Other Monthly Reviews
After the numerous records set for the month of October, this latest month’s statistical outcomes reflect a period where physical in-person commitments have prevented me from generating new content for XBOP. Nevertheless, it has allowed existing and recent content to continue receiving the spotlight of attention and as demonstrated in the ongoing hits to articles like What a Beautiful Name It Is.
The Favourite Worship Songs articles remain a perennial destination for visitors. By far, the article covering the 1970s & 1980s is the most popular, with some 2000+ hits just for the year 2016, compared to 570+ for the 1990s or 126 for the 2000s. The monthly average for the top performing article is 187 views, with recent months including November exceeding this average. These comparisons between the three articles is fair and balanced since they were all written and published within the same period of June/July 2014.
For 2016, November claims the following records:
- Best year-on-year growth (160% improvement on the 309 visitors recorded for October 2015)
- Achieved the 18000 visitors milestone (18220 visitors accumulated)
- Best three-month-moving average (753.3) for the year, confirming and consolidating the current growth trend
- Second most views for a month in 2016 (1213 versus 1440 record set for October and 1206 recorded in January)
- Achieved the 27000 views milestone (27216 views accumulated)
- Exceeded 10000 views for the year (10665 total views for 2016 compared to 9146 for 2015)
- Best year-on-year growth (197% improvement on the 409 views recorded for October 2015)
- Second best three-month-moving average (1231 versus 1317 record set in January 2015)
The month of November is able to set these records mainly because November 2015 provided a low benchmark to improve upon for the year-on-year metrics. October 2016 was already a high-performing month and with the bar set high, we can take comfort from this context to also make the case that the low, single-digit declines from October to November ensure that October was not merely an outlier, but a new trend may be discernible.
It is worth mentioning, that in spite of all the achievements and records set above, the overall monthly visitor and view records for the month of October remain unchanged:
- All-time visitors for a month: October 2014 (1505)
- All-time views for a month: October 2014 (1829)
The month of November has been a fairly busy month, with a number of end-of- year functions creeping into the calendar. The following list, in summarising the highlights, shows just how busy I have been and helps to partially explain what has prevented new XBOP content from being generated:
- Melbourne Cup
- The morning began with time at the gym and was follwoed by brunch at new local business Inchmeal Cafe, located in Notting Hill, close to Monash University and the Rusden accommodation. Visiting this business and seeing the local street area gave me flash-backs to my early childhood since I spent some time in this area, including the then Rusden Creche (since closed down). Inchmeal Cafe began operations in September 2016 through the entrepreneurial efforts of a mutual church friend.
- Since a proper meal was desired, shopping and fine-dining for lunch saw us visit Chadstone. For the lunch meal, since we had just had a light brunch, we were comfortable waiting in queue for ~15 minutes in order to dine at Marae Izakaya, located in the new fine dining wing of Chadstone. It was well worth the wait and we enjoyed the sushi train menu along with the prime private table position located next to the internal glass wall where we had a perfect view of the new Chadstone northern wing.
- Spending a few hours at church in the afternoon, we took the opportunity to relax and unwind. To fill our time with and avoid being too idle, we ended up processing the Operation Christmas Child shoe-boxes that had been collected and were temporarily stored backstage at church. This activity proved beneficial since we found and were able to filter out quite a few items that cannot be sent overseas – snack foods and sweets, plus toothpaste and bubble-blowing toys. All these items were not wasted as they were donated to the Kids Church Shopping Day activities.
- After a quick dinner at Nandos, returning to church for the monthly Prayer Hub session turned into quite a dramatic episode: as we were entering the church foyer entrance, one lady experienced intense trauma and pain where she was immobilised from the sheer pain. The God-based timing that we would arrive on scene and thus have a GP present allowed my girlfriend to demonstrate first-hand her professional medical expertise. Immediately we rang 000/Emergency and my girlfriend was able to take control of the situation and request an ambulance. Fortunately, the ambulance service arrived within 30-minutes and the lady was admitted to hospital without further dramas. This experience was both new to myself and my girlfriend – specifically in being required to act in her official capacity as doctor/GP outside of the normal work environment. Fortunately, an overnight observation and tests enabled the lady to receive the appropriate medical attention and she continues to recover now.
- Operation Christmas Child
- Sunday 6 marking the launch of the official Operation Christmas Child 2016 season; the first of four consecutive Sundays where a market stall was setup in the church foyer enabling shoe-boxes to be collected and items to be previewed/bought.
