Mr Handy Wood

Great names are two-word poems. They deserve a wider audience than merely those who know them.

It’s why I’ve created a new Twitter feed to share them around.

But I’ll need your help: anytime you find a good name, please use the magic of Twitter to bring it to my attention.

Either use the hashtags #greatnames or #namecurator, or tell me directly via @namecurator. It needs to be verifiable; ie not a ‘my friend’s dad name is Such And-Such’ – it needs to be a link!

I’ve cobbled together the first three that will go out:

Windell Admaker (aka Wendell Amaker), New York construction worker: [ed. note: *sigh*. Damn you, correction]

Handy Wood, Pennsylvanian flasher

Kiki Wolfkill, video game developer (courtesy Isaac Forman)



The medal says I ran a long way.

The internet wasn’t going to help.

I was two-thirds of the way through my first marathon, and it was becoming difficult. Leg cramps were increasing in their severity and it was unlike anything I’d encountered at any stage during the previous 18 months of training (or during any physical activity I’d ever done, for that matter).

So the choice was pretty simple: keep running, or stop.

I couldn’t ask the Twitterverse; there was no app to download, no Googling to be done. In an age where everyone’s seemingly connected to everyone and everything else all the time, I was on my own.

No-one could run the remainder of the marathon for me; the cramps weren’t going to go away.

It was keep running, or stop.

So I kept running. Very slowly. And eventually I finished.

All of this is not meant to make me sound like some sort of hero, or legend, or anything like that. In terms of running, I was far from that.

But, pleasingly, at a very basic level, when my brain was faced with a fight or flight-type battle against my body, it chose to fight.

I kept running. I didn’t stop.

Me completing the marathon. Note the appearance of barely-visible 'Marathon Man' in background; a lycra-clad 'superhero' who nearly beat me home.

In a good news/good news scenario, I completed my first marathon yesterday (28 August) while also not tweeting during it.

While I’ll return to the metaphysics of what completing a marathon means to and/or for me another time, this post will preserve the tweets I would have made had I been tweeting. Think of it as a retrospective live Twitter timeline, or in my new concept word, ‘mind tweets’: tweets you make in your mind but which never hit the internet. Until now.

(All times approximate)

0200: awake already? oh boy #adrenalin #pumping

0400: still awake? #sleep #fail

0500: out of bed. marathon prep

0645: race start. it’s only 14km, 3 times. let’s go! #gameface #on

0750: first 12km down. Feeling good.

0835: halfway. on pace for a good time. still feeling OK.

0900: slowing down. tightening up. engaging ‘body maintenance’ mode.

0914: disengaging ‘body maintenance’ mode

0914 (ii): engaging ‘body self-destruct’ mode

0915: 14km to go. first leg cramp recorded. could I hop to finish line? #no

0930: oh dear. #multiple #legcramps  #ABORT #ABORT

0945: used passing drink station to imbibe metaphorical cups of concrete – still LONG way to go

1000: #pain

1015: cut-and-paste is just the best. #pain #pain #pain #pain #pain #pain

1030: 2km to go

1039: 1km to go

1049: Done! Jelly legs. Dizzy. Teeth throbbing. But done.

hashtagNew to Twitter? Mystified by hashtags?

Then you’re in the right place. Here’s my easy, no-fuss guide on how to use these marvels of 21st century communication.


Yes, they add value – but only if they can be understood. If your hashtag forms an entire sentence, then your followers’ eyes will start to bleed, and – bless them – these ‘followers’ can be a litigious bunch. #andnobodywantsalawsuitexceptthelawyersandmaybetheoddjudgehereorthere


You may be the high priest of sarcasm but with 140 characters to play with, context can be difficult. Drop in a #notreally at the end and watch the retweets pile sky high! #notreally


You’ve executed a brilliant tweet and have 40-50 characters spare. Spare Twitter characters end up in the atmosphere and contributing to global warming, so don’t waste them: add an extra layer of comedy/entertainment/interest by double hashtagging! #climatechange #notreally


Hashtags break if you put any form of punctuation in: apostrophes, hyphens, question marks. That means they don’t look as good on screen, you lose online credibility, start acting increasingly crazy as a result, then attract the attention of the cops, and end up in jail. So just don’t do it. #notevenexclamationmarks!


And that’s it for now. Don’t forget that hashtags are the future of communication; they say so much in such a little space (or, if you want to be clever, with no space)! Also remember that if they’re good enough for Barack Obama to use as a campaign slogan, then they’re good enough for you. #hashtagswecanbelievein


Twitter and Facebook are, of course, the dominant players in Socialmediaville.

I broadly – probably too broadly – summarise the difference between the two as Facebook allows you to get information from people you know; Twitter, information from people you don’t.

I came late to the Twitter party but am now a big believer: a couple of weeks ago, I cancelled my newspaper subscriptions – an incomprehensible act even as recently as a year ago – because they didn’t offer what I now want in my information provider: that is, timely news about what I’M interested in.

We all have our favourite Twitterers: mine is the now (sadly) defunct @MayorEmanuel, who showed how funny and clever the medium can be.

An exercise I recently concocted inside my own head: who, historically, would have had an awesome Twitter feed?

Main criteria: we’re not talking a lifetime feed; just for a month of ‘peak activity’. And they’ve got to be interesting.  Do you think Don Bradman would have had an interesting Twitter?  I think it would have been deathly dull: ‘Batted well today. Made 300. Gave chance on 197 – but it was a good ball, not a poor stroke.’

Here’s some I think would have been entertaining, plus a sample tweet from each – who’s on YOUR historical Twitter feed?

Wilt ChamberlainWilt Chamberlain (any month of his pro career):

Killed it again tonight: 72 points, 28 rebounds, plus #14,371 and #14,372 in the hotel. #averagenight

Lee Harvey Oswald

Lee Harvey Oswald (Oct/Nov 1963):

Tomorrow’s the day. Thank heavens I’m not acting alone. #likemyknollsgrassy

Antonio SalieriAntonio Salieri (Nov 1791):

WAM is REALLY beginning to get on my nerves. Upstart.

Monica LewinskyMonica Lewinsky (circa 1996):

My Mystery Man was SMOKING today!! PS anyone know a good dry cleaner in the DC area?

Muhammad AliMuhammad Ali (pretty any month in the 1960s):

Working on some new material. What’s the insect opposite of a bee stinging? #stuck


At some stage in the past few months I have become utterly addicted to Twitter, and I’ve been thinking about why this is.

I started my Twitter account in March 2009, and barely touched it for at least 12 months.  Towards the end of 2010 I applied myself to reapply, and found myself getting more out of it than anything I’d ever done anywhere else on the interwebs.

But why?

I think – without being able to prove it – that it’s not the ‘push’ part of Twitter that does it for me; rather, it’s the universe-collapsing ‘pull’ of information that it sucks in.

And this information (as presented by Twitter) – how easily I can access it, and how quickly – means that I am falling out of love with newspapers.  It’s something I thought I’d never say – and I still love the tactile experience of opening a new newspaper – but I just don’t need my newspaper fix like I used to.

Let’s analogise the situation by saying you’re sitting at a table in the information restaurant:

  • Newspapers present their information on one plate, a big steaming pile of everything, and you have to sift through it to find the bits you like.  You’re probably going to eat stuff you’d prefer not to have to eat.
  • On the other hand, Twitter is like an all-you-can-eat buffet; but rather than being served to you all by someone else, you can pick and choose exactly what you want; it’s all itemised and compartmentalised, and you can head straight to the stuff you’re interested in the most.

Either way, you’re not going to go hungry: but one meal sure is tastier and more satisfying because you’ve gotten exactly what you want.

And if you’re an information junkie like me, you’re going to get fat.