Ten Years Blog

So, ten years. Over a thousand posts (1,142). Over a million words (1,381,652). Many different topics, from science fiction to science physics — those two representing both a key duality and a crucial commonality in my worldview.

What they have in common is the science — a fundamental aspect of my life almost from day one (My first two words were “star” and “light” — a prescience that both amazes and amuses me.) The duality is between fiction and physics — more generally between art and the aforementioned science. While this aspect goes back only to high school, it has become just as fundamental. The Yin-Yang of physics and humanity.

Throw in a love of books, TV shows, and movies, plus a fascination with mathematics, computers, and human consciousness, and this blog has had a lot of ground to cover. Arguably too much.

Certainly too much per the canonical advice to “pick a topic!”

Yet the lack of attention I give my programming blog (let alone my long-dead attempt at a baseball blog) makes it clear I’m just not a “pick a topic” kinda guy. I’m interested in — I think I can genuinely say literally — everything. (I truly can’t think of anything in which I have zero interest. Some things less than others, but nothing is entirely without interest. (If it were, that would be interesting.))

My problem is having to be selective. One doesn’t live long enough to, for instance, read all the mystery books (to name yet another big interest), let alone learn all the stuff about things. Or all the things about stuff.

To me the world is an utterly fascinating, yet hugely frustrating and disappointing, place. (Indeed, if I had to pick just one word to sum up existence as I see it overall, that word might be “disappointment” although “fascinating” and “wonderful” remain in the running. Life is paradoxical.)

In any event, the point of this blog is giving me a space to write about whatever strikes my fancy, and it has certainly been that. As I look back over the ten years and 1,142 posts… I’m not ashamed.

There are even a few I think are kinda shiny.

§ §

It’s fortunate success was never part of the equation here, because on most objective counts this blog has been massively unsuccessful. Over the ten years, posts average just 5.46 likes and 11.87 comments. (They’re that high only because a handful of posts got lots of likes or comments. Different handfuls; liked posts are not necessarily heavily commented posts, and vice-versa.)

There is also that the like count is inflated because some bloggers seem to use likes to promote their own blogs. I’ve got three who like every post, often within seconds of posting. Far too quickly to have read it, is the point. They’ve never introduced themselves, let alone commented, and I do not view that with great fondness.

Speaking of which, following a blog seems also sometimes more a promotion tactic than a genuine interest. Most of the follows I get, I never hear from again. And, again, they never introduce themselves. As a general principle, I think one should introduce oneself when one joins a party.

Be Warned: I’m considering a follower purge — deleting everyone I don’t recognize, that I’ve never had conversation with. (I’ll post an explicit warning before I do.) I know some are shy for a variety of reasons (one of them being that I’m apparently intimidating, a fact that, while I can kind of see it, still blows my mind), but if you’ve been quietly lurking, I need you to at least say “Hi!” (I may bark, but I don’t bite.)

§

I will say the blog has been very successful personally, both as a place to write and for the interesting people I’ve met (comprising quite a spectrum of humanity).

With regard to the former, I’ve seen my writing evolve considerably these ten years. (Some of my earliest posts make me cringe.) Yet I still struggle to find a more honest voice. I find myself cowled by the impression I just mentioned, that I’m intimidating. It’s tough being a friendly Rottweiler. We can’t help how we come off.

The people, fellow travelers, have evolved as well. It’s like a huge party where people constantly arrive and depart. Small groups form, talk about something interesting for awhile, then break up and move on. Sometimes you meet someone interesting, and that grows into something. Or it doesn’t.

Regardless, the party is always interesting, ever changing. An endless potpourri of human notions and conceits. Sometimes frustrating, even acrimonious, it almost always manages to be worthwhile.

§ §

Normally I celebrate the Blog Anniversary more formally (with lists, stats, and charts, oh my), but this year I can’t seem get into it. This whole year has been off. I’m not sure if it’s age catching up with me, socially induced PTSD, or what, but I seem to be completely and utterly out of fucks to give. Zero, zip, nada; the kitchen is closed; nada con carne.

I’ve already written about the baseball blahs — it ain’t just baseball; it’s me. (I at least picked a good year to not care. My Minnesota Twins are sucking nearly all the balls this season. Last in the division by a good stretch.)

There is that, personally, this century has kinda sucked on a bunch of important counts (divorce, dog dying, job hunting, etc, etc). It’s privileged white-guy stuff of no account to anyone but me, but it has still put pressure on the century. Fortunately, there have been some bright spots, retirement and good friendships, to help keep me sane.

But on top of what I think many of us share from our probably now almost forgotten “normal” lives — stresses of family, job, health — the political insanity of the last cycle, the cake icing of COVID, and a hot side dish of American racism. I’ve seen a haunted look in the eyes of more than one person.

If not haunted, weary. I think we’ve reached the point of sheer exhaustion.

