Blogging and other stuff

I don’t look at my stats much because — as mentioned before — they can be skewed by many things. Views can be skewed by having a gallery in the post, and visitor numbers can be skewed by back-and-forth comments between two people. Meaning, two people conversing over the course of a day would show up as multiple visitors (as far as I know, the system doesn’t check for unique visitors on any given day — or ever).

There are widgets that will give you better stats. I have one on my sidebar, but, as I said, it don’t matter none since the only person with any possible interest in the number of visitors during the recent past is me, and I’m not invested as much as some.

But, I am casually interested in another metric . . .

It would be nice filling-in that world map. Having said that, I got to thinking about how many countries I’m missing.

It turns out it’s more complicated than it might seem at first glance. For instance, there are 195 sovereign countries (HERE). BUT . . . humans being what they are, it’s a bit more complicated than that because those are just the countries who are members of the United Nations. Then, we have countries that call themselves countries but are claimed by other nations. Then, there are territories . . .

It’s further complicated by the fact that some of the ‘countries’ recognized in the WordPress map aren’t in the official list of countries.

I used to be pretty good at Excel, so I made a little spreadsheet (HERE) to get an answer. I don’t know if it’s the right answer, but it’s an answer. Despite the world map looking pretty filled in, there are 67 places from which I’ve yet to receive a visit. In those 67 places (countries or territories) live a shade over a quarter of a billion people . . . and not one of them stopped by my blog to see what’s going on.

I suppose I should be happy with the percentage of countries I did manage to snag.

By now, most readers have left, but, for the remaining few . . . more boring stuff.

I’m cleaning up some of my data from when I was working, and I came across spreadsheets I had made to facilitate what I was doing at my last job (writing reports to certify repairs or modifications done to airplanes). I assume I could still do this (excel and engineering), but I don’t know.

Here’s a ‘simple’ sheet I wrote to calculate beam properties for a simply supported beam with up to four point loads (the example is for three loads) . . .

Now, there’s nothing complicated about writing formulas, but doing graphics based on the results of the calculations . . . well, it currently slips my mind. I’m assuming I could relearn it.

The thing is, it’s not just Excel . . . I’ve (voluntarily) forgotten a lot of the particulars I used to know about the engineering work I did. THIS next spreadsheet looks a bit like greek to me, and it’s one of many that helped me facilitate computing stuff I needed for writing reports (this was the master sheet linking a number of other sheets, and it evolved over the course of seven years). Even back then, I had to have notes explaining/reminding me of stuff in it.

I don’t know if I could do all that now, but, in fairness, that was at the end of seven years of working in aerospace. I’m fairly confident I could re-learn it at a faster pace than the first time around . . . but I have no desire to do so. Here’s a sheet for crack growth calculations for one type of aluminum (there are many grades of aluminum).

Most of these spreadsheets were for making things easier . . . although it doesn’t look like it.

OK, I know this has been boring . . . so let me change the topic. As part of clearing up data, I came across a little story I wrote just to make a point in a comment.

The topic was dreams and how some people claim they were forewarned or had a premonition in a dream. These types of arguments are all what I call “after the fact”. Meaning, someone has a dream, and then, sometimes later (it could be days, weeks, or longer), something happens that is interpreted as having been foretold by said dream.

The problem is that the foretelling is of no use to the person until something happens. Basically, people draw meaning from disconnected dreams and events because they want to, but they are of no practical value otherwise. Plus, unless one records every dream and does a comparative analysis of the number of “hits” dreams generate, one is more apt to remember only the hits, not the misses; you will remember the occasional dream when you can tie it to something, and forget about the other two thousand dreams that led to nothing.

Premonition stories are usually third-person accounts retelling a seemingly amazing correlation between a supposed dream and something that happened, but . . . well, you never hear stories from anyone that go something like this:

The Dream
by ejdalise (year unknown but sometime in the previous decade)

“Back in 1978, there was this completely ordinary day that was followed by a completely ordinary evening. Then, I went to sleep!”
“What happened then, grandma?”
“Well, I dreamt of a tall man wearing black. He came down the street where we lived and stopped at our house. He was at the same time familiar and completely alien.”
“Oh, scary! And then what happened in your dream, grandma?”
“He spread his arm, his cape splaying out like wings, and his voice called my name. I felt compelled to move toward the man, my legs as if under the control of someone else.”
“Oh, no, grandma! Where you scared?”
“I was terrified but had no choice. I stopped in front of the man. He was tall, and his face reminded me of crazy Cousin Joe, only this man had more teeth. Also, his nose was shorter, and his earlobes . . . ”
“Right, sorry. Anyway, the man said nothing, but he slowly pointed to my right leg. He then laughed, slowly at first, but then louder and louder, until I woke up!”
“What happened then, grandma?”
“Nothing. I’ve been waiting now for nearly forty years for something I can link to it. I’ve since had that same dream about twice a year, but so far, nothing. One year, in July of 1997, I stubbed my toe on the foot of the bed, but it hardly left a mark. I thought that might have been connected, but it was my left toe.”
“That was a scary dream, grandma.”
“Yes, it was, kids, but thankfully, it’s just a dream and it don’t mean squat.”
The End

I used grandma because the person relayed a “premonition dream story” her grandmother told her about an accident. My question is . . . why did the accident still happen if there was a premonition?

If I dreamed of dislocating my nasal septum as a result of picking my nose with a crowbar, why, I’d make sure to never use a crowbar for such a purpose. I could then claim that had been a useful dream (presuming I had originally planned on picking my nose with a crowbar). But, if I still dislocate my septum with a crowbar after dreaming about it, why, then I’m just an idiot for going ahead and using it for such a purpose. In either case, I would certainly keep it to myself.

Let’s see … what else can I cover? How about some cartoons I had saved and forgotten about?

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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