Spring-cleaning Twitter

Masjid Sweeper Photo by Meanest Indian.

Late last week I happened to notice that I was following something like 1,400 accounts on Twitter. That seems like … a lot? So I decided to start pruning the list a little. I like Twitter for interactions with other scientists and science-y folks, for discovering new ideas and results and news, and for its overall global water cooler aspect. So with that in mind, I’ve decided to triage who I follow along these lines:

  • I’m only going to follow accounts that actually update regularly. Because otherwise, what’s the point?
  • I’m prioritizing accounts belonging to people I know personally.
  • In many cases, I was following both the official account for publications or organizations and accounts belonging to their staffers/contributors—and I’d get tweets about the same stuff from each. Given the choice, I’d rather follow individual people than organizations; Mark Joseph Stern over Outward.
  • I’m prioritizing scientists, particularly those in my field.
  • I’m blanket-unfollowing politicians and political organizations. I read the news; I don’t need links to press releases and official statements in my Twitter feed. And if they tweet something genuinely interesting, I should see it re-tweeted from the “real” people I follow.
  • I’m blanket-unfollowing parody and joke accounts. Yes, it’s funny to read the latest management tips from Captain Jean-Luc Picard, but I really don’t need a regular drip of them in my feed. As with political feeds, I’m now relying on the actual human beings I follow to show me the best stuff from these accounts.
  • I’m unfollowing any account if, when it comes up on my feed, I can’t remember the last time I clicked on one of its posts (unless the account falls into one of the priority lists above).

Twitter doesn’t provide any useful way to sort through a, let’s face it, ridiculously long list of account names based on anything other than the order in which I followed them, so I’ve been casting about for a third-party system. The interface at Tweepi is somewhat balky, but it does let me sort the list by how recently each account was updated, which is useful. I’m also simply keeping an eye on my main feed, and unfollowing whenever I see something that doesn’t meet the triage conditions. So far I’m down to … 1,169.◼

Big, bloggy news

Starting today, I’m officially part of the crew at the Molecular Ecologist, the group blog associated with the journal Molecular Ecology, as both a contributor and a sort of coordinator/administrator.

Molecular Ecology‘s managing editor Tim Vines first approached me about joining the site back at Evolution 2012, and I’m excited to start talking about the many wonderful uses of molecular genetic data with Holly Bik, Mark Christie, Nick Crawford, and Peter Fields. We’re hoping to bring in lots of guest posters as well. (And if you’re interested, send me an e-mail.) Although the Molecular Ecologist is affiliated with Molecular Ecology, the vision of the site is not to promote the journal itself, but to build a space for the community of scientists interested in the journal’s subject matter. As part of that effort, we’ve launched a Molecular Ecologist page on Facebook, and I’m taking over @molecologist on Twitter.

This doesn’t mean I’ll stop posting at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense!, much less here at D&T; the Molecular Ecologist is aimed at a somewhat different audience than either of my other online locales, and while this may spread me a little thinner, I expect I’ll be covering different topics at each site.◼

My fourth marathon, Storified

I had a great run this morning! As noted yesterday, it was the 2012 Minneapolis Marathon. My final time was 3:33:37, which isn’t the personal record I’d hoped for on a flat course in nice weather, but I’m happy with it.

I took my iPhone with me, and tweeted photos along the course. And, just for the heck of it, I’ve put all the tweets (and encouragement/kudos/responses) together with some additional notes and context in a Storify. Enjoy!

Jeremy runs the 2012 Minneapolis Marathon

26.2 miles, tweeted.

Storified by Jeremy Yoder · Sun, Jun 03 2012 16:20:50

The 2012 Minneapolis Marathon was my fourth marathon, and my first springtime one. A mild winter made the training-up a lot easier, and the early June race date meant the weather should was tolerable, before everything goes all Minnesota-tropical for the summer. And, since I took my iPhone along for run-time tunes and podcasts, I could live-tweet photos of the course as I ran!

