2022: I Hardly Knew Ya

Well, it sure went by quickly! Time really does speed up as you age. I used to think it was due to the relative length of hours to your lifespan, but I’m forced to accept how much of it comes from the mind literally slowing down. Not a great feeling for someone who long placed much of their self-worth in their intellectual abilities.

But, looking back, that the year passed by so quickly and for the most part unremarkably, is what seems to stand out most to me. It was a year… that was.

It didn’t have much that struck me as notable, but I do have some charts…

The three or four of you who are long-time readers know I suffer from the ancient tradition of an annual look back at the previous year as well as an attempt to look forward at the coming year. My Janus post. Or posts, because I’ve gotten verbose in my old age and usually need two. Which, at least in this case, does seem appropriate.

Speaking of which, it seems I’ve gotten more verbose even though I’m posting fewer posts.

Two trends are going in opposite directions!

I’m okay with the word count, but the downturn in posts is a pretty clear indication of my general ennui and malaise. At the very least, that how unrewarding I’ve ultimately found blogging has finally begun to really get to me. And, perhaps, that maybe I’ve said most of what I really wanted to say. (Yet my note pile claims otherwise.)

In fact, with only 82 posts last year, it’s the second lowest year since I began blogging (84 posts that first year). Only 2018, the year after I took a year hiatus, is lower. Oddly, I was rather verbose that year, too.

Page hits were nothing to brag about (they never have been). They tend to follow the posting rate. Which makes sense. There’s usually a slight uptick in page hits after I post.

But nothing I do (or have done) ever seems to lead to engagement. I lost one regular correspondent but gained another (Hi, Mark!). A couple others seem to have stopped blogging. A handful of others drop by occasionally.

Most new subscribers seem to be promoting their own blog and have no interest in this one. After they subscribe, I never hear from them again. They never Like a post, let alone comment, and I’m not at all a fan of the practice. I regularly delete Followers whose only presence is that initial Follow.

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In 2022, two people actually brought up the issue of how eclectic my blog is. I’ve known from the beginning that a big part of having a successful blog, or so the advice goes, is to pick a lane and stay in it. Yet, even so, I chose to make this blog reflect my varied interests. (“I gotta be me!” 🎹🎶🎵🎸)

It’s worth noting that my first blog was focused on a single topic: baseball. And that I have a programming blog that’s also focused on a single (albeit admittedly broad) topic (programming, obviously). But I gave up the first and struggle to contribute to the second. In large part because I want to write about other things. The baseball blog didn’t last long, about a season, before I gave it up.

I just want to write about what I want to write about. Success was never the goal. Having fun, learning about the world, and being of value was, and I like to think the full arc of my life generally reflects that. One might question my value, but I can say I’ve had plenty of fun and learned a lot.

§ §

Even in the unremarkable and seemingly brief year that just passed. According to my Libby timeline, I read over 140 library books in 2022 (it was 128 in 2021). That doesn’t include (much smaller) numbers of purchased books from Amazon and Apple. And a handful of my old faithful physical books — I still read those sometimes, too (but not often).

You’ll find posts about some of them on my Book Reviews page.

Last year in my look forward to 2022 I wrote about how Octavia Butler was my big discovery of 2021, and how I’d just gotten into Alastair Reynolds, who I thought would be my big discovery of 2022. But the more Reynolds I read, the less I liked him. (Click the links for the posts I’ve written about them.)

Yet 2022 did bring another wonderful and unexpected discovery: Robert J. Sawyer. I’m now close to having read most of his stories. I like some more than others, but he’s never yet disappointed me. His idea that a spectrum of consciousness exists, from zombie to fully awake, has really stuck with me. It explains so much!

I’ve been working my way through, and am almost done with, The Road to Reality (2004), by Roger Penrose. I read about half of his Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy (2016), and it had so many references to the first book that I thought I’d better read it first. It’s taken me so long to work through TRtR that I’ll probably have to start FFaF over again.

I’ll save most of what I have to say about Penrose and his ideas for another post, but here I’ll just say I see him as “Einstein-class” — a brilliant and original thinker. I wish I could sit down for a chat with him!