At least I have.

§

So no lists, stats, or charts.

Also no computer-generated 3D image to commemorate the occasion. I couldn’t think of a theme, nor any specific image, that struck my fancy.

As far as I got with the Ten-Year trophy before I lost interest.

I looked at 10-sided figures and considered some sort of commemorative trophy made from them, even started roughing out a project, but lost interest. The effort just didn’t seem worth it.

(Granted, creating anything interesting in POV-Ray does require a very large amount of effort. More than I feel like spending these days. If I was serious about 3D design, I’d need to invest in a much more productive tool — one that allows design at a much higher level than the primitives of POV-Ray. Even an interactive modeling tool would be a step up. POV-Ray involves writing code that describes that scene you’ve built. It’s powerful, but rather like doing database work in assembly code or C.)

I suspect that one aspect of my malaise here may involve something more general than blogging or POV-Ray (or Python programming, another hobby that’s fallen off lately). I’ve been using personal computers of one kind or another since they came out in the early 1980s. (I used main frames and mini-computers in the late 1970s.)

Professionally, while I started in hardware, I ended up in software. By 1990 or so, software design and implementation was my primary role, and it remained so until I retired in 2013.

Retirement didn’t particularly slow me down in terms of computer use. I’ve been blogging since 2011, plus I got into the iPad and iPhone thing, which added a new dimension to explore.

I think I may be tired of computers.

There is a part of me that could just sit outside all day. Especially if there are dogs and some good friends. And forest, ocean, mountains, or whatever scenery, instead of city.

§

Tired of computers except for my iTunes on walks or my library of ebooks. I’m pretty much all in on digital music and books. (I don’t tend to watch movies or TV shows on devices smaller than my 50″ TV, but I suppose these days TVs, with their Wi-Fi and LAN connections, are also a device.)

So make that dogs, friends, scenery, and my digital library of music and books.

If I’m in town, then I suppose I have to add email, chat, and web browsing, but what’s striking to me is how much I’ve become more of an Apple computer consumer than a Windows-Intel consumer. Even the blogging doesn’t require WinTel (as so much of my previous work did). That’s a major sea change for me.

§ §

Turning to the blog itself, the all-time top posts continue to be the top posts:

  1. From the Far Side (5869/1005)
  2. My Grandfather’s Axe (5071/903)
  3. Deflection and Projection (3794/201)
  4. Rick O’Shay (3366/207)
  5. Sideband #17: Ready when you are, Mr. DeMille (3355/223)
  6. Santa: Man or Woman? (3335/5)
  7. God is an Iron (2660/263)
  8. Bushido Code (2381/16)
  9. Madam Secretary & Scorpion (1354/16)
  10. Why I Hated The Holodeck (1320/62)
  11. BB #27: Far Less (1312/24)
  12. Hawkeye & Margaret (1192/25)
  13. Elephant Story (1190/15)
  14. Barrel of Wine; Barrel of Sewage (1160/37)
  15. Here Today; Pi Tomorrow (1040/0)

No surprises there. The number in parenthesis is (hits-total/hits-this-year). As I’ve commented in the past, I’m especially glad to see the Santa post continue to fade in popularity. It ground my gears a bit that my top post wasn’t original material.

I’d be happier if the post about the Far Side slipped in the ratings, too, since it’s more a list of favorites than a particularly creative effort on my part.

Others of these (#2, #3, #4, #7, #10, #12, #14 & #15) are among the shiny to me, so I’m happy to see them be popular.

So far this year, the top posts are:

  1. From the Far Side (5869/1005)
  2. My Grandfather’s Axe (5071/903)
  3. Abacus and Slide Rule (538/346)
  4. Greg Egan: Quarantine (361/297)
  5. God is an Iron (2660/263)
  6. Sideband #17: Ready when you are, Mr. DeMille (3355/223)
  7. Rick O’Shay (3366/207)
  8. Deflection and Projection (3794/201)
  9. Physical vs Abstract (214/194)
  10. Gibbs’ Rules (532/108)
  11. The Imitation Game (536/108)
  12. Rotation Matrices (191/103)
  13. CNN Is Dead To Me (904/97)
  14. Movies: Grand Canyon (704/95)

Some of the same names appear on both lists (that Far Side post again at top), which is interesting, especially for the older posts.

The Abacus and Slide Rule post’s popularity is a nice surprise. The Rotation Matrices page’s popularity is an unexpected one. That page is just me testing LaTeX codes.

Also a bit surprising to me is the popularity of The Imitation Game and CNN Is Dead To Me posts. Slow but steady with a trickle of page hits.

§ §

And on that note I’ll call it a post (#1143).

Stay posting, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.

