to abuse that kind of power.

    So I find myself conflicted over Threads. I am intrigued by their choice to build on ActivityPub, and am cautiously optimistic that Meta could surprise us all and become good Fediverse citizens.

    But I am keenly aware of the “Embrace, Extend, Extinguish” business principle and fear for what could happen to the Fediverse, given Meta’s sheer size and proclivities. The gravitational pull of such a big instance being added to the Fediverse could drastically change the landscape.


  • Spicy chicken sandwich-gorithm


    So Twitter open-sourced its algorithm today, and the community jumped into action to help Elon improve this platform he accidentally bought as a joke. Here are some of my favourite pull requests made to the repo today.

    This helpful fix nukes the Twitter Blue amplification on the For You tab:

    There were quite a few along the same lines as “Small fix to meaningfully improve the mental health of Twitter users” that just deletes the entire algorithm:

    I feel like this bit of code may have been a more recent addition:

    (nothing a little force-push can’t tidy up)

    This one’s just a Spicy Chicken Sandwich:

    Lotta LGTMs on that one.

    This person raises an important question

  • Thrift store finds


    Some solid thrift store finds tonight! The cassette selection was a little light, but the CD selection was on point!

    I probably already own a few of these in other formats. Heck, I probably already own a couple of these on CD. But hey, for $2 I’m not gonna worry too much about it.

    I haven’t bought this much music in such a short period in years (or maybe ever). I’m hauling armloads home every week!

    It’s just good to be back to buying music on the regular. Vinyl prices have really put a damper on that recently. I still love vinyl of course, but bang for buck, CDs are where it’s at.

  • Groundhog day is coming


    Still image from the movie Groundhog Day featuring Bill Murray and the groundhog driving a car.

    The big day is right around the corner! By this time next week, groundhogs (and other weather-predicting rodents, mammals, or otherwise) all over North America will emerge from their dens and tell the rest of us how much more of this winter we have to endure.

    Aside from dusting off your copy of the Bill Murray classic, you may want to get ready for the big day by visiting groundhog-day.com for all your groundhog related information needs.

    Pet project of a good friend and coworker, the website features a list of active weather-predicting groundhogs, a comprehensive history of groundhog day, a mountain of prediction data going back to Punxsutawney Phil‘s first prediction in 1887, a map view so you can find the groundhog closest to you, and profiles of all these adorable little creatures.

    And while they’re not all groundhogs (alternative groundhogs!), they’re not all alive, and some are just a person in a groundhog suit, they all bring a little levity and joy to a cold and dreary time of year, and who couldn’t use a bit of that.

  • Are CD’s the new vinyl?


    I’ve been collecting music my entire life.

    I’ve collected all the formats – starting in my tweens in the 80’s with cassettes and vinyl (mostly 45s), CD’s in the 90’s for the bulk of my late-teens and twenties, and I caught the early wave of the vinyl resurgence in my thirties at the top of the aughts.

    I have vivid memories of buying music throughout my life.

    I remember buying my first cassette, oddly a Kenny Rogers compilation album, at Pascal’s a now-defunct everything-store on Merivale Rd.

    I remember buying Paul’s Boutique on cassette at HMV in the Rideau Centre.

    I remember flipping through cassette singles at that same location and buying Public Enemy’s 911 is a joke.

    I remember buying Use Your Illusion I&II on cassette at Compact Music in Westgate Mall when I was on break from my grocery store job.

    In the late 90’s and early 00’s a friend and I were buying so much electronic music, we knew when new music day was at HMV and would go religiously to find new CD imports.

    And around 2003 I remember kickstarting my new vinyl collection by buying a few milk crates of records at an estate sale down the street from my childhood home.

    When the digital music revolution began, I “collected” MP3s and used all the services starting with Napster and later iTunes and the rest.

    When streaming came along, I was slow to adopt, but eventually signed up for Spotify.

    (Then later quit Spotify when they threw $200 million at Joe Rogan and tried to create a walled-garden around podcasting, while paying musicians, arguably the backbone of their service, barely a pittance)

    Tell me what I like

    Streaming music is generally a passive act. For me at least, my typical experience is putting on an automatic playlist or “station” and letting the algorithm pick songs for me.

