About this site
About this page...
Welcome to TheExplodingWhale.com! Your hosts are Steve & Jen Hackstadt, and we’re really glad you stopped by. The site has been an endless source of entertainment and education for us, and we hope you enjoy it as well. This page offers a brief history of the website and answers a few questions about us and the site.
History of the website
This is one of the oldest — and we like to think most comprehensive — exploding whale (EW) websites on the internet. Steve started the original version of this site sometime in the early 1990s, and he had no idea it would still be around today. The site has gone through a few major revisions in its lifetime, described below.
The original site was hosted on a webserver in the Department of Computer & Information Science at the University of Oregon in Eugene, OR, while Steve was a graduate student. The site started out like so many of the EW sites out there today: it was simply a place to download the amazingly entertaining video by Paul Linnman and Doug Brazil. As Steve’s interest in the event grew, the site was gradually expanded to include the Dave Barry article, a small number of newspaper clippings, and links to other EW sites. As its popularity increased, the bandwidth requirements of hosting the whale video exceeded what was reasonable for a University-sponsored website. In response, the video files were moved to a remote server, but the core site remained on the UO campus.
At the end of 1999, the website made the leap to a new home on hackstadt.com, the personal domain and website for Steve & Jen Hackstadt. While the site retained much of its modest look and feel, having direct control of the web server offered additional opportunities such as an enhanced guest book feature. With incoming links from hundreds of websites and direct mentions in dozens of newspaper articles from around the world, the site’s reputation as one of the leading resources on Oregon’s exploding whale grew during this phase.
www.TheExplodingWhale.com (Custom-themed WordPress)
In conjunction with the 35th anniversary of Oregon’s exploding whale in 2005, Steve & Jen decided it was time for the exploding whale site to “break out.” Armed with a dedicated domain (TheExplodingWhale.com), years of experience running their own site, and a budding familiarity with stylesheets and weblog software, Steve set out to rebuild the site from the ground up. But a new appearance was not enough. To make the new site truly stand out from the pack, Steve researched and recovered all the old newspaper articles from 1970 as well as later coverage in the local paper. He also documented all of the other exploding whales he could find. And he built the over-the-top interactive exploding whale locator (later replaced with a vastly superior version built in Google Maps). It took several months of working evenings and weekends to design, realize, and populate the new site which officially went live on November 10, 2005 — two days before the 35th anniversary.
www.TheExplodingWhale.com (Google Sites)
In the 15 years following the debut of TheExplodingWhale.com, the way people viewed and consumed web content changed dramatically. From a design perspective, the site had aged significantly. The custom-themed WordPress site was ill-suited to viewing on both larger desktop monitors and smaller mobile screens, and the CSS theme and page templates were difficult to maintain. In addition, social media decentralized viewer engagement and often offers a better way to publicize current events than a centralized blog does. So, in the months leading up to the 50th anniversary of Oregon's exploding whale in 2020, Steve migrated all exploding whale content to the Google Sites platform. In addition to providing a more modern and responsive web design, the new site deemphasizes the blog and puts the focus back on the core exploding whale content. Links to social media are more visible, and the overall layout is simpler and easier to navigate.
Why do you maintain this site?
One of the most common questions I get is, “Why do you do this?” It’s a reasonable question to be sure given the amount of time, effort, and money it takes to do this. To put it simply, I think this is one of the greatest things to happen in the history of humankind. Ok, that may be a slight exaggeration, but there is truly somethig special about this event. Not only is it a unique and quirky aspect of Oregon culture, it contains a more universal element. To me, it is less about one man’s mistake (because it could be any one of us in a similar situation) and more about how we as humans so often think we have all the answers. Yet, so often we don’t. If we acknowledged that fact more often, accepted our limitations, and had a good laugh at them once in a while, I think the world would be a better place.
Similarly, there is something interesting about how people react to this site and the video, in particular! Browse through the feedback archives sometime, and you’ll come to understand that people either love or hate the exploding whale. They either see the hilarity, folly, and absurdity of what happened, or they see it as tragic, depressing, and a sad commentary on humans in general (not to mention yours truly). I’m fascinated by this dichotomy, and it is certainly a large part of why I keep the site going.
Why do you like to blow up whales?
You laugh (we hope!), but you’d be surprised at how misinformed and emotionally distracted some people get when they learn about exploding whales. So, let us set a few things straight:
No, no one affiliated with this website actually blew up that or any other whale. Heck, Jen wasn’t even born and Steve was less than 1 year old when Oregon’s whale went off!
No, we don’t “enjoy” seeing whales get blown up. But this is a strange phenomenon, and our goal is to document it to the best of our ability.
Yes, we have a life beyond exploding whales.
That being said, we understand that some people might find our — ok, mainly Steve’s — fascination with exploding whales a little odd. That’s ok. Just think of it as a hobby — like, say, collecting thimbles or wearing hats that resemble bird nests. It’s a great diversion, creative outlet, and topic of conversation — just one that not a lot of other people participate in (or even understand)!
Why do you have ads on this site?
UPDATE: As of late 2019, we no longer have ads!
In case you were wondering, the answer is, “No, we are not getting rich off this site.” The Google, Amazon, and other ads you may see on this site generate a small amount of revenue that defrays the hosting and domain registration costs. If you want to help support this site, just click through some of the ads or make a purchase from Amazon after clicking-though one of their ads.