National Geographic September 2013, Part 2

Untamed Antarctica, by Freddie Wilkinson, photographs by Cory Richards

I frequently tell people that I want to go “everywhere.” And I really do.  However, if going to places like Kenya and India and the Netherlands and Australia mean that places like the Wohlthat Mountains end up being squeezed out, i won’t be too disappointed.

Wilkinson, Richards, and two other adventurers, Mike Libecki and Keith Ladzinski, went off to the unclimbed mountains of Queen Maud Land in Antarctica with the goal of summitting as many mountains as they could.   We accompany the team up a spire that they name Bertha’s Tower, named apparently for Libecki’s grandmother.  They take two weeks to climb Bertha’s Tower, and at one point, Wilkinson has to spend the night outside of their shelter in just a sleeping bag.

Untamed Antarctica was a very quick read, and I found it fascinating, but the desire to follow in their footsteps just wasn’t there.

Kinshasa, Urban Pulse of the Congo, by Robert Draper, photographs by Pascal Maitre

We’re back in Africa again, only there’s not so much unrest this time. Rather, Kinshasa, Urban Pulse of the Congo, is about the art scene in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  We meet painters and sculptors and performers, seeing how they express their fears and concerns and, sometimes, their hopes.

All is, of course, not rosy.  This is the Democratic Republic of the Congo here.  Draper has to deal with street children and corrupt officials.  But Draper makes it through and even gets to comission a painting of his dog from one of the artists profiled.

We will see/have seen the team of Pascal and Maitre in October 2015, when they travel up the Congo River to Kisangani.

Failure is an Option, by Hannah Bloch

Failure is an Option is a meditation on failure and the importance of failing.  Failure is an important, and possibly even necessary, part of progress.  Before you learn what you can do, you sometimes have to learn what you can’t.

My own favorite meditation on failure, by the way, is the 2007 Disney movie Meet the Robinsons.  As Billie Robinson says, From failing, you learn.  From success, not so much.

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