Wednesday, January 15, 2020

albertnet Frequently Asked Questions


Well, I’ve been at this blogging thing for over eleven years, and have posted more than 500 times. For better or for worse, that’s some traction. Now, I’m well aware that blogging is an audacious act. It takes a lot of cheek to assume that anybody cares to read what I care to write. (But if everybody erred on the side of modesty, nobody would write anything.)

As long as I’m being audacious, I’m going to assume that my readers are curious about how it’s gone, what’s working, what isn’t, and so forth. That what this post is about. (As a special bonus, a good number of these are real questions from real readers! And at least one of these questions has been asked at least twice!)

albertnet Frequently Asked Questions

How many posts have you written?

524, including this one.

How can I quickly peruse all the posts you have on offer?

Check out the albertnet index here. All my posts are listed and categorized, with the newest at the top.

It’s been said that your average post is 15 pages of single spaced comic sans text. Why are they so damned long?

The guy who said that was my (okay, our) dad [this question being from my brother]. That was his calculated figure. For a guy with a 170 IQ, Dad sure could be sloppy with his math. This supposed average post length was one of his excuses for not reading my blog; in reality the average post is more like 5 or 6 pages.

Okay, 5 or 6 pages is still pretty damned long, I’ll admit. I write that much because I can, because nobody is making me shorten my essays. If I wanted to write shorter stuff, I’d just be a journalist and get paid for this.

Have you ever met one of your readers in real life?

Good one. But that’s enough now. Bloggers have feelings, you know!

I did meet a guy at a party once who, when I introduced myself, knew my name already, from my blog. In fact, after reading my “Ode on a Double-Edged Razor”, he said, he bought an old-school Merkur razor just like the one I touted in my post. (No, Merkur didn’t pay me for this. I wish.) Full disclosure: I probably knew this reader already and just didn’t recognize him. I’m terrible with names and faces, and in fact I wonder if I might actually be face-blind.

At what point in the writing process of a post do you feel that you’ve met the goal, that you’ve “struck fire from the heart of man, and brought tears from the eyes of woman” (as Beethoven said of his music)?

Well, I wouldn’t say my goal is anything like that. (My mission statement is “Increasing shareholder value since 2009!”) I’d say my feeling of general satisfaction begins when I have that first rough draft complete and the basic bones of the post have been assembled. Then I know I have something, and I’ll polish it until I run out of time or figure I’ve reached the point of diminishing returns. (Occasionally I’ll discard a totally finished piece, but that’s pretty rare. Posting an essay here that fails to strike fire or bring tears is—I’ll own it—a largely victimless crime.)

What blogs do you follow?

Well, I could list them, but there’s no point because five of the six have gone under. (One is entirely extinct, and the others haven’t had a post in three years.) The only active blog I follow is The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog and I confess I don’t check it that often. Next time I’m in the Smokies I’ll be all over it, though!

If you don’t read blogs, why write one?

Fair question. The problem is, too many blogs are too specific. I have no particular interests, so why would I narrow my focus like that?

As far as other media I could try to publish in, that seems like a lot of hassle. Plus, I hate being hemmed in. I considered publishing my vasectomy story in something like “Men’s Journal” but they had some guideline like “Under no circumstances can a story run more than 500 words” which was a show-stopper. I cannot tell that story—and nobody could, not properly—in fewer than 2,000 words.

How do you manage to keep politics out of your blog? Do you ever want to just rant?

Honestly, I’m just not very interested in politics. Where I live, this topic strikes me as a pissing contest around who knows the most. To my mind, the differences among parties and candidates aren’t subtle, and we only get one vote, so I see no point in anybody devoting that much attention to them. Besides, why would I want to alienate half of my readership and attract a lot of hateful comments?

This isn’t to say albertnet never brushes up against politics, in a non-partisan way. Check out “Glutted by Campaign Signs” (a relatively popular post), “My Brief Foray Into Politics,” “Election Follies - A Proposal to Change Daylight Savings Time,” and “Election Follies – CA Prop 7, One Year Later.”

