Thursday, July 29, 2010

On Being Vertically Australian

"She had long, swinging black hair and Hector guessed she was Vietnamese." - From "The Slap", Christos Tsiolkas

"'It's alright, Ecttora,' his mother answerd in Greek, kissing him on both cheeks, two large bowls of salad in her hands. 'We are not barbarians or English to bring nothing to a barbecue.'" - From "The Slap", Christos Tsiolkas

"The combination of a model's body and a wog woman's style - the teased dyed hair, the long painted nails, the too bright make-up - made people think she was a bimbo." - From "The Slap", Christos Tsiolkas

I don't understand. Patrick White could do it. Tim Winton does it. Helen Garner does it. And in the visual arts, Paul Cox did it. And Nolan and Drysdale ... That is, produce a work of art that anyone could enjoy and which was, as it happened to be, Australian.

And it seems today - from FOX advertisements to literature, that the Australian "cultural cringe" is alive and well. But now the 'Cringe' taking on a new form, and instead of being apologetically Australian, it is "oi oi oi we are AUSTRALIAN." In bold print. Accompanied by shouting.

At the bottom of the heap are the Fosters ads. "Australian for board meeting" is the caption for a photo of a few surfers at Bells Beach. Very funny I don't think. There's a whole series of "Australian for" something. Australians for sex, Australians for backpacking. A man is shown passed out in a bar with several dozen empty cans. "Australian for designated driver." A woman is shown at the beach, wearing only bikinii bottoms - "Australian for prude." And so on.

Up a rung. Steve and Bindi Irwin. So Australian it is coming out their ears. But what sort of Australians? Cartoon Australians in a cartoon Australia. A glib advertisement Australia. Crikey!!!

One level up from Steve Irwin are movies such as Ben Luhrman's "Australia". Best summed up by a true Australian, writer and raconteur,  Barry Dickens. "Each scene possesses its secret gaucheness and unmeant hilarity. The story is rubbish. The meaning is beyond analysis.

When Jack Thompson is run over by bulls and makes a tragic incomprehensible speech, he speaks really for all of us. Australia is our stupidity made vaudeville and our history slapstick."

But let's move up yet another notch. To "the top of the heap. 'A'-number one". To the novel "Slapped" by Australian writer Christos Tsiolkas.

"Slap" portrays social and sexual relations in present-day Melbourne. It is long-listed for the 2010 Man Booker prize. I just had to buy it, especially as it was available in the Kindle edition. I hate the smell of dead-tree books in the morning.

Well, what can I say? I have not finished it, but it starts off with a barbeque in the Melbourne suburb of Northcote. Northcote was once populated by working class Australians and immigrant Greeks. In the 1980's it started to become "gentrified", to use an American term. I've forgotten the Australian one.

And who comes to the barbecue - which is held by the second generation Greek Australian protagonist Hector, and his Indian-Australian wife, Aisha? First to arrive are Hector's parents, with heaps of food - "eat, eat ...". Then Bilol an aborigine recently convertd to Islam.

No sooner has Biliol has refused a beer, than Dedj and Leanna turn up. Dedj hugs Manolis - Hector's dad - "in the Balkan way". Anouk and Rhys arrive. I'm not sure where they are from but one of them is gay. Aisha brings out samosas. There is plenty of moussaka. And then along comes Gary, a working class ocker who is intent upon arguing with the trendies about the virtues of state-run schools.

Guest Rhys is familiar to a number of the other guests as he currently has a part in a local soap opera. Gary, the philistine working class ocker, is riled by Rhys's very existance and notes that he's wearing a casual but expensive fine cotton cowboy shirt, and black jeans with a confederate buckle belt.

"You shot a man in Vermont, eh? Just to watch him die," says Gary.

Possibly the best line in the book. And yes maybe, just maybe, for this alone Tsiolkas deserves to be long-listed for the Booker.

But the plethora of references to multi-culturalism - Greeks, Slavs, Indians and the obligatory aborigine - and what's more, an  aborigine converted to Islam ...

Come off it. I've lived in Northcote.

But now I come to think of it ...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

On Newfangled Things

The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a "mouse". There is no evidence that people want to use these things. I don't want one of these new fangled devices. John C. Dvorak, February 19, 1984 San Francisco Examiner.

