April 4. April Fool’s Day Observed. (Scotland, West Australia)
April 6. Graperil Fool’s Day. (National Grape-Grower’s Association keeps insisting this is a thing and sends so many whiny e-mails if you don’t list it.)
April 12 – 17. News Sites Publish Articles Explaining How Something Kind of Like Some Part of the Miracles of Exodus or the Resurrection Could Maybe Have Happened Naturally So Christianity Is True, Okay?
April 13. Friday the 13th (Unobserved).
April 15. Calendar Nerds Explain How This Is Not The Ides Of April (United States).
April 16. Your Atheist Friend Goes on About How Not a Single Newspaper From Rome From 33 AD Mentions the Resurrection So Christianity Is False, Okay?
April 17. Your Pagan Friend Goes on About How “Easter” Is Originally a Pagan Word Meaning “Christianity Is Fake but Paganism Is Real” So Connect the Dots, People, Okay?
April 21. Day of Being Haunted by the Word Sequence “Haiku’ing for Space Ghost” and Trying to Think Why That’s In Our Heads And What That Could Possibly Even Mean. (Gen X only)
April 22. Conan O’Brien’s Birthday (Belated).
April 26. Moment of Silence Followed by Embarrassed Cough. (United States, Canada, Philippines)
April 31. April Fool’s Day (Extended Remix).
Reference: The Jersey Midlands, Henry Charlton Beck.
Also two years ago when we dyed eggs we found they’d changed the formula and now they all need vinegar. Or they all don’t need vinegar. I forget which. But now you have to work at it to get that wrong. I just remember being annoyed that they double-crossed me like that. Still, I hope the pictures at the link above help you with your egg-dye plans.
Better than I expected! Well, that covers that. See you next month, everyone.
Well, I have to talk a little more. My blog set a new readership record in April, topping — finally — the November 2015 spike when The AV Club noticed I wrote so much about how nothing was happening in Apartment 3-G. This can almost be explained by one thing: Easter. Particularly, Easter egg dying. I had taken pictures of what Paas-brand Easter egg dye tablets looked like, and what color they actually made eggs, and put that up on the web. And people were looking for exactly that. That page alone drew 1,057 views in April. This was even more than the home page for this blog, ordinarily the actual most-viewed page, drew. I figured that this would be a much-referred-to web site. I did not expect it to be that viewed.
Take away the 1,057 page views caused by the Paas corporation, though? And then … I … still have a record month for me. November 2015 saw 4,528 page views. April 2020 had 5,606 page views. That’s a gap of just more than 1,057 page views. It’s quite the spike. Some of that is probably spilloer from Paas-tablet-readers. But otherwise? Who’s reading and why? That’s what I look for here.
So, yeah, the numbers look good, if we take more to mean good. 5,606 page views, way above the twelve-month running average of 3,638.5. Even discounting the Paas page, 4,549 page views would be a new record. There were 3,356 unique visitors, again way above the running average of 2,101.6. The down beat was that there were only 70 things given likes in all April, below he average of 123.1. Comments, though? There were 48 of them, way above the average of 16.6, and my best commenting month since January 2019.
Per-post, the figures are just about the same: 186.9 views per posting, above the average of 119.3. 111.9 visitors per posting, above the 69.0 running average. 2.3 likes per posting, below the average 4.0. 1.6 comments per posting, way above the 0.5 average. I’d like to think this sort of viewing and commenting is a trend that’ll continue, but I understand how much of it is juiced by Paas.
So what was popular? Paas tablets and what else? The top posts in April were:
As you see, what people really want to know from me is why comic strips look weird today. Mallard Fillmore, that’s easy to say. Loren Fishman has taken over as “guest cartoonist” until Bruce Tinsley returns. Don’t care. I’m not reading Mallard Fillmore unless I hear it’s great from multiple independent lines of trusted references.
514 posts got at least one viewing in April, up from 484 in March. 323 got more than one view, up from 302 in March. 76 of them got at least ten views, which is basically tied with March’s 75.
