Fair warning for the weeks ahead…

The next two weeks are going to be dicey – at least in terms of getting anything resembling quality content and commentary ready to post. I’m not saying they’ll be non-existent, just that we’ll probably skip some days and the quality may be off on some others. A lot of what the immediate future holds will depend entirely on how I feel when I schlep home at the end of each day.

Being a creature who thrives on consistency, this will be a period of anything but. Add in most likely being able to reintroduce Anya to the mix in the middle of this stretch and we’re on the hook to have two weeks of anything but ordinary.

I never doubt my ability to trek through the batshittiest of batshit crazy days, but I do recognize that if something’s got to give, this bit of daily writing and editing will most likely be what I temporarily toss over the side first. Oh, I’m sure there will still be updates – and probably a fair amount of ranting and raving – just don’t expect it to land on time or with quite the normal level of penash or polish.

State of the blog…

Is it even the end of the year if we don’t take a minute to review some of the stats from 2022?

In a nutshell, we’ve had 251 posts weighing in at approximately 90,000 words, seen by 1,500 followers. It’s a nice round number and I’m not even going to ponder how many of those are bots. 

Total views were down this year to 14,140. That’s a drop off of 2,333 views from last year. 2021 was the high-water mark for views since I started at WordPress, so this year ends a 3-year trend of steady growth. By the time views for this post and tomorrow’s yearly book review are published, I’ll be slightly ahead of where the numbers stood in 2020. I won’t be gnashing my teeth about any of that. 

I don’t spend a lot of time looking at stats since they’ve never really drive what I do around here. That said, since I created this blog, it looks like there have been 117,885 views from 50, 507 visitors. In that time, those visitors have peeped at 3,804 unique posts. It feels like reasonable numbers for a nobody blogger mostly using it as a tool to scream into the void and hang on to his own sanity.

So, that’s where we’ve been. If everything goes according to plan, we’ll all come back a year from now and see if 2023 treats us better or worse. As always, I plan to walk into the new year with absolutely no expectations either way.

Tossing the schedule…

As the end of the year bears down on us like an onrushing bus, I’m strongly leaning towards temporarily abandoning the normal schedule.

I give it the good old college try to get a post up here every weekday of the year. With the exception of federal holidays that I sometimes forget are weekdays, I mostly hit the mark. You’ve probably noticed that at least a fair amount of what ends up on these pages is at least tangentially related to work. Given that we’re about to hit a two week stretch when work will be the very last thing on my mind, there’s likely to be a dearth of quality source material from that front. If I happen to also mostly ignore the news, well, there’s no telling what, if any, ideas might percolate. 

I don’t think I’ll be taking a two-week break – the chances of me shutting up for 17 days in a row is absolutely nil – but I do expect the final two weeks of the year will be a time when I toss the schedule completely out the window and let posts fall when and where the motivation strikes.

With all that said, don’t be surprised come December 19th if you don’t see a spanking new post hitting every night promptly at 6:00. I promise you’ll still get a healthy dose of angst and hostility over the ultra-long Christmas/New Year’s weekend, but I don’t want to commit myself to any kind of a schedule. It’s my longest break of the year, after all, and I fully intend most of it to be a true break from any kind of expected performance. 

Not quite off a cliff…

I never intended or made any effort to use this blog as a money-making venture. First and last, it’s been a project purely for me to vent angst and aggravation out into the universe. I’m told keeping it all bottled up is bad for you and this has been my now year’s long venue for getting it out of my system without picking fights or putting my career in too much jeopardy.

Even though I don’t make any editorial decisions based on them, WordPress is chock full of metrics that, if one were so inclined, could help tailor content and optimize its potential reach. Back in 2021 it was picking up a surprising amount of traction for a nobody blog with no particular focus and no stated purpose. Over the last year, those numbers have, if not quite cratered, then trended back towards the historical mean.

Maybe it’s an issue with algorithms or maybe it’s a case of “they’re just not that into you.” That’s fine. Just like I don’t find my self worth in my profession, I don’t look at my daily page views as anything more than they are – a snapshot of who happened to pass by on any given day. 

