Mate: The Solution to a Problem

There is an ebike in my future.

I was minding my own business yesterday, checking in on Twitter, when I came across a tweet by my friend Mike in Brooklyn. He was linking to an Indigogo campaign about an electric bike. I’ve been looking at ebikes for some time now and clicked the link.

Indiegogo, in case you don’t know, is a website that entrepreneurs use to raise capital for new products. They create prototypes, produce slick videos, and put information on the site that includes support levels and perks. The perks are usually versions of the products or a chance to buy at a reduced rate when the product becomes available.

The video for Mate, the ebike Mike linked to, was slick in a way that only Europeans can make them. In it, the Mate designer described the bike while video clips played, showing off how fun and practical it was. I watched closely; I was interested in two features: motor control and foldability. When both features appeared, I was sold.

Mate
Nicely designed and feature-packed. This is the solution I’ve been looking for.

But Mate has more features that make it perfect for my needs. It has a good suspension with all-terrain tires — that means it’ll work on rough road surfaces. (The video shows it riding on cobblestones.) It weighs in at less than 50 pounds. It has an onboard trip computer that helps control the motor and keeps track of distances. The rechargeable battery is hidden in the frame so there’s no bulky box to deal with. There’s an ergonomic handle that makes it easy to lift if you need to carry it up a flight of stairs. And on the top-of-the-line S model, the battery can take you up to 50 miles and an independent throttle can get the bike up to 20 miles per hour. In other words, this bike can go the distance.

Although Mate isn’t cheap, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than every other ebike or portable bike I’ve seen. Better yet, it’s a lot cheaper than the Honda Grom I’ve been looking at (about $4200) or the cost of getting my new used 100cc dirt bike street ready (about $1200). Yes, it won’t go as fast as either one of those, but I already have a road-ready motorcycle (and now a dirt bike) so I don’t need another fast bike. And with a Mate, I won’t have to worry about how I can take one of those motorcycles with me when I travel (the front hitch with bike carrier solution I was looking at would cost about $700). This will fold up and fit inside the Turtleback, my truck, or even — dare I say it? — my helicopter.

So I signed up for the Mate S. The way I see it, the money I saved by not going with any of the solutions I was already looking at paid for this ebike. And if it does fit onboard the helicopter, I’ll get a lot more use out of it. My only tiny concern is delivery; more than a few Indiegogo campaigns have failed to deliver in the past. This one looks pretty solid, though. I guess time will tell.

As for Mike, well his wife is getting one, too.

Nine Years on Twitter

Twitter LogoAn unexpected anniversary.

This week marks the 10 year anniversary of the social networking site, Twitter. It’s been getting a lot of press and there are a lot of tweets from Twitter highlighting events throughout its history. I read through a bunch of them yesterday and remembered more than a few.

That got me thinking of how long I’d been on Twitter. I went to my profile page, and saw that I opened my account in March 2007. Almost exactly nine years. But what day in March? Had I missed my anniversary?

I Googled “Twitter anniversary date” and discovered Twitter Birthday, a site that exists solely to tell you when a twitter account was opened. I put in my user name. And I discovered that my account was opened on March 20, 2007. Exactly nine years before.

Twitter Birth Certificate
My Twitter “birth certificate,” retrieved exactly nine years after my account was opened.

Over the past nine years, I’ve been very active on Twitter, posting more than 57,000 tweets. I’ve formed good friendships with many people from all over the world that I’ve met on Twitter, including Andy Piper (the first person I ever followed, who now works for Twitter), Miraz Jordan, Ruth Kneale, Barbara Gavin, Shirley Kaiser, Michael T. Rose, Mike Muench, Esther Schindler, Jonathan Bailey, Chuck Joiner, Mike Meraz, Greg Glockner, Daniel Messier, Bob Levine, Ann Torrence, Bryan William Jones, Patty Hankins, April Mains, Debbie Ripps, Pam Baker, Terry Austin, Kirschen Seah, Jodene, Amanda Sargent, Ryan Keough, Steven Pass, Bill Evans, Derek Colanduno, Derek Bartholomaus, Bonnie Pruitt, Arlene Wszalek, Marvyn Robinson, and others.

I’ve met several of these “virtual friends” in person, including Andy (who lives in the U.K.), Shirley (California), Esther (Arizona), Mike Muench (Florida), Mike Meraz (California), Daniel (Arizona), Ann (Utah), Bryan (Utah), Patty (Maryland), Terry (Texas).

Barbara (Massachusetts) and Jodene (Washington) have gone on helicopter rides with me and Amanda (Washington/Louisiana) has actually flown my helicopter in Washington while I was tending to some divorce-related business in Arizona.

