When I started this blog, telling our family and friends about our move to France was mainly an excuse to get me into the habit of writing on a regular basis. I never really had a plan or goal and figured, like the rest of my life I'd just make it up as I went along. After all, who was going to read it anyway? Most of the world is too busy reading and promoting their own blogs. But if you're one of the hundreds worldwide who haven't started blogging, Google's Blogger comes with a handy "stats" function that shows you how many "page views" you've had and can suck you into believing you could be the next (If I knew of anyone, here's where I would insert the name of a somebody who found wealth and fame by airing grievances on the internet).
My first posts were done as I felt like it, the same as now. Early on I shot for every seven days but that lasted probably about a week. Still, as I got into it, I checked the stats and saw I was getting 20 or 30 page hits a day. My first thought was that this must be some kind of glitch and, sure enough, when I explored the issue, discovered "comment spam". The traffic sources were predominately in the Ukraine, Russia, China and the Balkans and, when checked against anti-spam databases, were all known spammers.
A couple of things strike me about spam. First, in this case, there are people out there with even more time on their hands than I have, apparently, that actually keep track of these bastards. Secondly, where the fuck are the morons that make it so obviously lucrative in the first place? I have no doubt that, even as I type this, money is pouring into Nigeria and hundreds, if not thousands, are ordering crap they think will make their willies bigger but, hold it - I can't believe I was actually going to say you'd think there'd be a limit to stupidity.
Anyway, it was fun for a while to consider the possibility of going viral. It's one of the adult versions of throwing a tennis ball against the garage while imagining being on the mound for the seventh game of the World Series, I suppose. That doesn't mean I don't think Jon Stewart shouldn't consider booking me.
At some point I learned Google Analytics was the way to go if you wanted to know the true picture. This tool applies some logarithmic juju to separate the wheat from the spam and show you how many light-years out in the blogosphere you really are. I only hit zero page views a few times but it was apparent that, were my mother still alive she might not have be reading either. A lesser man would have packed it in but, seeing as how I've nothing better to do anyway, one soldiers on.
A few weeks ago a strange traffic source started showing up. I would have dismissed it as spam except that it registered on Analytics and blog stats. Google said it came from an insurance company in the United Kingdom (what some folks at home know as England) whose clientele primarily consists of people over 50 but why they'd link to my blog was a mystery. Eventually, I discovered that this company, Saga, is a kind of AARP of the British Isles and produces what they claim to be the most read magazine in the UK. Furthermore, in an article dated 28 August 2013, yours truly was declared one of the Top 50 Bloggers over 50. I guess this includes only the English-speaking world and I've no idea if I came in Number 1 or 50. But I think it worth noting it I beat every train spotter, wallaby lover and Northwest Territory musher. In fact, none of them even got a mention. I also got billing over Ricky Gervais and seem to be the only American, so the whole thing could be a result of insufficient research.
It honestly is a thrill to be quasi-discovered but I have to admit my initial reaction was a little like getting a phone call from a complete stranger, telling you how cool you are but all you can think to say is, "How did you get my number?" I realise (note British spelling) the point of any writing is producing something others might want to read but it hadn't really occurred to me until then that people I don't know might actually read the thing. I had gotten the odd comment here and there but the ones from strangers seemed to come from other bloggers suggesting I check out their sites, one of which appeared to be some guy's justifications for posting photos of buxom women.
This then lead to a discussion with my wife, an emerging blogger herself, about how I should go about actually trying to make something of this. She pointed out that successful bloggers usually tried to engage their readers, posting something thought provoking and asking for comments or, like some of her favorites, passing along useful advice or recipes. Well, I have warned people about the dog shit here in France but, as I told her, I'm not to sure I want to attract the kind of person who would read my blog in the first place. She wondered just who might that be? In this instance, I suppose it would be the British equivalent of me. Some guy in, say, Tunbridge Wells with too much time on his hands, which he spends in front of a computer, scouring the internet for corroborating evidence of his certain knowledge that the average person is more thick-headed than even he's given them credit for and that they're getting thicker by the minute. Occasionally he works in some trombone playing.
So if you've wandered here from across the Channel, I hope you stick around, well, as long as you don't make trouble. And I really will give serious thought to actively considering whether or not I feel like making this blog any better. Now, as I further consider the implications of being one of the geezer world's leading bloggers, here are two examples of what I consider to be one of Britain's greatest contributions to Western civilization.