Finissage

The End of “Young Belgian Artists” at the Bozar last Friday, was an artsy-fartsy event I would normally not be caught dead attending: Desperate debutantes overloaded into their outfits and foppish fashionistos over-eagerly dancing to very mediocre music…. Just isn’t my thing.

Els & Friend outside Bozar

Els & Friend outside Bozar

Otoh, our new geeky, artist friend, Els Vermang debuted something new of her own that night which — luckily — we managed to catch a good 20 minutes of:  A 3D sound- and visual-“scape” manually choreographed by Els behind the keyboard. I didn’t get all of it, but the idea is that scattered “inside” a 3D program on her computer were snippets of 3D sound, which she could navigate with her mouse, in order to generate sounds and visuals on the fly. Very nice stuff.

We give it a "One"

We give it a "One"

Oh and btw, this week, Els is hanging out with Mika Vainio of Pan Sonic since they’re working on a new project together… It was during a Pan Sonic concert in Kortrijk where Darius made the hugest moves in my tummy he ever did during my entire twin pregnancy — and not because it was loud. Just because of the BASS.  But if you check out their MySpace page above, you’ll understand what I mean, or watch this video from Sonar 2008 (but be forewarned):

Apparently, Els also regularly does events with the gents from the Raster Noton label (see a video about them done by our very own AB people here; and a 12-year anniversary tribute here). Thought my husband was going to swoon.

Els & Wim "tête-à-tête"

Els & Wim "tête-à-tête"

If I hadn’t been styling the backless jersey I just got in London, with my Spanish “fire” boots from NYC a few years ago, I fear Els would have posed a greater threat to my marital union than she did.*  After four days working around-the-clock for an IT project at the UN in Geneva (!), Wim was love-starved that night. Very lucky for me, though, it was apparently my love he was starving for… Whew.

Cherry's Fireboots

Cherry's Fireboots

*Just kidding about this — but isn’t the picture great??! ;-)

Pimp My Rave

Had a good day and got in a big tender on “ICT for Energy Efficiency.”  I’ll post some of what I wrote on my proverbial “homepage“.  Also had marvelous drinks and dinner with Vin from Clicks and Links.

Vincent Chez Vincent

Vincent Chez Vincent

My bed’s still too big without my Better Half though. Here’s our pic from Bangface 69. Go visit the site.

Pimp My Rave

Pimp My Rave

A match made in Heaven, wouldn’t you say?  :-)

Techno Hair

Before

Before

Got my hair done at Savagan a couple of weeks ago, and was pretty shocked by the result (be sure not to miss the toilet-paper roll in the background!).  Apparently, they have a new colorist there, and he went heavy on the silver in my hair.  I’m still not sure what to think about it, but it worked well with the “Pimps and Ho’s” look from the Bangface party we went to on 28 August in London.  (Btw, what’s the plural for “ho”??)  They haven’t yet posted the pictures from Bangface 69, but here’s a candid shot Hubby caught of me while waiting in line to get in the club, styling my — can we make me feel better and call it “Platinum Blonde”? — Pin-Up Look.  :-)

Kinda feel like someone in those emails about “the miracles of make-up”…!

After

After

My Partner in Potatoes

I love potatoes. So I found this truck’s advertising very comforting on my way from dropping off the kiddies at school today…

Vanderhaegen Eeckhaut

Vanderhaegen Eeckhaut

Your Partner in Quality Potatoes

Your Partner in Quality Potatoes

*sigh*
Just gives me a nice feeling to have a “partner in quality potatoes.”  I guess this brings new meaning to the term “comfort food”???

Grrrl Power, Baby

I have a lot of backsliding to do over my last blogpost.  Or call it “disclaiming,” or call it CYA, or call it apologizing.  Anyway, first and foremost, I must say that all my ranting about Men, Banks and Everything was not remotely directed towards my Significant Other.  Although, indirectly, it was sparked by things my two oldest sons have been saying to me lately…  And, more importantly, I was not yet finished with my rant….?!?!!!

So where was I?  Ah yes:  Out “at sea.”  Yep.  I never got back from there, in fact.  I’ve cooled my jets a bit since that last writing, though, and I’ve done less tweeting and FB checking these days.  Reminds me.  Brb.

You are HERE

You are HERE

Okay, I started this post FIVE DAYS AGO! Looks like I need to 1) write shorter posts; and/or 2) avoid FaceCrack.  *sigh*

Well, I do feel like I’ve gotten on slightly more solid ground in the meantime…  Two projects I’m working on are starting to get traction, and it’s also been good to have attended two Brussels Girl Geek Dinners in the past two weeks two, erm, too.  Besides meeting some nice people there personally, this has also vicariously/virtually opened me up to the work and passions of a whole new pool of Brussels/Belgian women who share my same interests — theoretically.  ;-)

myspace layouts
“MmmROAR!”

