Why I’m Back…

…and regaining control of my data.

Welcome back, Cotter.

If you’ve followed me on social media, you’ll know that I’ve tried to rebuild and resurrect this site now several times over the last few years. I’ve usually failed. But this time, I’m pretty determined to keep the faith – and the site – independent. Recent political changes and the purchase of Twitter – a publicly traded company – by the world’s richest man one of the world’s richest men… and the systemic deletion of all checks and balances at said company under the overused flag of ‘free speech’ has led to increased hate attacks on the LGBTQ+ community, liberal politicians, and Jewish people. There’s been a rise in racism on the platform, and plenty of other shit you wouldn’t want to discuss at your holiday dinner table with your grandmother.

So it’s time for me to go independent with my blogging… again.

A little history lesson.

When I started Aminorjourney.com, I was full of all of the joys of youthful optimism. It was 2004, and my beloved and I were exploring the possibility of bringing my 1965 Morris Minor – AKA Hebe – to the U.S.

‘Merikate and I were still in the early days of our life together. She’d just moved to the UK, giving up a truly awesome apartment in Virginia, and moving to a really shitty, possibly haunted house pretty bare-bones, no-nonsense semi-detached house on a former military base in Lincolnshire. We had very little money. I had a dream of moving to the U.S. and teaching music, driving my Morris MInor every day into the heart of the U.S. Capitol. I even had a job offer secured.

‘Merikate and I with Hebe in 2004.

This website was meant to be the story of A Minor Journey – the move from the UK to the U.S. of a car that was then approaching 40-years old. I turned 25 in 2004.

Good plans aside, my application for a visa was denied. I was told I was “Too Overqualified” for the position I was heading to the U.S. to assume. So our life took a different path.

We stayed in the UK. We moved to Bristol, where I eventually ended up getting into electric vehicles and green energy. I gave up my job as a musician and music teacher, and became a full-blown journalist, writing for GreenCarReports. We adopted two lovely children, and back in 2010, I established TransportEvolved – the YouTube channel I still run today with some help from my long-term friend and thoroughly awesome person Pyoor Kate.

It was 2015 when ‘Merikate and I decided to move to the U.S., taking our Children with us. At the same time (in fact the same year), Pyoor and HER wife decided to move to the U.S. (because, despite Pyoor and I both being Brits, we’re also both married to Americans… and thus now we’re American citizens too). TransportEvolved and Aminorjourney came along for the ride. ‘Merikate and I moved to Oregon, specifically to the greater Portland metro area. Pyoor and her partner moved a little further north, to Washington state.

And here we are…

It’s now 2022. We moved seven years ago, and instead of the apartment that my children, ‘Merikate and I lived in when we first moved here, we now live west of Portland, Oregon in a home we own. We’re in the country, with 1/3 of an acre, a 2,000 square foot home, solar panels, heat pumps, and many electric car charging stations. Our children are all grown up: our Son moved back to the UK last year, and our daughter lives locally.

We have chickens. Pepper, our Border Collie who moved with us to the U.S. seven years ago along with his Labrador sister River, is no-longer with us. He passed away in 2021. River is still with us, but she’s an old lady. Content, but old. And we now have a new doggo: Ghost.

He’s also a Border Collie, but very much high energy (and if I do say so, a little less intelligent than Pepper). ‘Merikate has taken up woodworking, and has made many amazing things for the house and our friends.
TransportEvolved has grown too. We’ve gone from just me (with occasional help from Pyoor) to a full-blown company. We have two full-time employees in addition to myself. We’ve got more than 1100 people who support us every month on Patreon.

I’m now 43. We’re middle aged. And this website has posts in it from when I was 25. That fact alone blows my mind.

And yes, Even though I’m nearly 20 years older than i was when I started this site, I’m still that nerd who likes mucking around with computers.

The Elon Problem

I’ve been covering the world of cleaner, greener, safer and smarter transport for a long time now. In fact, I’ve been a clean car advocate and journalist longer than I was a professional musician. And in that time, I’ve had to deal with quite a lot of coverage of Elon Musk.

Elon Musk in 2009 at the opening of the London Tesla store

I first met Elon back in 2008/2009. He was nerdy, quite restrained, and kept himself to himself. He didn’t like being in the spotlight but came across as one of those people who knew a lot about his favorite subjects. I remember once asking him a question about super capacitors and he spending a good fifteen minutes telling me the answer.

In the last decade though, Elon has changed. He’s surrounded himself with people whose sole purpose seems to be to place him on a pedestal. He’s become more emboldened by people who won’t stand up to him and instead enable his worst tendencies.

In October 2016, during a press call on autopilot and autonomous vehicle operation, I asked Elon Musk if Tesla would indemnify customers from insurance claims if the vehicle was driving at the time of an accident – similar to how Volvo had stated it would a few days earlier.

Musk launched into a tirade about how it was Journalists killing people.

Yes, I was that journalist.