    Sometimes I will search an artist and put on a specific album, but most streaming services are clearly not optimized for this way of listening.

    And the algorithms are not tuned to help you discover new music or expand your horizons, they are tuned to keep you on the service, so they just feed you things they think you already like.

    This is not the worst thing in the world, hey it’s all music I like! And of course some services do have “discovery” playlists for the adventurous. But new music discovery can still be challenging, even with the massive library of a streaming service.

    The convenience of streaming goes a long way in its defence, of course. You can’t beat the availability and ubiquity of it.

    That’s a good thing, and I don’t think I’ll ever not have some kind of streaming service on my phone.

    A participatory act.

    One of the reasons for the resurgence and continued popularity of vinyl is the physical act required to listen to it.

    It’s a participatory and purposeful act. You must take a physical disc and place it on the turntable and place the needle. You need to get up halfway through and flip it.

    It encourages listening to albums over tracks. You are enveloped by the artist’s full conception.

    Sure there’s a nostalgia factor, there are endless debates about whether it actually “sounds better,” and there’s always the dust and scratches to worry about.

    But there is something about the overall experience of it that brings people back, and part of that is the activity of it.

    The vinyl resurgence.

    When the vinyl resurgence began, it was such a fun time. After two decades of CD’s and a few years of digital downloads and MP3’s, people were yearning for the larger physical format and analog warmth and depth that comes with vinyl (and yes, nostalgia).

    Many spent the 90’s dumping their old records for newer formats (now filled with regret), so there were boatloads of records in bins at whatever was left of indie record shops that you could flip through and purchase for a few dollars.

    You could pick up an entire collection at a garage or estate sale like I did for next to nothing.

    Eventually in-the-know artists started pressing on vinyl again, and picking up a record at a concert became a great way to support the artist, and have a physical memento that won’t be a painting shirt or a car wash rag in a few years.

    Vinyl became an obsession for me, and I quickly built up a pretty solid collection.

    I always felt conflicted about downloading and streaming. On the one hand loving the convenience, but on the other knowing artists have been royally shafted and not wanting to support the system that did it.

    So I doubled down on my vinyl purchasing in the streaming years as a way to hopefully balance things out a bit.

    Lately though, vinyl has gotten extremely expensive. A combination of factors including increasing popularity and a global vinyl shortage have contributed to skyrocketing prices and slow and low availability of new music.

    As a result, my music buying over the last few years has slowed tremendously. I just have a hard time spending $40-$50 on a new record, or $20 for something out of the used bin.

    Gone are the days of plentiful cheap music, at least if you want to own it.

    Enter the humble thrift shop.

    Not so fast. I recently started hitting up some local thrift stores looking for old speakers, amplifiers, tape decks and cd players to feed another hobby of mine, repairing and tinkering with old electronics.

    Given the popularity of vinyl, thrift shops haven’t been a good place to find records for a while. It’s all been picked over before it even gets to the shelf, and all that’s left is Engelbert Humperdinck records. So I would just walk on by the vinyl rack on my way to pick out a $7 tape deck.

    On one recent stop at Value Village, I strolled by the media section and found a handful of cassette tapes and a rush of nostalgia made me buy them. Hey, they’re only $2, I have a tape deck in my garage right now that I need to test, so why not.

    On another visit, I started flipping through the CD’s, also reasonably priced at $2, and picked out a small handful.

    And this is when something kind of clicked in my brain. Recently I thought I had been missing the act of buying vinyl. I was feeling wistful for those early days of collecting during the resurgence, and resentful of the current state of affairs.

    What I realized in the parking lot of that thrift shop is that it wasn’t the act of buying vinyl that I missed, but the act of buying and listening to music.

    I’ll literally buy anything for $2.

    CD’s are currently at the same point vinyl was in the early days of its resurgence. People have been dumping their CD collections as they move to streaming, and you can buy them for dirt cheap.

    Now, rather than reeling from sticker shock at the record store and walking out empty handed, I’m walking out of thrift shops with an armful of CDs or tapes, and loving it!

    And if you’re looking to buy new music, CDs are generally half the price of vinyl or less. Heck, some artists are even starting to release music on cassette again because they’re just so cheap to produce and sell.

    Record shops are starting to stock CDs again alongside vinyl, and with the stark price difference, people are shifting their buying again. In fact, shipments of CDs in the US popped by nearly 50% in 2021 over the previous year.

    That dopamine hit

    And this is what I have missed. The act of finding and buying music. The feel of the cassette case, the CD jewel box, or the vinyl record in my hand as I walk out the door of the shop.

    It’s the little tickle in the brain. That dopamine hit I get when I buy an album and take it home and listen for the first time.

    It’s not the format, but the ritual of buying and listening to music.

    CD’s and tapes have that same participatory feel as records, and scratch that itch for me as well.

    And because CDs and Tapes are so cheap, I’ll try all kinds of new (to me) stuff I wouldn’t buy otherwise. I’m discovering (and rediscovering) all kinds of music again.

    So for me anyway, CD’s are the new vinyl, and I’ve got a new (old) obsession to feed.

  • New Year’s Eve New Board Game


    Last night for a variety of reasons, we had a rather quiet night in to ring in the new year. Earlier in the day I had bought a new game from someone on the Ottawa Board Game Market, so we figured this was a good night to try it out.

    The game is Pan Am, set in the “golden age of air travel” you are an independent airline competing with other players to build a network of routes with the goal of selling routes to Pan Am and in turn buying up Pan Am stock to win the game.

    As would be expected for a first time through, gameplay was a bit slow and stuttered as we figured things out, but by the end we really enjoyed the gameplay and will definitely be bringing it to a bigger group table soon.

  • What is it about Mastodon?


    Mastodon Social Network Logo

    Keen-eyed observers will note that this blog has been fairly inactive for a very long time. It’s been my little corner of the web for many years. I bought the domain in 2004, though I didn’t start posting here until 2007. The archives go back to about 2000, with many posts imported from earlier online spaces of mine (Blogger, anyone?).

    For years though, this website has languished, with tiny spurts of activity and long bouts of silence.

    So what is it that’s gotten me inspired to start writing here again? With two posts this past week on Mastodon, obviously that’s been a bit of an inspiration, but what is it about Mastodon that has me wanting to revive this little old blog of mine?

    In short, it’s something I touched on in a previous post – the way Mastodon reminds me of the early days of the internet.

    Back before private equity and corporations took over and started building walled gardens to keep us trapped us inside.

    Before advertisers started throwing mountains of money at anyone who could deliver eyeballs and mountains of personal data in return.

    Before the great algorithm that rules all, and tells us what we want to see, as it peels back our eyelids and force-feeds us the content that will maximize “engagement”.

    Before rage farming and viral tweets and celebrity meltdowns and election misinformation and covid disinformation and the endless battle against spam and bots and nazis.

    The internet in its early days was a place made by the users of the internet, for each other. People had their own spaces, loosely connected over technologies like RSS and Atom.

    The very foundation of the internet is openness. The free exchange of ideas and information. With open standards and protocols to tie it all together.

    The modern social web is the antithesis of the open web. It is all walled gardens with anemic APIs and private apps. It does not want you to move around and explore the open web, it wants you to stay seated and receive the content that will keep you engaged while it siphons off your personal data to sell to advertisers.

    Mastodon and the Fediverse feel like a return to that earlier internet. Without advertising, it feels unblemished by corporate greed. Without the algorithm constantly elevating the latest trends and viral messages above even the people you choose to follow, Mastodon feels more conversational. Engagement takes on a new/renewed meaning.

    When you find a Mastodon community aligned with your interests, your local timeline is a treasure trove of new connections and conversations. Your home timeline is your own, made up of who and what you follow, with the newest stuff up top.

    There are no tracking cookies, no link proxies, no advertisements, and no data harvesting. Mastodon doesn’t know where you’ve been and it doesn’t try to follow you around the internet.

    And Mastodon is built on an open protocol, ActivityPub. More broadly, the Fediverse is made up of many different services that implement ActivityPub, and all of these disparate services are connected to each other.

