Some of the best things about the internet are also the worst things about the internet.

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I just finished reading the Digiday article, “Why some publishers are killing their comments section,” and it got me thinking about the wonders of the internet. The article goes over different websites that have axed their comment sections, created a new type of reader input area, or decided to never add one in the first place. The reason why: people are assholes that say awful things behind the shield of anonymity.  The comment section is a breeding ground for trolls that remove the potential for intelligent conversation, leaving in their wake a wasteland of hate speech, profanity, and discomfort.

“I think this is a horrible, horrible idea. Being able to express an opinion in anonymity, without fear is one of the best things about the internet.”

Anonymity is one of the best things about the internet. Online you can be whoever you want to be. You can express yourself without worrying about harm or embarrassment through backlash. It’s a safe place. One Huffington Post reader said that it “is one of the best things about the internet,” forgetting that it is simultaneously one of the worst things about the internet. Anonymity allows people to cross the line with no consequence. When people can hide behind an avatar, sometimes the worst parts of themselves come to light. It’s a shame, but many great things about the internet also have a dark side.

So how do you solve the problem of harassment on the internet? You can’t really. It’s a win lose either way. If you keep the comment sections as is then you leave your website open to the masses. It could become a community of like minded people having stimulated conversations or it could pitfall into a smoldering free-for-all void of all things good. In Dave Eggers book, The Circle, all comments are done through an app called TruYou that’s made by a company called The Circle, which is kind of like if Google and Facebook had a love child. TruYou has its users create a profile with their actual information that’s available for all to see. In the fictional world of The Circle it eliminates internet trolls with one fell swoop. One of the themes of the book is that people don’t do bad things when they know they’re being watched. I wouldn’t want to go as far as big brother but I bet it has some basis in truth.

South Park had a fun take on the subject. In the last season on the show, Denmark created anti-internet troll software called Troll Trace. Troll Trace gives the complete history of anyone’s web activity when you type in their name. They unleashed the software on Fort Collins, which lead to the destruction of the entire city. They did this to figure out who one specific internet troll was, but in the end he was never exposed and the software did a lot damage than it did good. South Park, despite being a vulgar and over the top show, always has some sort of moral to their stories. Maybe they’re saying that we need to do something about the way people behave online, but exposing people identities could expose them to potential harm. It’ll probably be a while before we figure it all out, but the last thing most people want when it comes to the internet are rules. Until there’s a concrete solution, I would say it’s best people just ditch the comments if they run into an issue.

“Page One” and the changing state of Journalism

While I enjoyed the documentary Page One, the aspect of paying for the news is still something I’m not sure about. The argument in the film is that the journalistic process of bringing the news to the masses was never free, so of course, now that the news is online, people should pay for that too. I see both sides on this issue. The popular idea these days, that I agree with, is that information should be free via the internet. If you want to find something out you should be able to search for it and obtain the information you desire without a cent coming out of your pocket. If the internet is an information super highway, people tend to avoid the toll roads. What people don’t realize is that both highways cost money. Even if you use the public/free road, you’re still paying for it with your taxes. The cost for newspapers aren’t coming out of your taxes but it’s still a business that requires some form of income to run. They have employees, offices, supplies, and distribution expenses to name a few and if something isn’t paying for all the stuff, then they’ll most likely be subject to cutbacks and possibly even bankruptcy. In a world where papers are dropping left and right, closing your doors to people that don’t want to pay you doesn’t seem too ridiculous a notion.

Back in the days of paper it was totally acceptable to pay for a subscription so the news would be dropped conveniently at your door. That made sense to me when it was your only option, but now we have the internet. Plenty of sources are dropping the same information that paid news sites are, but for free. If choice A is free internet news, choice B is not free internet news, and choice C is a paper newspaper delivered to my door once a day, it’s a no-brainer. I want the free stuff that’s updated down to minute, 24/7. I don’t want the major newspapers to die out, but everything else in the world has had to adapt with the internet. Why can’t the news? They still have ad revenue, although it isn’t a lot, but there has to be other ways for them to make money rather than readers and ads. Maybe I’m being naive, but if I can get something for free of equal quality to all other options, then its competitors have lost.

Best case scenario, if these newspapers can’t stay afloat, is that they are bought by someone that actually cares about the news. Otherwise we get the situation we saw in the documentary. A corporate news organization, heavily influenced by revenue instead of the quality of the content. I would hate for news organizations to do garbage reporting, but maybe the content should suffer until they figure out how to make more money. They may lose readers, but the other guys are losing readers because they are charging so you’re going to take an L somewhere. Besides, what’s the point of having the best news if you have no readers?

