Saturday, February 28, 2009

Multitasking makes you stupid, or it is stupid

One day a co-worker told me, "Multitasking makes you stupid." It turned out that this was not a personal commentary directed at me. She had recently read an article to that effect and decided to share its wisdom. I'm keen on neither multitasking or stupidity.

I thought of all this when I read about the motorist who was reported by a fellow driver for talking on her mobile phone and breast-feeding whilst driving. I feel confident asserting that this form of multitasking falls into the "stupid" category, although not as cause and effect.

I've often wondered why people feel compelled to answer their cell phones, no matter where they are or what they are doing. J. is guilty, and he's never been able to give me a good answer when I ask why he never fails to pick up calls. It's one thing to expect a call. But, whether he's driving, dining out or watching television with me, or otherwise engaged, he always answers his phone, as do people on the bus, in restaurants, and even in bathroom stalls. Most of the conversations that follow hint of their urgency: "Hey, what's up? I'm on the bus. Yeah, long week. Yeah. Yeah." or "Hi! Nah, we got out of the house for dinner. Did you get to the sale?" And so I wonder what was so important that this driver had to make or pick up this particular call while juggling the operation of a moving vehicle and breast-feeding. Is she one of those souls who think accidents happen only to other people? (The answer, as it turns out, is “yes.”)

I don't drive, so I suspect this makes me less empathetic than I would be if I did. Many drivers flout speed limits and other traffic laws as their assertion of independence and as though they have some secret knowledge that moving in and out of expressway traffic at 75 miles per hour really isn't that dangerous. Laws are just a nuisance, an intrusion by government, and/or an excuse for the authorities to collect revenue through tickets. The car has become the new mobile home and office. A man's home is his castle, and so is his car. When you spend so much time in your car, it may seem reasonable to eat, drink, chat on the phone, apply makeup, and even watch TV (to say nothing of engaging in sexual activities) while motoring along. And now (although I'm certain this can't be the first-ever incident), we can add breast-feeding baby to the list.

The driver in question, Genine Compton of Kettering, Ohio, “was given a ticket and a summons, and has been charged with a first-degree misdemeanor of child endangering and minor misdemeanor for unlawfully restraining (in other words, not restraining) her child, who, by law, should have been in a car seat.” She remains unrepentant, however. According to the New York Times, “Her children need to eat when they need to eat, she said, explaining, ‘If my child’s hungry, I’m going to feed it.’ She also said she would do the same again.”

Allow me to point out that the child who was apparently in such immediate danger of starvation or dehydration is two years old. Isn’t that old enough to wait a few minutes until Mommy can pull over and dig out some crackers or a breast? And doesn’t a two-year-old child deserve a more specific pronoun than “it”?

“‘Walking down the street can be dangerous,’ she said. ‘I’m not going to say that this one incident was just going to put us in harm’s way.’”

You’re not going to say it, but allow me. You put yourself, your children, and other drivers around you in harm’s way. You’re fortunate your little “it” didn’t become a human airbag.

The issue in this case was child endangerment, but public breast-feeding is another, if minor, controversy (minor because no one risks an accident or death over it, one hopes). Many breast-feeding mothers have become almost militant about their right to breast-feed in public; I’ve learned they call themselves “lactivists.” This doesn't seem that unreasonable—less repressed peoples who live in tight-knit villages breast-feed openly and naturally without challenge, and it's hard to find anything wrong with that. I would like to say that I'm unreservedly open-minded about it. But I can't.

Long ago, when I was about 21 or so, a friend and I went to a local restaurant for lunch—a rare treat for financially strapped young people. The place has a typical setup; there's a long bench against a wall, tables next to each other, and a row of chairs on the other side. In that situation, you can't miss what your neighbors are up to.

I think I was on the bench, and my friend was on the chair across from me. Two women were sitting at the table next to us, although we were talking and barely noticed them at first.

Until they began breast-feeding their babies.

Almost simultaneously my friend and I started to send eye signals to each other. She had noticed the woman next to me, and I had noticed the woman next to her. When we saw each other's rolling eyeballs, it hit us that both women were similarly engaged. I think we were more surprised than disturbed, but I vaguely recall that we didn't appreciate it entirely, either. Perhaps it seemed too much like performing a bodily function in an inappropriate setting and was unappetizing, too.