From yesterday’s gathering, alone, I accidentally found out who the woman behind “girls against graffiti” — whose artwork I have admired for a long time — is ().  And, I got to meet, chat with and otherwise hob-nob with “like-minded souls,” as my other new BGGD pal (and, hopefully, future collaboratrice), @elise_huard, calls it.  I picnicked with the Ladies from Kipling.com, world-traveler Leen, and Inge from TenderFeelings.be.  And I later managed to drop a whole box-load of picnic trash right in front of an oncoming vehicle with @nuria_gc, after which we were  forced to hurriedly clean up all the mess (YES!) _with our bare hands_.  Now that is invigorating — and bonding (ahem)!!!  (Luckily, all the shutter-bugs had already left by that point, so I think they missed The Spectacle.  Whew.)

Otoh, I still am upset about the imbalance of female representation in the world’s power structures. In fact, I recently started thinking that “power” itself is not a good thing, so maybe we don’t even _want_ to belong in a “power” structure.  (And now, for the preachy part of the post…)

Negative

Negative

People say “power is neutral.”  But let’s think of electric power, for example.  Normally, we imagine “power” as something “positive”: Something we can use to do constructive things.  But then, in fact, we are actually talking about “energy” — or even “exigy,” the availability of energy — but maybe that is something else.  (In fact, Energy is Everything Else! ;-)) Usually, we don’t believe there is such a thing as “negative” power — except over on The Dark Side… We think that, in physical or chemical or whatever terms you measure it, power is a positive thing — or, at least, a “neutral” thing.  Right?

Wrong.

The electrons from which we derive power/energy (don’t ask me how!) are, in fact, actually _negatively_ charged.  (And PROTONs are positively charged — especially when your parents first send you off to college and put all your spending money on that little golden chip!)  The fact that electrons are negative means that “power” is effectively “negative” at its source.  And, this, in turn, and makes what I’m about to say only even MORE true! (Not really. Just depends on how much BS you’re willing to tolerate here!!)

The “power” which people possess, and the hierarchies which result from that (e.g. “power structures”) are also negative, imho.  Why?  Because people amass power either because they have done bad things, or because they are willing to do bad things (and what’s the difference after all, anyway?).  Naturally, I can’t prove this, but, to illustrate, think about your own answers to the following questions.

1.  Was Gandhi a powerful person?

Good

Good

No.  Gandhi was not a powerful person.  He was articulate, he was a good person, he had great sway, or influence over a lot of people.  But would we say he was “powerful”???  It seems almost “beneath” him, doesn’t it?

2.  Was Margaret Thatcher a powerful person?

Evil

Evil

We should give Maggie more credit because she was a woman, at least, but The Iron Lady had the reputation of being a real bitch — and not in the good sense.  Had she done bad things to get to her position?  Was she willing to do (more) bad things in her position?  Maybe. And what does that mean for other people (mostly men) in “Positions of Power”? George Bush? George W. Bush? (Yes, I’m old enough to remember his father!) Barack Obama…?

Well, the shadow of a doubt is definitely there.  So, does power actually have a “bent” in one direction or the other?  I am arguing it does.  And, likely, power is bad — or “negative,” at least…

Which is why my Soapbox for this post is Net Neutrality. (?!!!?)

logo_laquadrature-net_130px

An open, free, and universally accessible Internet creates _the_ opportunity for women to find a voice and gather “critical mass” behind objectives which we think are worthwhile.  The internet, like female social structures (not “power” structures), is flat.  It is pluralistic and, as long as it remains free and accessible, it is “democratic.”  This is just the environment in which women can be expected to excel — to gain recognition, authority, and yes, power.  *gulp*

So all the more reason for us to actively FIGHT to keep the male-dominated power structures which rule our society from taking over the internet as well!!!!!  Therefore, go sign up to get/keep your piece of the internet “PI” RIGHT NOW!  Now that the crisis is “over” and “normalcy” is restored — ahem — it will be very difficult for us to keep the internet free-from-male-domination.  For the moment, though, the odds appear to be in our favor…

Yesterday, on my freaky-deaky public-transport trip home from BGGD15, I read in a booklet from Sanoma Magazines Belgium, called “What do women do online?” — which (Clo Willaerts) had very generously given everyone — that 52.1% of American internet users are women.  In Belgium, that number is 47%. But did you hear that….WORLD??!? In a leading industrial country of the world, MORE WOMEN are online than MEN!!!!! (Would be great to know the statistics for the rest of the world. Anyone??!)

