Inside the margins…

It feels like it happened back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, but there was a time that I was an aspiring political scientist. The research methods class we had to take for the major spent what felt like an inordinate amount of time talking about polling, bias, and sampling error. It didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time and I remember learning that most reputable polls have a margin of error “sweet spot” of +/- 2-4%.

Since I tend to watch and listen to more news than the average Nielson family, I’ve been noticing something slightly disturbing about the polls that both sides are using to claim imminent victory – some of them have a margin of error of +/- 9-12%. That doesn’t seem like a big deal… unless you’re locked in a race where the candidates are consistently within a handful of percentage points of one another. One of the polls I saw Sunday night had the presidential candidates within five percentage points of one another, but had a margin of error of 11%. Sure that was in the fine print and no one is really supposed to pay attention to that kind of thing, but there it was right at the bottom of the chart. 11%. In case you’re having trouble keeping up, just know that 11% allows for a polling error big enough to drive a train through.

So what’s my point? Absolutely nothing, other than with 40-odd days to go this election is way, way too close to call. Well, that and the fact that just because you see something on television doesn’t make it true. Before you decide to accept something the news readers tell you, don’t forget to check their sources and do a little of your own research. You’d be surprised what you can find out without going to too much trouble… and really that’s not too much to expect when we’re electing a leader of the free world.

Missed milestone…

In the mayhem and chaos that has been the month of February, I have to confess that I completely missed a major milestone for jeffreytharp.com. You see, February 13th was the two year anniversary of landing here on WordPress and making the leap into hosting and managing my own domain. I don’t mean to make that sound more complicated than it really was. Basically all that means is I registered the site, pointed it towards WordPress, and then set up a few widgets. Oh, and then paid for the privilege of not advertising someone else’s service as part of my web address. Everything costs, even here on the internet.

What I’m trying to say here is that two years ago, I got serious about writing for the first time. I’ve always had the bug, but this is where I found my voice and turned something I’d largely been doing for myself into something that would be seen by an audience. That’s a huge step, even when the audience is mostly made up of family, friends, and a few random people that discover you by accident. Writing here has led into other opportunities to contribute and work with other writers and to take on other “spare time” projects that I wouldn’t otherwise have attempted.

Writing is a deeply introspective act. It’s a force for refining and clarifying where you stand and who you are. It’s also a tremendously time consuming pain in the ass. I’m glad I’ve never stopped to calculate the amount of time it takes to churn out four or five new posts a month, let alone what it’s taken to throw in on those other projects. I can see now why it’s only the one in a million who ever make any money doing this. I have a new appreciation for even the worst of the hack writers who have managed to scrape out a living based on the written word.

I’ll resist the temptation to go into the usual list of statistics and just say that it’s been a good two years. Site visits are up, comments are up, and pretty much any meaningful metric is up from this point a year ago. Writing in a lot of ways is its own reward, but knowing there are people out there interested in what you have to say is decidedly a feather in my cap. Thanks for sticking with me. Let’s see how things look a year from now.

2010 in review…

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2010. That’s about 6 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 150 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 303 posts. There were 28 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 9mb. That’s about 2 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was June 24th with 58 views. The most popular post that day was Finding a place in line….

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, jdtharp.blogspot.com, Google Reader, en.wordpress.com, and autoinsurance.any-info.net.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for teamwork sucks, get off my lawn, jeffrey tharp, jeffreytharp.com, and why teamwork sucks.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Finding a place in line… June 2010

2

About February 2010

3

Disclaimer February 2010

4

Contact February 2010

5

At your own risk… May 2010
2 comments

Landmark…

Some time early Saturday morning, my cheerful little blog passed over the 20,000 view mark. For those of you keeping track at home, that’s 459 individual posts or 67,257 words or 116 pages of single spaced, 10 point type. Believe me, it says more about your willingness to read some nonsensical drivel than it says about any actual ability on my part. Thanks for sticking with me!