Bounce rate

Let’s talk about “bounce rate” for a few minutes if you don’t mind. When I check my blog’s statistics (yes, I do) I usually pay attention to what is known as the “bounce rate”.

“Bounce Rate is defined as the percentage of visitors that leave a webpage without taking an action, such as clicking on a link, filling out a form, or making a purchase.”

 In other words, the Bounce Rate measures the degree of interest and the involvement of your readers. A high bounce rate signifies that the reader is mildly interested in what you wrote, or that the content is not relevant to him. He/she reads and leaves quickly without taking any action. By the same token, a low bounce rate means that the reader is attentive, has clicked on some links, or left a comment. This is very gratifying for the author!

This is important because while writing is a satisfying occupation, is also a time-consuming process. It usually takes a few hours (after many, many edits) to put a little story together, and much more time, if I also attach a photo album.

I of course enjoy doing this, but at the same time, I would welcome some feedback once in a while. Even my cat, who is a rather aloof individual, appreciates a few strokes from time to time.

“We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” – Bill Gates

So, once you have read my story, help me to improve and minimize the bounce rate by providing me with some feedback. This will assist me to stay relevant, and at the same time, keep a modest view of my own importance.

I know that some people have an extreme fear of hypodermic needles, and similarly, some individuals are loath to provide some feedback. To mollify and invite them to fight this inclination, I might have to offer some interesting incentive…  (an idea still under consideration) … Every comment will be acknowledged and answered.

To write an opinion on this blog, empty your bladder, sit quietly for at least 5 minutes (no music allowed), and click on “Leave a comment” (you can do it with this link) located under the main title, on the top left side of this page. The comment space will appear at the bottom of the page.

Do not procrastinate. Leave a few words (no impropriety allowed) and pat yourself on the back for your good deed. It will bring you good karma, I promise.

Alain

“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Mark Twain

Assault on Mt Tamalpais

It came from the top. My partner and I had to infiltrate Marin County and find out (by all means necessary) what was going on Mount Tamalpais.

This directive took us a little bit by surprise, but that’s the way it works in our business. You never question anything coming from G or the Black Tower. So early last Tuesday morning, we packed our gears and headed for the hills. It took us about 45 minutes by car to reach our destination, riding a sinuous little road that meandered erratically through an arid landscape. The parking lot at the top, save for a few maintenance workers, was practically empty and no one was there to collect parking fees.

It had been a while since I last climbed that mountain, and I felt the physical strain right from the beginning. But an order is an order… we had to soldier on. My partner was in better shape than I am but was not keen on this mission. She is a flatlander, and I could sense that this stunt was not her cup of chai.

But up we went. It was already around 85° F and the temperature was rising. The path leading to the top was fairly easy at the beginning but became progressively steeper and difficult as we went along. Mount Tam is 2,572 feet (or 784 meters) high and even though it is not Everest, it still requires a fair amount of strength and stamina.

Carrying a bulky camera was also a hindrance and a distraction, but our orders were to document our expedition and I felt that I had to do this properly. An alpenstock would have been ideal, but we had none. Later on, we met some people who used one

Mount Tam is close to the ocean and like any sector of the Bay Area, it is subject to haze and fog. And on that day haze was hanging over the entire area. Haze, I will have you know, is the “bête noire” of shutterbugs. It envelops everything with a thin blanket of vapor preventing a clear, well-defined shot of a particular objective.

As we climbed higher and higher, we were finally rewarded with a spectacular view of the Bay Area with the ill-defined shape of San Francisco in the background.

We were just a few meters from the top when my partner balked at the completion of the task. The trail was indeed narrower and rockier than ever, and it was the nuisance of carrying a bulky (and pricy) camera that swayed me to listen to her and abort our mission.

I had in the meantime taking enough shots to satisfy the suits in the Black Tower. Nobody noticed us, apart from a friendly hiker (bless his soul) who urged me to continue to the top. But I am part of a team and could not abandon my partner.

We came down slowly (my partner much faster than I did) and returned swiftly to our safe house awaiting our next mission.

To be continued…

Alain

PS: Be sure to watch the pictures of this daring raid!

The masks are falling off

Like in a crime drama’s last act, the masks are falling off! After months of shielding their faces, citizens are (hesitantly) starting to assemble with their peers barefaced. It is a good and peculiar feeling at the same time. Good, because masks have been a hindrance (especially if you wear glasses) but strange because of the novelty of it. It almost feels like embracing a new cult…

The human being can manage almost any constraint. Poverty, hunger, disease, imprisonment… And once you have lived through such a condition for a while, it becomes the new normal. The “old normal” becomes an almost forgotten feeling and it will take some time before you refamiliarize yourself with the old ways.

It will also feel strange to finally identify people that you met during the pandemic. You never had a good chance to see them without a mask, and their features are not familiar. It will be like meeting them again in earnest. It happened to me recently, and even though I rubbed shoulders with this person for months, I did not first recognize her without a mask.

The masks are falling off, but handshaking, hugging, and kissing will remain taboo for a while longer. Especially among the more mature set. The young will no doubt reembrace the old ways enthusiastically, but grownups will do so carefully, progressively. Exuberance slows down with age.

But despite some encouraging results, the pandemic is far from over. Many unfortunate countries (India, Brazil) are still facing the full force of the storm, and the world won’t be safe until everyone has been vaccinated.

Even in relatively modern countries, there are some stragglers… People who for strange ideological reasons refuse to get immunized against the disease. And among those, I am particularly disturbed by the so-called “faithful” reaction to the crisis. Especially the ultra-orthodox who seem to live on another planet… When the Titanic went down, God did not pick and choose who would live or who would die. God helps those who help themselves… I thought that everybody, especially the faithful, knew this…

And experts are saying that booster shots will be required. Like the flu season, the Covid-19 pandemic is going to become a recurring event, with what it entails.

Nevertheless, despite some hiccups, the masks are falling off. And fashionistas are thrilled! How can any young woman not be excited to show her pretty face again? Your face is your billboard and without a decent billboard, it is difficult to attract suitors… Yes, they will gladly remove their ungainly niqabs…

But ladies, you don’t really need a pretty face to attract… charm is the key.

“A beauty is a woman you notice; a charmer is one who notices you.” ~ Adlai E. Stevenson

I will pick a charmer anytime, with or without a mask.

Alain