The year is 1964. America and Russia are in the midst of a cold war and nuclear proliferation. The possibility of nuclear war is on almost everyone’s mind. The questions are asked, “Could we start a war by accident?” and “Once in motion, could we stop such a war?” In 1964 two films were made that attempted to answer that question, in very different ways. Read more »
What a cool (pardon the pun) idea for a book. We read so much about men who have conquered the poles or Everest but hardly anything about the women who have explored alongside them or have waited patiently at home. The author knows both how it feels to travel to remote places on dangerous missions and also the anxiety and deep worry that comes with being left at home—she’s the daughter of two explorers, Wally and Marie Herbert. She conceived the idea for this book while camping with her father in a tent on a Greenlandic glacier thirty years ago.
Many of the famous arctic and Antarctic explorers’ wives are featured here beginning with Lady Jane Franklin, the powerful and persistent lady that pushed for rescue expeditions to find her husband’s ship. Also included are portraits of Jo Peary, Eleanor Anne Franklin, Eva Nansen, Marie Herbert (the author’s mother), Emily Shackleton, and Kathleen Scott.
What struck me most reading Polar Wiveswas how talented the woman were in their own right, for instance, Eva Nansen was a leading singer in Norway while Kathleen Scott was a very talented British actress. In addition, Eleanor Anne Franklin, first wife of Sir John, was a Romantic poet who died young at age twenty-nine. Sir John then married her dear friend, Jane.
Imagine how it felt to watch your spouse ship away for a three, four, or five year journey to the coldest and most inaccessible parts of our planet. In the chapter “An Eagle in the Backyard” the author describes the feelings of both Emily Shackleton and her husband Ernest on the British docks. To make matters even worse, many explorers died on these journeys as Sir John Franklin and Robert Falcon Scott did.Read more »
Did you know there’s a place in Antarctica where it’s warm enough to swim? It’s true! It’s heated by an active (though not actively erupting!) volcano. Mouse and his human friend have set out on a long journey to that spot, and we’re along for the adventure.
A Trip To The Bottom Of the World with Mouse, written and illustrated by Frank Viva, is the tale of a mouse in a stripey hat, and a bald-headed boy in a shirt with a bat on it, amusing themselves aboard a big boat bound for Antarctica. Mouse is antsy to get where they’re going -- Mouse is always antsy -- and the boy is seasick. So they chat about everything they can think of to keep their minds occupied. The story progresses as a series of lists under discussion: things that are hard to do on a boat on a rough ocean, things to wear when it’s cold, and the different kinds of penguins inhabiting the icy expanse.
Heart of a samurai : based on the true story of Manjiro Nakahama
“An action packed historical novel set on the high seas!” claims the book jacket for Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus. Normally these aren’t quite the descriptors I am looking for in a good book, but this Young Adult novel has amazing visual appeal and lying underneath the “high seas adventure” is a true heart of gold.
Preus tells a fictional account of a true story: Manjiro, a young man from a small fishing village, becomes the first Japanese person to set foot in America. Japan at the time had closed borders and a deep distrust for anything foreign. When Manjiro is rescued with his friends after being shipwrecked on an island by an American whaling ship, his life is changed forever. Captain Whitfield sees that Manjiro is a quick study, both in language and sailing and takes him under his wing. The more Manjiro sees outside Japan, the more he wants to learn and explore eventually ending up attending school in New Bedford, Massachusetts living with the Whitfields. Read more »
The Pacific Crest Trail is a 2,663 mile long trail reaching from the Canadian border in northern border in Washington, through Oregon, to the Mexico border in southern California. Hiking this trail can take 4-6 months and it purposefully avoids civilization. The Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountains make for both difficult hiking and beautiful unspoiled scenery.
After a trying few years after the death of her mother, author Cheryl Strayed started her PCT trail hike despite her outdoor inexperience. Her book, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail chronicling her hike came out this past spring and was well reviewed. I promptly put this book on my to-read list as doing a long hike lingers at the bottom of my life to-do list.
Looks like I will have to wait to read this memoir a little bit longer as this past week Oprah selected Wild as the first title of her new Oprah Book Club 2.0. As of this morning there were quite a few holds on this book, but I'm thinking the wait just might be worth it. Read more »
"I don't have time. I don't have time to worry about how it happened. It is what it is. We're genetically engineered to stop aging at 25. The trouble is, we live only one more year, unless we can get more time. Time is now the currency. We earn it and spend it. The rich can live forever. And the rest of us? I just want to wake up with more time on my hands than hours in the day" – Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) In Time
These are the opening lines to the film In Time where time literally is money. At age 25 you stop aging, but you only have one year left to live. You can work for more time, trade time, steal time and fight for time, no matter what you spend time. Read more »
High Noon is one of the classic westerns of all time. The story of a town marshal waiting for the arrival of a band of outlaws arriving on the noon train with just one plan, to kill the marshal. Played by Gary Cooper, the marshal finds little support from the citizens of the town. He has the option to leave but a duty to stay. In Outland we travel in time to the future. We are on a remote mining facility on one of Jupiter's moons. Once there, a newly arrived marshal finds evidence of a major drug problem that endangers the lives of all the workers. As the evidence mounts we soon find the marshal waiting for the arrival of a band of assassins arriving on the next earth shuttle with just one plan, to kill the marshal. Played by Sean Connery, the marshal finds little support from the citizens, administration and works of the facility. He had an option to leave, but a duty to stay. Read more »
While most books about the Arctic or Antarctic focus on just one thing--the indomitable quest to reach one of the poles--this book has a much broader canvas--it covers the equally arduous work of making new scientific discoveries during the age of great polar exploration.
This broader canvas allows the reader to learn about biological, geological, and meteorological phenomena but also about the cost of empire. England sponsored many of these expeditions while this country held political dominion over one quarter of the world. And as the twentieth century dawned, political power was changing rapidly. Britain had lost face in the Boer Wars in Africa and needed heroism and success to bolster its image abroad and its people's faith in the government and military as Germany, France, and the United States were becoming arch competitors.
But the book is mostly about science and adventure under the most brutal conditions. At one point Scott and Shackleton dock near an ice floe and decide it's time to use a hot-air balloon to get a better view of the landscape ahead. In this totally unpeopled land, Scott rides up into the air and views the vast white expanse. For most of us, such a view would provoke sheer terror. And Scott himself was a little nervous in the little bamboo basket. I kept thinking, what if he falls out. Read more »
Do you know where the largest “active” super volcano is located in the continental United States? It might surprise you to know it is located in Yellowstone National Park. If you walk around the park you might not notice it though you would be aware of its presence all around you seen in the hot springs and mud pits throughout the park. So why would you not notice it? It’s so big that you simply cannot see it. The Yellowstone super volcano is so large that its caldera can only be seen from space. Yellowstone National Park is not just the location of the volcano, it is the volcano, and if it erupts we will say good-bye to the earth as we know it. Read more »
For some reason The Green Lantern was panned by most critics and many comic book fans. For my part I don’t understand why. I’ve long awaited a movie version of The Green Lantern and this film fit the bill as far as I was concerned. Read more »