STATS FOR THE FIRST HALF OF 2019 – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Stats

This is a good time of year to look at statistics. It’s just past the middle of the year and in theory, it should give you a reasonably good idea what the year will look like. But my stats have gotten pretty erratic and I have bursts of big numbers, then occasionally surprisingly low numbers … and we are still hoping to go on vacation next week which will probably mean a nearly zero week for the numbers game.

July’s bar chart (it’s still early today …)

I really shouldn’t care. I’ve been at this a long time and I know that stats don’t mean much except when they dip very low and I realize WordPress has disappeared me from their database.

Again.

Overview. I had 1500 additional Facebook followers a couple of weeks ago as well as 2000 more Blog followers. I wonder where they went?

I’ve had years when I got a huge explosion of big numbers from them and years when I get almost nothing. For reasons I don’t understand, about 1000 of my Facebook followers have recently vanished along with about 2500 blog followers. Not sure what that’s all about but I haven’t cared enough to follow the trail of crumbs and see what’s going on. It would require yet one more annoying conversation with their Happiness Engineers.

Aren’t those people embarrassed by that title? I would be ashamed to tell anyone I was a Happiness Engineer for WordPress or for that matter, for anyone.

Yesterday’s reading states. For unknown reasons, it was a good day.

But I suppose a paying job is a paying job and these days if you get one that pays the most of the bills and keeps and your family living in a house with heat, light, and a roof that doesn’t leak, you’re doing fine.

We used to have higher standards, but as time as marched on and things like “raises” have become scarcer than hen’s teeth, we are just happy if we manage to keep even.

Now that we are on a fixed income, we can’t even count on staying even. In theory, Social Security pays “cost of living” raises to its recipients, but whenever Congress is feeling poor, the first people whose “cost of living” that mangle are retirees. After all, we are old and therefore we don’t need anything, right? Like … you know … food. Medication. A home. A car. We just need a little, dark room in which to quietly disappear.

If we would just stop doing annoying things like voting, we could be completely dismissed.

Except we do vote. More than any other age group, we vote. Moreover, we think about voting well in advance of doing it. We actually watch the news with all the advertisements for medications we can’t afford, reverse mortgages that will ultimately leave us living on the sidewalk, how to sell off our life insurance, and how to sue people who have ripped us off.

Can we sue the Federal Government? They are the biggest ripper-offers of all time.

In God we trust. We might as well trust in God because we sure can’t trust the people we elected. Or other people elected. I’m sure I didn’t elect them!

Stats. I have pretty decent stats. I don’t work at them anymore and when the numbers drop into low digits, I shrug. Tomorrow will be better. Probably. If it isn’t, does it matter?

Basic numbers

All of this mattered more years ago when I was trying to establish a “base.” Now? I’ve got one. It isn’t gigantic, but it’s not tiny, either. If I keep writing, someone will read me. Maybe someone who matters will read me. Maybe I’ll make a difference.

I would like to make a difference, though I’m not sure what that means anymore. The world in which I live is twirling on its ear and the future is looking a bit abbreviated.

STATS AND BUMPS ALONG THE WAY – Marilyn Armstrong

During my first three years of blogging, I got around 100, then 200, then 250 to 300 views per day. In year four, it slid up to around 350 to 400. Where it stayed, showing a gradual, slow but steady upward movement with occasional shots of one post being exceptionally popular and periodic dips, especially around holidays.

A couple of years ago, we started getting more than 400 hits regularly. Which I thought was phenomenal. On October 10, 2017, something else happened. Suddenly, we shot upward to 500 and started getting hits as high as 700 or 800. The funny thing was, regular posts were not doing better than usual. They were doing pretty much the same as they always had.

It was a “Google” bump. For no particular reason, Google had found this blog and we were getting hundreds of hits. It kept going up until it hit 1400 at the beginning of November. Which was crazy. Blogs like this don’t get those numbers. It stayed up there for a few days, then started to drop.

I did not expect it to stay in those numbers. The archives were getting all the action. Old blogs were being read by a lot of people — which was fun — but I knew it would not last.

Statistical bumps are not “normal” growth. Somehow, some way, your blog gets picked up by Google or some other search engine and for a while, everyone who looks for something finds you at the top of the list. Thousands of people come and read your archived posts. Some visitors actually sign on and become regulars, but 90% or more will show up once, maybe twice, then disappear.

Red-bellied (or Golden-fronted) Woodpecker

They came to see one post, maybe read a second one while they were at it, but your “real” daily numbers haven’t changed. Without the input from the out-of-control search engine, you are exactly where you were before the bump.

It’s a bit startling and melodramatic when all that activity drops away– and you are left with your normal feedback. Even though you knew it wouldn’t last, you hoped it would.

Sure enough, we dropped back to pretty much where we were before the big bump. Riding “high” was fun, but it wasn’t realistic. We are not a news service and we don’t get huge numbers of readers for posts.

House Finch and Brown-headed Cowbird

The thing is, blogging is not about statistics unless for you it’s a business. It’s about communications with the people who follow you.

You follow them, they follow you. You feed each other ideas and give each other encouragement. The actual writing of a blog is only half the fun. The rest is people and relationships. The ideas you get from reading other people’s material.

Tractor with daffodils

Also — popularity isn’t always as much fun as you think it will be. I spend a huge amount of time writing, photographing, processing pictures. Keeping track of what’s scheduled. I answer all my comments and sometimes, I end up using a full day just answering comments. It is fun — but it eats a lot of time and it’s hard to find room for other things. Like buying groceries or replacing the kitchen faucet or getting back and forth to a hospital.

Luckily, I don’t have that much else to do. Except when I do.

With a few exceptions, I’ve talked to the entire world!

Like other people who blog a lot, I love it. I love the people, the ideas, the stimulation. I don’t get out into the world the way I did when I was younger. If it weren’t for blogging, I’d be isolated and probably lonely.

The thing to remember, for all of us, is statistics bounce around. A fantastic couple of months can be followed by a serious drop in readership. Why?

People move on. WordPress messes with the software and you lose a few thousand followers. And sometimes, you simply hit a lull. If you aren’t blogging for the numbers — if you are doing it because you genuinely love writing or posting pictures or whatever it is you do — then a drop in your stats doesn’t change anything. You are still you and you will do what you’ve been doing and all will be well.

