13 November 2010

statistical insights

I have a confession.

I am obsessed with stats.

This may make my parents the accountants overjoyed, this passion for numbers and data, but actually, I'm pretty sure they already knew that obsession of mine.

Plus, I think they're overjoyed to have a writer in the family; it rounds out the family line-up, which is heavily weighted towards the sciences.

But here are the stats I'm obsessed with: the ones that tell me how many people visit my blog, how they got here, and what they look at.

Yes, I'm obsessed with you. And your statistical significance in relation to me. I am obsessed with your p-value.

{That's one of the only terms I remember from my actual stats class in college, so I could be misusing it. Thought I'd throw it out there anyway, in case in makes me sound smarter.}

Right now, I'm most fascinated with the search terms that people used to get to my blog. Those are like little insights into the soul of a searcher.

Who, for example, sat down recently and searched "slice ornament Christmas mistletoe"? And what were they hoping to find? Perhaps instructions on making a Christmas ornament from orange slices and mistletoe?

But why would you want to do that? I mean, the oranges would, over the course of the Christmas season, shrivel up and most likely start to smell non-citrus-y.

Also, it's my belief that mistletoe shouldn't be combined with anything else. It's a statement piece {the statement: "Kiss me now"}, and if you muddle it with oranges, the statement could become muddled. People could start to think you're just supposed to wave at each other. Or shake hands.

And no one would naturally end up under the mistletoe if it were hanging as an ornament on the tree. Well, maybe your Christmas is a lot different than mine, but I see very little reason for two people to be lying down under the tree during a holiday party. And the whole point of mistletoe—based on my real-life experience with it via Hallmark Christmas movies—is to give two people who won't admit that they like each other an excuse to awkwardly kiss; the whole plot hinges on the mistletoe placement.

But enough on my mistletoe and orange ideas. {I didn't realize I felt so strongly about mistletoe.}

Another question this "slice ornament Christmas mistletoe" search brings up is: How did Google decide that this ornament mistletoe searcher should come to my little ode to my friend Lauren—in which I very briefly mention Christmas ornaments but do not mention a slice ornament?

And what did they think when they got here?

Of course, my Google stats can't tell me that, the details of what was going through someone's brain when they found themselves mired in a blog with Jane Austen in the title but that isn't about Jane Austen at all and is even less about Christmas ornaments. If Google could tell me that, this particular post would have a different tone to it. That being: stop thinking, everyone. Google knows. And they know that I just warned you, so really, I'm in more trouble than you are.

Three other interesting things to point out on my search terms:

  • Many people get to my blog my searching on a variation of the title: Jane Austen didn't prepare, Jane Austen never taught me that, Jane Austen lessons. I'm guessing that these are people who know me, and I have casually mentioned my blog to them. However, because I still feel a bit stilted in self-promoting, I must not have told them the actual address. I must've said something like, "Yeah, I blog a little. Um, it's called Jane Austen Didn't [mumble mumble mumble]. Yeah, so...how are you? Let's talk about you."

    To all those people, I say: thank you for your persistence in Google stalking me. I wanted you to read my stuff, but my Midwestern shyness got in the way.
  • More than one person has gotten here when searching for my sister. I am sorry, [insert sister's name here]. I'm now scared to mention you by name in case I'm helping any freaky stalker find you.

    I would, however, like to point out that our parents did us no favors in giving us such distinctive names. We are incredibly easy to find on the Interwebs, even if you don't know our last names. I'm going to start calling you Sarah, even in real life. See you at Thanksgiving, Sarah!
  • Several people have searched for "horse tattoo" or "galloping horse tattoo" or even "how to get a horse to gallop." They ended up here because I wrote awhile back about my mother's tattoo—a blue horse galloping across her upper thigh. If you've read that piece, you know, then, that I freaked out when my mother got a tattoo; that other people are searching for the same type of tattoo is actually somewhat reassuring to me.

    And Mama, perhaps we should consider putting a picture of your tattoo on here so that all those people looking for tattoo inspiration can find it here. {Also, that person who searched "how to get a horse to gallop" must not really be into horses all that much. Even I, someone who just tolerates horses, knows that you get them to gallop by wearing spurs, kicking them, and saying, "Giddy up!"}

All this discussion of how these people got to me has me curious: how did you get here?


  1. I think it was that you posted a link on Facebook, and "Annie Dillard" was somewhere in your description of the link, and lo and behold, it's Kamiah's blog.

  2. Annie Dillard is how I get a lot of readers :)

    Well, that and the Facebook links. Those help, too.

  3. I laughed so hard when I read "See you at Thanksgiving, Sarah!" that I had to read that section (and then most of your post) to Sid so he'd know why I was laughing :)

  4. I'll repeat it: See you at Thanksgiving, Sarah!

    If you'd like me to choose a different fake name for you, I can :)



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