I’m posting this on 13 November 2020, which is the first Friday 13th in November for five years—two leap years and three normal years have pushed the 13th right through all seven days of the week, in nudges of one or two days per year. This has significance for me because it was on Friday 13 November 2015 that this blog went live, which was also the day on which the Boon Companion and I retired.
On that day, I posted a couple of mind maps. One was a map of how I had been filling my time when not engaged with friends and family, food and shelter.
The other was the same map, with “work” removed.
To me, it looked like I wouldn’t be left short of stuff to fill my day with. And I wrote:
This blog is about how that network of stuff is actually working out for me. You’ll find the labels from my diagram cropping up as items on the blog menu. As time goes by, I’m guessing that some of those items will generate more activity than others. I have no idea which will flourish and which will fade, but I hope that you find something of interest in there.
In my One Year and Two Year updates, I reported that things were going well. After that point, even my most sceptical friends and ex-colleagues seemed to accept that my step-transition into retirement as winter approached, without tapering my workload, having attended no special courses, and devoid of any particular plan, might just have worked out. It’s probably two years since anyone has frowned seriously and intoned, “Well, it’s maybe still too early to be sure …”
A lot of strange stuff, impossible to imagine in 2015, has happened, of course. I wouldn’t have anticipated writing about topical words that included “prorogation” and “impeachment“, or “isolated” and “immunity“, for instance. And the whole “Oikofuge” conceit has taken a bit of a battering this year, with foreign travel not really worth the hassle (not to mention the potential for unnecessary excitement) for most of 2020. So the oikofugic bits of the blog have been largely confined to off-piste hillwalking, and my general tendency to wander off in odd directions from any given topic.
But the blog, combined with the topics in my little mind-map, have worked well. I’ve found that researching and writing about something that interests me is a good way to convince myself that I understand it, helps me remember it, and provides a useful reference source when I later revisit the topic.
And it has gradually become useful to that minuscule proportion of the world’s population who share my interests. I know you’re not going to believe this, but there seems to be a surprising number of people who are interested in the Coriolis effect in rotating space habitats, plastic models of the Saturn V rocket, the celestial view from relativistic starships, the geography of the glen drowned by Loch Mullardoch, the exact orientation of bits of Apollo hardware, the use of Ordnance Survey data in Geographical Information Systems, and the curious history of the word antiagathic. Among other things. Some readers contact me directly, some post public comments, and some link to my stuff from their stuff. It all adds to the interest. And my book reviews have prompted (so far, friendly) contacts from authors or from their families. Quotes from my reviews have appeared on publisher’s websites, and on one occasion in the inside cover of a later edition of the book itself. A couple of my posts have allowed people to get in contact with each other through the comments section, and my review of Brian Lecomber’s fiction has now turned into a location where people feel free to post their memories of the man.
I’ve so far attracted only one conspiracy theorist, which is not bad going, considering that I’ve posted regularly about the Apollo missions to the moon. And it wasn’t an Apollo Hoax nut, but a devotee of a conspiracy theory of quite breathtaking obscurity.
The hill-walking stuff has also seen an increasing amount of traffic—I can practically chart the dates on which particular posts graduate to the first page of a Google search. That’s not bad, given how much stuff is already out there about the Scottish hills, but it would appear that my concentration on obscure hills and unusual routes commands some sort of audience.
And then there’s “Biggles FRCA“. I posted the text of that little piece on a whim, mainly because I was slightly irked to see it circulating on social media, uncredited and full of typographical errors. My desire to take back possession has been fulfilled—the copy here at Oikofuge has finally crept to pole position in the Google search results. It also sees regular pulses of traffic from Facebook and Twitter. And it has recently, quite literally, taken on a life of its own, in the form of @BigglesFrca. I’ve interpreted that as an homage, but have also posted a little disclaimer at the head of the “Biggles FRCA” page. Whoever it is, it isn’t me. (And, quite frankly, shame on those of you who, even for a moment, imagined that it might be …)
I’m not short of ideas, so the blog will likely chug along for a while yet. Thanks to everyone who has dropped by to say hello, to comment, or to ask questions over the years.