It was after that point that I, and anyone else who dared question anything Tesla-related, became the targets for hate. Homophobia and transphobia became the norm. Pyoor has suffered some racism sent her way by ElonStans, and we’ve had our company server hacked to “stop being mean about Elon”

It’s getting worse

Since then, the hate and the intimidation has become worse. We’ve been threatened with doxxing, and sometimes, people have threatened to post pre-transition pictures of me (sure, be my guest… like I’m scared…)

But it’s also become more difficult on a daily basis to cover Musk. A recent video we published on what might (or should) happen to Tesla resulted in hundreds of spam and hate comments that took me a good few hours to deal with. But I picked this beat – yes, partly (or rather mostly) because I want to see a cleaner, greener, safer and smarter world. But I picked the job and the industry. I picked the industry where covering Elon Musk is essential.

Thus, taking on the folks who say we’re being paid by BIG OIL to kill Tesla or Taking money from legacy auto to discredit Elon comes with the territory.

Elon Musk taking over Twitter? Less so.

The Twitter Problem

Covering Elon for a job is one thing, but having him take over a public company – and taking it private – is something else. Especially when that company had become a nexus for breaking news stories.

When Elon completed his $44 billion twitter purchase, I had some slim hope that maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as all that. Maybe free speech could be used as it was originally intended… not as an excuse to say whatever the **** people want, without repercussions.

It has been worse. We’ve seen hundreds of workers fired. We’ve seen safety nets that were in place to protect vulnerable people and users torn down. We’ve seen actual fucking Nazis reinstated on the platform.

And we’ve seen Elon cheer them on, either through inaction or actually taking part. I’m not going to retweet or share his stuff here, but calling for Anthony Fauci to be criminally prosecuted while simultaneously making a transphobic joke tells you everything you need to know.. especially when it’s followed by being booed on stage in a Dave Chapelle Show (another transphobic person) and then making more anti-trans statements afterwards.

He’s allowing some truly horrible people back on the platform, banned others, and preventing some people Ukrainians from signing up.

Musk’s behavior of late has gone from troll to full-blown conspiracy theorist, and that means it’s becoming increasingly difficult/painful to cover him.

People are unsubscribing and cutting their support of the channel because we’re covering the controversy and how it applies to EVs (because believe me, it does).

Anyway – I don’t want this to be a rant. It’s becoming that. But the TL:DR is that after lots of thought, we’re leaving Twitter. We’d hoped to keep our accounts dormant to prevent others jumping in our place and creating spoof accounts. But that’s not possible due to some of the things Musk is doing at Twitter (like banning accounts critical of him or swiping dormant accounts).

The channel no-longer has a Twitter account. I no-longer have twitter. Nor do any of my alt-accounts (such as the ones I have for my fursuit characters Queenie Deerhart and Chimichanga Fox). My wife doesn’t have Twitter. Nor do many of my friends.

We’ve gone Full On Mastodon.

My accounts (for personal, work, and fursuit) are all separate. My company has its own Mastodon server (so we’re in compliance with the spirit of Mastodon). My friends and family are interacting and existing in a Twitter-free world, free of Musk and his conspiracies.

And it got me thinking. About going independent again.

So here we are, then.

Because I had to set up the Mastodon server for Transport Evolve, I realized how far things have come in the last few years. How reverse proxies and tunnels are now super-easy to implement. And how it would be possible to host my own blog without opening up my network to hackers.

The Transport Evolved Mastodon server command line login - complete with ASCII art of the Mastodon Mastodon.
TE’s Mastodon Server. Yes, I put that ASCII art there.

It also got me thinking about how, in an increasingly fragmented society, it’s going to become harder to exist on one platform without having some control over that platform and your data on it. So I dug out a spare Mac mini from 2010. I downloaded the latest Debian.

When Aminorjourney.com went by-bye in ~2014, I didn’t realize I’d kept a copy of the original site, sans photos, but complete. When I resurrected the site in 2018, I didn’t know it existed.. or rather, I’d forgotten it existed.

What you see today is a combination of both sites, merged together. It’s taken some time to get the database happy. It’s taken longer to remind myself how to get the editors and the reverse proxies and the tunnels working. But now it’s a functioning, secure site.

My PLAN is to get this site up and running again as a blog. I intend to go back through the 700+ posts that already exist and add photos, making them at least, somewhat readable again.

And I want to rediscover who I was back then. I want to rediscover that objectivity that I think years of being a target have erased. Optimism that was destroyed by having children. Optimism that I want to take with me to my grave.

Along the way, expect blog posts about silly things. About Dogs. About Chickens. About 3D printing and music and Macs. About Gardening. About Fursuiting. And about rediscovering everything I loved about myself back in 2004.

Change is good, but the right change is more important.

There are many things that are different about the me of 18 years ago. Things that are better. But there are some things that are not. Such as the fact that I allowed my weight to balloon to more than 262 pounds this summer.

It wasn’t until I went to my annual checkup and got the warning that yes, my blood sugar levels were not where they should be, that I decided to loose weight. And since then, I’ve lost more than 30 pounds. This morning, I was 225 pounds. Thank healthy eating, portion control and lots of Peloton (on a non-Peloton bike – I’m not made of money!)

My ultimate goal is to use this site to chronicle me. To blog. To journal. Sometimes for me, sometimes for the public. But therapy, growth and discovery are all important. And I’ll publish these to social media to point people back here… not the other way around.

I don’t need social media. I need authenticity. And that’s why I’m back.

P.S. – A note to those in the Fediverse: I’m using a couple of plugins to make this site mastodon compatible, sharing my post automatically and allowing automatic mastodon replies. Let me know if they’re misbehaving. 🙂