Remind me I said that that the next time I lose 800 views a day overnight!

LIFE. EXPONENTIALLY. – By Tom Curley

Did you see DJT on Fox and Friends this morning? Or maybe you saw him on Colbert this evening. He was also on the evening news, so if you watched TV at all, you saw him. It was also all over social media.

Whoa! Talk about out of control. It would have been funny if life on earth were a comedy. But this was our actual, elected President Of The United States. POTUS. The Man. Sounding like an out-of-control elderly family member whose drinking problem has gone way over the top.

2018 is 2017 on steroids. It’s almost October and it is crazier and much weirder than last year. We expected crazy — but weird? And there are midterm elections in less than 2 months!

In 2017, we experienced “Trump Time.” A crazy story which would have normally lasted a week or two — maybe even a month — lasted for two days, tops. We were reeling from the insane shit the Shithead-in-Chief did on a Monday, only to completely forget about it because he did something even crazier on Tuesday.

That’s how it went all year.

But something happened or seemed to happen on January 1, 2018. The crazy went into overdrive. I say ‘seemed’ to happen because his turning the crazy up to eleven was inevitable. Now those same stores last a couple of hours before the next bizarre event.

Why? Well, it’s because of the word exponential. Most of us know what it means, but I think most of us don’t really understand it.


ex·po·nen·tialˌekspəˈnen(t)SH(ə)l/

adjective

1. (Of an increase) becoming more and more rapid. “The social security budget was rising at an exponential rate.”

2. MATHEMATICS – Of, or expressed by, a mathematical exponent, for example, “an exponential curve.”

More specifically, we need to understand exponential growth, something that gets bigger and bigger or grows faster and faster over time.

It’s hard for humans to think like that because we are hard-wired to think linearly. It’s easy for us to understand it takes a guy two hours to paint a room, so he can paint two rooms in four hours. Commonsense, right? That kind of common sense is part of our DNA. It helped us survive in the old caveman days. Back then, we had to be able to figure out in a hurry how fast we had to run to get to that tree before the really large saber tooth tiger caught up to us and ate us for lunch.

The best example of exponential growth today is in technology. Like, say, computers. There’s a thing called “Moore’s Law.” It says the processing power of computers doubles and the cost is cut in half every 12 to 18 months.

That was true, but, it is a perfect example of linear thinking.  In reality, the time that computers double in power and drop in cost is taking less and less time. Science and all knowledge, is growing at an accelerated rate.

It has always been that way. The increase in human knowledge has always been on an exponential curve, but the way the curve works didn’t make it seem that way until recently. On an exponential curve, things grow at a steady rate for a long time. Then suddenly, it hits a tipping point and everything begins to race along much faster.

Think about it. Humans have been on this planet as Homo sapiens for a few million years. Most of that time, we spent surviving. And throwing rocks at each other. Then, about 12,000 years ago, we stopped roaming and settled down. Although we still threw rocks at each other.

We created agriculture and civilization. Why did we do that? Because we discovered beer. I know this sounds like a joke, but it’s true. There’s a great documentary called “How Beer Saved The World.’  It’s fascinating, but that’s another blog for another day.

Basically, we had a choice. We could continue to wander around and throw rocks at each other. Or,  we could stay home and make more beer. And throw rocks at each other. It wasn’t a hard decision.knowledge-curve.jpg

Think of all the science — all the knowledge — mankind figured out starting 12,000 years ago up until 1900. By the 1900’s the industrial revolution was well underway. Cities were lit by gas and some places, by electricity. People and industry moved on steam-powered trains. The internal combustion engine was in production.

All this knowledge doubled between 1900 and the 1960’s. From horse-drawn carriages to putting a man on the moon.

The knowledge of mankind doubled again between 1960 and 1980, then doubled again by 1990.

Can we remember when smartphones didn’t exist? When iPads didn’t exist? They’ve been around for a while, right? Actually, the iPhone came out June 29, 2007. That was just eleven years ago. The iPad was released on April 3, 2010. Just eight and a half years ago!

That was five years ago. Today, they’re talking about making kidneys with a 3D printer.

What happened?

Mankind reached the tipping point of that exponential curve. We’re at the point where the curve ends and the line goes straight up. This is when our knowledge quite literally explodes.

knowledge curve

We’re way over to the right.

This is not something I thought of myself. There is a fascinating book by futurist Robert Kurzweil, called “The Singularity Is Near.” I highly recommend it.


What does any of this have to do with our Toddler-In-Chief? A lot. In particular, with his mental illness. Literally, hundreds of psychiatrists and psychologists are screaming at the top of their lungs that this nut job is, well, nuts.

And getting worse.

Fear

They have collectively pointed out that the stress of the job is accelerating his illness. He’s not merely getting crazier at warp speed. He has gone all the way to plaid!

You can see it yourself and you don’t need a Ph.D. either.

Every interview he gives is a trip further down the rabbit hole. His last few interviews have gone from, “Bizarre” to “Unhinged” to “Insane” to “Insanely insane.” Read the transcript of his last interview with The Wall Street Journal. It was a literal word salad. Not a single sentence was complete or made any sense.

Remember the news conference where the doctor that supposedly just examined Trump said he passed a cognitive mental test and he got all 30 questions right!

Really? The questions were things like “name four animals” and “point out what 3:15 looks like on a clock.” Wow, so the President is sane because he recognizes a cow, a pig, a dog, a rhinoceros, and a pussy. He also knows when it’s quarter after three.

Meanwhile, the doctor in charge, apparently known locally as “Candyman,” excused himself from his upcoming promotion to run the V.A. Maybe the doctor should be taking the test.

I think Grandpa is not just losing it. He’s losing it faster and faster each day. It’s time to take away the keys to his car. Remove the big nuclear button from his desk. Get him into the memory care unit at a good nursing home. Hell, you can designate Mar-A-Lago as his official nursing home and lock him in his room. It’s the end of September as I write this and I’m hoping we make it to November and elections. Last year, at this time we were hoping to make it to 2020.

I apologize for not finding more humor in all of this. I try, but sometimes it just ain’t there. So, to make up for it. Here are two dogs playing “I Got Your Nose!”

LIVING EXPONENTIALLY – Tom Curley

Did you see DJT on Fox and Friends this morning? Or maybe you saw it on Colbert this evening. It was also on the evening news, so if you watched TV at all, you saw it. It was also all over social media.

