Thursday, February 7, 2013

Past Deadline: Milestones Big and Little

Here’s this week’s Past Deadline (really this week!) – a milestone! Published in The Perth Courier on Feb. 7/13.
Milestones big and little
You guys. This is my 900th column!
Wow. I feel old. And I bet if you have read 900 of these you feel a little old, too.
Did you know 900 columns (one per week – give or take) represents 17.3ish years?
I’d like to tell you I started writing in this space when I was three years old, but somehow I am not sure you’d believe me. (It’s kind of like no matter how many times I remind my hair what colour I would like it to be, it keeps blinding me with a startling whitish greyish shade.)
So what to do about this milestone? What would have been really awesome is to have planned some kind of spectacular Pulitzer Prize-winning literary marvel for this exciting event.
That’s not going to happen, however. (You may have already guessed this.)
In fact, 900 isn’t really any sort of magic number, except that it is 100 short of 1,000, which is a much more exciting thing.
A clever columnist would launch a 100-week-long celebration with prizes and raffles to mark the lead-up to column number 1,000. (That clever columnist would probably also have a committee of people busily rounding up said prizes. She would likely have an outline for every single one of those fantastic literary pieces, with each one getting better and better and culminating in some sort of life-changing missive with a grand prize draw for a trip for two to Paris. Or maybe Australia.)
I can assure you none of that is going to happen, though, and it’s all the committee’s fault. That committee, as soon as I find it, is so fired.
Truth be told, I didn’t even realize this was column number 900 until I set down to write it. When I save each new one I number it, see.
To mark the occasion, then, I thought maybe I could go back and do something riveting like recap the range of topics I have covered at other milestones. Unfortunately, the earliest ones appear to have been saved on 5 1/2-inch floppy disks and are currently unavailable, but I opened up WordPerfect and had a peek at a few others.
At 300 (back in 2001) I was writing about pigeons and squirrels.
Number 400 in 2003 was something about how rumours get started and how sarcasm can get people in trouble. Interestingly (or not), it referenced pigeons again.
The big 500 in 2005 brought out The Armchair Express™ to wax poetic on an upcoming federal election.
By 2007 I had switched over to Word and column 600 was all about this new-fangled social networking thingy I had joined. Word and Facebook – big year!
In 2009 I remarked on the fact I was writing my 700th column and wowed y’all with some big math about how many words that is. Then the column morphed into something about how long our cat MacGregor would live. (In case you are curious, I figure 900 columns equals about 585,000 words, and the cat featured in column 700 is still with us, as predicted back then, although he is getting to be quite an old fella.)
An old picture of the old cat.
An old picture of the old cat.

In what is becoming a trend, number 800 in 2010 noted the milestone and added another one to the list – I signed up for the Kilt Run that year. This was soon followed by a series of columns about a sore foot.
Fortunately I have a good couple of years to come up with a whopper of a column for number 1,000. Maybe I’ll turn to that new-fangled Facebook thingy to gather some ideas!

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