Book Recommendation

Factfulness: ten reasons we’re wrong about the world and why things are better than you think is on the best seller list. Author: Hans Rosling. Internationally recognized physician, scientist and researcher, World Health Organization, World Economic Forum, TED talk presenter, and to quote him ‘educator to a world who has less knowledge than chimpanzees.’ His factual information is current as of 2017.

I just finished the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. The author calls himself a ‘posiblist’ – instead of an optimist. However, I found his concepts very optimistic. It was also a mind-opener to our tendencies towards seeing gaps between things and people, toward negativity, toward fear, urgency and destiny.

Seeing gaps can be dangerous. We tend to divide the world in two: the haves and have nots, immigrant vs citizen at birth, black and white, sour and sweet … you get the idea.

But when we begin to view the entire world this way, it becomes dangerous and simplistic. Rosling suggests something more useful — divide the world into 4 groups instead of 2. You can compare any issue using these four levels.

For example, when comparing income levels, he suggests dividing it this way:

Level 1 (poorest)   Level 2 (poor)  Level 3 (approaching wealthy)  Level 4  (wealthy)

Instead of dividing by rich and poor, when you run the statistics (factual) you realize that most of the world is on Level 2 and Level 3. This provides a much more accurate picture — because Level 1 and Level 4 make up a much smaller percentage in every category.

Using income levels, one person per billion resides in Level 1 countries. Three people per billion reside in Level 2, with 2 people per billion in Level 3. Only one person per billion resides in Level 4.

Yes, you read that correctly. 3 people per billion live in Level 1 and Level 4 combined.

The majority – 5 people per billion live at Level 2 and Level 3.

I’ll let you read the book if it interests you. By the way, he acknowledges there are 5 issues in the world that warrant our concern, fear, and urgency. But all of the others, when you look at statistical data from professional and accurate fact finding sources, warrant almost none of the time, energy and drama we give them. (and guess what, the media loves drama and gets paid to provide it)

Oh, he also has a tip on where to be investing your money …  I’ll let you find that too.

I hope you’ll give it a read. Unfortunately the author died of cancer last year but his son and daughter-in-law are continuing his work, including his website Gapminder.

To close, Here are 3 of the 13 questions he asks in the first of the book. See how you do!

1. In all low-income countries across the world today, how many girls finish primary school?
A. 20%
B.  40%
C.  60%                                                                                                                                            (answer is C)
2. In the last 20 years, the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty has:
A. Almost doubled
B.  Remained more or less the same
C.  Almost halved                                                                                                                      (answer is C)
3. How many people in the world have some access to electricity?
A.  20%
B.  50%
C.  80 %                                                                                                                                        (answer us C)

cold water wash in arizona

cold water in az

Yes, this is how we do it! 6 cups of ice to a small load of delicates which I washed this morning. There is no cool tap water after June. In fact, several children have been scalded when parents turned on the garden hose in the yard without letting it totally drain out. Some days I ask myself why I live here, but like every living being in the desert, we learn to adapt I suppose.

A writer’s plight

Writing is easy for me, as it is for most authors. I love watching the characters in my head come to life and create a world around me.

I was once told in one of my writing courses that it’s fine to love to write, but if you want to be published, you have to love revision. That’s the hard part. Loving to revise.

To a certain extent I do like to revise. Finding better sentence structure, locating over-used phrases, using a Thesaurus or website to find a much better word than I originally used. All of that is likable, even fun. But when you get back a twelve-page summary from your editor that begins with: cut the first 44 pages, suddenly revision is no longer lovable, not even likable.

The hard revisions that require story structure, eliminating minor characters, developing more scenes with a particular character – none of those are “fun.”

It’s tempting as a writer to simply open a drawer, cram the damn manuscript inside and forget it. It’s tempting to say, the editor is wrong and I love my own words. It’s tempting to set fire to it!

In the past, I’ve stepped back for a period of time and realized how much time, energy, creativity, and work I have put into the book so far. It’s usually enormous. That’s when my stubbornness rises and I get out my red pencil, my yellow highlighter and my computer and go to work.

I’m stubborn enough that I have to prove to myself that I’m capable of doing this and no one is going to stop me. In my family it’s called the Poole stubbornness and the Poole temper. Guess I can blame my dad for this trait. Or thank him ….

I’ll let you know which in a week or two … Now, to re-read that 12 page summary …

 

By nightfall…

The wait is almost over. My editor emailed from D.C. two days ago that barring further delays, she would return my manuscript this evening. I wrote and said – really excited and anxious but mostly terrified! And it’s true. Nothing makes a writer shake in her boots more than an editor’s critiques.

Will she say, “Worthless, throw it in the garbage?” Or “Not bad, but you might want to rethink the entire plot line.” OR “I love it, but here’s about six months’ worth of changes you need to consider.”