The noisiest buzz in the industry lately has been over the emerging use of cable TV systems to provide fast network data transmissions using a device called a cable modem. But the likelihood of this technology succeeding is zilch. John C. Dvorak, September, 1995 San Francisco Examiner.

Andris steered his donkey left in order to take advantage of the shade from the large silver maple that grew on the the southern end of the village square.

He was returning home to Bacharach from a lengthy visit to the Herrenstiftin School in Mainz - where he'd spent his daylight hours in prayer, meditation and reading - and had stopped at Lorch to rest his donkey. He sat under the tree for several minutes, and was about to get up to leave when he saw an old friend approaching. It was Gerhard who he'd known since they were both children.

After the normal greetings Gerhard asked Andris where had he been and why. It was not usual for people to travel over 30 miles unless they were merchants or soldiers and Andris was neither.

Andris was only too happy to tell Gerhard of his journey and to show him what he had brought back from Mainz. He took him over to the donkey and lifted the flap of the bulkier saddlebag. There, wrapped in damask, was what would be later known as a book. It was in fact a bible.

Andris unwrapped the book and opened it, showing his friend the print. Words were separated from each other by spaces. He explained to Gerhard that it was now possible to read without saying the words out loud and that this was called "silent reading". "I saw 20 of these books," he told his friend. " And many monks were reading them, quietly all in the one room."

"Why would you want one?" asked Gerhard. "The bible is to be read only by clerics and is meant to be in a codex that is nice and heavy and chained to reading stands to prevent theft. What is this book thing? I would not read one and will continue to go to church to hear the bible read by our priest."

"Perhaps," countered Andris, "people such as yourself said the same thing when the codex replaced scrolls."

Nothing really changes. Scrolls to codex to modern books and now it seems back to scrolls. Look at the books on the iPad. You can read them in portrait where you see a page at a time and scroll from one page to the other, right to left.

Or you can read in landscape mode and then you see a representation of an open book - two pages. The right one "turns" graphically as you go to the next page.

A bit like the early motor cars that were modeled on the horse carriages rather than being designed as functional objects in their own right.

Yes there's nothing new under the Egyptian sun god of Ra.

And it is not only evident in the increasing use of symbols to represent words, it is also in the lack of vowels in the texting alphabet. Just like the ancient Egyptians who talked in consonants!

stA tunD

P.S. If another bus or subway person interrupts me to ask about my Kindle, and then says in a smug know-it-all-tone, "But I need the feel of a real book," I'll scream.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Blue Cheese Stuffed Olives and Boys in Envelopes

The blue cheese olive combines the pungent taste of the cheese with the salty flavor of the marinated olive. Perfect to dress up your martini, for a meat and cheese tray, the blue cheese stuffed olive can even smarten up your salad. - from "How to Stuff an Olive with Blue Cheese"

Annie Hall is as white bread as people come. In fact, in an New York deli she orders a pastrami on white bread with mayonnaise, which would be like ordering a taco with mayonnaise in an East L.A. - from "Woody on the Cusp - a Review of Annie Hall"

As we approached the Triborough Bridge the high rises of Manhattan came into full view. I was home.

We got closer and it was as if the buildings were wrapping round me, enclosing me. Welcoming me. There are few sights as appealing as the Manhattan skyline. Or as comforting

I'd been away. In the Mid-West. The American Heartland. One forgets when one has left. Typical Mid-West things get buried in the more immediate concerns of New York. Take their restaurants, for example.

But that'll have to wait. My trip to Illinois was marked by my saying goodbye to my friend of three weeks, Flat Stanley. Here he is at LaGuardia airport where we parted ways.

Flat Stanley has his own website Flat Stanley is a drawing on a piece of paper (hence the "Flat"). He visits people all over the world, moving from place to place in an envelope. He usually stays about a week and during that time you take photos of him in landmark places and write letters to his parents, pretending to be him. In actual fact it is a child who gets the letters, and he or she takes them to school so that all the grade school children can learn about other places.

At first I was a bit concerned. How could I photograph a piece of paper near the Rockefeller Center, at Central Park, in Greenwich Village? But it turned out not to be so difficult. People were only too happy to join in and help me position Flat Stanley so that the landmarks were visible in the photos.

