Thursday, October 05, 2017

COLUMN: Blog Stats 4

There are lots of ways to take an effective barometer reading of just how crazy the world is at any given time. You could peruse the news in this very paper. Some believe all you have to do is follow the president on Twitter. Me? I just have to check my blog.

Lurking in an inconspicuous back alley of the internet is For the most part, I just use my blog to house all of my columns in one convenient place, for those times when you absolutely need to binge-read the weekly ramblings of a middle-aged nerd. But there's another reason why I've kept my blog online all these years.

I have a stat tracker attached to my blog. I installed it more than a decade ago just so I could see how many people visit, which columns attract the most readers, etc. I also can see what country my visitors are from. (I'm quite popular in Italy for some reason. Ciao!) I can see which websites referred the most visitors my way.

But most important, I can see what search phrases lured people to my blog. Let's say you hopped on Google and did a search for, I don't know, "POOP COFFEE." At some point, I might have written columns that contain the words "poop" and "coffee." If I had, and if you were to keep scrolling through your Google search results, you might very well reach a link to my blog at some point. And whenever someone gets to my blog via a Google search, my stat tracker tells me what that person was searching for. And seeing what people search for is nothing less than a front-row seat to Crazytown.

Want to guess what the most-searched phrase that's brought people to my blog is? That's right, it's "POOP COFFEE."

I suppose this merits a bit of an explanation. About a decade ago, I wrote a brief column about the culinary delicacy known as kopi luwak. It's a rare and expensive blend of coffee from Sumatra. You see, in Sumatra, there's an animal called a civet (imagine if a cat and a weasel had a clandestine tryst, and you'd be close). Well, some Sumatran civets have a taste for coffee beans. The beans go in; nature takes its course; and the beans come out. Then, locals pick up the droppings, roast them, and sell them to bohemian idiots willing to pay upwards of $200 per bag for what is essentially dried civet poop.

Experts say it tastes amazing, although I'm generally inclined to distrust anyone who is an expert at drinking poop.

The second most-searched phrase that leads folks to my blog is "KATIE HOLMES," and I'm perfectly OK with that, given the fact I'm in love with her. Maybe one day she'll reach a point of insecurity in her career, and in a fit of despondency, she will Google her own name. When that day comes, there my blog will be, where I've professed my undying love for her on multiple occasions.

That's when Katie Holmes will have to make the ultimate decision: Stay in Hollywood with her millions of dollars, Tom Cruise's baby and purported boyfriend, Jamie Foxx? Or pack it all in to experience the love only a middle-aged, fat, newspaper columnist from Illinois can offer? Until then, I'll leave a dresser drawer open for her things.

Beyond those popular searches lies a vast smorgasbord of crazy. These are actual Google searches that have somehow brought people to my blog during the past 12 months:

— "WHAT TO DO FOR ITCHY KIDNEYS": Stepping away from the computer and heading for a doctor might be a good start. My general rule of thumb is that, when your internal organs start to itch, you're probably past the "Hi Google" stage of curiosity.

— "HOW MUCH CHOCOLATE DOES IT TAKE TO KILL YOU?": Based on my annual Halloween intake, I'm going to say a lot. I'm still here, so that says something.

— "BEST NICKELBACK SONGS": Finally, something I can help with. With absolute certainty, the best Nickelback songs are the two seconds of silence between each track on their albums.

— "APPLESAUCE IN MY PANTS": My blog might not be famous. My blog might not generate a ton of traffic. But it's good to know my blog has landed the attention of the coveted applesauce-pervert demographic. Success!

I guess all I can do is keep writing, keep blogging and keep saying "POOP COFFEE" as many times as possible to keep the weirdos coming by for a visit.

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