Archive for serenity

April Fools and Kitten Analytics

This Sunday to mark April Fools Day, the University of Rochester homepage was overrun with kittens.

The homepage itself has of course reverted to normal, but the gallery lives on. 

I did a little number crunching this morning and found that homepage itself received 34,604 pageviews yesterday; the average number of pageviews for the homepage on a Sunday for the current semester is 11,868, so we saw nearly triple the average traffic. So as a sheer driver of eyeballs, kittens it would seem are fairly successful. 38% of those visitors came from inside the University network, which is fairly typical.

The number of unique visitors to the website was also significantly higher this past Sunday than on an average Sunday. We had 16,500 unique visitors on April Fools, which is a 55% increase over the Sunday average this semester of 10,616. This tells me that we had both more people coming to the site and more people hitting refresh more often to see the images. We also had a much lower exit rate than normal – 32% compared to 55% – and most of that difference seems to be accounted for by people going right to the lolcat page – which accounted for 19% of the “next pages” clicked off the homepage on Sunday.

The homepage photo gallery was viewed 2,287 times yesterday, and about 8.7% of those visitors clicked through to one of the secondary pages listed in the kitty captions (About Us, Majors and Programs, Grad Studies, etc.) The “lolcats” gallery was viewed 3,444 times. 38% of that traffic came from Facebook, 25% came from the homepage, and 13% came to it directly, which I take to mean came from our weekly student e-newsletter which delivers at 8am every Sunday. (We don’t have clickthrough data for Weekly Buzz — which we’d changed to “Weekly Purr” with a kitten masthead for the day — but if I’m analyzing this right it looks like about 460 people clicked on the link to the lolcat page out of about 5,500 recipients). The lolcat page also had a significantly higher time on site number than the site average (1min 47sec compared to 1min 9seconds) but also higher exit and bounce rates than the site as a whole. Which is reasonable, I guess. People came and read all the jokey lolcats, rated their favorite ones, but then didn’t move on to anything else.

Recommendations: This year for the first time we tried to integrate the April Fools jokes with facts/messaging about the University. In hindsight, I would have done this even more, especially on the lolcats page where people did seem to spend some significant amount of time reading. Bottom line: kittens are good drivers of traffic. But when making lolcats, MAKE MORE LOLCATZ!

–lori

Opening Day Picks and Poetry

April’s still chilled air
Is the perfect medium
For a hanging curve

Opening Day of baseball season always inspires thoughts of happiness, warmth, and new beginnings. Anything is possible! The sun is shining! The closer is on the disabled list (gulp!)

My Phillies are looking a little less unstoppable than they were at the start of spring training. Brad Lidge — the aforementioned closer — is on the aforementioned DL. Both the veteran rock of the infield — Chase Utley — and the future phenon of the outfield — Dominic Brown — are also out indefinitely with injuries before the season even starts. Even so, the thought of a clean slate combined with the scent of popcorn and spring is enough to warm even a crappy, snowy, Rochester day.

I’m going out on a limb, but for the record, here are my picks for the how the season will end up. Check back in 162 games to see how wildly off-base I am.

AL EAST: NY Yankees
AL CENTRAL: Detroit Tigers
AL WEST: Texas Rangers
AL WILD CARD: Boston Red Sox

NL EAST: Phillies
NL CENTRAL: St. Louis Cardinals
NL WEST: San Diego Padres
NL WILD CARD: Cincinnati Reds

AL WORLD SERIES TEAM: Boston
NL WORLD SERIES TEAM: Phillies

WORLD SERIES: PHILLIES!

40 Questions for 2010

For the seventh year, it’s time for my annual reckoning — in question form — of the year that was. I do love a good list at the start of a new year!

