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By Robert Rapier on Apr 21, 2006 with no responses

"Entertainingly Obsessive"

It seems like a lot longer than a month ago that I started this, but my first substantive post was on March 23rd – just one month ago. I had put off starting a blog for a long time, because there are just so many out there, and I didn’t want to end up talking to myself. I wondered if I could say anything that someone else, somewhere, hadn’t already covered in detail. I happened upon The Ergosphere one day while doing some research, and I thought “This guy is really doing something important here. He is educating people on a very important issue.” I contacted him and we had a bit of an e-mail exchange, and he encouraged me try my hand at blogging. My friend Scott Page also started a blog in January, All-Too-Common Dissent , and I was encouraged by his experience as well. So, I decided to take the plunge.

Of course traffic starts out very slowly in the beginning. My first few posts were on ethanol, and when the topic would come up at The Oil Drum or The Daily Kos , I would reference the things I had written. I got a Site Meter so I could monitor traffic and make sure I am not just talking to myself. Slowly, traffic started to grow. It was interesting to see where people were coming from, but one of the most valuable pieces of information I got from the Site Meter was the category “Recent Visitors by Referral”. That tells me how they found my blog. By the way you can see this information as well if you click on it at the bottom of the page; you can see details on the last 100 visitors.

It turns out that traffic really picked after some very nice plugs that I got from other web sites. One morning I noticed that I had 100 visitors overnight, and when I checked the referrals I found they were coming from a very nice plug at The Ergosphere: I must be coming back as a cockroach.

A couple of days later, traffic spiked again. I checked the referrals, and found that I had gotten a plug from Peak Oil Debunked : COAL AND THE EROEI OF CORN ETHANOL. A lot of the traffic still originates from one of those 2 sites, so I know they both have a large audience.

Then, on Wednesday, I had a huge traffic spike. I saw that it was coming from Reporter Andrew Leonard mentioned my blog in an article there: Here comes the ethanol bubble.

You have to wade through an ad to get to the article (which is very timely, in my opinion, and worth going through the ad) so I will reproduce what he said here:

For an entertainingly obsessive fixation on the issue, check out my new favorite blog, chemical engineer Robert Rapier’s R-Squared — thanks to Peak Oil Debunked for the tip.

I laughed so hard when I read that. “Entertainingly obsessive.” My friends who have read that said “Boy, he has you pegged, doesn’t he?” Yeah, I guess he does. I can be pretty single-minded. I am just glad he thought it was entertaining. But now I feel the pressure. I actually changed a headline as a result of that plug because I thought my initial headline was too inflammatory. I don’t want to be “entertainingly obnoxious”, or “entertainingly inflammatory”. I wouldn’t mind “entertainingly educational”, though.

Lately, I have gotten quite a few referrals from a French message board:

Vive la France! I speak some German, but no French. So I really don’t know what this one says:

Sur ces sujets, voir le blog de Robert Rapier qui se présente comme un spécialiste du sujet.

Par exemple, son article “The Future of E85″ où il fait l’effrayante prédiction que la transformation du charbon en carburant liquide se fera principalement par l’intermédiaire de l’éthanol.

R. Rapier intervient également souvent sur the oildrum (je me sens souvent assez proche de ses analyses).

I know that when I use Google to translate the page, that last part comes out as “I smell myself often rather near to his analyses.” I think something was lost in the translation.

Seriously, my primary objective is to provide a source of information about energy issues in general. Sometimes I will be discussing alternative energy. Sometimes I will be discussing the energy market, or maybe defending the oil industry against political posturing. I strongly believe that we need to make serious preparations for Peak Oil, and I want to communicate that sense of urgency. I want to make a case for the steps I believe we need to take, but I also listen to the opinions of others. I can change my mind. I could embrace grain ethanol tomorrow if it had double the EROI that it does. I try to be very objective and scientific in my analyses. I try to communicate information as honestly and as “entertainingly” as I know how.

It’s been a fun month. I have had visitors from at least 30 states, and probably 2 dozen foreign countries (welcome New Caledonia and Estonia!). I have had visits from the offices of half a dozen state governments, several departments of the federal government, some foreign governments, and even someone from the Kuwaiti Ministry of Information. A few nights ago, someone from Microsoft in Redmond was reading some of my ethanol-bashing articles. I presume that’s Bill, trying to determine whether to dump his ethanol investments. :^)

Anyway, I am not out of ideas yet. In my next essay, I will address the recent run-up in oil prices, and the speculation that this is “The Peak”. If you have something specific you would like to see addressed, and I think it is within the realm of the things I know something about, I will try to address it. Thanks for reading.