Dig That Spider Coming Out of a Cup! – A WordPress Blog Stat Mystery

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spider oneThere was a time, so many months ago, when I found myself obsessed with my blog stats. I know – it’s a shameful thing to admit. Now, when I say ‘obsessed,’ I really mean it. This was General MacArthur style obsession, Captain Ahab, Napoleon. I was obsessed the way great men become obsessed. The opposite, of course, would be how teenage girls have watered down the meaning of the word. “Oh my God, I used to be, like, totally obsessed with ‘N Sync!” And by that, the girl means she had the No Strings Attached CD and a poster of Lance Bass on the wall, which was taken down before he even came out of the closet.

That’s a different kind of obsession, and mine was worse, although maybe not as troubling. I’d keep my stats page up on the screen at all times, refreshing it every 30-40 seconds. I would also do dippy things in an attempt to detect or change trends, like trying to publish posts at different times of the day to see if the hits would go up (they don’t). In time, I mellowed out. Sure, I’ll check my stats once or twice a day, but it isn’t something I think about a lot. My obsession faded away, and I could once again turn my attention to more important things on the Internet, like Facebook and amateur porn.

spider twoAll that is to set up the odd thing that happened two weeks ago, noon on a Tuesday, when I very nonchalantly pulled up my blog stats. I usually have around the same number every day, and when my hit total came up for that particular day, I jumped back, startled. Okay, I didn’t really jump back, that was exaggeration for effect, but you get the idea. I’m not that easily rattled. I was really surprised, though, to see that my blog had already gotten over 1,400 hits.

“Dang, that’s pretty dope,” I thought. “How’d that happen?”

There had to be an explanation. I mean, let’s face it, my posts aren’t that good. I realized that most of these hits had come from the Google search. In addition, a vast majority of them – 1,251 to be exact – were for one single phrase.

Spider coming out of cup.

“What the hell?” I said to my girlfriend. “Spider coming out of a cup? I never wrote about anything like that! That was never even a tag.” How was it possible? As a rational human being, I knew that 1,251 different people couldn’t have Google searched “spider coming out of cup” and ended up at my blog. I thought about it, and then I realized why my original stat obsession had faded away in the first place.

spider threeI like my stats, and when I have good days, I like to think it’s because I wrote something worthwhile and, thus, I should feel good about myself. But the truth probably has much more to do with chance. How many of those hits are people who actually take the time to read a post? How many are accidental? How many are people who click on a link, stay for a second, and split? To go further, how many of my blog hits are even living human beings?

There was no way one person, or any amount of people, could have been responsible for the ‘spider coming out of cup’ explosion. The only thing that made sense to me was that some type of automated computer program somehow got stuck in a loop, and that’s how it happened. That’s my theory. In my all-time stats, ‘spider coming out of cup’ currently ranks as the 4th highest searched Google term, and the number hasn’t gone up by one single hit since I checked my blog at noon that one day. If you’re curious, here is the whole top five:

1. Sex

2. 90210

3. Gunther Von Hagens

4. Spider coming out of cup

5. Namsan Tower

Shit, how random! What a bizarre group of things, eh? I didn’t even write about number four at all, and apart from a few jokes (see porn gag earlier in post), I haven’t really written about sex, either. How do we, bloggers, really know who is out there and why they’re reading us? The Internet is one big, weird place, isn’t it?

spider fourThen again, I could have it all wrong. Maybe somewhere, sitting in a basement, there’s a guy who has spent the last two years meticulously searching out information regarding spiders coming out of cups. It could be spurred on by some sort of awful childhood trauma. No blog has been left unexplored. From morning until night, he keeps looking. Spiders. Cups. It never ends.

Now that, my friends, is obsession.

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Flat Stanley, Love Locks, and the City at Night

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Flat Stanley was wedged in a book.  I’d never heard of Flat Stanley until somebody mailed him to TTD a few weeks ago.  “You take him places,” she said, “and you gotta take a picture of him.  Then you mail Flat Stanley to someone else, so he goes around the world.”  It’s a cute idea, sort of like the garden gnome in the movie Amelie.  If you’ve never seen Flat Stanley, he is a white man in a dress shirt and tie.  He is called “flat” because he’s a paper cut-out.  Maybe when I have some free time I’ll invent “3 Dimensional Sven,” an origami Norwegian boy in clogs.  That sounds like a reasonable alternative to Stanley.  To me, at least.  Although he wouldn’t fit in a book.

