The Internet basically only exists to suck time away from us. This is especially true in my case. Some obsessive aspect of my personality really latches on to the Internet and can’t let go. I have to friend every person and read every status, tweet, or blog post of anybody I ever even remotely knew, as well as anybody they recommend, etc. I try to suck it all up and absorb it, but the Internet is endless. There is always one more website to read or blog post to write or link to share on someone’s wall. Slowly but surely, the Internet eats me until there is nothing left.
This is not the first time I have crawled my way out of this black hole. In defense of my sanity, as well as defense of all my other hobbies (including sleep), I’m going to throttle down a little bit. So if I don’t comment on your Facebook as much as I used to, or if I unfollow you on Twitter, Please don’t be offended. It’s not because you are uninteresting. Quite the opposite in fact.
Additionally, I will also be cutting down on my blogging.
On Jan. 3rd 2009, I started posting on my blog 5 days a week. It was a little bit of an experiment to see if I could. At that time I didn’t think it would last very long. It seemed impossible, and I also worried it would hurt the quality of the posts. A little over 4 years later, I am ready to call the experiment quits.
I’ve really enjoyed the challenge and I think that, not only did the quality remain high, but I think it actually improved. Blogging is still something I love, and it really became part of my personality during that time. I’ve received such nice feedback from people, and it’s really kept me in touch with a lot of people that I wouldn’t otherwise had any contact with. Lately, however, it has become too much of a burden. Sara could tell you how much time I spend fretting about things like, “I need another post for this week!” or “Is this really good enough for a post?” or “Why is my traffic going down? Was I boring this week?” or “Make the kids do something funny! I’m short on quotes!” This becomes doubly difficult when something’s going on, like stress at work, or queuing up posts for a multiple week vacation.
Since I receive no tangible benefits from blogging, there’s really no reason to add this kind of stress to my life. I will still continue to blog whenever I feel like it, which will no doubt be multiple times per week (maybe even every day!). However, I will no longer force myself to make an arbitrary post count.
Thanks to you who have enjoyed my blog over the years. I hope you will continue to enjoy it as it enters yet another new chapter.
First time for everything I suppose!
Sam from A Few Fine Things nominated me for the “One Lovely Blog” award!
I don’t believe I’ve ever received any sort of blogging recognition or award before. And though Sam is not exactly a *stranger* per say, since she comments on Glipho frequently, it’s nice to be recognized by someone I don’t exactly know! So thanks Sam, much appreciated (and also for cluing me into some new blogs to read!)
Rules of the award:
- Add the “One Lovely Blog Award” image to your post
- Share 7 things about you
- Pass the award to seven nominees
- Thank the person who nominated you
- Inform the nominees by posting on their blogs
It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these “things about me” lists (since Feb. 2009 apparently), but nonetheless I can’t think of a SINGLE THING about me that I have not already plastered all over the Internet. Not one. Really struggling here.
Okay, here goes….
1. I am afraid of busses. Well, afraid of them is not really the right word, but they make me anxious to the point that I would never choose to use them if I could help it. Trains are okay. Trains are on a rail and they can only go where they can go. A bus can just close the door and drive to Abu Dabi.
2. I used to be blond. Like, really blond, all through my childhood, long after you would have assumed my hair wasn’t going to change color. For that matter, I USED to be cute:
3. Speaking of things I used to be, I used to be a mallrat, like you read about. I would spend hours there, bumming around stores, buying things, getting pizza at Sbarro (or free samples from Chik-fil-a), meeting up with people, etc. I could still probably draw you a pretty good map from memory, with all the key stores marked out. But it was so much more than that! There were like rival gangs. For example, for arcades I was a Tilt guy. I wouldn’t have been caught dead in the Golden Nugget. Likewise, I would only buy music in NRM. Sara finds all of this absolutely hilarious, and can’t fathom how this could be a part of my past.
4. I come from an *extremely* big extended family. My dad was one of 7 kids, and my mom was one of 17 kids. No multiple births (twins, etc.). Just lots and lots of babies.
5. I am ranked as one of the top 3 pillow jugglers in the world.
6. One time when I was driving my car caught on fire. There was the smell of burning wires and smoke started pouring out of the steering column. It turns out that with that particular model, it was not exactly unheard of. The weirdest part about the whole thing was that the car ended up being totally fine without any sort of repair required.
7. I am a terrible cook, but I like baking. It’s not crazy to go through 5 pounds of flour in a weekend, although not as much lately perhaps. A lot of that is bread for the week, and most of the rest is pancakes. Lots and lots and lots of pancakes. We usually go through 30+ pancakes on a Sunday.
On the matter of my own nominees, here are some of my favorite Gliphers at the moment:
1. Tess Wynn - I’ve been kicking myself for missing her on my Meet A Glipher list of favorite Gliphers!! So glad I got a second chance. Love her sense of humor, plus we’re both originally from Wisconsin, so there you go.
2. Kami McArthur - Kami is a super sweet, just starting out writer (like me!), and I feel like her sincerity and ernestness really come through in her posts.
3. Woelf Dietrich - Another writer, but sort of the photo-negative of Kami. Dude’s got HP Lovecraft and a giant man-eating squid on his homepage right now. Not only is that awesome, but I want to see how he’s going to fit a ”Lovely Blog” award on there with the rest.
4. Laura Locket - Laura writes every day, and no one knows better than me what a challenge that is, not only to do it, but to keep it interesting!