I don’t know how long the average blogger lasts, but having been at this since way back when Myspace was a thing, I’ve got to be one of the old timers by this point. The focus of blogging has certainty changed since I started tapping out my first proto posts is in 2006. The ones I come across now have a lot more marketing flare, topical focus, and longer form writing than they did back then. God save me from ever feeling the need to be slickly marketed or well put together.

It’s well that this is something I’m just doing for me. Here in a couple of weeks I’ll roll up the full year’s numbers and they’re going to look anemic next to last year’s “state of the blog.” I’m surprisingly ok with that.

I’m still here. I’m still writing. I’m still offering up thoughtful and not-so-thoughtful takes on whatever abject fuckery is going on in the world and manages to catch my attention. I’m doing, at least one these pages, exactly what I want to be doing. 

An utterly cotton headed loss for words…

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been far better at expressing myself in writing than in words spoken aloud. Something about the slowing down and crafting the words on the page versus simply opening my mouth and letting them fall out as unorganized or partial thoughts, I suppose.

Even though writing is supposed to be my strong suit, it’s all a dry well tonight. I’m lucky to string together a coherent thought about not being able to put more than half a dozen words together without my eyes crossing and my brain going into vapor lock.

I’m going to go mix a very tall gin and tonic, get a night’s sleep, and expect the cotton in my head to be a bit less dense tomorrow and the day after that and the one after that. Before long, I’ll be back to full throated raging against annoyances, wry observations, and occasional bad takes on current events. For now, I’m just going to let coming down from forgoing a lot of sleep and mainlining a single story for the last eleven days take as long as it takes.

I know a lot of people keep saying they wish they weren’t living in such interesting times… but I wouldn’t miss it for the world, even if it does occasionally leave me bleary eyed and nonsensical.

The joy of nothing…

It’s rare to get through from the time I post Friday night’s blog all the way to a Monday evening without having at least one idea jump out at me as being at least nominally worthy of writing up a few lines. It does happen, of course, but it’s rare enough to be noticeable – or at least it is for me. 

I’m going to attribute this weekend’s lack of anything particularly interesting to a combination of reasons. The first of them being that the only time I Ieft the house between 5PM last Tuesday and now, was for about 45 minutes on Saturday. That’s just long enough to get out for the weekly supply run and get home. It generally happens before most people have even properly started their Saturday – and that’s absolutely done with intention. 

It might have started as a pandemic-induced way to avoid standing in line and needlessly exposing myself to whatever bugs people are toting around in their respiratory system, but it turns out even absent a plague, it’s just a great way to avoid people, their small talk, their general bad behavior, and any need to interact with them en mass. Plus, two and a half years in and I’ve still managed to avoid COVID, so that’s a perk. I thought maybe I’d miss restaurants or going places, but it turns out I really don’t. The incentive to leave the house has to be pretty overwhelming. It happens, but it’s a rarity. 

Another reason there doesn’t feel like much to report is, I expect, due to having dialed back a lot of unnecessary spending. Between continuing inflationary pressure, general economic uncertainly, and home maintenance projects both scheduled and unscheduled, a lot of “fun” spending got either reallocated either directly towards covering other expenses or into various holding accounts to be banked against further unexpected requirements. Between shepherding cash, avoiding people/plague carriers, and generally being content to hang out at home with the animals, the number of things worth writing about – or at least the number that anyone other than me might be interested in, sometimes gets a bit limited.

I have no doubt I could gin up a few attention-grabbing posts if I went over and wandering around the local Walmart for an hour or two. You can understand, I hope, why that doesn’t sound like a particularly worthwhile trade off. Much as I enjoy writing, I’m not in any rush to put myself back in a position of having unlimited topics presenting themselves on any given day. 

For today at least, I’ll luxuriate in the joy of having nothing to say.

