Friday, March 20, 2015

Another Year Slips Past

Two years ago today, my 60th birthday fell on one of my regularly-scheduled publishing days.  Feeling moderately self-indulgent, a reasonable emotion on one’s birthday, I wandered away for the day from the elements and advocacy of urbanism.  Instead, I wrote about my personal reasons for writing this blog and how it fit with my philosophy of life, touching in a soft way on the eternal “Why are we here?” question.

Looking back at that post from the perspective of 24 months, I’d change the syntax of a handful of sentences and tweak some of the logical progressions, comments I could make about pretty much everything I’ve written from the second grade onward, but overall I remain content with the conclusions reached.

So, rather than spending my 62nd birthday in revisiting existential angst, I’ll instead look toward the state and future of this blog.

 I continue to enjoy writing the blog.  I appreciate the doors it has opened for me and the new friends and acquaintances it has made for me.  Also, my thinking on the subject of urbanism has broadened and deepened as a result of having to think my way through questions logically.  (My embrace of much of what StrongTowns endorses is what usually comes to mind on that point, although the StrongTowns philosophy is only one of many areas in which I’ve become better educated.)

Nor am I anywhere close to running out of topics on which to write.  Instead, I probably have a longer list of future topics today than ever before.

Although I will note that I find myself surprisingly incapable of judging which topics will be interesting to my readers.  I’ll labor over a post for which I find the finished product clever, insightful, and well-written.  Readers will respond with a shrug and readership drifts downwards.  I’ll follow with a post on which I do my best but remain unsatisfied with the result and readership booms.  It’s all a puzzle to me.  Although with sustained readership up 50 percent over the past two years, I have no grounds for complaint.  (I would have rather the rise had been 500 percent, but understand the fierce competition for eyes on the internet.)

Perhaps my only true disappointment related to the blog is that I haven’t become a more efficient writer.  More than you can imagine, I envy people who can sit down and pound out a thousand cogent, well-focused words at a single sitting.

In the same time, I can sometimes set out a thousand words that are grammatically correct, but even on the rare occasion when I can produce at that rate, I find myself still needing to do major surgery on my logical thread, often recasting paragraphs a half-dozen or more times as I prepare for publication.  If my blog posts were nature walks, I‘d bump into a half dozen trees and get my feet wet in a creek before discerning how to reach my destination.  I’m generally happy with where I end up, but I’m inefficient on my path to satisfaction.  And inefficiency takes time.

And that time may someday become a cost that I can’t afford.  As life moves onward, family health issues may eventually chip into my blog writing and community involvement time.

However, I shouldn’t try to read too much into the fuzzy outlines in my crystal ball.  This is the 513th straight blog post that I published on the day I targeted, although more than a few have slipped from my morning goal to an afternoon delivery.  If the levees hold and the creek don’t rise, my birthday will next fall on a blog post publishing day on March 20, 2017, which would be my 826th consecutive on-schedule post.  I hope to see you all right here when that day arrives.

For my next post, I’ll provide an update on the Petaluma Urban Chat design effort for the Fairgrounds site.  The work is rounding into shape nicely.  Also, I participated a few days ago in a one-day Fairgrounds educational effort for high school students.  It was insightful to see the opportunities through the eyes of 17-year-olds.  I’ll share an anecdote from that day.

As always, your questions or comments will be appreciated.  Please comment below or email me.  And thanks for reading. - Dave Alden (

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