I'm not sure how my friend feels about it now, and I vacillate. As a mother, she became more sensitive about better restaurants and other public places that aren't family friendly, while I as a childless woman perceive a world in which many children seem left by doting parents to run amok. It made me realize, not for the first time, that most strongly held opinions are a matter of perception and that a mother and a childless woman see the world from different viewpoints. The same is true for a breast-feeding woman and everyone else.

I said that I waver about public breast-feeding, although I would never complain about it—it doesn't bother me that much, if at all. But I don't like self-righteousness or blindness to courtesy and common sense. In a perfect community, breast-feeding would be no more remarkable than eating or drinking in public, something that one does and sees without a thought. But we have not perfected our society, which is fragmented into many cultures. The perceived right to breast-feed should be tempered by respect for the wishes of others who have nothing against motherhood, but who don't want to observe its intimacies while, say, dining. After all, even the most assertive mother wouldn't change a diaper at a restaurant table—another necessary and natural function.

Then again, I wouldn't have imagined breast-feeding while tooling down the highway . . . and talking on a cell phone.

Friday, February 27, 2009

In all, not the best place for the comma

At 2:15 a.m., I couldn't understand this sentence from A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson:
In all, the internal turmoil particles within the cloud pick up electrical charges.
After a few moments I mentally moved the comma:
In all the internal turmoil, particles within the cloud pick up electrical charges.
Only Bryson and his editor know whose choice it was to (unintentionally) misplace the comma, given the sentence's meaning. It makes it read like a bad foreign language translation.

And so to bed. Again.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Writing passion

Most mainstream Victorian authors like Elizabeth Gaskell generally aren’t known for the sensuality of their writing, but the Brontës weren’t the only ones who could write about passion. Here are some evocative quotations from Gaskell’s Mary Barton, a novel about the working class in 1830s Manchester:
. . . triumphant fire . . . sent forth its infernal tongues from every window hole, licking the black walls with amorous fierceness . . .

Jem felt a strange leap of joy in his heart, and knew the power she had of comforting him. He did not speak, as though fearing to destroy by sound or motion the happiness of that moment, when her soft hand's touch thrilled through his frame, and her silvery voice was whispering tenderness in his ear. Yes! it might be very wrong; he could almost hate himself for it; with death and woe so surrounding him, it yet was happiness, was bliss, to be so spoken to by Mary.

Meanwhile, her words—or, even more, her tones—would maintain their hold on Jem Wilson's memory. A thrill would yet come over him when he remembered how her hand had rested on his arm. The thought of her mingled with all his grief, and it was profound, for the loss of his brothers.

What were these hollow vanities to her, now she had discovered the passionate secret of her soul?
This quotation from a tale told by old Job Legh is about passion of a sort, and it’s a marvelous image that captures the imagination:
“So says she, quite quick, and stealing a look at her husband's back, as looked all ear, if ever a back did . . .”

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dream: The purse, the chef, the dancers, Todd Rundgren, and the picnic

This must be an amalgam of several dreams. I don't know the order.

While shopping in a grocery store, I realized I no longer had a purse. I was certain that it was lost, not stolen, and did not know how to find it or what to do.

I was in an extraordinarily long kitchen. While it was enormous, it bothered me that its design was impractical. Instead of turning around between, say, counter and island, the chef or cook would have to walk up and down an impressive distance simply to put a recipe together. If someone could afford a mansion and a kitchen that size, couldn't he or she manage to come up with a better use of the space?

Outside a chef was running after a train, perhaps having forgotten to give someone something. It was important for him to catch up with it. He did, and then the train tore off with him on it. He'd been kidnapped!

He must have escaped, for I saw him running toward me. I thought he might make it, but the train soon reappeared, traveling at full speed. The chef could not run fast enough along the track, and someone caught him up and carried him off again. The train reversed and retreated. I felt badly that the chef had been fooled into being captured. It could have happened to anyone.

When I looked up, the ceiling above was a glass dance floor. The dancers were dressed formally in black ties, tails, and cocktail dresses. I noticed their shoes shuffling, packed so densely overhead that I could see little else. I knew how they were dressed, however.

I heard myself being serenaded, although I didn't recognize the song. The performer was Todd Rundgren, who was no more than two feet tall. I strained to understand what he was saying and to understand the absurdity of it all.

