Number Nine

1000 posts posted!

July the 4th means it’s another Blog Birthday. 9 years of con carne (albeit one of them vegan) and 999 posts (not including this). It’s numerically kinda cool because the arithmetic mean is 111, another triple number. A more accurate average is around 125 posts per year, since I was on hiatus for all of 2017 (to recover from the shock of 2016).

There is also that 999 is what I call an odometer number, but that might take some explaining. Metaphorically, it’s the kind of number that makes you look at your odometer and say, “Hey! Check it out!”

Even little 9, as the last single digit, has some cool properties.

I’ll get to the nines in a bit. Just that it’s a birthday is enough, but a nine to the triple-nines birthday? That, as we used to say in our callow youth, is what comes before Part B: Part-Tay!

So pour yourself a little something and crank it up:

I’m serving Satriani here. It’s what I’m listening to as I write this…

§ §

It’s sheer perversity that I started this blog on July 4th. For one thing, in some other reality, it’s my 22nd wedding anniversary. (In this one, I’ve been happily solo going on 17 years.)

It’s also the day my dad’s brother died. He was my favorite uncle. To be honest, one of the few relatives I liked at all. He taught theology at Luther Seminary, and we got into great discussions about religion (his thing) and quantum physics (my thing).

That was one of the first great familial losses for me. A person I knew all my life, cared a lot about, slipping off the sandbar. It’s another kind of virginity to lose.

On the other hand, I really love fireworks, so the day has a whole Yin-Yang thing of its own. I figured starting my blog on July 4th was playing a trump card on the day.

And, yeah, pretty much worked out that way. Carpéd that diem!

[How long will it be before we can use the expression “trump card” without grimacing at the name?]


So far, 2020 has been interesting, to say the least. On so many levels.

What has been an increasingly wild surreal ride comes to a sharp curve in November. The country will speak; major changes are possible. Or maybe not; we’ll see. I think maybe people have had enough, so I have hope.

I’ll leave the year until the new year. (Not that I’ll tell all my stories. Some castle doors are forever locked to outsiders. Mostly because of the zombie Rottweilers, but also some killer robots here and there.)

For now, the Solstice has passed, so it’s summer:

You may know I’m not one for looking back. I’ve said many times how looking around is challenging enough, let alone trying also to look down the road. Like any driver, I do glance in the rear view mirror occasionally (but if one fixates on it, one tends to run off the road.)

Truth is, glancing back here is a bit like a kid presenting a review of his lemonade stand sales. In my case, as an adult, a strange out-of-the-way bar hardly anyone knows about, let alone visits. (The nice thing about a virtual place is that the rent is cheap and electrons are close to free.)

So my numbers are pretty sad compared to most, but I like seeing which posts do get traffic. (I have a long-standing gripe about which post has, for years, gotten the most hits, and that has finally changed.)

The numbers have never been the point anyway. The point is scrawling on the interweb wall, leaving a mark. Kilroy was here. At this point in life, I have the luxury of truly not giving a fuck. About much of anything.

Which is to say I can give a fuck about whatever the fuck I want, which is exactly what retirement is meant to be. One more blessing I’m incredibly lucky to have.

Finally, there is that I do love crunching me some data, especially if I can make charts and graphs with circles and arrows and a paragraph under each one explaining what each one was.

Speaking of years and statistics (and cool graphics):

I’ve been watching the evolution of computer graphics for fifty years. I had a chance to pursue it when I got out of college, but didn’t realize what a monster it would become. Given my Computer Science minor, I would have been a good fit in that industry.

§ §

As for stats, I have stats. Here are some basic ones:

Not including this one, which makes it 830 regular posts.

There are, additionally, 33 pages (in WordPress, a different type of document than a post; useful for making menus, about pages, indexes, and stuff).

It adds up to 1,210,611 words (90,183 lines). My scan of the extract generates a dictionary of over 30,000 distinct words, but over 11,000 are used only once (names, numbers, gibberish, and whatnot).

The count of words used at least 10 times is 7,372. Raise the cut to at least 100 times, and the count drops to 1,356 words. The top words, as you might expect, are “the” (65,031), “a” (32,455), “to” (28,385), “of” (28,016), “and” (27,970), and you get the picture.

I used “time” 3,396 times. 🙂

No posts in all of 2017. Interesting pattern in first 16 months: Firstly, five on, five off, six on. Secondly, the big spikes in both on periods. I obviously wasn’t pacing myself.

