Monthly Milestone: Measuring Time, Activity

Milestones that can't be counted with a calendar

Editor’s note: The monthly milestone column, which appears on the second day of each month – the anniversary of The Ann Arbor Chronicle’s launch – is an opportunity for either the publisher or the editor of The Chronicle to touch base with readers on topics related to this publication.

A2A3 Channel Swim

Ann Arbor Active Against ALS (A2A3) is sponsoring a two-way swim across the English Channel to raise money for ALS research. This image links to the website, where non-channel swimmers can help the cause by keeping track of their own swimming and running milestones.

It’s also a time that we highlight, with gratitude, our local advertisers, and ask readers to consider subscribing voluntarily to The Chronicle to support our work.

The appearance of this monthly column does not mark any particular quantifiable achievement, but rather the simple passage of time. It’s just an occasion to note that another month is in the books for The Chronicle.

It’s a measurement of survival.

Other kinds of milestones are easy enough to contemplate as well. Among those are the finer-grained milestones – the odd statistics that reflect the actual activity that goes into the survival of a publication. For example, a query of the Chronicle’s database shows 540 government meeting reports filed in a little over three years. Included in 141 of those reports is the public commentary of Thomas Partridge. The database also contains 2,832 Stopped.Watched. observations. Of those, 614 were made along Liberty Street.

These smaller kinds of incremental milestones are important, too, because they reflect not the passage of time, but the actual stuff out of which survival is made. I was reminded of this by news of an upcoming event, sponsored by Ann Arbor Active Against ALS (A2A3), which continues that organization’s effort to ensure survival for patients with ALS – a neurological disorder commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The event itself will take place next summer. It’s a six-woman relay swim across the English Channel, in both directions. That’s 42 miles of swimming. As part of the fundraising effort, A2A3 is inviting people to do their own swims (or runs) locally. They’ve computed a running-miles equivalent of 73.5 miles for a one-way channel swim. The six-woman relay hopes to break the world record for such a channel swim of 18 hours 59 minutes.

Thinking about people who want to participate in the event locally, most of them would not be able to hop into Half Moon Lake and swim for 19 hours. And most local runners would not be able to lace up a pair of shoes and hit the pavement, knocking out 73.5 miles all in one go.

So A2A3 is providing a log sheet for those who register to participate. That way people can keep track of their miles over a longer period of time. There’s no requirement that people complete their miles at the same time the channel swim takes place, in the summer of 2012. You can start right now.

Those log sheets will measure milestones that aren’t counted with a calendar. And those are the kind of milestones I want to think about this month.

A2A3′s basic approach is to find ways for others to participate in the events they sponsor. So in that spirit, I think it would be worthwhile to open up The Chronicle’s monthly milestone column for readers to share their own milestones with the community.


"Worth a Detour, October 14, 2011" It's been almost exactly a decade since friends from Indiana visited and presented us with a brass plate rating our home on the AAA scale. During that 10-year period, I wonder how many times the door has been opened and closed.

Personally, I’m interested in milestones you can’t count with just a calendar. For example, a couple of months ago, the Motown to Tree Town blog marked its 100th entry.

Another example: Last February, Ann Arbor’s Community Television Network (CTN) broadcast the 500th episode of the For Your Information (FYI) news and information magazine.

That’s not to say that purely calendar-based counting isn’t important, too. That’s what The Chronicle has been doing every month for three years.

But if your seafood restaurant has been in business for 35 years, the first thing I wonder is: How many pieces of cod have you seared during that time? Or if your barbershop has been in business for 50 years, how many haircuts have you given, and how many pounds of human hair do you figure you’ve swept up off the floor? Or if you worked for the city of Ann Arbor driving a snowplow for 30 years, how many miles of road do you figure you plowed over that period?

So here’s an open invitation. Share your milestones – either in the comment section, or by sending an email [] for inclusion in next month’s column. It’s fine if it’s a milestone counted with a calendar. If you’ve survived to age 50, or if your marriage has survived 20 years, or whatever number you’re proud about, for heaven’s sake, feel free to share.

But I’d  also like to encourage the sharing of milestones you can’t count with a calendar. Often, those are harder for the rest of us to see.

About the writer: Dave Askins is editor and co-founder of The Ann Arbor Chronicle. The Chronicle could not survive to count each milestone without regular voluntary subscriptions to support our coverage of local government and civic affairs. Click this link for details: Subscribe to The Chronicle. And if you’re already supporting us, please encourage your friends, neighbors and colleagues to help support The Chronicle, too!

One Comment

  1. October 2, 2011 at 2:33 pm | permalink

    Dave -

    Arborwiki [link] crossed the 7500 article milestone recently; the most popular page, “Birthday Deals”, [link] has over 218,000 views.