5. Garden Geekery - Bees! I am currently fascinated by bee keeping, as we’d like to keep bees one day, and therefore this blog.
Alright, I hate to go outside of Glipho for this, but…
7. Rodan - A VERY old friend! It’s kind of hard to explain his blog, but I lurves it. Each post is like a surreal dip into the inner workings of his strange brain, where everything starts out normal, but nothing is as it seems.
To my nominated (Glipho) bloggers – if you could click the version button at the bottom of this blog post when you wish to do your own nomination post then it will link all our blog posts together in harmonious loveliness.
The blogging platform Glipho recently interviewed me as part of their “Meet a Glipher” project. Therein, I discuss my secret blogger origin story, divulge embarrassing pictures of myself, and discuss advice about blogging and parenting.
I’m cross-posting the interview here for posterity, but you can also see the original post here.
#meetaglipher… Shane Halbach (@shanehalbach)
A hundred or more thanks to Shane Halbach for being our Meet a Glipher this week! Chances are you’ll probably know Shane for his sense of humour in his posts and which are often about his brilliant kids (or co-bloggers). He’s also recently sold a short story to a superhero anthology published by Crossed Genres, so congratulations to him!
1. Why did you start blogging? Why do you continue to do it?
Before “social network” was even a word, before Twitter and Facebook (before even MySpace for god’s sake), a good friend of mine kept trying to get me to join LiveJournal; not for the blogging really, but for the sense of community she found there. Despite constant nagging on her part, I never quite got around to making an account.
My friend later committed suicide.
The year after she died, I spent a lot of time thinking about her, and one day I went and opened a LiveJournal account in her honor. I didn’t really know what I was going to do with it, but having it made me feel closer to her. Once I started using it, I could very quickly see what she had been trying to tell me all that time. In my experience, bloggers are generally nice, encouraging people, and there really is a sense of community. It’s very interesting to me that, all of these years later, Glipho is building its own community of bloggers. So it’s really come full circle for me.
My blog has gone through three major periods. In the beginning, I mostly used it like a diary. I never expected anybody to read it. (Those embarrassing posts are all still there…*please please* don’t go back and read them!) Eventually, it just wasn’t really interesting enough for me to continue, and I gave up for about a year. When I started blogging again in August of 2005, I changed my focus. I started using it more as a place to keep interesting links I found on the Internet, and turned it more into something that was interesting to me and that I enjoyed, rather than something I felt like I had to do.
I’ve seen so many blogs come and go, and I think that the absolutely essential element for anybody who wants to sustain a blog is that you have to enjoy it. It doesn’t matter what you talk about, but it has to be you, and you have to enjoy it for its own sake. Otherwise it becomes work. If you’re doing it to “get readers” just quit now and save yourself the trouble.
The third iteration of my blog began in January of 2009, when I challenged myself to blog 7 days a week. I didn’t really have a plan or a goal of how far I’d take it, but I just thought it would be interesting. Though I eventually scaled it back to 5 days a week, I certainly never thought I’d still be keeping that schedule four years later.
This was a big difference though, because it really flipped a switch on blogging for me. The constant need to come up with content really kindled a spark in my creative side. I had never really used my “writer brain” for blogging, it had always been a separate thing. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to come up with so many posts without making them dull or uninteresting, but instead the opposite happened: I started looking at the world in a new light, and finding inspiration for posts everywhere. I always figured I would stop blogging when I stopped enjoying it, but I think I’m enjoying it now more than ever.
2. You blog a lot about your kids, Evie and Ollie, who are adorable, intelligent, and hilarious. Do they ever read your blog posts? Will they read them in future? And how will you feel if one day you are the topic of THEIR blogs?
They do not read my blog, but they are aware that it exists. Particularly when they make me laugh, they’ll say, “Put that in your e-blog!” or “Is that a quote daddy?” Since Quote Monday is essentially just me transcribing the things they say, I guess you could consider them my co-bloggers. There are currently 198 “From the Mouths of Babes” posts, and that’s not even counting the posts I wrote *about* them. I know a lot of bloggers who never published 198 posts.
The Internet is forever, so I know they will read the posts someday, and when they do, no jury on Earth will convict them when they kill me. Unfortunately for them, my entire life is basically online, and I don’t think there is anything they could write that would be more embarrassing than anything I’ve already put out there myself.
I would love for them to be bloggers though. I wish everybody blogged everything all the time. For some reason, people seem to not want to put their lives on display to be dissected by Internet trolls. Weird.
3. Have you had any particular experiences as a result of your blog?
My all-time personal favorite was when I wrote a blog post about a childhood hero, Commander Mark Kistler, and he actually stopped by and commented on the post. I still get warm and glowy when I think about it.
One time I wrote a post and skillfully tied together two unrelated items (a quiz about which horrible disease you are and frozen pickle juice popsicles) with the title, “Do Pickle Pops give you Rickets?” Shortly thereafter, I received a couple of comments from the company who made the pickle pops. I just imagine the marketing guy sitting down at his computer in the morning thinking, “Ah, look! Bloggers are starting to talk about our product! We’re really going somewhere now!” and then just doing a spit-take with his coffee all over his monitor when he sees that title.
They were good sports about it though. I changed the post title even though they didn’t ask me to, and they sent me a bunch of free pickle pops. I do feel obligated to say there are no studies linking pickle pops to rickets. Unfortunately, my own study concluded that pickle pops do, in fact, taste like frozen pickle juice.
