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Showing posts from February, 2013

David Tait's 2013 Expedition to Everest to Stop Child Abuse

My friend David Tait is busy preparing for his forthcoming expedition, starting March 29, to summit Everest for his sixth time, to raise money for the NSPCC and awareness of child sexual abuse, of which David himself was a victim as a ten year old child.

He was the first westerner to traverse Everest North-South in 2007 - he climbed the north side and descended the south side, along with his Sherpa climbing companion, Phurba Tashi, who was the first non-westerner to accomplish the north-south traverse.

The North Ridge route, from the Tibetan side of Everest, involves spending longer periods at higher altitudes than the South Side (which Sir Edmund Hillary first climbed in 1953 - please see below), and also involves using ladders and more challenging rock climbing on the steep steps of the North Ridge route.
In fact, when David achieved this remarkable feat, his original intention was to attempt a double traverse - to go back up and over again once he had descended the south side - but h…

Guardian Questionnaire

Extract from The Guardian Questionnaire with Alexander Stuart, compiled by Rosanna Greenstreet for The Guardiannewspaper in Britain:

What is your greatest happiness? Being home with my wife and children.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Hatred.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue? I'm more interested in vice.
What would your motto be? Breathe slowly and enjoy.
How would you like to die? With a sense of bliss.
Do you believe in life after death? I believe in continuity.
How would you like to be remembered? With a smile.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you? To love.

Ang Lee's Life of Pi - The Eye of the Tiger

My record of picking Oscar winners (apart from Slumdog Millionaire in 2009) is so bad that I might as well predict It Happened One Night as tomorrow's Oscar triumph (if you've never seen it, do - it more than deserved the "Big Five" Oscars it won in 1935).

Before this year's Oscars, though, I want to say a word about Ang Lee'sLife of Pi, which without doubt deserves the Oscar for Trippiest Film of the Year.

Life of Pi is the first time that I have watched a movie and felt that 3D made a profound difference to the creative success of the film. There were sequences in James Cameron's Avatar that really used 3D well, but almost every shot in Pi seems to have been composed with the extra dimension in mind. Elements float at various depths, whether it is the astonishing hummingbird shot at the beginning, or the levels of swimming pool and sky shortly after, or the astonishing cosmic depths in my favorite sequence, which I will get to in a minute.

I was also intri…

Happy Valentine's Day, Charong!

Happy Valentine's Day to my beautiful wife, Charong! This passage from Pablo Neruda's exquisite Sonnet XVII expresses my love far more perfectly than I can:

"I love you in this way because I don't know any other way of loving  but this, in which there is no I or you,  so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.

- Pablo Neruda, Sonnet XVII

Happy Chinese New Year - The Year of the Snake!

Today and tomorrow are filled with celebrations for the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Snake, which begins tomorrow, Sunday January 10, 2013.

The snake is associated with wisdom and influence, and is sometimes considered the "Little Dragon," the second most powerful and lucky among the twelve Chinese Zodiac creatures.

There are various legends regarding the origins of the Chinese calendar, and the order of the animals in it. One is that the Buddha invited all the animals to come, either to join him on New Year's Day or to share his last day on Earth, and some of the animals - sometimes the snake, sometimes the rat, depending upon the telling - hitched a ride on the ox and jumped off, thus arriving first.

Among those born in the Year of the Snake are Brad Pitt, Bob Dylan, Virginia Woolf, Oprah Winfrey and Mao Tse-tung.

You can read more about the Year of the Snake in this post by US/China business and educational consultant and former Michigan state superintendent of schoo…