In terms of which of those posts get eyes, here is the All-Time Top 15:

  1. From the Far Side (3715)
  2. My Grandfather’s Axe (3591)
  3. Santa: Man or Woman? (3319) *
  4. Deflection and Projection (3274)
  5. Rick O’Shay (2941)
  6. Sideband #17: Ready when you are, Mr. DeMille (2898)
  7. Bushido Code (2320) [page]
  8. God is an Iron (1662)
  9. Madam Secretary & Scorpion (1313)
  10. BB #27: Far Less (1255)
  11. Why I Hated The Holodeck (1201)
  12. Elephant Story (1172)
  13. Hawkeye & Margaret (1137)
  14. Barrel of Wine; Barrel of Sewage (1077)
  15. Here Today; Pi Tomorrow (1041) *

(To be honest, I picked Top 15 because only 15 busted 1000 hits.)

The gripe I’ve had for years involves the two marked with an asterisk. Those got Freshly Pressed by WordPress (it was a thing they used to do featuring a certain number of blogs each day).

As a result, those posts pretty much got all their hits due to that, but none of those people stuck around. Flash mob hits the post and then evaporates. (After that Santa flash, I repurposed the old Christmas poem to tell the tale.)

I’m okay with the second one, I actually wrote that one, but the first one was From My Collection, and I hated having a piece I didn’t write as my top post.

Since 2012.

Until finally two other posts knocked it down to third place. (I have somewhat mixed feelings about the first one. I wrote it, but it’s getting hits because Gary Larson is active again and has a website. Ironically, after years of xkcd and Abstruse Goose, Larson seems passé to me.)

On the other hand, I’m rather proud of most of those, so it’s gratifying to see them get reads. One exception is Sideband #17, which is just me telling an old joke. (I like this one way better.)

Bushido Code obviously isn’t mine, but it certainly rates the views.

I’ve always been mystified why people like the one about Madam Secretary. (I assume it’s not because of Scorpion.) The traffic has been dying down slowly, but I’ve never understood what makes that post stand out.


The post doesn’t have nearly enough charts and graphs, so…

#1. From the Far Side The traffic ramped up starting in 2018, but it might have peaked in early 2020. Better this than that Santa post, but this one is a review rather than a writing piece.

#2. My Grandfather’s Ax This one I’m more proud of and keep hoping takes the #1 spot. It had some spikes where I think someone stumbled on it and passed it around to friends.

#3. Santa: Man or Woman? That first spike is way off the charts (1,465 hits), and it gets big spikes every Christmas. Except this last Christmas. Interesting. Maybe it’s finally had its 15 minutes.

#4 Deflection and Projection Another post I’m proud of and delighted to see apparently kinda catching on. Or at least have some staying power. It’s about something important. (Note the scale differences between charts. The volume here is much less.)

#5 Rick O’Shay Another review post, but one with doubly-special meaning to me. The cartoon is a keystone of my formation, and, while writing the post, I was privileged to briefly correspond with the author, Stan Lynde, shortly before he died. I’m quite touched this post keeps getting views.

#6 Sideband #17: Ready when you are, Mr. DeMille Yeah, okay, fine, whatever. I’m not sure if it’s the joke people like so much or just knowing where the punchline comes from.

Again, note the reduced scales, but these last three do get a steady stream of views, so that’s kinda cool. Slow, but steady, that’s me.

And I think that’s enough looking back.

§ §

As for little ol’ 9, it’s the last single digit, so it has some special properties.

For instance, you may have been awed in grade school when you saw the forward/backward progression of digits in the first ten multiples of nine:

09, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, 81, 90

The gravy is how each pair of digits sums to 9.

In fact, any multiple of nine reduces to nine, so you can always easily tell if a given number is divisible by nine. For example, is 53,041,248‬ divisible by 9? It reduces as ‭5+3+0+4+1+2+4+8‬=207, and then 2+0+7=9, so yes.

The same trick works with 3 if the number reduces to 3, 6, or 9 (all of which are divisible by 3).

But there’s better fun to be had:

  • 9×9=81
  • 9×99=891
  • 9×999=8991
  • 9×9999=89991
  • 9×99999=899991

Cool pattern, eh? Here’s another:

  • 92=81
  • 992=9801
  • 9992=998001
  • 99992=99980001

Just some numerical fun due to the properties of nine. (Which is, itself, the square of three, a number as evocative as two and one.)

§ §

Here’s a nice piece by Satriani to play you out:

It’s weird; it seems as if it was just a year ago I celebrated The Grateful Eight.