Here is Flat Stanley at the Admiral's Club at LaGuardia. On his way home to San Diego.

As for me. I was going in another direction. To Illinois.

It seems to me that Illinois is not much different from New York. Except for the accents. And the clothes (colored) and the food.

You are probably wondering what this photo is of. I will not keep you in suspense. It is of an olive, stuffed with blue cheese. One of the more exotic offerings at J. Alexanders, a restaurant in Deerfield, Illinois. You get three of them stabbed with a toothpick in your martini.

At J. Alexanders I was reminded of the first place I lived in when coming to America. Edmond, Oklahoma. The restaurants have identical layouts. A horseshoe-shaped bar in the middle and sit-down areas were on either side.

The food was good, though I gave the blue cheese olives a miss.

Back at the hotel (a Marriott) I asked about WiFi. No we don't have it but we might get it in the future I was told. I mosied down to the hotel's "Business Center", sure that there'd be some ethernet connected PCs for guests to use. There was. One.

Now I don't want to sound like a critical New Yorker. Because of course I am not.

I don't like Kate Miller-Heidke any more and she's from my home country, Australia. And I do like Flat Stanley, and he isn't from New York. I don't like a certain person in Spain, and he has never been to New York. I don't like people who cannot write in complete sentences, even if they ARE fans (see HERE). And I don't think I could EVER like

blue cheese stuffed olives.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Where Have All the Singletons Gone?

In York City's Upper East Side there were 3,707 twin births in 1995; there were 4,153 in 2003; and there were 4,655 in 2004. Triplet births have also risen, from 60 in 1995 to 299 in 2004. Wikipedia - Twins

Men may be able to run the mile in less than four minutes and open stuck pickle jars with a twist of the wrist, but for all our physical prowess, we cannot carry new life within us and bring it into the world. To suggest that we do is a slap in the face of women. Mark Galli - "We Are Not Pregnant"

My little singleton
When we do things in this city, we do them well. Or so we say to the likes of people like Jeff.

Jeff is one of my fans. I think he lives in Ohio or maybe it is Kansas. No doubt he'll write and tell me.

Jeff is one of those people who don't like New York for no other reason than it is New York. Normally I wouldn't bother with the likes of Jeff but there's something endearing about him - the childish way he likes to divide Americans into opposing camps. I suspect he is a Tea Party person.

But back to New York.

New York women appear to be taking efficiency to a new level. The reproductive level. Balancing career, marriage and parenthood, and believing that only children are lonely children, they have started to use science to have instant families.

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) has boosted the number of multiple births. Its major use has been to help otherwise infertile couples to conceive children, but I suspect it is now being used to provide couples with instant families.

Whereas I produced two children over a period of five years, women can now produce all the children they want in one go.

Walking in my neighborhood (Upper East Side) it is rare to see a nanny pushing a singleton stroller. Twin and triple strollers are the norm.

I wonder, is their a discount for having more than one child in childcare?

As well as the satisfaction - immediate gratification - of having all the kids arrive in the world at once - there is the advantage of having a single maternity leave in one's life. And of course having only one pregnancy.

Talking about pregnancy, does anyone else feel bemused when they hear couples say, "We are pregnant"? Now it is all very well to involve the man in child-getting and child-rearing, but it is a fact that has to be accepted, that it is women who incubate babies. I really cannot accept this new "we are pregnant thing".

Imagine if women started linguistically sharing in events dominated by men.

Imagine Mrs (Tino) Martinez saying "We hit a game-tying home run."

Or Mrs Smith saying "We are donating our sperm."

Or Mrs Cohen saying "We are a rabbi."

And on that note,

We are signing off.

We are Kathleenwng and we approve this message.

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Lack of Soul

"It was badly done, indeed! Mr. Knightley to Emma in Jane Austen's "Emma"

"The sixties were 50 years ago. Get over it." Kate Miller Heidke, "Politics in Space"

I have seen a few artists perform in New York - Bob Dylan, Paul Kelly, Michelle Shocked, Eric Bogle, Celine Dion and a couple of others whose names I have forgotten.

A divergent group with a common trait. They all gave their all to their audience, however small.

Last night I saw Kate Miller-Heidke perform at Le Poisson Rouge in the Village, Manhattan.

I had been interested in Kate Miller Heidke for a couple of years, and had particularly liked her song, "Caught in the Crowd". I'd even bought her album - something I rarely do. Plus she's an Aussie.

And so when I saw she was to perform at Le Poisson Rouge mid-week, this week, I was keen to go. I called my friend B and we organized to meet at the Minetta Tavern at around six.

And so the evening began.

Let's skip over the bar (excellent) and Poisson Rouge (fair to middling) and get on to the performance.

Well we had about 45 minutes of Ms Miller-Heidke performing the songs she's known for - FaceBook, Last Day on Earth, Psych Killer, Politics in Space. And although the event had been promoted as featuring her new album, the new songs were barely there, or not noticeable. Or mentioned.

Yeah, she was OK. There was nothing really wrong.


Her time on stage lacked soul. It was a throw-away thing. Take it or leave it. New York, so what. My fans, so what.

I could have played my Kate Miller-Heidke album on iTunes and it would have had the same impact.

C'mon, Kate. Even Sinatra thought he'd put a bit of oomph into it when playing in New York.

Or anywhere.

What have you got that makes you so special?

"Get over it!"

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Comfort of the Familiar

"Highly sexed young men living on farms are always called Seth or Reuben" - Flora Poste played by Kate Beckinsale in Cold Comfort Farm

Today I did something I haven't done in fifteen years.

What was the occasion?

Well nothing sexy I can assure you.

I filled in an Australian tax return.

I decided to fill it in myself, though in Australia I'd always used an accountant, and I certainly do so here in the States as I have no idea as to what to do with the various forms with unfamiliar number-names.

So I went to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) on-line to print off the forms. What joy! I only needed one.

It was so familiar. An Australian thing in my apartment! Memories flooded back. I felt quite weepy in a nice way.

"O no," I thought. "I am enamored by an ATO tax form. What is the world coming to? What am I becoming."

Maybe I should write to the Australian treasurer and tell him how I almost had an orgasm when I saw in bright red, "Tax returns for Individuals 2010". In America the tax forms are denoted by numbers which I can never remember. IT-150, IT-201, IT-201-ATT, IT-203, IT-203-ATT, IT-213 and so on to infinity. Unbelievable!

I looked at the top of my ATO Tax Form. Note that the headings are in lower case. And the off-beige background color. So elegant.

Compared to forms with weird names where nearly every word is capitalized.

The only thing that was a little odd with the ATO form was the mail-to address, if you were not submitting on-line.

" ...mail your tax return in a business-sized envelope to:

Australian Taxation Office
GPO Box 9845
In your capital city

Do not replace the words in your capital city with the name of your capital city and its postcode – because of a special agreement we have with Australia Post, you do not need to do this.

But I even found that endearing. Though what the United States Postal System will make of it I hate to think. I can only hope they don't look at the address, but knowing New York and all the security regulations ...

After I'd finished my paperwork I estimated my tax liability. I'm used to having to take a second mortgage to pay my American taxes. So I was please to see I owed the Australian government very little. I looked around the ATO site to see who I should make the check out to. I couldn't find instructions anywhere.

Then I remembered. In Australia you pay the money after you've been assessed. No wonder our anthem starts off with, "Australians all let us rejoice"!!!

Then it was back to reality. I put on the telly and saw how BP has removed a containment cap on the ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico in order that a better-fitting one can go on. Meanwhile, oil is now shooting freely from the riser.

I've been wondering the past few days about this tragedy - what happens to the space under the earth's crust where all this escaping oil used to be? Is there a vacuum? What will happen to the empty space that the departing oil leaves behind? What if the ocean gets sucked in to fill that empty space? Will we be able to walk to Cuba?

Scary stuff indeed!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

All my friends are getting botoxed!

When You (sic) so (sic) an old person going through a mid life crisis and there (sic) face has no wrinkles like a cartoon character. - Definition of Botoxed, Urban Dictionary

I'm in with the in crowd, I go where the in crowd goes
I'm in with the in crowd and I know what the in crowd knows. - Billy Page, the In Crowd

I was on FaceBook tonight. Yes I'm a member: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, and I noticed that an old friend had changed her profile photo.

Botoxless in New York
Now I haven't heard from J for some years, but I DO know old she is. Is that an old photo of her, I wondered. Many people opt for putting baby photos of themselves on their on-line profiles.

I clicked on her FaceBook profile pic to enlarge it. No, it wasn't J as a baby, child, or even a teenager. It was J now. I saw from the background that the photo was taken around 2009.

I stared at the screen. I saw a young woman, well maybe not so young, maybe about 28 years old - who looked terrific.

Now "J" is about my age. And so I recognized the tricks of the trade. Look up to make your neck look firmer. Wear sunglasses to cover any wrinkles around the eyes. Hold that tummy in.

But more than that was involved here.

J looked GOOD. She looked like a model, a film star even.

It isn't just "J" - it is X Y and Z too.

My hair stylist is having some beauty sort of laser therapy on her lips and around her eyes. Another friend has had something done to her cheeks. Several friends have opted for botoxing their foreheads. And just yesterday, I was lunching with a friend and I noticed that something had happened to her legs. She seemed to have gained six inches in the length of her thighs and her calves were taut, smooth, a paler shade of tan, with an acceptable hint of muscle.

As for me, in the last decade my internal image has been one of the elegant French woman. I've let my hair go gray and keep it back from my face. All my skirts and dresses go to below the knees.

I have no intention of looking like a St Trinians school girl. Not for me those cute navy pleated school-girl skirts riding about eighteen inches above the knee. Not for me those tight little boleros and camisoles hugging my breasts.

I am aù naturelle.

But lately I've started wondering. I remember feeling very alone in high school when most of my peers were tarting it up, hoping to impress the Melbourne High School boys. Pathetic I thought then, and pathetic I think now. Instead of trying to look like Karen Black, I opted to look like Jean Seberg, or if I was living it up, Mia Farrow.

But maybe now is the time to change my game.

Maybe instead of aù naturelle I should join the crowd.

And go ... all the way.

The Botox way?

And then again, perhaps not.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

Before going to my regular posting please read the following. I colored the box yellow and purple as these are the colors of women's emancipation.

If the sentence is carried out, Sakineh Ashtiani, 42, will be buried up to her chest, according to an Amnesty International report citing the Iranian penal code. The stones that will be hurled at her will be large enough to cause pain but not so large as to kill her immediately.
Sakineh Ashtiani could be stoned any minute. We can at least TRY to stop it. FaceBook has a page Save Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani from being Stoned to Death in Iran with information and suggestions for action - who to write to, where the on-line petitions are. Care2 has information too. And there'll be many other sites.
Back to normal transmission

Those who return phone calls (and those who don't)

(The Death of the Answer)
"There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." - Oscar Wilde

"There are three types of people in life: those that can count and those that can't." - Anon

"There is only one thing in the world worse than being witty, and that is not being witty." - John Cleese playing James McNeill Whistler in the Monty Python Oscar Wilde Sketch

My beef today is about people who don't return calls or emails, despite having been left MESSAGES.

HELLOOOO - we are still here. WE asked a question.

I suppose it is because we now have so many places where people CAN leave messages - cell phones. landlines/VoIP, email, social networking sites such as FaceBook - that people do not feel obliged to concern themselves with replying - one can always go to a FaceBook wall, to a Twitter tweet, to work out what one's friend is doing.

But for the old-fashioned, is it TOO much to ask that people respond to messages left, sent, transmitted ... whatever?

Everyone wants to be acknowledged.

I can give a million examples where calls or emails may as well been delivered to a void. But one will do, for obvious reasons.

Yesterday I phoned my rental agent in OZ. He wasn't there. I spoke to a colleague of his, and explained the situation - I had a couple of questions I needed answers to; I'd emailed them a week ago, and had received no answer. Not s a sausage!.

"Don't worry, Wayne will email you TODAY," came the reply.

Wayne didn't. So I called back the next OZ day. "Oh Wayne isn't feeling too well; I'm sure he'll answer when he gets better," said Trevor/Jason.

Now I'd put Wayne at 28, plus or minus a year. He's not terminally ill. He has a cold, well so Trevor/Jason had informed me. Poor baby! But the world must wait??? I'm not feeling so good myself! Still, let the world PAUSE, for Wayne.


Then there's social-friend-sort-of-people. One of my social-friend-sort-of-people called me last week and wanted to do brunch over the long (Independence Day) weekend. "I won't take no for an answer," she told me.

Let's call her X.