With joy in my heart…

Someone dropped a comment on the blog last Friday evening. It happens from time to time. Every comment gets moderated, because my platform isn’t a general free fire zone. Everyone is welcome to their opinion, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to give them air time. I’m here, after all, to express my opinion, not charge off into endless debates. I get plenty of exposure to that on the other available platforms. 

Without going into detail, the comment in question was decidedly from a anti-vax, pro-conspiracy bent. Not the kind of thing I’d hit approve on under the best of circumstances. In fairness, though, I should note that the commenter was exceedingly polite and didn’t come across as the wild-eyed wackjob that so often representants that particular group. That in itself feels like something of a rarity and well worth acknowledging.

Politeness, of course, doesn’t get you a free pass to promote wild ass conspiracy theories under my masthead. Having your name right up there on the top line means being able to enjoy absolute editorial control. It’s not a function I need to exercise particularly often, but when I do it’s always carried out with joy in my heart.

Until Monday…

I started about four different posts for today and not one of them made it past the first sentence or two. Good ideas, maybe, that just didn’t have the juice to go all the way. It’s something I’ve just come to expect occasionally – especially on Friday evening. By the end of the working week, sometimes there just aren’t any creative juices left to flow. It’s an occupational hazard of trying to find something fun, informative, or snarky to say five times a week, 52 weeks a year. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen.

That’s when you get this post. The one written bemoaning the inability to write any other post, or to find anything interesting enough to comment on, or something aggravating another to earn my ire. By this point in the week, maybe the well of ire is running predictably low… or maybe the ire is still there, but screaming about it into the void feels like more trouble than it’s worth.

In any case, it’s Friday evening, so that’s something. We’re about as far away from the working week as it’s possible to be in the absence of a federal holiday or burnt off vacation time. Instead of spending a lot of time wishing I had some better writing, I’m going to accept this as good enough, pour myself a large gin and tonic, and not worry about any other deadlines until Monday.

Not for public consumption…

I’ve looked at a dozen potential topics today and rejected every single one of them with some version of, “Eh, I don’t give a shit.” I’m sure there are professional writers who aren’t deterred by whether they care about a topic or not, but my fingers just don’t seem to do the work when confronted with raging indifference. It’s always been something of a personal constraint when it comes to what and when I choose to write.

Over any stretch of time longer than a day or two, my mood tends to be pretty consistent. Some would say it’s consistently bad, but I don’t think that’s true. It just doesn’t generally swing too many degrees off center line, which happens to be a few points towards pessimistic. Overall, I go through most days in my own head being never too happy and never too gloomy. When it does swing, though, boy can I be a right moody fuck. 

That’s where today’s lack of topical interest comes in. Take any six things you can find and I’m fairly sure I could build a full-throated rant about why they’re bad and will be always. That would probably make for a decent bump in my views for the day if I were motivated to chase those.

So, instead of putting up something interesting, what you’ve got here today is just a space-filling admission that I’m feeling decidedly off center without going into any of the contributing factors that would probably be at least marginally interesting. Sorry about that. Even when I am in a mood, some things aren’t for public consumption.

No time for idle hands…

As most of you who follow along here will have noticed, I took something of a break from posting new content while I soaked in every moment of my Christmas vacation. They say a break every now and then is good for the whatever. Maybe it is. For the moment, at least, I don’t feel like every blank page is the enemy. Who knows how long that will last, but I’ll enjoy it for the time being.

Even though I wasn’t posting, my hands weren’t completely idle during the break. No matter how much down time I think I’m taking, I never really stop making notes or tapping out a few thoughts that might end up being the foundation for an interesting post. Right now, I have six potential future posts sitting in various stages from raw notes to decent drafts. They’ll probably make up the bulk of what I post over the next week or two.

It’s surprisingly nice not to be working from a blank slate against a daily 6:00 PM deadline. Even though it’s entirely self-imposed, the angst to get something ready is quite real. If I were the kind of person who made new year’s resolutions, making sure I had plenty of material in the queue would be a good one. I’m not that kind of person, of course, so I fully expect that by the end of the month every post will be a race against the clock.