Statistics Saturday: Some Amazing Facts about February


  • Though February has had more leap days than any other month, it has yet to have a leap second.
  • One-sixth of all the months with men walking on the Moon were February.
  • Each February contains between eight and ten percent the recommended daily allowance of vitamin B-12.
  • No United States President has died in February since 1924.
  • February in the north temperate zone has the same specific gravity as honey.
  • A Broadway musical comedy based on February opened in the Broadhurst Theater on the 14th of May, 1951. It closed after 40 performances. Music by Sammy Fain, book by E Y ‘Yip’ Harburg and Fred Saidy.
  • February has the worst home-field advantage (422-398 over the last ten years) but the smallest visiting-team disadvantage (49.39% winning average over all recorded seasons) of any of the major-league months.
  • Though April remains the cruelest month, February is the month most likely to bring up a slightly shameful in-joke at a moment it will embarrass you.
  • Februaries that start on Sunday (or, on European calendars, Monday) are the best months of all according to bookish, nerdy seven-year-olds who believe they know The Rules that everything should follow to be neat and orderly. EXCEPT FEBRUARIES DURING LEAP YEAR.
  • Famous February births include: Jack Benny, orange (the color), Saturn’s moon Mimas, the Renaissance, sneezing, orange (the fruit), and Barry Bostwick.

Reference: Marking Time: The Epic Quest to Invent the Perfect Calendar, Duncan Steel. Which is not even the ONLY BOOK I HAVE about calendars written by a guy named “Duncan”.

Statistics February: How the past month treated my humor blog


It seems like I did this just a couple days ago, doesn’t it? But at least I’m getting to my monthly review of readership numbers sooner this month than last. I do like taking a moment to look at what got read around here, and how much, since it serves as a reminder that I’m not as popular as I think I am. Also that I never will be. And that I used to be more popular. Or at least more less unpopular.

There were 3,181 page views around here in February. That’s the third month in a row at about that level, although it is rising a little. It’s a chunk under the twelve-month running average of 3,542.6. The numbers aren’t bad by themselves; it’s just this is like a one-quarter chunk of the readership from the previous three months vanished. I don’t know what happened there, or why.

It’s a similar story with the number of unique visitors. There were 1,969 of them in February, which is a bit up from the last couple months and is at least in the neighborhood of the Chuckletrousers running average of 2,038.3. Again, though, like a quarter of my readership vanished between November and December and I can’t figure a reason why.

Bar chart of monthly readership going back four and a half years; after the readership dropped about a quarter following December, it's been slowly rising again.
Now, this same chart but for my mathematics blog tells me the number of things posted in the month. It happens I know how many things I posted here in February; I had something every day. But why does that not get attention in the little pop-up window then?

After a couple months fluttering upward the number of likes has crashed again. There were 75 of them in February, way below the running average of 138.3. It’s the lowest number of likes in a month since 2013, which is amazing to consider because that was a time I would get, like, 300 views and 170 visitors in a month. Comments, too, have rolled over and died: six of them in February, below the average of 18.4 and the lowest since the first months of this blog, back in 2013.

Nevertheless, people are reading stuff. Mostly my comic strip talk. The most popular essays here in February were none at all published in February, but:

So if we learn nothing else, it’s that people really want to know what’s with Mark Trail leaving people for dead. Trust me, I’ll have words about this on Sunday. Also I have no idea why that months-of-the-year thing is proving so popular month after month. I think someone must have linked to it from somewhere trusted. The most popular thing I published in February was also about people wanting story comic characters’ motivations explained. That was What’s Going On In The Phantom (Weekdays)? Why is the Python held by the Wambesi? November 2019 – February 2020.

My most popular long-form essay of the month was It Is Supposed To Be Cold Tomorrow which shows how people like to see me vaguely complaining about stuff. I am thinking of other topics I can go on about in this vein. Anyway each Thursday night, US time, I try to post a long-form essay at this link. We’ll see what I can do with any of that.

Altogether 401 posts, plus my home page, got any views at all this past month. 245 of them got more than one view. 56 got at least ten views. There’d been 450 posts getting any views in January, and 277 more than one view then.

But I know what people really want to see and that’s my plot recaps of the story comics. The plan for the next several weeks is to feature:

As ever, this is subject to change for reasons of breaking news or broken schedules on my part. And, not to jinx myself, but: Mark Trail, Mary Worth, The Phantom, and Rex Morgan? In the story-strip-snark community we know these as the breadwinners. Gil Thorp, well, that’s the hipster breadwinner, a story strip for people who want to snark on something a little more obscure than Mary Worth.

Mercator-style map of the world, with the Americas, western Europe, South India, Australia, and Russia in a mostly uniform pink. There's only a few African countries to have sent any readers at all.
I acknowledge that I will never have a reader from Greenland but I’m startled to see Switzerland ignoring me.

71 countries sent me any readers in February. That’s right about January’s 68 and December’s 65. 18 of these were single-view countries, again right about January’s 20 and December’s 13. Here’s the full roster:

Country Readers
United States 2,313
Canada 182
India 116
United Kingdom 82
Australia 52
European Union 40
Germany 36
Brazil 35
Sweden 30
Philippines 25
Spain 20
France 17
Portugal 17
Norway 15
Finland 13
Indonesia 12
South Africa 11
Denmark 7
Israel 7
Poland 7
Argentina 6
Netherlands 6
New Zealand 6
Russia 6
Chile 5
Ireland 5
Italy 5
Kenya 5
Romania 5
Bangladesh 4
Colombia 4
Jamaica 4
Japan 4
Malaysia 4
Mexico 4
Pakistan 4
Puerto Rico 4
Serbia 4
Singapore 4
Taiwan 4
Austria 3
El Salvador 3
Hong Kong SAR China 3
Hungary 3
Nigeria 3
Thailand 3
Turkey 3
Cyprus 2
Ecuador 2
Latvia 2
Oman 2
Switzerland 2
Tanzania 2
Aruba 1
Barbados 1
Belgium 1
Bolivia 1
Ghana 1
Kuwait 1
Lebanon 1
Libya 1
Malta 1
Panama 1
Peru 1
Qatar 1
Saudi Arabia 1
South Korea 1
Sri Lanka 1 (*)
Trinidad & Tobago 1 (*)
United Arab Emirates 1
Venezuela 1

Sri Lanka and then Trinidad & Tobago were single-view countries in January. There’s no countries on three-month streaks. Italy’s dropped to a more typical number of readers after January’s spike of 170 page views. Most of my readers are from the English-speaking countries that I expect to see there.