78 countries sent me any viewers at all in April. That’s right about March’s 73 and February’s 71. 19 of these were single-view contries, basically the same as March’s 20 and February’s 18. And here’s what they were:
United Arab Emirates
Hong Kong SAR China
Bangladesh and Egypt wee single-view countries in March too. Lebanon is on a three-month streak of single views. Also … really, wow? Only one page view from Japan? I know I write a painfully parochial blog, but Japan also has like 750 million people who can read English in it. I’d think just by accident it would have to out-draw, like, Suriname. Which again is nothing against Suriname; I just think of what I write and totally get nobody in Suriname caring.
This is always subject to change in the event of fast-breaking story comic news or my deciding I want to do something different.
As WordPress counts things I posted 19,010 words in April, for an average post length of 633.7 words. This is quite up from March’s 17,019 words and 549 words per posting. So, yes, I’m getting longwinded again. For the year through the start of May I had published 67,888 words in 119 postings. This averages 571 words per posting.
The start of May saw me posting 2,646 things, viewed a total of 167,135 times by 93,757 unique visitors.
If reading a bunch of numbers about posts has encouraged you to read me regularly, all right, that’s a valid choice. You can follow this blog in your WordPress reader by clicking the “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile” button. Or you can add my RSS feed to whatever reader you use. If you don’t have an RSS reader, sign up for a free account with Dreamwidth or Livejournal. Their Friends pages let you add RSS feeds from anywhere. And you can catch announcements of these posts on my no-longer-inaccessible Twitter account, @nebusj. Thank you for reading, if that is what you’re doing here. Take care, please.
No, really, I am COMPLETELY FINE WITH LEARNING that Paas went and changed its egg dye kits over the last year so now there’s NONE that tell you that you have to use vinegar, or you better not use vinegar, and you don’t have to pick out the pink one for ANY special treatment. That’s FINE. That makes EVERYBODY’S LIFE ALL THE MUCH BETTER and I am NOT AT ALL UPSET that my guide from last week is now COMPLETELY USELESS except for people who have kits from last year and before, all right? I’m FINE. THANK you. Everybody STOP ASKING. And we are NOT having an argument about which of the two they-sure-look-pink tablets is the TRUE pink this year.
2038: [ Will not occur due to the Year 2038 or “Chuckletrousers” bug ] (Western); Sunday (Orthodox)
Reference: Look sometimes you’re trying to develop like four ideas and every one of them seems promising and like it should work and then it turns out none of them are coming together and deadline is and you have to go with the thing you have that is the least not-satisfying, all right? That’s my reference.
Today I post what will surely come to be my most-referenced post of all time. Last year after yet again being annoyed that we couldn’t tell which color Paas Easter-egg tablet matched with which color I did something: I took pictures of every tablet, and how it looked mixed with vinegar or water, and how the resulting egg looked. I share that information with you here and now. In this way we can maybe prevent the catastrophe of that one tablet that’s supposed to be mixed with vinegar instead of hot water for some reason, only to find you used the other tablet of basically the same color and now everybody is shouting and there aren’t enough of those little plastic ones that wrap around the egg with a complicated scene instead and Easter is just ruined.
Colors are a hard thing to reproduce online, so I took pictures of as much as I could with a can of Coke Zero Sugar, so you can use that as reference. See if you can spot the moment when I realized I was letting the tablets be shaded by the soda can and swapped their placement!
Also there was a six-tablet Paas packet, and a nine-tablet Paas packet. I’ll label which is which. The nine-tablet packet is all the stuff from the six-tablet package, plus an extra package of three more colors. I took a picture of the six normal dye tablets before we started mixing things up, but I didn’t think to take a picture of the extra three tablets. So, well, good luck with those.
And because I forgot to mention: all the eggs were dyed to about the same length of time. It was about three minutes, although I can’t say precisely how long. I remember the fact that I timed it by some piece of music that came on the iPod but I don’t remember which song it was. Well, check my or my love’s iPods and pick a song that seems like it would have been on when we were dyeing eggs last year and there you go.
