This post is the 500th I’ve made since I fired up this blog back in 2015, during which time there hasn’t been a single week without a post of one kind or another. It’s been great fun, and if anything I have more ideas for posts now than I’ve ever had, but this seems like a suitable moment at which to declare a hiatus—with apologies to the person who subscribed to the blog last week!
I’ve other projects I want to get into, and they’re of a nature that even I can’t turn into a blog post—though they may feed into posts at a later date. And there’s the “problem” that the posts have, over the years, becoming increasing long-form, because I’m fundamentally a long-form kind of guy. They take more writing and editing, and the illustrations take more work, all of which is pleasant enough but cramps my space for other endeavours. And the website itself, after eight years of posts, now occupies 3.5GB on a server somewhere in California, and needs a bit of maintenance work under the bonnet. So there’s going to be a gap for a while, and then a more sporadic approach to posting thereafter.
I’ve just taken a look at the various categories and subject tags assigned to the last 499 posts. My top five categories have been Reading (115), Walking (109), Words (101), Phenomena (81) and Building (70). The top ten tags are Hills (95), Etymology (83), Science Fiction (64), Spaceflight (52), Aviation (44), History (37), Astronomy (30), Apollo (25), Physics (23) and Optics (23). That all feels about right, in terms of my preoccupations since the blog started, though I’m vaguely surprised that I’ve only inflicted 25 posts about the Apollo missions on my Loyal Readers.
Phenomena is the category that has diverged most from what I’d originally imagined. Originally planned to concentrate mainly on natural phenomena in the outdoors, it quickly branched out to include topics relating to animal vision, calendar reform, special relativity, orbital mechanics, and what would happen if you fell down a tunnel through the centre of the Earth. It has also been the category that has generated the most communication—from scientists, artists, space buffs, and people with interesting photographs to share.
Words started off being about obscure and interesting words, but mutated to cover “words in the news” (who, in the last few years, didn’t wonder about prorogation, impeach, and corona?), letters from foreign alphabets, and puzzling phrases like “begging the question”. In terms of visits from Google searches, the surprising winners in this category have been my little series of posts about Latin plural nouns in English.
On the topic of web-seach hits, I’m mildly irked that some of my simplest images get the most traffic. Two images that get multiple hits every day are my annotated galaxy map, knocked off in a few minutes as a joke, and my extended table of SI unit prefixes.
Meanwhile, the pretty, time-consuming and unusual stuff, like my detailed charts of blue moons and supermoons, languish relatively unclicked. Sigh.
As well as helping me organize my thoughts on a variety of topics, the blog has been mentioned by various other bloggers, from the philosophical to the flaky; cited by Wikipedia; translated into French (well, one page); quoted as a blurb for Greg Egan’s novel Dichronauts; referenced in the textbook Maths for Chemistry (though on a topic that has nothing to do with maths or chemistry); and has attracted the attention of one conspiracy theorist (though not, as you might expect, a believer in the “Apollo Hoax”).
And it has also attracted a steady trickle of contact from old friends and colleagues, all of whom have been entirely unsurprised to find me still expatiating on obscure topics for my own entertainment. It’s been nice to hear from them, and some of them may even still be reading some of what I have to say.
To them, and to the couple of hundred other folk who have subscribed to the blog, and to those who just drop by from time to time to see what I’m on about this week, I’d like to say thanks for your attention and indulgence over the years.
’Bye for now, for a while—see you later.