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

22 responses to “Ten Years Blog

  • Wyrd Smythe

    According to Apple, iPads and iPhones aren’t “computers” anyway, so…

  • Wyrd Smythe

    One of the three I mentioned has already weighed in.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Three minutes for the first; a whole 20 for the second. Still waiting on the third, but he’s usually later.

    • Peter Morgan

      Me, too! Me, Too!! ME, TOO!!!
      Here I am! Here I Am!! HERE I AM!!!
      Honestly, I’ve never made that kind of trouble before 🙂

      Congratulations and many happy returns for ten years of your not-about-nothing blog.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        😀 Thanks! You were never one of the three, though. Like any good guest, you introduced yourself and started a conversation. (We can blame our parents for installing Good Social Graces 1.0 when they launched us.)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    One thing that makes me consider ending this blog is the damned “improvements” WordPress keeps making. I especially loath the damned WP Reader, which is buggy AF.

    I just noticed it was recommending my What About 2021? post, which is a keynote post for this year.

    Imagine my stunned horror when I clicked into it and only the lede was displayed. Everything after the MORE tag was… gone. W! T! F! WP ate my post?!?!

    Viewed on the website, the post is fine. In the editor, the post is fine. Just in the fucking double-god-damned buggy AF WP Reader. Even when it works I hate how it elides style information. Or how it grays out older posts. I hate it; I hate it; I hate it.

    Anyway, I popped the post into the (classic) editor and just saved it. Now it shows up in the Reader. (Which, have I mentioned that I don’t care for it?)

  • Anonymole

    Purge away. What a chore though.
    I often wonder if they use bots to respond to new posts.
    10 years is no small feat. About a post every three days is a good rhythm.

    I’d hate to be one of those who blogs for fame and notoriety. Your moods dictated by the number of likes? Oof! I’d have off’d myself years ago.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Yeah, likewise. I have to remind myself sometimes, but this was always just a chance to leave my scrawl on the internet wall, a tiny bid for digital immortality among the rarely, if ever, accessed bits of archives the world over. I live on in the ones and noughts.

      I wonder about bots, too, both wrt likes and follows. I tend to immediately delete follows from obvious sellers (of whatever). I don’t at all begrudge people selling their shit on the internet, but I won’t participate. I’m from the old ARPANET, USENET, hippie days of free information. Teaching, a noble profession, is a secondary goal here. Just trying to pass on interesting bits I’ve picked up along the way.

      Funny! I never thought of it in terms of days per post. I didn’t post at all in 2017 (being in shock from 2016), so it’s just under three days. I hadn’t realized it was that frequent. (No wonder I’m exhausted?)

      Like Winter a Purge is coming, but you are known to the laser-eyed bat-bear. No worries! 😉

  • Stuart Danker

    Congrats on your milestone! And yeah, I agree that you can’t possibly fit everything into your life, and sometimes the act of picking is required. Also, I too cringe at my past work. Anyway, thanks for this post!

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    Happy Anniversary!

    Although my blog tends to gravitate toward certain (nerdy) topics, I’ve never been in the “pick a topic” camp myself. I’ve seen some bloggers who stuck to a single subject, but they always seem to burn out. It seems like there’s only so much to say for any one subject.

    I don’t sweat my followers since lurkers don’t really get in my way. I do occasionally drop blogs I’m following through, usually because I can’t remember the last time I found one of their posts interesting and don’t want their entries clogging up my feed. Often it’s because they’ve gotten into a rut of just ranting about politics.

    I became tired of computers, as an interest in and of themselves, years go. It’s been a long time since I was interested in the gadgets themselves. Although I’m often still interested in what they enable.

    On the issue of some of your posts in the Reader, I noticed a while back for a few weeks that only previews of your posts were showing up in the RSS feed. It wasn’t long after we’d had a conversation about feed problems, so I figured you were probably just experimenting. It cleared up after a while. I wonder if those are the posts you’re coming across now.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Thanks!

      You do cover a number of topics on your blog, that’s true. I’m explicit about there being no topic other than what strikes my fancy. It’s only a single parameter, and perhaps not the significant one, but your blog does seem to have more a set of regulars. (FWIW, I see your blog as multiple focus points, but still fairly focused on specific topics.)

      I’m fine with lurkers, too. It’s that I have supposed followers who aren’t actually following, as far as I can tell, at all. There’s no point in them being in the followers list, which I’d prefer to reflect genuine interest (if any).

      As far as following others, I just don’t have the time. I’m falling behind as it is, and this ennui lately makes it all the worse. I follow a few technical blogs for educational purposes, but I can’t even keep up with those. (For instance, much as I enjoy Phil Plait, I rarely read his blog unless I notice an intriguing headline.)

      I haven’t designed or built a computer in a long time, so I’m similar in losing interest in the machines themselves. What I was saying is that I seem to have gotten tired of using them, at least in the screen, keyboard, mouse, sense. Sitting at a desk typing stuff. That’s what I’ve been doing for far too many years. As opposed to stretched out on the couch reading a mobile device. That’s kind of a new ability, and I don’t see it as “using a computer” (much as Apple suggests).