Well with my oh-so-heavy-social-calendar, it was difficult, but I did manage to accommodate her. No brunches Saturday, Sunday or Monday. I made sure all slots were free for ... X might call.

She didn't.

So when the long weekend was over, I called her. I got her voice mail. "X's voice mailbox is full," the voice-robot said in voice-robot language.

Emails went unanswered.

I worried. Well not too much, but it was a consideration.

Eventually X called me. I explained that I'd tried calling her and was worried, as I couldn't leave a message, and the heat advisories on telly had told us to check on neighbors and the elderly. Well I didn't say the last bit as I didn't want to be shrieked at, but I wish I had.

"Oh," my social-friend-sort-of-person said, "I didn't want to talk to anyone. So I shut down my computer and phone."

Which raises a question. Now that we know that we all (well almost all) can contact each other in less than a second, SHOULD we expect answers?

My stand is that we should reasonably expect an acknowledgement that the initial message was received, within the next 12 hours if on the same continent, otherwise 24. That is, UNLESS there's some sort of auto-reply, indicating that the intended recipient is away.

But then as Oscar would have said,

"There are two types of people in this world: those who acknowledge us, and those who don't give a stuff."

My name is Kathleenwng and I approve this message.

Monday, July 05, 2010


"More tar balls were found scattered along 1.5 miles on East Galveston Beach on Sunday. Officials have not confirmed the source of those tar balls, and are expecting test results on Tuesday." - Tar balls from oil spill found on Bolivar coastline (July 5, 2010)

Galveston, oh Galveston, I still hear your sea winds blowin'
I still see your beaches glowin'
I was was sixty one, when I first saw Galveston

Galveston, oh Galveston, I still hear your sea-waves crashing
While I watch the oil smashing and.
We know BP has won, but I still dream of Galveston

I still see you standing by the water
Standing there lookin' out to sea
And are you waiting there for me?
On the beach where I used to run

Galveston, oh Galveston, we know BP is lying
And I dry the tears I'm crying
While I watch the sea birds dying in the sun
At Galveston, at Galveston

Apologies to Jimmy Webb and Glen Campbell (1969)

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Memories of Melasti Street

Two weeks in Bali is better than Sixty Minutes - Lettering on Australian teeshirts circa 1990 in protest over a negative Sixty Minutes' report on Bali

"Big Bambú", rooftop garden, the Met
My good friend Babs and I were sitting on a bench in the shade, on top of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was our first stop there, and we had organized our itinerary.

To our right was Doug and Mike Starn's exhibition of sticks of bamboo, tied together. You can see a small part of it in the photo on the left. It will, when it is finished measure 100 feet long, 50 feet wide, and 50 feet high.

"We could be in Bali," I said to B as we sipped our cocktails in the heat. She agreed. The bamboo looked exactly like building scaffolding I'd seen many times in Bali. What with the heat and humidity and the casual attire of the tourists who were everywhere, it felt like a day on Jalan Melasti, the street that runs through Kuta and Legian on the southern coast of the beautiful island of Bali.

We were having an afternoon at the museum. New York style. After cocktails at the roof garden, we went to a contemporary photography exhibition - "Between Here and There". The exhibition contains photos that "reflect on post-national, global existence, and examine perceptual and psychological disconnections "that accompany the same seismic transformations." Well that's what the writing on the wall told us. I'll take the curator's word for it.

But global seismology aside, the exhibition is worth going to, for Rineke Dijkstra's portraits of the transformation of a girl through adolescence to young adulthood alone.

"Look at that study in pink," Babs nudged me. I looked around at the photos, and then when I was about to tell Babs I had no idea what photo she was referring to, I spotted the object of her concealed attention.

It was a man, dressed in 1950s type clothes of an American housewife on her way to the PTA. Pink dress and pearls. And carrying a pink clasp purse. The dress which ended just below the knees failed to conceal two very hairy legs. As the man turned I saw that he hadn't shaved for several days. And what's more he was wearing man shoes.

"His girlfriend seems normal enough," I said to Babs. She agreed and said we'd best get moving if we were to cover the Picasso exhibition, the "American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity" exhibition, cocktails on the balcony with music, and dinner at the Trustees Restaurant.

