Stats obsession for month’s end

So this being the end of the month I do look at the various stats. May 2021 has been pretty similar to April in terms of average visits per day, but since the day is yet young I will delay noting that until later, when I will add a bit to this post.

Meanwhile, having blogged about blogging a couple of days back, I thought an overview would be nice. A blog certainly gets around! The best information I have that covers all my blogs, including English/ESL, comes from that flag counter thing you can see in the sidebar. It has been spying on my readers since October 2008. Here is what it has found.

By “this site” it means all the sites on which I have placed it.

As a map:

Not much of the world where someone (or a bot) has not had a look at something I posted!

On THIS blog WordPress offers this, going back to 2013.

Nothing from Saudi Arabia, notice! Or North Korea. But the Great Firewall of China has been breached more than once. 35 times in fact.

On Saudi Arabia: “Internet access in Saudi Arabia is broadly available in the main cities via ASDL and fibre. 4G is also becoming increasingly popular. The internet is highly censored so you should always pay close attention to how you behave and interact online.”

On North Korea: “Internet access is available in North Korea, but is only permitted with special authorization. It is primarily used for government purposes, and also by foreigners.” 

So in May 2021

This blog averaged 42 visits a day, compared with 39 last month but 50 in March. That 50 is the best this year. 68 in September 2014 is the best ever.

The most visited posts in May 2021 were, with those posted in May highlighted:

George Herbert 1593-1633

There are marvels to be found in the English poetry of the 17th century, a turbulent century if ever there was one. It was one of our main studies in our Honours year (1964) at the University of Sydney. I first loved these two poems by George Herbert when I read them in English 1 in 1960, when I was 16.-17. Of course they connected with my religious orientation at the time, but they are not mere theological hack-work. There is a brilliance in the language, in the rhythm, in the sound, and in the sheer humanity of them. Beautiful works.

Australian poet Robert Adamson recently posted “The Collar” on his Facebook feed.

~ The Collar by George Herbert ~

I struck the board, and cried, “No more;
I will abroad!
What? shall I ever sigh and pine?
My lines and life are free, free as the road,
Loose as the wind, as large as store.
Shall I be still in suit?
Have I no harvest but a thorn
To let me blood, and not restore
What I have lost with cordial fruit?
Sure there was wine
Before my sighs did dry it; there was corn
Before my tears did drown it.
Is the year only lost to me?
Have I no bays to crown it,
No flowers, no garlands gay? All blasted?
All wasted?
Not so, my heart; but there is fruit,
And thou hast hands.
Recover all thy sigh-blown age
On double pleasures: leave thy cold dispute
Of what is fit and not. Forsake thy cage,
Thy rope of sands,
Which petty thoughts have made, and made to thee
Good cable, to enforce and draw,
And be thy law,
While thou didst wink and wouldst not see.
Away! take heed;
I will abroad.
Call in thy death’s-head there; tie up thy fears;
He that forbears
To suit and serve his need
Deserves his load.”
But as I raved and grew more fierce and wild
At every word,
Methought I heard one calling, ‘Child!’
And I replied ‘My Lord’.

~ Love by George Herbert ~

Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lacked any thing.

A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?

Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.

Let the words play through you… Savour them…

And perhaps explore Dr Iain McGilchrist’s other readings.

A blog about blogging, pretty much

A former SBHS student of mine, Vlad Lasky, who I think did some work for them at one time, drew attention to WordPress at 18.

I replied to Vlad (on Facebook) thus: “One of my first WP posts — after time on Diary-X, Blogspot and even Geocities… Any earlier posts on my WP blog were uploaded later on from Blogspot.” That is, when you go to All my posts above you will find entries back to 2005. It turns out Vlad contacted me via that first WP blog in April 2006!

I joined WordPress in 2006 and this was my second entry:-

Rats: 6 April 2006

One of the delights of reading Ruth Park’s autobiographies is the insight they offer into her novels. The rat, for instance, that in Fishing in the Styx (1993) sits on a window-sill, ‘a composed leisurely rat . . . murderous as Set, a kitten-eater’, the sneering and frightening but not otherwise harming rat we’ve already met in The Harp in the South [1948] nibbling a baby. It is ferociously murdered by the child’s mother, the young and once more pregnant Roie, but not before it has run up under her skirt and needed to be beaten off. When Roie dies in childbirth shortly afterwards the reader remembers the rat and lives the horror of it all over again.

I can assure Marion Halligan [rescued via the WayBack Machine!] that the descendants of that rat are alive and well and have been causing havoc on my front balcony and in the garden fronting Belvoir Street.

Perhaps building work at the Belvoir Theatre has made them move down the road a piece?

Anyway, I have taken to leaving nasty surprises for them. Last night two packets were taken. I await results.

