Tag Archive for holidays

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

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

Sunday Snapshot

My only tradition for Easter Sunday is to make a rogan josh, and this year I found this particularly tasty recipe. 

Happy Curry Day!

–lori

40 Questions for 2008

Happy New Year! Before 2009 gets too far underway, time to take an annual look back at the year that was by answering a few questions with this handy meme:

  1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?
    Saw the Decemberists in concert, hired someone, watched fireworks from a boat, installed kitchen cabinets.
  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 (does anyone?) but I will absolutely make more for this year. One must live in hope.
  3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
    A couple of co-workers had kids this year, though one of them didn’t atually give birth, being a man and all.
  4. Did anyone close to you die?
    No.
  5. What countries did you visit?
    Just Canada. Wow, that’s kinda sad. No offense to Canada.
  6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007?
    A proper vacation.
  7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory?
    January 3: Iowa caucus; October 29: Phillies win the World Series; November 4: Election night
  8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
    I‘ve hired myself an assistant at The Workplace, though I probably shouldn’t count that yet since it isn’t officially official. Still, the thought of being able to give half my work to someone else fills me with the kind of glee usually reserved for six-year-olds on Christmas morning.
  9. What was your biggest failure?
    After more than two years, we still have not published a single thing using our content management system. It’s really annoying.
  10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
    Nope, not even a cold or a papercut, for which I am very grateful.
  11. What was the best thing you bought?
    A 1920s dining room set from Craigslist for $250. Sweet.
  12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
    President-elect Barack Obama!
  13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
    Illinois governor Rod “Bleeping” Blagojevich.
  14. Where did most of your money go?
    Usual stuff: mortgage, food, electricity, gas, shiny baubles.
  15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
    President-elect Barack Obama!
  16. What song/album will always remind you of 2008?
    “Valerie Plame” by The Decemberists.
  17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
    * happier or sadder? Happier. * thinner or fatter? The same. * richer or poorer? The same.
  18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
    Running, reading, taking pictures, playing my guitar, camping, travelling, going to the movies. Oh, and blogging. Definitely blogging.
  19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
    Worrying/stressing about knucklehead stuff.
  20. How will you be spending Christmas?
    Down in Levittown, PA again. You can take the girl out of the suburbs, but you can’t take the suburbs out of the girl.
  21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?
    Mr. Goddess.
  22. Did you fall in love in 2008?
    I fell in love in 1990, and it took.
  23. How many one night stands in this last year?
    This year marked the 18th year of my one-night-stand dry spell.
  24. What was your favourite TV program?
    I have developed an unhealthy obsession with West Wing reruns this year. I’m nearly finished with Season 4 on DVD. My goal is to finish all seven seasons of the perfect fantasy presidency before the perfect reality presidency begins on January 22.
  25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
    I don’t “hate” anyone. I’m a lover, not a hater.
  26. What was the best book(s) you read?
    John Adams by David McCullough.
  27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
    Not so much a discovery but a deeper appreciation of The Decemberists.
  28. What did you want and get?
    President-elect Barack Obama!
  29. What did you want and not get?
    A kitten, but that may been soon rectified.
  30. What were your favourite films of this year?
    As usual at this time of year, there are still a lot of late releases and”awards movies” I haven’t seen yet. But my favorites so far are Iron Man, WALL-E, and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist.
  31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
    I turned 37 this year, and went to a swanky restaurant with Mr. Goddess.
  32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
    I don’t know: the presidential election, a Phillies World Series win, and now the Eagles have somehow made it into the playoffs? I think this year had it all covered.
  33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
    “Work-friendly” jeans and turtlenecks, if that qualifies as a concept.
  34. What kept you sane?
    Mr. Goddess, Friday night political shows, Sunday morning coffee.
  35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
    President-elect Barack Obama!
  36. What political issue stirred you the most?
    Energy independence. So much else hinges on this one thing: growing the economy, national security, saving the planet. Stuff like that.
  37. Who did you miss?
    Friends I can’t keep in touch with via Facebook or Twitter.
  38. Who was the best new person you met?
    Believe it or not, Mr. Goddess and I have started playing bridge on Sunday nights. I know, it’s very Harvey-Wallbanger-and-deviled-eggs, but it’s also very fun and the new bridge players are a fun
    bunch.
  39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
    Nothing gets better by putting it off till later.
  40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?
    We are the champions, my friends
    And we’ll keep on fighting till the end
    We are the champions
    We are the champions
    No time for loser, cuz we are the champions
    Of the world.

