High School Kids and Uber Eats

Well, it’s not only high school kids who are tempted to replace school cafeteria food with UberEats or one of the other app-activated delivery services. Any kid with a cell phone and a lunch period can do it.


When I lived in my Belltown apartment building with mostly young neighbors, you could get run over between 6pm and 8pm by the number of fast delivery food service people beating a path to the concierge desk with carefully wrapped bags of microwaveable gourmet take-out. Heaven forbid you should have an emergency leak or something during that time. Building staff were entirely occupied being the conduits for Seattle’s vast array of online food vendors.

I can well imagine why busy high school front offices are loathe to be in that role. Then there is all the added mess from the discarded containers, greasy wrappings and leftover partially consumed food items. Perhaps most importantly, school food services make some attempt to provide lunches that are nutritionally balanced and healthy for students.

This is probably a natural extension in some ways for students used to ordering things online. But no, schools can’t become food delivery heaven. Too chaotic, too unhealthy for students favoring greasy burgers and salty fries every day, and too unfair to the kids without the means to tap an app just because the day’s cafeteria menu doesn’t excite.

Georgia O’Keefe and Dole Pineapple Juice

Catchy title, you say? What in the world does renowned artist of the American southwest have to do with Dole Pineapple juice?

The Seattle Art Museum’s new curator of American art, Theresa Papanikolas, gave a really interesting lecture about O’Keefe, and the Museum will mount of show of O’Keefe’s work in spring 2020. Most of us know O’Keefe in the geographical context of the southwest, where much of her most famous work was done. Many of us might know that she and her husband Alfred Stieglitz, renowned American photographer, were partners in love and in life.

Famous though they are, and were, artists have to make a living. Creative work doesn’t pay well, or if it does, it’s usually not until the artist is long dead. In 1970, shortly before her death, struggling photographer Diane Arbus sold limited edition boxed sets of 10 photographs for $1000 each box. I think she did ten sets, and only three sold. Most recently, Christie’s auctioned a single box for just under $800,000.

O’Keefe went to Hawaii because Dole paid her to create two paintings for print ads featuring pineapple juice, and she needed the money. She was free to paint whatever she wanted for the nine weeks she was there, as long as she delivered the two paintings to Dole, which she did. The ads appeared in Vogue and the Saturday Evening Post. According to curator Papanikolas, the paintings  no longer belong to Dole but are now in possession of a private collector.

If you’d like to see the paintings O’Keefe made for Dole and hear more of the story, click here.


Most artists have to do something more mundane to pay the bills, or they have a patron. Arbus did fashions shots for high end magazines. Novelist Mary Gordon taught English at Barnard. O’Keefe did ads for commercial magazines. Interestingly her paintings for Dole were no less gorgeous than any of her other work, even with a glass of pineapple juice plunked in the middle and the Dole corporate logo down below.

Crowd Climbing Mount Everest

Rising slightly more than 29,000 feet into impossibly thin air, the peak of Mt. Everest quite simply has too little oxygen to sustain life for more than very short time, even for climbers who use supplemental oxygen bottles.

That’s a problem when 250-300 climbers are blocking the path down, still trying to complete their own ascent. Several climbers, having summited,  died this past week of exhaustion, oxygen deprivation and altitude sickness, waiting to be able to come down.

There isn’t a wide path to the summit, where people can pass each other coming and going. There’s one narrow, icy, slippery, rocky, nearly impassably steep path.

People who die up there pretty much stay put, becoming part of the frozen landscape because it’s too hard to get their bodies down.

I simply don’t get the climbing Everest mania. I begin to feel queasy and dizzy as low as 6000 feet or so, which I discovered many years ago when Jerry and I were in Switzerland and took a chair lift in the summer to a special Alpine dining spot that had been recommended as having a stunning view. I got off the chair lift, and that was the end of any prospect of eating for me. I couldn’t wait to go back down, where I recovered quickly.

Take a gander at this pic of climbers lined up trying to reach the top, and tell me if you’d go get in that line.


Climate Change: When the Ground Shifts Under Your Feet

Sometimes we feel metaphorically, due to changes in our lives, as if the ground under us is shifting.

For the 11,000 people of Tuvalu, a Polynesian country in the Pacific Ocean midway between Hawaii and Australia, the ground is literally shifting. To be more precise, the ground is sinking into the sea. In the foreseeable future, Tuvalu will become uninhabitable, perhaps even disappear beneath the ocean.

They’re talking about sea walls and artificial islands, but you know that’s not going to work. These are poor people, and there’s nothing on the island other than increasingly salty dirt and rocks and sand and dying palm trees — nothing that is worth saving. Offshore the coral is dying too, and fish feed on the toxins from dead coral and make the people who catch fish and eat it sick.

Fiji has offered the people of Tuvalu a home, but they don’t want to leave their island and culture and customs which — as it is for most of us — are tied to the land where we were formed and our temperaments shaped. I still talk of myself as having a Midwestern temperament like my father, even though I never lived on an Iowa farm the way he once did. It’s in my DNA.

I feel for the people of Tuvalu. Polynesia has always seemed like a paradise for me, far enough away not to have plastic washing up on its shores and toxins killing its coral. But that’s the least of their problems now, when the sea threatens to rise up and swallow them whole.


Chewbacca the Wookie Died

Peter Mayhew, the 7foot 3inch tall actor who played Chewbacca the Wookie, has died.

