Hello Global Visitors


It is always interesting to check the stats at the end of the month and look at where readers have come from on the globe.

You can get a peek at the most recent visitors by checking out the Live Traffic in the sidebar. I grabbed a sample (shown below) that illustrates what a great diversity of global visitors find Serendipity35.



The Adventures of the Serendipity35 Gang

error code
You probably noticed some changes on this blog the past month. Brother Tim did some upgrades and that required getting rid of our old and outdated theme. The updates also busted a lot of images from the site and changed all kinds of settings on the admin end of things. For example, it reopened comments on posts and I immediately started getting hundreds of spam comments again. Oddly, many of them were links to Chinese sites selling basketball shoes, but also the usual Cialis and other drug and questionable merchandise. Unfortunately, that is further proof that we just can't allow commenting, (I do get the occasional legitimate email sent to the site though.)
I have tried to fix the frontend of the posts and Brother Tim has been playing behind the screen with things and hopefully we are back to something like normal - which is more than I can say for the offline world.

3650 Days Later

Virginia TechToday is Easter and also the tenth anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech. On April 16, 2007, my oldest son was a senior at Virginia Tech and I will never erase the memory of that day and being on the phone with him as we watched the coverage of the mass shooting on TV.
He was safe.
But his engineering classmates and his professor that morning, Kevin Granata, were not. The class was working on muscle and reflex response and robotics projects. Professor Granata was helping my son fill some gaps in his software skills by working with him outside of class time. He was his adviser for his capstone senior design project team that was designing a biomimetic walking robot.
That morning Professor Granata heard the shooting and took about twenty students from a classroom to his office. After they were locked in, he went downstairs with another professor, Wally Grant, to investigate. Both teachers were shot. Professor Grant was wounded and survived, but Dr. Granata died from his injuries. The students locked in his office were all safe.
Kevin Granata was 45 years old. He was married with three children.
The university’s Day of Remembrance events this year began on Friday and continued today with the lighting of a ceremonial candle, at midnight, at the April 16 Memorial, followed by a wreath laying this morning and a full reading of the biographies of the 32 victims who were killed. There is a evening candlelight vigil at midnight, and then the ceremonial candle from the memorial is carried back to Burruss Hall.
My son was there Friday along with his wife who also graduated from Virginia Tech in his class of 2007. She was there recruiting for her employer. He made Blacksburg a stop on his way to North Carolina for a visit with John, a classmate and close friend.
Another classmate, Colin Goddard was one of the 7 students in his classroom of 17 to survive that day. He still has three bullets in his hips and knee. After the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Newtown, CT. Seeing the very young victims on TV made him feel like the way my wife and I and the rest of the nation watched his tragedy at Virginia Tech. He decided to work for gun safety.
Colin served as a Senior Policy Advocate for Everytown for Gun Safety, and when he decided to get his MBA at the University of Maryland, he continued to volunteer as a Survivor Fellow with the organization.
Everytown for Gun Safety was created by Michael Bloomberg to combine several like-minded groups (Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America) under one centralized umbrella. Everytown for Gun Safety will focus on background checks rather than gun bans, a course parents from Newtown took after being unable, even with President Obama's strong support, to get federal support in Congress for stronger gun regulations. They will also will fund grass-roots operations dedicated to ensuring anti-gun voters reach the polls.
Ten years - 3650 days - later and it doesn't seem like much, or enough, has changed when it comes to the way Americans deal with gun violence.

Into a Twelfth Serendipitous Year

On this anniversary day for Serendipity35, we enter year 12 of blogging here.

This blog is approaching 100 million page hits. It will probably click over to that rather magical number this summer.

I don't think this is the year that Serendipity35 becomes a book.

February 2 is an interesting date to have as our anniversary.

In America, this is Groundhog Day. It's an old and thoroughly unscientific time to watch the behavior of animals (particularly the groundhog) as an indicator of what weather we can expect ahead: 6 more weeks of winter, or an early spring.

It is also the subject of a funny and thoughtful film, Groundhog Day, about someone caught in a time loop on this day.

For Christians, it is Candlemas.

But today is also the exact halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.

I find all four of these things hopeful, and I am hopeful that I will continue to want to post here about my thoughts on learning and technology.

Blogging By the Numbers

100 millionI was eager to check all my blog statistics this month because I had calculated that the numbers would trip my blog odometer over to a big number. I keep a spreadsheet for the 8 blogs where I write online. I don’t keep track of stats for my Tumblr or Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any of the other social sites I use. And I don’t obsess over the numbers month to month because I don’t get any income from people just viewing a page. I am curious about which posts got the most attention because it gives me some insight into what people want to read.

Looking at the total page hits for the eight blogs over their lifetimes, the number has now crossed the 100,000,000 mark.

That’s one hundred million page hits, which doesn’t mean there were that number of “unique visitors.” It is safe to assume that many of those hits come from the same people – and that’s a great thing. Blogs get subscribers and followers who are usually notified of new content and who, hopefully, come back to read more of your posts.

That number – 100,000,000 – sounds like the population of a country – my own little country of blogs.   My blog country is a bit smaller than the 12th largest, the Philippines at 107,668,232, but we are bigger than Ethiopia (96,633,456) and Vietnam (93,421,832). Sure, we are only half the population of Brazil (202,656,784) and Pakistan (196,174,384), but everyone in Austria (8,223,062) could visit the site a dozen times each to get us to 100,000,000.

One of my blogs, Weekends in Paradelle, has a largely North American readership, but the UK, Germany, France and India account for about 25 percent of visitors to this particular blog.

But my most oldest and most read blog is this one, Serendipity35. I have been writing about technology and education here since 2006, so it has a head start on the other blogs. It pulls in about a half million hits every month (532,468 in January and 859,860 in December 2016) and accounts for 97 million of those hits.

hourly statsSerious bloggers look at when people access their blog and then try to post in that time period. For Serendipity35, which has a much wider global audience than the Weekends in Paradelle blog, there is no “hot” hour. People are dropping by here all day and night from somewhere as the graph here shows. 

It’s nice to know there is a country of visitors out there. 


Take a Holiday Break and Pay It Forward

Google Santa Tracker village

I'll be taking a break from Serendipity35 until 2017 as the university closes up for the holidays. The kids all finished their exams and are tucking in for a winter nap until the new semester starts in January. Though that semester is called "spring," it will be quite cold when we return to educating here in New Jersey.

In the meantime, you can use the Google Santa Tracker or the old reliable NORAD Tracks Santa websites to play and follow Mr. Claus on his global travels. Pay it forward is an expression for describing the act that when you are the beneficiary of a good deed, you repay it to others (forward) rather than back to the person who did you the good deed. A lot of people learned about it via the book or the movie with that title, but the concept is much old, and owes something to Lily Hardy Hammond's book In the Garden of Delight.

Here are some charities I can recommend if this reminds you at year's end about those with greater needs than our own and less resources to deal with those needs. 

Smile Train is an organization whose site can break your heart with photos of kids with cleft lip and palate issues in developing countries. They cannot eat or speak properly, won't be allowed to attend school or hold a job and face very difficult lives. A donation of any amount is appreciated and $250 provides for the 45 minute medical procedure that will change a child's life.

One year I chose providing clean water as my focus. It's something we really take for granted in the U.S. More than 1 in 6 people in the world don't have access to safe drinking water and 1 out of every 4 deaths under the age of 5 worldwide is due to a water-related disease. There are a number of organizations that work to provide clean water for people and can even fund a well for an entire village. Here are 3 groups that you can consider: http://www.charitywater.org , http://watercharity.org/ and http://thewaterproject.org

Another year I decided to support charities that help our service members and their families.

Get Involved with Joining Forces

OurMilitary.mil: Community Support for our Military

United We Serve

National Resource Directory   

My wife selected the Michael J. Fox Foundation several years ago when two friends of ours were diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. This foundation has an aggressively funded research agenda for ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson's today.

From myself and Brother Tim at Serendipity35, we wish you a very happy and healthy launch into your dance around the Sun in 2017!