I posted, counts WordPress, 14,874 words in February. This seems low. It averages to 512.9 words per posting, which is down from January’s 548. As of the start of February I’ve posted 2,585 things, and attracted 157,567 page views from a logged 88,016 unique visitors.

I’d be glad to have you as a regular reader here. You can put the blog into your RSS reader. (Friends pages on a free Livejournal or Dreamwidth account can serve as an RSS reader.) Or you can use the “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile” button on this page and add it to your regular RSS read. If you’re on Twitter, you’re one ahead of my @nebusj account, but that link still announces postings. Thank you for reading at all, though, however it is you do it.

Statistics February: How The Past Month Treated My Humor Blog


I still like doing these start-of-the-month looks at my statistics. Somehow taking a big pile of numbers and sharing them with people who aren’t responsible for them appeals to me. At least it’s one essay each month that’s easy to think of what to write. Actually writing it is another thing.

And please remember you can follow this blog regularly by using the ‘Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile’ link in the upper right corner of this page. If you want to read without being tracked, counted, numbered, or spindled, please use the RSS feed. RSS is a great solution and the web should use it more. If you do feel like being indexed, briefed, and debriefed, you can follow me on Twitter as @Nebusj. Every new post gets a mention there. Also the “publicity widget” that posts notices on Twitter is also supposed to put notices on Google+. It is very concerned that I understand why that’s going away. I have not checked, but I believe I have in total gotten zero views from Google+, so, you know, it can relax a bit there.

So what happened with the number and variety of readers I attracted in February 2019?

Bar chart of about two years' worth of monthly readership statistics; February's is about three-quarters the size of January's, and noticeably smaller than those for most of 2018.
Oh, yes, so, 1.70 views per visitor in February 2019. There had been 1.83 views per visitor in January, and 1.76 in December. So my average thing gets people three-quarters of the way interested in reading something else. That … seems about right.

OK, so, that’s a bit of a drop. 2,428 views in February, compared to 3,343 in January and 2,866 in December 2018. I’d like to attribute this all to February’s shortness. But the average-per-day views plummeted in February: 87, says a WordPress panel I’m not going to bother including a screenshot of. In January there were 108 views per day on average. December had 92 views per day, which isn’t too far off February’s. But still: I haven’t had that few views-per-day since December 2017. Not sure what happened there. My best guess is that Roy Kassinger was very busy with things.

The number of unique visitors dropped too, although not quite so precipitously. There were 1,429 unique visitors recorded in February, versus 1,830 in January and 1,632 in December. That’s about the same number of unique visitors per day in February as in December, anyway. The number of likes fell to 156 from January’s 183. But that’s up from December’s 137 and is at least within striking distance of the 165-to-180-likes average most of 2018 showed. The number of comments dropped to 34 from January’s 70, and December’s 44, but comments are such a scattershot thing around here anyway. This is more talky than I was managing in 2017, anyway.


What was popular here in February? What’s always popular here, every month? The top five:

My most popular non-comic-strip related thing was Statistics Saturday: The Months Of The Year In Reverse Alphabetical Order and … uh … huh. All right. I haven’t thought about this one since it posted four years ago and I needed a moment to get the joke. I hope it has inspired people to have extremely Internet fights about the question.

My most popular long-form essay was one from this month. That’s always flattering. It was Some Things To Understand About The 1980s. Nicely enough that’s also the essay I’m happiest with from this past month. It’s got a strange tone for me, but a tone I like. I shall have to think about how I got into the mood to write this piece. I still think there should be something more to do with the concept of Muppet Babies Kids.


Still, the story strips remain my most popular thing, and the thing that draws readers in. Here’s my plan for story strips to recap through to April. This may change if a strip has some big event, like new writers or artists or a reboot or something that makes people wonder if the comic is still being made.

And all my story strip plot recaps should appear at this link. If you see one that doesn’t, please let me know. It likely means I just tagged something wrong.


65 countries sent me readers in February. There had been 68 such in January, but 61 in December. This all seems pretty stable then.

Mercator-style world map with the United States in the darkest red. Canada, Mexico, most of Western Europe, Russia, India, South Africa Australia, and New Zealand, are a roughly uniform pink. And I've got readers in Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, and Chile somehow. Plus several other countries. Read the table if you really want to know everyone.
I’m not one to turn down readers, but I’m surprised to see so many readers from Peru and American Samoa. I mean, American Samoa I would imagine has about the same interest in Mary Worth that people on the mainland do. I don’t know what I write that might speak to a Peruvian person’s experience, though. I don’t fool myself into thinking I write to universal experiences. I barely write to my own experiences. If anyone wants to say, I’d be glad to hear.

Ooh, 1766 readers from the United States. This seems neat to me because 1766 is the year that my undergraduate school was founded. So, you know, my making that association right away shows why everybody treated me like that in middle school.

Country Readers
United States 1766
India 98
Canada 95
United Kingdom 77
Australia 66
Italy 23
Peru 20
Mexico 19
Germany 17
South Africa 15
Sweden 14
Brazil 13
Philippines 13
Netherlands 12
Singapore 12
Spain 12
Finland 11
American Samoa 9
France 9
Israel 7
Japan 7
New Zealand 7
European Union 6
Hong Kong SAR China 6
South Korea 6
Chile 5
Indonesia 5
Turkey 5
Georgia 4
Ireland 4
Romania 4
Switzerland 4
Malaysia 3
Nepal 3
Norway 3
Russia 3
Taiwan 3
United Arab Emirates 3
Belgium 2
Bosnia & Herzegovina 2
Greece 2
Jamaica 2
Malta 2
Poland 2
Portugal 2
Puerto Rico 2
Saudi Arabia 2
Slovakia 2
Trinidad & Tobago 2
Ukraine 2
Cameroon 1
Denmark 1
Estonia 1
Hungary 1
Kazakhstan 1
Kenya 1
Mongolia 1
Montenegro 1
Pakistan 1
Serbia 1 (*)
Slovenia 1
St. Martin 1
Tunisia 1
Venezuela 1
Vietnam 1

There were 15 single-reader countries in February. There had been 19 in January, but the only country in common both months was Serbia. And wow, I was this close to a complete new slate of single-reader countries. That’s exciting to be. But see above comment about why everybody treated me like that in middle school. There had been 12 single-reader countries in December.