I was on a hilltop overlooking a church or community picnic. The scene looked eerily like a bucolic landscape painting, beautiful and serene. It didn't resemble anything at home that I remembered. I also noticed that one or two of the trees looked tropical and out of place. In the distance I thought I could see CS from my days as a docent. I was torn between staying to enjoy the scene and feeling obliged to walk over and say, "Hi." I wanted to look at it forever.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Museum of Holography

Sometimes, not often, I go through work-eat-sleep periods, where I feel like life is drudgery, and I have little time or energy for anything but to go through the motions. This is one of them.

By the time I get home, I'm good only for eating unhealthful food too fast, drinking a cup of tea, and reading perhaps a couple of pages in a book—on a better night. By Friday, I'm knackered. By Saturday morning, it's a struggle not to keep going back to bed.

Yesterday morning I lost the struggle. After eating breakfast, I crawled back into bed until noon, when I woke up long enough to set the alarm for another hour. When it went off, the only thing that kept me out of bed was a phone call from J. As he'd mentioned before, he still wanted to visit the Museum of Holography, said to be the only one in the United States, the more so because the Chicago Reader ran a story about its owner, her financial plight, and the possibility that the museum may close permanently. We'd tried to go at least once before., but we'd arrived 15 to 20 minutes after closing. This time, he was determined to get an earlier start.

It didn't look like the blowing snow was going to help, but we made it there surprisingly quickly and, even more wonderful from his perspective, we found a parking spot almost directly across the street. He'd been panicking, as he does, because he thought we'd have to drive around a while and then spend time walking. We had more than an hour to pay the $5 admission and to explore the museum's four galleries—indeed, plenty of time, as it turned out.

I imagine many people think of holography as a bit of a 1970s fad, a technological wonder with seemingly few obvious practical applications and whose novelty soon wore off. In fact, Dennis Gabor won the 1971 Nobel Prize (Physics) for his 1947 invention of the technology, described here.

When you observe them from an optimum distance (two to three feet, you are told), holograms appear to be three dimensional images. In the first gallery, a pair of binoculars trained on a bird's nest made both of us reach out to indicate with our hands how far the eyepieces appeared to protrude into the gallery space. Others show a different scenes depending on your viewing angle. Look at one hologram from your right and you see a pair of kittens posed winsomely for their moment of fame. From your left, one of the kittens has a paw raised in the familiar swat position. Some holograms morph into something different: for example, one dinosaur skeleton becomes fully fleshed as you pass it. Some appear to move, like large hologram of the miner panning for gold. He lowers and raises his pan as you move in relation to him. Finally, some approach you, including the shark whose toothy grin suddenly fills the frame as you stroll by. The brilliance of the colors vary, too; the enormous hairy tarantula's rainbow hues seem to fade as you get closer.

Two galleries are devoted to random subjects and artists; a third is a tribute to holography artist Art Freund; a fourth showcases experimental medical holographic imaging technology called voxgrams. In this last, you can see a variety of body parts, including a single testicle, vocal chords, stomach and kidneys, a polyp-filled colon, a uterine fibroid (not Ignatius), tumorous breasts, and the skull of a fetus that will inspire your dreams of aliens. The Freund gallery was the least visually appealing to me, although his hard-to-read notes offer some insight into holographic art and technology.

The dinosaurs, shark, tarantula, and snarling big cats are used to great effect, and revolving holograms highlight Michael Jordan's moves and Irv Kupcinet's Cheshire cat smile. In a few, a revolver juts disconcertingly out from the midst of a benign object, such as a rose bouquet (Guns N’ Roses?). The most frightening to me, however, were a couple of lifelike portraits of young women, complete with shining eyes, creased lips, and defined lashes. J. was quite taken with their realism, while the illumination, detail, and depth combined with the frozen appearance of the poses made them look like death masks to me. If I saw my own image like this, I would feel my life over and my soul stolen. They were creepier and more disturbing than any wax figure.

We even had time on the way out to check out the small display of merchandise. I bought some spinning disks, as did J.; he also picked up key chains, earrings, and a few other assorted trinkets. J. noticed an "FM" in the entryway's floor tile (the rest was obscured by a rug) and asked the man at the desk (probably the owner's son or nephew) about it. He said the building, dating back to 1907, had belonged to the Free Methodists.

