300th Blog Post!

This is my 300th post on this blog! I will therefore do the very self-indulgent thing and do some personal reflection. Of course this whole blog is self-indulgent, as I think most blogs are, so we’re right on theme.

I am extremely pleased with having gotten to 300 blog posts. That wasn’t a particular goal or anything, but I like to think it shows some commitment. There have been ups and downs. I think for a while when I first started I was shooting for two blog posts a week, but that was unsustainable. I just wasn’t doing enough stuff. Once a week, however, I think is the perfect amount. It is regular enough to keep you honest but not too much that it is a burden. I chose to publish on Sundays because I read a lot of other blogs and not many publish on Sunday so I figured I would have a bit of a niche. Plus it gives me most of the weekend to scramble to publish something (I like to publish at noon). But even after settling on once a week there were some long stretches there where I didn’t write anything but now I am pretty dedicated to it and that feels like a good thing.

In my memory, the main reason I started a blog was as a creative outlet. At some point during my time at the Naval Academy I discovered that I needed some sort of creative outlet to keep myself from going crazy. Just doing schoolwork all the time didn’t work for me. Back then my creative outlet was writing for The LOG. But reviewing my aptly-named First Blog Post, I told the world my primary reason for writing this blog was to push myself to go out and do things and look at places. I think I have been pretty successful on both fronts. This blog gives me a way to put something out into the world, even if no one reads it except for my super amazing girlfriend, and it has definitely pushed me to go out and do activities I wouldn’t necessarily otherwise have done because getting blog material was the reason I needed to push myself out of inactivity. So that’s great!

In each of these posts I shoot to write about 750 words. This number comes mostly from the site 750Words, which I used to use. They explain that 750 words is about three pages of hand-written paper, which is what you are supposed to write everyday to become a better writer, or at least get in the habit of writing. I think I also read somewhere that 750 words is about the ideal blog post length because people will read it, or something. It hasn’t catapulted me to the top of the SEO ranks, I can tell you that (except for some very particular and very obscure topics), but still that’s what I go for, though some posts fall far short and some posts far exceed that goal. I explain all that to say, if I am somewhere near my goal of 750 words on average, and I have 300 posts, then that is over 200,000 words, which is a book! A book! I effectively wrote a book! A very disjointed book that will require a lot of editing but a book nonetheless! That’s pretty cool and I am proud of that.

In order to celebrate my 300th post, I’ve mostly done some backend stuff I have been meaning to do for a while. A big thing I did is go through and make sure every post had a picture (except for the very first one, just to be idiosyncratic). Some of these posts maybe didn’t need pictures but I added one for consistency’s sake. I have also fixed some errors I had been meaning to for a while, but since some posts needed it more than others and 300 posts (well 299 besides this one) is a lot to go through not every post got gone over with a fine-toothed comb. Nonetheless, there were some glaring errors that I have now corrected. There were other, minor things that were only for me like removing some pictures I had double-uploaded. Turns out editing a blog on your phone in a mud hut in Zambia is not the most technologically smoothest thing to do and will create some errors. But those are now fixed!

However I think for the average reader of this blog the most significant update is that every post is now in one or more categories. This is handy because it makes it possible to group say, all my London Missionary Society (or Chronicle thereof) posts in one place, or link together all my posts from travel to a particular spot like the DRC or Guatemala. I had meant to do this for a while but as the number of blog posts pile up it just gets to be a more and more monumental task but now I have tackled it and only hope that I remember to keep categorizing posts going forward. Here’s to hoping.

How I have I changed over the course of this blog? My life has changed a lot, that’s for sure. In my first blog post I was still in the Navy, and then I had a whole Peace Corps and then Grad School experience, and now I am back out into the “real” world doing a job. I have also met the most fantastic person in the world, my super amazing girlfriend. But most of that would have happened without the blog I think. As for blog-induced change, I have definitely developed more of a “voice,” as I said I hoped to do in my first blog post. Sometimes this has been a hindrance. In a blog post I will simply link to something as way of explanation but when I was in grad school this technique did not work in term papers and I had to adjust. And sometimes I worry when I am out and about in places I am spending time mentally writing a potential post instead of taking in all the beauty. But at the same time thinking about a blog post makes me think about the narrative of a place I am visiting and to be able to reflect and articulate what is significant about that story. So maybe pros and cons there.

I guess it’s not a great conclusion but moving forward I don’t think this blog will change much. By far my most well-read blog posts are the one about Joe Biden’s ties (I found it linked by a Russian blog for reasons that are inscrutable to me, and sometimes I wonder if people are searching for metaphorical ties and find my post about real ones) and the one where I mentioned a strip club on Saipan (as I linked to before in this very post). One move would be to chase these successes but I don’t think that is the direction I want to travel. I will instead continue to focus on obscure interests (that so far evidence shows interest only me) and the many many many more adventures I plan to have with my super amazing girlfriend. To any and all of you who read this blog thanks for coming along with me. Hopefully someday I will in fact write that real book and then when I become a rich and successful author people will all flock to this blog but you will be able to say to yourself that you were there the whole time, reading as he invented cool new KitchenAid attachments or looked at some dirt.

Thanks for reading!

-Pat

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