4. How involved are you with the online community? Have you attended any blogger meetups?
I have so many friends who I only know virtually, but I guess that’s not that unusual anymore. I’ve never attended any blogger meetups, but I have met people in real life who read my blog. It’s a little awkward and unbalancing when they know so much about me and I don’t know anything about them. Plus, when I try to launch into all my funniest stories they go, “Uh, yeah, I already read that on your blog.”
5. What blog(s) do you love to read? Any favourite Gliphers?
My favorite blog is John Scalzi’s Whatever. His is the blog my blog aspires to be. As far as Gliphers, I sort of pick and choose at the buffet of my feed. But some of my favorites are Frank Granati, Lindsay Parnell, Rachel Monte, and A Few Fine Things. I think they would all be surprised to know this.
6. Do you have any “core principles” you try to abide by as a parent?
I think the main thing we try to impart is to live simply. It’s so hard to do in this day and age; it really requires an effort. I’m doing everything I can to set my kids back 100 years. Have fewer, better quality things. Understand where your food comes from and what’s in it. Enjoy the outdoors. Read a book. Downsize your house. Forget about gadgets and cell phones and computers.
What’s that? Why does daddy work as a computer programmer? Do as I say, not as I do, children.
7. What are the three main pieces of advice you’d give your kids about functioning as adults, once they’re a bit further along the grown-up end of the spectrum?
Hey, this sounds like a good future blog post!
Don’t spend more than you have. I don’t care what everybody else is doing. Most people are idiots.
Your life is not your job. It’s wonderful to enjoy your job, but if you don’t (or even if you do), you need to have other things you enjoy. If you can work less, do it. Compiling more money is not more important than the things you love. Don’t miss out on your kids when they’re little.
You are what you eat. Don’t be “high fructose corn syrup” or “pink sludge from McDonalds”. And please, please don’t be some chemical I can’t pronounce. If you must be, at least shorten it to something hip and cute, like “Hydroxy”.
8. What made you decide to start writing on Glipho and how is it working out so far?
Someone in my online writer’s group said he had invites to a new blogging platform. I thought, “Hey, I like blogging!” As simple as that.
At first I wasn’t sure if I would use it regularly or not, but I kept telling myself, “Well, just a little longer…” However, there are two factors strongly in Glipho’s favor that keep me on: 1) I feel like I am reaching a totally new audience with Glipho (hello UK!) who would not have found me otherwise, and 2) because of the community, even though I get less traffic on a Gliph than on the same post at shanehalbach.com, I am more likely to get a comment in Glipho. I can tell you, nothing puts a smile on a bloggers face faster than a comment on a post!
9. Any particular goals, blogging or otherwise, for 2013?
I think the plans for world domination don’t kick in until 2015, so 2013 is pretty open.
As far as blogging and writing go, I would probably continue on as I have been. I’ve sold some of my short fiction recently, so that continues to be a goal of mine. Making money on writing is like a soap bubble dream; it seems too crazy to actually exist, and I’m afraid if I touch it or think about it too much, it will pop.
Also, I am learning how to play the accordion! If I can continue improving at my current rate then I can…well then I would be able to…you know how beloved accordion players are, so I guess the rest goes without saying.
When you publish a post, WordPress will automatically add “related post” hyperlinks at the bottom, with the idea that people might like to browse from related topic to related topic. Kind of like when you get stuck watching related videos on youtube for hours and hours.
I generally hate the idea.
The problem is that the “auto-generator” usually creates links that are barely related at best, and also tends to give the impression that I have intentionally linked in these posts, or endorsed them in some way. If I’m going to link to something, I’ll link to it. So I disabled the feature.
However, I recently got a ping-back on my Baconfest posts from Salut! Adventures, who had written an honest to goodness bacon poem. Now that’s a related link! In fact, it’s not just a bacon poem, but an awesome bacon poem, which I will now present to you. Although I didn’t write it, I wish I had. Enjoy.
The Vegan – A Baconfest Poem
Once upon a morning dreary, in my bathrobe, wan and weary,
I stood and gazed forlornly at my open icebox door.
There was no breakfast for the makin’, no smoky hardwood bacon,
And it seemed that I would soon be schlepping towards the corner store.
Schlepping sadly to the store.
But then there came a tapping, an annoying kind of rapping
On the wooden frame that stands around my humble kitchen door.
‘Twas my pink and chubby neighbor, come to ask of me a favor,
Come to borrow almond flavor that he knew I had in store.
Only this and nothing more.
“What’s the worry? Why the hubbub?” asked the portly little cherub,
As he watched me grab my house keys and walk ‘cross the kitchen floor.
I explained I had no bacon, and the toll that it was takin’
As I gave him almond extract and I showed him towards the door.
Showed him firmly towards the door.
“That’s no problem, said my neighbor, “You can get the same great flavor
From the tofu products you can buy at any health food store.
We vegans really love it, and you too will be fond of it,
Really, going without bacon is not that much of a chore.
Not too terrible a chore!”
“Ye Gods!” I spat and sputtered, and some expletives were muttered
As I wrestled with my neighbor like a warring Carnivore.
In a rage I hit and pounded , until suddenly astounded,
I saw a curly, porcine tail slip out onto the kitchen floor.
‘Twas a pig! And nothing more.
An hour later I was sated, with my bacon crave abated,
And I never even had to journey to the corner store.
My freezer now is packed with pounds of bacon, neatly stacked
Enough to last through summertime, and maybe even more.
And my neighbor? Nevermore.