Peter Cottontail is a young Easter Bunny who lives in April Valley where all the other Easter Bunnies live and work, making Easter candy, sewing bonnets, and decorating and delivering Easter eggs.
Colonel Wellington B Bunny, the retiring Chief Easter Bunny, names Peter his successor despite his boasting and lying.
Peter, who has dreamed of being the Chief Easter Bunny almost his entire life, gladly accepts.
No; I thought it was an open contest all along.
January Q Irontail, an evil, reclusive rabbit villain wants to be Chief Easter Bunny himself so he can ruin it for children after a child roller-skated over his tail and had to wear a prosthetic one made of iron.
Yes about Irontail but I thought his name was Jeremy and I forgot why he had a prosthetic tail.
Irontail demands that Colonel Bunny hold a contest between himself and Peter to see who wins since the Constitution of April Valley states that the Chief Easter Bunny should be the one who delivers the most eggs.
No, thought the contest was there from the start.
Arrogant Peter accepts Irontail’s challenge, but stays up all night partying with his friends.
Although he tells his rooster to wake him up at 5:30 in the morning, Irontail sneaks into his house and feeds the rooster magic bubblegum, sealing its beak and Peter sleeps on, not hearing the crows from the popping bubblegum bubbles.
No, thought he just slept through.
Though Irontail tries all day to deliver eggs with unsuccessful results, he is only able to deliver one egg to a sleeping hobo.
No, thought he just didn’t try after giving out one pro forma.
However, it’s still one egg more than Peter ever delivered.
Therefore, Irontail becomes the new Chief Easter Bunny, passing laws to make Easter a disaster such as having eggs painted mud brown and concrete gray, ordering the candy sculptors to make chocolate tarantulas and octopuses instead of bunnies and chicks, and having Easter galoshes instead of bonnets.
Meanwhile, Peter, ashamed that his bragging and irresponsibility led to this tragedy, leaves April Valley until he meets Seymour S Sassafras, an eccentric peddler and inventor, who supplies April Valley with the colors to paint the eggs from his Garden of Surprises, from red, white, and blue cabbages and purple corn to striped tomatoes and orange stringbeans.
Forgot everything about this Garden of Surprises thing and knew there was an inventor but I couldn’t have told you his name if you told me his name.
Sassafras then lets Peter use his Yestermorrowbile, a time machine, piloted by a French caterpillar named Antoine to take Peter back to Easter, deliver his eggs, win the contest, and defeat Irontail.
Yes, at least, I remembered there was a time machine in this somehow.
Unfortunately, Irontail finds out about Peter’s plan and sends his spider to sabotage the Yestermorrowbile’s controls, allowing Peter and Antoine to go to any holiday but Easter.
Since the contest’s rules don’t specifically say the eggs must be delivered on Easter, Peter tries to give his eggs away at other holidays without success.
Kind of? But how does this rule make sense?
On the Fourth of July, he lies to two boys by painting his eggs red, white, and blue and selling them as firecrackers.
When that fails, they crashland on Halloween where Peter meets a witch named Madame Esmeralda and gives her a Halloween egg as a gift making the score a tie.
No and what the heck is a Halloween egg?
When she calls the other Halloween inhabitants, Irontail sends Montresor the Bat out to steal Peter’s eggs.
No but how does this count as Peter not getting credit for giving away an egg?
After getting the eggs back, Peter tells Antoine they have to get back to Halloween, but they can’t go back since Antoine has to land the craft to fix it.
After failing to give his eggs away on Thanksgiving, they go to Christmas Eve where Peter, dressed as Santa Claus, tries to sell his Christmas eggs on the streets.
But the streets are deserted.
Then Peter hears crying from a hat shop nearby where he meets Bonnie Bonnet from April Valley.
Bonnie is sad because nobody wants to buy her.
No and wait what? Like, is she a hat? What the heck?
