diamond geezer

 Wednesday, February 28, 2024

During February 2003 on diamond geezer I kept myself busy by counting things. Ten different counts, to be precise, in a none-too thrilling daily feature called The Count. My 28-day tally chart may have been deathly dull to the rest of you, but I've continued to count those categories again every, single February since, purely to keep tabs on how my life is changing. Twenty-one years later I can confirm it's changed quite a lot and I have the data to prove it. Below are my counts for February 2024 accompanied by the previous statistics and some deep, meaningful pondering.

n.b. The month hasn't finished yet so all this year's totals are best guess estimates, but I'll come back and update/rewrite the post as February draws to a close.
n.b. in leap years, only the first 28 days count.

Count 1 (Blog visitors): It's been the best February yet for people turning up to read what I've written, which is nice. What's more the previous record has been smashed by a margin of over 16000, which is an amazing 20% uplift. I'm now averaging 3300 visitors a day, or about 40 doubledeckerbusfuls, and that's just people who turn up in person rather than reading via the magic of RSS. One reason seems to be that Google have loosened the brakes and are sending a lot more search engine queries this way, i.e. it's a torrent of one-off readers, but hopefully a few of them will decide to stay. It amazes me sometimes that anyone comes back when there's the risk of reading about buses in Bexley, memorial benches in Barking or housing estates in Warwickshire, which is hardly "must read" subject material for the average person in the street. But I do try to provide a varied diet where possible, rather than endless recycled press releases, because I believe there's still demand for original subject matter. As one of my regular three thousand, I assume you either keep coming back for the variety or can put up with the personally-irrelevant stuff inbetween.
Total number of visits to this webpage in February 2024: 93789
(2003: 2141)...(2008: 32006)...(2013: 55369)...(2018: 68993) (2019: 69102) (2020: 66682) (2021: 65701) (2022: 69714) (2023: 77244)

Count 2 (Blog comments): There's nothing quite so unpredictable as comments. Some days this blog attracts hardly any, while other days the discussion catches fire and you add dozens. This month we've been averaging about 30 a day, which is par for the course of late but still well above numbers in my first decade. For a blog in the 2020s I'd say it's also damned impressive. Most blogs either no longer allow feedback or have commenting zones resembling tumbleweed, but somehow you lot always seem to carry on talking, nipping in with a pertinent reference, a pedantic correction, a nostalgic nod, some schoolboy grandstanding or a bit of insider know-how. Admittedly it doesn't take much to set a few of you off, particularly if the topic is transport-related, and some days the gradient between sparkling and tedious can be steep. But one amazing statistic is that 350 different people have commented this month, chipping in when they have something relevant to say, and that variety is truly humbling. I also note that only nine people have left more than 10 comments, and that 10% of my commenters are called Andrew, David or Michael. Thanks everyone, because it's you that helps to bring this page to life.
Total number of comments on this webpage in February 2024: 861
(2003: 166)...(2008: 504)...(2013: 546)...(2018: 810) (2019: 706) (2020: 702) (2021: 946) (2022: 850) (2023: 830)

Count 3 (Blog content): The number of words in my posts is still rising and now averages 1350 a day, the highest it's ever been. That's not to be sniffed at, indeed it's the equivalent of writing seven novels a year and I wonder how many of you write that much on a regular basis? I often start out thinking "I doubt this'll be a long one" but by the end have written loads because I've uncovered more along the way. Equally I fear I often write too concisely, packing loads of facts and observations into a single sentence when I could have written an entire paragraph. It's always a balance between adding detail and avoiding burnout, between making sure you have enough to read and making sure I get enough sleep. At least London remains a broad enough canvas that there's always plenty more to write about, which remains an excellent way to keep myself occupied.
Total number of words in diamond geezer in February 2024: 38040
(2003: 14392)...(2008: 17606)...(2013: 29410)...(2018: 30680) (2019: 33361) (2020: 29099) (2021: 32122) (2022: 33056) (2023: 34291)

Count 4 (Hours out): If lockdown taught me anything it's to leave the house every day becuase you never know when that might no longer be possible. I have indeed done that this month, and for what turns to be just over five hours a day. That's about a quarter of my time, which isn't bad when I don't have an office to go to, although it's not as long as I spend each day in bed asleep. I normally only make one big trip a day but it all adds up, not least because places like Purley and Pinner take a while to get to and get back from. My total's a bit lower than last year, however, because I've only been on one super-lengthy excursion.
Total number of hours spent out of the house in February 2024: 150
(2021: 96) (2022: 113) (2023: 164)

