Year in review

Post and Rings in the snow

After months of behind-the-scenes work, countless design overhauls, seemingly endless sessions with focus groups, and three mass firings of my marketing teams, I made my first post on this blog one year ago today. I got a total of four hits in my first week: one MSN crawler, two from Yahoo, and one bot looking for a security hole. My first confirmed human visitor was still more than two weeks away.

That initial article was followed a few days later by my second post, in which I boldly declared that if I ever wrote about “how fascinating I find the squirrels in my backyard, you have my permission to give me 30 lashes with a wet noodle.” Exactly two months and twenty-two posts later, I wrote about the fascinating squirrels in my backyard. I held out as long as I could but those damn squirrels always get the better of me. I lasted almost an entire year before breaking my other vow and writing about what I had for dinner last night. Oh well. Otherwise, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of sticking to Dodgeville’s founding mission statement.

Filling up the Leslie Street SpitA few of my favourite posts and adventures from my first year include finding the old Martin Goodman Trail, taking a look at the abandoned monorail at the Toronto Zoo, chronicling my bike ride home from Niagara Falls, uncovering the Ontario government’s crackdown on street racing, exposing the moose that time forgot, finding a rock balancer in the Humber River, seeing a potential Christo project in Toronto, looking at the development of York Mills over a 20-year period, being hoisted into the air on the end of a very long stick, walking along the entire length of old Pottery Road, and, yes, watching those naughty squirrels. You really should see them going at it.

A number of those posts also appeared on Torontoist after I started writing for them in June. I’ve contributed almost 50 posts to Torontoist so far, only about a quarter of which I’ve reposted on Dodgeville. If you’re not reading Torontoist, you really ought to. Not just for my posts, but for all of the other great writers churning out heaps of local content there every day.

The funny thing about blogging is that you never really know what’s going to stick until after you throw it at the wall. I wasn’t planning to write about the abandoned Toronto Zoo monorail because I figured that a picture of an old concrete slab wouldn’t really interest anyone but me. And yet that article is among the most consistently hit week after week, and the version I wrote for Torontoist became my first contribution to be referenced by a Wikipedia article. Who knew?

Old family cemetery in PickeringAnd then there are the dozen posts that are forever in the queue, but which never quite make it out for some reason. And don’t forget the dozens that are still just scribbled notes and haven’t even made it into the official queue yet—almost a hundred ideas in waiting at last count. All in good time.

The pictures that accompany this post are a few of the hundreds that I’ve wanted to incorporate in posts but haven’t (yet) been able to. Since I started this blog, I’ve taken almost 5000 pictures of the city around me; you should be happy that I don’t post about everything I see.

Yet I still mourn some of the articles that got away because I couldn’t get a picture or didn’t have my camera with me. Among these, I’d include a plane we saw being towed down the highway (within a few weeks of our Suzuki and a half sighting), a bicycle decorated with a lion-like fairing (including full mane), and an awesome homemade cargo bike. Although I carry a camera with me at least 90% of the time I’m out of the house, apparently that isn’t enough.

Of the 135 articles that did make it out of the queue in the first year, the five most-viewed represent a pretty good cross-section of the site’s content:

  1. The Dark Knight. People love a cat in a uniform. So much so that in just a little over three months, this post has garnered twice as many hits as the next most popular article. The picture itself is hit even more, thanks to numerous direct links.
  2. Cyclist’s revenge. People also love a tale of vengeance with a heart-touching ending that will reaffirm your faith in humanity. Or something.
  3. Promise versus practice: Canadian Tire. It amuses me to no end that a lot of people seem to reach this page when looking for the store’s address. It’s fallen way down the Google listings recently, but it was really popular until a couple of months ago.
  4. Highway Traffic Act roulette #1. In which the provincial government tackles the scourge of street racing.
  5. Bike Train II: The long way home. What I didn’t mention in this post or subsequent comments was that I trained all spring and summer long to ensure that I could tackle the ride. I pushed myself farther and faster almost every weekend so that I had a decent shot at making the distance. I added an hour to my standard weekend ride each month from April through July until by I was up to almost six hours in early August. Still, the ride almost broke me. After taking my final snack break in Mississauga, it took me half an hour to talk my ass into getting back on the saddle. I’m glad I did, but it was close.

No, that’s not my keyboardSo that’s been my first year of blogging; I hope you’ve enjoyed it so far. I’d like to thank my millions dozens of readers—at least three of whom are not related to me by blood or marriage—for coming along with me as I’ve explored the city, uncovered various curiosities, seen various sights, and thought various thoughts. There’s much more on deck for this year.

One Reply to “Year in review”

  1. I really liked the monorail article a lot. I’m sure most native Torontonians know that the zoo used to have a monorail, but my imagination was peaked when I saw the abandoned track in the Canadian domain. I can’t believe how big it used to be.

    Having a small kid, we received a zoo membership for Christmas…. from reading the newsletters it looks like the zoo plans on moving a lot of the Canadian domain animals to the new centrally-located Tundra exhibit when it opens. I guess tourists are too lazy to take the long walk down into the Rouge River valley, which is a shame, because North America’s largest zoo is becoming much smaller as a result.

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