Bacon, now in poetry form

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.

Blog Tinkering Now Complete

Hello all,

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!

-The Management

Blog Appearance Changes Underway

Hello all,

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

The case of the disappearing web traffic

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!

ShaneHalbach.com Launched!

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.

-The Management

My 1,000th Post

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)

Google Searches, Part III

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.