Whoa! Talk about out of control. It would have been funny if life on earth were a comedy. But this was our actual, elected President Of The United States. POTUS. The Man. Sounding like an out-of-control elderly family member who has lost it.

2018 is 2017 on steroids. It’s almost May and it is crazier and much weirder than last year. We expected crazy — but weird?

In 2017, we experienced “Trump Time.” A crazy story which would have normally lasted a week or two — maybe even a month — lasted for two days, tops. We were reeling from the insane shit the Shithead-in-Chief did on a Monday, only to completely forget about it because he did something even crazier on Tuesday.

That’s how it went all year.

But something happened, or seemed to happen on January 1, 2018. The crazy went into overdrive. I say ‘seemed’ to happen because his turning the crazy up to eleven was inevitable. Now those same stores last a couple of hours before the next bizarre event.

Why? Well, it’s because of the word exponential. Most of us know what it means, but I think most of us don’t really understand it.


ex·po·nen·tialˌekspəˈnen(t)SH(ə)l/

adjective

1. (Of an increase) becoming more and more rapid. “The social security budget was rising at an exponential rate.”

2. MATHEMATICS – Of, or expressed by, a mathematical exponent, for example, “an exponential curve.”


More specifically, we need to understand exponential growth, something that gets bigger and bigger, or grows faster and faster over time.

It’s hard for humans to think like that because we are hard-wired to think linearly. It’s easy for us to understand it takes a guy two hours to paint a room, so he can paint two rooms in four hours. Commonsense, right? That kind of commonsense  is part of our DNA. It helped us survive in the old caveman days. Back then, we had to be able to figure out in a hurry how fast we had to run to get to that tree before the really large saber tooth tiger caught up to us and ate us for lunch.

The best example of exponential growth today is in technology. Like, say, computers. There’s a thing called “Moore’s Law.” It says the processing power of computers doubles and the cost is cut in half every 12 to 18 months.

That was true, but, it is a perfect example of linear thinking.  In reality, the time that computers double in power and drop in cost is taking less and less time. Science and allknowledge, is growing at an accelerated rate.

It has always been that way. The increase in human knowledge has always been on an exponential curve, but the way the curve works didn’t make it seem that way until recently. On an exponential curve, things grow at a steady rate for a long time. Then suddenly, it hits a tipping point and everything begins to race along much faster.

Think about it. Humans have been on this planet as Homo sapiens for a few million years. Most of that time, we spent surviving. And throwing rocks at each other. Then, about 12,000 years ago, we stopped roaming and settled down. Although we still threw rocks at each other.

We created agriculture and civilization. Why did we do that? Because we discovered beer. I know this sounds like a joke, but it’s true. There’s a great documentary called “How Beer Saved The World.’  It’s fascinating, but that’s another blog for another day.

Basically, we had a choice. We could continue to wander around and throw rocks at each other. Or,  we could stay home and make more beer. And throw rocks at each other. It wasn’t a hard decision.Think of all the science — all the knowledge — mankind figured out starting 12,000 years ago up until 1900. By the 1900’s the industrial revolution was well underway. Cities were lit by gas and some places, by electricity. People and industry moved on steam-powered trains. The internal combustion engine was in production.

All this knowledge doubled between 1900 and the 1960’s. From  horse-drawn carriages to putting a man on the moon.

Well, that was fast.

The knowledge of mankind doubled again between 1960 and 1980, then doubled againby 1990.

Can we remember when smartphones didn’t exist? When iPads didn’t exist? They’ve been around for a while, right? Actually, the iPhone came out June 29, 2007. That was just ten years ago. The iPad was released on April 3, 2010. Just seven and a half years ago!

When my step son was diagnosed with kidney disease, he was told he would need a transplant. I asked his doctor if an artificial kidney would soon be available. He said, yes, but not for at least 50 years.

A few years later, he received the transplant and Ellin was the donor. After the surgery was over I asked the same doctor the same question. His answer? “Oh yeah, they will probably make a kidney from his own stem cells. Maybe five, ten years from now. ”

That was five years ago. Today, they’re talking about making kidneys with a 3D printer.

What happened?

Mankind reached the tipping point of that exponential curve. We’re at the point where the curve ends and the line goes straight up. This is when our knowledge quite literally explodes.

We’re way over to the right.

This is not something I thought of myself. There is a fascinating book by futurist Robert Kurzweil, called “The Singularity Is Near.” I highly recommend it.


What does any of this have to do with our Toddler-In-Chief? A lot. In particular, with his mental illness. Literally hundreds of psychiatrists and psychologists are screaming at the top of their lungs that this nut job is, well, nuts.

And getting worse.

They have collectively pointed out that the stress of the job is accelerating his illness. He’s not merely getting crazier at warp speed. He has gone all the way to plaid!

You can see it yourself and you don’t need a Ph.D either.

Every interview he gives is a trip further down the rabbit hole. His last few interviews have gone from, “Bizarre” to “Unhinged” to “Insane” to “Insanely insane.” Read the transcript of his last interview with The Wall Street Journal. It was a literal word salad. Not a single sentence was complete or made any sense.

Remember the news conference where the doctor that supposedly just examined Trump said he passed a cognitive mental test and he got all 30 questions right!

Really? The questions were things like “name four animals” and “point out what 3:15 looks like on a clock.” Wow, so the President is sane because he recognizes a cow, a pig, a dog,a rhinoceros and a pussy. He also knows when it’s quarter after three.

Short red hand was. at 3 and is now. moving toward 4. Long blue hand. has moved. to 15.

Meanwhile, the doctor in charge, apparently known locally as “Candyman,” excused himself from his upcoming promotion to run the V.A. Maybe the doctor should be taking the test.

I think Grandpa is not just losing it. He’s losing it faster and faster each day. It’s time to take away the keys to his car. Remove the big nuclear button from his desk. Get him into the memory care unit at a good nursing home. Hell, you can designate Mar-A-Lago as his official nursing home and lock him in his room. It’s the end of April as I write this and I’m hoping we make it to May. Last year, at this time we were hoping to make it to 2020.

I apologize for not finding more humor in all of this. I try, but sometimes it just ain’t there. So, to make up for it. Here are two dogs playing “I Got Your Nose!”

