Tuesday, January 06, 2009

day +504

Back on day +59, I blogged briefly about how Ellen Clegg of The Boston Globe interviewed me for her book project about the effects of chemobrain and the search for future cancer therapies that pose less harmful consequences. Kelly of Chemopalooza, who is one of a few friends who were also interviewed by Clegg, informed me yesterday that her book has just been released. It's called ChemoBrain: How Cancer Therapies Can Affect Your Mind.

I haven't had the opportunity to get a copy of it yet, but Kelly, I, and others are cited in the book.

On Thursday evening, I plan to attend an Open House at the International Center of Photography in Midtown. Although I don't have the money to sign up for a course or program right now, as part of the event I will have the opportunity for my portfolio to be reviewed. This should be pretty cool. It would be nice if my work is received warmly.

Finally, I learned in a recent issue of Sky & Telescope that 2009 has been deemed the International Year of Astronomy in honor of Galileo's revolutionary decision to turn his telescope upwards toward the heavens. Events and programs around the country and all over the globe have been organized to educate the public about the wonders of astronomy as well as to celebrate the 400 years of astronomical exploration and discovery since Galileo changed the course of both science and history in 1609.

At the moment, I'm reading a book on the Mahamudra tradition of Buddhist meditation, but before this I was reading about the Mongol Empire, the largest continuous land empire in history. In reviewing periods of Mongol history, I was reminded about one of its most fascinating aspects: the diplomatic and missionary travels between Europe's popes and monarchs and the khans of the Asian steppe. We've all heard about the travels of Marco Polo, but at least two decades before he had set out to meet the great Kubilai Khan, John of Plano de Carpini traveled to the Mongol heartland.

Thinking about how unimaginably rigorous John of Plano's trek through eastern Europe and then, through the length of Asia before reaching his destination in Mongolia must have been in the 1240s, it makes all of my lofty designs for experiencing the dangers, independence, thrills, and challenges of grand travel to seem comical. It's practically impossible for a person in 2009 to understand how tough life was back then, let alone trying to grasp what it was like to undergo trips through unknown lands, such as those of John of Plano and the Polos, that took years to complete. Today travel to most places is pretty straightforward and cushy. Knowing how different travel was for people in the Middle Ages and earlier (such as, Herodotus' exploration of the Nile River and our ancestors' migration from the Rift Valley to every corner of the globe), their willingness to undertake such dangerous trips also speaks to their dedication to whatever belief or cause they espoused. For many, I suspect, they hoped rewards and fame would follow back home too.

What does this exactly have to do with the 2009 International Year of Astronomy? Nothing per se. I just found it fascinating reflecting upon how remarkable is our collective human story of exploration and discovery both before and since the time of Galileo.


Comment Blogger Kelly Kane said...

Hey Duane! Ellen just emailed me and said she'll mail me a book, so I'm sure she'll mail you one too. I hope you didn't order it yet!


10:36 PM  
Comment Blogger Duane said...

I got in touch w/ her. She said she would send me a copy. Thanks.

11:10 PM  
Comment Blogger Jim Anderson said...

re: "the Mongol Empire". Dont forget to rent the movie Mongols (208).
Here is a link to the moview description: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/mongol/

1:34 AM  
Comment Blogger Duane said...

Hey Jim,

Yes, I saw "Mongol" several months ago and really enjoyed it. It's a very impressive film.

10:38 AM  
Comment Blogger Ambrosia Marsh said...

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3:42 PM  
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