My idea for newspapers is to go to the PBS route. Just ask for the money. Don’t force people to pay it. Encourage donations so that if people like what they read, they can put money toward the cause. If you go out to eat and you see the gratuity is included it can be annoying. Especially if you don’t think they deserve it, but if you see a tip line you might think hey, I really enjoyed that, let me hook these people up with some of my hard earned cash. Of course, not everyone will pitch in, but it’s a start.

Late to the Party

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So, I recently started listening to Serial, a podcast, put together by the creators of Radio Lab and This American Life. I’ve been hearing about it for a long time now. It was released in late 2014, and has had two full seasons, and laid the groundwork for podcasts like S-Town. All my friends say it’s amazing. It’s been well over two years since it came out, but I’m finally getting with it and listening. I’m currently on episode seven, but I’m going to talk about the first episode.

In the podcast, Journalist Sarah Keonig investigates the mysterious murder of a teen girl, Hae Min Lee, that happened back in 1999. Lee’s then boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was charged with her murder and has been in prison ever since. Over the course of twelve weeks, Koenig digs deeper into case in order to find out if Syed is really a murderer, or if maybe he was falsely accused.

Right off the bat Serial gets the attention of the listener with the promise of a murder/mystery filled with plot twists, multi-faceted characters, and the potential for justice that’s long over due. You already know what happened: a girl was murdered. Serial explores the who, when, where, why, and how. Through some serious investigative journalism myriad possibilities unfold.

Koenig narrates the whole thing, but her most heavily used tool is recorded evidence coupled with recordings of her own interviews. You get to hear clips from police interrogations, trials, phone calls, and one on one interviews. It really helps paint a picture of what people were like, what the town was like, and how people feel about things. When Koenig talks to Adnan Syed you actually hear the conversation! It’s his voice coming from a prison phone and it lets you in on his character. You can take a lot in from the way someone speaks. Hesitation, emotion, and knowledge are extremely apparent when you hear someone’s voice. I didn’t realize how much we rely on visuals these days although it’s totally unnecessary. You mind creates the image you do not see.

Recordings also make things more real. It’s evidence. Without all the recordings Koenig is essentially telling a story and a story doesn’t always have any basis in truth. You have no proof that people said or did these things if you don’t have these recordings.

Koenig also uses music a lot. I have mixed feelings about this, only because I find that often times people use music in film and television to tell the audience how they should feel. I don’t like people telling me what to feel, I want to arrive on those feelings on my own. For the most part there’s a little piano riff that’s sort of the theme song. They play it at the beginning and the end, but from time to time it comes up in the middle to kind of bridge separate areas of the story or it comes up behind her summarizing information. The part I don’t entirely agree with is ominous tones that come up from time to time that say “Oh hey guys this part is bad.” The information should speak for itself. However, music conveys emotion and makes the whole thing more fun and easy to listen to, so I can’t really argue with that.

Serial is keeping me on the edge of my seat. I’ve been in the process of moving and it has been great to listen to while cleaning, packing, and now unpacking and organizing my new apartment. As long as there are no other audible distractions it’s really easy to fall into a listening trance while you do busy work. I’m hoping that this leads to me listening to a lot of podcasts, so I can talk about them with my friends. If you’re thinking about getting into podcasts or listening to Serial, I highly recommend it.

Seven Day Fitness Challenge! Day 7

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The front of my gym!

This might be boring but for my final workout I went to the gym! I work out at the 24 hour fitness on Colorado and Alameda. In another life I practically lived her, but it’s time to get back the muscle I lost. So today we’re getting into chest day!

My gym routine is pretty simple. If I don’t run or bike to the gym from my house, which is about a 4 mile trip, then I do some sort of cardio at the gym. I got a ride with my roommate, Coral, so when I got there we did the stair master for thirty minutes before going out separate ways.

After busting my buns I headed over the the flat bench for the bench press, the staple of any workout. It’s been a while so I didn’t go too hard. I knocked out four sets of eight reps at 135 pounds. It’s a lot less than I used to do. I followed up with similar workouts on the decline and incline bench. After the triple threat of bench presses I move on over to the fly machine to enhance my man cleavage. I did four sets of eight at 100 pounds. Then I wrap it all up with the free-motion fly machine going from low to high then high to low.

Once the lifting portion of my workout is over I move on to an ab workout. It’s the same one I did the other day, but when I got to the gym I add a decline bench workout. It really works your lower abs. My workout is pretty similar to this one. I always finish up my chest workouts by burning out on push ups. I do as many as I can until I can no longer lift myself up.