And what we women are doing online would be a great topic for a future post! For example, would you ever have imagined that 22% of Belgian woman are still online after midnight?  I am certainly in that crowd, but I didn’t realize I had so much company!  Hi, Ladies!!! *waving*  But one other striking thing, quoted from The Economist of March 2009, is that American females decide on 80% of important household purchases.  And there, like in Belgium, a significant amount of shopping, or simple price-comparison for future purchases, is done online.  So the conclusion is:  If a company wants to sell big-ticket consumer items, it should target advertising toward females and build up a respectable, female-friendly, online presence.  That would certainly also help to keep the male-female power balance — online and IRL — well, in balance.  ;-)

Never thought your VISA card was that powerful, did you?!? But, hell, Wilma and Betty had that figured out millenia ago!!!

"Chaaarge IT!"

"Chaaarge IT!"

Kinda makes me think that power isn’t so bad after all……..

A Flood of Inspiration

Fortunately, Ann agreed to come with me last night to the Brussels Girl Geek Dinner #14. It gave me the chance to let off a bit of steam, and to find some consoling words from a fellow (what’s the female for “fellow?” Fella?) — correction, then — FELLA sufferer. I needed to vent. So, with the sympathetic ear of Ann and Els Vermang (of LAb[au] fame), who in fact happened to be the reason for our visit to the lovely Bozar center yesterday evening, I found a fleeting moment of “inner peace.”

Do I feel more inspired now? Do I feel content to be on the periphery of The Storm, instead of at it’s “Eye”? …Actually, I feel gravely, deeply and seriously “at sea” — which I guess means this storm we’re talking about is a hurricane. And I am literally drowning in a tidal wave of digital information (or is it mere “data”?) out here. I can’t get a critical hold anywhere, and I generally feel that, the more information comes at me, the worse it gets. Is this what we call “Information Overload”? Perhaps. *sigh*

Where to begin?

First, I am highly frustrated by the fact that women are dominated — to the left, right and center — by men. This happens in Art, Eduction, Politics, “Social” work, and in the corporate world. It is absolutely impossible to avoid — even in areas where women are traditionally and naturally stronger: Communication, visualization, teaching, art, etc. It reminds me of a feminist art exhibition I once saw in Tribeca, where the artist shows a woman’s face with penises being shoved into every available orifice. The caption is, “Can you please be more accommodating?”

Also, I think this “making a choice between career and family” bullshit is exactly that: Bullshit. There is no reason for women to have to “choose” between anything. We work twice as hard, we are better at multi-tasking, we are conscientious, and we are compensated less for our (invaluable) contributions to the workworld and society-at-large. The only area where women struggle is at being reliable — at being “super humans” who can be everywhere, for everyone, at all times. But the expectation for this is unreasonable, first. And, second, a society which supports women at becoming all they/we can, should place its priorities in the same areas we do: Family and children, then money-making. Simple. And why can’t women be better compensated for dedication to family and raising children, anyway — which is consistent with what any enlightened society would expect from its citizens: That we place Priority One on bringing well-loved, nurtured, caring and healthy, good “citizens” into the World….?

Why do I, or does any woman, have to choose between doing that and earning money to take care of our families? Why are these two things mutually exclusive? I’ll tell you why: Because Banks and Men rule our lives. And even Men are capable of compassion, so let’s just limit the problem to Banks.

Banks have created an artificial layer between what we do to care for our families and society, and how we get compensated for that: Money. And this system, “money,” possesses its own modus vivendi — which is external and even in direct contradiction to the good, moral objectives we have for carrying out transactions in society. Banks do not mediate transactions between individuals and society because this is good and necessary in society. They do it because trading money is a way of making money. And “making money,” for Banks — and the financial system at large– is an end in and of itself. This can only stand in stark contrast with the societal, moral and largely feminine goal of doing “what’s right” and raising children who are “good citizens.”

So why on Earth do we tolerate this situation??!?! Maybe because the global financial system has much better PR than any other industry in the world. Politicians and the State are in their pay, and little pip-squeaks like me (and you!) are powerless to change the structure that they (all together) perpetuate. And, indeed, this hierarchy can be whittled down to a single, pervasive, common element: Men.

Pffft.  Think I’ll take up painting.

“Ice Age” is Right!

We took the twins to see their first ever movie-theater movie on Saturday.  We went to the Kinepolis, in Brussels, which meant that we were able to go for (very expensive and very bad) pizza, and were able to spend twenty euros *gulp!* on candies and sweets in the Oceade/Kinepolis/”Mini-Europe” highway-robbery-zone, beforehand too.  (Honestly, with the prices they charge — complete with onsite flat-head clubs and bars — I would swear the whole thing was a mafia operation…)

Anyway…  We all enjoyed the night out very much.  The kiddies had fun just because they got to do, basically, whatever they wanted, and over all, they were really quite well-behaved and happy.  Mom and Dad managed to work in a nice pastis before our (horrible) pasta, so we handled the few mishaps — including Twin 2 wetting his pants at the restaurant — with comfortably-numb aplomb.  (In fact, in dire contrast with the poo-party I had to clean up this morning, the Pizzicato pee-pee accident was a no-brainer.  Today, Twin 2, in a valiant effort to get to the toilet on time, left a poo trail all the way up the first-floor stairs to the bathroom!  Normally he goes right on the floor where he is, so this is a victory of sorts.  Otoh, we have this weft/textured carpet on the stairs which makes clean-up a “challenge,” so let’s say I have mixed feelings….)

Twin 2 at Ice Age 3

Anyway, back to the show…

The movie, Ice Age – Dawn of the Dinosaurs, was really quite a hit.  Besides not being able to convince the twins to keep their 3D glasses on, and them each needing two trips to the toilet during the show (sorry neighbors!) — and, btw, who reinstituted the 10-minute Intermission idea without informing us?! — we enjoyed Ice Age 3 quite a lot.  Without spoiling anything, the animation was terrific, the characters were sweet and pretty “balanced,” and some of the 3D scenes were really, simply gorgeous!  I especially liked the bubbles — but you’ll know what I mean when you see it yourself.

Two big downers though:

1.  The “plot” was non-existent.  I appreciate that the guys at Blue Sky Studios are a class-act — Scientific American just did a three-part podcast about them:  One guy is a Nobel prize laureate in physics or something, for goodness’ sake!  But I think they still need to learn that a good movie depends upon a good story.  So, perhaps with all the brains in the house, there’s no-one over at Blue Sky who’s really creative enough to write a decent plotline.  Not at all saying that being a geek means you can’t be creative too — ahem.  Looks like they could just handle bringing on a few more of those very special geek/creative types over at Blue Sky, is all I’m saying… ;-)

2.  And they could apparently use more women — who are appropriate role model material I might add — too!  That would apply to the staff of Blue Sky, I guess, but certainly to the movie.  Nothing personal, Queen Latifah (and, yes, you are the queen — I’m not disputing that), but your role, “Ellie” (the female Hairy Mammoth — pleeease?!!), unfortunately, serves no point in the movie except to move the weak plot along in a very predictable way:  Ellie is the pregnant, but determined, wife of Manny (?!), and ends up giving birth (did I spoil anything?!) right at the climax of the movie.  Go figure.  And naturally, she ends up being “rescued” — and the rest of the dénouement disasters just averted — by the herioc acts of all the male characters in the line-up, just before The End.  Whew.

The other two female characters in the movie are:  Scratté (oui, avec un seul accent aigu, je suppose?!), who is the “feminine,” of course, of the rodent/squirrel/rat, “Scrat,” of previous Ice Age fame; and “Momma Dino,” whose name I just came to learn by looking up it up on the movie website.  How clever.

Unfortunately, these woman characters are as uni-dimensional and exploitative of female stereotypes as their names imply:  Ellie is as already described.  Scratté is first adversary, then romantic interest, then nagging housewife of Scrat.  And “Momma Dino” is — you guessed it — a roaring, menacing, over-protective and, yet sensitive and caring, single-mom of three troublesome, little T-rex baby dinosaurs (and wouldn’t you then be all those things too??!).  Unfortunately, although Momma Dino’s character shows the most promise for development as a “non-traditional” female role model, her appearance in the movie is limited to predictable, cameo-grade roaring and menacing.

So, now (finally!) viewing movies from the perspective of being a Mom-with-a-Daughter, I was deeply, deeply disappointed that all the exciting and adventurous characters-with-daring-do in Ice Age, The Dawn of the Dinosaurs, were male.  It makes me think the movie title is appropriate in more ways than the writers could ever have imagined.  “Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” indeed.  With woman relegated to being sex objects, child-bearers, and nagging housewives, the thinking behind this movie is disappointingly pre-historic.

To end on a positive note — and, as I said, the movie was really quite enjoyable, despite these huge shortcomings — we were also treated to a very nice fireworks display by Mini-Europe just as the movie was letting out!  (Btw, why is their site in English, Dutch, French, German and—Castellano??  What did I say about “mafia”?!?  ;-)  But now I’m stereotyping!)  Already being appropriately impressed with the Atomium, the movie (theater), the playground, and all the sweets, the kids were awestruck with this surprise ending to a really fantastic evening.  It was truly the “icing” on the cake (har!) which helped make the twins’ first trip to the movies an event that they, and we all, will remember for a very long time.

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