The lowering skies were filled with snow, which was coming down at a respectable clip. J. had agreed to a stop at Whole Foods, then we dined at Dixie Kitchen and Bait Shop on the four-course Mardi Gras special ($16.95). Our timing was perfect because we beat the crowd and the wait—and the snow had stopped by the time we left.

At the Flamingo, we watched Northanger Abbey and part of Out of Africa, then switched our attention to Hodge's attempts to stalk and sneak up on the Panic Mouse I had finally dug out of the closet for him. It was one of those rare times that J. didn't have his camera, which really is too bad because words cannot capture how silly he looked as he hid in the entrance from his mechanical nemesis, working himself up into a pounce. We must do this more often, meaning torment the cat with interactive toys, preferably before he eats, when he's full of energy.

I sent J. home, and so to bed.

It was not such a lost day after all.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dream: College reunion

I walked into a room and discovered a lot of people I had known in college gearing up to perform some of my favorite classic rock. TB was there, too, I am sure, because I felt that inner longing to be noticed. I even thought that I might perform, and how could he miss that?

I was happy and excited about all of it, but soon realized that I had to find a bathroom. Did I want to be noticed for going on a quest for relief? And disappearing would mean not being seen at all.

More happened, but I recall mostly a delicious sense of excitement and anticipation about something unexpected and marvelous.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentine's Day, college style

While at Regenstein Library, I noticed a Doc Films poster showing City Lights (Chaplin) as the night's feature film. Until then, I had had no plans. I called J., who was discovering that, unlike farmland, bank accounts don't lie fallow until the farmer returns. He agreed.

He arrived bearing gifts—an enormous mixed bouquet (pink roses, miniature roses, tulips, carnations, and snapdragons with white mums) in a red vase with pink ribbon and a red scented candle. This was added to the five cards, including one to Hodge from "Celeste the cat," postmarked Gary, Indiana. I find "Celeste" suspect, as I told J. No self-respecting real cat would use the phrase, "your owner," to another cat. He disagreed, but he doesn't know cats like I do. It was a cat who first said, "You are not the boss of me," I'm sure.

I thought of going to the Dixie Kitchen and Bait Shop, in case it succumbs to the university's new mission as urban planner and developer. The wait would be 40 minutes, which also seemed to be the time in line to pay the fancy new parking machines (one of which was broken). On the way to Medici on 57th (Plan B), we passed Salonica, which ended up being Plan C when I mentioned it to J. It's the least romantic place on earth and therefore perfect for two friends on a budget (and he must have spent his on the flowers and candle). He came away $23 poorer (including tip), plus about $13 for a bottle of extra virgin olive oil. During dinner I regaled him with stories about Dr. Sadist. Isn't that fun?

At Ida Noyes, City Lights was 2 for the price of 1, so $5 for both of us. I wondered who else would show up at a campus film society for a movie that's almost 80 years old. Mostly couples, many young; several were like us—not so young. A few single young and middle-aged men and women were scattered about.

Of course, I can't sit through even a 90-minute film without a couple of visits to the women's room before and after. Much has changed at Ida Noyes Hall since I guarded the sports facilities and the towels—the Max Palevsky Cinema replaced the gym where I once watched Joey Ramone snorting and where the Hispanic Cultural Society held salsas. The pool is long gone, replaced, from what I could see, by underground offices, an elevator shaft, and many walls. But a certain strong mildewed odor of decay prevails—that hasn't changed in 30 years. The strains of "Satisfaction" (Stones) from the Pub completed the scene. All I needed was a hint of chlorine.

Except for an access ramp, the women's bathroom appears to be untouched by progress. The one new amenity I noticed was the condom dispenser (25 cents). The lubricated variety was sold out, while half of the non-lubricated awaited their moment of passion. I'm curious about how often it's restocked. The third time I went downstairs, I met two girls but witnessed no purchases. I wonder how sales compare to those on the other side of the stairs.

Ever since I saw City Lights in a college silent films class, it's been one of my favorites. Underneath all the absurdities of life are joy and sadness waiting to happen. Visually, it's a brilliant film from the opening gag to the closing question. Why is a sword the most prominent feature of a statue dubbed "Peace and Prosperity""—a sword that repeatedly sticks it to Charlie, so to speak?