Count 5 (Nights out): I'm not an especially social person of an evening, as you can tell by the fact that this count only once surged into double figures. This February's trips have been no further than BestMate's sofa (where we watched Thursday night telly and put the world to rights), with no additional jaunts to pubs, restaurants, cinemas or the like. Admittedly I have been to watch a film and meet up with people during the daytime, but because this is a 'Nights out' count these bursts of sociability don't count. Don't worry it's all fine, and you'd never get a blog to read if I went out as often as I did in that heady February twenty years ago.
The number of nights in February 2024 I went out and was vaguely sociable: 3
(2003: 21)...(2008: 7)...(2013: 4)...(2018: 3) (2019: 4) (2020: 4) (2021: 0) (2022: 4) (2023: 4)

Count 6 (Alcohol intake): For the purposes of this long-term count my definition of alcohol had always been a specific gassy bottle of German lager. I clung to Becks for familiarity and ease of ordering, plus the fact it doesn't give me hiccups, but it's become increasingly hard to source in recent years so now any bottle of lager will do. BestMate surprised me with a genuine Becks in a giant bottle the other week, much to my delight, but unfortunately that was at the end of January so didn't count for the Count, which is a sad fat zero.
Total number of bottles of lager I drank in February 2024: 0
(2003: 58)...(2008: 28)...(2013: 2)...(2018: 5) (2019: 0) (2020: 0) (2021: 3) (2022: 1) (2023: 3)

Count 7 (Tea intake): Apart from one dodgy year when workplace kettle usage was banned, my monthly tea consumption has remained impressively consistent and almost always falls within a narrow range of 120-135. My mug total dropped a little after I left work because I was no longer desk-bound and kettle-proximate, and rose again during the pandemic for approximately the reverse reason. Things have now settled down, brown-liquid-wise, so I'm back to being a four-and-a-half cups a day man. Milk, no sugar, thanks.
Total number of cups of tea I drank in February 2024: 123
(2003: 135)...(2008:134)...(2013: 127)...(2018: 123) (2019: 121) (2020: 122) (2021: 128) (2022: 132) (2023: 116)

Count 8 (Trains used): This count's normally been pretty consistent too... always just over a hundred a month (unless the government decreed otherwise). But this month's total is ridiculously high, indeed almost double any previous year, because I've been working on another mini transport challenge behind the scenes. Since the start of the year I've swiped my Travelcard at every single zone 1-3 station (tube, DLR, and National Rail), finishing on Sunday, and it's involved taking a heck of a lot of trains. It's nowhere near as many as the number of buses as I rode last month when I was doing 'all the routes', but even that total's back down to 81 this month so expect normality to be restored soon.
Total number of trains I travelled on in February 2024: 265
(2003: 103)...(2008: 117)...(2013: 139)...(2018: 110) (2019: 135) (2020: 136) (2021: 0) (2022: 17) (2023: 141)

Count 9 (Steps walked): For me a normal amount of walking is just under half a million steps a month, i.e. about seven miles daily. That's lower than the ten miles I managed during turbocharged lockdown roaming, but also higher than the four miles I was averaging when I had an office job. I still reckon fourteen thousand steps a day is a half-decent total, and thus far it does seem to have kept my waistline below 2019 levels, but on the downside another pair of trainers is now ready for the bin.
Total number of steps I walked in February 2024: 452000
(2013: 273300)...(2018: 342000) (2019: 464000) (2020: 405000) (2021: 671000) (2022: 627000) (2023: 434000)

Count 10 (Mystery count): Sorry to disappoint you all, again, but the legendary diamond geezer Mystery Count continues to be nil. I know, I'm as unimpressed about the outcome as you are. I can also confirm that the mystery event has never happened on February 29th, when I wouldn't have to count it, neither do I have anything non-zero scheduled for tomorrow. Apologies.
Total number of times that the mystery event happened in February 2024: 0
(2003-2023: 0)

I also asked you for an 11th count, so here are the totals I've accumulated for some of your suggestions.
Number of flights of stairs climbed: 1015
Number of escalators walked up: 46
Number of books you read completely: 4
Number of letters versus advertising flyers you receive: 10 versus 6
Number of times you enter a shop and buy something: 10
Number of times that 'TfL' appears in your web posts: 42
Number of hours watching TV: 75
Number of hours listening to radio: 241
Number of hours spent outside Greater London: 7
Number of times you cross the Thames: 32
Number of hours spent on the laptop writing the blog: 170
Number of times you've jumped: 0

I did suggest that you might count something specific during February 2024, so do let us know if you did. Life's more interesting when you count it.

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