6 Days on a Container Ship

Today's awesomeness: excellent travel writing from Fred Scharmen, a man who spent six days aboard Dettifoss, a container ship. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel on a container ship, a sort of paid stowaway on a long, slow journey? Well, even if you haven't, I personally think about this a lot. Without further ado, here are some choice snippets from this engrossing travelogue:

The only break was when Goodman, the Second Officer, invited me to come visit the bridge: "That sign that says 'No Passengers- Restricted Access', don't pay attention to that." There I found only the Captain, standing steadily despite the horizon which was pitching from the top of the wraparound windows to the bottom, with jazz on the sound system. "Is this satellite radio?" I asked, reaching for a railing to grab onto. "No. It is a Danish Jazz station! Denmark is just over the horizon to the West!" He indicated a slightly darker patch of grey off the starboard side. "So it just takes one person to pilot the ship?" The cabin I was occupying was marked "pilot" over the door. "Yes. It is all done with computers!"

Yesterday my phone and I had an argument, it told me that if I couldn't remember the otherwise useless PIN code that came with my SIM card then it wouldn't tell me what time it was. At this point all I need the thing for is a clock, the minutes on the card are dead, and I don't plan on calling anyone from the North Sea, anyway. But the geniuses who invented this SIM card system decided that the phone, which is also a calculator, stopwatch and alarm clock, would become a paperweight if the user ever forgot the arbitrary four digit number that came with the last recharge he or she got, in whatever random Scandinavian country he or she was in, when the thing ran out of minutes last. I've been traveling for too long.

Later I'm drawing some more and when it starts to rain again, I move into my cabin to try to color the drawing of the harvester I had made. The Captain knocks on my door, he has the Frank Gehry movie. "I have brought you this movie! Probably you have already seen it!" I tell him that it's not likely, and thank him. "And also this!" the Phaidon book of 20th century art. "It has some of my favorite artists in it! And these!" two jazz CDs "For you to copy! On your computer if you wish!" I thank him and show him the drawing that I'm working on, he looks at it thoughtfully "It's not finished?" I tell him that I still need to finish painting it. "Yes. Well when it is finished, perhaps I will make you an offer for it!" "You know my wife and I, we have sold our little house!" he says, "And we have moved into Reykjavik, a flat in the city, in the Funkisstile!" "The what?" "The Funkisstile! You do not have this word?" "I know the Jungendstijl, but I've never heard of the Funkisstile, is it an Icelandicthing?" "No. Everywhere they have the Funkisstile! It is the boxy! The boxy style!" he points to the shippingcontainers outside the window and in my drawing. "We love it!" I tell him that the Dutch, too, are also very fond of the Funkisstile. "Yes. Well I do not wish to disturb you!" "Thank you for these, Captain, I will take good care of them." "Yes."

Read the rest for a look at more minutiae from Scharmen's trip.

Image courtesy of sevensixfive on Flickr.


China Launches Crowdfunding Campaign to Restore the Great Wall

The Great Wall of China has been standing proudly for thousands of years—but now, it needs your help. CNN reports that the wall has fallen into disrepair and the China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation has launched an online crowdfunding campaign to raise money for restorations.

Stretching 13,000 miles across northern China, the Great Wall was built in stages starting from the third century BCE and reaching completion in the 16th century. To some degree, though, it’s always been under construction. For centuries, individuals and organizations have periodically repaired and rebuilt damaged sections. However, the crowdfunding campaign marks the first time the internet has gotten involved in the preservation of the ancient icon. The China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation is trying to raise $1.6 million (11 million yuan) to restore the wall, and has so far raised $45,000 (or 300,000 yuan).

Fundraising coordinator Dong Yaohui tells the BBC that, although the Chinese government provides some funds for wall repairs, it’s not enough to fix all of the damage: "By pooling the contribution of every single individual, however small it is, we will be able to form a great wall to protect the Great Wall," he said.

[h/t CNN]

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YouTube // Deep Look
These Glowing Worms Mimic Shining Stars
YouTube // Deep Look
YouTube // Deep Look

The glow worms of New Zealand's Waitomo caves produce light, mimicking the starry night sky. Using sticky goop, they catch moths and other flying creatures unfortunate enough to flutter into the "starry" cavern. Beautiful and icky in equal parts, this Deep Look video takes you inside the cave, and up close with these worms. Enjoy:

There's also a nice write-up with animated GIFs if you're not in the mood for video. Want more glow worms? Check out this beautiful timelapse in a similar cave, or our list of 19 Places You Won't Believe Exist topped by—you guessed it—New Zealand's Glowworm Caves!


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