Monday, June 30, 2008


I went with L & M to see Wall-E--about a plucky robot carrying on among the ruins of Earth--and left thinking, "I want to work for Pixar." The movie immediately rose to No. 1 on My Favorite Post-Apocalypse Movies. (Sorry, Mel Gibson.) It even incorporated a few Star Trek sound effects--not to mention Hello, Dolly!
This mashup all poured fuel on my desire to create iMovies.

Then Sal came over the next day and we talked about how I don't have anything yet to wear for the Las Vegas ST con in one month. She said, "You want to feel good about yourself when you go," and I agreed.

I asked myself later, what will make me feel good about myself at the con?
Having a couple videos I'm proud of under my belt.
So, this is a preview frame from my second video:

If you recognize the quote, 10 cents off your next cup of coffee. (Kellie, you can't enter to win.)

I don't know. It boggles my brain that I am making movies, even these tiny little things (with stills, even), when it is something I have wanted to do for so long but never thought I could.
Thank you, fellow humans who made this possible.

However, I have also been feeling a wee bit insanely obsessive, and even though I applaud Werner Herzog and his like, I am not built for those speeds (with their attendant sleeplessness), so I am going to turn off this computer at this early hour of 8 p.m. and read a book.
Remember those?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

My Silly Kirk Video

I'm not ready to let this get buried under new posts, so let me give the youTube link to my first ever fanvid again:
"Don't Touch Jim's Flower"

Terriers in Movies 1: Flike

Umberto D (1962, Italy, dir. Vittorio De Sica) is nauseatingly sad, but it offers my favorite answer to Marcel Camus's central philosophical question:
Why not kill yourself?

[Spoiler alert, but I don't think you should watch this movie anyway, it's too painful, despite its "happy" ending.]

The old man Umberto D. has lost everything in a series of humiliating events, so at the end of the movie he decides to kill himself and his little dog, Flike, by stepping onto train tracks as a train approaches.

Flike is having none of it, however, being a terrier and therefore not worried about maintaining dignity and whatnot. He squirms out of Umberto's arms and runs into a park, followed by Umberto, who loves him.

Flike is suspicious at first, but Umberto wins his dog's forgiveness by throwing a pine cone like a ball for him.
The movie ends with Umberto playing with Flike.
And that's how a terrier answers central existential questions.

Credo 2: Add Another Zero

I believe: We have all the space and time we need.

(You know, in cosmic terms.)

I lucked into going to the P.O. this week right after these stamps honoring Ray and Charles Eames came out (June 17, 2008), and I bought 5 sheets.

The Eameses were a wife-and-husband design team, famous for their chairs, among other things.
They also made 100 short films.

Exploring ways to teach physics, they created the 8 minute The Power of Ten [click to watch on youTube], which I count among the influences of my life.

It is "about relative size and distance...and the effect of adding another zero."

Starting 1 meter above a man and a woman on a picnic blanket, the scene pulls back every 10 seconds, each time as if the camera moved 10 x farther away at a 10 x wider angle. Then it zooms 10 x closer in and narrower. So it journeys deep into the universe and back into subatomic molecule--and in each case reaches empty space.

I often think of these perspectives when I'm feeling overly crunched or spaced out.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Credo 1: Feed Your Sheep

I believe: 90% of everything may indeed be crap, as Sturgeon's Law has it ;
but that means 10% is not.

Feed them sheep.


Bink went onto the roof of the Basilica to photograph her labyrinth, now mowed into the west lawn, alongside the highway.

A good place to graze your urban sheep.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My First YouTube: Captain Kirk's Flower

I finished my first video ever last night at 3 a.m. and uploaded it on youTube (another first):
"Don't Touch Jim's Flower"

It's 1 min., 20 sec. of pure silliness about Captain Kirk and his pet ego. I am like to die of pride.

The music is "Jazzy Bach," by Ben Charest (and Bach). It's from The Triplets of Belleville.
Thanks to Bink, who helped get me started on iMovies (and lent me the Triplets soundtrack)!

"How to Watch a Fanvid"

This article by Henry Jenkins-- author of Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture and the guy who wrote about Obama as a Secret Vulcan--is the smartest thing I've read on fan culture:
How to Watch a Fanvid

His explanation of slash is the only thing I've read that I would give to someone who just didn't get it. It ...well, here, I'm going to cut and paste this bit:

When I try to explain slash to non-fans, I often reference that moment in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan where Spock is dying and Kirk stands there, a wall of glass separating the two longtime buddies.

