James Koole

Mastodon vs. Threads

I really like Mastodon, but I'm also coming around to Threads.

Mastodon was where I went after Elon took over Twitter (now X). I don't like the man, his ideas nor his plans for X and I found a nice place over at Mastodon where a lot of the people I tended to follow went.

When Threads launched, I was there from the first moments. My "ticket" shows that I made my account literally at 7:00 P.M. EDT -- the moment it launched. Initially it was a bit of a mess. The posts were all about Threads and the people all about self-promotion.

I walked away from Threads for a few months but recently re-engaged with it to see what the current state of mind was. I found a vibrant community and a pretty decent algorithm that fills the "For You" feed.

I'll be posting more to Threads for a while to see what the community is like. They are still adding new features, but what is there so far (mutes, filters, polls, gifs, etc.) is enough to make it useful for me. The mobile app and web experiences are solid.

I've followed 45 people and have 17 followers so far. That's about what I started with on Mastodon too, but the crowd is a bit different on Threads. I'm looking forward to a few more features being added, and hopefully an API that will attract a few more people to the service. I don't think I want to see all the news and brands there, but those accounts will play a role in attracting the kind of people I'd like to see. Specifically, that's people I know.

I don't know if Threads can beat X and I don't think it matters. Mastodon didn't have to beat X to be successful, and it seems X is going to be more than capable of destroying itself. If Threads is there as a viable alternative that people are attracted too? Great.

Bonjour Montréal!

Writing a quick blog post while travelling solo is a bit of a tradition for me. I'm sitting on VIA Rail train #62 just west of Coteau station waiting for the westbound #35 to pass before we proceed. I guess it should be Gare de Coteau since I'm in Quebec now.

The train should arrive in Montréal by about 2:00 P.M. which is about 20 minutes late, but in the grand scheme of things, that's pretty decent. Once I get off the train, I plan to hope on the new Réseau express métropolitain (REM) train and ride out to Brossard and back. I really thought that I would have ridden the Crosstown LRT in Toronto before the REM, but here we are.

The point of this little trip is to getaway from work and just to relax a bit. The train ride is a great way to start for me. I enjoy the ride on VIA and Montréal is a nice distance away from home. It's a different enough city to make it feel like I've escaped Toronto, but close enough that it's a decent enough trip to do with just one night in the hotel between the two train rides.

Later this year, I might do a same-day run out to Ottawa (on VIA Rail) to ride the O-Train. That assumes they can keep the thing running over the winter. They didn't exactly hit a home run with that transit system.

More later...

The Next Getaway

Sault Ste. Marie was a great time with perfect weather, a nice cottage to stay at and an enjoyable train ride and hikes.

I've been very stressed out at work lately and struggling to keep things together. I think I'm through the worst of it now, and looking forward to some quieter weeks in October.

Today I booked a two-day getaway in Montreal. I'll take the train out on Monday morning, then stay overnight, returning the following afternoon (again on the train). It's not a long trip, but a good chance to disconnect from work and chill for a bit. The train ride is enjoyable and Montreal is an easy city to get around.

My plan is to eat some good food, get some bagels, watch the Canadiens' game at a local spot and generally relax.

Time for a Break

After a busy summer that involved literally no vacation time, we're off for a quick getaway on Sunday morning through next Wednesday. The plan is to drive up to Sault Ste. Marie and spend a few days at a cottage on Trout Lake. Monday we'll be riding the Agawa Canyon Tour Train and then on Tuesday we'll do some hiking in the area.

It's been a long summer and we both need some days away from work and from the city. The weather is looking ideal and here's hoping it's a nice time to disconnect, unwind and get back to nature for a bit.

Cross Canada Railway Adventures

Back in October, 1995, I hopped onboard a VIA Rail train on a Tuesday morning and four days later, arrived in Vancouver, BC. I stayed there for a couple of nights, then hopped back on the train and came all the way back to Toronto. It was an epic journey that involved being on a train for seven out of the eight days I was away.

Since then, I've taken VIA Rail's flagship transcontinental train a few more times between Toronto and Vancouver, and Toronto and Winnipeg. In 2020, just before COVID hit, we took the kids across to Vancouver in first class.

A couple of months ago, Lindsey mentioned that they were thinking about taking a train trip to end their summer with some adventure. Fast forward to about six weeks ago, and I helped them book a flight home to Toronto for a couple of nights and then a ticket on the Canadian to head back to Vancouver (and onwards to their home in Victoria, BC via ferry from there).

Two F40PH locomotives with some glass skyscrapers and the CN Tower in the background.

A VIA Rail dome car on the Canadian at Union Station in Toronto, ON.

On Wednesday this week, Lindsey and I hopped on a GO Train to get to Union Station in Toronto where they boarded the Canadian for what is now a four-day, four-night trip across Canada.

Since they left at 9:55 A.M. on Wednesday, I've been tracking them using the VIA Rail tracking service and watching the progress of the train as they head west. As of now, they are about 30 minutes from Viking, Alberta. Tonight they will be in Edmonton and then tomorrow morning they should wake up in Jasper, Alberta, in the middle of the Canadian Rockies.

There was some concern that fires in BC would mean the train would terminate in Edmonton, but som rain in the last couple of weeks has helped the situation and the first trains have run through to and from Vancouver starting earlier this week and it's looking very much like they will get the full experience through the mountains and onwards to Vancouver.

I took the train across because I needed some time away from my life, work and a relationship that was coming to an end. Four days on the train gives you plenty of time to just sit and think, or do nothing but look out the window at the ever-changing landscape.

I hope they get the same out of the ride as I did and arrive in Vancouver feeling great about the fact that they took a risk and did something very adventurous.