THEN I UNDERSTOOD WORDPRESS AND WHAT’S HAPPENING – Marilyn Armstrong

I reread the letter from this engineer and I realized suddenly, with a certain horror, what it means to me, to you, to all of us who have been here for a while and built sites.

WordPress decided to change their algorithm so that “new, fresh material” will get pushed up to the top of the search engine and everything else — like me and you, for example — will go to the bottom. Instead of promoting blogs with solid statistics and followers, they are pushing the latest thing, whoever has just opened a new blog and … well … as someone already said: “Who made this decision? What do they mean by ‘relevant’?”

Some engineer. Maybe a developer. Someone — 25-years old?

Here’s the core of the letter I got. You might want to read it twice because he is talking about all of us. Please note that the reason nothing is missing from my site (except about 6000 posts) is because I went and changed the title. They didn’t fix anything at all. They just buried me with their exciting new algorithm.


Nagesh Pai (Automattic)

Apr 27, 07:53 UTC

Hello Marilyn,

Thanks for your reply. Once again, I truly appreciate your time and effort in writing to us.

I would certainly and sincerely like to apologize for anything that has caused an unpleasant experience to you – whether it is any technology glitch, or my conduct.

Like I mentioned earlier, any technology platform will have its glitches. I hope we have resolved issues whenever you faced them in the past. We are always on the lookout for any faults that may crop up. Unfortunately there are a few that do sneak past.

I would like to focus on anything that is pending to resolve from our side right now.

There is nothing deleted from your site at all! (NOTE: THIS IS BECAUSE I CHANGED MY SITE ADDRESS – BEFORE THAT, THERE WAS NOTHING AT ALL, NOT THE SITE NAME, MY NAME OR ANYONE FROM THE SITE.) The appearance of your articles on WordPress Reader search by relevance is determined by what i explained earlier as “competition”. It would not be fair to use harsh terms like – Fault, here. If there are other articles that rank higher on relevance, it is likely the search algorithm finds it to be more relevant. Rankings keep changing with competition between newly published articles and older ones. The search engine will always try to deliver what the reader would find fresh and relevant, not what the content publishers would like to push. This is a little difficult to grab, since as content creators, we would always like to believe that our posts are the best ( just like we think about people and things we love with all our heart).


In other words: whatever buzz words the algorithm thinks might means “fresh and new” to someone (who?) gets to the top of the pile. “Old blogs” — mine, yours, our friends — are obviously boring and don’t need to even be IN the pile, much less on top of it.

Who decided what’s relevant? It’s not based on our statistics or our standing in “the community.” Not based on the number of our followers or readers. Someone said “that’s relevant” and “that’s NOT relevant.” Because they said so and we just have to live with it.

I don’t know if I want to live with it.

Effectively, what we suspected all along is true. If you have been with them for years, you aren’t fresh and new and why bother with you? So this isn’t an accident. They haven’t made a  mistake. They literally decided we aren’t important enough to bother with.

This is probably why if you take a periodic break from blogging, you get more readers because now you are fresher and newer than you were two weeks ago.

The final astonishing thing about this is what they are aiming for — a fresh, young audience — doesn’t exist. Kids don’t read blogs. They are on Instagram and other social media. Blog readers tend to be older and they are readers. Book readers. Newspaper readers. Writers. Photographers. They aren’t kids looking for fresh, young material … and they are not going to be paying their way on WordPress, either.

As a business model, WordPress is setting itself up to appeal to a non-existent market. All those young, fresh bloggers … you know … the ones who write three posts, realize it’s too much like work and abandon their sites? Those kids aren’t readers. That’s why they love Instagram and other short focus sites.

So, if someone specifically is looking for us, they can find us. But if they are looking to discover things to follow? We’ve not relevant and won’t show up. Ponder that. It’s a big lump to swallow.

I’m going to read a book. Something with magic.

LOSING IS THE OTHER SIDE OF WINNING – SUPER BOWL LII

Since the Patriots became a “real” football team in 2001, there have been 18 super bowls. The Patriots won five. Lost three. The other 10 Super Bowls were won by other teams and the Patriots weren’t in the game.

The Patriots won 5 Super Bowls — one fewer than the Steelers, by the way — and lost three.

So this rumor that the Patriots never lose was never true. They only played fewer than half of the games — and didn’t win all of them.

The Patriots lost Sunday. Aside from whatever internal stupidity made Bellichick decide to exclude our best defensive player, it was a great game. The Eagles won by playing better and harder than the Patriots.

Super Bowl XXXV (Jan. 29, 2001): Ravens 34, Giants 7
Super Bowl XXXVI (Feb. 3, 2002): Patriots 20, Rams 17
Super Bowl XXXVII (Jan. 26, 2003): Buccaneers 48, Raiders 21
Super Bowl XXXVIII (Feb. 1, 2004): Patriots 32, Panthers 29
Super Bowl XXXIX (Feb. 6, 2005): Patriots 24, Eagles 21
Super Bowl XL (Feb. 5, 2006): Steelers 21, Seahawks 10
Super Bowl XLI (Feb. 4, 2007): Colts 29, Bears 17
Super Bowl XLII (Feb. 3, 2008): Giants 17, Patriots 14
Super Bowl XLIII (Feb. 1, 2009): Steelers 27, Cardinals 23
Super Bowl XLIV (Feb. 7, 2010): Saints 31, Colts 17
Super Bowl XLV (Feb. 6, 2011): Packers 31, Steelers 25
Super Bowl XLVI (Feb. 5, 2012): Giants 21, Patriots 17
Super Bowl XLVII (Feb. 3, 2013): Ravens 34, 49ers 31
Super Bowl XLVIII (Feb. 2, 2014): Seahawks 43, Broncos 8
Super Bowl XLIX (Feb. 1, 2015): Patriots 28, Seahawks 24
Super Bowl L (Feb. 7, 2016): Broncos 24, Panthers 10
Super Bowl LI (Feb. 5, 2017) Patriots 34, Falcons 28 (OT) 
Super Bowl LII  (Feb. 4, 2018) Eagles 41, Patriots 33

Garry says those statistics sound wrong, but they are accurate.

The wins and losses are not really the issue. The Patriots have been a wonderful team for its fans. Whether or not they made it to the Super Bowl, they have always been magical to watch, a pleasure for New England fans. It has been a privilege to have had them to root for these past 17 years. I’m sure we’ll be rooting for them next year, too.

Win or lose, they are a fine team. I just thought a little perspective via statistics was in order.

THE MOST POPULAR POSTS OF 2017

These are not necessarily my favorite posts, though a few are. These are posts that got a lot of hits — and are not reblogs. I also — with one exception — didn’t include photo-only posts. It was too much like comparing pineapples to raspberries.

DESCENDING FROM THE GOLDEN HORDE – B+ AND ME – MARILYN ARMSTRONG  – Hanging around since 2013, suddenly, in 2017, it took off. No idea why.

THE 7-DAY BLACK & WHITE CHALLENGE- DAY 7 – I haven’t included any other photo blogs, but this one took me by surprise. It is the most popular single picture I’ve ever posted.

NATIONAL ASSHOLE AWARENESS DAY – A multi-year winner because everyone knows a few assholes. I didn’t write this. I created a better insignia and cleaned it up, but I have no idea who really wrote it. It’s one of those things that goes around.

WHERE DO THE SWANS GO? – MARILYN ARMSTRONG – I wrote this in May 2012. Apparently a lot of people wonder where the swans go. The answer is, nowhere. They shiver and sometimes, freeze.

DON’T DRINK THE KOOL-AID – THE JONESTOWN MASSACRE –  MARILYN ARMSTRONG Written in 2012, rewritten each year since, usually on the anniversary of the event (November 18). it’s still worth a read. This is one of the few posts I’ve written which maybe deserves the attention. If I added the numbers for all its versions of publication, this one is probably the most popular post of all time for Serendipity.

INHERIT THE WIND AND THE SCOPES TRIAL – MARILYN ARMSTRONG – I wrote this in 2012. No one paid any attention to it. THIS year, because our political landscape has so altered, it got suddenly popular. It’s not about my writing. It is about Spencer Tracey’s amazing performance with a script largely based on the actual Scopes Trial. If you have never seen the movie — the original with Spencer Tracey — see it. It occurred more than 100 years ago and it might as well be right now.

WE WERE ALL SUCH GOOD FRIENDS – GARRY ARMSTRONG 

REMEMBERING MOM ON HER 100TH BIRTHDAY – GARRY ARMSTRONG 

TIME TRAVEL, PARALLEL UNIVERSES & THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT – ELLIN CURLEY

A VERY HAPPY 100th BIRTHDAY, AUNT HELEN! BY TOM CURLEY

PORN POWER – TOM CURLEY How pornography has pushed technology.

CHICAGO “NOW” BY RICH PASCHALL

NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO TALK ABOUT GUN CONTROL … REALLY!? – BY TOM CURLEY

BASEBALL: INTERVIEW WITH LYNN NOVICK – SEPTEMBER 1998 – I wrote it in 1998 and it was published in a very short-lived magazine on Martha’s Vineyard. I was digging through my old stories from before blogging and thought, “Hey, that was pretty good. Why don’t I publish it?” So I did.

TOO EARLY TO BE DRINKING? – GARRY ARMSTRONG

FLY THE W – RICH PASCHALL

A FACE-TIME FUNERAL – BY ELLIN CURLEY

YOU’RE NOT A MAN, YOU’RE A CHICKEN BOO – BY TOM CURLEY

WE NEED TO RUN A LEVEL FIVE DIAGNOSTIC! – BY TOM CURLEY

MEDICARE TO SENIORS: WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE?- MARILYN ARMSTRONG – You’d think this would be very old news by now, wouldn’t you? This is the third year this post has been in the top 25. It shouldn’t be evergreen, but it is.

YESTERDAY IS ANOTHER COUNTRY – GARRY ARMSTRONG

THE KILLING FIELDS OF EASTON – BY TOM CURLEY

THE LONGEST RUNNING TV SHOW – MARILYN ARMSTRONG

IF IMITATION IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF FLATTERY – MARILYN ARMSTRONG

WHAT EMPOWERS YOU? – MARILYN ARMSTRONG

I picked 25 posts. Some of the posts were a redo of others, so I picked one of several. Posts are not listed by their statistics. All were all popular. A few posts that don’t show here were re-blogs that did extremely well, but since none of us wrote them, they aren’t included. Also, photo posts — with one exception — are not listed. They are a different class and deserve their own place.

A lot of posts had very similar numbers, just three or four views separating them. To me, that meant they were all popular. I could easily have included another 25, but I got tired of cutting and pasting and it’s New Year’s Eve.

A big hand for Serendipity’s whole crew! We broke all our records this year. It’s the best year to date as we enter year number six. We are up by almost 60,000 views from 2016 and more than 150 views per day. The credit belongs us all — and you. Everyone who comes to read and comment, the folks who give me great ideas about what to write. Ideas that make me think and grow.

You are my friends. I listen to you, share your words, read your work. Truly, all of you have made my life so much better!

GOOGLE BUMPS

For my first three years of blogging, I got around 100, then 200, then 250 to 300 views per day. In year four, it slid up to around 350 to 400. Where it stayed, showing a gradual, slow but steady upward movement with occasional shots of one post being exceptionally popular.

At the beginning of this year, we started getting more than 400 regularly. Which was — I thought — phenomenal. On October 10, 2017, something else happened. Suddenly, we shot upward to 500 and started getting bumps to 700 and 800. But the funny thing was, the regular posts were not doing better than usual. They were doing pretty much the same as they always been.

It was a “Google” bump. For no reason, Google had found us and we were getting hundreds of hits. It kept going up until it hit 1400 in the beginning of November. Which was crazy. Blogs like this don’t get those numbers. It stayed up there for a few days, then started to drop.

I did not expect it to stay in those numbers. The archives were getting all the action. Old blogs were being read by a lot of people — which was fun — but I knew it would not last.

Stat bumps are not “normal” growth. Somehow, some way, your blog gets picked up by Google or some other search engine. For a while, everyone who looks for something finds you at the top of the list, so thousands of people come and read archived posts. Some visitors will sign on and become regulars, but most will show up once, maybe twice, then disappear. They came to see one post, maybe read a second one while they were at it, but your “real” daily numbers haven’t changed. Without the input from Google — or whatever search engine found you — you are right where you were before the bump. It’s a bit startling and dramatic when all that activity drops off — and you are left with your normal feedback. Even though you knew it wouldn’t last, you sort of hoped it would.