So my challenge is over and I have to say I feel amazing, my running times are getting better, and I’m looking more defined. Thanks for following me along on this journey back into the world of fitness.

Seven Day Fitness Challenge – Day 6

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The barren trees at Cheesman Park

The knee is still holding up great guys. I upped the ante today!

For day six I took a nice run from my old neighborhood of Baker and into the new one, Cheesman Park. The park itself has a huge trail within it that goes in a circle. It’s very scenic and a popular spot for outdoor activities year round. In the summer the park is alive with volleyball and kickball tournaments. If you’re a Denver resident, I’d recommend putting it on your list of things to check out this summer. I’m extremely excited to live a block away from this beautiful urban park that some say is HAUNTED! Today’s run took me right through the east side of the park area.

Today’s run took me five miles. It wasn’t the nicest day ever, but honestly I’ll take overcast or cold over running on a very hot day, no matter how tan I get. Running through the park was pretty fantastic, there are dirt, gravel, and concrete paths to choose from or you can run on the grass. Running on concrete and asphalt can take a huge told on your body so it’s nice to know there are alternatives at Cheesman park that will have low impact on my joints that will make for a softer run. I’m doing everything I can to keep from getting injured. Swimsuit season is way too close to be out of commission again and the Colfax Marathon will be upon me before I know it. Here’s a mapmyrun summary of today’s run. Side note: I paused my workout when I finished by I forgot to close it completely until I got to work, so it thinks my workout ended in lower downtown and my times are all messed up. I’d say my run took about forty minutes.

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Tomorrow is the final day of the fitness challenge! Be there or be square!

Seven Day Fitness Challenge! – Day 5

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Some street art similar to Banksy on the Cheery Creek Bike Path

I’m back home in Denver, Y’all. It’s bummed the travel portion of my vacation is over, but it’s good to be back home. My knee is feeling a lot better and it’s time to go for a run!

After thirty minutes of stretching I took to the streets! The Cherry Creek Trail is right by my house. It’s a riverside bike path that goes through Denver, and is quite the shortcut. I take it to work and school just about every day. Originally I was going to run three miles, but I was feeling great so I pushed it to four. I usually try to get my miles around seven minutes, but for the sake of taking it easy for the beginning I slowed my pace down to eight to nine minute miles. It was a very smooth run. I never ran out of breath and barely broke a sweat. The weather was perfect and definitely had a positive impact on my run. Here’s the map my run summary:

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Upon my return home, I crushed a pint glass full of water and stretched again. I do my best to stretch before and after my workouts. It makes a huge difference in how sore you are the next day on top of improved flexibility. Once I cooled down, I got down on the floor for an ab workout. Here’s what I put down.

25 crunches with legs flat on the ground

25 crunches with legs bent

25 crunches with legs up and parallel to the ground

25 crunches with legs sticking straight up

25 Side crunches (one set for each side)

50 bicycle crunches

25 leg raises

50 Side to side crunch

25 In and out leg crunches

1 minute super man  and box holds.

After abs I drink a protein shake and I’m all done. Day five complete!

Seven Day Fitness Challenge! – Day 4

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One of the many relaxing pools at Ojo Caliente

About a mile outside of Santa Fe is the Ojo Caliente Resort and Spa. Ojo Caliente is home to various natural hot springs that are infused with minerals. Each pool at the resort is believed to have certain healing properties. It even had a mud bath, where we slathered mud all over our bodies and laid in the sun until it hardened, then we jumped into the math bath and rinsed off. Every in Ojo Caliente is required to speak no louder than a whisper while inside the property to maintain the tranquil atmosphere. One of the hot springs is actually closed off from the others and demands absolute silence from its patrons. Olivia and I hit every single hot spring in the joint including the iron pool, the soda pool, and the lithia pool. We even hit the steam and dry saunas while we were at it, because why not; we paid for it. It was a very relaxing experience and worth every penny. My skin has never felt better. Here’s a video from New Mexico True TV that tours Ojo Calienta.

Now it wouldn’t be the Seven Day Fitness Challenge without some exercise. Today we decided to do some laps in the pool! Since neither of us has the physical endurance to actually swim laps for thirty minutes straight we broke it up into intervals. We would swim laps for as long as we could and take breaks treading water until we caught our breathe. I have to say it was the toughest workout we’ve done so far. Neither of us swim very often. Ojo Caliente’s largest pool is kind of like a regular swimming pool so it gave us plenty of room for our activities. It’s also pretty cool compared to the other pools which range from warm to hot as hell. There’s no way we would’ve been able to work out in any of the others. Our luck finally ran out with the weather at Ojo Caliente. A cold wind was sweeping through the grounds almost the entire time. It was nice when you were in a hot spring, but once you got out it was just plain awful, although it helped in the cooling down process when we finished swimming laps. I’d love to come back to the resort another time and experience the spa aspect of it all.

