Far and Wide

When it comes to technology, I’m a Brontosaurus. (A Taurus Brontosaurus, to be precise.) If I were to attempt to translate the first sentence of this paragraph into Spanish, I think I’d have to use the verb ser, which is one of the two (two, no less!) “to be” verbs in Spanish, the one that indicates a permanent state (like where you’re from), rather than the verb estar, which expresses a temporary condition (like how you’re feeling). My techno-brontosaurus-hood is definitely permanent. Can’t help it. Must accept it.

So it came as a happy surprise to me recently when I stumbled upon a technical feature of my WOW blog I never knew existed. I’ve only been writing this blog since early May 2014, a period of three years and eight months, in which I’ve published 177 posts so far. All along I’ve known enough to check the WordPress stats from time to time to see whether these posts were actually being read (total views to date, FYI: 31,279). But I didn’t know, until recently, that I could see WHERE those readers were.

I’m not much of an explorer when it comes to busy, cluttered computer screens (which tend to give me eye strain), so I’d never noticed until a few months ago the little button near the top of the stats page that reads “show me” that would get me to “enhanced stats.” Feeling daring, I clicked on it. And what did I find? The WORLD. A small map of the world, showing the countries where people are reading my blog, and a list of those countries, in descending order of viewers’ numbers.

Reviewing these views from the past couple of months alone, I see that I’ve had readers in a total of forty-seven countries. A majority have been in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, to be sure; but other countries, too, to my surprise, have been well represented:

~ Countries in the European Union, including: France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, the U.K., Ireland, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Malta. (Malta?! I couldn’t even find it on the WordPress map!)

~ Countries in Central and South America: Ecuador, Uruguay, Colombia, Panama, and Guatemala.

~ Countries in Africa: Uganda, Congo – Brazzaville, Mali, Gabon, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, and South Africa.

~ And many countries farther afield, such as: India, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia, American Samoa, French Polynesia, the Philippines, Bahrain, and Qatar.

It’s a small world after all

One faithful WOW reader in Scotland, Sandra Affleck (74), a local historian whom I met in 2011 when I visited my great-grandmother’s village doing research for a book about my forebear’s life, and who was one of the first women I interviewed for my WOW blog (please see my “Sandra of Kirriemuir” post of May 30, 2014, for the full story), wrote to me via e-mail recently and shared her thoughts about the current state of the world and what we as individuals can do about it:

“So many basics of life have been shaken to the core, divisiveness is rife, and ‘peace on earth’ and ‘goodwill to all men’ seem to be at the bottom of the political agendas worldwide. Here we were thinking that we in Europe and Great Britain had learnt never-to-be-forgotten lessons from two world wars and would live in peace hereafter! … All we can do is try to make the ripples in the pool in which we live as pleasant, agreeable, and helpful as we can, and hope that the other pools will gradually merge with ours!”

It was only twenty years ago, when I was in the Peace Corps in Gabon, when I (and everyone else in the world) relied on snail mail to communicate in writing over long distances. Words on paper, written by hand or by typewriter; the paper neatly folded and tucked into an envelope; the envelope addressed, sealed, and stamped appropriately; then the whole precious missive entrusted to the (sometimes dubious) postal service. Weeks passed before a reply arrived. Writing this now, I feel as if I’m writing about prehistory, about a time when real Brontosauruses roamed the earth.

This Brontosaurus has to finally admit that there’s a lot to be said for instantaneous e-mail correspondence and the whole worldwide web. Right now I can write 700-or-so words, insert them into my blog format, add a photo or two (or more), press the “publish” button, and – SWISH — like magic, my post will go around the world in seconds. I like to think my blog touches readers in a positive way. I like to think of it as an ongoing conversation among my international friends. I’m deeply grateful for my WOW readers. So, wherever you happen to be reading this, far and wide, I want you to know how much you mean to me.

Bonne année! Feliz año nuevo! And all best wishes to you from me for 2018!