Sure enough, we dropped back to pretty much where we were before the big bump. Riding “high” was fun, but it isn’t realistic. We are not a news service and we don’t get huge numbers of readers for posts.

The thing is, blogging is not about statistics, unless for you it’s a business. It’s communication with the people who follow you. You follow them, they follow you. You feed each other ideas and give each other encouragement. The actual writing of a blog is only half the fun. The rest is people and relationships. The ideas you get from reading other people’s material.

Also — popularity isn’t always as much fun as you think it will be. I spend a huge amount of time writing, photographing, processing pictures. Keeping track of what’s scheduled. I answer all my comments and sometimes, I end up using a full day just answering comments. It is fun — but it eats a lot of time and it’s hard to find room for other things.

Luckily, I don’t have that much else to do. Usually.

With a few exceptions, I’ve talked to the entire world!

Like other people who blog a lot, I love it. I love the people, the ideas, the stimulation. I don’t get out into the world the way I did when I was younger. If it weren’t for blogging, I’d be isolated and probably lonely.

The thing to remember, for all of us, is statistics bounce around. A great few months can be followed — entirely unexpectedly — by a serious drop in readership. Why? People move on. WordPress messes with the software and you lose a few thousand followers. And sometimes, you hit a lull. If you aren’t blogging for the numbers — if you are doing it because you genuinely love writing or posting pictures or whatever it is you do — then a drop in your stats doesn’t change anything.

Remind me of that the next time I lose 800 views a day — in one night!

FAME WITH OBSCURITY: A PECULIAR ACHIEVEMENT

A PECULIAR OBSCURITY


I am occasionally stunned at how many hits I can get on a particular day. It happens once in a while, usually for no reason I can understand.

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It used to happen whenever the season premier episode “Gazing Through to the Other Side” of Criminal Minds  was on television.

This post — which I wrote during the commercial break in the show — is about a bunch of FBI profilers and is entrenched at the top of the Google search for this specific show. When it airs and someone looks for it on Google, there is Serendipity, at the top of the search — and I get a little flood of hits. It used to be a lot more, but I still get a few dozen at least.

I used to wonder what caused that sudden burst of interest in my site. Now I know  immediately that somewhere, that episode is playing and once again I’ve been discovered … but only for about an hour. These one-time visitors don’t become (usually) followers. They come, they read. Then they leave and forget me.

When I look at my statistics, those individual bars of hits loom far above the other bars representing numbers of hits for a day.

This could have been my 15 minutes of fame, except that no one knows who I am unless they already know me, in which case, they probably are not looking for me via a Google search. I thus succeeded in being secretly famous.

I pondered this conundrum for a while, mulling over how I ended up an anonymous writer.

I never sought anonymity. I post my picture and I sign my name to emails from readers when they write to me. It just sort of happened.



“Aha,” I said to myself. “That’s what happened!” Google had picked up the piece I wrote. When anyone Googled the show, up it comes on Serendipity, right at the top of the search. Four years later, with Criminal Minds no longer running on network TV, I still get hits whenever that specific show airs. Not in the volume I did, but the post is firmly lodged in Google.

As for my peculiar achievement — obscurity and “fame” — it’s because it took me three years to add my name to Serendipity. I began using “Teepee12” as my domain name because it reminded me that I wrote a book called “The 12-Foot Teepee.” Not a top-seller. Not ever a best-seller. I used its name as my site address so I could remind myself that I had done something once. This turned out to be a mistake. No one associates it with Serendipity. It took me a couple of years to work it out and it’s a bit late to go back and change it. Moreover, I’m sure other people have snagged the name in the interim.

It never crossed my mind that my “domain name” would make a difference in my life. Who knew? Eventually, I realized I should add my name to Serendipity. At least no one calls me Teepee these days. That was getting on my nerves.

Just in case it had slipped, I checked. It’s till there. Today, search for the show and up I come.

My domain is still “teepee12.” More than five years and half a million hits later, no matter what alterations I make, I will always be teepee12. I suppose that is what I thought I wanted.

I have achieved a modest amount of renown while staying peculiarly obscure. Not everyone can do that, you know.

HALF A MILLION – A LOT OF VIEWS

We have a small pond in our woods. It’s way far back and though I can see it from two windows in the house, I have never been there. There’s no path. Getting there would mean climbing boulders and crossing rough terrain. At least half the year, I can’t even see it. In the summer, the trees hide it. In winter, it’s buried under snow. As summer ends, it becomes so dry, there’s little to see. Right now, though, for this brief period after a lot of rain and before leaves come out, I can see it clearly, bright behind the trees.

It rained like crazy yesterday, so this morning, my little pond was shining in the sun. I could easily see it, so I tried to get some pictures. They aren’t good pictures. Even with a my longest lens, there are so many trees and branches and weeds in the way, the lens had a hard time focusing. But I know it’s there. Sometimes, it sort of disappears, but it pops up again.

During the five years of doing this daily, I’ve seen my numbers rise and fall. Sometimes dramatically. I have learned to not let statistics drive my writing. I am tenacious. Stubborn. Determined. If I think a post is good — mine or anyone else’s — I’ll keep putting it out there until it gets its due. Like that little pond. I may have to wait for rain, but it always rains. Eventually.


This has been a very rainy year.

I’ve been watching Serendipity’s numbers climb. Despite hearing repeatedly how “blogging is dying,” I’ve seen our statistics rise by at least 50% since last summer. I’m sure having so much help in writing makes a big difference as do the various points of view. We have more voices. More interesting ideas to think about. More dogs, too.

I always wonder what makes some sites “popular,” while others go off with a bang and then fade away. Sometimes, it’s because the blogger loses interest, gets busy with work or whatever else. Other times, there’s a sense of mental exhaustion. Good ideas popping when the blog began fade and there’s nothing new. It isn’t easy to write day after day.

I spent my life writing professionally, so I’m accustomed to writing. It isn’t exactly automatic, but I don’t suffer from writer’s block. Almost any idea can be a post. Before blogging, my best writing was done writing letters. When blogging arrived, I instantly realized I’d found my thing: blogging is letter writing with an audience.

On Serendipity, we don’t write the same way. We each have a personal style. I don’t always agree with everything, but that’s the point of not being the only writer. If I wanted it all to sound like me, I’d write it myself.