  1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?
    Camped in Shenandoah National Park, presented at the Penn State Web Conference, got a tattoo in Kentucky, hiked on the Appalachian Trail, attended a University of Rochester football game, had a 3-way chili in Cincinnati, visited four president’s homes in three days.
  2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
    Of course I didn’t keep my New Year’s resolutions, but I’ve already made more for 2011. What’s a new year without new plans. I want to lose 11 pounds, get Obama arms (Michele, not Barack), be a friendlier friend, and I *still* want to read a biography of each U.S. president (I keep getting hung up on Madison).
  3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
    After racking up seven nieces, my sister gave birth to my first nephew.
  4. Did anyone close to you die?
    No.
  5. What countries did you visit?
    This year was spent entirely on American soil.
  6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
    A system for keeping my various modes of communication organized.
  7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory?
    Hmm, well this is sad. I don’t really have an answer to this one. I guess it turns out that 2010 wasn’t a bad year, but it wasn’t a particularly memorable one either. Have to fix than in 2011.
  8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
    I got accepted into the Master of Library and Information Science program at Syracuse University. I deferred admissions for a year, but still — it feels nice to have options.
  9. What was your biggest failure?
    A few work-related failures are bugging me. The updates to our templates, second-level pages, and mobile site continue to lag as the urgent stuff continues to push aside the important. <sigh>.
  10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
    Nope, another illness- and injury-free year, touch wood.
  11. What was the best thing you bought?
    I bought a Nintendo Wii, and it’s brilliant. I’m not a big gamer, but it’s so fun and watching Netflix through it is a cool bonus.
  12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
    I’m going to say Jon Stewart. He was one of the few public figures this year who actually seemed interested in getting to the truth, all while being funny as hell.
  13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
    The mainstream news media, who just seemed to give every politician a free pass this year instead of, you know, asking questions.
  14. Where did most of your money go?
    Usual stuff: mortgage, electricity, Internet access, trinkets.
  15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
    My summer “magical history tour” vacation through Virginia. And the Harry Potter movie.
  16. What song/album will always remind you of 2010?
    Probably, “Hey Soul Sister” by Train, just because it was so inescapable.
  17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
    * happier or sadder? The same. * thinner or fatter? The same. * richer or poorer? The same.
  18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
    Blogging. Running. Going to movies.
  19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
    Worrying.
  20. How will you be spending Christmas?
    Down in the ‘burbs with the ‘rents.
  21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?
    it’s a close call between Mr. Goddess and my mother and father.
  22. Did you fall in love in 2010?
    I fell in love in 1990, and it took.
  23. How many one night stands in this last year?
    This year marked the 20th year of my one-night-stand dry spell.
  24. What was your favourite TV program?
    Really loved the short-lived PBS series Sherlock, and cannot wait until the next series comes out in the spring, along with the new Dr. Who. Raising Hope is also a hoot, and The Sing-Off provided some unexpected cheesy fun.
  25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
    I can’t think of anyone specific who I actually hate. Hating is hard work, and I’m just not that industrious.
  26. What was the best book(s) you read?
    Washington: A Life, by Ron Chernow.
  27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
    The force of nature that is Lady Gaga.
  28. What did you want and get?
    A Nintendo Wii! A Kindle! A nephew! (not necessarily in that order).
  29. What did you want and not get?
    A third consecutive trip to the World Series for my Phillies.
  30. What were your favourite films of this year?
    Tops has to be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1, followed by The King’s Speech, Inception, and The Social Network.
  31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
    I turned 39 this year, and had cake and ice cream with Mr. Goddess, the parents, and siblings in Levittown, PA.
  32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
    A slightly less depressing result in the midterm elections might have helped.
  33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?
    Sweater tights, knee-length skirts, and novelty T-shirts.
  34. What kept you sane?
    Mr. Goddess, that long-suffering man, and Sunday morning coffee.
  35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
    The new Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch is quite fanciable, as is the new Doctor, Matt Smith.
  36. What political issue stirred you the most?
    The thing that pissed me off the most was the extension of all the Bush tax cuts, and the fact that the Republicans were able to get away with almost comic-book villainy in holding unemployment benefits, healthcare for 9/11 first responders, and pretty much everything else hostage to their demand that the richest 1% of U.S. families continue to get the tax breaks they’ve enjoyed for the past eight years, all the while playing lip service to deficit reduction. Yep, that’s it.
  37. Who will you miss?
    Our neighbors moved to New York City. They were a lot of fun, and I hope we get to visit them in the Big Apple some time.
  38. Who was the best new person you met?
    The best thing about Twitter is how it seems to extend the circle of people you get to meet in real life, and this year was no exception: @cliffyballgame, @radiofreegeorgy, @dylanw, @mallorywood, @epublishmedia.
  39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.
    Every source of stress in my life can be traced back to putting things off instead of facing them as soon as possible. Nothing gets better if you ignore it.
  40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?
    Nothing ever happens
    Nothing happens at all
    The needle returns to the start of the song
    And we all sing along like before –”Nothing Ever Happens” by Del Amitri

Sunday Snapshot — Bridge Night

hand of cards
I play bridge. Badly, but yes. I don’t drink Harvey Wallbangers and eat devilled eggs while I do it, but I play bridge.

I am getting better. I don’t overtrump my partner nearly as much as I once did. And I’m even getting good at counting trump. I’m still a pretty conservative bidder. In the above hand, my partner and I did end up in spades, but we didn’t bid high enough to win a game. Rookie timidity.

