Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Metablog: One Year

It is exactly one year ago that I wrote my first real post for this blog. That makes this a good day, and it is the better because I am now clear of the big presentation that has been on my plate at MRU, the major research university at which I toil. And, moreover, it is the eve of my sainted mother's first cruise in the Caribbean with her two sisters.

When I started this blog, I didn't know what to expect ... I just wanted to write in a way that was more public than the years of private imaginings that had been my chief venue. That first post was just a ramble based on a ramble, and I promised myself that I would have no rules about writing except that I would not write anything which would lose me a job that I wanted, nothing that my mother would call disgusting, and otherwise anything I chose to write. I've stuck to that deal. Even though I know that the MRU legal office keeps its eyes on employee blogs about which it is cognizant, and even though lots of my colleagues know about my scribblings, I still have that one job that I want which is the one that I have. My mother, on the other hand, is easy to amuse but difficult to disgust ... I cannot imagine anyone so low as to want to disgust my wonderful mother ... and so I have kept faith, as it were, with my second rule. And, on the third hand, with a due nod to Click and Clack if you gather my drift, I have certainly kept my vow to ramble only in those fields in which I am native. So, a year comes to a close with a little self-satisfaction.

Now self-satisfaction ought to be one of the seven deadly sins. The real ones are lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride. I think that lust is a virtue, one which only turns to a sin when practiced darkly and secretly; so I substitute self-satisfaction. The seven deadly sins should be divided into two types, to whit, those that are absolutely sins (gluttony, greed, envy, and self-satisfaction), and those that are sins only when their object is ill-deserving (sloth, wrath, and pride). I have blogged against the glutotny and greed of our society as it swallows itself in an orgy of preening over-consumption. And I always try to distinguish those moments when sloth, wrath, and pride serve us and when they undermine us. Sloth in the name of refreshment, wrath at injustice, and pride in contribution ... what's wrong there.

But I digress.

Isn't that the point of a blog ... but to digress?

So back to this morning's presentation. The way in which I produce the MRU course catalog is undergoing a massive change ... we are adopting a "collaborative, distributed content management system" in my own words, now immortalized in PowerPoint, that limitless destructor of the English language. The photos in this post are from the presentation. But, hey, if you're going to have a job you have to row in the direction the river flows, and we will make a great catalog this new way, and one that is more electronic.

Still, I will not have the pleasure of a go-to-press day quite like those I have enjoyed over the last seven years. But I will move onward and hopefully upward. And I will still get to ramble on here a little when the press of work is not too great.

Work is the biggest obstacle to blogging ... it is, in that same sense, the biggest obstacle to living free.

I have posted 184 times in a year, 185 if you count this one. That's better than one every two days, but the more recent data suggests that I will settle in to 2-3 posts a week. I have averaged 75 unique visits a day, which is sufficiently satisfying. It keeps going up, but the vast majority of the visits are via Google searches and Google image searches. Curiously, the single greatest source of search-visits is the short post on Barry Lyndon ... I suspect that the provocative photo is the source of the fascination. But I also continue to have numerous visits through people who search the name of Jaffar Kiani, the hapless victim of a religious stoning.

I am gratified by that for nothing so enrages me (see wrath above) as sanctimonious religious violence and hatred. No one who reads me can doubt my consistency on the notion of the inherent evil of religion. It has been a joy to express in one way or another my bottomless belief that any soul is free to believe whatever nonsense they want to, but religion is the curse of our species.

That said, I am fascinated by religious history, as I am by pretty much any history. Blogging has actually led to a decided increase in my reading habit ... almost back to the level of those halcyon days before I became a graduate student. Nothing quite sucks the love of reading out of a body as does a near decade of reading for graduate studies. I overcame that, though, and read again now for pleasure and reflection.

But as I look back on what I have read in the last year, it strikes me that I have left behind any number of good posts that I might have issued. I still want to write something about why Alfred was great, and why the very cultural success of the middle Islamic period came to guarantee the present airless immobility of Islamic cultures, and why the latter-day idolizing of figures such as Genghis Khan and Tamerlane are ill-placed, and why I think that a revisit to Frederick the Great will pay dividends.

Writing posts about history requires just a little more time than is allowed as I typically sit at the bar in the kitchen of the apartment I share with my famous roommate and bartender RL (on famous, see this post) drinking the nightly cocktail and watching him cook dinner as he is doing right now. Tonight, in celebration, we started with a Junipero gin martini, and now a Junipero gin Hearst with Barolo Chinato Cocchi. Writing lengthy posts sometimes takes more than a sitting, and that makes me feel as if I should not interpose a post on pithier and more rapidly produced subjects, typically cranky. I should be less bureaucratic about it, and I will try to live by that.

Speaking of dinner, I see the oven clock says 2 minutes, so I had best fade into tonight's pleasant warm evening.

In sum, love being a blogger, love the blogosphere, looking forward to this evening next year when I celebrate number 2 ... may it come, but may it come slowly.

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