Looking around, things are looking okay. Looking ahead, I wonder what the 10th year will bring. Political change? Social change? Personal change?

Will I even be around in a year?

Seriously. There’s a great line in one of my favorite Jimmy Buffett songs: “She said… I treat my body like a temple, you treat yours like a tent.”

Guilty, so I’m always vaguely amazed by each birthday (mine or the blog’s).

In any event, the odometer rolls over with this post.

I’ve got a bottle of champagne to celebrate. I’m thinking garlic Parmesan Alfredo pasta with grilled chicken and a few shots of coffee-infused tequila liqueur for dessert.

(I’m a confirmed Kahlúa man, and vastly prefer coffee-infused rum, although I’ve had some nice coffee-infused vodka, but the coffee-infused agave is… interesting.)


Stay reading, my friends!

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

10 responses to “Number Nine

  • Wyrd Smythe

    And on that note, I’m out. No posts for a while. Gonna catch up on some reading. Right now it’s S.L. Huang’s second Cas Russell novel, that finally came available at the Cloud Library. (Already read the first and third ones.)

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Having read all three Cas Russell books, I’m a bit underwhelmed. I don’t care much for the main character, Russell, and this second book spent way too much time inside her fractured mind — it got really old.

      There is also that character motivations seem without foundation. I’m not sure why her “friends” choose to have anything to do with Russell. Being around her isn’t healthy.

      Unfortunately, Huang has a series arc narrative, so there is some mild curiosity to find out the full story. I’m torn between an eh! or meh! rating, so definitely books to get free from the library.

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Ha! Even WordPress knows it’s a party:

    1000 Posts

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    Happy 1000th and anniversary! You picked a good day to start your blog. Mine was some random day in November.

    Yeah, in terms of hits, it’s interesting to try to tease apart what attracts people to the most popular posts. Mine is Damasio’s theory of consciousness, which, although an interesting subject, I’m not particularly happy with the writing in that post. Considering that the second most popular is a link to Neil deGrasse Tyson saying something, and the third an xkcd cartoon, tells me what is drawing people to those posts, which I find kind of deflating.

    Well, it looks like WordPress will ensure I don’t miss my 1000th, although it will be after the fact. A reminder at 999 might be more useful.

    Enjoy your vacation! Although I hope it doesn’t last too long.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Thanks, and thanks! I’m sure the vacation is a matter of days, rather than weeks or months (or a whole year off). I’ve put out a 100 posts so far this year, so I can coast for a while.

      I know exactly what you mean about “deflating” — that’s the perfect word. Even more so when people come for those posts and don’t find anything else to stick around for. Ah, well. I guess we just don’t live in long-form world anymore.

      WP has a date count-down widget, IIRC, but sadly nothing for counting down by post. I don’t think it even has a post-counter widget one could use to help remind. I suppose you could do a celebration post after the fact — celebrating the accomplishment rather than the 1000th post.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        A hundred posts in six months is a lot, particularly with the size posts you do and frequent visual aids. I think I’d need a vacation too if I’d done that much.

        On the hits, I try not to take it too personally. Every so often someone shares one of my posts on Reddit, and sometimes I check out the comments there, but the caliber of the conversation is usually pretty disappointing. It’s occurred to me that if those surges ever translated to actual comments on the blog, I’d probably be unhappy about it.

        Given my posting rate, it will probably take another three months for me to hit 1000. I predict I’ll miss it. Maybe I’ll note afterward: “Oh, that previous post was the 1000th.”

      • Wyrd Smythe

        My job often involved similar writing and visual aids, and I’ve done that sort of thing as far back as high school, so I have some practice. Even so, it does take a lot outta ya.

        “It’s occurred to me that if those surges ever translated to actual comments on the blog, I’d probably be unhappy about it.”

        I’ve thought about that, too, and I think I’d hate to be in, say, Sabine Hossenfelder’s position dealing with hundreds of comments on each post. Being largely ignored is a lot easier.

        Focusing on the 1000th post does require making it a whole thing and keeping track. It’s not normally something I do, but I noticed it was 900 when I did the 2020 New Year’s post, and (knowing I was in my ninth year) starting paying more attention.

        Now that I’ve hit 1000, I’ll stop thinking about it entirely! 🙂

  • Wyrd Smythe

    It is surprisingly nice to not be working on a post. I can’t remember how long it’s been since I wasn’t in “next post” mode…

And what do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: