Sunday, February 26, 2006

Return of the "Jedis"

Sibling Rivalry

As of next week, it will be 9 months since I started this blog. Based on the standard gestational period, I should be about ready to give birth.

I mention this as a curiosity: what is it that happened around May and June of last year that led to so many pregnancies??? Is it just me, or have others noticed this as well? It seems that just about everyone I know that could have become pregnant last year, did: and most of them did so about nine months ago (more or less). Seriously ... besides two sister-in-laws (Cleia and Tatiana) there are several friends and women that I know from work. Also, among the handful of bloggers that I read regularly, there is one whose wife just had a kid , and another whose wife is about to. This isn't a local phenomenon: these people are from Brazil, the US, and Canada.

Is the fact that I started blogging nine months ago a coincidence, or could whatever cosmic worldwide phenomenon that inspired me to blog be related to whatever inspired this spate of fecundity? It doesn't seem likely ... and yet ... I am intrigued. The only event that comes to mind as "inspirational" on an international scale from that period last year was the launch of "Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith".

Anyway ... enough idle speculation ... back to my blog. Nine months of development ... although it's often been slow going, and there have been a few major lacunas in the progression. I never intended to be a "blogger", actually, getting into that whole "blog culture" thing. I saw it originally ... and still do, in a certain way ... as an exercise in self discipline, and as an incentive to write, and to practice writing, which is something I love doing.

Although I would like to write (post) more frequently, I try not to pressure myself too much on that count: life has enough obligations without my turning leisure into a source of stress. I look at the blog as a way to practice writing: keep me thinking in English, have a little feedback (mostly from patient family members!), and get into the spirit of writing. I hope that doesn't sound too pretentious. I hope occasionally that something I write is worthy of being read!

Besides writing, the other main purpose behind the blog was to keep in touch with family members. Indeed, the name of the domain "Gramlingville" arose when I first created the image gallery: the idea was to create a space in which everyone in my family could access and create their own "subgalleries" ... and have a place to post their own pictures. That idea wasn't exactly received with overwhelming enthusiasm; but, to be fair, I never really prepared the gallery adequately to that end, and never effectively advertised it to those who may have taken an interest had I stuffed it down their throat (you know who you are!).

So back to my point: I've been blogging for 9 months, but in the few posts I did make over the last two months, I spent more time making excuses for not posting than actually writing anything of substance. In that period, I strayed away from the world of blogs almost entirely: only occasionally did I read other people's blogs, and I basically stopped looking at my site statistics. The few times I did check stats, it corroborated what I imagined would happen-- little by little, the few "regular readers" that I did have, gradually disappeared. Not that there were many to begin with, but, other than the family members (who receive update notices), and the few who posted regularly, there were an anonymous few (maybe three or four) who regularly checked my blog for updates.

I don't know who these people were: but I do know that they were people who stumbled across my site due to the incredible world of search engines. My site is crawled several times a week by the Googlebot, Inktomi Slurp (yahoo), and MSNbot search bots. It is also scanned less regularly by several unknown crawlers and bots, and some lesser known search engines (AskJeeves, Gigabot).

Anyone who has their own site to run will know that one of the most entertaining aspects of analyzing server statistics is looking at search engine terms that were used to find your site. They range from funny, to interesting, to downright scary. To those of you who do not know this, be warned: if you use google or any other search engine to find a site, those responsible for the site you visit can see exactly what you searched for; they won't necessarily know who you are, but they can see where you are from, what your "IP" address is, and who your service provider is. A determined law enforcement agency can track you down!

This brings me (finally) to the point of this post. My site is by no means "popular" in the internet sense of popular: just about anything you can search for will bring up a number of hits with a higher rank than any of my pages. Usually the hits I do get come from strange combinations of search terms, or very determined searchers (the kind that keep hitting "next page" on google until they find what they want). As such, I was surprised to find that, starting sometime back in November, I was getting a considerable quantity of hits from ... most of them referring to this image (which is from my "Jedi Kids" post).

This image was from James' 10th birthday: I had edited the image with Photoshop, adding some lightsabres and effects.

Remember that, for me, a "considerable quantity" of hits means anything above 1 or 2. I've been getting anywhere from 5 to 10 hits per day from distinct IP addresses steadily over the last three months for this one particular image alone. By my standards, that's a lot!

And to what do I owe this (ahem) "popularity"? That's the curious (and possibly embarassing) thing-- as it happens, 99% of the searches that turn up this image used the following, simple, one-word search term: "jedis". If you go to and type "jedis", my "jedis" picture is the fifth-ranked image. (If you type "jedi kids" it is the first ranked image ... but this search term only appeared a couple of times).

Any of you who are reasonably "star wars" saavy will know what makes this ironic and slightly embarassing: that is, the word "jedis" doesn't exist-- the plural of jedi is "jedi". I suppose not everyone knows that, which is why I get so many hits on the word jedis. At the same time, I'm not sure exactly what possessed me to name this image "my-jedis-lg.jpg". I'm quite sure that I knew that the plural of jedi was not jedis, but for some reason, I typed "My Jedis" as name of the pic. I think that can only be because, had I typed "My Jedi" as name of a picture that shows 9 kids, it would have seemed strange... somehow ambiguous. This wasn't a conscious decision as far as I can recall: it just popped out naturally (sublimnally).

So ... here is an experiment: today I am posting two new pictures with the word "jedis" in the name. I want to see how long it will take for them to appear in the search engines, and to start receiving hits. Just out of curiosity. If anyone is interested, I can post instructions as to how to make your own "jedi / jedis" images with photoshop: it's pretty easy.

Here are a few other search terms that turn up highly ranked pictures from (each of these have appeared in searches more than once from ; consider it a scavenger hunt!):

"relaxing moments"

"alien life form"

"nobody told me"

"brazilian churrasco"

"winter in brazil"

"brazil sightseeing hike"


At March 01, 2006 11:41 AM, Mark said...

Jim, it's been nice seeing entries here again. And, of course I want to know how to add those cool light sabers to my pictures! Photoshop is primed and ready for my input.

Excellent work on the composite, by the way.

Some of the search terms that hit my blog are hilarious, too. "momma dogface in the banana patch" or "momma dogface to the banana patch" has garnered several hits lately. That was thanks to a comment you put on this post.

At March 01, 2006 11:47 AM, Simon said...

If it were't for google image search, my own site traffic would be down by about half; I'm consistently amazed at how many - and odd! - search hits I receive.

It'd be almost worth it to experiment a little and set up a blog designed strictly to lure people in by guessing what popular search terms are going to be. Heck, most search engines publish their most popular search terms on a daily basis; you could just review those and post accordingly to bump traffic.

I never associated my wife's pregnancy with the release of Sith last year. You may be on to something. Damned Medichlorians get into everything!!


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