Saturday Snack — Jefferson’s Airplane

Egg sandwich

The Jefferson’s Airplane is the best breakfast sandwich at the Boulder Coffee on Alexander St. It consists of eggs and ham, with banana peppers, American cheese, and a spicy cajun mayo. Nomnomnom.

Welcome to NaBloPoMo: Why Do I Blog?

November is National Blog Posting Month
November is National Blog Posting Month. The goal: to encourage bloggers to rejuvenate their blogs by posting something every day for a month. And if you look at that woefully out-of-date list of movie reviews over to the left there, you’ll see that my blog could use some rejuvenation.

To get things started, I thought I’d try answering a simple question: why do I blog?

I’d like to become a better writer
And the only way to do that is by writing. I firmly believe that Twitter makes you a better writer because it forces you to follow the first rule of good writing: Omit Needless Words.

I want to share what I learn because I benefit from other people’s blogs all the time
From technology fixes, to great ideas on how to do my job better, to political analysis, to suggestions for tonight’s dinner, I’m always benefiting from the kindness of bloggers.

I need a creative outlet
As an editor, I don’t get too many opportunities to create things from scratch. In the first entry for this blog, I wrote:

Rather than tearing down the hard work of others, it’s time to put myself on the line for a change. To create rather than destroy. To use my powers for good, never for evil. With great power comes great responsibility!

Like I said, I might be overreaching.

I think that still holds true.

Because I can’t write fiction
I once tried my hand at NaNoWriMo, NaBloPoMo’s better-known November cousin, and I crashed and burned. Hard. In trying to write a novel in one month I learned that I have no sense of threaded narrative and that writing dialogue is hard.

Good luck to all the WriMos out there! And I hope I can keep up my little effort here this month.

–lori

40 Questions for 2009

Time for my annual reckoning — in question form — of the year that was. This is my sixth year for this list — wow! really?

  1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
    Attended a presidential inauguration, toured around the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland, read a book in the New York Public Library reading room, visited Hyde Park, visited Rhode Island, grew a tomato (about 14 of them, in fact!)
  2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
    Of course I didn’t keep my New Years’ resolutions, but I’ve already made about 34 for next year. A sample: I will wake up by 7:00 am every morning, I will walk to work at least one day a week, I will read a biography of each of the 43 U.S. presidents, I will go to two movies a week, I will start yoga lessons again, etc., etc., etc.
  3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
    A member of the bridge club had a lovely daughter, and co-worker friends adopted a son who is too cute to be allowed.
  4. Did anyone close to you die?
    No.
  5. What countries did you visit?
    Ireland, Canada.
  6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
    A healthy routine.
  7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory?
    January 21 — the Inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama. I was on my feet for more than 12 hours straight in 20-degree temperatures, but it was worth it.
  8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
    Um, did I already mention I grew a tomato?
  9. What was your biggest failure?
    I quit yoga classes even though I really enjoyed them because I couldn’t get out or work early enough to make it on time. This really sucks, since all I was trying to do was leave at 4:30 one day a week. It seems like no one cares if you come in a half hour late, but try to leave a half hour early, and good luck to you. Am trying again later this month with a later class.
  10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
    Nope, another illness- and injury-free year, touch wood.
  11. What was the best thing you bought?
    My new car, a Psion xA. It’s fantastic! It’s purple with a tan racing stripe down the side. It looks like a 1970s track suit. It’s the first time I actually purchased the car that I had a car crush on.
  12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
    Every year I answer this question last! What does that say about me? I’ll say President Obama, because I remain hopeful that he knows what he’s doing.
  13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
    Whoever the hell organized those “tea party” ass-hats who went around this summer calling President Obama a Nazi and a communist and a granny killer.
  14. Where did most of your money go?
    Usual stuff: mortgage, electricity, Internet access, trinkets.
  15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
    The World Series, though it didn’t end to my liking.
  16. What song/album will always remind you of 2009?
    “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey.
  17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
    * happier or sadder? The same. * thinner or fatter? Fatter (sigh). * richer or poorer? The same.
  18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
    Blogging. Running. Going to movies.
  19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
    Procrastinating.
  20. How will you be spending Christmas?
    Down in the ‘burbs with the ‘rents.
  21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?
    it’s a close call between Mr. Goddess and my mother and father.
  22. Did you fall in love in 2009?
    I fell in love in 1990, and it took.
  23. How many one night stands in this last year?
    This year marked the 19th year of my one-night-stand dry spell.
  24. What was your favourite TV program?
    Have loved loved loved season 4 of Dr. Who this year, and am indecently excited about the series finale tomorrow! Will dearly miss David Tennant.
  25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
    I don’t “hate” anyone who I actually know. I hate people in the abstract. People like Glenn Beck and Tiger Woods.
  26. What was the best book(s) you read?
    The Illustrated Elements of Style, by Strunk and White
  27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
    I have to say Glee. If it weren’t for Glee, my knowledge of both the Beyonce and Wicked oeuvres would be severely limited.
  28. What did you want and get?
    A Palm Pre!
  29. What did you want and not get?
    A repeat Phillies world championship.
  30. What were your favourite films of this year?
    As usual I haven’t yet seen most of the “important” movies this year, but if we’re going by movies I enjoyed the most, I have to say Up, In the Loop, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Star Trek, An Education, and Another Harvest Moon.
  31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
    I turned 38 this year, and was in Levittown vising the parents and Mr. Goddess who had a summer job as a park ranger at Independence Hall this year.
  32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
    A much better healthcare reform bill than the one it looks like we’re ending up with.
  33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
    Dark jeans, long sleeves, high-heeled boots, shorter and shorter hair.
  34. What kept you sane?
    Mr. Goddess, that long-suffering man.
  35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
    It’s a toss-up between David Tennant and John Barrowman. I love me my androgynous British sci-fi guys.
  36. What political issue stirred you the most?
    Healthcare. Don’t even get me started.
  37. Who will you miss?
    Harry Kalas. “That ball is ………. outta here!”
  38. Who was the best new person you met?
    I met a bunch of great Twitter people in real life this year — most at the HighEdWeb 2009 conference. Including @Robin2go, @rachelreuben, @lanejoplin, @TImNekritz, @KarlynM, and @tsand.
  39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
    It’s a lot harder to get away with mediocrity these days. You *must* be awesome, or you will be called out. This is both a good thing, and exhausting.
  40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?
    Take up your arms
    Sons and daughters
    We will arise from the bunkers
    By land, by sea, by dirigible
    We’ll leave our tracks untraceable now
    –”Sons and Daughters” by the Decemberists
–lori