§ §

What to say about movies and TV? Most of them were bad. Hollywood’s “woke” mode has made for some unwatchable crap. We want to be entertained, damn it, not preached at.

I’ve decided I’m generally against gender and race swaps in adaptations of well-established existing properties. The ostensible motivation may be good, but it smacks too much of tokenism and marketing. The reality is that it stands out and raises questions of intent.

Case in point, the Disney live adaptation of The Little Mermaid (I’ve never even seen the original and couldn’t care less about it; Disney, meh). They’ve cast the delightful and talented Halle Bailey (and altered the look and probably the story). It’s going to fail. And be reviled. (Just like their live-action adaptation of Mulan — and how stupid are the people at Disney that they can’t learn an obvious lesson? More to the point, why do people with extreme views always come off as stupid? Or is that an obvious question?)

Be brave and do something original, Disney. It’s what made you famous in the first place, creativity, originality, sheer fun and pageantry. Africa is, like, an entire continent. With coastlines and rivers and inland seas. Its long history and many cultures surely have some great tales about spirits from waters. Bring that to life. (Any number of musicians have discovered the rich variation of music from other cultures. Paul Simon springs to mind immediately.)

More importantly, live-action adaptations of comic books or animations is a very risky proposition. One probably best avoided. The adaptations of Cowboy Bebop and The Sandman offering two prime examples.

§

Sorry, got a little rant-y there. In contrast, 2022 did have some movies I thought excellent and thoroughly enjoyed. (See my Movie Reviews page for ones I was moved — one way or the other — to post about.)

Topping that list: R.R.R. — I found it as profoundly affecting watching it a second time as I did the first. It’s one of those movies with so much packed into it that the more you learn about it, the more interesting it becomes. (See this post.)

I also really loved Everything Everywhere All at Once. It, also, is rich in all that lies behind its execution. (See this post.)

Neither of those are Hollywood films, but both owe something to what Hollywood used to be. It says a lot that some of the best films are coming from other countries.

That said, Tom Cruise still knows movies, and Top Gun: Maverick was one of the best (and most successful) things to come out of Hollywood last year. Possibly one of the only good things, at least in terms of cinema. [I re-watched Oblivion (2013) recently. An unregarded SF gem. Funny how Cruise is in some of the better SF movies: Edge of Tomorrow (2014), Minority Report (2002), Vanilla Sky (2001).]

§ §

Getting back to this blog, there weren’t many surprises in the All-Time Top 20 posts. Most of them have been on the list year after year:

  1. From the Far Side (2015, 8028)
  2. My Grandfather’s Axe (2016, 6031)
  3. Rick O’Shay (2013, 3964)
  4. Sideband #17: Ready when you are, Mr. DeMille (2011, 3952)
  5. Deflection and Projection (2013, 3935)
  6. Santa: Man or Woman? (2012, 3352)
  7. God is an Iron (2011, 2872)
  8. Bushido Code (2011, 2424)
  9. Abacus and Slide Rule (2019, 1830)
  10. Why I Hated The Holodeck (2011, 1405)
  11. Madam Secretary & Scorpion (2014, 1387)
  12. BB #27: Far Less (2013, 1326)
  13. Barrel of Wine; Barrel of Sewage (2011, 1267)
  14. Hawkeye & Margaret (2012, 1227)
  15. Elephant Story (2013, 1224)
  16. Here Today; Pi Tomorrow (2015, 1042)
  17. CNN Is Dead To Me (2016, 1027)
  18. Assassin Movies (2011, 1003)
  19. Transcendental Territory (2015, 999)
  20. Movies: Grand Canyon (2016, 894)

Number in parentheses is the publication year and total number of page views since published. Certainly not much to brag about after eleven years and 1,294 posts (and 39 pages). Good thing the goal never was success! I’ve been quite successful in not being successful.

