#WHS2010

If you’re on the Twitter, don’t forget to add #WHS2010 to your posts about the World Hockey Summit.

It’s an easy stream — in addition to your @s in our direction, both on our personal feeds and our @WldHockeySummit — to check, so we, your faithful bloggers, can chat it up with you, answer your questions and be advised on better ways to keep you informed.

New to Twitter?

It’s called a ‘hashtag.’

A hashtag adds additional meta data to a Tweet, letting us know how popular the World Hockey Summit is with you.

We wanted to go with #WHS, since it’s short, but it seems that hashtag is already ‘owned’ by a high school in the States.

Join us in the discussion, won’t you?

Twitter Handles to Know

World Hockey Summit@WldHockeySummit

Richard Loat@mozy19

Darrin Reynolds@dink9966

Justin Kendrick@hockeycardshow

Angela MacIsaac@that_angela

Moving on … my Olympic dream, part II

Every once in a while, I’ll Google my own name.

Until I blasted my name all over social media networks, my results were populated by bylines from the Calgary Sun.

But as my former newspaper started to archive stories off the web, my results list started to dwindle, my bylines were disappearing.

I started to feel forgotten, a lingering effect of the pain I felt … nay, feel … over that day almost four years ago when I was told my services were no longer required.

I was a number. A negative effect to the bottom line for Quebecor Media. My $38,000 per year was hurting the company and I became one of 120 cross-country victims to the streamlining.

So many people have asked me if I miss it.

“Some days, with every breath I take,” I respond.

Slightly more than two weeks ago, I wrote My Olympic Dream, bemoaning my absence from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics as a sports writer.

I should have been there. I’ll always believe I could have been there, had it not been for a suffering journalism industry.

Tonight, I was looking for files to support work I’d done on a recent fundraiser.

I searched my name, remembered the Archives section of Google News results and clicked.

Kaboom … Google has been busy indexing past stories from the Sun. Not just any stories … my stories.

There they were, byline after byline after byline … words composed by me.

Instead of heaving the same sigh as I breathed while writing through streams of tears two weeks ago, I smiled, excited to remember the interviews with athletes who now are Olympic gold-, silver- and bronze medallists … John Morris, Kevin Martin, Cheryl Bernard, Joannie Rochette, Shannon Szabados, Clara Hughes …

And the others who are no less accomplished or fascinating … Randy Ferbey, Devan Dubnyk, the WHLers, curlers, baseball and softball players, the Newfoundlanders, the British Columbians …

After downloading those stories and memories tonight, I consider it a career well served, telling the stories of those who committed their lives to feats of athletic prowess, vicariously sharing in their victories and mourning their defeats.

A career on which I now can close the books and focus on activities that make me happy … nights and weekends to pursue my own athletic interests (yay, slopitch!), explore my adopted home of Alberta, breathe fresh mountain air, walk with my dog and enjoy time with great friends.

But if it’s all right with you, I’ll continue to love sports and follow the careers of those athletes … as a fan now.

Sharing them with you here, on Twitter or by clinking glasses at the bar, jumping up to high-five you when the thrill of victory descends upon us.

See you there.

The trouble with Twitter

Don’t get me wrong.

Twitter is a great communication tool. My social circle has expanded in ways I couldn’t have imagined five years ago.

I have a new appreciation for its ability to disseminate information, following my participation in a fundraiser.

But with that fundraiser came an onslaught of more than 200 new followers, many of whom I felt obliged to follow. They are Flames fans, Calgary folks, photographers, philanthropists and interested in what I’m saying … apparently.

Yeah, my profile bug says ‘interesting as hell’ but come on … it’s not like I really believe that. OK, maybe I do … a little bit.

There’s a problem with all these new folks I’m following, though. The people I really really really want to read are getting lost in the shuffle.

That tells me it’s high time I sat my arse down, stopped Tweeting for a good couple of hours and sorted some people into lists.

I hope to do that some time this weekend. And please don’t be offended if you don’t make it onto one of my lists. If you @ me, I promise I’ll respond.

And maybe then, you might make it onto a list.

In the meantime, here a couple of other teeny, tiny little faults about Twitter … or would that be Tweeny, Twiny little?

  • Folks don’t really get rhetorical questions. I’ve asked questions to which I didn’t really want an answer and yet some people think it’s an opening to a discussion. Not everything needs to be broken down but it seems I’ll have to start saying #rhetoricalquestion to see if they get it.
  • In the same vein, sarcasm can be mistaken for serious tone. One has to take care when being flippant so as not to offend.
  • We’re missing a temporary ‘hide’ button. Now I know y’all love my incessant Tweeting to the #Flames hashtag but I’m sure there may … may … be a small percentage of my followers who are disinterested. They could turn me off for a little while without unfollowing. (Credit for this shared with Alex Ruiz and @gotkube.
  • Creeps are sometimes unavoidable. Flirty Tweets among friends get misinterpreted by some watching. We had a guy requesting pictures and asking if we girls were really going to get together and what it is we really liked about each other. My skin crawled. And I blocked him.

If I could pass along some advice, it would be to read your post twice or thrice before hitting submit and ensure your intent will be understood.

And, please please please, don’t be creepy.

That’s just wrong.

Social media: A scourge upon perfectionists

This is what technology has wrought.

We have the power to issue our message right away.

We have the power to make announcements to mass followings.

We have the power to garner attention in all four corners of the world … OK, for me, maybe all four corners of the city. (I’m pretty sure I have end-to-end for the country at least!)

But there’s a big problem with getting things out as quickly as we physically can.

Mistakes.

Errors.

It’s enough to make my C-3 and C-4 vertebrae cinch up tighter than a drum.

I try to remember the words my mentor, Gregg Drinnan, gave me in 2002.

“Relax, shit happens.”

Gregg has been a premier sports writer for almost as long as I’ve been alive. I came under his tutelage at the Kamloops Daily News for a year. I love the man as my close friend to this day, even though our lives have taken us on divergent paths and we are rarely in contact with each other.

One day, after my obsession about a typo or something, he took me out for coffee and told me about his triple bypass surgery and how it made him realize that indeed “shit happens.”

After that day, I started trying to relax about the little niggling errors that would occasionally crop up in my copy … although Gregg almost lost his shit at me one night when I called the WHL team the Lethbridge Pronghorns, instead of the Hurricanes.

A couple of years later, I moved on to the Calgary Sun. I wasn’t writing much, busting my hump on agate pages and headlines and cutlines for other people’s stories.

I lost my focus, I lost my desire to be the best, I lost my passion for sports media.

And man, did I start fucking up.

I confided in Gregg, knowing he’d always be at the other end of an email if I needed him.

He said, ‘You’re rushing things just to get it done. Take your time, relax, think about what you’re doing.’

This is sage advice for those who think they need to be the first to do everything.

We are desperate to be first to announce something, our hands hovering over the keyboard so that we can be the first to scream ‘MICHAEL JACKSON’S DEAD.’

No, he’s not.

Yes, he is.

Wait … I think he’s still breathing.

Oh no … hang on … dead as doorknob. Carry on.

It gets ridiculous sometimes and it affects our ability to trust sources, believe in their credibility and be confident it’s true the next time they announce an item.

If I could have one wish in this great maelstrom of technology, in this cacophony of yelling into a cyberspace megaphone, it would be for us all to slow down, breathe really and truly deeply and take time to do things right.

The first time.