Is there anyone, Star Wars fan or not, who doesn’t know who Chewie is?

My late husband Jerry wasn’t a big movie buff, but he loved Star Wars and loved Chewbacca, the gentle giant.

There are certain iconic roles that are simply part of film culture, and that few of us who love movies would fail to recognize: Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz. Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca. Clark Gable in Gone with the Wind. Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront and The Godfather. Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and for those of us who are or were Catholic, The Nun’s Story. Jodie Foster in Silence of the Lambs. Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde. Anne Bancroft in The Graduate.

Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson.

Indelible part of film culture.

Who’s on your list?

Aretha Franklin

I had a choice on Thursday night to watch Anderson Cooper on CNN and Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, or go to SIFF, our independent film theater here in Seattle, to see a documentary about a young Aretha Franklin. I chose the latter.

The documentary Amazing Grace, which shows Franklin performing at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles, in 1972 is described by reviewers as “transcendent”, and indeed it is. The film, recorded by director Sidney Pollack, sat in the can for all these years due to technical problems with the original recording. Pollack failed to synchronize image and sound, making it impossible to watch the film. Contemporary digital technology allowed correction of that original error, and now, all these years later and months after Franklin’s death, we have Amazing Grace.

If you want to see the Queen of Soul singing black church music at the height of her vocal power, unadorned by a glitzy set and with a community black gospel choir as her backup, this is your film. I don’t know if it will be in wide distribution, but go wherever you need to. This is an incandescent experience.

One of the reviewers commented on how tired Aretha Franklin looked, in that hot church, singing her heart out. She did look tired. She was just thirty in the documentary. She was the single mother of four children, on tour, already a Grammy winning vocalist, already with the title Queen of Soul. This album took her back to her church roots. When she sang Amazing Grace, title song of the film, the backup choir was beside themselves in ecstasy. Reverend Cleveland, who was accompanying her on the piano, slid into a chair, put his head in his hands, and sobbed.

In case you’ve never been to a black church worship service, they are all in with gospel songs. Black church singing is a whole body and soul experience. That’s what you see here.

Don’t miss this.


If you can’t see Amazing Grace, at least revisit Franklin at the end of her career, at the Kennedy Center Honors in 1994.


Things People Forget While Flying

Like a baby, in the gate waiting area for a departed flight?

Apparently so. A Saudi flight on the way to Malaysia had to turn around and return to the airport when a passenger realized she’d forgotten her baby. No information on how old the baby was, or whether anyone was attending to the baby during the time it took for the flight to return.

Um, I don’t quite know what to say. Neither did the pilot or the air traffic controller. But the flight was given permission to return, and baby and mother are presumably now back together.


Would You Like to Hear “You’re Dying” from a Robot?

Telemedicine is a wonderful thing, extending the care available at top flight hospitals to people too far away to access that care in person. The applications of telemedicine are many: my UW health system offers a video chat with a physician if I’m not able to get in the car and drive to a neighborhood clinic or urgent care.

But is it a suitable way to tell an old man that he is dying?

Granddaughter Annalisia Wilharm, 33, was alone with Quintana when a nurse popped in to say a doctor would be making his rounds. A robot rolled in and a doctor appeared on the video screen. Wilharm figured the visit was routine. She was astonished by what the doctor started saying.

“This guy cannot breathe, and he’s got this robot trying to talk to him,” she said. “Meanwhile, this guy is telling him, ‘So we’ve got your results back, and there’s no lung left. There’s no lung to work with.”’

Wilharm said she had to repeat what the doctor said to her grandfather, because he was hard of hearing in his left ear and the machine couldn’t get to the other side of the bed.

“So he’s saying that maybe your next step is going to hospice at home,” Wilharm is heard saying in a video she recorded of the visit. “Right?”

“You know, I don’t know if he’s going to get home,” the doctor says.”


Well, that feels terse.

Apparently the elderly man, who subsequently died, did receive his initial diagnosis from a live physician in the room with him. But this news, that nothing more could be done, came from a robot.

I think it’s tacky, and dehumanizing. You?

What Men Do When Women Catch Up

In professional cycling, as in marathons, the men’s race goes off first, there is a time gap, then the women are given the start flag.

In a cycling race in Belgium, the gap of 10 minutes was just about closed by the lead female racer. Race officials were concerned that she’d get entangled with the support vehicles traveling behind the men. What did they do? Wave aside the support vehicles and let her race on?

No. They stopped the women’s race until the gap had opened up again. The lead female rider was able to start off first among all the riders who’d caught up with her during the halt, but her rhythm had been thrown off and she quickly lost her lead, finishing overall 74th.

Can you imagine race officials stopping the male racers because they were catching up with the women?

I hardly know what to say, except that in microcosm, it reflects to me male discomfort with women closing gaps of any kind. In marathon running, the fastest women are now very close to equalling the fastest men. The male record is 2:03.38. The fastest female time is 2:15:25. Professional sporting didn’t used to allow women to run marathons at all. The stress of the long race was thought to be too much for our womanly bodies. We now know that with proper training, equipment, financial support and access to the most challenging races, women do just fine.

The Tour de France, the premier professional cycling race, is still male-only. I can’t wait for that barrier to fall.

I’m reminded of RBG’s famous comment that we aren’t looking for special privileges. We just want men to get their feet off our necks. Or to have male race officials to remove the actual impediment — the support vehicles — and not stand in the way of the racers.