Polar Bears and Cable Cars

cable car

On New Year’s Day, I jumped in a lake. My son and I participated in our first Polar Bear Plunge event in which hundreds of people jumped from a dock into 42° water to greet the New Year with a bracing bath. It was the least amount of time I’ve spent in a body of water. My son and I exited the lake and returned to our vehicle within seconds. This act of insanity was out of character for both of us.

What’s more in character for me on New Year’s Day is to organize things. For example, after warming up with coffee from Starbucks and taking a hot shower, I, with help from my kids, packed up Christmas decorations into two dozen paper file boxes, neatly stacking them in two rows on a shelf in the garage. I am saddened to formally bring the Christmas season to an end, but doing it in an organized manner is satisfying.

In another characteristic act of orderliness, I inventoried my blog posts. I felt this was necessary when contemplating another edition and realized the risk of repeating myself, having lost track of what I had already written compared to the long list of vague ideas. I decided I needed a method to quickly look back over my posts to determine if I had already waxed eloquent on a particular topic.

The first step was to organize the posts according to topic areas. I try to stick with five specific topic areas based on my key interests: writing, grilling, heavy metal music, running, and management. The inventory proved that I don’t blog proportionately amongst my interests.

36% of my posts have been about writing, and 30% of those, interestingly, were about avoiding writing. Irony abounds. My love for metal music got 24% of the blog space, which makes sense since I spent a good part of the year finishing my book on the topic. Running was the big loser, at 7%, even behind management at 13%. Grilling was a topic only 16% of the time, which makes sense as I only grill April through October – please see this post for an explanation – whereas I avoid writing all year long. In the spirit of the New Year, I resolve to spend more time on the topics I have heretofore neglected. Follow me if you’re strangely obsessed with running and management.

I’ve been pondering the inventory of my posts since I received an annual report from the service that hosts this blog. The report summarized my – and your – activity in a novel manner, using a San Francisco cable car analogy. Apparently, given the capacity of a cable car – approximately 60 people – it would take about 18 trips to carry the number of people who viewed my posts. That, of course, assumes that each view was by a different individual. The total number of readers may be able to travel through San Francisco together in a single cable car. That would be a fun day. We should make plans for that.

I also learned that my posts have been viewed in 20 countries. I wanted to be big in Japan, in hopes that I could someday blog live from Budokan, which would be very rock & roll. Alas, the Japanese have not discovered my wit and whimsy as of yet. Neither do I have an audience in Central or South America, but I am big in France. I appreciate that because I don’t know anyone there. I am very aware that the majority of my readers are people I know personally, and, while most of them reside in America, I do have friends in the UAE and Senegal, so I was not surprised with those pins in the readership map. Laos, the Philippines, and Indonesia were surprises, especially since I have trouble finding them on a map. Geography is not a strong suit.

While I’m not a bestseller in print or online, the annual report was energizing. First, I’m simply grateful that anyone is reading this stuff and, hopefully, enjoying what I have to say. Second, I’m humbled there are people I don’t know who read this blog. I’m not skilled at meeting people and my book sales are not particularly brisk, so I didn’t expect to draw a crowd of any size. Do you know how many metal bands would be thrilled to play to a cable car full of people? Third, I’m amazed people across the globe have seen my posts. Having grown up in a pre-Internet world, I am awed by the global social network made possible by technology. The world has gotten smaller.

While it is easier for people across the planet to get to know each other digitally, it may be cost prohibitive for everyone to actually travel to the Bay Area for that cable car ride, so we may have to simply enjoy the connection that these posts provide. If we do manage to gather in San Francisco, I suggest we jump into the Bay for the local Polar Plunge event. As a seasoned veteran, I’ll go first. But only after getting you all organized.

Happy New Year, Friends.

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