I posted about the race the night before:
Long run tomorrow http://nblo.gs/yjHZQJeremy Yoder
And folks offered good wishes and advice:
@JBYoder good luck. Remember hydration is your friendDr. Wrasse
Thanks! And, always. RT @labroides: @JBYoder good luck. Remember hydration is your friendJeremy Yoder
Also, I did some carb-loading. Too much? Turns out it wasn’t.
Even though I’m running a marathon tomorrow morning, that double slice of leftover chocolate cake was probably a bad idea. #CarbOverLoadingJeremy Yoder
@JBYoder Naaah…plenty of time to digest. Good luck! More important: have fun! :)NatC
@SciTriGrrl Thanks! I’m sure I’ll be glad of the glycogen tomorrow morning.Jeremy Yoder
@JBYoder Well good luck!Giuseppe Gangarossa
I woke up at 5 a.m. to grab breakfast, then walked to the starting line in downtown Minneapolis. I love the view from the Hennepin Bridge.
Walking to the marathon. http://pic.twitter.com/rFtBIZYLJeremy Yoder
I got to the start a bit after 6 a.m., and people were already gathering.
http://pic.twitter.com/d4HaZSieJeremy Yoder
Ready to go, in … 19 min. http://pic.twitter.com/HFNvEbgcJeremy Yoder
@JBYoder good luck!Bastian Greshake
http://pic.twitter.com/RAvZro60Jeremy Yoder
At 6:30 a.m. on the nose, we were off. We ran through downtown, then turned down onto the riverfront road, first heading north to Broadway for a turnaround. And then it was long way south. My playlist was

“Olympic Fanfare and Theme,” by John Williams, which is great for that starting motivation.

“Barbra Streisand,” by Duck Sauce—good for setting up a pace in the first mile.

The Slate Political Gabfest, because I listen to podcasts on all my training runs, and so they go in my marathon playlist, too.
And then, about an hour in, I remembered to take photos.
http://pic.twitter.com/SwRjJ7i0Jeremy Yoder
Playlist about now:

“I Could Have Danced All Night,” sung by Julie Andrews in the original Broadway cast recording of “My Fair Lady.”
 “Laura,” by the Scissor Sisters
On the Media, because nothing motivates me on a run like some political outrage.
By now we’re south of Marshall Avenue on the West River Parkway. Oh, hey, I run past this place all the time:
http://pic.twitter.com/G24Mc1QjJeremy Yoder
And then we got down into Fort Snelling State Park.
http://pic.twitter.com/HRcfNxDxJeremy Yoder
I totally missed the halfway marker.
http://pic.twitter.com/Rz5vIvbBJeremy Yoder
As we neared the southern turnaround, the trail got right down by the river, which was pretty, and not at all buggy.
http://pic.twitter.com/gvptSHGMJeremy Yoder
http://pic.twitter.com/pSU5r456Jeremy Yoder
@JBYoder Are you a cyborg, running and tweeting photos at the same time?Patrick Clarkin
Playlist about now:

“The White Tree,” by Howard Shore, from the soundtrack of “The Return of the King.”
And then another podcast, NPR’s new puzzle show Ask Me Another, which provided some welcom distraction in the third hour.
Here’s the actual Fort Snelling, I believe. This was right after a hill that regained something like 75% of the elevation we’d lost on the way down to the river in maybe 300 meters. That slowed everyone waaay down.
http://pic.twitter.com/mVEUSbNNJeremy Yoder
Loving @JBYoder’s photos from his marathon this morning. Run, Jeremy, run!science_goddess
Mile 21: I’m definitely slowing down.
http://pic.twitter.com/9EwEmJP9Jeremy Yoder
No more podcasts, now. The playlist is entirely devoted to tracks that’ll help me keep putting one foot in front of the other. And my motivational music skews nerdy, as you might guess:

“To Boldly Go” and
“End Credits,” both by Michael Giacchino, from the soundtrack of the latest “Star Trek” movie.
http://pic.twitter.com/b2hA1hF1Jeremy Yoder
“Superman: Main Title,” by John Williams, from the soundtrack first Superman movie.

