A final gift…

For most of last week I wasn’t fit for service. Sure, I managed to feed and bathe myself and tend to the life, health, and safety requirements for Maggie, Hershel, and George, but otherwise I was lost in the tall grass. If I had needed to submit a readiness report, it would have read “not mission capable.” Anything that wasn’t essential just got left on the side of the road.

I don’t handle grief well. I don’t suppose most people do. My approach is almost universally to put my head down and grind through whatever the situation is in low gear. I doubt that my psychologist friends would call it a particularly healthy coping strategy, but it’s what I do. Drawing inward, circling the wagons, defending the keep – call it what you will, but history tells me that it’s what works to get me through to the other side of any individual crisis of the moment. 

Consequently to all that, most of the administrative minutia of life stayed on the wayside until I was better able to get and keep my head “in the game” as it were. That means this week I’m just now starting to pick back up with the business of keeping the household running smoothly – groceries, laundry, and cleaning. It was also time to check in on the administrator’s panel for the blog and pay some fees, and tend to the minor details that keep my small part of the internet up and running.

It was in checking the back office side of the blog that I discovered one last gift that Winston gave me. Without me knowing it, my tribute post to a good and faithful dog rocketed into first place as the single most viewed post in the nine year history of this blog. In fact it didn’t quite double the previous “most viewed” record, but it came awfully close. It turns out the internet isn’t always the dumpster fire we make it out to be. Every now and then its collective users can find a way to leave even the most jaded among us more than a little bit surprised with their generous spirit and kind support.

Winston raised the bar on me while I wasn’t paying attention. If I never write another thing to exceed that mark, I’ll be more than happy with the result.

For the love of our game…

If there’s anything more thankless than going in to the office and trying to get some work done on the day before Thanksgiving, it’s got to be posting a blog later that same night when it’s virtually guaranteed that absolutely no one is going to be paying attention. The only thing in my favor is that here on the east coast we got the first snow of the season, so many potential readers might just be sitting the night out at home. I’m not holding my breath on that, of course, which is why you’re reading this process piece instead of seeing anything remotely resembling meaty content.

After more years that I want to think about, I really do have a sense for how scheduling drives the number of posts. It’s a blessing and a curse since it means sometimes I’ll withhold some good writing until I know more than a few people will be paying attention. It also drives the fact that I almost never post on Friday and Saturday. Sadly the world has better things to do on those days than listen to another blow hard ranting on the internet. I’m not selling any advertising here, but still it’s nice to know that what you write has got a fighting chance of being seen… because no matter how much noise we make about writing for ourselves and not for an audience, we really, really want the audience.

So as you’re sitting there, toasty warm in front of your pre-Thanksgiving fire, sipping your nog (or whatever it is you’re supposed to sip at Thanksgiving), think of the poor harried bloggers out there smashing away at their keyboards and wanting nothing more than a few more people to drop by their site. Take a little time tonight and poke around WordPress or Blogger and there’s a good chance you’ll run across someone whose voice you need to hear. It’s a jungle out there, but there are some incredibly good writers too who are just churning it out for the love of our particular game.

That’s that…

Well, the last post from the old MySpace blog went live here on WordPress earlier this morning. I guess that’s that. It’s been such a part of the Sunday morning routine for me that it feels a little strange now that it’s finished. Don’t get me wrong, though, I am extraordinarily happy to finally have the “collected works” all under one roof for the first time. I like knowing that if I get hit by a bus on the way to the office tomorrow, at least this one small bit of me will endure in electronic form for as long as there is an internet. Let’s not get into too deep a discussion that this is what I’ve chosen to leave as my eternal legacy to the world. Sure, it’s no cure for cancer, but as an historian, there’s nothing we like more than day to day commentary about how things were in the olden days… so, blogging is a public service (for a public that hasn’t been born yet).

I don’t have any really solid idea about how the statistics add up but a quick guesstimate would be that I’ve posted something in excess of 300,000 words and garnered something like 60,000 visitors between MySpace, Blogger, and finally here at WordPress. Those visitors have had the chance to read 1,518 individual posts between June 2006 and December 2013. Yep, if you’re doing the math at home, that’s seven and a half years of blogging, and I feel like I’m really just starting to hit my stride.

If you’d like to stop by the archive for one last look around and to see the last four posts from the days of MySpace, here’s the inevitable link to October 2008. The transition from MySpace to Blogger was relatively seamless, so you’ll have to scroll down a bit to start on October 19th. Be sure to check back next week to see what the “new” Sunday mornings look like.

A good month…

With 1,233 visits, an average of 40 visits per day, and a one day record of 148 visits, October was a good month for jeffreytharp.com. The only sure thing I’ve learned from running a blog this long is that you can never expect success. It’s best to go into each post assuming that you’re writing to satisfy an audience of one: yourself. That’s why I’m savoring the high points when they come – especially since the last record setting month was back in May 2011. What that trend tells me is that apparently people like to see ranting about work (May 2011 I was in the final stages of escaping my previous employer) and raging about government ineptitude (This past October saw the latest government shutdown and endless incidents of political asshattery).

As tempting as it is to chase that trend, I don’t think that’s what I want to spend all my time writing about. The reason I’ve never settled into a topical niche is that I tend to be interested in whatever happens to go on around me on any given day. Maybe that’s a character flaw, but it does give me wide latitude when it comes to picking topics. I very much like having latitude.

So with that said, I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been doing around here for almost four years now. I’ll keep writing, you keep reading, and we’ll see if we can’t set a new record sooner rather than later. And because I don’t do it often enough, let me just say thanks to everyone who’s reading along at home, those who impart a snarky word from time to time, throw me a like, or even just shake your head in amazement that someone would bother to manage this much schlock on the internet. This is definitely the best non-paying job on the internet, but I still have a few surprises up my sleeve for the future so let’s go ahead and plan for the best being yet to come.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Begging. Tonight’s the night when all you parents out there send your children mixed messages by encouraging them off to talk to strangers for candy. Fortunately the houses in my neighborhood are far enough apart that it’s not particularly lucrative bit of ground to cover, so there aren’t typically herds of children wandering around looking for a handout. It’s not so much that I mind the giving away of candy, but like the 4th of July, it’s one of those nights that threatens to send one or both of the dogs over the edge every time they hear the gate close or someone knocking on the door. Then again there’s the unmitigated glee when I open the door so parent and child are faced with a surly looking bald man with two barking dogs at his back… so at least there’s that.

2. Getting Close. Earlier this month it looked like jeffreytharp.com was well on its way to having its best month ever in terms of unique views. WordPress was regularly reporting daily views of 50 or 60 people. On October 3rd, the site posted its biggest single day. Since this past Sunday the number of views per day have plummeted for reasons I haven’t been able to identify just yet. At the rate they’re hitting now, I’ll be lucky to bring in 50 or 60 views this week. Alas, such are the vagaries of the internet. As October draws to a close, I’ll have to content myself with having the 2nd best month in the blog’s short history… and start worrying about how to keep November from ending up recorded as the 2nd worst.

3. Indecision. You can accuse me of a lot of things, but being indecisive is generally not one of them. Right, wrong, or otherwise, when confronted with possible courses of action I’ll pick one based on the best information I have available at the time and move out smartly. I’ll never claim to make the right decision all the time, but I’ll by God make one instead of just sitting around waiting for something to happen. Whether it’s where to have lunch or which program to throw over the side, I wish the populace at large would just stop pussyfooting around and figure out what they want to happen. Walking through life having other people’s bad decisions foist upon you is simply piss poor planning. As far as I’m concerned, any decision made on the spot is better than a great decision made ten minutes too late.