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An 82 year old book, Antarctica, and Hong Kong

I got an fantastic surprise in the mail this week. In the mail was an actual issue of National Geographic from August 1930, not the copy I thought I had ordered. This issue details the “current” event of Richard Byrd’s Expedition to Antarctica in 1928-1930. The thing smells of old attic and antiquity. I love it. I’m keeping it in it’s plastic wrap.

Next, I’ve been reading Antarctic Horror, a very small sub-genre. The masters of which are H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe, two authors that are considered pinnacles of the horror genre. They collectively blew my mind this week with their short stories.  These two books are , At the Mountains of Madness, and The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.  Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness is so chocked full of hardcore geology that if this was reading for the layman, then we have regressed as a people. My only conclusion was that either H.P. was trying to recruit people to geology ( Become a Geologist! Die horribly!) or that it was intended for a learned audience.

I entertained at least a handful of people on my last geology trip to Death Valley by reading excerpts of this book around the campfire. I have been told that I have a pleasant reading voice, I guess sometimes people just listen to the tone and not my words. Either way. I love to entertain people, and I’m happy to do so. (Pro Tip: If you cant hold English together while reading out loud and drinking, switch to Scottish or Irish. These accents were made for tripping over your own tongue. )

Back to the review(cough Spoilers) The Pym text by Edgar Allen Poe was written 100 years before Lovecraft’s short novel. Both of these stories are about the Antarctic, and both are amazing representations of their respective authors work.

I actually yelled at Poe while reading his book. He lead me though a compelling account of canibalisim in the first person! I closed my book for a moment, and exclaimed, ” oh hell no, f*** you Poe, f*** you!” He then leaves the book open at the end, abruptly enclosing a letter from the publisher that tells the reader that the narrative was never finished and that the man who spun his tale to Poe died with the last few chapters in hand.

Don’t give me any spoiler alert crap. The book is 200 years old and is the only novella written by one of America’s premier poets. If you had not read it yet, you wouldn’t have read it without me telling you. 🙂

Anyways, all this brings me to the other interesting item I got in the mail. I didn’t check where I was ordering from apparently (again not paying attention to my online purchases and setting a pattern here), and so I was surprised when a packet from Hong Kong arrived in the mail. I’ve been to Hong Kong myself, but I was still intrigued by obtaining a package from that far off island. Inside was a very nice velvet pocket(?), and not it was not like a cheap little dice bag or something. This was a velvet lined and covered cotton satchel worth at least $20 dollars US, like what you might by to place expensive jewelry in for a gift. Velvet wallet? I dont know quite how to describe it.

Inside was what I had ordered, a cheap pair of headphones and a spare cable for my tablet, but these trinkets were immediately forgotten in favor of this little velvet bag. I kept thinking to my self “What must have this Hong Kong shop thought of the American buyer, to wrap such a mundane purchase in so fine a case?”  I’m just joe shmo, spending like $20 on a spare charger for my tablet, not the Czar of all Russia. Thanks though.

Finaly, I got my Bookcase/Geology Shelves organized. Heres a pic.

That’s all for now. I’ve got an 82 year old National Geographic to read. Away!


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