Blogging the Void

Blogging the Void

Been a while, alligators. I’ve been super busy with stuff so it’s been kinda hard to get to this blog. But whatevs. Things are pretty good. Not much to report. I made some kickass burgers on the grill last night. I fell asleep on the couch after a few beers so I’m not feeling optimal today, if you know what I mean.

I think I’m going to start blogging like this (above) from now on. I’d probably write a lot more frequently and I’m pretty sure I’d have more readers. I couldn’t have many fewer.

Not too long ago I became aware of the “stats” feature that my blog hosting service offers. This would be helpful, I thought. So I spent some time analyzing the site traffic and crunching the numbers. I decided two things. One, I might be better off beginning each blog:

Dear Sanjay, Meghan, Denise, Lizzie, Monique, Charles and Elizabeth, The dogs jumped through ANOTHER window screen last night…etc. (Why not go with a personal touch if you can?)

And, two, I should look for a job. So I searched some job sites, acrunched some more numbers, and ultimately decided it wouldn’t be good for my self-esteem to pay a nanny more than I was making at Barnes&Noble. Nor would it make good business sense. So I decided I’d do something that did make sense: I’d dismantle and put back together the playhouse in our backyard. I was hoping to have it done for a ‘before and after’ photo montage on the blog but it’s been three weeks and Sanjay, Meghan, Denise, Lizzie, Monique, Charles and Elizabeth (you guys) are probably getting a little impatient. So, here are the “before” and “almost after” pics…

Anyway, back to the “stats”…. Another fun feature with WordPress is it allows me to see how people end up at my blog, either through Facebook or a Google search or whatever. So, another way of looking at it is, probably at least half of the hits are the result of someone looking for something else. One wayward soul happened upon my blog after doing a Google search for “are groundhogs poisonous?”
Another person typed into Google: “bad dogs vomit dad bendaroos”. I’m proud to say that I think this person found what they were looking for.

In fact, most of the visitors who weren’t looking for my sister were looking for dog information. It made me realize that I’ve spent far too much time on my blog talking about my dumb dogs. As a stay-at-home dad blog, such dog talk is pretty off topic. But then a second thing occurred to me: I would probably get even less traffic if I wrote about my kids. The internet and animals were made for each other. Animals predate the internet by quite a few years but it’s a fact that people didn’t really care about animals and the funny things they did until Al Gore uploaded that first black and white video of his dog chasing its tail.

I felt like I needed my ‘come to Jesus’ moment. So I did some soul searching. I didn’t come up with anything so I did some Google searching. I remembered that youtube displays the number of ‘views’ on each of its videos. So, feeling masochistic, I went there.

To date, the “Awsome Cat” (sic) youtube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=qs3HBZC-AY8&NR=1_) has tallied 11,644,877 with a misspelled title and bad video footage of a cat standing on its back legs for thirty seconds. After a fifth viewing, I started to wonder why it’s gotten only 11 million views. Then, just to see how well youtube had this ‘funny animal’ thing wrapped up, I typed in the first thing that came to my head. As of 10am August 28th, the “farting chipmunk” video has been viewed 12,980 times. But that’s just the first one that popped up. There are about a hundred farting chipmunk videos. Some are actual commercials –Cippi the Farting Chipmunk selling cell phone service in Europe (I’m assuming it’s Europe). Another one in the farting chipmunk milieu, titled “farting chipmunk”, has summoned a respectable 1,150 views (roughly 500 more views in total that I’ve garnered for my blog) with just fifteen seconds of a girl talking –and making a fart noise—like a chipmunk might before her mom yells at her to come to dinner.

Here, for your viewing pleasure…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NBtScE4Gls (when her ‘view’ numbers spike to 1,156 after the publishing of this post, she’ll thank me)

So, in conclusion, everything’s been done. The farting chipmunk market, in particular, feels saturated.

I was getting down about all this. Feeling lost and vulnerable and all that. And then I realized… I’m not a victim in all this. I can submit my own videos to youtube and watch my views soar to heights I never dreamed possible.

As of 11am August 28th (yeah, it’s taken me an hour to write three small paragraphs –that’s part of the problem), my “dog sleeping funny” video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ja7RmpaYPU8&feature=youtube_gdata_player) has amassed 1 view. It’s OK, it’s to be expected. It’s very new and there’s stiff competition out there, particularly from cut2cut’s video, “The most funny dog sleeping EVER!!!” Seems unlikely that this one will lose its top spot anytime soon –although, having watched it a few times now, the title does feel a little hasty and presumptive.

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyryv7uJnLs&feature=related) But it is demoralizing when “Siberian Husky Sleeping Funny” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShYOtEzZcDM&feature=fvwrel) gets 3,778 views doing the same thing Greeley’s doing but without the tongue sticking out.

So, the long and short of it (just long really) is that until Greeley starts sleeping a lot funnier, I should stick with writing to get the attention I so deeply crave. I need to settle down and, as my dad stopped saying when he got sober, dance with who brung me. My blog is about being a stay-at-home dad. I’m a stay-at-home dad. That’s what I am. That’s my thing. That’s what I set out to write about. Not dogs. Not chipmunks. Not websites more popular than mine. I just need to write what I know.

So I did a Google search to see what other stay-at-home dads were writing about.

It was a terrible idea. There are about a thousand stay-at-home dad blogs out there. I don’t know what kind of traffic they get but I don’t really care either. It’s not the point.