“Hard Sun,” by Eddie Vedder, from the soundtrack of movie “Into the Wild.”
http://pic.twitter.com/SrAm1xovJeremy Yoder
“E.T.: Flying Theme,” by John Williams, from the soundtrack to “E.T.”

http://pic.twitter.com/QgyMRh6LJeremy Yoder
“Main Titles” and

“Captain America March,” by Alan Sylvestri, from the soundtrack of “Captain America.”
And here’s the Franklin Avenue Bridge!
http://pic.twitter.com/xOpE5SDkJeremy Yoder
For the home stretch, I have Cake’s cover of “I Will Survive” in the playlist, and boy do I need it. It’s gotten hot! But here comes the Washington Avenue Bridge …
http://pic.twitter.com/irXAwAqpJeremy Yoder
And finally, the finish line. Appropriately enough, I crossed to “River Crossing,” from Carter Burwell’s awesome soundtrack to the Coen brothers’ awesome “True Grit.”
About 3:33. http://pic.twitter.com/PHFTUI4KJeremy Yoder
My final time turns out to be 3 hours, 33 minutes, and 37 seconds. Not a personal record, but not too shabby. The finisher medal is pretty nifty, too:
And I’m still alive. http://pic.twitter.com/PdJYXcS7Jeremy Yoder
And then, as soon as I was rehydrated, it was off to clean up for brunch with friends over in Saint Paul. Not a bad way to spend an early-summer Sunday, all things concerned.

Some more comments/kudos from the tweeps—thanks, everyone!
@JBYoder Congrats! Now please tell me that’s the white balance on your camera and not sunburn.Stephanie Zvan
Yeah, that was mostly the white balance. Although I was shirtless from about mile 17 on. The nice thing about a cheap tank top is you can ditch it when it gets sweat-logged and chafe-y.
Nicely done! Makes me wonder what I’ve been doing for the last 3.5 hrs RT @JBYoder: About 3:33. http://pic.twitter.com/4lkUFOPDRyan Kitko
@JBYoder congrats!! Great time!!NatC
Congrats! RT @JBYoder: And I’m still alive. http://pic.twitter.com/Yz3ET5wCGerty-Z
@JBYoder looks like it was a pretty scenic route. Congrats on your 4th Marathon! wish i had that dedicationJonathan Yoder
@science_goddess @Patrick_Clarkin @Bonovox1984 @SciTriGrrl @GertyZ @szvan Thanks for the encouragement! Made carrying my iPhone worth it!Jeremy Yoder
@GertyZ @JBYoder Woot!CackleofRad
@GertyZ @JBYoder (I think he just logged his #r4p)CackleofRad
Heh, yes. I will not be clicking on any of @VonOberst’s photo links today. But I’m going to need a few run-free days now, so I never did sign on to #r4p.
Live-tweeting the running of a marathon?! @JBYoder is using lots of pictures to do it. Seems to be working. http://pic.twitter.com/OBVl7QUHRichard Harper
Live-tweeting the running of a marathon?! @JBYoder is using lots of pictures to do it. Seems to be working. http://pic.twitter.com/sytmQqRablake56x2

Next question: will my legs un-stiffen fast enough for me to get up the nerve to register for the Twin Cities Marathon in October?◼

Gone out, back soon

Tikaboo Valley, Nevada. Photo by jby.

One of the nice things about maintaining a long collaboration is that sometimes, it gives you an excuse to get out of town to help out. I’m spending this week playing field assistant to Chris Smith, on his ongoing study of Joshua trees and their interaction with pollinating moths. The field site in Tikaboo Valley, Nevada, puts me completely out of Internet and cellphone contact—which makes this a nice chance to take a break from the 21st century in the name of science. So: no further posting until next week. ◼

Programming note

Chicago! Photo by jby.

No new science post this week. Partly that’s because I spent the long holiday weekend in Chicago, which was all sorts of not-staring-at-my-laptop fun, for evidence of which see above.