Both of them are reaching out towards each other, their hands pressed hard against the glass, trying to establish physical contact. They both have so much they want to say and so little time to say it. Spock calls Kirk his friend, the fullest expression of their feelings anywhere in the series.

Almost everyone who watches that scene feels the passion the two men share, the hunger for something more than what they are allowed.
And, I tell my nonfan listeners,
slash is what happens when you take away the glass. [bolded by Fresca]

The glass, for me, is often more social than physical; the glass represents those aspects of traditional masculinity which prevent emotional expressiveness or physical intimacy between men....

Slash is what happens when you take away those barriers....

One of the most exciting things about slash is that it teaches us how to recognize the signs of emotional caring beneath all the masks....

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I've spent all day and most of the evening--with significant help from Bink (not that she knew any more than I did)--working on my first *ever* iMovie!

I'm arranging and titling screencaps (stills "captured" from film) from the Star Trek episode "The Apple" to make an utterly rIDICulous story, with a few sound effects, etc.

(IDIC = "infinite diversity in infinite combination".)

How extraordinary that without knowing anything (no lie) about moviemaking, I can put together a rudimentary movie...
I will post the results when it's a bit smoother.
I predict I will spend my summer making ST flicks.
My life as a filmmaker is launched.

Lemonrocket is the maker of 107 Spock icons and the two icons here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cat & Co.

The Pink Cat is gaining in my favor. She's been dozing next to me tonight as I hack my way through a ms. more dreadful than usual (even allowing generous accomodation for Sturgeon's Law: the ”90 percent of everything is crap” dictum of sci-fi writer Theodore Sturgeon).

It's almost midnight now, so Pink Cat is getting active, preparing to save me soon from that human mistake of trying to sleep at night. For we must remain vigilant: there may be bugs on the ceiling!

(Anyone who would like to explain to me what cats think they're doing when they bat at the walls, please do. Or what cats think they're doing, period.)

Cats Sleep in the Day

...So they can bother you at night.
This is The Pink Cat, one of the cats I am housesitting--an affectionate cat who does that thing cats do:
when you are asleep (or trying to be), they come and stand on top of you.

I wrote to Sister, who knows about cats and lives with three, including her cat Miko, asking about this.

She responded:
"Only the Love Nut cats do that. The Pinkster and Miko, for example.
I find it soooo calming to have a cat standing on me because it usually leads to them lying down and falling asleep on you, which is even better.

"Also, have you noticed another thing about cats: they only get up close and personal when you
(a) have your eyes closed, or
(b) are looking the other way."

Naturally. Cats are Vulcans, even the Love Nut ones.

What's with the Whipped Cream?

I am housesitting a wonderful big old house for two weeks, full of books and music and art and plants and cats. So of course I am being very literary and artistic and working on my novel and...
Um, well, no. In fact, I am sitting around watching Kirk/Spock slash on youTube. And just found this fluff with a whipped cream theme. Bink, have you been watching silly, naughty videos on youTube? Or is there just something about Kirk/Spock that suggests whipped cream?

I also found the source for "screencaps"--still photos of the TV shows, such as the author (author?)--mortmere used here), from
Kirk/Spock: The Prize (or, The Whipped Cream Maneuver).

Monday, June 23, 2008

These hands...

...taught me to make pasta when I was a kid.
I spent this past weekend in Milwaukee with my 83-year-old Sicilian auntie, whose hands these are. She gathered friends to celebrate Summer Solstice with drumming, dancing, and howling at the moon in her backyard .

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Vulcan Politics

Equating political candidates with heroes is dangerously sentimental and generally I eschew it.
Nevertheless, this post, Is Obama a Secret Vulcan? by Henry Jenkins, with the graphic (left) from Cafe Press "Politics for the Star Trek Fan" amused me.
Krista (Thinkery) sent it to me, and it helped maintain my sanity here in the Milwaukee airport, waiting with a crushing headache to fly home after a weekend with relatives...
(Helped too to drown out the repeated "homeland security" warning: "If a stranger approaches you about carrying a foreign object..." Like, a tribble?)

I don't think a Vulcan would make a good US president--look at what a crummy job Spock did with the Galileo 7 (until the last minute, when his irrational human side took over). Still, he's got to be better than McCain!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Pattern in Question

What inquiring evolutionary psychologists [see comment on post below] want to see to aid their pattern recognition research.