    The Fediverse is distributed and decentralized, but not in a bullshit web3 marketing kinda way. It is small pieces loosely joined.

    But I digress.

    So what does all that have to do with this blog? I mean, aside from inspiring a few posts? Well it’s gotten me thinking about my presence on the web and data ownership.

    This is my home on the internet. Over the years, I’ve struggled with how it fits into the broader ecosystem of the modern internet and social media.

    It languished while I built up my presence in other spaces, sharing my thoughts and stories elsewhere.

    But Mastodon has reminded me of what was, and can be again. We don’t have to give over the entire public square to private ownership by a few.

    We can build our own communities, and we can own our data and self-publish, and still find human connection on the internet.

    And we don’t have to sell ourselves to do it.

    So, is this just another spurt of activity, soon to be followed by a long silence? I don’t know.

    But as I dig further into Mastodon and the Fediverse, I find myself inspired to write about it, and this is where I will do that.

  • Choosing a Mastodon Server and Why You Shouldn’t Stress About It


    Mastodon Social Network Logo

    The average person’s experience of signing up for a social network thus far has been pretty straight-forward. When you join Twitter, you go to twitter.com and sign up, that’s it. You’re on Twitter. Or perhaps you download the app and sign up there. But beyond picking your username, there’s not much else in terms of decisions to be made.

    One of the first stumbling blocks for new users coming to Mastodon is the concept of servers. It can be a source of confusion initially, particularly for non-tech folks as the terminology can be unfamiliar.

    A common suggestion offered to people joining Mastodon, is that choice of server is important. Finding a like-minded community that has values and guidelines that align with your expectations will greatly improve your experience, particularly with local feeds.

    As such, many people face a touch of analysis paralysis when scrolling through that big list of servers, reading descriptions, server rules, and codes of conduct, not quite understanding the full significance of this choice, but having the sense that it’s somewhat important.

    This introductory experience can be a bit confusing to some, and downright fear and stress-inducing to others. But it doesn’t have to be.

    I’m a PHP developer but also more generally an open source software enthusiast. Should I join phpc.social, or fosstodon.org? I of course have interests besides technology as well. I am Canadian, should I join mstdn.ca? There are literally thousands of servers out there all dedicated to different interests with different rules and community guidelines.

    One of the things to know about Mastodon is that unlike just about every social website in history, your data and profile are largely portable, meaning you can change servers and take your data with you.

    The process is a bit clunky, and there are limitations, but knowing it’s possible should make your initial choice of server a little less stressful, as you can always move, and take your followers, follows, and other data with you.

    I’ll get to how that works, but first let’s talk a bit about why Mastodon is like this.

    Why must I choose?

    Mastodon is a decentralized network, meaning there is no central server behind the service, there is no single owner. The network is made up of a bunch of independent servers, some run by organizations, some run by individuals.

    Some servers are quite large like the general-interest mastodon.social with 178k active users, where some shared-interest servers like the one I’m on, fosstodon.org is a bit smaller with 18k active users.

    Some servers might be invite-only or require prospective users to fill out an application as the owner is looking to build a more curated community, and some people even setup their own single-user servers just for themselves.

    All of these servers share content by federation over the ActivityPub protocol- basically, they all speak the same language and can easily pass data back and forth, which is what enables somebody on one server to follow and receive content from anybody on any other server in the network.

    This all sounds very complicated, but it’s not really. A very common analogy that everyone should be familiar with is Email. We all have email addresses. You might have a Gmail address, or a Yahoo, or Hotmail. Maybe your email is provided by your Internet Service Provider, or maybe you somehow still have an @aol.com account. Many of us have email addresses specific to our place of work.

    All of these email addresses are hosted on different servers and all of these servers can speak with each other and exchange data because they speak a common language or protocol.

    This is why Mastodon user ids are a bit more complex-looking. When you’re looking for a person on Mastodon, you will generally need their username and their server. For example, I’m @dsamojlenko. Like with email, the part after the second @ is the server where my profile lives, and helps your server find my profile on my server.