Here we have yet another search term roundup, in which I ruminate about the strangest Google search terms that have lead weary Internet wanderers to my doorstep.
“Skeletor frozen in ice” – We can only hope that Heman was also frozen in ice, to be thawed to combat the future menace, a la Demolition Man.
“awesome” – I don’t know what they thought they would find googling this term, but I’m glad my website came up in the search! I’d like to think it was the first result.
“the awesomest guy ever” – Two hits on this! Two! Thank you for the recognition Google!
“is this thing on dating website” – I’m not exactly an eligible bachelor, but maybe we could set something up for single commenters? Do I have any single commenters?
“stuffed animal bacon” – The hard part is cooking it long enough to make it crispy. However, I have to admit, Oliver does have a stuffed animal bacon.
“black and asian couples” – Boy, Sara and I to a “T”, I tell you.
“word for “things were better in the old days”" – Is there such a word? If so, I’d like to know it.
“where’s oliver?” – Must be getting desperate if you’re resorting to Google searches. Well, you found him!
“famous black man” – I’m so happy to think that someone searching for famous black men, instead found Sean Connery. Or, maybe it was Sara googling to find the name “Sean Connery”, and she succeeded.
“big sticky wad” – What do you suppose they were looking for? Why do you think they found me?
“hp lovecraft dinner party” – I hope they came to my website looking for my contact information for an invitation, because that sounds awesome!
“t-rex lick people” – I don’t believe that is historically accurate.
“kale chips jokes” – That’s pretty specific. I wracked my brain trying to come up with a kale chips joke to put here, and I think it’s just not possible.
“funny threats” – I’m going to kill you with a rubber chicken! Drown you in seltzer water! Slap you in the face with a poison cream pie!
“i-like-it-salty shane” – That’s right baby. I like it salty. (I really can’t deny, I do like salty things. Salty things.)
“random things nobody would ever think of” – Good luck with that search.
“swashbuckling chicken” – I just…I…wow.
“so i stopped the apocalypse” – …and now I’m looking for something else to do.
“things that are going well in schools” – Aw, this made me so sad! I just imagine some depressed parent looking for just one example they could point to that something was going well in our schools these days…and only able to find my blog.
“rocket propelled banana” – Not sure what it has to do with me, but I’m in!
“advantage of pseudopods” – Plastic surgery has gotten so crazy these days. People are actually weighing the merits of attaching pseudopods?
“von trapp dog training” – So long, farewell, arf wienerdog, goodnight.
“just simple drawings of different types of puppets” – That’s all I’m looking for. Is that so much to ask, Internet?
“zombie narwhals” – This one captured my imagination. I googled it myself and found a surprising number of hits! There’s a wealth of information about this topic. I never knew narwhals were such staunch zombie fighters! And the possibility that all their zombie fighting might inevitably lead to a few zombie narwhals has come up a time or two before. Absolutely fascinating.
“zombies vs jedi” – I’m sorry, but this wouldn’t be much of a fight. I don’t know how I’ve never considered a lightsaber as a zombie fighting weapon before, but I’d be hard pressed to imagine anything better for slaying zombies!
“The first snowfall of the winter of a boys 18th year means he must take his first step towards manhood.” – This was actually a spam comment, but it is definitely the strangest one I have ever received!
Thank you to Alexis, who just provided the 2,000th comment on my blog!
This is very exciting to me, you have no idea. I’ve been watching for a month or so, as all the important dates in my life came and went (the year I was born, the year I graduated high school, etc.). And now we’re up to the 21st century! (Yes, I am aware that technically we need to get to 2001 comments for the 21st century.)
So anyway, thanks to everyone who comments on my blog. I love to hear from you! And special thanks to Alexis, for (unwittingly) being my 2000th. To thank her, how about we all go read her blog? Or better yet, we should all go order something adorable from her Etsy shop. I’m partial to the “Arrgh, Kiss Me Booty” onesie and the “I’d Rather Be Nursing” bib, but perhaps you would prefer a customized Pillow Sham (in other words, I don’t think she forces you to get the one with the picture of Jackson, Elliot, and Ayla on it, even if it is pretty awesome).
- “funny things to say at a bachelor party” – That’s pretty lame my friend. Make up your own jokes. And I have to assume this is the same guy who later searched for, “sayings for bachelor paintball” and maybe even “sweet to say on monday quotes”. Dude, you’re trying too hard!
- “that noise robert downey jr makes in sherlock holmes” – What in god’s name does that mean? Did he make a noise in that movie? If so, what else is there to know about it? This one really baffled me.
- “zombie wizard of oz” and “wizard of oz zombie art” – Both are topics found on my blog, but not usually in conjunction with each other.
- “congratulations you are alive” – Thank you?
- “creeper stare” – ::sigh::, I guess that’s me.
- “antonym of sleepwalk” – Uh…is the opposite of sleepwalking just sleeping? Or did they mean walking around while not sleeping?
- “awful face” – Aw, really? And they found me? Geez. Good thing someone else searched for “heaven fantasy picture” to balance it out.
- “why geeks shouldn’t have children” – Ouch. I guess I’m the poster child for this? That one cuts deep.
- “flannel sheets dry skin” – Ugh, god! Most horrible search term ever! ::shudders:: Why would you be looking for that? I’m looking to *avoid* that!
- “zombies and skylights” – I don’t know what this one could be, but it sounds like a bad combination to me, hombre.