I don't belly laugh like I used—someday I must figure out why—but even just a few minutes in my face was wet. Each scrape is so perfectly framed and timed, from Charlie's pantomimed critique of the nude statue that keeps sucking his attention and his flailing helplessly on the dance floor to his brief career as a boxer avoiding being hit. Laughter is contagious, and I was almost as charmed by the carefree giggles of the woman behind me as by the movie.

Of course, it's the ending of City Lights that haunts the memory. The flower seller, once a few dollars from being both blind and homeless, yearns to hear every wealthy young man who walks into her flower shop speak with her unseen lover's voice and afford to feel pity for her awkward, ragged "conquest." As she recognizes his touch, they know that they have no future—not because she is a shallow, grasping ingrate, but because she has, thanks to him, moved to a different world, one that she aspired to and one that cannot trap his freer spirit. His expression reflects joy, hope, and recognition of the unmovable new barrier between them.

I think she will not see him at her corner again.

Flowers from a friend

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Devil Chartre

Devil Chartre
Originally uploaded by Churchcat
Check out this amazing collection of medieval church photographs.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Human hoarding

Generally, I don't comment much on current events. If I had to say why, it's because taking a stand gives half of those who know what it is an opportunity to disagree and reveals how judgmental I can be.

On top of that, there's the possibility I may be wrong.

When I read that a woman had given birth to octuplets, my first thought was of a desperate couple who had resorted to fertility drugs and why that would not be for me. I still (selectively) resist the intervention of science in nature, although my rational self knows that men around the world have interfered with nature since their time began. I admit that I might feel differently if I were more personally affected; it's easy to make pronouncements from the mountaintop.

After a few days I became curious about the fate of the octuplets and their mysterious parents. By then it had come out that the mother was an unemployed single woman who already had had six (6) children through IVF.

There went the childless, loving, and happy Yuppie couple many of us had probably envisioned.

Six children. Six. And she wanted more.

For a few minutes, I couldn't quite retrieve from the archives of my mind the pathology that this situation reminded me of. And then it came.

Animal hoarder.

The desire for more children, on top of six existing children, especially in a situation where it is likely that the mother doesn't have the resources to provide adequately for so many, financially, physically, or emotionally, made me think of those sad souls who take in dozens or even hundreds of animals which, when rescued when a neighbor complains about the smell or other signs, invariably prove to be starving, diseased, battle scarred, and neglected. I've wondered if animal hoarders initially mean well but lose control. Do they notice how much the animals suffer and block it out? Or do they believe they are doing them a favor? Are they that blind to the cruel consequences of their actions?

Nadya Suleman, the woman for whom six children were not enough, said she wanted a big family because she had had a lonely childhood. Two, four, or even six children were not enough to fill that gaping hole in her soul. Despite her age and the odds, she thought she would end up with two more children, not eight—as though eight was the critical mass needed for the seal on that well of loneliness.

The story may yet be saddest for the children, born to a woman whose motivations and judgment are questionable, at best. How did she think she was going to raise eight children, including two infants, when she couldn't manage six? Fourteen? Does she think she, by herself, has the resources to give these children individual attention? Or even to care for their basic needs? How did she think she would house, feed, clothe, and educate them for 18 years each? And pay for their medical care?

Most couples, when they learn they are expecting their first child, feel a thrill of joy and a thrill of fear. Both are natural; raising a child is no small responsibility. What did Nadya Suleman think when faced with the prospect of raising six? That she needed two more to complete her ensemble? Did she think of anyone other than herself? Did she consider the future at all?

I wish these 14 children well, and I hope that Suleman obtains the help she needs. Cat hoarding is appalling enough. Human hoarding? Inconceivable.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dream: The wrong side of the tracks

I noticed train tracks next to the house I was in, with two branches that ended in front of it. I asked the owner how she could be sure the trains wouldn't veer onto the branch lines and hit the house. She seemed confident that that would not happen, but I wasn't so sure. When a train passed, it was uncomfortably close.

