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13 Things I Learned in 2013 - Page 1 (Personal)

This year, I'm going to separate the lessons I learned into three categories: personal, political, and parenting. I know a lot of my readers tend to tune in for different reasons, which is fine. I don't expect everybody who is interested in my libertarian rants against climate policy to be just as interested in my review of Assassin's Creed III. This way, if you aren't interested in my politics, just skip page two. If you're sick of hearing me talk about being a parent, don't bother with the last page. Don't say I never did anything for you, dear reader.


1.
SEO Matters
SEO
"All the major search engines" = "Google"


Regular visitors to this site would be hard-pressed to notice, but emagill.com underwent a massive overhaul in 2013 as I finally decided to tackle SEO. SEO, for the non-web-savvy among you, stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it encompasses a wide variety of strategies that help put websites near the top of all the major search engines. I won't bore you with all the various things I did--sufficed to say it took me about four months--but I can report that I started seeing results almost immediately. Traffic to my site has increased dramatically, and I've been getting recognition from unexpected places. Thus, I give this advice free of charge to anyone who has a website: don't ignore SEO, and don't assume that using a web-tool to automatically "register" your site with search engines does anything but waste time.


2.
My "Expertise" is Valued
Cartoon
This is pretty much what it feels like when someone consults me


Part of my SEO work involved looking at the most successful parts of my site: the pages that have gotten the most traffic. At the top of the list are my series on logical fallacies and politics (here, here, here, and here), which wasn't completely unexpected since those are the pages on which I have received the most feedback. In 2012, I was approached by a guy trying to make a television show out of political fallacies, but in 2013, I was actually paid to serve as something of an authority on the matter. Without even meaning to or realizing it, I seem to be better at identifying and explaining fallacies in politics than average people, and thus, I helped structure an online course about it. For a liberal arts major who thought his only identifiable niche was in explaining the plot intricacies of The Legacy of Kain and Lost, this was a revelation. Expect to see more about logical fallacies and politics in the future.


3.
I've Still Got It
Bananaman
Everybody needs an alter ego


When I got married, I thought I had left Bananaman behind, that my days of singing in cheap bars were over. Last year, however, my bass-playing neighbor encouraged me to get behind the microphone again. It took a lot of prodding, but I eventually agreed to sing Grand Funk's "Some Kind of Wonderful" for a small crowd of drunk people at the nearby sports bar. I screwed up a few of the lyrics and missed a cue or two, but when I was done, everybody assured me that I'd nailed it and told me to come back. Now I'm slotted to sing some Stevie Ray Vaughan, George Thorogood, The Doors, Bob Marley, and more. At the moment, I'm terrified that I'll mess it up or I'll screw up my throat again or I'll just make a fool of myself, etc., but I know that, as soon as I'm holding that mic and looking out at the tiny, forgiving audience, I'll find my Zen.


4.
A Female Platy can Store Sperm for up to Six Months
a platy fry
The term "small fry" suddenly makes sense to me


After failing to keep goldfish alive in our fish tank, I switched to a more reliable fish for beginners: the platy. I didn't want to worry about behavioral problems or pregnancies, so I started with two females. Two months passed, and then one of the platys started to look fat--my wife thought she was pregnant, but I told her that was impossible--and the other platy died. A day later, I noticed what looked like weird, translucent, jittery globules of detritus, which after a minute I realized were a few dozen tiny little fish (trivia: a baby fish is called a "fry"), swimming all over the tank. My wife had been right: the fish had been pregnant. Not sure if I had witnessed the immaculate conception of a litter of fish messiahs, I did a little research and discovered that a female platy can store sperm for several months before getting pregnant. Having been totally unprepared for this, I quickly lost all but one of the fries to poor nutrition and maternal cannibalism. Now, I have two fish in the tank--"Momma" and "Fry"--and I'm keeping a careful watch on Momma's waistline.

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-e. magill 1/15/2014










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