So we hot-footed it through what must have been several hundred Picassos in half a dozen or so rooms, past the twenty Rodins and on to the American Women fashion identity thing.

We loved it. Sample of costumes from eras of "Gibson Girls," "Bohemians," "Flappers" and "Screen Sirens, and movie clips of the all time greats of the thirties and forties projected on to the walls.

Through the Egyptian Gallery. "Why are all the Egyptians portrait in profile?" I asked Babs. She didn't know. Then she ducked in to Tutenkhamen's funeral, joining me 90 seconds later.

We were making excellent time. So we virtually strolled to the elevator. I noted that B called it a "lift". The heat must have been getting to her. Certainly it was getting to me. I'm dehydrated I told her. So we stopped of at the Trustees' restaurant, looked quickly at the menu, booked in for 6:30 and hurried down to the music area on the balcony.

The effect of the cocktails on the roof was wearing off, so we ordered white wine. Time got away from us as we talked about anything and everything and whether New York museums were better than the Tate or the Louvre. A tourist asked us what a "dime" was worth. We told her. All very cosmopolitan at the Metropolitan ...

We had the waitress call up to the restaurant to tell them we were running late.

But eventually we made it, ordered wine and food and relaxed after our fruitful late afternoon.

Suddenly it was ten o'clock. How time flies. We paid the bill and walked through the museum to the steps on Fifth. It was eerie, cool and quiet. Rooms that had been chockers just a few hours ago were deserted. I liked it. So did B.

We walked up Fifth, Central Park on our left and turned down 86th to Lex where B got the subway. I walked the next few blocks home.

New York!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Happy Party to Maya!!!

I read the news today oh boy
About a lucky man who made the grade
And though the news was rather sad
Well I just had to laugh
I saw the photograph - From, "A Day in the Life", Lennon-McCartney

I went to Central Park today.

And discovered Maya.

Maya was having a party. If you were there, you could have come too. The directions were clear.

See below.

And a little further on ...

Almost there ...

And there were more.

Did I go?


What did I do instead?

Stay tuned ...

Friday, July 02, 2010

Spitting Image

Can you send me your family tree to look at, to look for clues to the connection? You requested extended sharing, which I will decline. That is an unacceptable loss of privacy. - email from a "23andMe" member

I took the time to write to my old friend
I walked across that burning bridge
I mailed my letter off to Dallas but
Her reply came from Anchorage, Alaska - From Michelle Shocked's "Anchorage"

From Whence I Came
A few years ago I joined "23andMe". 23andMe has a mission which is, according to its "About Us", page "to be the world's trusted source of personal genetic information."

I've always been interested in genetics. My primary degree was in psychology and later I took up computing, and became interested in "genetic algorithms".

And so once we could, as individuals, discover our genomes, our genetic information, I jumped at the chance.

I paid my 350 plus dollars to 23andMe, and was sent a "kit". I had to spit into a test-tube thing to put it bluntly. And then I sent the test-tube thing, my biological data (spit), to 23andMe.

I got a heap of information back. I am pure Viking and probably have blue or green eyes (I have green) and am unlikely to get melanoma ... and so one and so forth.

But along with personal attribute information, you also, as a member of 23andMe, get information about possible relatives. This information just comes up as an anonymous list. "XXX" may be a 3rd cousin. You can request contact by clicking HERE.

So I clicked a few possible relatives and mostly people accepted and we found out we had no ancestors in common, or none that we could verify.

As well as being able to establish contact, you can elect to share more "extended" genome information.

So on one of my so-called "cousins" I clicked the "yes link". The reply came, (possibly from Anchorage).

Can you send me your family tree to look at, to look for clues to the connection? You requested extended sharing, which I will decline. That is an unacceptable loss of privacy

Manhattan Woman Near Tree
Excuse me!!! My family tree! ASIF.

Now I don't minding letting others know that I probably have green or blue eyes, that I have wet rather than dry ear-wax (yeah that's the sort of information you find out) and that my ancestors pillaged English people. But my family tree???

Jeez. Why join a site, group, whatever and subject your DNA to be discovered in spittle and be told that you have potential cousins if you want to be private.

And if you really DO want to be private, why on earth expect others to send you their family tree?

Someone needs to get off their tree.

As for me, I'm fine. At least my tree has branches.

My name is Kathleenwng and I approve this message