It has been nearly a year since I’ve done one of these. Mostly this was due to the fact that search engines were no longer ranking my page as high as they had been. However, things seem to be getting back to normal now, because strange searches are starting to trickle in again. Allow me to demonstrate:
- “from the desk of an evil genius” – Hello. Do we have a new blog title?
- “hide and seek champion” – At least 3 people are still looking for him…but that’s what makes him the champ!
- “pooping on boat” – In the bathroom hopefully? Does this require instructions?
- “sara s 2nd birthday party pictures” – I guess this is someone searching for a specific set of birthday party pictures, with the super common name of ‘Sara’? Yeah, good luck with that. The fact that they found my blog means they were desperately clicking on a loooot of links.
- “40 year old creeper” – Hey, I’m not that old!
- “and then i was bacon” – I actually received more than 1 hit on this. Maybe it was a dream? A very good dream…
- “smell my gas” – I don’t know why someone would be searching for this. Maybe they’re looking for someone to perform this service?
- “what does the tickle monster look like?” – Like Oliver.
- “scary zombies” – As opposed to the cuddly, non-scary ones? Good thing they qualified their search.
- “older floozies” – This is obviously the place to come for older floozies. It’s practically my specialty! Older floozies, get’cher older floozies here!
- “crime of hairacy” – The worst crime of all. Lucky for this person, I have, in fact, covered the crime of hairacy in a post.
See, companies out there? It is always a good idea to send samples to bloggers!
It just goes to show you, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
I think I’m done revamping things for the millionth time…at least for now! Hopefully you all like the new look.
Now I can truly say the look of the blog is as unique as the content. I know this for sure, since the header image was based on a picture of us taken by my brother-in-law, and the background is based on a picture taken by us (I don’t remember who actually took the picture, but it was either me or Sara). So instead of looking like 250,000 other people, I look like me and only me. This is something that has been bothering me for a long, long time.
I tried a lot of things to get a feel for what I liked, and I think it turned out really nice. I think it is interesting without being distracting.
Thanks to all of you who voted on the final images on Facebook!
I am once again tinkering with the look of the blog. I liked how it looked before, but it always made me feel a bit uneasy to be using just a standard template, instead of something more unique to this space. When I found out there were 253,916 blogs using the same template as me, I couldn’t take it anymore.
So bear with me while I’m experimenting with different things. If you, like Sara, log on and see Kevin Bacon’s smile stretched creepily across the banner or replicated endlessly in the background, don’t panic. Things will stabilize soon. In the meantime, feel free to leave any comments or suggestions on this thread.
That is all.
- The Management
In general, the traffic on my blog has had a generally upwards trend since I started keeping track of such things in October 2008. There are a few ups and downs, and a couple of specific spikes which I was able to explain.
However, starting in December 2010 there was a huge dip in traffic, after which it has gone continually down. Last month I had less traffic than I have ever had since January 2009, when I started blogging every day. This month will be lower yet.
Anecdotally, despite the statistics, it seemed like roughly the same number of people were reading. I had about the same numbers of comments, and the same number of people sighing and saying “I read it on your blog!” when I launch into a story.
I should specify that I don’t do this for the traffic, per say. But as a blogger, you can’t help but look at the statistics and say, “What did I do to drive them away? What am I doing wrong?”
Sara has been listening to me complain about this for months, but then she finally gave me the clue that I needed to figure it out:
“Are you getting as many random searches as you used to get?”
As a matter of fact, I had noticed that I had not. I usually keep a running list of funny searches people used to get to my blog, and I hadn’t had anything to add to that in months. But I had never connected that to the decrease in traffic before.
Once I figured that out, I connected the dots and realized that I had moved to shanehalbach.com in mid-November 2010, right before the big traffic drop in December. I don’t know how that never occurred to me before, but it made perfect sense: my web-rank went down.
Not to be too technical, but search engines have sophisticated algorithms to decide which search results are most likely what their searches are looking for. Websites that have a high “web-rank” are returned at the top of search results. Spam websites, or new websites with no authority or popularity are ranked lower, since it is less likely that someone searching for something is actually looking for them. So in a sense, the rich truly get richer; the more traffic you get and the more people link to your website, the higher you return in the search results, so the more likely random people are to find your website.
By moving to a new domain, I was basically starting over again at 0.
Anybody who had previously linked to my site was now linked to my old site. And because wordpress.com is a well known, well reputed site who tries to keep out spammers, etc. I was previously benefiting from being associated with them (this was part of my confusion, since I’m still technically a part of wordpress.com, but apparently the search engines don’t see it that way). I also lost other traffic that was previously driven to me from inside of the wordpress network. From what I’ve seen online, this is all supposed to come back in a month or two after moving your site thanks to special web redirects that wordpress puts in place, but that obviously didn’t work for me. And I never would have guessed that so much of my traffic was due to my wordpress.com URL.
So the question is, knowing what I know now, was the move worth it?
I still think so. While I’m disappointed with less traffic, I’m not nearly as disappointed as I was when I thought that people were just getting disgusted with my blog and stopped reading it. I can’t really feel too bad that people searching for “clocks” don’t land my blog anymore. And obviously I don’t just do it for the traffic, since I would be (and was) blogging anyway, even if nobody is reading.
So if switching is going to take you down to 0, you might as well do it sooner, rather than later. This site is probably not destined to achieve much web rank anyway, since it is pretty random and not devoted to any single topic. In other words, it is relatively unlikely that someone who doesn’t know me would be interested in reading it.
