Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chile: The straw-shaped nation

Today’s a target-rich environment for bloggers too shallow to have developed a disciplined and thoughtful niche.
That’d be me.
First, we have the Steelers in the Super Bowl. Win or lose -- and the Steelers won’t lose -- the next 13 days will be for Pittsburghers like me the perfect holiday. You get all the holiday joy with none of the in-laws, the gift buying or any of that tedious churchy sobriety.
But if there’s one thing readers aren’t lacking in, it’s more Super Bowl jabber. I’m sure I’ll be contributing a few times so let’s shelve that for now.
I could write about SOTU and the new seating arrangement. Cynics are dismissive, but I think it’s a charming gesture of civility. Bravo.
But again, yawn. There’s plenty of that out there elsewhere.
How about the passing of Jack LaLanne? I’d love to write about him, but just did not too long ago. You can check it out here

So what does that leave us?
Yes, the Republic of Chile, land of Andean Condors, Easter Island mysticisms and rescued miners always rarin’ to party.
I’ve become fascinated with Chile through the secret Stats page at www.EightDaysToAmish.com, over which I’ve been obsessing ever since it appeared in July.
Stats, in theory, tells me how many readers I have, their homelands and which posts are the most popular.
It’s a dizzying array of conflicting pseudo facts about the 10,151 people Stats says have been reading my blog since July.
Some of it fascinates: For instance, by far, the most widely read post was one about the top 25 songs as noted by my iPod play count feature. I'm dismissive of this because it's mostly a list that could have been constructed by a typing chimp.
Second is “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Beautiful,” which has some actual constructed thoughts. Yet, I’m sure the reason that one does well is because it’s about and features a picture of the lovely Ines Sainz.
Others in the top 10 include a recent one about forgiving Ben Roethlisberger, a salute to Bob Seger and a nifty one I like about why even stink bugs need love.
I’m most drawn to the page listing where people who read my blog live. Of course, USA swamps the medal count here. 
What is entirely unexpected is that Denmark is number two by a landslide. I have more regular readers in Denmark than in Canada, U.K. and Russia.
That’s very endearing. But it makes me wonder what the Danes get that, say, the amiable hoseheads in Canada do not.
And if things keep going as they do, I expect to be zooming over to the Netherlands on May 5 in time for the Dutch to fete me for Liberation Day parades.
For reasons I cannot fathom, readers in the Netherlands have in the past seven days gone crazy for my blog. In one week, readers in the Netherlands have leapfrogged more populace countries like Brazil, France and Germany to become no. 6 on countries with the most people who read my barely coherent musings.
That’s so cool. Thanks, my windmill-revering friends!
In total, I’ve scored multiple readers from 52 countries, including Moldova, Ghana,  and Bangladesh.
But this isn’t about the countries that do read my stuff. This is about one of the several hundreds that don’t.
This is about Chile.
See, Stats has given my geographic comprehension an unexpected boost. The countries with my readers are highlighted in green.
That’s how I became fascinated with Chile. I’d never really paid much attention to its shape before. It’s amazing.
Check it out. There is Argentina hogging nearly all of South America.
Then there hard on the left on what looks like just the beach is the Republic of Chile. It’s a country imprisoned by the formidable Andes Mountains and their average height of 13,000 feet. I remember reading the book, “Alive,” about a 1972 plane full of students and rugby mates who crashed in the mountains and resorted to cannibalism to survive.
Happily, the story of Chilean cuisine doesn’t end there.
I did a little research. It’s a remarkable and vibrant country.
Chile is 2,700 miles long, or about the distance from San Diego to Washington, D.C.
But the width is just a wee bit bigger than the interstate highways you’d drive to traverse the two.
On average, it is just 109 miles wide.
Incredible. Some of our western Pennsyvlania high school football teams have offensive lines who’d have to turn sideways to jog through parts of it.
How I missed for my entire life this geographic oddity about a prominent country with more than 17 million mostly Spanish speaking people is on its face surprising.
But for some perspective consider this: I’ve lived long stretches of my life right next door to people and all I’ve known about them is that they bang on the walls when they think the Rolling Stones are being played too loudly.
So my ignorance of distant lands is par for the course.
I vow it won’t last long.
I’m going to bone up on Chile and am optimistic I’ll learn it’s a land worth learning about and maybe one day visiting.
Yes, I think I’ll find the world’s only straw-shaped country does not suck.


shrink on the couch said...

The Danish readers see that picture of you surrounded by snow and assume you "get" them.


Chris Rodell said...

Good point. Maybe I should tailor the picture to the readership. For instance, write about Hawaii and include a picture of me in a coconut brassiere.

Thanks for reading!