Today, July 4th, is Independence Day in the USA. For most this is a wonderful summer holiday involving picnics and fireworks. As with Christmas, the real meaning behind the day may be distant or lost. And I’m not here today to write about the True Meaning of Independence Day (United States). For the record, we adopted a rather important historical document 237 years ago today. If you live here and can read, you’re expected to know all about it.
It also so happens that today marks this blog’s two-year anniversary (cotton).
That’s not a coincidence. I’d already started a baseball blog, so the idea of having a blog, of being a blogger, was familiar. But the baseball blog turned out to be neither fun nor easy. More to the point, it was confining. ‘A new fan writes about baseball,’ wasn’t enough of a topic. I wanted to write about anything.
Besides, a canonical piece of advice for any writer is, “Write what you know!” I didn’t (and don’t) really know baseball. Not like those who’ve grown up loving the sport do. I’m just a seriously interested new-comer.
So I’d been thinking about starting a real blog. Starting it on July 4th, my (would have been) wedding anniversary was a deliberate act to give the day other meaning. (In fact, July 4th is overloaded with other meaning. An uncle that I really liked died on July 4th, and my best friend’s wife’s birthday is today.)
Now it’s two years later.
Yesterday I posted blog article #255, a number that any computer geek will recognize as hugely significant. In binary, with eight bits, you can count from zero (00000000) to 255 (11111111). It’s a bit like how your odometer counts from 00000 to 99999.
[In the computer world, the eight-bit package, a byte, is a fundamental unit. You might think of the bits as inches and the byte as a foot. Even the idea of a yard—a unit consisting of multiple feet—has an analog in most computer architectures. In fact, most modern designs rarely deal with individual “feet” (bytes) anymore. But even so, the eight-bit byte remains a foundation element in computer data.]
A byte has a much smaller count than your odometer (a count of 256 versus counting off 100,000 miles), but the concept of a ‘full count’ is the same. The key fact is the need for the counter to ‘roll over’ and start again at zero. We can also compare this to the year 1999 rolling over to 2000.
We humans find these “odometer” moments interesting and compelling. The fact is, the real century change happened from 2000 to 2001 (the latter being the actual first year of the 21st century). Yet most celebrated on the last night of 1999. (Some of us celebrated both!)
This post, my 256th, is a roll over post. In binary, the counter just went from 11111111 to 100000000. For a guy who made a living as a computer programmer, that’s kind of a neat coincidence. (And the post count is entirely coincidental.)
I’ve also created 27 pages, which you access through the menu bar and drop downs at the top of the blog. (Some readers seem not to have figured out that every heading in the menu does lead to a page. I’ve noticed significantly more hits on the Who? and Why? pages—which are on the drop down—than I do on the actual About page. All three of those headings are clickable!)
[If you’ve wondered, the red links lead to posts or pages in this blog. The blue links lead to pages outside this blog (usually in Wikipedia, which I love).]
As has been happening to most of us here, I’ve had a lot of new followers show up. This seems to be due to WordPress making changes to its reader that make it easier to follow blogs of interest. It’s the increasingly familiar, “If you like this, you might also like…” meme. The influx seems to begin in April (no fooling).
I have an email folder where I store all the emails I get about follows. I’m pretty sure I’ve kept them all (but it’s possible I deleted a couple along the way). At the moment, there are 377 notices. The first 135 follows came first 21 months in the life of this blog. The rest—all 242 of them—came in the last three months!
That’s a twelve-fold increase in the rate of follows! I was averaging about six follows a month. Now I’m averaging 80! (I realize that’s actually not many compared to what a successful blog pulls in. I’ve heard some bloggers are seeing as many as one-thousand new follows in a month!)
The new folks seem a mix of legitimate new followers (welcome! welcome!) and some we’ll call spammers (go fuck yourselves). Judging by the (low) number of hits on each new post, most of my followers aren’t living up to their name. (Too bad! You don’t know what you’re missing!)
I don’t really mind blogs with the intent of selling something. I like them better when they sell the artist’s own work. Blogs that just shill some manufacturer’s products are crap in my eyes, but it’s a free blogsphere, so whatever. I do mind commercial use of this blog, but I can’t do much about those Likes and Follows. I guess the assholes behind those are already used to the fact that we hate them and would gleefully see them dead.
Recently, I noticed a huge uptick in the amount of spam comments (which WP does a very good job of filtering out):
I was seeing 100+ spam comments per day! I was going to ask if any of you had noticed the uptick, but then I noticed that nearly all of the traffic was directed at my Contact Me Email page. I disabled comments on that page, and the volume dropped to normal levels (about a dozen+ a day).
So happy Fourth of July, the United States Independence Day (try to not blow your fingers off or get food poisoning from the potato salad)! And pity about the non-anniversary, but hooray for two years of fun blogging. The binary counter rolls over to start counting the next bunch. In some regards, so far it’s been practice. Now I can get serious!
I’ve made some wonderful friends here in the last two years, people from all over the world, fellow bloggers I cherish. I have friends in such far away places as the Philippines, Australia, Belgium and Wales!
There are friends much closer to home as well, here in the USA and in Canada and Mexico and parts south. The internet was always a great place to find like minds! This blog has started many delightful conversations!
So to seriously misquote Saint Adams, “Hello, World! Pass the fish!!”