So that’s it. Thanks for not abandoning me, even if I thought you had!
Last year around this time I asked if people wanted to see more features on the blog. Nobody said that they wanted to, but I’m adding one anyway.
Obviously this was brought about by the food blog guest post I did, which was a lot of fun. So I’ll be kicking us off with a repost of the original Pioneer Pumpkin Pancake post. Archives will be available here (once there are actual archives to see of course).
So, we’ll see where this takes us. I’m hoping that these will continue to be fun and not be too much of a burden. They are a lot more work-intensive than a typical blog post (due to the pictures and the fact that we actually have to make and document a recipe), which is why I’m going to go with one a month. Maybe it will encourage us to try new recipes. Maybe it will just be a convenient place to store good recipes we like. Maybe it will just show off some of Sara’s photography. We’ll see!
The end of the year/ beginning of the new year is always a time for looking back over the past year and reviewing. So, since I didn’t do any end-of-the-year type post, I’m doing this one instead. I originally posted a “history of my blog” timeline here. However, many important milestones have happened in the last year or so, since I originally posted it. So I am reproducing it below, and then adding the new things at the bottom.
[EDIT: I totally forgot about almost kind of being mentioned on the radio once, see 6/5/2008!]
2/17/2004 – My first post ever. Not very exciting.
8/3/2005 – This was my first post back after a one year blogging hiatus. This was significant, not only because I resumed blogging, but also because it marked a new era. Previous to this, my blog was more of a personal journal, after it became more of a “best of the Internet” aggregator and link place holder, which is more or less what it is today.
8/2/2007 – Announcing the birth of Evie. This post straddles the line of important event in my life vs. important in terms of the blog. However, I think it is safe to say that Evie has had a big impact on blog, both in terms of giving people a reason to check here, and for giving rise to the “Evie Update” category (138 items), and the “From the Mouths of Babes” category (86 items).
3/26/2008 – My first post on WordPress. I can’t say enough how much better WordPress is compared to LiveJournal. LiveJournal has some advantages, particularly in the facebook type community aspect, but in terms of pure blogging power, there is no contest. So switching over to WordPress had a big impact on how the blog evolved after that.
6/5/2008 – After a friend and I both blogged about eating a delicious cupcake named after a radio host, said cupcake was discussed on the program and the host mentioned that two bloggers had talked about him and his cupcake over the weekend. OMG, that was totally us!
6/21/2008 – Childhood hero of mine, Commander Mark Kistler, comments on my blog post about him.
6/23/2008 – A title mishap (in which I may have implied their product causes rickets) brings me to the attention of Bob’s Pickle Pops, ultimately leading to them sending me some free samples. This was the first and only time this blog led to any sort of compensation.
8/25/2008 – Someone from my favorite store ThinkGeek comments on a post. Of course it is the one and only time I am bashing one of their products (for something that was totally not their fault, mind you), but hey, I’ll take it.
1/3/2009 – First post of the 3rd incarnation of my blog, in which I started blogging every day. It wasn’t exactly formal, I was just sort of testing myself to see if I could do it, and then I just kept doing it. At first I planned to blog 7 days a week, but I eventually settled into a M-F pattern. Coming up with 5 topics a week is extremely difficult, and I was worried that the quality would drop off. I don’t think it really has, though I might not be the best judge.
1/21/2009 – My 500th post.
2/17/2009 – My 5 year blogiversary.
2/24/2009 – My 500th comment.
5/21/2009 – The first post after I started to push my posts out to Facebook (and then later, Twitter). This was significant because I think most people I know didn’t really know I had a blog. So this opened us up to a much wider audience.
10/5/2009 – My post about Chicago getting passed over for the Olympics gets picked for the front page of WordPress.com. It was a wild ride which resulted in 10,384 visitors to my site for the month, about 4 1/2 times more than my highest regular month.
11/11/2010 – My 1,000th post. Interesting how it took me 5 years to get the first 500, and less than 2 years to get the next 500.
11/17/2010 – Moved the blog to shanehalbach.com, and also changed the look of the blog for the first time in 2 years (and the first time I changed the color scheme ever, since I started blogging).
11/29/2010 – I had a guest post on the food website Cheap, Healthy, Good. Although it didn’t bring that many hits to my own blog, it was still fun to put a post of mine in front of a lot of unfamiliar eyeballs. (According to this, at the time of my guest post, Cheap, Healthy, Good was getting about 15,000 hits a day…significantly more than what I got in my best MONTH, which itself was way higher than an average month)
Today I have a guest post over on Cheap, Healthy, Good about the “Pioneer Pumpkin Pancakes” that Evie and I usually make on Sundays. Well, I should say WE have a guest post, since the post is really made by Sara’s photography.
Welcome anybody who clicked over from Cheap, Healthy, Good! Take a look around, see if you like the place. Try not to rough it up too badly, you hooligans!
For my regular readers, go check out the post, and the blog. Enjoy our pancake recipe and any others you find. Chances are they are cheap, healthy and good!
Big news! I finally bit the bullet and moved over to a new domain, shanehalbach.com!
Since I haven’t had a new look for about 2 years, and really haven’t changed my color scheme since 2004, I decided to go for something totally different. I may be tweaking things for a day or two until everything gets resolved, but I think it is more or less set at the moment. I’m really enjoying the change of pace!
If I did everything correctly, you should not even need to update your feeds. The old url (erith1.wordpress.com) should now redirect here.
So enjoy everyone! Let me know what you think in the comments.