I averaged 599 words per post, in the 59 posts made from the start of the year through the end of February. That rose from my end-of-January arithmetic mean of 590. I published 17,036 words in February, bringing my total for the year to 35,326 words. I don’t know if that counts things like captions to images or the alt-text for images. For the year to date I’m averaging 1.6 comments per post, down from 1.7 at the end of January. I’m averaging 5.5 likes per post, down from 5.7 at the end of January. Hm.

What’s not decreasing is the total number of posts I’ve made: 2,219 at the end of February. Oh, so I failed to mention then that yesterday’s Alley Oop recap was post number 2,222. Neat. As of the start of February I’ve had 114,303 total views, from 63,017 unique visitors. My most-read day ever remains the 24th of November, 2015. That when some of my writing about the collapse of Apartment 3-G got mentioned on The Onion AV Club and old Usenet pal Joe Blevins gave my blog its name. That’s probably not going to ever change. I wonder if there’s a way to get data on my third-most-read days.

Please Send Floss


1st February. The toothpaste is getting pretty low.

2nd February. Yes, there’s somehow even less toothpaste than there was yesterday. This would be worth doing something about except who wants to sully Groundhog Day with talk of something as sordid as toothpaste or something?

3rd February. Despite all the toothpaste being used there’s still less of it than there was the day before.

4th February. Dwindling of the toothpaste supply continues. It is beginning to look like it will not correct itself.

5th February. Now the toothpaste is basically out. Rolling it up from the end will get another day or two out of this, but that’s the end of things.

6th February. Never mind the blizzard and the bitter cold and just how tiring it is to do anything anymore. The only choices are to go to the store and buy more toothpaste or to wake up with teeth that feel like I didn’t brush my teeth the night before.

7th February. Forgot to get toothpaste at the store, which, there you go. Chance to go out tomorrow probably. It’s not quite out and there’s probably one or two more days’ worth, right?

8th February. All right, there’s another day’s worth of toothpaste left in the tube.

9th February. All right, there’s just one more day’s worth in the old tube. It’s not like the new toothpaste is going to be spoiled if it sits around another day or two.

10th February. Sure I already rolled the tube up, but it turns out if I roll it up again there’s just enough for one more day.

11th February. Well, now it seems like there’s moer toothpaste in the tube than there was yesterday. This has to be a clerical error of some kind, hasn’t it? I bet if I go back and check the logs this will all make sense.

12th February. Well, now the toothpaste tube holding out is starting to get ridiculous.

13th February. Definitely throwing the tube out tomorrow even if it hasn’t somehow given up the last drop of toothpaste.

14th February. But that would be wasteful.

15th February. You know if I “accidentally” knock the toothpaste over into the wastebin nobody could fairly blame me for not bothering to pick it up.

16th February. Now it’s reaching a dangerous spot. Like, some part of me is thinking of how one day’s toothpaste has lasted now all of February, which is a short month, yes, but it’s not all that short. All your name-brand months have at least sixteen days. It’s some kind of very oddly focused miracle. But then another part of me thinks, boy, this sounds like I’m making a joke about Hanukkah. And yeah, I’m just thinking about something a bit silly and whimsical in a weird little silly situation. But it also feels like there’s something here that’s insensitive at best and maybe offensive. And that’s the worst kind of joke to make. You can make a joke that you don’t mean to offend anyone. If you screw it up and do anyway, you can own up and apologize and if you went in with honest intentions most people will forgive you. You can make a joke that you do mean to offend someone, if you know who it is you want to offend and why you want to offend them about this point. And if you make a good joke that offends some definite person for a definite reason people will be okay with that, too. But a joke that you toss out there not really knowing if anyone should be offended, or why? That gets everybody in trouble. Nobody can form a coherent argument to have about who should be upset or whether they should or shouldn’t be, and so we all end up angry and annoyed and tired. This is just me repeating the wise advice of Machiavelli, from his classic The Prince Of Comedy. You know his analysis of offensive humor got Machiavelli a three-week residency in front of a brick wall outside the Piazza della Signoria, after which they hurled rocks (the ancestor of popcorn) at him.

17th February. All right, so I have to move the wastebin a lot closer to the sink before there’s any chance of my “accidentally” dropping the toothpaste into it. Also maybe I have to hold the toothpaste with the wrong hand.

18th February. Beginning to regret not keeping the receipt from that new tube of toothpaste so I could return it and put the $2.29 into more pressing needs. Pretty dumb to have sunk all my liquidity even into tartar-controlling goo.

19th February. You’d think having a tube containing an infinite volume of toothpaste would be able to make you some money, even if it is Aim. There is no way I can see to it, though.

20th February. Foot hurts too much from stepping in the wastebin by accident to think about why the toothpaste hasn’t run out yet.

In Which I Want To Know The Deal, Tropical Storms Edition


So never you mind why I was looking at this National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association table of tropical storm and hurricane frequency by month for the years 1851 to 2015. I have my reasons and they are sufficient and while I am nearly as loquacious a blogger as I am an unread blogger, I don’t need to share all my secrets with the public. Anyway it’s all sorts of fascinating data, like how in an average September there’s two-thirds of a hurricane striking the United States.

Thing is there’s this recorded one tropical storm in a February between 1851 and 2015 and now I want to know its deal. Like, I’m picturing the storm getting itself all organized and put together with an eye and everything, and it comes storming its way towards the Caribbean or something, and all these islands just turn and look at it and want to know, “Srsly?”

Yeah, there’s only one tropical storm on record for April, too, but that I can understand as a May storm that came early. You know how it is, you start organizing some project and then it comes together sooner than you figured. At least I’m told that happens sometime. But February just doesn’t make sense. The heck, you know?

Statistics February: Comic Strips Ending And Pondering Ray Davies Is Still Good For Me


February 2018 turned out to be my third-best-read month around here. I am always excited to see people reading stuff here. I tell myself that’s because they like what they find, but there’s really no way of my telling that apart from looking at the number of likes they leave. But it’s there.

Anyway, in February there were 3,695 page views here. That’s down from January’s post-Apocalypse 3-G high of 3,902 page views. Still, well up from December 2017’s 2,427. (The end of Apartment 3-G had 4,528 page views in November 2015, and that high is just about to drop off WordPress’s little traffic-view page.) And yes, I checked. If February were three days longer and those three days were as busy as the 28 that actually existed, I would’ve had a busier month. I’ll be filing a stern note with Numa Pompilius in the morning. And that is the kind of calendar-nerd joke that explains why I’m most popular when I’m talking about Gil Thorp.

It was a broadly distributed popularity, too. WordPress logged 1,982 unique visitors, up even from January’s 1,671 and December’s 1,409. That’s my second-highest total ever. (The AV Club-boosted Apocalypse 3-G had 2,308 unique visitors, well beyond what I’d get at this pace even if it kept up another three days.) And whatever brought this about? I wrote about Ray Davies.

And, more amazingly, the Kinks fan site Kinda Kinks noticed, and added the post to its roster of Kinks news, and described it so generically (“here’s a blog post about Ray Davies”) that apparently hundreds of Kinks fans clicked to see what that might even mean. The Ray Davies post got 454 page views in February, enormously more than usual for even popular stuff. The second-most-popular post was about the comic strip Piranah Club ending and nobody really knowing what’s going on with Nancy,, and that drew about three hundred page views.

So what was most popular, besides what I just said was? This was:

(The Mary Worth report would definitely have made it to the top five had the month run a little longer.)

It’s the rare month that any of my original long-form pieces are popular. Not sure I’ve had two of my pieces in the top-five since I began summarizing the story comics. But the Kinka Kinks boost is significant; that piece even got four votes in that little five-star rating thing. My typical post gets no votes. Maybe one. I’m not even sure why I have the five-star voting thing, but I see it on other people’s blogs and they always have around 80 votes and 65 likes per post.

So, countries that gave me readers. The United States always sends the most. The United Kingdom sent more than usual, thanks to all that Kinks business. Here’s the whole roster:

Country Readers
United States 2805
United Kingdom 194
Canada 127
India 68
Germany 56
Netherlands 45
Australia 44
Sweden 38
France 19
Philippines 19
Spain 19
Denmark 18
Brazil 17
Serbia 16
Italy 15
Norway 15
Portugal 14
Ireland 10
Mexico 10
Belgium 7
Singapore 7
Turkey 7
Austria 6
Indonesia 6
Venezuela 6
Finland 5
Greece 5
Japan 5
Malaysia 4
New Zealand 4
Romania 4
Slovenia 4
South Africa 4
Switzerland 4
Ukraine 4
Côte d’Ivoire 3
Hong Kong SAR China 3
Pakistan 3
Poland 3
Russia 3
Slovakia 3
Trinidad & Tobago 3
Argentina 2
Belarus 2
Estonia 2
European Union 2
Guyana 2
Hungary 2
Israel 2
Paraguay 2
South Korea 2
Uruguay 2
Bosnia & Herzegovina 1
Colombia 1 (******)
Croatia 1
Cyprus 1
Egypt 1
Gibraltar 1
Honduras 1
Iraq 1
Kuwait 1 (*)
Mauritius 1
Myanmar (Burma) 1(*)
Nepal 1
Panama 1
Puerto Rico 1
Taiwan 1
Thailand 1
Vietnam 1
Zimbabwe 1

This was 70 countries all told, if we just let WordPress decide what is and isn’t a country. 18 of them were single-reader countries. In January there were 72 countries; there were 61 in December. There were 21 single-reader countries in January; 18 in December. Kuwait and Myanmar/Burma were single-reader countries last month. Colombia has been a single-reader country for seven months straight now. I’m curious to see how long that can last.

Oh, yeah, for what people like: 207 things in February, a little below the 226 liked in January. Bit above the 182 things liked in December. Beats last summer’s doldrums, although it’s not really near how much stuff got liked as Apartment 3-G collapsed. (There were around 300 likes sent this way back then.) There were 121 comments in February, down a little from January’s 148, but that’s still a towering pile of reader engagement compared to December’s 59 or, like, last May’s ten.

March started with the blog having gotten 76,999 unique visitors so some lucky person early on Thursday was the 77,000th and I didn’t even know it. There’ve been 42,522 unique visitors as of the WordPress servers’s start of March.

The Insights panel says I’m still averaging two comments per post this year, and seven likes per post. That’s the same as January. To be more precise I’m at 2.3 comments and 6.9 likes per post and I’m not sure how close that is to January’s decimal points. I’ve dropped to an average 711 words per post from January’s 764 and let me tell you I am so enjoying the time saved in thinking of fifty unneeded words per day. I’m at 43,374 total words for the year so far, although that includes yesterday’s long-form piece which did come in at over 711 words.

As traditional I’d like to remind you that I’m @Nebusj on Twitter. You can have Another Blog, Meanwhile sent to you by e-mail using the “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile by e-mail” button at the center-right of the page. You can follow it in your WordPress reader by using the “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile” button at the slightly-higher-center-right of the page. You can’t follow me on Vero because I don’t even know if that’s a thing. I just saw everyone on my Twitter telling me about how the company that runs it is despicable even by the standards of social media companies. I can’t keep up anymore. I’m going try to get the modern world to leave me alone and let me drink my tea.

Statistics Saturday: Lansing, Michigan, Rainfall Distribution For February 2018


Because after all the storm news lately I figured people would like some hard data. Or, hard water data, since again, we drink from the aquifer and so our water is up to 14% Petoskey stones.