Another train came toward the house and seemed about to hit it on the other side. At the last moment, it went around a odd, tight loop in the tracks to avoid the house. For the train to go around the loop, its speed had been greatly reduced. I wondered if someday an engineer would forget about the house and the loop and to slow down. I marveled that anyone could live in a house with trains passing within inches on either side, with no right of way or grades. Yet they were not full-sized, modern freight trains, and I didn't notice noise or vibration.

Life seemed to be a train wreck, waiting to happen.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dream: Icy doom

At the midnight hour, this dream should have frightened me, but it didn't. Not wanting to let it go, I tried but failed to stay asleep. The feeling I had was extraordinary and better than anything could be in life.

All I remember is that I was on a ship, perhaps even a boat, and that it had sailed into a silence filled only with ice floes. We did our best to avoid them even as we marveled at their beauty. Apprehension, though descended on me as I became certain that, if we were not even then sinking into them and the icy, still waters, we were bound to. The sky, the water, the ice all looked like parts of an apocalypse. But I felt relieved, comforted, and happy to experience such magic.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dream: Coming home to roost

Across the field the only thing we could see from our home were woods and the roof of a white house. I was told that an old man lived in the house and that the flock of pigeons on its roof belonged to him. I don't remember meeting him, and he and his house seemed wondrously mysterious to me. Simply seeing its green roof among the trees made me feel like I was living near a fairy-tale place.

One day the pigeons disappeared. The man had died. A large, unruly family moved into the house. No matter how long and hard I peered at that roof, its surface unbroken by white dots flying in and out and bobbing about, I could not bring the magic back. I always thought it had died with the old man, but now I know I had grown up too much to be able to perceive it anymore. It was gone forever. Now it was just a house among trees, inhabited by a dysfunctional family that didn't love it or much else.

In my dream, I was looking toward the house and the trees that had sheltered it. Most of them were gone, and it had become a vista of concrete monuments. (I attribute this to having seen a photo the day before of the John F. Kennedy memorial in Dallas, a soulless monstrosity designed by Philip Johnson.)

When I went to the town board to protest the ruthless destruction of the trees and house (and the symbolic destruction of my childhood and its magic), I remembered I had also seen concrete Olmec heads along this new skyline. Olmec heads are fabulous, but why had trees been butchered for an ugly, tasteless representation of something that didn't belong there? Much as I hated what I had seen, something about this point seemed wrong to me, and I struggled to justify it even to myself.

Is it live or is it Memorex?

Even the most well-behaved children might develop a case of the fidgets when Dad is about to be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States, so I wasn't surprised to see Michelle Obama lean over a few times toward Malia and Sasha. I wondered if she were talking to them or someone else, or if she were, in traditional Mom fashion, telling them to "settle down."

There they were, taking pictures and videos and sending text messages from their unique vantage point at the inauguration. No one had a better perspective on the event, and only the most stoical of stoics could have resisted temptation. Young girls are not known for stoicism, although I imagined somewhat whimsically that they were telling their friends, "Will you look at him? He'll think he's important now!"

Now that we have the technology, we keep trying to capture the moment, whatever the moment may be. When I was a child, film and processing were expensive enough to make photography a small luxury. The camera, a Kodak that cost $2 or $3, came out mainly for special occasions (the obligatory birthday and Christmas shots) and excursions, with an occasional photo of Virgil in the washtub or Diane in the bath. For practical reasons, photos were secondary to the experience.

When camcorders became the ubiquitous rage and I saw fathers (almost never mothers) recording every moment, I began to wonder if something weren't being lost. Intent on his viewfinder, the family videographer seemed unable to focus on anything beyond that narrow range. Every moment recorded represented a moment in which the dad did not see the world from his child's perspective; he was an observer of his child's life, not a participant in it. Do those parents watch those videos now?

Now you can't go into a restaurant, movie theater, café, park, or any public place without being blinded by the flash of someone's digital camera. Blogs and social networks are full of photos of smiling groups of people at their family, evening, and weekend outings and comments about fashions, hair, and memorable happenings. Joy is ephemeral. Who can be blamed for trying to cage it within a few thousand pixels?

Photos and videos show and tell the stories of our lives. On January 20, 2009, as I saw images of people at workplaces, schools, churches, and senior centers across the country with tears in their eyes, I thought that, without the distraction of trying to record history, they are the ones who have captured it best—not on chip, but in their minds, hearts, and imaginations.