This is my 1,000th post!
1,000 entries is a whole lot of blog. But 1,000 entries in and of itself doesn’t mean a whole lot, so I was curious about how much writing that actually is.
WordPress doesn’t seem to have a utility to tally up all the words in all of your posts, so I had to write one myself. I calculate that I’ve written over 330,000 words on this blog. That’s over 1.5 million characters typed.
Why? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll figure it out by post 2,000.
(Note that there are 30 some odd private entries, not counted in the 1,000 posts, but counted in the word count)
Periodically, I like to round-up some of the strange things that people search for in google that land them on my blog. Certainly I get plenty of normal searches, but there are always a few that leave me scratching my head. Sometimes I can think of the post that might have caught their attention, sometimes I can’t.
- “wheelchair broom” – No idea what this means. Is it a broom for cleaning off a wheelchair? Why would such a thing exist?
- “pictures of chicken in the shape of fish” – Maybe they’re looking for some kind of ad campaign? I can’t fathom what on my blog could have registered on this one.
- “whale with a jelly fish on its head” – I’m intrigued by this one, I might have to perform my own search on it.
- “Jackie P—– psychopath” – Okay, this one cracked me up. Certainly I know the Jackie in question (name blanked out to protect the innocent), but I don’t think of her as a psychopath! Obviously somebody does…
- “olympic jelly fish” – I’d pay to see jelly fish Olympics
- “reasons not to like the dentist” - Ah, I love it when I have a satisfied customer!
- “nun skin” – YES! I finally got a hit on nun skin!
- “a person who smells like a cat” – Yeesh, I hope I wasn’t the one they were looking for. They did end up on my blog…is there something you guys aren’t telling me?
- “farting in the bathtub” – What did they hope to find? Video? Why did they find me? Oh wait, a quick search did reveal a post. Very well. But I still don’t know why they are searching for it.
- “supernatural shane” – Of course I have talked frequently about the show Supernatural, but I’d prefer to think of this one as someone who refers to me as “Supernatural Shane”.
- “you’re not a fox you’re a weasel” – Score! A fellow dog trainer!
- “bacon wrapped mashed potatoes” – Uh, kind of hard to wrap mashed potatoes with anything. Although if they found a result, I’m all for it.
- “gateways to hell on earth” – Now I happen to have a post on this, but I want to know what else they found? Was this a serious search, like “I’d like to find all of the gateways to hell on Earth for my own nefarious purposes…”?
- “hungarian honeys” – All the hot XXX hungarian honeys you can imagine! That’s practically why I run this blog! Truly, I should have just named the thing Hungarian Honeys.
I’ve added a new page under the “About Me” section over there on the right called “About this Blog“. This page describes sort of the nitty gritty details of how the blog works, and how you can navigate around. This page will stay around for informational purposes, but I will display the text below. Let me know if I’ve missed anything, or if there are any questions you’ve had that I left unanswered. Even if you’ve been reading the blog for a while, there might be some tips and tricks you didn’t know about!
This blog is published 5 days a week, Monday through Friday, around 7 p.m. Central time. Regular features include “Quote Monday“, which is a list of funny things the kids have said, usually collected during the previous weekend.
Older posts can be retrieved from the archives by using the calendar in the right hand column, or the “Older Posts” drop-down below it to select a month and a year.
To search the blog, enter text into the box in the upper right hand corner and press “Search Results”.
General purpose links, such as links to other blogs I read, can be found at the top of the right hand column, under the search box.
To join in the discussion, see the Recent Comments section on the right. This will show you who has commented recently and which post they commented on. Click on the hyperlink next to their name to see their comment.
Posts fall into a few categories, such as “From the Mouths of Babes” or “My So Called Life“. All posts in a category are related in some way. For example, the Quote Monday posts are all under “From the Mouths of Babes“, and posts about my day-to-day life are located under “My So Called Life“. To see all the posts in a particular category, scroll down until you see the “Categories” drop-down in the right hand column. Selecting a category from the drop-down list will display all of the posts in that category (don’t forget to hit “Older Entries” at the bottom of the page to see more posts).
In addition to being categorized, each post is also tagged. Tags are sort of short descriptions of what type of things you might find in a post. For example, a post about eating bacon while holed up during the zombie apocalypse might be tagged “bacon“, “zombies” and “zombie apocalypse”.
These tags are used by search engines, but they are more than just informational. If a tag sounds interesting to you, you can see all posts I’ve made that have been tagged the same. There are a few different ways to do this.
One way to sort by tags is to scroll down until you see the “Tags” section in the right hand column. This is called a “tag cloud”, in which my most commonly used tags show up. The larger the font, the more often the tag has been used. Clicking on a tag will bring up all the posts with that tag attached to them. For example, the tag “baby” has been used a lot, and is quite large. Clicking on that link will bring up all the posts I’ve written and tagged “baby“.
Another way is to click on the tags in the header of a post. So if you are reading a post about a topic, and you want to know what else I had to say on that topic, look for a sentence like, “Posted in [Category] with tags [Tags]“. For example, you might see something like, “This entry was posted on August 24, 2009 at 10:35 pm and is filed under Evie Update with tags bacon, blog, parenting, pirates.” You can see that both the categories and the tags are hyperlinks, which you can click on to find other posts.
