A Year In Review

Since it’s fashionable for everyone to get all mathematical and tabulatory at the end of the year, here are some fast stats about the Border Wars Blog:

Days in Production: 131
Posts: 99+this one
Total Unique Visitors: 5,500
Returning Visitors in December: 300
New Visitors in December: 1,000
Page Loads in December: 2,000
Average Feed Readers/day: 15

Here’s a graph of the number of people who read my feed each day and who don’t count for the site stats since they don’t load the hit counter when they read the feed.

I know this is nothing impressive, especially since I started a website that would get tens of thousands of unique users per day and had 14,000 active members posting several hundred new threads and generating Gigabytes of traffic on a daily basis. But it’s still rather flattering to think that there are, perhaps, twenty people who subscribe to the feed and actually want to be kept apprised of new things I say. I’m sure I’m making a big deal out of those few people, but it’s an honor to me.

I’ve given some of the best speeches in my life in front of only one other person, some lay judge volunteering their time on a weekend, and I’ve gotten a standing ovation in front of a crowd of over 10,000 people. When you’ve tasted the bliss of the later, it makes the isolation of the former rather discomforting. What good is it to say great things when there is no one to hear the words? And if you’re not trying to say important things, why open your mouth? Your subscriptions and comments on this blog might not number in the tens of thousands, but they are really the only payment I ask and will receive, and they’re enough.

When I started this blog 131 days (and some 100 posts) ago on August 22nd, I had no idea what direction it’d go in. Although I certainly got the name of my blog from my dogs and always intended to talk about them, I didn’t even mention the animal species in my first and defining post. I naively thought that I’d talk about more than dogs, since I’ve been known to debate just about anything, especially the no-nos of religion and politics.

But the dogs interest me, and I guess I enjoy writing about dog politics, dog language, and dog religion more than the human equivalents. After all, this endeavor is an escapist retreat from being inundated with human affairs during the rest of the day, and it’s allowed me to keep up on dog matters in the “off season.”

In looking back on where I’ve taken you these many days, and where you’ve taken me, I figured now would be a good time to say a few thank yous and highlight some favorites from the past year*. For purposes of this discussion, 131 days constitutes the “last year.”

Since traffic is the gold we bloggers are panning out of the Internet stream, I must send a thank you to Pet Connection, Terrierman, Flyball Blog, and CardiParty for sending me some of their mine tailings. Besides Google those fine folks sent me most of you fine folks. I must also tip my hat to Life’s Curveballs, doggy.blogsome.com, PetMonologues.com, Johann the Agility Dog, Underdogged, and coloradohurricane for their gracious links in.

If content theft is the sincerest form of flattery, then I should be very flattered that my content has show up on a handful of fake blog/Google bomb websites used to promote various nefarious erectile dysfunction knock off drugs from foreign countries and the like. If it’s good enough to steal, then it must be good enough to read.

While outlinks are not my main focus, and while I could certainly do a better job of hyperlinking my posts than I do, Feedburner conveniently keeps track of the most popular posts that send you off somewhere else on the net after you read them, and here they are:

Top 10 Posts you read and then clicked on:
No Border Collie Left Behind
Sheeple Admit They’re Hobbyists
Bring Military Mascots Home
Too many working dogs, too little work
On Thin Ice
Meet My Dogs
Breeding Ethics 2
GPS Dog Art
Breeding Ethics 1

Besides ranting, I do quite enjoy playing around with Photoshop. Not only does it make all of my photos look better, it’s a vehicle for creative outlet and it allows me to make images that are as punchy as my prose. Although this piece wasn’t the most complicated photoshop I’ve done this year, it is perhaps the most seamless and elegant.

My Favorite Photoshop of the Year:

Dmitri Mendeleev ponders the perfect Vodka.
(thanks to my elite Photoshop skills and a painting by Ilya Repin)

My blog is worth $4,516.32.
How much is your blog worth?

Right now, my blog is supposedly worth $4,516.32 … not that anyone is making any offers. That means that I accrue about $34.50 of value each day. I guess I shouldn’t quit my day job yet, and a Border Wars, Inc. IPO is not on the horizon, but making a virtual $34.50 for giving you my ten cents each day seems like a pretty good return on investment.

The one thing that disappoints me about the blogosphere versus the forum and list serve worlds is that it’s a very unidirectional medium. Even on the largest pet topic blogs, the comments are rarely a place that people debate and hash out topics mentioned in the post. I long for a little back and forth.

Perhaps I’ll pick up that debate I was having with Terrierman right before I ran off to Spain and had to drop the issue. There’s nothing like picking a fight to get a little comment action going. I’m rather surprised that I say a lot of what I would consider controversial things about Border Collies and it takes a post about Jesus to get anyone to post a comment!

Since this blog is still on a pretty good growth curve, I realize that many of you joined up after I published some of my more important pieces and since it’s not easy to sift through all of the backlog to find them, I’ll make an effort in the new year to reprint some of the best posts of the past. Here’s a few that are fundamental to my beliefs from the last year:

Most important post of the year: The Third Estate of the Border Collie

Runners up:
The Spoils of the Dog War, Capturing the Spoils,

Favorite Photograph of the year:

Although my favorite photo of the year wasn’t even taken this year, nor last, I am still amazed to have taken it. It was shot in my back yard with a Canon D60 with a 75-300 lens. I was perhaps 30 to 50 feet away at the time and the Hawk seemed little concerned with my presence. This hawk was one of three that were raised in my yard by two adult Swainson’s hawks that nested in an Elm tree against the driveway.

The tree came down after they had grown up and moved on, the final victim of Dutch Elm disease and the last of some 30 elm trees on the acre and some to meet such and end. The hawks have come back each year and found nests in the area, once in the neighbor’s yard, and another a mile away. It always makes me nostalgic when I’ll see one of them soaring overhead or swooping down for a squirrel or rabbit kill when I’m on a walk or a drive in the neighborhood.

There are a few posts I never thought I’d write, they certainly weren’t “in me” waiting to get out when I started this blog, unlike many of the posts that were percolating in my head for quite some time.

Most unlikely post of the year: Redemption: Eyes Open and Crying

Most interesting post to research: The Language of Dog Series

Now, sometimes your rivals in debate make it all too easy for you, proving your points without you having to say a word or letting important information (admissions contrary to interest) slip without even realizing it.

The following posts literally wrote themselves, because well, I didn’t have to write much of anything to score major points:

Most interesting admissions contrary to interest: Sheeple Admit They’re Hobbyists, Too Many Working Dogs, Too Little Work, Versatility “Dangerous” to the ABCA, PeTA Puts Out

Most controversial post of the year: Barbie Collies Can Herd? (original post)

This post was so controversial, the trialer and breeder featured in the post didn’t want to be identified! As such, I agreed to pull the post until last year’s season was over, and it’s over. As a special treat for the new year, I’m bringing back the full old post so you can read with delight about beautiful “barbie” collies that really can herd sheep.

So, that’s the “year” in review. Hopefully more of you will pipe up and comment in the new year and I’ll try to keep the posts coming.

Good riddance 2007, Here’s for a prosperous and bountiful 2008!

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About Christopher

Christopher Landauer is a fifth generation Colorado native and second generation Border Collie enthusiast. Border Collies have been the Landauer family dogs since the 1960s and Christopher got his first one as a toddler. He began his own modest breeding program with the purchase of Dublin and Celeste in 2006 and currently shares his home with their children Mercury and Gemma as well. His interest in genetics began in AP Chemistry and AP Biology and was honed at Stanford University.