From The Sun (UK). Pamela Anderson reading Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity, by Anne Elizabeth Moore, who asks, what happens when the underground becomes just another market?

When Sister saw the photo of Pamela Anderson reading, she reminded me of this photo of Marilyn Monroe, which she and SJG have hanging as a poster in their house.

Pattern Recognition

After discussing whether Pamela Anderson is predator or prey (with R. on “Familiar Stranger” comments, below), I got thinking about how and why we recognize patterns (faces, expressions, etc.).

Here’re a handful of my condensed thoughts on the matter--or, my inital attempts to make a pattern out of the swirl stirred up in my brain.

1. It serves human survival (like, on the savannah where we evolved) to be able to recognize patterns:

zebra zebra zebra zebra
zebra zebra zebra zebra
zebra zebra lion zebra
zebra zebra zebra zebra

2. Behaviors that increase payoffs (such as food) and decrease cost (say, blood loss) we often experience as pleasure, as play.
Surprise, variation, and practice hone our pattern recognition skills.
Thus, we enjoy games based on pattern recognition:

Duck, duck, goose. (Or gray duck.)

1, 3, 5, 7…

3. Storytelling, which serves social bonding (and hence increases payoffs), also works with pattern recognition:


4. When the pattern games get more complex and less easy fun (bigger payoffs, bigger costs), we call them something else.
For instance, the Olympics, calculus, literature:


5. The less immediately recognizeable the patterns are (or the less equipped we are to read them), the more likely we are to find them threatening. Lion? Zebra?
And that's why some ill-equipped people don't like Pamela Anderson to read academic books while she wears a bikini.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Familiar Strangers

Speaking of sensual [post below], here is an amazing little film clip from the 1940s:
Frida Kahlo Kisses Diego Rivera,
from the Tate Modern's 2005 Kahlo exhibit.
(If the film doesn't show up, as half the time it didn't for me in Safari, try it in Firefox.)

And speaking of famous Jews [ditto], for an examination of whether or not Kahlo was of Jewish descent (turns out, maybe not), read The Un-Chosen Artist from The Jewish Press.

The author, Menachem Wecker, quotes a phrase calling Kahlo a "multiply hyphenated artist."
Too right! She is one of those people in whom it is easy to see what you want to see.
I mean, what other foreign Communist could end up on a US postage stamp?

Wecker also writes about a sociological phenomenon called "familiar strangers."
This phrase is new to me, but catches something I've long noticed: our desire to claim someone--like Kahlo, or Shatner, or the person next to us at the coffee shop--as "one of our own," whatever our "own" happens to be (or, conversely, to claim an identity for ulterior motives--like Kahlo claiming Jewish ancestry perhaps primarily to align herself with anti-Nazism):
"In a 1972 study, Stanley Milgram found that “familiar strangers” who share a repeated experience (like riding the same bus every day) are likelier to communicate when cast into an unfamiliar setting, than are two strangers with no such shared experience.
Apparently, Milgram found, strangers recognize some form of “real” relationship in chance encounters, in which they do not communicate or even know each other’s name.

Perhaps Jews who seek to claim celebrities like Chagall hope to share a similarly “familiar” religious experience with him.
Many artists who are claimed as Jewish do not identify as such, like non-Jewish painters Paul Klee and Max Ernst, whom the Nazis denounced as Jewish “degenerate” artists.

Klee and Ernst would have preferred that Hitler not identify them as Jews, but Mexican-born painter Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) happily celebrated her “perceived” Jewish lineage...."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lush Life

I already wrote in Captain Kirk's Parted Lips about the uncanny resemblance of William Shatner (above, right) to Shelley Winters.

This week, as I contemplate the beauty of flowers just past their peak (peonies, a couple posts back), Simone Signoret comes to mind, as she appeared at forty-four years old in Ship of Fools (1965, above, left). She also looks rather like Mr. Shatner. (And note those parted lips...)

Being plush is not in favor in the West these days, but comfort with sensual pleasure is part of these people's attractiveness. Signoret, anyway, famously got sexier as she aged, like an overblown rose. Rather old-fashioned, in this hard-bodied age.

For what it's worth, I also note that all three come from Eastern European Jewish backgrounds (Poland, Lithuania, and Ukraine).

The First Weddings Are Rolling Out

"San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, center, kisses Del Martin, left, as Martin’s partner Phyllis Lyon, right, looks on in a special ceremony at City Hall in San Francisco, Monday, June 16, 2008. Lyon and Martin became the first officially married same sex couple after California’s Supreme Court declared gay marriage legal. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, Pool)"

Image snagged from The Wild Reed, who neatly proves that not all Catholic GLBT theology is in need of revamping...