February 2018 Day Rain Distribution
1 Downward
2 NO DATA
3 Downward
4 Downward
5 Downward
6 Downward
7 Downward
8 Downward
9 Downward
10 Downward
11 Downward
12 Downward
13 NO DATA
14 NO DATA
15 NO DATA
16 NO DATA
17 NO DATA
18 NO DATA
19 Downward
20 Downward
21 Downward
22 Downward
23 Downward
24
25
26
27
28

Source: Explorations in Mathematical Physics: The Concepts Behind an Elegant Language, Don Koks.

On This Date: November 17, If You Like


765. Date of the historical incident believed to have inspired, in distorted form, the fable of Jack the Giant-Killer, when seven flies were indeed killed in one blow by a giant rampaging through a middle-Uressexshire hamlet. Less famously the incident is also credited with creating the village of Flattstone-Under-Stompenhedge. It’s a little baffling how the story ended up like we know it today. Most historians of legend suspect “political satire around the time of the Commonwealth or Restoration”. But we’ll admit that’s their answer to everything.

797. Kanmu, Emperor of Japan, changes his residence from Nara to Kyoto but the student loan people find him anyway.

1602. Birth of Agnes of Jesus, who’d go on to become a nun in what seems like typecasting but there you go. Sometimes you just know what your course is in life.

1777. The Colonial Congress sends the Articles of Confederation to the British Parliament for ratification in a deliberately-arranged “accident” that both sides fail to use as a chance to apologize and try to come to some reasonable settlement of the whole matter. It ends up making everybody feel eight percent more awkward.

1810. Sweden declares war on the United Kingdom in order to start the Anglo-Swedish War, since it seems like a shame to have such a snappy name for a war and nobody declaring it or anything. The war ends two years later when they notice everyone’s been so happy with the stylish name and the idea of Sweden and the United Kingdom being at war that nobody ever bothered to fight the other side, and that isn’t even my joke.

1858. Day zero of the Modified Julian Day scheme so that’s why your friend who does all this database stuff with dates is staring wistfully out the window and wondering why we have to have a February even today. We do not; we have a February in-between January and March.

1869. The Suez Canal successfully links the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea. Backers fail to reach their stretch goal of connecting the Mediterranean with either the Pacific Ocean, the Baltic Sea at Brunsbüttel, or Albany, New York. But they’re happy with what they did achieve and give out some commemorative coasters.

1933. The United States recognizes the Soviet Union.

1935. The United States recognizes the Soviet Union a second time when Guatemala explains how the two of them used to stand at the window outside the League of Nations building in Geneva staring inside and sometimes putting pickles from the burger stand down the way onto the window to see if they’d freeze in place there.

1946. Last use of a Murphy bed except in a black-and-white sitcom.

1952. Soap magnate Dr Emanual Theodore Bronner, serving his jury duty obligation for the civil court, is asked whether he is familiar with the law regarding trees and shrubs which overhang the property line. Both sides’ attorneys excuse him 36 seconds later. He finishes the first of many extremely considered sentences about the matter in December, and his whole thought about fallen branches by 1954 (estimated).

1961. The United States recognizes the Soviet Union again, but pretends to stumble and have to fiddle with its shoelaces a couple minutes while they pass on the sidewalk.

1973. One of the most successful weight-loss plans of the 70s gets started when Eater’s Digest publishes this compelling bit of reasoning. The reasoning: you can burn off more calories simply by going about your business while wearing weights. But what is fat except excess weight? And, better, weight that you can’t take off even if you want? Therefore simply by walking or standing or breathing or sleeping on your chest you’re burning off excess calories, thereby causing yourself to lose weight on the whole deal. And therefore being fatter is the quickest way to being thinner and, therefore, being overweight doesn’t exist and within two years everybody is.

2015. ‘Bob and Bert’ create the only podcast advertisement ever recorded that makes listening to the podcast sound appealing or desirable or even something other than just a bit of sadness. After the successful advertisement their Wheeler-and-Woolseycast releases one more episode, then misses four months for an unannounced hiatus, returns with a 15 minutes apology and explanation that it’ll be two months before they get back to their twice-a-month-schedule, and then never be heard from again.

Statistics Sunday: February 2017 In Review


OK, and now I should stop wasting time and look over what my readership was for February.

Oh, maybe I don’t want to look at that quite so much. Well, no, it’s all basically fine. Readership was down in February compared to January. But readership was still really high. WordPress tells me there were 1,837 page views from 1,098 distinct visitors in February. In January were there 2,340 page views from 1,361 distinct visitors. And back in December 2016 — remember 2016? — there were a mere 1,396 page views from 818 distinct visitors. In any way you mean to count that, that’s a popular month around here.

And there were 169 likes given around here in February, up from January’s 163 and December’s 137. The number of comments plummeted again, to only 15 from January’s 39, but that was a chatty month. December had 20 comments which is still .. really quite a lot more than February’s, on a percentage basis. I need to get better at writing stuff that invites comments. Or arguments, whatever.

I can come up with excuses for February’s drop. The big one is that February’s a short month. With only 28/31th as many days to get readers, even if I stay as popular, I’ll have fewer readers. But also I suspect that the story strips I reviewed the past month are at fault. Definitely the story strip recaps are the things drawing people in. Of the ten most popular posts in February six were “What’s Going On In” pieces and one of the others was about why Mary Worth looks different. Not part of the series, but kin to it. But the point is that the February strips included things like The Phantom, which is pretty clear about its narrative, or Gasoline Alley, which doesn’t capture people’s ironic and snarky imaginations the way Mary Worth does. Or which hasn’t gotten wildly crazy like Judge Parker or Rex Morgan. Also, these are comic strips that haven’t recently undergone major changes in writing or art or tone or general level of craziness.

This does imply dire things for my readership now that I’ve gone through all the major story strips, but perhaps I’ll just keep it going by going around the circle of story comics again.

For the record the five most popular pieces for February were:

Yes, it drives me crazy that I wasn’t consistent about “What’s Going On In” versus “What’s Going On With” versus, in some essays, “What Is Going On”. Also how is Mark Twain my top author for another month? I don’t know.

It seems likely that this month I’ll record my 50,000th page view around here. That’s neat as this coming week, if I keep to my post-a-day schedule, I’ll record my 1,500th consecutive daily post. WordPress says the most popular day for reading here is Tuesday, with 19 percent of page views. Last month it was also Tuesday but at only 18 percent. It’s always Tuesday for some reason. Midnight’s the most popular hour, but for February it saw 12 percent of page views, rather than the mere eight percent of previous months.

Now the roster of countries and page views, that’s likeable for the reasons:

Country Views
United States 1386
Canada 64
United Kingdom 62
Germany 61
India 55
Australia 32
Philippines 21
France 11
Hong Kong SAR China 9
Italy 8
Norway 8
Singapore 7
Japan 6
Romania 6
Sweden 6
Netherlands 5
South Africa 5
Portugal 4
Spain 4
Brazil 3
Finland 3
Greece 3
Ireland 3
Mexico 3
New Zealand 3
Poland 3
Argentina 2
Bangladesh 2
Belgium 2
Denmark 2
Indonesia 2
Jamaica 2
Kenya 2
Malaysia 2
Moldova 2
Panama 2
Serbia 2
Trinidad & Tobago 2
Ukraine 2
Algeria 1
Barbados 1
Chile 1
Colombia 1
Croatia 1
El Salvador 1
European Union 1(*)
Fiji 1
Hungary 1
Israel 1
Kazakhstan 1
Luxembourg 1
Madagascar 1(*)
Northern Mariana Islands 1
Peru 1
Russia 1(*)
Slovenia 1
South Korea 1
Switzerland 1
Thailand 1
United Arab Emirates 1(**)
Uruguay 1

The European Union, Madagascar, and Russia were single-reader countries last month too. The United Arab Emirates are on a three-month streak. I make out that there were 22 single-reader countries, up from January’s 14 and December’s 18. I also make out that there were 61 countries altogether, so I’m spread out over more of the world than in January (48 countries) and December (42).

There were, it appears, 716 followers by WordPress. Six by e-mail. I’m sure they’re all sending me to the spam bin. It still counts. Interested in being any of them? Go for it: there should be a button to follow the blog on your WordPress device in the upper-right cornere here. There should be one to follow by e-mail just below that, although given that following by e-mail really isn’t a thing maybe I’ll go move that to somewhere less obvious. You can follow on an RSS reader too, if you have one of those, and why don’t we have more of them? RSS is so good at stuff.

So what do you think? Should I go back around to reviewing the story comics and how they’ve updated since I got to them a couple months ago? That might be doable.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped two points as Matthew got a rental car that has one of those key fobs where there’s nothing to put in anywhere to get the car working and he had to spend twenty minutes in the parking lot of the rental place trying to figure out how to get the engine started, and he’s got some harsh words to say to whoever wrote the index to the car’s owner’s manual.

105

Statistics Saturday: February 2017 In Review


1: 11. 2: 10. 3: 1. 4: 1. 5: 1. 6: 1. 7: 1. 8: 1. 9: 1.
You don’t want to know how many times I counted this over in my head while working this out in the shower. OK, it’s a number starting with ‘3’.

Source: Time’s Pendulum: The Quest to Capture Time — From Sundials to Atomic Clocks, Jo Ellen Barnett.

1: 3. 2: 3. 3: 3. 4: 3. 5: 3. 6: 3. 7: 3. 8: 3. 9: 2. 0: 2.
You don’t want to know how many times I counted this over in my head while working this out in the shower. OK, it’s a number ending with ‘3’. Don’t think I didn’t keep going back and forth about whether to put ‘0’ at the start or the end.

Source: Advertising and the Transformation of American Society, 1865 – 1920, James D Norris.

Sunday: 4. Monday: 4. Tuesday: 4. Wednesday: 4. Thursday: 4. Friday: 4. Saturday: 4.
You don’t want to know how many times I counted this over in my head while working this out in the shower. OK, it was ‘1’. But I’m still thinking whether I should have redone this to put a border around the plot like I did above and don’t think that isn’t going to bother you from here on in.

Source: Labor and Capital In 19th Century Baseball, Robert P Gelzheiser.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

Two more points up and we’re still attributing this to the new pens even though we lost one somehow between setting it down on the table and then getting out a pad of paper and sitting at the table and how does that even make sense? Well, still. New pens. And we have them.

107

From The February 2017 Scraps File


As often happens, free to a good home. Text is not guaranteed to be free of mites because, hey, free mites! You know?

I’m rotten at choosing clothes. You can judge that from the slightly pained but amused look on my love’s face when it becomes obvious that once again I’ve dressed myself. If you can’t see my love’s face, I’m sorry that you’re missing such a fine experience. But instead look at any picture of people from the 70s or 80s and identify the person wearing the most regrettable outfit. I’ve worn that as recently as Tuesday. I don’t care. They’re clothes and I’m happy to wear them. — Cut from something or other I was writing about clothes because I realized it was a topic I’d already done a couple time already recently. Warning: this is really only useful by you if you dressed in spectacularly bad fashion in the 70s and 80s and have overcome it by looking at how much my love winces at you today.

The Wikipedia statement: “The Tasmanian rainforest is considered a Gondwanan relic.” — I know, I’ve put this out before, and taken it back in before too. I keep thinking I could do something with this because it’s got so many nice features. I mean, it even has “Gondwana” right there in a prominent, easy-to-notice spot. But then I try tucking it into the middle of a piece and I realize I’ve got nothing. It’s a shame, I tell you. Please especially let me know if you get something going with this.

I was easy to track anyway because I was watching Land of the Lost. — Cut from some piece or other that was getting all autobiographical because I’m still easy to find and for the same reasons. I’m talking about the 70s show because the 90s show was just embarrassing. I mean, they had a treehouse, cool enough, but the also had a truck? How are you supposed to believe they’re roughing it when they’re stomping around a lost, timeless world in a truck? Ooh, they only have the four CDs that happened to be in the glove compartment to listen to? That’s not roughing it, that’s a Kampgrounds of America weekend. Also there’s one episodes where the Sleestak gain the power to turn the dad of the 90s Show family into a turtle. The family turns him back at the end, but there’s never any explanation why the Sleestak can’t do that again, or why the rest of the show isn’t just a constant tug-of-war between the pro-turtle-dad and anti-turtle-dad forces. Maybe it is. I haven’t watched all the episodes. I just think the power to turn dads into turtles is a universe-breaking possibility. We don’t talk about the movie.

Literally. — Trimmed from the follow-up to any joke I’ve made in which I describe what actually is in a silly way. I’m coming to accept that it doesn’t make the joke better if I dare people to go check that I did my research and things really are like that. It also doesn’t help if I want to remind them that I did some clever bit of wordplay, like the way I used “fashion” in explaining the first clip up there. See? You maybe were faintly amused without knowing why when you ran across it, and now that I’ve gone and emphasized it, you like me as a person less. Maybe you even like the concept of me less. I should cut this entire paragraph except then I have to put this paragraph back in the scraps file lest I break the rules of blog-scrap-file sharing!

An earnest young woman who starts out by declaring that you’re all lesbians, and did revelation that blow your mind? No? Maybe you didn’t hear it enough. Is your mind blown now? Perhaps if she restates her thesis and supports it with how she and her girlfriends will go to movies. In short, lesbians. — Cut from open-mike night because they had too many people signed up and as she was ready to go on stage someone from the Chinese restaurant next door came over with a basket of eggrolls and passed them out because that’s just the sort of thing that happens, somehow, as if that were perfectly normal? Weird.

Pardon me, please. — Cut from every time this past month I said “pardon me, please” to someone I was trying to get around, apparently, based on how I couldn’t politely get around someone and instead had to plough zamboni-like through them. I don’t know, maybe it was just a bad February or something. Don’t mind me.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose like thirteen percent today and don’t think we aren’t all pleased as punch about that. We mean Fanta Zero Fruit Punch flavor from the Freestyle Coke machine that the person in line ahead of us at Wendy’s took way too long to understand.

103

Where Things Stand At The Start Of The Month (March)


First, we got a lot of snow in on Thursday. Over the weekend, under temperatures of as much as 125 degrees (avoirdupois) it melted. Every bit of it, except for those mounds of neutron snow in the parking lots and right where the garbage bin goes for collection. But those are special cases, because those mounds of snow are fortified and will last through to August anyway. If we limit ourselves to the normal snow made of the melting kind of snow, it all melted by yesterday. Today, it snowed. I feel like we’re not getting anywhere. I took one of those giant coffee mugs, the kind you get at slightly hipster coffee shops, and filled it with miso soup and set it out for the ice phoenix, since it’s been frolicking up something fierce for a storm like this to happen.

Not only did nobody recklessly speak of the “ides of February” as though they might be the 15th of the month, but nobody even brought up the question about whether Leap Day is actually the 29th of February. So I couldn’t go on a big tear about how it might technically be the 25th of February unless you’re from certain countries formerly ruled by the United Kingdom in which case it’s totally the 29th. What’s the fun in that?

I have still not read about the history of socks.

I need a shovel.

Leapt Day


Ah, the 29th of February. Without it February can totally fit into exactly four neat little rows of the calendar. Not often. It did in 1981, exciting the young me. Otherwise it takes five rows of the calendar without quite filling them, the way most months do most of the time. And isn’t that boring? But then sometimes it’s a leap day and that extra day means February can’t fit in four weeks no matter what. Like in 1976 or, if you want to start the week on Monday, 1988. That extra day spoils this wonderful compact four-row thing that February could have going for it. And doesn’t February need more things going for it? Yes, certainly it does.

What I’m saying is that in middle school I couldn’t get the Dungeon and Dragons clique to play with me. Or even acknowledge my existence. It’s possible there wasn’t even one, just so they could be sure I wouldn’t show up and bring stuff like this to them. Ay me.

Idele Talk


Looks like we’re going to reach the 15th of yet another February without anybody casually mentioning it as “the ides of February” around me. And so I won’t be able to snap in and say “Ha! The ides are not the 15th of February! The ideas are the 15th of the month only on months that originally had 31 days. For months that started with 29 days — all the ones that now have 30 days, plus February — the ides are on the 13th of the month! We passed the ides of February two days ago and you never even knew it!” And then nobody’s going to have the chance to sidle off, brisky, turning to fleeing when I explain that this strange pattern of when the ides fall in months is due to the Romans really not knowing what they were doing when they made their calendar. I might even have tossed in a bit about how you can see their efforts to fit together lunar and solar calendar schedules with the otherwise inexplicable placing of January 1st where it actually is. Or how they’d sometimes jam a whole extra month in between the 24th and 25th of February.

Tch. What’s the point of knowing stuff like this if all you do is have a deeper appreciation for the wonders of mundanities like “the 13th or 15th of the month”, and don’t even get to overhear people making perfectly idle chatter and jump on them for not knowing trivia?

Statistics Saturday: 2015, Compared To Projections, Update


Completed to date: 151 days. Planned for this date: 151 days. Planned for the year: 365 days.
How 2015 is progressing compared to projections for this point.

The good news is we’ve made a lot of progress since February! And that’s about all I have to say for that.

Statistics Saturday on a Tuesday: February 2015’s Readership


And now for the most popular thing that I write and the inspiration for the Statistics Saturday posts: listing countries that sent me a noticeable number of readers in February 2015. The United States sent me the most, at 888, which intrigues me since the United States sent my mathematics blog 555. I have to wonder if the guy entering numbers into the WordPress statistics page couldn’t be bothered to move his finger to a different digit. He must have, I guess; Canada sent 43 readers, and Australia 32, which are still some pretty easy numbers to enter. Germany gave me 25 readers.

Sending me a single reader each were a bunch of countries: Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Iraq, Isle of Man, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkey, Venezuela, and Vietnam. Repeats from January were Isle of Man and Turkey, and nothing’s got a three-month streak going. My readership in India dropped from nine down to four, which drew my eye to notice that WordPress claimed I had four readers from the European Union, even though it also lists readers from countries that are part of the European Union, like the ten in Italy or the three in Austria. I don’t know what’s going on there.

The number of page views has continued its slight downward trend — from 1,251 in December to 1,071 in January to 1,046 in February. But I just have to cling to how February is such a short month that per-day things are looking pretty good: after 34.55 views per day in January, the average rose to 37.36 in February. That’s down still from December’s 40.35 but what am I going to do about that, write more popular stuff and market myself more effectively or something? Anyway, the month starts out with 14,628 total views of pages here, and this is five months in a row that there’ve been a thousand-plus views. I do like all that.