You have this incredible platform to spread important messages. What do you want all seven of year readers to know?

Ouch! Well, I guess I asked for it.

I don’t consider this blog a public service, and my goal is really to entertain, not so much to educate or inform. That said, I guess I could take a swing at a few life lessons you could read about on albertnet:
  • Eat well
  • Ride your bike
  • Laugh a lot
  • Read a lot
  • If you’re a parent, be earnest about it
How do you promote your blog?

I don’t.

How can I provide feedback on a post?

You can leave a comment below the post, or email me at

What are your top three most popular posts ever?

The most popular ever is “New Cycling World Record Set in Berkeley!” which racked up many thousands of pageviews within just a few days. I gather there are blogs with hundreds of thousands of pageviews a week, and good for them, but this was a fairly big deal for me.

My second most popular is “Everything You Wanted to Know About Getting A Vasectomy - But Were Afraid To Ask” which was one of my earliest posts. For many years, it carried the distinction of being the very first search result when you Googled “california vasectomy law.” (It’s not in like the first hundred hits now … a lot has changed in eleven years I guess.)

Third most popular is “Highbrow vs. Lowbrow,” also with many thousands of pageviews. I’m not sure exactly why it’s been so popular. I mean, I like it—I like all my stuff, or I wouldn’t post it—but it’s not like I poured my heart and soul into it. You tell me.

What are your three least popular posts ever?

That’s kind of a tough one, because obviously anything I posted quite recently hasn’t had time to accrue many views. To answer this one, I had to go back and figure out what posts have very few views despite hanging out there on the Internet for years. I did a rough calculation of how many pageviews per year I see among the loss leaders. Here’s what I came up with.

The very least popular is “London – Part Four,” which has received a grand total of 39 views in roughly a decade, for a paltry 3.8 views a year. Pretty pathetic! Why so poorly received? Well, anything that’s fourth in a series deserves what it gets. (You hear that, “Star Wars” people?) Also, this is one of the “bloggiest” posts I’ve ever done; it was back in the early days of albertnet when I thought it was enough to report on something interesting that happened to me (like a web log, you know). I’ve since decided that there ought to be a point to my posts and they should hang together better. Anyway, I reread this one and it’s actually not so bad … I chuckled a few times.

Next is “From the Archives – My First Cell Phone” with only 53 views over 10.5 years. I just skimmed it, and it’s really not such a bad essay … it’s just that it’s a bit too sincere and nerdy, without the good sense to be comic. But how could anybody know that going in? Anyway, who cares.

Finally, we have a short story, “Doctor’s Daughter.” It’s seen 50 readers over about 8 years. Pretty sad.

Is your blog mainly popular among Americans?

I wouldn’t say it’s mainly popular among Americans, because it’s not popular at all, duh!

As far as my audience, about 47% of my pageviews are from the U.S. Fully 16% are from Russia, and just behind that is the Ukraine with 14%. Isn’t it ironic that foreign enemy bots aiming to swing U.S. elections should be targeting a decidedly apolitical blog?

What do you most commonly blog about?

What a great question! I myself had no idea until I researched this a bit. It’s a bit hard to tell because many posts fit more than one category, but here’s a rough cut of the leading realms: 
  • Polemics/opinion                                                                      108
  • Bits & bobs (i.e., impossible to categorize)                            87
  • Advice & how-to guides                                                             86
  • Cycling – My first-hand experience                                        81
  • Cycling – equipment, technique, & culture                           60
  • Parenting                                                                                      59
  • Cycling – pro race coverage                                                      56
Obviously if you add the cycling tallies together that would be the biggest category, but there’s a lot of overlap there. This truly is “a blog about nothing” [in particular].

What posts have occasioned the most comments?

I don’t get a lot of comments, except from bots, and I delete those as fast as I can. Here are my top three. 
What post got the most negative comments?

Did you mind that?

Not at all. Pageviews across my blog went way up after that post. I think I got some new readers!