I remember Martin and Lyon as old warhorses back when I was a young confused LBAQ.
I don't usually put initials after my name anymore (the list got too long!), but of all those available, at midlife I most strongly identify with Q.
No matter who I sleep with (or don't, these days), I have always been Queerish.

More from the net:
At the West Hollywood City Hall, George Takei — who played Sulu on the original "Star Trek" — beamed as he and his partner of 21 years, Brad Altman, obtained one of the new gender-neutral marriage licenses — with the words "Party A" and "Party B" instead of "bride" and "groom." They are planning a September wedding.

"I see before me people who personify love and commitment," a grinning Takei told the crowd. He flashed the Vulcan hand salute from "Star Trek" and, in a twist on the Vulcan greeting from the TV series, said: "May equality live long and prosper."

Monday, June 16, 2008

Peonies End: Nihil est ab omni parte beatum.

Laetus in praesens animus
quod ultra est oderit curare
et amara lento temperet risu.
Nihil est ab omni parte beatum.

--Horace, Odes 2.16

Translation (thanks to Amy P.):

A soul happy for the present
disdains to be concerned about what is beyond
and tempers bitterness with a slow smile.
Nothing is all ways blessed.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Long and Winding Road

Bink shot this view (right) from the Basilica's roof, after she and Richard finished spray-painting her labyrinth design on the lawn yesterday.

Bink says there's an angel's shadow in this photo: "like a huge figure's shadow, bent over--hands on knees--to get a look at what these puny humans are doing now. And it's got a halo--white glow around the head, maybe some wing glow too along and above the back."

I fail to see this, imagining instead landing grids for alien spacecraft.

Bink designed 23 labyrinths before the Basilica Peace Committee chose this one (in Bink's hand, left) to complement their peace pole, representing a spiritual path to peace.

The shortest route between two points may be a straight line, but that's rarely the one committees take.

[Example from Catholic history: The cardinals who convened in 1268 to choose a new pope took 2 years, 9 months, and 2 days to make their decision.]

If people are familiar with labyrinths, they tend to know the famous medieval one at Chartres Cathedral, France (plan at right).

notes "labyrinths in the French cathedrals were the scene of Easter dances carried out by the clergy."

I would like to see a modern version of this, but the Vatican outlaws sacred dance in today's church (no kidding).

Bink met with Richard, the builder/contractor, to lay out the preliminary path with a pro measuring tape...

...and orange spray paint. I came along to take notes (and photos) for a possible article.
The paint is waterproof, which is good because storms keep threatening.

The contractor chided Bink, "Sweetheart, your lines aren't straight."

I tried out the labyrinth on my bike. My inner peace wobbled on the tight turns, but it was fun.
Tomorrow a crew will mow the labyrinth into the lawn.
If you're in town, come and walk it!
If enough people use it, the committee may vote to set it in stone.

Or world peace may break out, whichever comes first.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I am happy. I got my "economic stimulus" tax rebate check yesterday, and today I donated the $200 cost of a laptop to the one laptop per child organization, which sends sturdy little laptops (right) to places all over the world where kids don't have easy access to computers. 
(I mentioned it earlier too.)

Knowledge is power, and the biggest economic stimulus I can think of is for all of us to share in that.

P.S. OLPC just e-mailed me a thank-you, saying, we confirm that no tangible benefits were received by you, the donor. I know this is legal language re: taxes, but it made me laugh--I think I will include it in future thank-you notes. 
(Like, if anyone ever sends me a gift certificate for Smitten Kitten [see below].)

P.P.S. I'm happy also because now I can replace my own laptop's battery! I didn't know they ever died and used it profligately for almost 4 years.


After the rainstorm last night.

It's R.'s birthday [post below].
I've known R. since we both worked at the art college a dozen or more years ago.

R. is another Classic Gemini (though one I've never had conflict with!).
Her signature wedding gift, for instance, exemplifies Gemini's stylish "both/and" qualities.
She gives marrying couples two things:

1) a copy of Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh's book True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart , which offers calm teachings on lovingkindness, starting with the observation:
"Training is necessary in order to love properly; and to be able to give happiness and joy, you must practice deep looking directed toward the person you love. ...Understanding is the essence of love."