    There is a bunch of nuance and exceptions here, like when you’re addressing someone on your own server, you don’t need the back half of the address. And if your server for some reason blocks my server, then we won’t be able to follow each other as our servers can’t communicate.

    But that’s it in a nutshell- there is no one central authority or server called Mastodon. There are a bunch of independently run communities running Mastodon software that can communicate across their boundaries using a shared protocol.

    How to move your profile to a new server

    Note: not quite everything is completely portable - any content and media you shared on the server can be exported, but cannot be imported to another server. This is due to technical limitations.

    When changing servers, you can export your followed accounts, muted accounts, blocked accounts, and blocked servers to a .csv file, which you can then import to your new profile.

    To do this, on your old profile, go to Preferences->Import and export->Export, then select the things you want to take with you and export them to files.

    Then on your new profile, go to Preferences->Import and export->Import and upload your files there. Easy peasy!

    This works great for your follows, lists, blocks, and so on. But what about your followers? There is no .csv export available for them. You need some way of letting them all know where you’ve moved to, so they can update your address in their follow list.

    Thankfully, Mastodon has made this process really easy. At the bottom of your Profile page, you’ll see a section with features to redirect your old profile and automatically update your followers with your new address.

    This process is completed in two steps. First, you have to setup your new account. On the Profile of your new account, click the link under “Moving from a different account.”

    Here you will enter the address of your old account and click “Create alias.”

    Next, you will forward your old account to the new one by visiting the link under “Move to a different account” on the Profile of your old account.

    On this screen, enter the address of your new account, and your password for your old one, and click Move Followers.

    Boom! All of your followers will automatically be instructed to unfollow your old account, and to follow your new account.

    This could take a bit of time as the request needs to be federated through the network to wherever your followers are. It also may not work for all of your followers as some servers may not support the move activity.

    But again, just knowing this is possible should take a bit of the stress off of choosing “the right server” from the get-go.

    I still need to choose a server, how do I decide?

    All that said, there are a few simple things to keep in mind when choosing a server to get started on.

    I highly recommend starting with the list at joinmastodon.org. Any servers listed there must adhere to the Mastodon Server Covenant, a baseline set of requirements that the server operator will commit to:

    • Active moderation against racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia
    • Daily backups
    • At least one other person with emergency access to the server infrastructure
    • Commitment to give users at least 3 months of advance warning in case of shutting down

    If you find a server that seems to fit your interests, great! Sign up and get exploring! If you’re not sure, pick a general-interest server, or a regional server, or just sign up to mastodon.social, the server run by the creators of Mastodon.

    Over time you’ll get a sense of the community on your server, you’ll learn about other communities, and if you find a place you think would be a better fit, you can just pick up and move.

    And remember, what server you’re on does not determine who you can follow- you can follow anyone anywhere in the Fediverse (as long as your servers don’t block each other, a topic for another time).

    A final consideration, you could just have accounts on multiple servers! Nothing stopping you from participating in multiple communities. Just be respectful of the customs and culture of each.

    Welcome to the Fediverse!

  • Mastodon and the Fediverse


    Mastodon Social Network Logo

    The great un-twittering is well underway. However you feel about Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter, many people are choosing to leave the platform under his leadership, or at least starting to explore alternatives.

    Enter Mastodon. Or, to use the more accurate nomenclature, the Fediverse.

    The Fediverse describes a broader network of services that are connected to each other over the open protocol that powers it all, ActivityPub.

    But nevermind all that for the moment. Mastodon is the Twitter-like microblogging replacement that Twitterati are flocking to in search of the next thing, in case the last thing is not long for this world.

    I first tried Mastodon a few years ago, and found it lacking – buggy, slow, and nobody there. I signed up again about a year ago, and have popped in from time to time to see how things were progressing with this nascent social network.

    With the recent influx of Twitter refugees, the network is being put to the test. User registrations have exploded, some of the bigger servers have been struggling with the load, and there’s a lot of patient Mastodon old-timers sharing explainers on the technology, terminology, practices, and traditions of Mastodon to the new arrivals.

    I have found myself fascinated by it all. It brings to mind the early days of Twitter, and even the early days of the internet itself.