Seven Day Fitness Challenge! – Day 3

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Space Owl – Super cool and very mysterious

Now we are in Santa Fe, New Mexico! I came out here to check out the art exhibit, Meow Wolf. It’s a super trippy art collective that’s more like an experience than an exhibit. Up above is a picture of one of it’s many installations. This one in particular is called Space Owl. Meow Wolf as a whole is a little hard to put into words, but the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper made a video to give you an idea.

My girlfriend and I decided to bike to the exhibit from our bed and breakfast, Las Palomas, in order to get a feel for the town and get some exercise. We were very lucky, just like we were in Moab and Arizona, when it came to the weather. The bike ride to Meow Wolf from where we we are staying is roughly five miles and takes about thirty minutes to get there. Most of the route is conveniently on a bike path too! For the most part is a flat trail but we dealt with some uphill parts. The upside of that being that it was downhill on the way back.

I used the mapmyride app to track our bike ride. It’s extremely helpful when it comes to exercise biking. It tells you how fast you’re going, your split times, when you’ve completed a mile, and tracks your route. The app also has versions for running and hiking. Here’s the summary it put together for me:

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Altogether we completed a little over ten and a half miles! Unfortunately I forgot to turn off the app when I got back to our room, so it’s about 16 minutes over the actual amount of time it took to get there and back. I wish I wore a little bit less for the ride there, but it cooled down significantly on the way back so I was glad to have a little bit more on. If I lived out in Santa Fe I could see myself using the bike trail to get around. Tomorrow we’ll be at doing some swimming! Be sure to check in with me!

Seven Day Fitness Challenge! – Day 2

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Our view of Sedona from the side of the road. Lots of rocks to watch.

Now we’re in beautiful Sedona, Arizona! Today’s adventure is a hike to the Slide Rock State Park. The park gets its name from the natural water slide that goes through it. It’s ten dollars a person to enter slide rock, but I know a better way to enter the park that’s free! You can enter slide rock by way of Spider Beach, one of the secret cliff jumping spots in Sedona.

Getting to spider beach is a little tricky. Just a little north of the bridge to slide rock there’s an area where you can pull of the side of the road. Next to that shoulder there’s an underground tunnel that leads to the trail to Spider Beach. Unfortunately, I did not bring my phone because of fear of getting it wet, which turned out to not be an issue because my girlfriend and I managed to get to Slide Rock without ever falling in the water. Lucky for you I found a video on YouTube that shows you the journey from the tunnel to Spider Beach. You can check it out here. I did manage to snap an awesome picture of the red rocks of Sedona off the side of the road with my Nikon 3400 DSLR camera before we took off.

As you can see from the video, the hike can get a little treacherous. You have to hike down steep cliffs, hop over logs and boulders, and cross Oak Creek without getting hurt. It’s very important to stay alert if you try this hike.

Once we got to spider beach we were only about halfway done. We thought about cliff jumping there but the water was too low and freezing cold! We were met with quite a dilemma, because in order to get through Spider Beach you either have to swim through it or traverse a rock wall. We weren’t feeling the water just yet so we left our shoes behind a did a shuffle across the rock wall. Once through, the rest of the hike is a lot like the first half. Eventually we made it to slide rock! Here is a video to give you an idea of what we encountered.

So the natural water slide is cool and all, but that’s not why we hiked all the way to slide rock. We came for the cliff jumping. There’s a 50 foot jump right under the bridge that leads to the regular entrance to slide rock. It’s pretty scary, but relatively safe if you know what you’re doing. After psyching myself up for about 15 minutes I was able to jump off that bad boy. The water was so cold I thought I was doing to die, but I was fine as soon as I swam to shore. Honestly the cold water is the worst part. It’s all part of the rush either way. And in case you’re wondering, the jump looks a little something like this. I couldn’t convince my girlfriend to jump, but sooner or later we’ll get her jumping off some cliffs. Once I dried off, we turned around and hiked back to the car.

My knee was doing a lot better today. It was a little sore, but I can’t say I felt any pain. A little stretching before this hike was huge in how successful I was in doing it. I’m thinking I’ll be back to 100% in no time. I’m insanely happy that everything went well today. The weather was perfect, my knee held up, no rattle snakes bit us, and the company was perfect. Tomorrow we’re going to go on a nice bike ride through Santa Fe. Thanks for tuning in!