Seven Years of Bad Luck

Lookie here what the archive page says today:

At 4:37pm on 29 November 2000, I decided to take the plunge and convert a longstanding mailing list then called ‘Some Arrant Knaves I Know’ into the blogolicious splendor you see before you today. Now, seven years and 5,225 posts later, I’m still here, scarred but smarter, as they say. Seven years is a decidedly biblical length of time, and reaching the milestone puts me in a reflective mood. (Of course, the original home of Heathen,, is slightly older, and was itself a migration of a site originally hosted at Houston ISP Neosoft since 1995.)

Bizarre differences, then and now

In 2000:

  • The boom was booming, and I was going to be rich forever.
  • Britney was still hiding her white trash truth from us.
  • Terrorists were, by and large, something my roommate killed in Counterstrike, and I could carry my Swiss Army Knife on airplanes. Not to mention as much hair gel as I wanted.
  • My wife was still someone I’d met in college, but lost touch with.
  • Jackson Correspondent Triple-F was a lowly, drunken and aggressively single law student entering his final year instead of the married father he is today.
  • There was no participatory web to link to back then. HotOrNot existed, but things like Wikipedia and social-networking sites like MySpace and Facebook were still a ways off. (Well, Wikipedia launched in 1/01, but it didn’t get useful for a while.) Blogs were also pretty unusual, though that also changed quickly.
  • As you may recall, there were no comments for two years. I turned them on due to the Heights Attorney’s complaints in 12/2002. The initial Heathen platform, Blogger (then only a year old!), didn’t support them, and I didn’t bother turning them on for some reason when I migrated to Greymatter in July of 2001. (You can’t tell this by looking at the archives, since everything from 7/01 on appears to have a comment link thanks to the import job I did when I switched to Blosxom in 2003.)
  • There were also no categories until 2003, either.
  • I posted a lot less. 2002 had only 234 total posts. 2007 will likely top 1,100 (1,046 as of last night). The dramatic uptick coincides with my adoption of Blosxom as a platform, which makes things much easier (thanks, Mike).
  • The layout’s changed a few times, but sadly there are no historical shots of anything but the very first Blogger template (preserved in the oldest archive pages).
  • REALLY longtime Heathen know that MH lived first at in a subdirectory, not on its own domain; I didn’t buy the mischeathen/miscellaneousheathen domains until 2003.
  • Heathen and NoGators originally lived at Laughing Squid, a great and independent host in San Francisco. We moved from there to a leased server at some point, and then off that server following a hacking incident a couple years ago. We’re now hosted as part of a work-for-hosting deal with Spacetaker.
  • Traffic’s gotten slightly better, but is still low enough that I’ve never seen a dime off the ads. The five year post says Heathen was at 5K+ uniques a month and 80K hits a month; for October ’07, we did 7600 uniques and about 80K hits. (Oddly, November shows nearly 13K uniques for some reason.)

Bizarre constants, then and now

  • By the time the first post happened, I’d already moved into Heathen Central. This makes the HQ my most constant domicile ever, not counting the house I was born into (1970 – 1979).
  • I still drink with most of the same people, with only a couple new faces. Ear O’Corn married the subject of the second-ever post about a year ago, but she was already around back then. We’re just older now. Even Lindsey.
  • We had the same creeps in the White House, which seems particularly bizarre.
  • My earliest and most constant sources are only a bit older than Heathen: Metafilter dates from 1999. BoingBoing started in January of 2000 as a weblog (though it was a site and a zine first). The mostly-dormant Memepool started 1998. Heathen’s frequently served as sort of a second-order aggregator of cool stuff online, based on the assumption that most of its readers don’t also read the hardcore geek sites like these.

Things we noticed perusing the first couple months

  • Holy Jesus, what was I thinking with that godawful orange?
  • I’ve gotten longer-winded. Part of this is Blosxom, which makes it much less trouble to post, and harder to lose a post-in-progress to the fickle foilbles of browser code. I just write an entry in any editor, save it to the right directory locally, and run a sync job when I get around to it. Blogger and Greymatter (and pretty much every other platform) required I use a web interface to post, which just gets in the way. This ease of use is the major reason why I’m still not using a database-backed tool.
  • For the first year or so, it was slightly less political, and slightly more goofy, and completely devoid of football.
  • Did I really not realize that the jazz critic who lambasted Ken Burns’ multi-night affair in 2001 was THE Harvey Pekar? Apparently.
  • First mention of Utilikilts: August, 2001.
  • The old pages got a lot of comment spam before I locked down the files. Oops. Better commenting is one feature I’d get if I’d move to a fancier platform, and it’s tempting.

I’m still having fun with this peculiar public hobby. You’re apparently still reading. I reckon there’s no reason to stop now. Happy birthday to Heathen, and Happy Holidays.

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