NOTE that clicking on these links doesn’t do what you think it should do!! These links will show you all posts on WORDPRESS.COM that have this tag, not only on my blog. If you look in the url field of your browser, you will see something like http://en.wordpress.com/tag/pirates/. To search only on my blog, change the url to something like http://erith1.wordpress.com/tag/pirates/. I don’t like that the provided links go to all of wordpress, but I don’t know how to fix it, so we have to live with it. Sorry!
This does, however, bring up a third way for you to search for tags on my blog: just type “http://erith1.wordpress.com/tag/” into the address bar, followed by a word. If I have any posts tagged with that word, they will show up.
This blog publishes two RSS feeds, one for posts, and one for comments. If you use an RSS reader (I use Google Reader), you can add these urls to follow the posts or comments (or both). The advantage of this is that you will see every new post or comment as they go up, without having to check back to blog homepage. This is especially useful for the comments, because people sometimes post comments on old posts.
In years past, my blogging as been spotty at best. Most years my posts were few and far between. I even took an entire year off from August 2004 – August 2005. Here are my totals through the years:
- 2004 – 74 posts
- 2005 – 57 posts
- 2006 – 83 posts
- 2007 – 91 posts
- 2008 – 173 posts
So after averaging just over 75 posts a year, I jumped up quite a bit in 2008. At the beginning of 2009, I started blogging a lot. I thought to myself, “Self, do you think you could blog every day?” Honestly, I thought the answer was no. After a few minor adjustments (Sara convinced me to keep it to only week days), I gave it a shot. I was a little worried that I would run out of topics to talk about, and that I would end up making posts for the sake of posts, which would draw down the quality of the blog as a whole. Surely no one can come up with 5 good posts per week (I’ve at least proven that, if nothing else)!
So I started doing it just to do it and to see how long I could keep it going. I didn’t know how long it would last. Just when I was about to make up my mind on if I would really commit to doing it every day or not, here we are! A full year complete. I can’t believe how fast it went.
So 2009 ended with 309 blog posts, more than all the posts I made from 2004 – 2007 combined. There have been times when I just really had nothing else to say, and something occurred to me right at the last minute. Other times I have 10 posts half-written on the back burner, waiting to be polished up and put out. I even pre-scheduled posts over holidays (excepting the Christmas hiatus I just took).
So what sayest thou? Should I keep going at the same schedule? Any thing you’d like changed around here? More / less regular features? More / less posts? More delicious bacon ideas and zombie escape plans and less darling quotes from my daughter? (Just kidding on that last one, I’ve already heard aaaaall about it, believe me)
Answers go in the comments, and feel free to lavish me with extensive praise. I think it’s the least you can do for me, I like the attention (why else would I write 309 publicly viewable blog posts last year?)
I have been making the “writer blog” circuit for a while now, seeing what’s out there and learning what I can. There is so much advice to be had, really good advice, that it is amazing. And all of them agree: to become a writer you must sacrifice. You must work and scrape and toil for 10 years in obscurity, raking in rejection after rejection, broke and barely surviving, often depending on the good will of those around you. If you have the tenacity to somehow make it through this, chances are you will end up making a living on your writing. Blog after blog is filled with the story of the now-successful writer who spent his early years working crappy job after crappy job, unmarried, childless, friendless, but cranking out a story a day until they acquired enough writing time to really learn the craft.
This is fantastic stuff. The sacrifices most of them made in their lives to get where they are, the top of their craft, is truly astounding. At this point in my life, I am not willing to sacrifice everything for writing. What about people like me? “Hobbyists,” they would sniff. “Permanent amateurs who will never reach the heights of The Craft and will never be able to quit their day jobs. Pathetic.”
But what about those who don’t necessarily want to quit their day job?
To be honest, I like coding as much as I like writing, and I make a fantastic living at it. So I’m going to throw away a good job that I love to make less at a different job I love? That doesn’t make much sense. Sure, I could make it big, become a best seller, but how many millionaire authors are there? How many millionaire computer programmers?
So this begs the question, are authors a bunch of bloated wind bags who are full of crap? Yes. Yes they are. They go on and on about The Craft and how they’ve “just got to write” and then turn around look down at the hobbyists for not making the noble sacrifice they themselves have made. In other words, it’s really about elitism and money. This is especially puzzling from genre writers who already complain about the same elitism applied to them from the “literary” world. What if I know that only writing part-time will double the length of my journey, and I’m more or less okay with that?
Writers like to paint this issue in black and white. Either you’re sacrificing everything for the craft, or you’re not an Author. There are no minor leagues. Far and wide, they sneer their battle cry, “If this sounds too tough for you, then quit right now! You’ll never make it!” What’s wrong with being a college player who dreams of the pros, but may never get there? Why would you discourage them from playing? Yes, chances are they won’t make it. But does that mean we should eliminate college football because it’s not the pros? I think a couple million people would be surprised to hear that nothing good came out of college football.
Look, if we were all really just concerned about The Craft, then we would encourage as many people to write as often as possible. But if we’re really concerned about making a living, then it is in our best interest to use scorn, derision, awful rumors about the barriers to entry of the field, and any other method possible to discourage people from writing. This keeps down the competition.
I am trying to break in for a lot of reasons. I like to improve at everything I do, even if I won’t ultimately make a living at it. And I can dream as big as the next guy about hitting a long shot. Most importantly, I am a person who needs constant outside validation. Ask my wife. And if I make a little cash on the side, I’ll take it.
Even if it’s not enough to quit my day job.
(P.S. Actually though, it is really hard and you should definitely not submit to any of the markets I submit to. Thanks.)