One of the routine tasks I do for my salaried job is to look and see where people are coming from when they visit the websites I’m in charge of (there are four), and what they were looking for at the time. You could do that with your xanga, if you wanted to. You can look at your footprints and see who is linking to you, and you can see when people have come from a search engine. If you click on those search engine things, you can see where you are in the rankings for the search term. On one of the sites I look after, I can see where I am for versions of Google all over the world (they’re close, but not identical, if you were wondering). I will soon know how to write “search the web” in hundreds of languages.

This is my personal journal, not one of the four I’m paid to care for, so I don’t actually do that here. However, I just went and looked at my footprints for an example, and I can tell you that I am currently #1 for “sarah mclaughlin in the bleak midwinter tabs.” Now, the person who came here for that was disappointed. Others have come here for “scorpion nose” and “knitting sluts” and they also have been disappointed. But if I were in the business of selling guitars and had tabs here and found myself at #1 for a bunch of them, I would be all excited. I would think, “Oh, good! People are finding my guitar tabs!” I would check to see whether they clicked through to my catalog of guitars, and I would work out my strategies accordingly. The information might cause me to increase the number of guitar tabs I offered, or to put the names of modern performers into my posts, or something.

The number of things for which my websites are #1, or at least on the first page, has increased dramatically since I started doing this. When I am at the store, I tell my coworkers, “We’re #1 for X!” in a merry voice. “We’re #2 for Y, just below the official website! We’re above the official website for Z! We’re #1 for Q in Finland! We’re right below Amazon for F!” They tolerate this.

The theory is that this will lead, in time, to increased prosperity. Right now, we have more visitors to our catalog in one minute than we had in one day when I started doing this last March. We have ascended to “average presence” in the link popularity measures. We have way more online orders than we used to. (I can’t give you a percentage of increase on that, because we used to have none most months.) But the profit on online orders doesn’t yet pay my salary.

I am in the position of the college student who goes to classes and hunts spare change for gas money because someone who ought to know has told him that this will eventually lead to a well-paid job, even though at the moment there is no sign of one. He is supposed to exult in his good grades, which contribute nothing to his upkeep and mean nothing in the outside world, and take it on faith that his studying will lead to something beneficial.

But, hey, you wouldn’t believe the number of things my sites are now #1 for!12

After a jolly day plying the Dark Art, Son-in-Law came over and we had Gingered Cider and cookies. There were enough left that I was able to put aside a few for Christmas Eve and cookie boxes, but not many.

Here you see Cranberry Pinwheels with walnuts, chopped fresh cranberries, and orange peel, and they are certainly delicious. There are also Chocolate Spritz cookies. I couldn’t believe how easy those were with my new cookie press. I am going to try some fancier ones if I don’t run out of time.

In the evening, most of the household went out, but I stayed in and worked on #2 son’s sweater. I got about six inches done.12 It still probably won’t be finished for him to wear to his grandparents’ house on Christmas Day, but I am doing my best.

Today’s song is “Quelle est cette odeur agreable,” or “Whence is that goodly fragrance flowing,” another French carol. I think that I post this song every year, simply because it is so beautiful. Here you can find a little clip of Chanticleer singing it.

The words tell about the shepherds, who are hanging out on the hillside with their flocks when suddenly the scent of angels overwhelms them, ravishing their senses. I bet it would, too. Before I heard this carol, I had simply never thought about the angels having a smell. Chanthaboune has written about her students’ arguing with her about the shepherds’ reaction to the angels. The Bible says that they “were sore afraid,” but the kids begged to differ. They thought the shepherds would just be surprised. I think it might be a bit overwhelming.

I will be at the store today and tomorrow, which is fine, since my house is full of people and therefore a relatively difficult place in which to ply The Dark Art. They do, however, act all impressed when I say that we are #1 for things.

I have come back to say that I visited last year’s post for this day and was reminded that it is the Solstice, and yet this year I did not link you to any special carol for the ocasion. However, last year I did. I also linked to a really terrific cookie recipe and explained how to determine longitude by the behavior of a wounded dog, so you should use the calendar buttons on the left to visit that post if you have plenty of time. Just change the year to 2006 and you will be magically trasnported.