I wrote a book with Miraz (New Zealand) and was interviewed once by Marvyn (U.K.) for his Inspired Pilot podcast and multiple times by Chuck (New Jersey) for his MacVoices video podcast.

I’ve also used Twitter to keep in touch with people I already knew from my personal and business life. And organizations that tweet information that interests me. Those lists are too long to recite here.

Twitter has changed my life in another important way, too. In 2009, I authored and recorded the first of several video courses about Twitter for Lynda.com. This turned out to be a real contributor to my income with impressive royalties year after year as the course was regularly revised. (Sadly, I no longer do this course for Lynda and can’t recommend the current version.)

I blogged about Twitter and my relationship to it. My very first post about Twitter concerned then presidential candidate John Edwards using Twitter way back in 2007 to attract voters. That’s not a big deal today, but it was huge back then. Another post from 2007 titled “Reach Out and Meet Someone” covered my thoughts on social media and meeting people online. I felt as if I needed to explain it — it was that new. I also blogged “Four Steps to Get the Most Out of Twitter,” which, nine years later, is still valid. You can read more of my posts about Twitter by following the Twitter tag.

Nine years after joining Twitter, I’m as enthusiastic about it as ever. While it’s true that I’m not thrilled about some of the changes I’ve seen — notably the preponderance of “promoted tweets,” the Moments feature, and the algorithm now used (by default!) to sort your timeline — Twitter has remained unique enough to make it an important component of my social networking efforts. It’s still my “water cooler,” the place I turn to get social when I need a break from my daily activities.

While I lot of people just “don’t get” Twitter, I’m pretty sure that I do. And I expect to be using it for a long time to come.

Night Stalkers

Caught in action!

Game Camera
Game cameras like this offer an affordable way to keep a record of visitors while you’re gone.

Last winter, I set one of my game cameras up on my unfinished deck. I’d found an animal turd on a piece of plywood outside my living room door and wanted to know where it had come from. So I set up the camera — and promptly forgot about it for six months.

Eventually, I got to work on the deck and the game camera was in the way. I brought it inside, where it languished on the windowsill beside my desk for a while and then brought it downstair to the big desk in my shop. I thought it had been turned off, but it hadn’t. It took pictures whenever it sensed movement until the batteries finally died.

Today, I pulled out both game cameras, put in new batteries, and prepared to set them out to see what they might capture while I’m not looking. I pulled both SD cards out of the cameras and had a look at their contents.

One camera included video shot inside the garage of my old Arizona house back in 2013. I’d set up the camera after I realized that someone — in all likelihood, my future wasband — had attempted to break in through the garage window beside the front door. Fortunately, we’d put a bar there years before that prevented the window from opening more than a few inches for ventilation. When I noticed it, the window was open and stuck hard half off its track. Since I did a lot of traveling that last season home in Arizona, I thought it might be a good idea to set up some kind of surveillance for while I was gone. Game cameras in the kitchen and garage were a good solution. Fortunately (for my wasband), the only activity they captured was me and my friends coming and going.

Dawn Cat
One of my two barn cats looks out over his domain just before dawn last March.

The other camera was the one I’d put out on the unfinished deck last year. It was set up for motion triggers images. And what it caught kind of surprised me: my barn cats hanging out on the supports for the deck. Keep in mind that the only way they could get up to the deck was to climb at least ten feet up one of the posts. There was no ladder, overhanging trees, and no staircase.

Barn Cats
Here’s a shot with both cats. The surface they’re on was approximately 3-1/2 inches wide 10 feet off the ground.

Glowing Eyes
The cats spent most of March 27 up on the deck. According to my calendar, I’d just come home from a trip to California the afternoon before.

I found about two dozen photos with one or both of the cats in them. In most instances, they were either walking right past the front of the camera’s lens or sitting on one of the 2 x 10 beams that support the deck.

Nowadays, I think I have just one barn cat: the black one. Although I saw Black Cat just last night on the pathway between his “safe place” in the shed and my front door, I haven’t seen Gray Cat for months. I’ll likely get one or two new barn cats in the spring. I got them to keep the rodent population down so the snakes wouldn’t have anything to eat and it worked like a charm — I didn’t see a single snake within 200 feet of my home or garden. This is, by far, the best way to control snakes and rodents. Best of all, since they’re not really “pets,” they don’t take much care. I can provide enough food and water in their shed to keep them satisfied for a month since they supplement cat food with rodents and their water with the chickens’ water.

As far as cameras and security goes — without revealing too much, let’s just say that I don’t rely on game cameras for security anymore. I have a far more sophisticated system with live cameras I can access from anywhere. Of course, none of that really matters when my house-sitter has a Doberman and knows where I keep my shotgun.

And I never did find out where that turd came from…