2) and she balances Mr. Rational with an accompanying gift certificate to the Smitten Kitten, a woman-owned "progressive adult sex toys and equipment retailer." (You can order online too.)

R. says this combo elicits the most interesting thank-you cards.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Another Peony Birthday

Happy Birthday, Rudy-not-in-Paris!

Movie Moment, 9: Saved by Silliness

I have been in dire need of a dose of silliness.
I'm sitting at Bob's this afternoon with Lee (typing like Beethoven, left), and Ami has put "The Princess Bride" (1987) on the large-screen TV. The sound is low but I am facing the screen and can read the subtitles.
I wasn't impressed when I saw it years ago, but Lee loves it and is quoting along with it, even though his back is to the TV and he hasn't seen the movie in ten years.
This is making me think the movie is very funny indeed.

So along comes the scene (an unlooked for Movie Moment) when Wally Shawn (the bad guy,Vizzini, right) gambles his life on a cup of poison wine, and he cheats. Thinking he has fooled the Dread Pirate Roberts, he declaims:

"You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders!
The most famous is never get involved in a land war in Asia;
but only slightly less well-known is this: never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha..."
[Vizzini stops suddenly, and falls dead to the right]

[this quote and practically half the screenplay here.]

Which gets me wondering why some things are funny. One thing is displacement, like mentioning the land war in Asia in a fairy tale.
Also ridiculous names, like the R.O.U.S. = "Rodents of Unusual Size."
And I further note when friends laugh at something, it can make you lighten up too.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Vehicles of Childhood

Last week I sat in BirchBark Books and read Lynda Barry's latest, What It Is (click on link and then click "preview" on Drawn and Quarterly's site for a PDF of 13 crammed-full pages from the book).

(Turns out this Native bookstore, owned by author Louise Erdrich, blogs on Blogger! From BirchBark Books "About Us":
"We are an independent bookstore, with all of the accompanying quirks and non-corporate eccentricities. As the malling of America continues, it is our mission to be other.")

Barry says when people write about who they are (like, in personal ads or "about me's"), mostly it comes out sounding like an obituary:
"born 19xx; educated here; moved there; # of cats; and so forth."
The last part of her book is a writer's workbook with exercises for getting in touch with something more than a list of facts.

It got me musing on memories of summers past--and on my mother's old Buick. I mean, it was old even when I was little. If it wasn't this model pictured, it was one very like it.

When I think of this car, it's like hauling in a netfull of memories:
Waiting in the car with Sister in the hot parking lot of the Piggly Wiggly grocery store while our mother "just runs in for a minute."
Pretending to steer the hard plastic steering wheel, with ridges for gripping all 'round.
Sitting in the torn back seat, eating the animal crackers out of the circus-wagon box with the string handle our mother brought back as a rare treat.

And from there, I see my mother, my model of Woman:

how she smoked through her lipstick, while she drove her big car, which she'd brought to the marriage. How she walked in high heels without looking down.
Her perfume was Joy, by Jean Patou, but the bottle she left behind only palely smells like her.

[Image of 1955 Buick Century Riviera four-door hardtop from HubcapCafe.]

Monday, June 9, 2008


Photo from IGN War/Dance site, which describes the documentary "War/Dance" (2007):
"set in Northern Uganda, a country ravaged by more than two decades of civil war, 'War/Dance' tells the story of ...three children whose [lives] have been torn apart... and who currently reside in a displaced persons camp in Patongo. When they are invited to compete in an annual music and dance festival, their journey to their nation’s capital is also an opportunity to regain a part of their childhood and to taste victory for the first time in their lives.

I've been vetting a couple manuscripts for teens about a couple African countries, and they remind me of the tremendous torque it took to get my mind out of my Western frame of reference when I first started to write these introductory geography books myself, in 2003.

I kept finding I had written about my first African country, Zimbabwe, in terms I could relate to, which is to say, I focused on colonial history, or I focused on atrocities or disease, and so forth.
I would catch myself over and over.

To counteract it, I was always looking for people's stories (in music, literature, movies, food) from inside the country and for stuff from outside that wasn't only about how awful everything is or about how a Peace Corps worker was transformed by living in the country (not to sneer at that, but it doesn't help to understand what it is to be, say, Ugandan).

It's hard to read stuff written from a truly different point of view. I just didn't get a lot of it, and I had to live with that uncomfortable feeling.

