Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Two Years of Minor Infamy

Today is the 2nd anniversary of this blog. It certainly isn't any particularly important day to anyone other than me. There are many more important real historical events on this day: The 13th Amendment was declared in effect and slavery ended in 1865; New Jersey was the 3rd state to ratify the Constitution in 1787; Vietnam adopted its Constitution in 1980; the U.S. Supreme Court ignorantly upheld the forced internment of Americans of Japanese descent in 1944; in 1998 Articles of Impeachment were read in the U.S. House beginning the impeachment of Bill Clinton for lying about a couple of blowjobs; in 1969 the British Parliament permanently abolished the death penalty for murder; in 1957 the first civilian nuclear (hey Dubya you ignorant twit ... it's pronounced NU-KLEE-UR not NEW-QU-LUR) power plant came online; in 1737 Antonio Stradivari kicked the bucket as did the mostly unfunny Chris Farley in 1997; in 1965 Gemini 7 splashed down; today was a favorite day for nuclear testing ... the Soviets popped one off in 1962 then a couple in Borat's homeland of Kazakhstan in 1966 and 1967, the U.S. set one off in Nevada in 1969 and in 1978 France blows up Muruora Island in the South Pacific and the Soviet Union makes it a doubleheader day with an underground test;probably most importantly Star Trek's Dr. McCoy gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1985. Brad Pitt, Keith Richards, Steven Spielberg, Ray Liotta, Christina Aguilera and Katie Holmes celebrate their birthdays today while Ty Cobb, Betty Grable and Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand wish they could blow out some candles from their graves. So yeah ... pretty much all those events are more important than my blog anniversary.

Early in my blogging career I learned that I wasn't an "established media outlet". And I suppose I'm still not by most measures, but I think I'm not doing half bad here for what I originally intended. So as I blow out the candles and finish up my celebratory Pillsbury Orange Sweet Rolls here's some highlights from year two.

In my first year on the web I had 27,381 visits with 32,330 page views. I was damn happy to have that too. The number surprised me when I wrote my 1st year anniversary post. This past those numbers have dramatically risen. My visits over the last year are 43,884 with 71,843 page views. So in two years thats 71,265 visits and 104,173 pages read. 361 total posts since I started. So all that is cool. They aren't numbers that would blow anybody away but considering I've written exclusively about a WCHA team that has been in last place most of the time I've been writing I'm happy with the numbers. My feedback in person, email and comments left in the blog have been so overwhelmingly positive (with the exceptions of when I stirred up hornets nests) that I'm thinking I'm mostly doing things right.

What was the last year like? In January we had the whole Coach Shyiak "immigration" mess. When a couple of jerks actually applied to backdoor their way into a head coaching job it prompted me to write this post. The situation garnered a bit of interest from the national college hockey press when CHN's Adam Wodon wrote this accurate assessment of the situation while Wisconsin homers Jess Myers and Eric Schmoldt were busy defending their boy Troy Ward. It was a busy month, Bethlyn from the always good MTU Blog came up for the series and we all hung out knocking back a few in a strip mall bar after the Saturday game.

In February I wrote to the ADN Editors Blog challenging them to do a better job of covering Seawolf hockey. This post details the exchange. When the Gophers came to town assistant coach John Hill fell down and bonked his noggin on the ice during a practice at the Sully. I wrote this post covering the aftermath at UofM. I also posted the most gross picture in the history of college hockey blogging and garbage entry after an ugly loss to those same Gophers.

In March I started off by naming the recipients of the UAA Hockey Fan Blog Awards. Paul Crowder was my Rookie of the Year, Justin Bourne was Most Improved, the Heart and Soul award went to Charlie Kronschnabel and I thought the MVP was Chad Anderson. In April I had but one post which provided the first pictures to the community regarding the proposed new arena with thanks to Wolfman (the guy now serving in Iraq from the post a couple of days ago).

In May (out of boredom) I talked about WCHA nicknames and suggested better ones for most of the schools in the league.

In June I began my beg-quest to raise funds for my trip to St. Paul for the WCHA Final Five this coming March. About 95% of the money raised so far is due to a thread that LetsGoDU blogger Damien Goddard started at USCHO and was donated that week. Apparently the USCHO crowd is all about supporting the effort (even though I busted a lot of their chops when i was a member); something I wouldn't say about UAA Hockey Fan Blog readers so far. To be honest, the fund-raising effort is as much about me determining the worth of my efforts here to my regular readers. So far that answer seems to be about 15 bucks. I said I wouldn't make a go/no-go decision until the middle of this coming February but with a little over 60 days to go I wouldn't expect to be reading anything from St. Paul written by me if I were you. And quite frankly, if what I do all season long isn't worth 5 bucks each from my 200 or so regulars then who knows if I'll make it to a 3rd blog anniversary. Yes I do this primarily for my own enjoyment but I'm discovering there are ways that I could probably make money writing and if that means writing about something other than UAA Hockey I might choose to examine those avenues. At the end of June I also railed against the budget cuts that Governor Palin made which excluded $1,000,000 for UAA Arena planning. Then the next day I sort of retracted what I'd said when it became clear that even though she'd vetoed the money the planning efforts would continue.