The past few weeks I’ve busied myself with nonsensical things to keep from thinking: A jigsaw puzzle – a Chihuly reproduction I bought as a souvenir at the Oklahoma City Art Museum during a recent visit. A 4th of July wood craft for my breakfast table. Hey, it’s something I’ll use, turned out pretty cute, kept me busy for a few hours. Add to that Netflix – entire seasons of Bosch and Grace & Frankie. This weekend – binge watching The Handmaiden’s Tale. I also took two classes on organizing and saving digital photos and drove to the Copper Art Museum in Clarkdale, AZ.  Excellent by the way.

So tonight. She’s on the east coast so perhaps by 3:00. I’ll read her first page of overall thoughts and perhaps put off the details until tomorrow. Or I may just dive right in and depress myself all at once. I know I sound negative. All authors do the same. We’re hypercritical. We know it isn’t the best it can be when we send it off for edits. We also hope and pray that it’s worth spending the next two-three months living again in a story that isn’t our own. Deleting sentences we love, finding better descriptors, changing dialogue that doesn’t “push the story forward.” I know all the lingo after spending the past seven years as a writer. My skin has thickened and critique arrows can’t pierce my flesh. There will even be a few suggested changes that I will kindly decline to make.

This is not my first rodeo – this is my fourth book. Hopefully this is the best book ever. Hopefully I captured my protagonist. Hopefully readers can’t put it down. Hopefully it will get rave reviews. In the meantime, I head into another revision. I’ll come up for air sometime around August. See you then.

Those pesky dang email dumps

Somehow – and it appears it was through my blog site – I got spammed. Anywhere from 400-600 emails per day for three days last week. Russian, German, Asian, etc. For now, it appears that changing my password each day has mostly solved the problem. Of course, I haven’t blogged this week, so I guess we’ll see.

It’s such an invasion of privacy and made me angry – furious actually – to be the victim and feel totally powerless. I’m a control freak anyway, so this did not help my mood. It makes me want to shut down my smart phone, my Alexa device, my computer, and my tablet and retreat into the old world with phones attached to the wall and pen and paper and stamps. I know that isn’t feasible. If I slow down, I’ll be lost within months. That’s how fast technology is changing. I remind my “older” friends about that weekly. You can’t just say no and not continue to learn – not if you want to live in this crazy world. I did, however, unplug Alexa as she was listening to every word I said. (and I also believe my PC is listening as well). That isn’t paranoia. That’s based on my saying something and having my google feature search for what I just mentioned. Scary!

Reunion — was really great. I worried I wouldn’t recognize people but when I walked to the registration table, two women who looked exactly as they did in high school (minus the big hair) stood there and greeted me immediately. I’d have known them anywhere and I swear there wasn’t a wrinkle on their faces. How can that be? We took photos with our elementary friends and another with junior high members. We shared a few stories but mostly talked about our current lives. I found a fellow author, the guy I first kissed while playing spin the bottle, and an old friend of 68 years. We may not stay in touch, though everyone says, “let’s…” But it was validating to see how well our generation has aged. Youthful – vibrant – intelligent – outgoing – kind people from a small town in Oklahoma. Maybe that was the key factor!

 

What year did I graduate??@*!@

Seriously.?? I’m headed to Oklahoma tomorrow for my 55th class reunion. Last night as I thumbed through my year book, names popped into my mind. People I hadn’t thought of in years – at least since the 35th reunion – the last I attended.

I checked Face Book and found a few of us oldies on board with technology, but not many. A few I wouldn’t have recognized and others look just as they did in 1963. Amazing. I’m sort of hoping I’m in that last group… ha

As I checked out my pictures in the year book last evening, I was sort of surprised at my choice of clubs and activities. I love music, books and writing as well as helping others. I retired after years in education as a high school teacher, counselor and administrator. Then got a Creative Writing certificate and began writing short story and novels.

Sure enough…there I was in Future Teachers of America, Mixed and Girls Chorus, Bravettes Cheer squad, and Journalism Club as an elementary school reporter. Huh …

I tend to think that my life just sort of happened with little input on my part. It seemed pure coincidence and not based on “goals”, “plans” or “ambitions.” I don’t recall saying gee, I’d like to be a high school principal – never. I don’t recall setting a goal of singing in a church choir, or traveling abroad, or anything else that has occurred the past 30 years. And yet, looking back at my teen-age self, I see that there were unspoken, unacknowledged, subconscious goals all along. It may have just played out without much thought, but obviously my interests and life goals were set all those years ago.

Someone recently said – go back to your young self and you will find your most authentic self. You will find the “real” you. There is a lot of truth to that as I am discovering. So looking forward to reuniting with some great people this weekend!