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Lessons Learned on Day 3,335

If you’re a regular reader of the site, you’ve probably noticed that it has had a lot of problems in recent weeks. It holds steady for a few days, then crashes hard. After some emergency surgery—the virtual equivalent of keeping a car together with Bondo and duct tape—it comes back to life for a while. It merrily goes about its business for a week or so until it goes around a corner a little too fast and loses a fender. More duct tape.

Eventually I got wise to its ways and hired someone to try to deal with some of the worst of it. He poked around under the hood and found that I would need a long-term solution but could probably get by for a time with a temporary short-term fix. Yesterday was the day for the short-term fix. It didn’t work. Actually, the site crashed out worse than it ever has in the 10 years of its existence.

Right before it blew up I noticed that today was to be day 3,335 since I made the commitment to blog every day (Just for kicks I keep a little counter running down at the very bottom-right of the site.). For a while it seemed like that potentially obsessive streak might be in jeopardy, and I don’t think that would have crushed me. I was glad for that. In the end it didn’t matter. I had some superhero programmers hard at work and they resuscitated it with what I assume is even better, stronger and stickier duct tape. We’ve got more work to do, but I’m hoping it holds at least through the Christmas season. I may need to take action before then.

It was a long and frustrating day. This blog of mine is one of those things that does strange things to my heart. I’m not sure that I can untangle what is good and what is evil, what is noble and what is not. I find it really tough when the server goes down; it feels like a part of me is broken. I guess that’s understandable. But then somewhere I’m quite sure it tips over the edge into just pure heart idolatry. I heard myself grumble this morning that I figured there was some spiritual lesson to learn in all of this, but that I’d be happier to learn that lesson at another time and in another context. As if I actually get to make those decisions. I’m pretty sure I take it too hard when the site explodes and Aileen would probably agree.

I found myself thinking back 3,335 days and realized that maybe I have been slow to adapt to the ways the site has changed over the years. 3,335 days ago I was paying $8 a month for hosting and about 8 people a day were visiting. That was a long time ago. In the past 24 hours 40,000 or 50,000 people attempted to visit and received that ugly and oh-so-unhelpful error message. I think the site may have become the guy who just can’t deal with the fact that he’s got a 40-inch waist and still tries to squeeze into those 32-inch Levis. It’s not working but we’re all kind of embarrassed to tell you that.

Something else has happened over the years. In some way challies.com made a slow transition from my site to oursite. I don’t mean to overstate the case and I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant, but the volume of emails and text messages and instant messages and everything else short of telegrams I received today showed to me in a fresh way that the site matters; that it plays a role in more lives than my own. Seeing a graph that displays the number of visitors in a week makes it all very abstract to me; getting emails from people saying, “I need to start my day with A La Carte!” makes it very personal.

So I need to get this fixed. I will get this fixed. That means moving on from the underpowered server I’m on and moving to something that can handle what we’re throwing at it day after day. This server is probably built to serve up 100,000 pages a month; we’re asking it for well over a half million. And it just isn’t working anymore. I may just need to ask your patience over the next few weeks while I try to make that move.

Meanwhile, thanks for visiting. Truly, it is a humbling thing to know how many people have chosen to make challies.com a regular visit. I’m more grateful than you know.