…and I’ve realized that this is actually something that’s been bothering me for some time.
I’ve been living in public online – posting details about my life that might have historically been seen as private, right out in the open – for decades now.
Especially during the heyday of web 2.0. Want to see where I’m eating ice cream right now, sure why not. Care to know every single song I’ve been listening all day, every day? There’s an app for that.
During this era, I even thought it would be cool to correlate all of these activities into a history I could look back on. Being reminded in 2032 that I listened to Architecture in Helsinki while riding the tram in actual Helsinki 10 years earlier would be neat. Or correlating all my tram rides around the world with music, or mood, photos, weather, words, etc. (I’m hopeful that Apple’s upcoming journaling app will fill this niche but that’s a post for another day)
That was a tangent, here’s what’s been bothering me all these years.
Even though a tweet, photo, a bike ride, workout, check-in, etc is posted publicly, it does not mean that it was intended for a broader audience.
These blog post are, I love it when people engage with me about the words I’ve spent time crafting for this site. IMHO this is one of the things that makes blogs unique (another tangent for another day).
Social media is different, context is important. If you’re only flying by @ohryan on twitter every once in a while, you’re missing a lot about me personally and about the medium that is Twitter (or X app 69 or whatever its called today).
If you’re keeping tabs on my peleton app to see how often I’m working out, please don’t. That’s gross.
You might be saying “but Ryan, if you don’t want people to see your posts, make them private.” While technically true, private accounts are not very social. I’m been introduced to lifelong friends (locally, virtually and internationally) by mutually engaging with relevant content. That’s just not possible with a private account and really defeats the purpose of social media.
The implicit contract of the internet is: mutual follow.
If you want to read my tweets, create an account and follow me.
If you want to compare workout habits, grab an Apple Watch and friend me on the fitness app.
Alternate Title: Fuck North Dakota and their bullshit. Let’s do our cross-border shopping in Bemidji!
For the uninitiated, it’s quite common for Winnipeggers to take weekend trips to Grand Forks or Fargo, North Dakota to stock up on weird American junk food variations not available in Canada, cheap booze and (historically) good deals on just about everything (more on this later).
Pre-COVID my family would typically do one or two road trips down there every year just as a little weekend getaway. Often at the end of August to stock up on school supplies and clothes; that sort of thing. COVID killed this tradition.
It’s located under 400km southeast of Winnipeg, in north-central Minnesota. It’s not a place that I’ve ever heard many Winnipeggers talk about visiting. The last time I’ve ever heard anyone mention it might have been a band trip in grade 8.
So, when Odessa and I were first talking about this trip I didn’t have the highest of hopes. Bemidji is less than half the population of Grand Forks (a 10th Fargo) and well outside any major centre. I was picturing something like a Steinbach or Altona, except with more American flags.
I was pleasantly surprised.
Bemidji is one of the most unique places I’ve ever visited.
The drive ahead didn’t hold much appeal for me. Endless hours on an undivided two-lane highway is something I strongly dislike. In fact, it’s the main reason I’ve always avoided visiting this particular area of Minnesota.
Another concern I had was the potential lack of amenities typically found on Interstate Highways. In Manitoba, secondary highways like this tend to be quite desolate. It’s not uncommon for gas stations and businesses to be closed when you need them due to the scarcity of towns along the way.
To my surprise, however, this region seems to have a small villages every 30 or 45 minutes. And to top it off, these places are actually open for business! It was a type of “rural” that we don’t really have in many part of Manitoba.
The roads themselves where nearly empty and the scenery was a little more varied than the flat plains of Manitoba and North Dakota. I don’t think we saw more than a handful of cars between St Malo, MB and Thief River Falls, MN which lead to an entirely stress-free drive..
10 out of 10, would drive again.
Bemidji is not quite like anywhere I’ve ever been before.
The people were incredibly friendly. Every single encounter I had with a stranger was more pleasant than anything I’ve experienced at home. I chatted with one lady in the Paul Bunyan Park parking lot and she was so happy to see Canadians down for a visit!
It’s part tourist town. Almost like a Jasper or Banff, except more low-key and chill. There are several beaches right in town. And plenty of camping near by.