What’s the nicest comment you’ve ever received?

My “Book Review – Cowboy Sam” post got this nice comment from the granddaughter of the book’s author: “Dana, I have to say that I enjoyed your post about the Cowboy Sam series. Very entertaining, well written and definitely brought a smile to my face! Edna Walker Chandler was my Grandmother and passed away in 1982. Her son (my father) passed in 2014 and I inherited copies of most of her books. Would you mind if I copied your post to my family history book for personal purposes only? Thank you! Celeste Chandler”

What’s the meanest comment you’ve ever received?

That would be in response to “Velominati’s ‘The Rules’ – Brilliance or BS?” with this acidly sarcastic remark: “Hilarious. I've have never seen the point of something missed by such a large amount, and then written about to such a great length. Bravo!”

What’s the angriest comment you’ve ever received?

In response to “The British Faucet Conundrum” I received this comment: “Tim Berners-Lee INVENTED THE INTERNET WORLD WIDE WEB AND HE IS BRITISH NOT AMERICAN... so stick that in your hat and smoke it. In typical fashion of most americans you try to take credit for most when you don't have a creative bone in your bodies.. give credit where credit is due.. not to mention the fact that you stole most patents off of the Brits when you decided to pathetically decided to pitch up for the tail end of ww2. thanks.. wankers.”

I got a good laugh out of that one. Plus, it brought about two other comments, both supporting me. At least one was presumably British, as he referred to the U.S. in the third person: “Tim Berners-Lee did indeed invent the world wide web, which is a system that runs atop the internet, which predates it. The Americans can quite legitimately claim the internet.”

How much money have you made from albertnet?

Let’s see … factoring in subscriptions, residuals, passive income, royalties, and referrals, that would total about … um … zero dollars. And zero cents. On a positive note, I’m supporting the US economy by paying for server storage space and all my domains.

Domains, plural?

Yes. Just in case would-be readers can’t be counted on to remember, you can reach my blog via,,,,,, and

Part of why I snapped these up is to prevent anybody else from creating an “evil twin” blog. I guess I should have grabbed the Instagram handle “albertnet” which is rendered on the site as “Альберт Нет.” That’s in Russian, which perhaps explains why I get so many Russian pageviews?

At least they’re cool photos, mainly of beer. (Kind of a neat coincidence since I like to blog about Beck’sting.) Maybe I would have that many followers if more of my photos looked like this:

So, if you aren’t making money, and you’re not famous, why continue blogging?

Keeping this blog alive keeps me writing, and that’s my main criterion for success. Details here.

What would you say is the most useful essay you’ve posted?

What’s the opposite … that is, your most frivolous post?

Has albertnet ever gotten you in trouble?

After a careless motorist caused me to crash my bike and break my femur, I found a lawyer and looked into filing a lawsuit. He immediately asked me to disclose anything on social media that could jeopardize the case (e.g., by making me seem like a daredevil who got what he deserved). I coughed up several cycling-related posts including “Diablo Ex Machina” and “Death Ride ‘99,” both of which mention descending fast. These didn’t help my cause, but they alone wouldn’t have mattered, as I’d previously published “Five Seconds on a Mountain Pass” in the Daily Peloton, which concerned high-speed wobble.

(Ultimately, I didn’t pursue the lawsuit because the whole episode made me too angry. Dragging that anger over a long term and involving lawyers just would have extended it.)

Im a bit behind on albertnet ... how long will it take me to catch up?

If you read a post a day, it would take you a little over a year and five months to catch up to today. But by that time, I will presumably have posted another 69 times, so you’d need another couple of months ... so, a year and seven months total. You better get cracking.

Do you ever do podcasts?

I’ve done 26 of them. If you’re interested, you can email me for details.

What’s the hardest part about blogging for you?

Obviously finding the time to write is a perennial problem, but what’s even harder is coming up with decent topics. (To the extent this post hasn’t done it for you, you can see the problem!) So, if you have any good blog post ideas, please send them my way!

For a complete index of albertnet posts, click here.

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