- Every Sunday for the month saw me arrive at church an hour earlier to set-up the market stall tables with items. Each Sunday the amount of items that needed unpacking and set-up decreased, which was expected and a great outcome.
- Carrying over some funds from July 2016, by the end of the first Sunday we were able to pay off half a debt to one generous donor; the remainder being paid off now, at the conclusion of the 2016 season.
- A small-scale packing party was held as a joint life-group gathering on Wednesday 23 November and to help fuel demand for shoe-boxes to be packed, I quickly promoted the standard $25 donation offer to colleagues at work – this effort translated into ~40 shoe-boxes from my Telstra work colleagues alone.
- With the final collection of shoe-boxes scheduled for 27 November, this date saw me double-booked and unable to personally drive the final collection.
- The reality of the 2016 season saw a lower response and return rate than 2015. With 284 shoe-boxes received in total, I am also fully aware that there remain a good number of shoe-boxes that were not collected in time and will count towards the 2017 season.
- Monday 28 November saw me take what has now become a tradition for myself – utilising my work volunteer leave to help Samaritan’s Purse in the collection of the 284 shoe-boxes from church and then spend time at the warehouse processing them.
- Church Annual Report & AGM
- With all ministry reports due in at the end of October, the first fortnight up until Sunday 13 November saw me divert some time to ensuring the timely completion of the report.
- During the first week of the month, the focus was on simply consolidating all submissions into the one Word document format, which had previously been a skeleton framework.
- The focus shifted towards the end of the week, to converting the Word document into the Adobe InDesign format, which would be used to manage the creative layout and formatting. With the first Saturday providing some free-time, I used it to spend a solid 3 hours at church working directly on the Annual Report, transferring all the text content into the Adobe Indesign pages, thus reducing the amount of effort required to subsequently play around with the positioning and insertion of photos.
- I was able to squeeze in selected hours of consultation during the second week, finalising the look and feel. The main focus for me was in getting an info-graphic-style page ready. In the end, we were able to collaboratively found the right icons and with a little bit of rejigging and precision alignment, the final product was ready for printing
- Compiling the final report was an activity I performed with ease on my Macbook, whereas Windows/Adobe Acrobat does not offer the kind of simple capability of merging multiple source documents that the Apple Preview software can. Indeed, harnessing this very feature of Preview enabled me to quickly merge and combine the two report file into one contiguous file. A final review indicated three additional pages would be required to ensure the booklet print finishing mode would position the final printing on the actual visible back-cover.
- Printing was not a simple or straightforward process in itself. We found out by trial and error that the front cover would not print properly without utilising the advanced print setting of “Print as Image”, but then other pages would not print properly. To mitigate and solve this issue, we ended up printing the cover pages (1, 2, 63 & 64) as one initial print job, followed by the rest of the report.
- The church AGM was held on Monday 28 November which you may notice is the same date as 2G above; in one sense this timing worked out perfectly since the use of my volunteer leave enabled me to not just serve Samaritan’s Purse and process the shoe-boxes, but after that volunteer effort was complete, I could return to church and help prepare the slide material for the AGM.
- Dating (Fine Dining & Movies)
- By far, the biggest change in lifestyle has been my relationship status. As reminded over the recent first weekend of December, dating is in itself a ministry and form of commitment to God.
- Interestingly, the same date (2G and 3G above) all coincide with… our six-month anniversary milestone! Unfortunately, with the church AGM (3G) on, we shifted our celebration plans to the Tuesday 29 November instead.
- The dating experience that we have accumulated from our six-months can easily be characterised by the 3-4 times a week we spend together, most weekends, which all invariably involve a meal. In this way, it plays to our love of food and eating that we are regularly eating out and enjoying the fine dining opportunities available to us at Glen Waverley, Knox and most recently Chadstone.
- Across those three areas, we have dined at most of the fine dining places. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mexican, Vietnamese, Australian/western.
- With the busy-ness of November, those fine dining experiences all are awaiting Trip Advisor reviews, which I hope to address in the near future! As a quick side note – it turns out that my Trip Advisor profile continues to power ahead with some 20,000 views achieved now!
- As part of exploring the new Chadstone, a number of movies have been enjoyed – in the new normal Hoyts cinemas as well as their Gold Class rival Lux.
- As a Optus customer, the Optus Perk deal lowers the cost of Lux movie tickets t o $26 which also includes the current deal of complimentary soft drink and popcorn.
- The two Lux movies enjoyed to date were: