As I sat down with my morning coffee and started to do some research for a new project I am developing, I ended up on an article profiling you, and the work you do and almost fell out of my chair.
I am not sure if you have been emailed or approached before, but
my name is Daniel *******, and I am a producer of unscripted television. I had developed and produced shows with National Geographic, Discovery and the History Channel and would love a chance to speak with you to find out more about the work you do, above and below sea level.
According to your blog, it looks like you are overseas, but when you have a moment please let me know if you are open to having a quick chat. (we can skype, or email, or whatever works best for you)
Thank you in advance for your time, I hope all is well with you.
This is a screen shot from the official trailer for "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"
I was recently affected by a movie trailer that was so haunting that I watched it over and over again on the computer after coming home from the theater. The trailer impressed me more than the film I went to see.
The scene in the new movie "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" that I loved so much is where a black and white photograph of an brazen adventurer ( Sean Penn) beckons the desk-bound introvert Walter ( Ben Stiller) to join him.
The image, pinned to corkboard, is so infused with a landscape of danger that you can practically hear the jungle drums beating, and the choppers overhead. In one hand The Adventurer holds a Leica camera, (first choice of those willing to put their safety and comfort on the line to bring back images from the edge), and with the other , almost imperceptibly, he gestures for Walter, and the rest of us, to join him.
In the scant seconds that you have known him, you know well enough what Walter needs to do, and when he heeds your encouragement and nods his head that yes, he’s game, all hell breaks loose.
This scene, the film, and the 1939 short story by James Thurber that inspired it might be asking you and me a question: Can you ignore this invitation to leave the comfort of your couch, your home, your lifestyle, and join the Adventurer?, Will you, like Walter does in stunned amazement at the choice he is making, nod almost as imperceptibly as the original beckoning gesture, say “Yes to Adventure”?
I think the reason this scene affected me so much is that it represents what I had hoped to achieve since I first started saying that my passion is to share the excitement of scientific exploration. With my voyages, stories, and blog posts
, I have hoped to encourage people in the simple act of saying yes to adventure. This beautiful film created by Ben Stiller appears to have captured that spirit perfectly. I just needed Sean Penns smoldering gaze to pull it off.The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
opens on Christmas day.
Even from a very young age, Columbus Day, the US holiday on October 12th and its association with the act of Human Exploration meant a lot to me. A day dedicated to the celebration of people making intentional voyages into the unknown made me giddy with excitement...,
Wait a minute, maybe I got so excited because October 12 is my birthday. Who knows.
But from todays perspective, a day dedicated to one single explorer with a dubious moral code and no mention of the other explorers that changed history and continue to do so today seems out of wack.
Which is why I am excited to join the people behind Exploration Day USA
in getting 25,000 signatures on a petition to the Obama White House to officially change the name of the holiday to celebrate All Explorers. You can help out to by going to their site and signing the petition on change.com below.Petitioning The President of the United States
United States Congress: Rededicate Columbus Day as Exploration Day
And after all, as the founders of Americans For Exploration pointed out, Saying Columbus "discovered" America is like saying you went to the grocery store and 'Discovered" milk.
Culture Shock! Taking in new Customs and Cultures at the fast paced Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Beh can be found behind the Bar at Via Via, on Rue Nohkeokoummane, Ban Mixay, Vientiane
With the exception of the fried crickets, I have found a lot of Lao cuisine to be complex, spicy, exotic, and delicious. So imagine how silly I felt skipping the opportunity investigate further, and instead going to a restaurant in Vientiane with a Belgian chef de cuisine.
You might already know that Laos, like Vietnam and Cambodia, had a strong French colonial influence that helped shape their modern cities with architecture, government, and cuisine. So there are several excellent french restaurants, boulangeries, and wine merchants supplying the needs of the "Falang" community.
So my decision to dine at Via Via was not a bad one. Not only is the food good, but the atmosphere is exceptional. The expatriot archeaological community gathers here after hours, joined by international journalists, Médecins Sans Frontières
, and members of the diplomatic community.
I guess I'll have to eat my Lao food at breakfast and lunch from now on.
Still Life with Lao Food.From a Street Vendor.
Now that I have returned to Vientiane, I have been lucky enough to borrow some office
space for design and construction of a new em survey sled from friend,
Archaeological Conservator, and old Laos Hand Marion Ravenscroft.
Maz has been kind enough to move a couple of skulls and a collection
of gold inlaid teeth so as to free-up a table in her conservation lab
for me. This is the corner office, in the low building behind the
National Museum, next door to the Javanese ceramologue, and 3 doors
down from the police guards coop of fighting cocks.
I have requested that any correspondence be forwarded there, especially mysterious
parcels containing old maps or undesciferable scripts, as well
as the odd smelling wooden shipping crates, plastered with exotic
stamps and stencils on the exterior,
Most sincerely yours,
Eric Wartenweiler Smith
Being in Laos without a book has had its up-side. I've been learning the language, and working on photography, whenever not busy with work. But not having a book with me has caused me to reflect on the books that influenced me enough to have contributed to me being here, in Vientiane, in a musty office full of skulls and bones behind the National Museum. I came up with a list of 3:
When I was 16 I read 'Tombs, Travel, and Trouble", by Lawrence
Griswold, and it changed my life forever ...
I never had a clear image in my head of the Laotian capital, so the sights and smells of the city really struck me when I got here. Here are a few snapshots from around town.
At first I thought this blog would be about the origins
of Human Seafaring, and my own theory on why early sailors left home on voyages
of exploration into the unknown is very different than what other researchers
Run, Tube, Read has three rules:
1. One must run somewhere
2. One must float back to the original spot
3. One must have reading material for said floating experience