    There’s a real sense of community and DIY-ism. Users are figuring out the conventions and best practices for how to build healthy communities together.

    Mastodon is a federated network, meaning that rather than the network being owned and controlled by a single entity (or individual), the network is made up of many different instances or servers that share content over the ActivityPub protocol.

    Servers are generally oriented around shared interests, so Local timelines populated with posts from people on your server, can be super interesting and useful, and a good way to find people with similar interests to follow.

    Choosing a server to sign up on feels a little daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Ideally, you will join a server that aligns with your interests, but there are plenty of general-interest servers, and no matter where you end up, you can follow anyone anywhere in the Fediverse, and your account data is portable.

    In a social media world largely driven by algorithms meant to drive engagement, and walled gardens meant to capture your attention and keep it, Mastodon is refreshing. Your Home timeline is populated with posts from people you follow, in reverse-chronological order.

    Content moderation is not a controversial subject. Indeed people who run servers are encouraged to actively moderate against bad behaviour, or risk being cordoned off from broader network.

    There is no advertising on Mastodon, so the network isn’t trying to aggregate and harness your data in creepy ways to sell your attention to advertisers. Instances are often self-funded through crowd-funding initiatives and donations from the community.

    And it’s all built on open protocols and open source software. This is truly the realization of the dream of the early internet. This is the antidote to the current corporatist algorithm and advertising-driven internet of a few massive websites fighting to extract ever more data from you to sell to the highest bidder.

    The Fediverse is made up of many interest-focused Mastodon servers, but also any service that implements the ActivityPub protocol. There are Instagram-like services (Pixelfed), Facebook-like services (Friendica), YouTube-like services (PeerTube), Meetup-like services (Mobilizon), Reddit-like services (Lemmy), and many more.

    All of these services are connected over the ActivityPub protocol, and you can follow anyone on any service right from Mastodon (or wherever you are in the Fediverse).

    Many quesitons remain. Is Mastodon ready for prime time? Can it really replace Twitter? Will it reach critical mass? Can it scale? Are my friends there? Is it too complicated for normal people? What are Toots and Boosts?

    This blog post is long enough, so I’ll just close by saying that based on my experience the past few days, I’m very optimistic about Mastodon and the Fediverse. It is demonstrating that the open web is still alive and well, and I’ll have a lot more to say about it in the future in this space.

    In the meantime, connect with me in the Fediverse:

    You can also follow this very blog in the fediverse:

  • Marc-Andre


    25 years ago in June 1995, my best friend and I went on a life-changing journey across Canada (well, the western half at least). It was my first trip anywhere without my family, I think it was his as well. 

    We bought a 30-day Greyhound pass, packed our backpacks, and set off.  We spent 150+ hours on the bus over three weeks, and hit every major city (and a lot of little road-side truck stops) from Ottawa to Vancouver and back.

    We went to prom with a friend in Winnipeg, we spent Canada Day on Prince’s Island in Calgary, we mall-ratted in Edmonton, hiked a mountain in Jasper, were awestruck by the city of glass, and we took a rest in Banff before the long trek home. 

    We slept on the bus when we could, stayed in youth hostels wherever we stopped, and we met travellers from around the world. When we couldn’t pronounce their names, we would just refer to them as their country (“Hey Germany, where we going tonight?”). They would teach us about their home countries, and help us see our own through new eyes.

    We made memories for a lifetime. I would go on to develop a love of travel, and would take those experiences with me everywhere I’d go. We would have many more shared experiences in life, but that trip west is what first truly cemented our relationship. 

    As the years passed, that trip would be a touchstone in both our lives. 

    Two and a half decades, our friendship ebbing and flowing as friendships do, we always had that trip, and we always knew that no matter how much time had passed, we would forever be connected through that experience.

    Marc passed away suddenly this weekend. We had not communicated in many years, I feel awful about that. But I think of that trip today, as I have many times over the years, as I know he did as well. That trip would shape our friendship and our lives together and apart.

    What a long and crazy trip it’s turned out to be.
    I miss you buddy.
    Rest in peace.