Wednesday, January 19, 2005


As previously mentioned below, I'm currently reading the book How the Scots Invented the Modern World by Arthur Herman. An interesting premise, although not as strong as the one presented in How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill.

Anyway, I was on MapQuest looking up a map of Scotland, in particular the New Town in Edinburgh. And of course I started roaming around on the map. I'm a big map fan. If I had my druthers, every square inch of wall in my office would be covered in National Geographic maps. (See, I'm a multi-dimensional nerd.)

Of course, when looking at a map of Scotland, the eye is drawn northward to the islands. And, of course, that reminded me of one of my favorite short stories, A History of the Twentieth Century, with Illustrations, by Kim Stanley Robinson (currently available here).

Take an hour, go read it. Very nice. Anyway, this all reminded me that, since reading that story, I have wanted to make that same physical journey that Frank made, up through the islands to Skara Brae. That's one of the trips I really want to make.

I have no desire to drive Route 66, or to do a whirlwind tour of the great cities of Europe, to ride the Orient Express, to see the Far East, etc. I don't care if I never see Las Vegas (or Los Angeles, for that matter, ugh). I don't want to climb a mountain or visit any desert, anywhere.

But I do want to see Skara Brae and those ruins. It's probably the story that does it; the story explains why that's such an important place and makes it seem like somewhere worth visiting.

Similarly, the story of Epaminondas' march against Sparta in Victor Davis Hanson's The Soul of Battle makes me want to go there. Thebes, Leuctra, Sparta itself, the fortresses built by the freed Helots, I'd like to see where that interesting episode happened.

On a non-literary note, I'd also like to take an Alaskan Cruise and kayak in Glacier Bay. And I'd like to see Antarctica. As long as I'm dreaming, why not dream big and cold.

That's pretty much it for my wanderlust, except that I'd really like to go to the Varsity right now. But it's night-time, and my wife has the car.


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