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:
- 829 Regular Posts
- 69 Sideband Posts
- 69 Brain Bubbles Posts
- 32 Special Relativity Posts
- 999 posts in total
Not including this one, which makes it 830 regular posts.
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. 🙂
In terms of which of those posts get eyes, here is the All-Time Top 15:
- From the Far Side (3715)
- My Grandfather’s Axe (3591)
- Santa: Man or Woman? (3319) *
- Deflection and Projection (3274)
- Rick O’Shay (2941)
- Sideband #17: Ready when you are, Mr. DeMille (2898)
- Bushido Code (2320) [page]
- God is an Iron (1662)
- Madam Secretary & Scorpion (1313)
- BB #27: Far Less (1255)
- Why I Hated The Holodeck (1201)
- Elephant Story (1172)
- Hawkeye & Margaret (1137)
- Barrel of Wine; Barrel of Sewage (1077)
- 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.)
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.)
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:
Cool pattern, eh? Here’s another:
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.
Stay reading, my friends!