Friday, September 30, 2005

Eleven Kid Stories

  1. Neologism

    So we're at this artificial lake in Reston: me, Aviva, and Noah, and also Terri and Jeff and Rhys. There for a birthday party.

    And from the center of the lake a great fountain erupts (as it does, at timed intervals).

    Noah is transfixed: he stands, soberly considering.

    Then he points and cries: "Wateh Elela!" (Water Elephant)

  2. Eschatological Interface

    Ben: "So this is Google Earth. See, it has America, Switzerland...

    Aviva: "Does it have the Die Life?"

    (The Die Life, according to Aviva, is where dead people go. I personally have not expressed a firm opinion on the subject, but Aviva is confident she knows the score)

  3. Naming

    (a while ago)

    Esther (in Swiss-German): What's your name?

    Noah: Nona, and, Baby, and, Man, and, Aviva, and, Daddy, and, Auto, and, Arthur, and, Boy.

  4. Aviva's View of History

    1. God
    2. Dinosaurs ; you can walk from America to Switzerland
    3. People make friends with dogs
    4. People make friends with horses
    5. Miriam saves Moses
    6. Romans
    7. Vikings, Aztecs, Polynesian navigation
    8. Johnny Appleseed
    9. Evolution discovered
    10. Laura Ingalls Wilder
    11. Betsy & Tacy
    12. Cars, phones invented
    13. Births of adults whose exact ages are known
    14. CDs, DVDs invented
    15. Births of kids whose exact ages are known


    1 "Evolution discovered" being when people figured out that, rather than laboriously creating everything by hand, God had cleverly figured out how to automate the process.

    2. Romans, Vikings, Aztecs, great age of Polynesian navigation, Jonny Appleseed as featured in "Annabelle's Amazing Time Machine", an Elisa and Avivatm adventure.

  5. Theological Questions from Aviva

    1. "Daddy, can dinosaurs eat God?"

    2. "Did God make God? Or does God have a God?"

    3. I'm wearing this Sandman t-shirt.

      Aviva: Is that you when we lived in Switzerland?

      Me: No.

      Aviva: Do you know who it is?

      Me: Yeah. It's Morpheus.

      Aviva: Who is that?

      Me: He's the King of Dreams. He's made up, though. He's from a comic book.

      Aviva: If he's made up, who is the real king of dreams?

      Me: I don't know. I don't know if there is one.

      Aviva: I know. (gets off the picnic table on her side, comes around to my side and whispers in my ear:) If God is everything, then God is also things that aren't real. So God is the king of dreams.

      Me: Good point.

  6. Breakthrough #1

    Noah's vocabulary has expanded exponentially in the last few weeks, from an enumerable set to pretty much anything he's heard any time recently, and from single words to complex sentences.


    Rilly rilly dat mean! (No, but really, what does that mean?)

    I want dis one "ball game" (I want that song, the one with "take me out to the ball game")

    He does tend to equate things and their inversions, so that "why?" means "why not?", as in

    Noah: Annabelle! (a doll, one of Aviva's favorites which she has generously given him)

    Ben: We don't have Annabelle, we left her at home.

    Noah: Why Annabelle?

  7. Eat Nose

    Noah's favorite game at the moment:

    Noah: Eat Nose!

    Daddy bends down, Noah gloms onto Daddy's nose with his mouth.

    Daddy, pulling away and rubbing his nose: Arggh! Wet nose!

    Noah, grinning with great satisfaction: Wet Nose...

  8. Breakthrough #2:

    While I was at Sycamore Hill, Aviva got on the phone with me and excitedly explained this complicated innovative process she had devised.

    Aviva: ...but then, when I'm drawing, I can think of looking in the book, at the words, and then I think of the words and then in my imagination, I can think of saying the words, and then I can WRITE DOWN the drawings of the way I think of the words, and, see, the letters are the drawings. And then I write down what the words are in my imagination!!!

    Thus is phonics born.

  9. Born to be Wild

    When we are driving, particularly when kids-whose-naptime-it-is-not are likely to fall asleep otherwise, Aviva and Noah and I like to have festivals of Dionysian rock and roll excess. We surf the radio looking for wild music. The kids are picky about the wildness. If we get a mellow ballad, say, "Proud Mary", Aviva shouts "Not Wild Enough!" and Noah says "Too loud!" (by which he means, I want it to be too loud).

    When we find something appropriate (hip hop and hard rock seem to be favorites) we rock out in the car. Appropriate things to shout out while writhing and head-banging in one's car seat include:

    • Oh yeah!
    • Break the whole house!
    • You gotta do it!
    • The roof is on fire!

  10. You Can't Always Get What You Want

    On a long drive home from an exciting birthday party, an overtired Aviva and Noah began to argue about what to play on the car's sound system. Aviva really wanted to hear her cousin Seraphina's amazing and wonderful homemade tape of Tiger and Bear stories, which had just arrived. Alas, they were way over Noah's head. He had put up with them on the drive up, but now he was tired and he wanted... rock and roll. Specifically "Hey Mama" by the Black-Eyed Peas.

    I ruled that we would play "Hey Mama" once and then return to Seraphina's tape. So we did. But the whole ride home, as Aviva grimly set her jaw and tried to listen to the tape despite him and I silently rued my verdict in the case, Noah sobbed inconsolably, crying out, "Hey Mama! Hey Mama!", and, poignantly, "Rock and Rolllllllllll.....! Rock and Rollllllllllll!"

  11. A perfect day

    Aviva: (sighs) I don't like life. Life is terrible.

    Me: How so?

    Aviva: You have to go to Angela and to Trader Joe's and to Olney Park...

    Me: You mean all the driving? You don't want to drive so much?

    Aviva: Yes. And the walking. And going by bus.

    Me: You'd rather just stay home?

    Aviva: No.

    Me: (expansively) Okay, what would a perfect day be like? Let's say you could do anything you wanted to. What would you do?

    Aviva: First I would run into the street and die. Then I would come up again. Then I would go back in the house. Then I would make Noah die, and make him come up again. Then I would jump over the moon.

    Ben: I see. So basically all the things you want to do are impossible.

    Aviva (reasonably): Well, except for going in the house.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I wonder what magnet

I do so like the idea of being on people's refrigerators.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Au Naturel

My story "Falling" is out in Nature, and it looks like it's accessible throughout this world wide web thingie -- let me know if not:

in html and pdf.

There's a lot of good fiction in that whole series, actually... it hasn't been paid much attention to in the SF world, but there have been stories by Ted Chiang, Ursula K. Le Guin... a whole bunch of people. Unfortunately, if you want to read them on the web for free, you only have a brief window before they go behind the "institutional access members only" firewall. A strange and evocative piece by Nalo Hopkinson and a groaner by Stross et al. are still available to the hoi polloi. (If you're logging in from a university, you might try browsing the archives, though -- from NSF I could reach everything.)

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Saturday, September 3, 2005

Well, one of us has finished a book, anyway

Presenting: Aviva Meets Arthur

Publication and rights for this work as per following conversation:

Ben: Aviva, do you want me to put this on the computer where people can see it?

Aviva: Kids, too?

Ben: Yeah.

Aviva: Yes.

Ben: Do you want people to be able to make their own copies of it?

Aviva: Yes.

Ben: Do you want people to make their own stories based on this one? Like, can they tell a story about what happens next?

Aviva: Yes!!!

Ben: Do you want them to have to say, 'This is from Aviva'?

Aviva: Yes.

Ben: Is it okay if they sell them for money?

Aviva: Mmmmm.... (frowns)

Ben: Do you want them to have to give them away for free?

Aviva: Yes!

Ben: Okay, that would be Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Sharealike....

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Friday, September 2, 2005


So this is supposed to be my writing day, but I'm sitting here obsessively reading the news about Katrina -- the wiki, the craigslist board, the blog of a Marine-turned-ISP-emergency-planner who is running probably New Orleans' only functioning internet node from a high rise.

Worst of all are the rescue requests on

Here's Charity Navigator's page of top-rated Katrina charities.

Megatokyo reports that Lowe's Home Improvement stores are matching all in-store contributions to the Red Cross dollar for dollar up to 1 Million dollars.

Wondering what else I could do. Maybe go give blood?

Like so many people, I guess, I wish there was something tangible and concrete I could do right now.

So I'm depressed today. I don't really want to manically engage in the whole big picture, how could disaster relief be organized differently, what is the environmental long view, how should New Orleans be rebuilt, Iraq war to blame, whatever, as I did last night on David Moles blog.

Just want to be sad.

Oh, poor ruined city!

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