Point is, I had ONE thing. ONE. Its not that I thought I was the only stay-at-home dad out there. Brooklyn is full of them. But stay-at-home dad in the suburbs…with three kids…two bad dogs…a lizard…masculinity issues…I don’t know…I thought I had something there.

Truth is, it’s damn hard to carve out a place to call your own in this dog-eat-dog, cats-standing-on-two-feet world.

It all reminded me of a news item on NPR I half-listened to a while back. They were discussing the rapid destruction of a particular forest somewhere in northern California. They brought an entomologist on to discuss the plight of some of the native inhabitants, including the Mongolian red-backed riffle beetle (or something that sounded like that). At one point this nervous entomologist was asked about the dangers these beetles faced and he said it’s really the larvae that grow under the bark of these trees that are the most vulnerable. Then, when asked a follow-up question about the larvae, the entomologist stammered a bit and told the interviewer that his domain was really that of the adult Mongolian red-backed riffle beetle. And that was it for the entomologist.

Imagine the young entomologist coming up through the ranks, working hard, ready to stake his claim on a bug. The good bugs –praying mantis, stick bug, stinkbug—are taken, of course. So he narrows his search. Tiger moth is an interesting… no way, taken. Narrow Winged Damselfly is a pretty obscure… nope. A professor in Berlin got himself a chair at the university with his work on the Narrow Winged Damselfly. Broad Winged Damselfly? Not so fast, mister. So, what’s left? He asks. No one’s done much with the Mongolian red-backed riffle beetle he learns. So there it is. He works his whole life, estranging his wife and kids, so that he can someday become THE GUY they call when the Mongolian red-backed riffle beetle makes the news. Then one day, old and having all but given up on his moment in the spotlight, it happens… the Mongolian red-backed riffle beetle’s habitat is getting destroyed! He gets the call. He’s on the air! It’s going great…until…they ask about the larvae.

Meanwhile, at the NPR producer’s desk, there’s shouting…Get me the goddamn larva guy! Who booked this loser? Dammit!

Moments later, at Wayne State University in Wayne, Nebraska, in Entomology Lab 11B, young, handsome Thaddeus Blackwell, the newly minted expert on the Mongolian red-backed riffle beetle larvae sits at his desk arranging his collection labels. The phone rings. He answers. He rises from his desk, silent, drops the phone and raises his arms in the air. It’s happening.

By the way, the dogs really did jump through another screen last night. They were out all night and could barely walk went I let them in this morning. One of these nights, I really hope they find a poisonous groundhog.

Comments

  1. BEN – DON’T…..GET….A…JOB…….don’t do it.

    If you want to drive traffic to your blog, may I recommend porn? You will have to drop the whole kid theme, of course. And, probably the pet theme, at least for my taste. De gustibus non est disputandum kind of thing, though (that gives you something to search I guess).

  2. I’m more than a little peeved that I didn’t get included in the salutation (but I will keep reading). I too am hoping you stick with the blog (though I might pay **NOT** to see you engage in porn).

  3. Sorry, Pete. You deserve more than this.
    About how much would you say you’d pay me not to send you pictures of me naked?
    (this could actually be a fruitful business venture –contact friends and family and ask them how much it’s worth to them to not get pictures of you naked…I like it)

    Sanjay, I googled your latin phrase. My four years of latin in HS apparently weren’t enough to crack that one. I was sort of hoping it was porn related.

  4. Let’s just get one thing straight, er clear…I wasn’t suggesting a change in the blog’s theme out a personal interest. I was merely suggesting a way to drive up traffic on the site. Personally, I like stories about suburban family life, and if you can work in some more dancing cats, that would be a bonus.

  5. Constance says:

    And how about me?! Where’s my personal touch?!

    Keep writing B. . We, the misunderstood, under represented neurotic narcissists exiled to the too-cool burbs need you! Well, at least, I do.
    C

  6. Constance says:

    PS- no descent adult pays for porn anymore. Like Whole Foods, the free samples are satisfying enough if you show up not too hungry.

  7. I hope people notice that is in face ME hard at work on the playhouse in that picture.

    • That was the first thing I noticed! Good news is that Ben’s readership just went up by 14%.

    • I noticed, but I thought that Ben must have skilfully put you there for two seconds so that people would get the scale of the playhouse and realise it wasn’t your actual house. That’s what it was really, Kate.

  8. Dont give up Ben- keep livin’ the dream and keep on keepin’ on Brady Bunch style. Ps if you stare at the word “keep” for a while it looks really odd and then I think almost misspelled!?? Pss don’t forget to get the Brady bunch DVDs for the kids. Or maybe you borrowed one from our dvd box you kindly sent us?

  9. This comment could have as its title – what Ben has in common with Barack Obama…. It’s funny – before your blog I’d not really heard the phrase stay at home dad or at least had not clocked it as a phrase that was used widely. But in this morning’s Times there is a headline, following Michelle Obama’s brilliant speech, “Girls enjoy quiet night in with dad and the TV” and a pic of Barack with his arms round the two girls.

    The article starts, ” While his wife was out working late, the Commander-in-Chief was playing stay-at-home dad.”

    The other usage I’d not really clocked is mum-in-chief – used by Michelle. Why mum in chief? What’s wrong with “mum”? Are there other mums vying for position? I suppose there are come to think of it in a lot of families….

  10. I loved seeing my name in “almost print” or whatever it is we call digital publication. I am at my third writers’ conference in three months, and you, Ben, have given me the most “ink.” By the way, I want a Wendy house like yours for my grandkids.

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