    – Queen
–lori

Mele Kalikimaka

obama christmas cardAfter stuffing his presidential cabinet full of scientists, economists, political experts, and Nobel Prize-winners (and in record time, too) Barack Obama is now settling his brains for a long winter’s nap.

A new group of FOBs (Friends of Barack) have gathered at an oceanfront estate in Hawaii for a ten-day Christmas vaycay. No word on whether the Clintons have been invited over for the cookie swap.

The forecast for Christmas morning in Oahu: 77 degrees and sunny. The forecast for the USA in 2009: continued crappy with a chance of hope.

–lori

Scared of Santa

I’m not sure why parents believe that plopping their toddler onto the lap of a large, hairy stranger is a recipe for holiday magic. On the contrary, based on the Sun Sentinel newspaper’s ability to put together an entire gallery of “Scared of Santa” photos every year, we can only conclude one thing: Santa is scary.

Some favorites:

scary santa

Twin trauma for double the terror.

scary santa

Mom? Dad? If you ever loved me, get this weirdo off me!”

scary Santa

“His eye shadow, how it sparkled! His breath, how it stunky!
His cheeks were like sunburn, his nose like a drunky!”

–lori.

Three Haisku: Cranberry Sauce

cranberry sauceThanksgiving jelly
Ruby-red ring-rimmed relish
Who needs a turkey?

Fresh from your tin can
Your thin, round slices shimmer
In your crystal dish.

Tangy solid sauce –
You are no mere condiment.
Eat you with a spoon.

PS — Check out this cool photostream for more images of food that takes the shape of its container.

–lori

Trick or Treat!

It was a lot quieter at the house this year, which is odd because the weather was tailor made for trick-or-treating. Our house doesn’t get much Halloween love to begin with, being located uphill from the main drag and across the street from a hospital. Oh well, more miniature Clark bars for me I guess.

Princesses still rule the day, but there was also some old-school creativity afoot this year!

7:40[first trick-or-treaters at 7:40?!] Two princesses, a Pocohantas, and a girl wearing a kimono

7:50 — robot in a tin-foil covered box (the poor kid dropped his Twix bar and got stuck trying to pick it up), a princess, and a Star Wars storm trooper. I like it when geeks start out young.

8:05 – A giant traffic cone (!) and a Barbie. I feel bad because I neglected to compliment the Barbie’s outfit because I was so impressed by the traffic cone. The traffic cone was impressive. His little arms barely stuck out the holes cut in the sides.  

8:15 — Skelator and cheerleader, followed by the first teenagers of the night. There was a guy in a cool Egyptian pharoah costume, Snow White,  then a couple of kinda sad teenage costumes: guy in baseball hat with white makeup and a girl in miniskirt and ponytail. Dudes, make an effort!

8:20Two cheerleaders, another princess (a tiny one, awww) and I think it was a pirate. 

9:05 — Tigger of Winnie-the-Pooh fame, and girl in a “this is my Halloween costume” t-shirt.

And that was it, kiddies. Then it was off for some grown-up trick-or-treating at Elixr to see a friend-of-a-friend’s band. There were some cool grown-up costumes in effect, and not just of the “hey, it’s Halloween! I’m going to dress like a whore!” variety. When did Halloween become slutty? Halloween is scary or funny, not slutty.

Some highlights: Bert from Sesame Street, a totally creepy looking Joker in a nurse’s outfit from Dark Knight, Jesus Christ, the mandatory guy-in-gorilla-suit, a green fairy, and Michael Phelps (guy wearing speedo, cap, and many gold medals — and nothing else.) That last costume was definitely weather dependent.

–lori.