I like writing. I’ve always liked it, since the first time I picked up a pencil. Now that I blog, people read what I write. Before that, I wrote, but I no one read it. I’ve heard people say it doesn’t matter if anyone reads what they write, but I don’t buy it. Writing is meant to be read. That’s the point. If no one reads it, why bother?

Being a good writer and a pretty good photographer improves the blogging process. Varied content matters too. There’s so much available online. It is a busy, electronic world. You need to be entertaining. Five writers are a huge plus. No two people write the same Even when we write about the same thing, we each have our own way of doing it.

The pictures are pretty and our dogs are cute. Posts are funny — or at the least, humorous. On the whole, we don’t rant. Much. Okay, there’s an occasional rant, but it isn’t a daily event. Also, though we all have issues, we try not to dump it all on the blog. Everyone’s got their own bag of rocks to work through; you probably don’t need ours.

From the start of Serendipity, I got plenty of advice from WordPress. They assured me I needed a theme. I needed to have a direction because no one would want to read just anything. Personally, I’m a big reader of just anything. There are a few things I avoid. If it’s gory, I usually move on. Mostly I’m willing to try anything you throw at me.  I figured I can’t be the only one who feels like that.

So I rejected their advice, though I did wonder if I was making a mistake. Ultimately, I figured if the posts are well written well and the  pictures are pretty, a few people are bound to drop by for a look.

The new Serendipity shirt!

I was surprised — and still am — at all of you who have dropped by. Even more rewarded by how many of you have become friends. You are the biggest and happiest surprise of all. We may not be able to hop on an airplane to hang out for coffee, but we are friends.


From Ellin: CONGRATULATIONS MARILYN!

You started your blog five years ago, by yourself, from nothing. You now have accumulated a half million views! You have a crew of talented and devoted contributors to help you with content. You have faithful and enthusiastic regular readers. And you’re winning over new people every day. Your hard work has paid off and you deserve all the success you’ve achieved!

Thank you for including Tom and me in the Serendipity family. Here’s to the next 500,000 views!


For anyone who hasn’t noticed, there are “author pages” for everyone as well as a contact page under the graphic. So if you want to leave messages, please feel free!

Thanks to all my authors — and all our friends.

I know I’m small potatoes compared to many other sites. I know bloggers who have millions of hits and tens of thousands of followers.  For me, this is fine. Moreover, it’s fun. I get to write whatever I want, when I want … or not. No one tells me what to say or in how many words in which to say it. If you have spent a lifetime writing as a business, you have no idea how special this is.

Thank you for finding Serendipity interesting enough to visit when there is so much else going on in the world. What are my chances of making it to a million? You think?

CHECK OUT THE WORDPRESS CLASSIC STATS REDIRECT SCRIPT V2 – REBLOG

Noticed that you’ve lost your old stats page? Here’s a workaround (actually two workarounds) that may help you get stats you actually can use — until WordPress”fixes it” again. Oy.

The “new improved” stats page has no useful information in it. I don’t give a rat’s ass about the way it looks. If I’m on the stats page, it’s because I want data. I want to see which posts did well, how the month is going, how the year is going. How many posts I’ve written and the number of views. And from where they are coming.

The new format for stats is “stats lite.” Apparently WordPress thinks we are morons and can’t deal with meaningful numbers. They have to make them cute and user-friendly because we’re too dumb to deal with anything that gives us information.

I want to also mention the new reblog format. It includes ONLY THE TITLE and one miniature picture. No text at all, so if you want to include any text, you have to do some significant editing. This is also true if you use Press It.

I wish WordPress would stop fixing things that aren’t broken. They are making life very difficult. If they improve things any more, I may give up. This is supposed to be fun, not a battle with software.



WordPress Stats

Introduction

Back then after WordPress introduced a new stats page that quite a lot of people disliked, I suggested you that there was still a way to use the old stats page. I wrote a workaround guide about the classic stats redirect script of tPenguinLTG. This solution solved all issues for a while since everyone could continue to use the previous stats page. But WordPress mentioned back then in the forums that they might phase the previous stats page out, and this is what happened over the last days. If you used the redirect script, you might have noticed that it didn’t work anymore, this was the result of WordPress’s decision to kill the previous page.

Alternative Solution

If you still don’t want to use the new stats page, the incident is not the end of the world. We got help again, tPenguinLTG pushed out an updated version of the script and was working during Christmas days to give us yet again an alternative to the new WordPress stats page. It might be that your script updated automatically, if not, I suggest you to de-install and re-install the script. Check out your Tampermonkey or Greasemonkey browser extension, you should find an option to manage your scripts, that’s where you can de-install the “WordPress.com classic stats”. After that, you just have to install the new version again, the link in my classic stats guide is still the same and should point you to version 2. If you are thankful, please thank the author of the script!

But Something Changed

You noticed it? Yes, something is different now. Since the previous stats page was killed by WordPress, I suggested Penguin to redirect to the even older stats page. I don’t want to confuse you, but there were two different stats versions before they introduced the new one, the oldest stats page is still working, they just phases out the one that followed. Anyway, the oldest stats page is the closest experience you can get to the one you have been used to. If that’s what you want, reinstall the user script and enjoy blogging!


Check out the original post: Check Out The WordPress Classic Stats Redirect Script V2

Please also see the original original author’s site where he includes a lot of coding information, if you are code-literate (I used to be but I’ve forgotten everything in the 10 years since I used it): The Penguin’ says…

TEXTURES FOR A THURSDAY

TUESDAYS OF TEXTURE | WEEK 44 OF 2016


I know it’s not Tuesday. I know and I’m sorry, but Tuesday was a bit busy and Wednesday got full … so Thursday it is. I’m trying to not post more than three things on any day, two of them photography and one something written. I sometimes post a fourth thing if it’s time-sensitive and can’t wait. My statistics are taking something of a hit because, no matter what anyone says, you get more traffic if you post more. One post typically gets maybe 100 hits — on a good day. Four posts will get more than three hundred and occasionally, much more.

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I can’t keep up such a fast past forever — and I don’t want to. I want to own more of my time. To not feel as if “Serendipity” is my job. It was never supposed to be “work.”

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Self-discipline will get this blogging beast under control. Presumably.

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This is something completely different in the way of texture. Smooth. Shiny. Classic and … a lot older than it looks! It was parked next to us at the grocery store. As we were leaving, its owner showed up. He was clearly used to people taking pictures of his adorable truck and told us was from 1930. And obviously, it’s a Ford.