However, it’s really more because I’m thinking that a posting pace of once every other week will be more compatible with my offline schedule for the foreseeable future. Said schedule includes concentrating on the whole new postdoc thing, but also things like getting to know a shiny new hometown while it’s not buried in snow and reading the last new David Foster Wallace novel ever.*

Hopefully this will result in less rushing to write posts, maybe even better posts. But don’t get your hopes up, Dear Readers.

* At least one of these activities may be directly responsible for more footnotes in my posts. So you’ve got that to look forward to.

This was the start of my week

Packing up. Photo by jby.

The rest of my week is going to consist of driving across two time zones, seeing my parents off on a flight further east with many thanks for their assistance in getting me across those aforementioned timezones, and intensive apartment hunting in not one but two new cities. So no new science post this week; we’ll see how next week goes.

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The road ahead

Minneapolis, one of my two new hometowns. Photo by jby.

So, now that I’ve defended my dissertation, there’s really not much of grad school left for me. I have to turn in a final, committee-approved version of the dissertation text, and then on May 14 I’ll put on some Hogwarts-worthy getup and accept my diploma from the University of Idaho. I also have some final grading to deal with (Whose bright idea was it to add an independent reading report to the lab curriculum? Oh, right. Mine.) and I’d like very much to get my last Joshua tree paper ready for submission. But, after all that—what’s next?

As it happens, I’ve known that for some time, but there didn’t seem to be a good opportunity to cover it here before now: I’m going to Minnesota.

Specifically, I’ll be starting a post-doctoral position with Peter Tiffin’s lab at the University of Minnesota, Saint Paul. I’m going to be joining a project studying the population genetics of the interaction between plants and nitrogen-fixing bacteria, using the legume Medicago truncatula as an experimental model. It’s a big, multi-lab, multi-institution collaboration, working with genomic data for both Medicago and the bacteria it hosts, Sinorhizobia.

My new favorite plant, Medicago truncatula. Photo by Minette Layne.

So I’ll be studying a mutualism that might work a bit like yucca pollination—but then again, it might not. The plant-rhizobium interaction is much more widespread than obligate pollination mutualism, and has probably played a big role in the diversification of land plants. Plus, I’ll be working with genome-scale data—it’s all on a totally different scale from anything I’ve done before. There are possibilities for experiments and analyses that we’ll never be able to do with Joshua trees—ye gads, greenhouse experiments!—and it’ll be a learning experience at every step. And, equally importantly, my new collaborators at the Tiffin lab and the other research groups involved in the Medicago genome project are a smart, friendly bunch—I’m looking forward to working with them. All in all, it’s exactly what I want in a postdoc.

Saint Paul and Minneapolis look like a pretty nice place to spend the next couple years, too. It’s not just that they’re cities after six years in small-town Idaho—they’ve got solid mass transit and they’re ranked alongside Portland, Oregon for bicycle-friendliness. One of my new senators will be Al Franken. The Twin Cities are the home turf for Public Radio powerhouse American Public Media. Minneapolis was even named the gayest city in America by the Advocate, and I don’t think that was meant as some sort of elaborate joke.

It’s hard to complain about the new neighbors, either: My new U of M colleagues will include George Weiblen, an expert on the other classic obligate pollination mutualism; G. David Tilman, who’s done pioneering work on the ways competition and other species interactions structure natural communities; and Ruth Shaw, who helped lay the foundation for the ways we measure natural selection today. On the science blogging front, none other than P.Z. Myers will be another U of M colleague (at the Morris campus), and BoingBoing’s science guru Maggie Koerth-Baker is in town.

Of course, as I’ve learned from years of Garrison Keillor exposure, winter in Minnesota does not mess around. Fortunately I’m moving immediately after graduation in mid-May, so I’ll have some time to brace myself. Apartment-hunting priorities include covered parking.

All of this is a long and digressive way of saying, yet again, that I’m making some pretty major changes in the next few weeks. Expect further irregularities in posting, and maybe even a radical reconsideration of how D&T fits in my schedule—I don’t yet know what my life will look like once I’ve settled into postdoc-hood, though I’m excited to find out.