Thursday, November 21, 2013

Not in numbers


  Bestsellers are not necessarily books with good quality writing. Selling lots of books does not mean that the story is well written. It means that the book was well promoted. Period. I have met writers on the blogosphere that may not be selling many books, but they are very talented and I believe their stories deserve more attention.
  Unfortunately, we live in a society that venerates figures, scores, numbers, budgets, standardized tests, number of followers, number of words written, number of books read, etc.
  I am not trying to say that numbers are not important, but when they become more relevant than quality itself the situation becomes absurd.  I see this problem at every level. The system wants to measure everything.( It makes me giggle at times. We treat numbers instead of human beings).
  A system that only cares about numbers runs the risk of turning us into automatons. I certainly don't connect well with people who are obsessed with numbers. I am more concerned with quality, sensitivity and other matters that are not translated into numbers.
  High sales are not a marker of good quality writing, and good scores in education don't guarantee that the students are more likely to think creatively, or that they will innovate in the future. In fact, knowledge changes over time. It is more important to be motivated to keep learning than to score well on a test.
 As I write this post I remember The Little Prince and his encounter with a businessman who was obsessed with counting the stars. He did not know why he was counting them, but he thought it was a very important matter. And so he kept counting them.

 Now those students at Harvard must be very worried about their scores because they did not remember the name of the capital city of Canada. Oh, well, you can't get everything in life.

Till next time.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Not NaNoWriMo but...


  I've been haunted by the main characters of a novel that has been unfolding in my mind lately. They don't leave me alone. If I ever wake up during the night, their conflicts and situations come together and give way to new thoughts and ideas, inviting me to scribble notes. (Insomnia is my enemy, but it can also be my friend.)
  Plot, characters and setting are all evolving into something that can't be squelched. They already seem to exist somewhere.  In my mind they  grow gradually, like the branches of a tree, and I have been doing some research on the subject of this novel. The act of learning more about it triggers new ideas and kindles my imagination. Even though I know the end of the story, I don't know how I will get there.
   I wrote the first chapter. It came out of me like a tsunami. This time I did not have to force it out. ( I had written two other drafts before.)
  Writers have more than one life. The lives of the characters in the stories they write and the lives of the characters in the stories they read. Then there are the ones that exist as possibilities in the tales  we imagine we will  craft one day.
  Life is intense, isn't it?
What have you been up to lately?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A visit to the zoo




  Autumn is a season of warm colors, crisp air and magical landscapes; it is a lovely time of the year to visit the zoo. But before we start this stroll, let me mention something.
  I enjoyed reading Richard Hughes's  blog post Getting older: getting younger. As time goes by, we can allow our minds  to expand, to open in different directions. We are constantly learning. (Richard, I love your blog but I can't comment on it because I don't have Google plus). When we do the things we love doing, we feel happy. I agree with you, Richard.
                  Let's keep walking; let the soft cool air caress our skin.
                   
  Elephants are fascinating creatures...

             
          But don't get too close to them.

       










Recent research showed that elephants are able to communicate over many miles by using infrasound. Here's a wonderful video about the secret language of elephants

Human populations are taking over more and more elephant habitat. Poaching for ivory is another threat to elephants.
     
  Elephants are extremely intelligent and have long-term memory. They form deep family bonds and live in tight matriarchal family groups called herds. These herds are led by the oldest female elephant. Males leave the family unit between the ages of 12-15. They live alone or with other males temporarily.






 Did you know that hundreds of South African lions are being slaughtered to make bogus sex potions for men?

 Lions are farmed under appalling conditions in South Africa for "canned hunting" where rich tourists pay thousands to shoot them through fences.
  Let's show president Zuma that this brutal trade is hurting South Africa's image as a tourist destination. He can ban this cruel trade. Yes, he can.
Here's a petition you can sign:
http://www.avaaz.org/en/stop_lion_slaughter_for_sex_aides_rb_en/?bpgcAfb&v=30843


"Tiger bone wine" and other tiger-part medicines were banned after massive international outrage.


 There are only 3,200 tigers left in the wild today.
Unlike other cats, tigers love water and are very good swimmers...












  Flamingos mingle well with the autumn colors.
 Did you know that flamingos dance to attract their mates?
 Are you familiar with the Spanish dance called "Flamenco"?
You can watch them here.







During this interesting visit we meet the bonobos for the first time. Bonobos share 98 % of our DNA. They are our close relatives. You can read about them here.

  Bonobos live in the Republic of Congo and the population is believed to have declined sharply over the last thirty years.


As we contemplate  the foliage around us,
we come across these creatures who display their colorful costumes with pride.

Peacocks!












But they are not interested in us. Not like   this giraffe at least.
I always wonder what she is thinking about whenever she stares at me...











The rhinos are also in danger of extinction. Here is a petition you can sign to help  save them:
http://www.avaaz.org/en/save_rhinos/
Why can't we, human beings, live in harmony with other creatures? Something to think about...



The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Wendell Berry