The downtown has a bunch of great looking bar & grill type restaurants. More than I would think a town of under 20,000 would be able to support.
Speaking of their downtown, it’s declined like every other downtown in North America. The once grand department stores, theatres, shops, etc are no more. But unlike elsewhere, they’ve not dead.
Every vacant retail space seems to house an antique or thrift store. Or what I would describe as an “indoor yard sale.”
It’s also part college town. Bemidji State University hosts about 5000 students. Not huge but I’d bet this goes a long way to support those restaurants and bar; and the national brands like Target and Walmart.
If you’re thinking of a road trip down the the US this summer definitely consider Bemidji.
P.S. On Cross-Border Shopping In 2023
Now, the question of whether you should take a cross-border shopping trip is a different story.
In short, in the current economic climate of near-hyper inflation, it’s basically not worth it.
Ten or twenty years ago, you could get a good deal on plenty of things: clothes, video games, electronics, food, books, and just about everything else – even when factoring in the exchange rate of the weaker Canadian Dollar.
Basically the only things that are still cheaper are gas and booze. That’s it.
Eating out is extremely expensive.
The grande ice shaken espresso I ordered at Starbucks was $6.06 on the US menu or roughly $8.50 CAD. On the Canadian menu, it’s only $6.56 (or US$5).
Four meals at nearly any fast food chain will run you >CA$50.
Even groceries and household goods are more expensive down there now. I made a point of taking a look at the prices of things like toilet paper, cat litter, chips, pop, and other things I regularly buy at the grocery store. The sticker prices were all the same or higher than down here. In other words, roughly 30% more expensive when converted to Canadian dollars.
So essentially, the only reason to cross-border shop in 2023 is for access to variety. You want 85 different flavours of Mountain Dew, they’ve got it. Better selection of “better” clothes for the same price, yup sure.
But that’s about it. At least for now. Hopefully things go back to normal if/when inflation ever settles down.
But until then, exploring our own backyards is a better use of our dollars.
My overall impression of threads 48hrs in are pretty “meh.”
If anything, it’s proving just how mature of a product Twitter really is at this point. It’s missing simple things that we’ve taken for granted, like gif integration. It’s missing more substaintial things hashtags and a way to actually see posts from people who follow.
All the “Twitter killer” micro-blogging apps popping off in the past 6 – 12 months lead me to agree with growing thought that we are at the end of an era.
I’m getting strong deja vu of peak-MySpace when we had a bunch of bad choices (Friendster? Bebo? Orkut? Dogster? Facebook) and no real direction.
I’m just not sure what era we are at the end of.
Twitter invented a new type of web app, a new category of discourse; a sort of global “town square” and love it or hate it, Twitter (along with Reddit TBF) has been the catalyst of so so much social change.
As I’ve said before, IMHO this is the main reason it’s hard to “kill” Twitter – even with a feature-complete clone – it’s more than the sum of its parts.
I have no idea what’s next, but if we’re on a retro-internet tip, maybe blogging’s coming back.
If you do a whois lookup on neudorf.ca you’ll see the following non-descriptive error message.
I’ve actually been on a quest to figure out how to register neudorf.ca since before I registered ohryan.ca over 18 years ago. Back then, the error message was a bit more specific. It mentioned something to the effect of the domain name being reserved for a municipality.
It turns out that the CIRA has reserved all municipal names registered in the Canadian Geographical Names Data Base and only official of those municipalities are ever allowed to own the domain name. They’re not even allowed to transfer it, according to a conversation I had with @cira on Twitter.
However in cases where the municipality shares a name with a major brand (ex. molson.ca, landmark.ca) the brand has been given the right to register the domain name. What gives?
So this is what I am now pursuing, written consent. It seems like less work than founding a town.
While I understand the the motivation for this policy is likely to avoid domain name squatting. It seems like a better policy would be to reserve the third-level domain name (i.e. neudorf.sk.ca) rather than give every tiny hamlet and village a reservation that’s difficult and annoying to register if you’re a legitimate party sharing the same.
There must be hundreds of overlaps between surnames, even business names and small municipalities who will never ever bother to register a domain name.