So Peter tells the shopkeeper that he’ll trade her his Christmas eggs for Bonnie.
Unfortunately, Irontail steals them again and Peter and Bonnie go after him, accidentally leaving Antoine behind.
During the chase, Irontail crashes into Santa’s sleigh where Santa demands to give the eggs back to Peter.
Santa returns the eggs, but Peter is too sad to say thank you since they left Antoine behind.
No and wait, this is getting complicated.
Afterwards, Peter and Bonnie land on Valentine’s Day where Peter meets a beautiful girl bunny named Donna and Peter gives her a Valentine egg.
However, Irontail finds the eggs and casts a spell on them, turning them all green, inside and out.
As such, nobody wants the eggs anymore; even Donna gives hers back.
Peter then vows to be more responsible and they land in the middle of Saint Patrick’s Day where he finally gets to give his green eggs away and wins the contest, becoming the official Chief Easter Bunny, Antoine returns as a butterfly, and Irontail becomes the April Valley janitor while Peter leads an Easter parade with all the characters from the story.
Yes to that later part but the Saint Patrick’s Day thing is throwing me.
I’ve got the usual Sunday comic strips post over in the mathematics blog. Have you given it a try? It might like the company. There’s an Archie comic over there, if that affects your choice. If not, that’s fine. We’ve been spending the weekend trying to figure out which of Paas’s four egg-dye tablets that could plausibly be pink actually is the pink already. People keep asking the Internet this question and there’s suspiciously few answers considering it would just take one person with a dye kit and two pictures, and then we’d know which tablet isn’t supposed to get mixed with vinegar. Fix that problem, Internet. Anyway, fresh off yesterday’s activities, a scene that came to mind:
“Hey? Hey guys? Guys? What are you talking about? Are you doing something? Are you talking about me? Can I come over and talk with you? Can I? Guys? Hey, are you ignoring me? Do you wanna talk about me? It’s okay with me if you wanna talk about me. Hey?”
Another Blog, Meanwhile Index
The index rose three points today as those turned out to be peanut butter smidges we got from the candy store. Not that caramel isn’t good too, you understand, just that peanut butter smidge.
Why Easter eggs? Why bunnies? Why chocolate? If so, whom? These are some good questions. The last one looks like the result of youthful enthusiasm. It’s probably grammatically wrong anyway, unless “who” would be wrong instead. I bet it was submitted by someone who hypercorrects things. Hypercorrecting is a fun pastime. You start out with something that’s okay and then apply the grammatical rule of “people don’t sound like they know what they’re doing, so make it sound more obscure or complicated”. It’s good fun. It appeals to people’s desire to sound like they know a better set of rules than everyone else does. And it gives people who like to correct mistakes something to write about. There’s nothing so fun as correcting the hypercorrect. I thought that time I got a bag of rabbit litter at half-price was that good. I was wrong.
Anyway, Easter we can understand. If we didn’t have Easter then there’d be this huge attention-getting gap in-between Ash Wednesday and the Feast of the Assumption. “Shouldn’t something go in the middle, here?” people would ask. Eventually all sorts of folk explanations would spring up. Maybe they’d tumble across “there ought to be a particularly holy day for one of the top religions” there. “Also we should have plastic eggs and rabbits made of candy” I bet wouldn’t. Maybe people would do some more research and figure, “Hey, there’s got to be something that’s seventy days before Septuagesima, unless that’s supposed to be seventy days after Septuagesima.”
I mean if there still is a Septuagesima. I haven’t checked and I have the feeling it’s been downplayed ever since Vatican II: Vaticannier. But it’s a heck of a name for something. It isn’t seventy days from anything interesting in either direction. There’s probably a reason for that. Yes, I meant the Feast of the Ascension. The Assumption is a completely different thing. Don’t challenge me on this. I was raised Catholic so I remember there was something called the homoiousian controversy and couldn’t deliver the Nicene Creed with cue cards. We said the Nicene Creed every Sunday. Nobody ever talked about the homoiousian controversy.