A lot of those ran out of steam in the last few years, so the Top 20 for the year looks a little different (page views in this case is for the year):

  1. From the Far Side (2015, 1371)
  2. Abacus and Slide Rule (2019, 874)
  3. My Grandfather’s Axe (2016, 570)
  4. Sideband #17: Ready when you are, Mr. DeMille (2011, 405)
  5. Rick O’Shay (2013, 346)
  6. QM 101: Bloch Sphere (2021, 247)
  7. Physical vs Abstract (2019, 207)
  8. Ronning’s Lake Carvings (2022, 169)
  9. Flat Space of the Torus (2021, 161)
  10. QM 101: Bra-Ket Notation (2021, 151)
  11. Rotation Matrices (2019, 145)
  12. 2001: Visual Tone Poem (2014, 128)
  13. “Imaginary” Parabola (2020, 126)
  14. QM 101: Quantum Spin (2021, 112)
  15. Transcendental Territory (2015, 105)
  16. Fall: or, Dodge in Hell (2019, 104)
  17. God is an Iron (2011, 101)
  18. Movies: Grand Canyon (2016, 101)
  19. Square Root of NOT (2020, 98)
  20. Gibbs’ Rules (2015, 90)

Definitely a few surprises there! One from 2022 even made the list (#8). I’m amazed at how the Abacus and Slide Rule post caught on. No one ever comments, so I don’t know what the attraction is.

It’s also interesting that the Physical vs Abstract and Flat Space of the Torus posts got as much attention as they did. (I suspect the Torus Earth image might be the draw for the latter.) That “Imaginary” Parabola post has been mildly popular for a while, too. And very surprised about the Rotation Matrices page!

Nice to see that at least some of my QM-101 posts have resonated. My Special Relativity series never got that much attention (although some of the pages do still attract hits).

§

And now, let there be charts. Lots of charts. All the charts…

That Far Side post just won’t die. Looked like there was a downward trend, but views spiked the last few months. (Personally, I’m so over Larson I haven’t even checked out his website. The only web comic I follow still is xkcd.)

For a while, the Grandfather’s Axe post made a bid for the top spot, but it never got higher than second place, and it appears to be losing ground now.

The Rick O’Shay post is one of my favorites, and I’m delighted it continues to do well. It may look like more of a rival for the above two but note the scale change.

My retelling of an old joke gets a steady (but small) stream of views. I’m guessing many come looking for where that old punchline comes from. (And note the scale is even smaller on this one.)

At least that silly Santa post is finally fading into obscurity. (Note the full scale!) It hasn’t been getting the December hits it has in the past. Fine with me, it wasn’t original material.

My “review” (actually an old email I wrote for a friend) of the movie Grand Canyon surprisingly made both lists. It’s a great movie, but the interest still surprises me.

The Deflection and Projection post is my fifth most popular post (overall), but it got most of its hits during the 2016–2020 political debacle. Rightly so. Traffic has tapered off now that things have stabilized (somewhat). Hardly any views this year.

The CNN post has been popular enough to come in at #17 overall, and it still gets a trickle of hits. I wonder if the new ownership will affect this. I’ve given up on cable news entirely and generally news in general, but Keith Olbermann has been railing about them (and MSNBC). Because it sounds like they’ve gone off the rails. Cable news is just something to be avoided in all cases.

That third post in trilogy of 9/11 posts was inexplicably popular for the longest time, but it seems to have finally achieved some obscurity. As with the Physical vs Abstract post (and some other examples), people seem interested in one post of a series and never read the others. (And no one ever comments, so I don’t know what the attraction is.)

That’s enough charts (although, trust me, I have all the more charts).

§ §

On a personal level, I rediscovered my love of raisins and grapes last year. Raisins have always been a favored snack, and are usually in my cupboard, but I’ve gotten more into them. And grapes — fresh raisins!

I read (a lot), hung out some with friends, enjoyed lunches and dinners with BentleyMom, and played host to Her Royal Highness, Bentley. Life’s been generally calm and relaxed, just like I like it.

In sum, no major complaints about 2022. It wasn’t much of a year for memories, but that sword can cut both ways!

Stay annual, 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

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