Unfortunately, beyond that, I don’t know what model truck it is. If you know, let me know!

AND SO, THE BIG NUMBER DRIFTED PAST …

I wrote about almost hitting 400,000 on the 9th of June, 11 days ago. Endurance, I called it. Still blogging after all these years. Yesterday, the number was 400,792, but it has changed  hand and I don’t know what it is now. It’s a moving target.

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I had an unstable professional life. I worked almost exclusively for startup companies. Venture capital funded and typically, very small operations doing leading edge work. I fit into that kind of place and the people who worked there. It should there be no surprise that bankruptcy was often the final chapter of my jobs. In any case, single product companies don’t keep a technical writer on staff forever. No matter how much the job is supposed to be “permanent,” after the documentation is complete … it’s time to move on.

Blogging has been great for me, the best gig ever. It has outlasted all but one of my jobs and has been more fun (and more satisfying) than any of them. It has given me new friends, made me a better writer and photographer … and given me epic amounts of pure satisfaction.

Nothing lasts forever, but I’m giving it my best shot.

ENDURANCE: STILL BLOGGING AFTER ALL THESE YEARS

If you blog long enough, the numbers add up. I’m surprised so many people take the time to visit Serendipity. I’m equally surprised I’m still posting pretty much every day. Especially because after four years, I haven’t yet figured out what this blog is about.

I have a lot of problems figuring out what things are about. It’s one of the problems I had with my book. When asked to briefly describe it, I was stopped in my tracks. I can’t really answer that, even 9 years later. Maybe because, like this blog, it isn’t about one thing. It’s about a lot of things not necessarily connected in any discernible way.

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Even that is no longer true. I am still the primary writer on this site, but I am not the only one. Rich has been with Serendipity for more than three years and Garry’s been writing intermittently for more than two years.

Ellin’s been on board for six months and Tom for five months. I love that we have so many voices. It takes some pressure off me, but more importantly, it adds diversity and freshness to a site I felt was getting stale. I was getting tired of me, so I had to figure I wasn’t the only one.


I looked at the stats and could see 400,000 coming. On the horizon.

I remember when I first looked at stats — I had only just realized there were stats to look at — and discovered I had 5,000 views!

That was a gigantic number at the time. I had never imagined that many people would ever visit my site and I’m still a bit astounded at how many people have visited over the past four and a half years. And, when I breached 100,000, then 200,000 … and eventually 300,000 … I knew that if I just kept going, that there would be more milestones.

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Endurance is a huge part of blogging. A determination to not let it go. The belief that somehow, I can make a difference. That Serendipity makes a difference. Maybe we won’t change the world, but we can tweak it a little. We can poke the demon. It won’t stop the demon, but it might make him change direction. A little bit.

There seem to be a lot of demons lately. Depending on the day, the hour, the mood I’m in, and a bunch of other stuff that I can’t quite pin down, I’m appalled, shocked, frightened … and positive that I’ve fallen through a rift in the fabric of reality and I’m actually living on some alternate version of Earth. Or I’m in a coma and this is a terrible hallucination from which I will eventually awaken. It’s going to be a long, painful political year.

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So — about the future: I’m planning to stick around. As long as Serendipity has an audience, it’s worth the time and effort. Knowing that you guys out there are willing to take time out of your complicated lives to drop by and visit, I’ll try to be here for you.

I might take a day off. Maybe. One or two, here and there. It might happen, but I will return.

CONNECTING THE STATS

On examining the statistics for Serendipity this week, I find my most popular posts (as opposed to those written by other people for the site), are black & white pictures of stuff in my kitchen. Some cute pictures of our dog Bonnie, and a 300 word goofy piece on why I’d like to be called “Spike.”

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You can read my MOST popular ever piece here and try to figure out why yourself. Never made much sense to me. It’s not that the pieces aren’t good … but they aren’t all that much better (or different) than the other more than 4,000 pieces I’ve posted.

The “big one” has gotten more than 10,000 hits. If you can figure out why, please let me know. It’s a mystery to me.

What do these pieces have in common? Let’s analyze them a bit. The pictures are good and I’m proud of them. But this isn’t the first time I’ve published them and the previous times, no one found them particularly remarkable. Hmm. I’m sure this means something. I wish I knew what.

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Cute pictures of Bonnie? Well, you can’t argue with cute pet pictures, now can you? I mean … who doesn’t like kittens and puppies and adorable animals in general?

Finally … apparently everyone has a first name and everyone would like it to be a different name than it is. Wow. Revelation!

Why are these three posts popular? What do they have in common, other than having been written and photographed by me? Nothing that I can see.

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I have no idea. I can publish the same piece three times under slightly different names. It will be ignored twice, but be almost viral the third time.

There’s no accounting for it. I have stopped trying to figure it out. I write what the prompt suggests — the black & white pictures, and the post about names were both in response to prompts.

Otherwise, I take pictures of what I see, like the shots of Bonnie  following her grooming. This stuff may get a great response … or fall flat. If something does poorly, I run it again later. Often, it’s a big hit on a different day because … well … who knows? The moon is full?

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Do you know? I don’t know. I don’t think anyone really knows. We just do what we love and hope the rest will follow.

2015 IN REVIEW – THE WORD OF WORDPRESS

From the WordPress.com monkeys to you! Yes, folks, this is my very own personalized summary of this past year in blogging.

I have never been to the Louvre, but it’s good to know that my followers are filling its halls.

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed more than 115,000 times (not 110,000) in 2015, but you probably already knew that.

If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 5 days for that many people to see it.

Wow. Or they could just visit the Rodin exhibit. Or the Mona Lisa. I’m sure my blog would not be the main attraction at the Louvre on any day of any week of any year.

POSTING PATTERNS

Actually, there were 1,206 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 4,206. No one knows how many pictures I posted because I don’t know.

LONGEST STREAK

365 days, from 1 January to 31 December. They could have merely said “every day.” And more than once most days. Which is why I really need a break.

BEST DAY

Friday (Really? Wow!) 185 posts total. I have no idea why I posted more on Friday, but I think it may be because that’s the day the WordPress Photo Challenge comes out.

You can click here to see the complete report, but I figure you’ve already seen more than you have any interest in. Since WordPress kindly supplied this lovely, official document, I might as well make use of it, right?

Right.