I wish this movie War/Dance had come out when I was editing the Uganda book; it would have been perfect for a sidebar. It's all too easy to wallow in the swamps with Idi Amin's crocodiles or to get sucked into the attractive horror of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), who steal children and force them into soldier- or sex-slavery.

This movie lets the kids who've been traumatized by the LRA tell their stories. They're sickening tales, but one boy sums up a larger view: though they are children of war,he says, they can still do good things.

The movie documents the kids' primary school's preparation for the national dance and song competition, which they are able to enter for the first time ever--a bizarre relative of the von Trapp kids competing in the Salzburg Folk Festival in The Sound of Music (also about children of war, though very, very prettified).

The directors chose a fairly stagey documentary style, (not my favorite), but that's OK.
Their movie lets the kids tells an amazing thing about us all:
We are not just our horror.

"It is difficult for people to believe our story," one of the kids says. "But if we don't tell you, you won't know."
There's one of the pay-offs of being willing to listen to unfamiliar stories--sooner or later, there's something familiar.
What that kid said is the same thing the Vietnam vet expressed when he told about committing atrocities in the 1970 documentary I wrote about earlier, Winter Soldier:
"I just wanted you to know about it."

New Profile Photo

Fresca, 1963 (two-ish years old)
I've tried every which way to upload this new profile photo and it's just not taking it, so I'll try again tomorrow.
Feels weird not to have a photo of me on my profile... Just a few years ago, I blogged for more than a year without posting any photos at all. (It was more complicated back then, and I didn't have a digital camera either.)

But, as Barrett says, "When you do something long enough, it becomes normal."

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Graduation Saturday, & Elling

Yesterday afternoon was prime-time for high-school graduation parties in parents' backyards.
I set out with my camera to such a party for a wonderful daughter of friends.
I biked there on the Greenway bikepath, which runs from the nearby lakes to the Mississippi River.
The path's entrance in my neighborhood is markedly inner-city:

I biked past one of my favorite messages, on the wall of a Somali restaurant:

This weekend gas hovered near $4/gallon for the first time.
As I stood with my bike to photograph these chairs on a lawn, an old guy walking past joked, "How many miles per gallon do you get on that thing?"
The price has risen so rapidly, people are in shock. With job losses and house foreclosures piling up, it seems like the first time the cost of war (et cetera) has really hit the homefront hard.

This independent bookstore along the way is closing. It began in the days of 1970s feminism. While I hate to see it close, I'm glad there's not the same need for a special store to represent women in print anymore.

The Germanic reward for a long bike on a humid day: Black Forest (cherry chocolate) cake--and beer from Milwaukee.

I fondly remember this young woman and her sister putting on a magic show for her parents and me, when they little girls. Now she is an accomplished pianist who's heading off to study neuroscience (or astronauting), and her sister's going to spend a junior-year semester in London.

Not being a parent, I lack the gradual reminders children provide of time passing. So events like this graduation provide a crash course. For instance, I am surprised, looking at the yearbook, that the GLBT Pride group gets a full spread. For that matter, I'm surprised the whole yearbook is in full color, which just goes to show...

Afterward, I spent the evening reading Madame Prime Minister, the autobiography of former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland (left).

(Brundtland is currently working as a United Nations' envoy on climate change.)

This is actually another Movie Moment: I picked the book up because it's the book Elling (Per Christian Ellefsen, right), the anxiety-ridden main character, is reading throughout one of my favorite movies: Elling (Norway, 2001).

Despite the dreadful problems Brundtland addresses, I see why Elling found her autobiography comforting. She's very calm and competent, just the sort one would hope was making the Big Decisions. Not at all the sort of person who would need to take to her couch just because she finds herself in the demographic--"older women"--that mourns Hillary's defeat instead of in the one that is pondering the possibility of getting a job on the International Space Station.

The book, too, reminded me that the world is so different for women in the West than it was when I graduated from high school thirty years ago.
For better and for worse.
Brundtland says:
1. "The myth that men are the economic providers and women, mainly, are mothers and care givers in the family has now been thoroughly refuted. This family pattern has never been the norm, except in a narrow middle-class segment."

2. "Unless we start immediately fulfilling the Kyoto Protocol and then continuing with a broader basis with all countries involved, this is going to get completely out of control and we will not be able to cap carbon dioxide levels. It’s a drama playing itself out in front of us, where we are still able to change a very dangerous scenario but we cannot wait....
What kind of world is it if we think in traditional terms of competitive advantage, ... and at same time we lose the future for our children due to our lack of action in a situation that is irreversible?
We must be active now."