Since we have Easter, we don’t have to worry about why there isn’t an Easter, although if it ever goes missing you know what to look for. Easter eggs we can wonder about. If there’s anything that we could get straightened out then we’d have one thing straightened out, and that would leave is in much better shape. For instance, let’s do away with the folk etymology that says they were originally “yeaster eggs”, egg-shape snacks made out of extremely bread-based foods. We can also do away with the tale that it started out as “Easter yeggs”, roving packs of 19th-century Bowery B’hoy toughs prowling the riverfront and painting themselves brightly. These theories were popular in the 1970s when they were thought to be hoaxes played by angry writer H L Mencken. But we now know the claim that they were a hoax was a prank on Mencken played by President Taft.
The tradition of hiding Easter eggs come to us from Renaissance Germany, with an assist by the Princely States of India and a rebound against Grand Columbia, which does not figure in this narrative. The problem originally was one of planting the seeds of useful crops like barley or bauxite or jute or other stuff from social studies textbooks without having birds flying in and eating them all. Somewhere on the upper Rhine the locals realized they could plant the birds instead and wait for the seeds to fly in and carry them off. The practice spread and grew to be very popular, eggs put in all sorts of places on the ground, and didn’t lose popularity even when it turned out to not even begin to sort-of work.
Since that failed, they tried making the process more complicated. Painting the eggs turned out not to be a way to get blue chickens with yellow zig-zag stripes, but wasn’t it worth trying, just in case? Do you know anyone who has better ideas to handle our shortage of blue chickens with yellow zig-zag stripes? It’s not so easy to achieve, is it? Anyway, during the Thirty Years War the tradition fled Germany, and who could blame it? The tradition’s got some sense after all.
There is no explanation for how the rabbits and chocolate and all that got involved. I’ll try to write that up next year before Easter.
I meant to get around to reviewing April’s readership around here sooner. I was busier than I wanted to be, as we all are. And I was trying to think about what the data meant, which is quite hard.
The startling thing to me is that my readership evaporated over April. In February my humor blog here had 1,046 views, and in March 1,053. In April that was down to a mere 808, the lowest since August of last year. The number of visitors collapsed too, from 505 in February and a close-enough 483 in March down to only 303 in April. And I don’t know what happened. It’s possible that people shifted from reading my stuff on pages to reading through RSS feeds or through the WordPress reader, since those readers don’t show up as views or visitors to my page. But … really, one-fifth of the page views and two-fifths of the readers? That’s weird.
(This does, by the way, match up with an increase in the average number of views per visitor. In April I recorded 2.67 views per visitor, my highest since June 2014. March saw a mere 2.18 views per visitor and February 2.07. From the way the daily view counts look I suspect a couple folks found me the last week of April and went archive-binging, which I would like to encourage.)
I don’t think April just reflects a burst of rapid-onset unpopularity. Some of the other measures suggest that I still have near as many readers. The number of likes was only 402 in April, down from March’s 443, but still up from February’s 345. The number of comments was 108 in April, down from March’s 113, but still above February’s 99. That’s a tie, by any realistic measure.
So I’m left with a mystery of where did the page counts go? I looked to the weekly reader totals for any hint what might have happened. From the week starting February 16th through the week starting March 30 I had between 200 and 260 readers per week. The first and second weeks of April that dropped to 162 and then 156 readers, and the third week of April it only rose to 186. Mercifully for my ego the week starting April 27 I drew in 213 readers, which is back to what the boom times had, but that leaves early April a mystery.
I don’t think I was writing significantly different stuff in early April from what came before or after, and I felt good about reader engagement. Maybe everybody was just off for Easter. My mathematics blog wasn’t, but perhaps there were exams that week. I’d be curious what other writers experienced. But I am feeling a little stunned by the results and maybe need to lie down. And I admit this week doesn’t seem to be starting off very well either. It’s a terrible thing to feel this insecure this early in the month.