The number of viewers dropped — 626 in December, 553 in January, 505 in February. That’s also something where the shortness of February worked against me since January averaged 17.84 visitors per day and February 18.04. And yeah, December gets all smug about its 20.19, until it remembers how October (when I accidentally riled up a Kinks fan site) brought in 28.87. Anyway, thew views per visitor in February were 2.07, higher but probably not significantly higher than January’s 2.01 and December’s 2.00.

Something WordPress’s new statistics page does offer and that I like are that it lets me see how many comments and likes I got. In February there were 99 comments, up from 93 in January. And there were 345 likes, down from January’s 382, but there the shortness of the month doesn’t excuse anything. Sorry.

The most popular articles in February were:

  1. Wizardless, describing my failure at pinball league one night. By the way, I did see the Michigan state pinball championships that weekend, although I didn’t play in them, what with my not being good enough, as see the end of the previous sentence.
  2. What Came First? Plus, The Usual, in which I ponder something about the world of Funky Winkerbean not directly related to how the comic strip’s author, Tom Batiuk, hates his characters and his readers.
  3. A Grain Of Solace, in which my peaceful acceptance of not knowing how to pronounce “quinoa” was disrupted.
  4. Statistics Saturday: 2015, To Date, a pie chart of surprising popularity.
  5. And The Golden Moment, wherein the “quinoa” thread spun off to my discovering the location of the transcontinental railroad’s Golden Spike was a difficult and debatable mystery.
  6. Really, Though, Comic Strip _Momma_ Going Quite Mad, with three examples. Also there’s a picture of our pet rabbit.

What You Need To Know To Understand February 21


Today is Friday, February 21, unless you are reading this on the wrong day. Go back and re-wind your calendar if this has happened. It is the 52nd day of the year, which is why most people don’t think it worth gathering in monstrously huge crowds in Times Square to ring the day in, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still a pretty good day if it’s your birthday or if you’re celebrating the birth of John Rawls or something.

This date is observed as Washington’s Birthday by people who never reset their computer’s time zone from that visit to New Zealand and who haven’t noticed that they’re running a day ahead of their friends because they don’t vary their daily ritual nearly enough.

The Moon is now six days past full. It should be sniffed and passed to a trusted friend to “smell this and tell me if it’s funny” before being drunk. Funny in this case means peculiar as only the minor planets smell funny ha-ha. The moon should be spotted around dawn with Saturn to its left, and Mars and Spica to the right, but do not point. Jupiter may be seen after sunset, but do call ahead as it must finish its chores before it is allowed out. Capella will be passing overhead, which should not be a matter of concern, as it rarely spits and you can’t stop it anyway. Arcturus will be rising in the sky for what it insists is the last time eve as you keep taking it for granted; pay no attention. It does this every year at about this time, and it almost always comes back, since we started keeping the folder of Arcturian understudies in a prominent location.

People born on this day include singer Mary Chapin Carpenter, astronauts Mark Kelly and Scott Kelly, and the Bavarian politician Franz Xaver Josef von Unertl, although not all of them on the same day. Persons not born on this day include cartoonist Cathy Guisewite, actor Lucille Ball, city namesake Jim Thorpe, and 19th century superclown Dan Rice. Such is the balance of all things.

The day was celebrated as Feralia in ancient Rome, in order to celebrate the Manes, which marked the end of Parentalia, which doesn’t seem to be getting us anywhere and is the sort of thing the ancient Romans were all busy about when they weren’t occupied with destroying Carthage. The festivities included arranging wreaths, sprinklings of grain and salt, and scattering bread soaked in wine and violets, although if you mixed up the orders of things it wouldn’t seem out of place. You could sprinkle bread soaked in salt and wreaths or arrange some violets and grain and not seem too out of place, which should be valuable if you find yourself in ancient Rome on the time of Feralia Parentalia Manes, which is a pretty catchy name all told.

February 21st is Language Movement Day in Bangladesh, which is why your friends in Dhaka and Chittagong have called to ask if you’ll help Bengali move its fold-out couch up three flights of stairs. Be tactful in making excuses. On learning how it connects to Bangladesh’s national identity and independence from Pakistan we feel a little bad even making that joke, and it isn’t much of a joke. It’s more kind of a “huh” followed by shrugging.

On this date in 1972 the International Atomic Energy Agency Verified that Canada was making peaceful use of nuclear power in Ontario, but we can’t help noticing that it didn’t say a word about what they’re up to in New Brunswick. Meanwhile in 1881 Winnipeg’s telephone system was sold to Bell Telephone, if you were worried about that.

On this date in 1992 the Internet ran out of IPv3 addresses, which were never in use but which were kept around just in case they could be useful sometime. The last block of addresses was used to prop the vegetable crisper up in the refrigerator so that it didn’t slip out of the tracks quite so easily. It did anyway. Several IPv3 addresses are kept as curios, but the bulk were harvested for their valuable horns, which were ground up to make a folk remedy for slow DSL connections.

Cool Comparisons


I told our pet rabbit I’d try doing something about the cold, and I did, what with making many snarky comments about it online. I didn’t have any better ideas. But there has been progress: yesterday and today it got above freezing, enough that some mysterious force is going around and making the icicles all melt so our house looks less like it’s trapped inside some snow-monster’s maw, and just this morning I saw some bizarre municipal truck with this kind of curved metal wedge running back and forth on our street and shoving snow and ice out of the path of the road. No idea what that’s supposed to be.

Meanwhile I’ve found historical data showing that it really has been harsh, but far from the worst on record. The winter of 2007-08, it turns out, saw an accumulated snowfall of nearly seventy inches, and that after the month of February was cancelled due to terrible road conditions keeping it out of the mid-Michigan area. In 1975-76, snowfall totals were high enough that the National Weather Service ran out of numbers and started measuring in terms of letters and, by the end of March, triangles and little cartoon clouds. And the worst mid-Michigan winter in history, 1880-81, saw so much snow as a result of a second winter actually sneaking in during January, in the middle of the first winter, and tossing its pile of snow around and mostly down.

Our rabbit says he’s having none of this, thank you.