“You know what might be fun?” I told TTD.  “If we go to some touristy place and pretend we’re tourists.  We can say we’re only here for a week.  Who knows?  We might meet some interesting people.”

TTD thought that idea sucked, but she did have to take a picture of Flat Stanley, and so on Saturday we went to Korea’s most popular tourist destination, Namsan Tower.  We’ve been in Korea well over a year but, for unclear reasons (i.e. hangovers), we’d never made our way to the Tower.  Flat Stanley was a good excuse.

Sis had been to the Tower before.  In fact, she has a lock there.  So it was TTD, Sis and I, headed up a mountain in a cable car, at 5 in the evening, with three goals: take a picture of Flat Stanley, find Sis’ lock, and see the city all lit up at night.

“Wow!” I said loudly so others could hear.  “This is an amazing vacation.  I’m so happy we’ll be in Korea all week.  It’s really fun to be a tourist here!”

To my disappointment, nobody paid me any mind.  I guess the only people who come off as being tourists are actual tourists.  Shucks.

Namsan Tower is well-known for its locks, just as Korea is known for being a ‘couples society.’  Most places here are designed for couples (for instance, 90% of restaurants don’t even have single servings, they price and serve dishes for two people) and there are about thirty holidays for couples (Pepero Day, for example, where couples give each other cheap chocolate sticks).  There are messages about love written all over the walls of coffee shops and PC cafes.  It’s really disgusting and makes being single even more depressing.  Not only am I lonely, I can’t order food.

The locks at Namsan Tower tie into this entire love/couple mentality.  When two are in love (cue Prince song), they buy a lock, write their names on it, and put it on the deck at Namsan Tower, where it will stay forever, symbolizing their eternal ardor.  Or, more likely, symbolizing nothing but getting the guy some booty that night.  Anyways, Sis and her boyfriend have a lock up there, somewhere among literally thousands of locks.  Some of the locks are brand new  (yay! young people in love!) while others are old and rusted and look like they’ve been there for centuries  (yay! old people in love!) (eww).  I looked out at the vast array of locks and felt a little jealous.

“I’ll get a lock and put one up here in anticipation,” I told Sis.  “I can get a good spot now.  My future girlfriend and I can come write our names and draw a heart later.”

“That might be creepy, bro,” Sis said.  “Especially if the lock is old and rusted by the time you find somebody.”

Sis looked around but couldn’t find her lock.  I’d heard before that many couples lose track of their locks.  “Are you sad because you can’t find it?” I asked her.

“No,” she said.  “I don’t care.”

This is probably why I’m single.  My neurotic ass would want to go see the lock every other day.  I’d be calling up my girlfriend, “Hey, how about this weekend, we do dinner and the lock.”  Then in the upcoming weeks: “Hey, how about a movie and the lock.”  “Say, I could go for coffee and the lock, you?”  “This weekend I want to do something special…I’m gonna take you on a beautiful, romantic getaway…after we see the lock.”

TTD didn’t help our four-minute search for the lock because she was too busy taking pictures of Flat Stanley.  An hour or so had passed since we took the cable car up, and the sun had gone down.  I went out on the (free) observation deck (as opposed to the one up the Tower, which costs money and was subsequently ignored) and looked out at Seoul.

It was maybe the most breathtaking thing I’d ever seen.  Nature is okay, but to me nothing compares to a great city at night.  And it’s even better when you’re looking out at a city you live in.  I’ve seen Niagara Falls in Canada, the Christ statue in Brazil, Halong Bay in Vietnam, and the Lindsay Lohan Playboy spread.  Nothing came close to making me feel like my beautiful city did.

Seoul.  The place where I live.  I felt alive and wonderful.  Really and truly happy.

Flat Stanley is a lucky guy.  He gets to come to Seoul and then head off on another adventure.  I feel fortunate too.  I’ve come a long way to get to here, and I can stay a bit.  Flat Stanley is a tourist, and, lucky me, I’m just pretending.

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