      Interesting about the RSS feed. Makes me wonder if I need to go back and check all my old posts in the Reader. I did start that, but go bored when they all seemed fine. I hate the idea that an old one might be lurking, though. The affected one from from early January, so who knows. 😦

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I know what you mean about falling behind. In truth, I don’t spend that much time in the Reader. I usually only peruse it when I publish a post, and never go all the way back to my last post, so I end up missing a lot. I do follow a few people by subscribing directly to their RSS feeds, but even there I’ve had to become choosy on what I drill into.

        I actually do most of my personal work, including blogging, on a laptop sitting in my lap in my easy chair in the living room. The desktop usually just gets used for either work purposes, or the rare task that benefits from a large monitor.

        On the posts, you could try unpublishing and republishing them. Although given the way the Reader treats old posts, that might be risky. It might end up disappearing from the feed entirely.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I use the Reader Conversations tab to reply to comments or follow conversations on other blogs. Sometimes I use the Followed Sites tab to read new posts, but I use my RSS reader for the main ones I follow.

        It’s shameful, I don’t really treat my laptop as a laptop. It sits on my desk connected to my 24″ additional monitor along with the Bluetooth full-sized keyboard and mouse. (All of which Dell peripherals I’ve complained about many times. This has been a disappointing purchase.) I occasionally use it as an actual laptop, but as a long-time desktop user (since the 1980s), I’ve never enjoyed the laptop format on its own. Plus my lap gets hot. 😀

        Editing the post worked and isn’t risky. But now I wonder what other posts might have that problem. The only thing I could do it use the Reader to check each one, and that seems really tedious.

        Probably not a huge issue since I doubt many are looking at old posts via the Reader. The risk is those “related” links the Reader puts at the bottom of a post. It was clicking through one of those that brought the issue to my (shocked) attention. That was one major WTF moment.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I actually carefully select my laptop model to avoid the hot lap issue. But I also have a light thin lap desk I use for my work laptop. (Finding one that isn’t more trouble than it’s worth can be a challenge.) It’s nice having my laptop screen in the lower part of my field of vision with the TV in the upper part.

        One thing I have noticed is that the Reader doesn’t honor image size settings, so when I have an image side by side with text, sometimes the result is unreadable. So I’ve stopped using images that way. (It’s frequently a hassle getting it right anyway.)

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Heh, I’ve used a cafeteria tray a few times as a lap shield. 🙂 The watching TV part while working doesn’t have much draw for me. It was a long time in my development that I was even able to listen to music while, for instance, coding. For a while I tried getting through King of the Hill and some other shows by putting episodes on my laptop screen while working in the big monitor. I found I couldn’t really split my focus that way; both tasks wanted more of my attention.

        Yeah, the Reader ignores photo settings, as well as CSS style settings. Very annoying. I wish I had some sense of how many use the Reader versus visit the website.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        The cafeteria tray is a good idea. Most of the marketed laptop heat shields overcomplicate a simple idea, adding pillows, legs, fans, and other useless crap, like shielding against EM radiation. I have a simple bamboo one with plenty of gaps for heat dissipation. It really gives me everything I need, but it isn’t sold anymore. But a cafeteria tray would be very cheap.

        I have no idea on the Reader stats. I do know I saw less engagement when my posts didn’t show up, but really I only heard from a small subset of users about it (basically you and James Cross). But a lot of fellow bloggers also follow me on Twitter, which sometimes give them another way to know I posted something.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Those cafeteria trays are super useful in all sorts of situations (let alone eating off them while watching TV). Over the years a bunch of them followed me home from work. 😉

        While I’m not interested in being on Twitter (let alone Facebook), I do view not having the potential promotional opportunities there as a loss, a downside to the choice. That said, I do get page hits at a low but steady rate, but what’s rare is it leading to continuing interest. The ratio of visitors to page hit is usually pretty close to 1.00.

  • Wyrd Smythe

    I celebrated last night by catching up on South Park and having the traditional bottle of my favorite champagne:

    The two double vodkas I started the evening with were probably a small mistake, though. No harm done (except to a Melmac bowl I dropped after I spilled my beverage), but my headache today is only now dissipating.

  • diotimasladder

    Are you interested in crocheting? Sorry, you said you were interested in everything, so I had to come up with a challenge. (I’m actually getting into it somewhat despite myself. Like I really need another hobby.)

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Interesting in doing it, no, but interested in its connection to knot theory or in the intricacies of the art (or its history), sure. There is also that it appears in some books (the Agatha Christie Miss Marple books, for instance). From what little I do know, it’s a complex enough subject to be quite interesting. As always, it’s just that I love my other kids more. 😉

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