Monday Snack: World Series Cupcakes

Every Thursday at work is Snack Day. We each take turns bringing in a tasty treat. Since there are about 15 of us, more than three months pass in between snack days. It’s easy to forget.

At least it’s easy for me to forget.

I walked in to the printer room — which on Thursday is known as the Snack Room — last week thinking yummy thoughts and wondering, “mmmm, what will we be having today.” With no snack in sight, I thought “Rats! What idiot forgot their snack day?”

This idiot, that’s who.

So I had to make amends today with some World Series cupcakes. Plus there are Mets and Dodgers fans in the office, and why miss an opportunity to mess with them? It’s like having your cupcake and eating it to.

cupcakesa

The cupcakes are Martha Stewart’s Yellow Butter Cupcakes (pretty easy for a Martha recipe) and frosting from a can.

–lori

Saturday Snack — Bison on a Stick

Tried this for a quick lunch today. It comes from Cooking Light and is South Beach Diet friendly. Grilled meat on a stick is always a good thing.

Before…

bison kebabs

…After

bison kebabs

–lori

Saturday Snack — Broken Glass Jello

I was looking for a sugar-free dessert to make for a baby shower, where the mom-to-be needs to watch her sugar intake. I thought about jello, since sugar-free jello is such a staple for South Beach Diet-ers. Plus jello has a kind of fun, 1950s vibe to it.

So I found this recipe for Broken Glass Jello at the ‘Ono Kine Grindz website, and swapped in sugar-free jello. It’s time-consuming but easy and very pretty.

Broken Glass Jello
4 3-ounce boxes of sugar-free JELL-O
1 12-ounce can of evaporated milk (NOT condensed milk if you want to keep it sugar-free)
4 envelopes unflavored gelatin (like Knox brand)

Mix each of the packets of jello with one cup of boiling water and pour each into four separate 8 X 8 cake pans. Chill until set, at least four hours.

jello in pans

Cut each of the jello pans into cubes and mix in a 9 X 13 dish and set aside in the fridge.

jello cut into cubes

Mix the four envelopes of unflavored gelatin with one cup of boiling water. Dissolve completely. Strain and combine with evaporated milk. Allow to cool completely, then pour over the cubed jello in the 9 X 13 dish.

milk poured onto jello

Chill until set, at least four hours. Serve by cutting into pretty slices.

broken glass jello slice

–lori