This all led me to something I had not looked at for years: the Pakistani Spectator interview of June 2008. [Update — my interview seems not to have been preserved, but a few have.]

Here it is! Just as well I kept a copy!

Would you please tell us something about you and your site?

I was born in Sydney Australia 65 years ago into a very different world. That was after all in the midst of World War II. Not much to tell, except that I eventually graduated in Arts from Sydney University, becoming a teacher of English and History in secondary schools, with a then fairly rare qualification in Asian and Indian/Pakistani history. My teaching career began in 1966 and ran, with a few diversions, until 1995, continuing part time now. From 1990 I moved towards English as a Second Language teaching, adding a Graduate Certificate in TESOL to my qualifications in 1998.

I came to the internet quite late, in 2000, having earlier been something of a computerphobe. I have several blogs in two divisions. One, English, ESL — and more, began as a site for my own students but has since taken on a life of its own; the other is more personal — Floating Life, with a Gateway blog [no longer exists] and some archives and a more pictorial blog where there are also pages detailing my family history back to a convict ancestor who arrived in Sydney in the early 1820s, and further back than that to Australia’s first people.

Do you feel that you continue to grow in your writing the longer you write? Why is that important to you?

I think I do, despite my advanced years. This is partly a matter of becoming used to the situation of writing online, partly through feedback from others, partly through reading others and seeing what they do that I like. It is important because I do seek to communicate rather than to alienate, if at all possible.

I’m wondering what some of your memorable experiences are with blogging?

There have been some memorable bad moments, but among the more memorable good experiences have been finding out through contacts made on the blog even more about my own family, and meeting up with a colleague I hadn’t seen for thirty years. There have also been so many precious examples of communicating with people from cultures and backgrounds I may have never encountered otherwise.

What do you do in order to keep up your communication with other bloggers?

WordPress offers good tools for this, and I also use BlogExplosion and Facebook.

What do you think is the most exciting or most innovative use of technology in politics right now?

On the last one, I think the 2007 Australian elections and the Kevin07 campaign showed that the web can be very influential. I admire the Australian site GetUp.

Do you think that these new technologies are effective in making people more responsive?

Yes, I do, but not always in a good way. I suspect people with prejudices sometimes have their prejudices reinforced by spending most of their time on sites they agree with. One reason I enjoy Arts & Letter Daily, for example, is that it places in front of me many articles I may not otherwise have sought out.

What do you think sets Your site apart from others?

I don’t think it is all that original really. I will quote a recent reader though, because if he is right I am very happy: I guess I like those that contain true things, that don’t hate or spread hate, that make me smile or make me think...Urbane and measured writing on a broad canvas from a retired Australian teacher. Gentle but uncompromising social commentary.

If you could choose one characteristic you have that brought you success in life, what would it be?

Materially I am conspicuously unsuccessful. As a teacher, I have sometimes — not always — been a good listener.

What was the happiest and gloomiest moment of your life?

Too personal…

If you could pick a travel destination, anywhere in the world, with no worries about how it’s paid for – what would your top 3 choices be?

1. China

2. UK — especially Scotland

3. Paris

What is your favorite book and why?

Just one? For some reason The Wind in the Willows comes to mind, but perhaps that is just association with the time I read it…

What’s the first thing you notice about a person (whether you know them or not)?

Eyes, I think.

Is there anyone from your past that once told you you couldn’t write?

I have had both experiences — being told I could and being told I couldn’t…

How bloggers can benefit from blogs financially?

My efforts on Blogspot with Adsense have yielded little, but I suppose my English/ESL blog helps enhance a reputation in the area that may indirectly assist, and has sometimes led to inquiries.

Is it true that who has a successful blog has an awful lot of time on their hands?

Very true, I sometimes say “Some people blog; others have a life.” But that is no doubt unfair. I know of quite a few very busy people who blog.

What role can bloggers of the world play to make this world more friendlier and less hostile?

I think they can play a major role, simply by being there. It is difficult to regard someone one has really got to know, as in some blogs you can, as an enemy. Bloggers too would be well advised to avoid filling their blogs with hate, and avoid commenting on matters they may not understand.

Who are your top five favourite bloggers?

  1. Baghdad Burning
  2. 3 Quarks Daily
  3. Easy-Writer: Kanani
  4. John Baker
  5. Man of Lettuce: Sydney Cabbie Blog

They are not in any special order. But there are so many I could have added!

Is there one observation or column or post that has gotten the most powerful reaction from people?

Probably On the awkwardness (and fatuity?) of discussing religion.

What is your perception about Pakistan and its people?

I am influenced by a friend who spent six months in Pakistan and found the people among the most hospitable he ever met — and he has been in many countries. From Australia, of course, we find aspects of Pakistan worrying — and I am not merely considering Cricket…

Have you ever become stunned by the uniqueness of any blogger?

Yes; I think that was my initial reaction to Baghdad Burning, for example.