In July I submitted this piece to the ADN's Compass section with hopes they'd print it. They didn't and Editorial flak Matt Zencey told me I sucked. Thankfully, UAA arena planning Czar Bill Spindle doesn't suck and they published his essay supporting the arena. I also wrote a post from the future and Steve Cobb was disappointed to learn he didn't live until 2036.

In August I wrote profiles of the Senior Class, the Junior Class and the Sophomore Class. I also detailed what I thought we could all expect from the WCHA this season. I finished the month by dogging UAF's acquisition of a $100,000,000 boat when they're hundreds of miles away from navigable waters in every direction. The UA regents all live in Fairbanks.

In September along with all the preseason thoughts I published an interview with UAA Radio stud Kurt Haider. Great guy, great voice. I wrote a post detailing the Freshman Class, I covered the annual UAA hockey picnic, wondered if 5th place was realistic and worked with jjack to get the UAA Fan Forum going (where traffic is unfortunately pretty light recently).

In October besides covering games and updating news items I responded to a UAA Northern Light editorial that indicted UAA fans for using "bad" words. I don't think there are any "bad" words and I said so. They published my web response in the paper the next week. At the end of the month I worked with USCHO poster and awesome Seawolf fan Suze to solicit hockey fan comments to the UAA arena planning committee. She spearheaded an effort on USCHO which generated traffic from D1 fans all over the country supporting the building and financed the copying of a little flyer I made up. Suze, Mr. Suze, my daughter and I then passed out as many of the flyers as we could at the next game. Some of you probably still haven't passed along your thoughts and/or concerns. Get on that eh?

Last month besides the regular stuff I wrote some early season player evals and gave early season grades to the team. And this month aside from the regular things I wrote the (most commented ever here) Minnesota: State of Hockey? post.

So thats pretty much it. Of course, during the season I try to provide some insightful previews, game recaps (which are admittedly of variable quality), my perspective on news or events within the program and something meant to entertain every Sunday. I think it's worth 10 bucks; there's no advertising, I interact in the comment section as much as possible and I respond to every email. I've said it before and it's still true; this is all pretty worthwhile to me on two levels -- I get practice writing (which is my "calling" in life) and the positive feedback from readers is wonderful to receive. Thanks to you all for participating in my passion by reading this stuff. You all rule for doing so (and the flamers that show up are always great to laugh at!).


jjack said...

You mentioned the fan forum in your post. I just wondered...is there any interest in keeping it going? Truth be told I was about to pull the plug on the whole thing only to find they had already billed my credit card for another year of hosting (overdrafting me in the process but too late now!) So I figure if I'm going to pay out the ass for it, I might as well make it worth it.

I basically have a large hunk of webspace and bandwidth and I'm totally open to any suggestions, even the most radical. Does anyone have any suggestions for how to make a better fan forum...one that people actually want to use? Or is it a lost cause?

Donald Dunlop said...

I have to apologize for not participating there very often. Between the blog here, surfing opponent sites and my actual life I just haven't had the time (or made the effort).

I think its dead there for the same reasons as the attendance is crappy ... not enough winning by the team. I hope I've promoted it enough.

I also wonder if this place is sort of competition for the forum? I could turn off commenting here and point everyone there for each post? Just a thought ...

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't want you to turn off commenting. In my blogging experience, receiving comments has pretty much been the sole reward and I wouldn't want to "steal" that from you.

If there isn't a demand for a UAA fan forum that's fine, you can't force it upon people. I could always use the web space to launch some other project. But I was just wondering if there was something I was doing/not doing that kind of led to such a rapid decline in posting. There were actually quite a few signups for the forum, which tells me that there was some kind of interest in such a thing, there just wasn't enough activity to hold anyone's attention I guess.

jjack said...

Uhm that last post was by me, by the way.

Donald Dunlop said...

I'm not so sure turning off comments here is a bad idea. It would certainly dissuade the flamers anyway and those people get a bit tiresome sometimes. I sure don't mind anyone who shows up and takes issue with me in a constructive or rational manner or even just someone being contrary, but the tools with their constant crowing and foolish attempts to insult me can get a bit old. Not that occasionally "going off" on a fool isn't fun.

I'd like the fan forum to succeed. I guess it just needs a couple of people who know how to energize it and engage others. I know how to do those things but I know I was feeling stretched thin when I was posting there at the beginning of the season.

jjack said...

Well I definitely didn't post the comments above to guilt trip anyone for letting it fall to the wayside. If the interest isn't there, it isn't there.

I did have some ideas on how to improve it but I'm kind of waiting to see if anyone else besides the two of us is interested in seeing them.

Suze said...

I am!

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