The Weekly Rapport #22: Mount Everest, NASA and Space Exploration

Just gonna pretend like it hasn’t been a full month since my last post. Moving on…

What I’m Reading

Into Thin Air – Jon Krakauer

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This book had been on my radar for over a decade. Literally every time I went to the bookstore I would pick up a copy, walk around with it, and then decide I didn’t want to read it. I’m not sure why, since I loved Krakauer’s other bestselling book (and movie) Into the Wild – but for some reason I just wasn’t in the mood to read about people dying in the worst disaster in Mount Everest history. Weird…

Sure enough I decided to buy it and keep it on my coffee table. After some thinking I finally picked it up and read 80 pages in like an hour or something ridiculous. I forgot how interesting mountain climbing is. I loved watching movies and documentaries like Vertical Limit, Meru, and Free Solo – and now I was reading a really great story about a journalist tackling the ever-elusive Mount Everest.

I know a book is good when I constantly stop reading to Google things and learn more about the story, the area, the people, or the author. Throughout reading Into Thin Air I was googling things constantly. I never knew about the disaster of 1996, where eight people died in a horrific blizzard on their way down from the summit. Jon Krakauer does an amazing job writing and recalling his memories as he set off to climb Everest himself as a journalist for Outdoor magazine. He not only describes the physical toll of climbing at 30% oxygen 29,000 feet above sea level – he describes the personalities of the people who climb it – the alpinists, the sherpas, the businessmen with little-to-no-climbing experience – and the emotional toll it takes on you. How you change and learn things about yourself when your life is constantly in danger and you have to rely on the tools and the people around you just to survive. All for the ultimate goal of reaching the highest point on Earth. It just so happened to coincide with the worst incedent the mountain has ever seen.

What I’m Obsessed With Recently

Space/NASA

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I think almost everyone fantasizes about being an astronaut when you’re a kid. You probably took trips to the Intrepid, the National Air and Space Museum, or the Kennedy Space Center. As an adult, I still read the writings of Stephen Hawking or Neal Degrasse-Tyson. I watch movies like The Martian, Interstellar, and Gravity. But while those things are awesome, I completely forgot how fucking cool astronauts are. The amount of things they have to know is INSANE. You basically have to be an engineer, a pilot, a scuba diver, a robotics expert, an astronomer, a physicist, a mathmetician, and a biologist. Oh, and you have to be in astounding physical shape, have perfect vision, a clean background, good recommendations, and a tip-top media personality. And that’s before they even strap you to a rocket and send you to Earth’s orbit.

Now that my fascination with NASA is back, I’ve been consuming as much stuff about outerspace and astronauts as possible. Not including the hours spent on YouTube watching videos and Ted Talks about space, here is what I’ve been doing in my downtime instead of re-watching 8 seasons of Game of Thrones…

One Strange Rock (Netflix)

This actually changed the way I look at the world. It’s an AMAZING National Geographic 10-part docu-series narrated by the great and powerful Will Smith. It takes interviews from 8 astronauts who have been to space and gives you their perspective on Earth and what it’s like to view our planet from such a unique vantage point. Please watch this.

Apollo 13

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Somehow I never actually saw this movie. I’m not going to write about it since I assume you’re normal and have watched one of the greatest movies of all time. Blah, blah, blah, Tom Hanks is fantasic, great job Ron Howard.

First Man

Pretty solid. A typical stoic performance by Ryan Gosling (if you’ve seen Drive or A Place Beyond the Pines – he says just as many words), but nonetheless a cool movie about Neal Armstrong and his life story. I didn’t know much about him other than the whole moon walk thing, but his life was pretty insane. Same director who did Whiplash and La La Land. Spielberg was Executive Producer, FYI.

Spaceman – Mike Massimino

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My man Mike Massimino is a fellow Long Island guy. He grew up in Franklin Square, about 5 minutes from where I grew up, and he’s been to space. Not only has he walked in outerspace, he helped fix the Hubble Telescope – arguably the most incredible man-made structure every created – up there with the Pyramids. I found out about him through the Netflix show One Strange Rock, and then I saw his book in the gift shop for the Hayden Planetarium at the Natural Museum of History. This book was so good. Not only because he seems like such a regular guy from the neighborhood, but because, like I said, being an astronaut is by far the single coolest job anyone can have, and his perspective on Earth is enough to shift how you think about things.

Here’s an excerpt:

Great Read Across the Internet

  • Michelin Restaurant and Fabulous Wines: Inside the Secret Team Dinners that have Built the Spurs’ Dynasty [ESPN]: this article got sent to me so many times, but it’s that good. Love or hate Gregg Popovich (I love him) – this article will make you at least appreciate the culture he’s created in San Antonio. Being a head coach is no different than being a boss. It’s the team-building and the relationships you foster that inevitably lead to ultimate success. In his case, five NBA championships.
  • Can We Live Longer but Stay Younger? [New Yorker]: “Those extra thirty years of life, though won by advances in medicine and public health, are winnable because, given a little chance, we just go on. The big question of human aging then becomes not why we fall apart but why nature lets us hold together for so long.”

 

That’s all folks. I’ll leave you off with one of my favorite covers by Hozier

-KB

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