What is the most striking difference between a developed country and a developing country?

Perhaps people in a developed country forget what their lifestyle really costs, while people in a developing country know that from daily experience.

What is the future of blogging?

I hope it continues as a means of uniting rather than dividing the people of the world.

You have also got a blogging life, how has it directly affected both your personal and professional life?

It has given me quite a few useful tools for my work as a tutor, and it has often enhanced my personal life, though at other times it may almost be a substitute for a personal life.

What are your future plans?

To survive in retirement…

Any Message you want to give to the readers of The Pakistani Spectator?

I wish the readers of The Pakistani Spectator well, and ask them not to trust anyone who tells them their truth is the only truth, or their way the only way, especially if killing people is part of the deal.

Can’t guarantee any of the links after all this time. It’s a nice look at me when I was a mere boy at 65!

Well met by moonlight

Yes, we have had quite an astronomical few days here in West Wollongong, and quite a few other places. Sadly the only working camera I have at the moment — I am smart-phone free! — is the one on my laptop, hardly suitable for taking pictures of the blood/supermoon. But Facebook has posted heaps, so many brilliant. I will share two here shortly, but I thought I would top and tail the post with music.

I could have cheated, and passed off these shots from my place in West Wollongong without telling you the first is May 2012 and the second March 2013. But I run an honest blog — or try to!


But why would I do that when there are such brilliant ones on offer from Facebook. The first hardly needs telling where it is:

from Hirsty photography

This is the best I have seen though:

An amazing shot by Philipp (@glanzpunkt) at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

Unapologetically wallowing in SBHS nostalgia

26 May 2021 evening: Thanks all for your interest in this post and the previous one! However, rather than try topping either now — or more likely posting a filler, I am taking another short break — maybe two days. Feel free to explore more of the blog in the meanwhile.

Over recent weeks I have posted several items about my classmates of 1959 and lately on Facebook I have been the poor old bastard looking back from 60+ years! And why not? Who knows how many of us, myself included, will be around to see 70 years on!

There was a time I thought this outrageously scary:

Nice song though… But 40 years on is 20 years ago now! Amazing.

Oh yes — and Latin. I have a soft spot for Latin, which I studied at SBHS and later at Sydney University.

Gaudeamus igitur,
Iuvenes dum sumus;
Post iucundam iuventutem,
Post molestam senectutem
Nos habebit humus,
Nos habebit humus.

Ubi sunt, qui ante nos
In mundo fuere?
Vadite ad superos,
Transite ad inferos,
Ubi iam fuere,
Ubi iam fuere.

Vita nostra brevis est,
Brevi finietur;
Venit mors velociter,
Rapit nos atrociter;
Nemini parcetur,
Nemini parcetur.

Google and you will find a translation. “Ubi sunt, qui ante nos/ In mundo fuere?” indeed. As I remarked on Facebook: SIXTY years on for yours truly! 🥰 Ubi sunt quī ante nōs fuērunt? And thank you, Edgar Bembrick (passed away 1960?) — I am glad I studied Latin!” And yes, that is a more classical version of the Latin tag.

And on Edgar Bembrick? I referred to this post:

I studied Catullus in 1959 under the tuition of Edgar Bembrick in his last year teaching. I have posted about Latin and Bembrick before:

I had studied Latin at school, mainly under the legendary Edgar Bembrick – his last class in fact. He died in 1960. See also my post 1957 or MCMLVII. So Latin as my fourth subject, just for one year, looked an easy choice. Except it turned out there was so much of it! Not just Cicero, but Livy and Horace – the Epistles, with Mr Duhigg, whose Cambridge accent charmed me.

Out of curiosity I have just done a quick search, finding that Edgar Bembrick was born in 1890, appointed to Canterbury Intermediate High in 1922, retired in July 1960. He was at Sydney Boys High long before I started as a student in 1955 — he’s in a 1943 staff photo. He was ill for some of late 1959 — cancer, I think.

Here he is, second from the left, in 1951 at SBHS:


And here am I when I first encountered him — though a Mr Maddox actually taught first year Latin, while second year was W E T Porter, a SBHS ex-pupil from 1904! Bembrick arrived in my world in third year, 1957 and we had him until his final illness in 1959.

So those 60 years on — here you are. I noted again: Even makes this ex-staff and ex-Class of 1959 pensioner a touch teary.

And way back 60+ years — though this is a publicity shot and we rather hated those hats!

Many years later:

In Surry Hills, around 2007


Responding to comments made by Marcellous, here is another video from that Class of 2019. I had posted it on Facebook. Do note the white ribbons, signifying the White Ribbon Campaign, a global movement of men and boys working to end male violence against women and girls.

And in reply to Tikno, in 2017 this got a lot of publicity:

And something else to show another side of the school, from Mothers Day 2021: