Thursday, November 18, 2010

I gave a reading at Orycon this year.

As a member of Broad Universe, I was invited to take part in one of their rapid-fire readings. This is where all the interested members join together to share a room and time slot for a reading, and every member gets a few minutes to take center stage.

The closest I've come to doing a reading before was a few weeks ago. The Wordos get together and read holiday themed pieces of flash fiction right before Halloween, and I happened to have a short enough piece that fit the theme. Now, when I did that reading, I'm pretty sure my hands were shaking badly enough that anyone in the room could tell I was nervous. For the Broad Universe reading, I was determined to keep my hands steady and hide my nervousness if possible. In retrospect, I'm not sure that was such a good idea... My hands stayed steady, but I think that the effort diverted blood from other, more important parts of my brain. For instance, the part that translates visual input from my eyes.

Fortunately, I'd practiced the excerpt of "Otters In Space" that I was reading several times earlier in the day. So, some of it was ad-libbed from memory. However, I could hear the audience laughing at all the right parts. Then, afterward, several people sought me out to tell me how much they enjoyed my reading. One man even sought me out the next day!

Overall, it was an incredibly rewarding experience.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

As I said, the last month has been all about writing. See, Elaine started going to preschool five mornings a week this fall. In honor of finally having a couple hours free every day for the first time in several years, I decided to devote pretty much every free minute I have (and some minutes that are not entirely free due to having a child bouncing around shouting, "Mom! Mom! Look at this!") to my writing. So, I've finished several short stories, and I hit the 30,000 word mark on "Otters In Space 2."

This was, apparently, not enough. So, as November -- and NaNoWriMo -- neared, I suddenly outlined an entirely new novel set in the Otters In Space universe. See, "Otters In Space" was originally started as a NaNoWriMo novel. I figured that no one would ever be willing to publish a piece of hard science fiction a la Arthur C. Clarke starring talking animals a la Brian Jacques. So, why not write it super fast as a NaNoWriMo novel? Except, by 15,000 words I realized I was writing something really special. So, I gave up on NaNoWriMo and gave "Otters In Space" the time and attention it needed to develop its full potential.

This means that 1) I have good associations with NaNoWriMo because I got "Otters In Space" out of it, and 2) I still haven't won!

So, I figured I'd try again this year, and either I'd finally win or at least get a good start. So far, I'm not quite 20,000 words into "Learning to Live and Love in a Dog's World," and it's going very well. I was even meeting my daily word count goals... until Orycon happened... which... of course... is when I burned out on "Otters In Space" in 2005...

Which brings us to Orycon...
The last month has been all about writing. Writing, writing, writing.

First off, I joined Wordos, the local science-fiction critique group. This is a group I'd heard about since looong before moving to Eugene. Members of this group win Writers of the Future almost every year. Needless to say, I was a little intimidated. So, even though I've meant to check them out since moving to Eugene, I kept putting it off. Then I finished a short story I started five years ago... This is the kind of story that is so complex and neat that it takes that long to write. Now, I don't mean I was working on it that whole time. In fact, I actually wrote the first few scenes quite quickly in 2005. But then I got stuck. I had the entire story outlined, but the emotional depth was beyond my abilities at that time. Then, three weeks ago, I suddenly sat down and over the course of two days hammered out the rest of it.

Needless to say, when you have a short story that is worthy of five years gestation time, it deserves that little bit extra to polish it up super nicely. So, I finally overcame my fear and joined the Wordos. And, I must say, the critiques they gave of that story last Tuesday were extremely valuable.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Of course, no matter how great the internet is for research, it still hasn't beat pulling out The Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds and The Encyclopedia of the Cat for researching dog and cat breeds.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A lot of writers say that the first step to making a lot of progress on their writing is to turn off the internet. For me, this is not the case. The internet is an incredibly amazing tool for me when I'm writing, and it can speed the process up a lot.

When I was in high school, I wanted to write a novel that had octopus-like aliens in it. But, first, I needed to really know what octopuses look like when they move. I needed to research octopi. So, I went to the library and checked out all the octopus books I could. This was fun and useful, but it didn't show me an octopus in motion. Next, I convinced my mom to take me to the coast for a day, and we hit every aquarium we could find. At one of them, there was an undersea show where a diver went in to the tank, picked an octopus up, and kind of waved its tentacles around. This made me sad, because it wasn't the octopus moving under its own motion and therefore was basically useless to me. At another aquarium, I stared at a sleeping octopus for three hours straight -- it twitched once. (Come to think of it, it's pretty amazing that my mom put up with this...)

Eventually, we did find a documentary video through an inter-library loan program. But... Seriously! That's a long, slow process for learning what octopuses are like when they move.

These days, if I want to write a story with owls in it, I don't have to drive over to the library, dig through the shelves, bring books home, put a video on inter-library loan, and schedule day trips to zoos and wildlife reserves. I can just type "owl" into youtube, and, WITHIN SECONDS, I'm watching and listening to owls! Within minutes, I'm back at my word document writing my story.

So, if I also spend an extra ten minutes writing a post like this... Well, I'm still coming out months ahead.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Kitten reorganization time!

This is when you find a kitten sleeping on, say, a couch; pick it up and carry it around until you find a different kitten sleeping on, say, a bed; swap the kittens; and proceed until kitten reorganization time is over.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

There is an entire community of people devoted to pretending that animals can talk. Somehow, in all my years of mourning the end of Watership Down and quietly writing Otters In Space all alone, I never noticed this.

Last weekend, I attended Rainfurrest, up in Seattle. My limited research in preparation suggested that Rainfurrest would be a great deal like any science-fiction convention. Except a lot of people would be wearing animal costumes. In short, that expectation was about right. But... Knowing it and experiencing it were completely different.

The halls were filled with animals. Foxes, wolves, cats, otters, raccoons... Walking around, talking, exactly like people do. Because, of course, they were people. Wearing costumes. But... I can't explain it. I've sat at my computer dreaming about a world where the otters have spaceships for years... And, so, if I found the experience of a furry convention a little magical, I suppose it shouldn't be too much of a surprise.

The best part, though, was hearing Phil Geusz -- one of the writing panelists -- talk about the history and future of furry writing. I attended a reading he gave of two of his stories -- one about a rabbit on a spaceship, the other about a boy who convinced a magician to turn him into a horse. I didn't know anyone else was writing stories like that! And, to hear him tell it, we writers of fiction about anthropomorphic animals are at the beginning of an entire movement. He compared furry writing today to the first appearance of Golden Age science-fiction in the late 1930s. I don't know if he's right... But, god, I hope he is. It was incredibly inspiring.

So, now, until the next convention, I will return to quietly writing away. But, this time, instead of being a strange oddity, my work is part of an entire genre. Furry science-fiction. Sci-furry.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

"Ready to be tucked in?" I ask.
"You need to tickle me first," Elaine answers.

Apparently, being tickled to sleep is now part of the nightly routine.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

It makes me a little crazy that Elaine leaves children's books strewn all over the house. I know they're at risk of being eaten by dogs, and it just generally looks like poor treatment of books. Books belong on shelves. Organized. Possibly alphabetically.

However, I noticed that the bookshelf of children's books upstairs was looking a little thin, so I wandered around the house and gathered up an armful of twenty books that Elaine has brought down over the last week. Carrying that armful back upstairs, I was struck by just how many different books this little girl reads every day, even though she can't even read yet.

Although I question the quality of treatment that these books get in her hands, I cannot deny that they are getting loved. I'm so glad we have them.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Every couple years for about as long as I can remember, my family has gone over to Winchester Bay for a big family reunion with bunches of relatives that I can hardly keep straight, since I don't see them all that often. People gather for breakfast, and each branch of the family takes a turn whipping up pancakes or waffles in a little hotel kitchen. And, most importantly, on Saturday we're all ferried over by boat to an island beach where we cook dinner over a giant bonfire.

When I was about ten, we ate corn chowder cooked over that bonfire, and it was one of the tastiest things I've ever eaten in my life. This year, we ate fresh berry cobbler... And, oh my goodness, berries are meant to be cooked that way.

This year was the first time I feel like I really attended the Brownell reunion as an adult. The last reunion was four years ago... and it was a close call. I'd graduated from college. I was married. Daniel and I were living in an apartment in Seattle with two dogs. By all rights, you'd have thought we were adults. However, the generations mostly kept to themselves -- splitting the "kids" off in their own circle.

This time, perhaps precipitated by the introduction of a new generation (three-year-old Elaine and six-month-old Tobias), that didn't happen as much, and I feel like I got to know a lot of my older relatives a lot better. It was a fantastic weekend.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

You can do amazing things with tape. I know this because my three-year-old leaves books on the floor, and my (very quick) Sheltie likes the taste of them. Together, they've conspired three times in the last week to break my heart by leaving a tattered, chewed up children's book lying, brokenly on the floor for me to find. Each time, I have dutifully gathered up the pieces and painstakingly taped them back together with thick layers of scotch tape or packing tape (depending on which material better suits the particular book).

Each book has survived. And come out looking much better than I expected.

Nevertheless, every time I tape one of those sacred, holy, beloved objects back together, my sadness that they will one day -- soon even -- be utterly replaced by e-books dissipates.

Maybe e-books won't be so bad.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Guests wont begin to arrive for another hour or two; there's been no cake; she hasn't seen the pinata yet; nothing special has happened at all. But, nevertheless, Elaine's been walking around in a contented daze all morning saying, "It's my birthday party!"

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Elaine had her first tear-free day of preschool this morning. Daniel had no trouble dropping her off, and the teacher greeted me when I came to pick her up with the news that "Elaine had a fantastic day." Sure, Elaine tried to put a sobby quaver in her voice when she saw me and said, "You came back!", like she does every day. But her huge grin kind of spoiled the effect.

Meanwhile, Daniel and I have decided to start taking advantage of the time Elaine spends in preschool this summer to make a tour of nice restaurants for breakfast. We're not usually awake for breakfast. However, it's the one time of day -- while Elaine's in preschool -- that we can easily go to a nice restaurant. This morning I had eggs benedict with salmon. Delicious.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The world is changing like crazy, and I've been watching and waiting for my chance to jump in. It's scary... But, around last summer, I couldn't take it any more. Somehow, between reading all of Dinosaur Comics (backwards) and watching The Guild's music video, "Do You Wanna Date My Avatar," I couldn't stand working away at my fiction in silence. Sending it out into the void of magazines and editors who send back unsigned form letters or -- oh joy! -- a rejection letter signed with a real ballpoint pen.

Yeah, being a writer can be depressing. So, I invented SPACE HOUNDS! to stave off the dissatisfaction. I have no idea how many people read it (because my attempt at tracking those statistics was bugged, and I haven't figured out how to fix it). But! I can write it and then put it up where readers can see it, if they want to, immediately. And that feels nice. It makes the whole process feel a little less pointless.

However, I'm not really a comic writer. Sure, SPACE HOUNDS! is fun... But my heart always has been in my short stories and novels. And, the common knowledge among writers is that you should never, ever, ever put your fiction up on your website or self-publish in any sort of way. So, I was stuck.

Then, I found out about Peter Watts. I read Blindsight and loved it before discovering the story behind it: Blindsight was dead in the water, so Peter Watts posted it for free on the internet under a creative commons license.

The internet is changing things. But, I still wasn't ready to take that leap for myself. (Because, yes, I'm aware that my situation is completely different.) However, two weeks ago, I discovered the music of Owl City. Yet another success story via non-traditional, internety means. More importantly, though, it was a shot of optimism. Which is what I really needed.

So, the practical upshot? In an act of either manic optimism or desperate despair, I've published my novel Otters In Space: The Search for Cat Havana on Smashwords. I have no expectations. But... I do hope that any people out there who've been wishing they could read a work of hard science fiction starring talking cats, dogs, and otters will find it. I know it would have made me very happy when I was... well... any age. I would love this book at any age.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Five cats is an awesome number of cats to have.

I brought my half of the wild kittens home two days ago, and we've been keeping them shut in the downstairs bathroom. This way, we're able to introduce the three older cats to the two new cats gradually. Mostly, the older cats have been allowed only intermittent glimpses of the kittens. These glimpses make their eyes widen in a combination of disbelief, horror, and anger.

However, a bit ago, I brought the kittens out to play with the best cat toy ever. A stick, tied to a string, tied to some feathers. I have two of them. And, as the kittens darted about on the couch I'd sequestered them on, chasing and pouncing on the feathers, all three of my older cats appeared around the edges of the room. Imperceptibly, they moved closer, until these three adult cats -- too cool or too lazy to play with feathers themselves -- were all peering directly over the sides of the couch. Watching the kittens. Enthralled.

If you can't see how awesome that is... I probably can't convey it. And, weirdly, based on the average number of cats per household, I'm guessing that most people out there somehow fail to see just how extremely awesome it is to have five cats gathered around one couch, playing with feathers and calculating the complexity of their relationships with each other.

See, a hierarchy of three cats is a very complex thing. (Theresa loves Heidi, but Heidi interprets her love as torture. Kelly thinks Heidi's fear of Theresa's love means that Theresa is dominant and, therefore, beats up on her. But, Theresa interprets Kelly's attempts to prove dominance as a sort of friendship. And, in the end, because none of them have the same motives or priorities, they completely fail to create a simple order of dominance.)

And a five cat hierarchy promises to be even more complex and fascinating.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Something very strange has happened to me. I've fallen in love with the music of an artist who is younger than me... That may not seem so strange to most people, but I have never before loved music that didn't begin long, long before I was born. Whenever I've fallen in love with music before, the artist behind it has existed in a dual way -- as the talented twenty-year-old who has suddenly been discovered by the world, but also as the weathered sixty-year-old who is making a splash with his latest comeback album. Brian Wilson, the Monkees, Elton John, and even my latest love, They Might Be Giants. Each of them has a current self and a youthful self that is still available to be discovered by new fans, complete with decades of back albums.

But Owl City has only one self. There is no past to go back and discover... He's only starting out. I guess that means there's a lot to look forward to from him? For a science-fiction writer, I am strangely un-used to looking forward.

Friday, July 2, 2010

I entered some photos in a Pet Day Photo Contest a month or so back, and two of them won prizes. The results from the contest are posted here:

When I heard about the contest, I figured that with years and years of cat photos on my hard drive, I really ought to enter some. So, I dug through and picked out a few of my favorite shots of Heidi and Theresa. (One of those won "Cutest Picture.") However, then I thought that since I haven't really figured out a way to advertise Space Hounds! at all, maybe I should include a picture of Kelly in place of one of the really cute pictures of Heidi and Theresa. I haven't owned Kelly as long -- she's still under a year old -- so, I don't have as many excellent pictures of her yet. She has gotten a lot of camera time for her appearances on Space Hounds!, but those photos tend to be campier. I'm aiming for pictures that tell a good story with silly dialogue written over them -- not pictures that are beautiful in their own right.

Nonetheless, I picked out the best picture of Kelly in her spacesuit that I had, stripped off her line of dialogue ("Fortunately, I'm well versed in the fifth law of thermodynamics!"), and replaced it with a simple direction to the website (

Which all adds up to me being really surprised that it's the picture of Kelly a.k.a. Kelliah, wrestling with a macro-string on TJ Barker's spaceship, that won "Judge's Pick."

Friday, June 25, 2010

A conversation with Elaine about why her Auntie M. gets to have a birthday party before she does took an interesting turn:

Elaine: "I was born in July!"
Me: "Yes. And Auntie M. was born in June."
Elaine: "And Daddy was born in computers!"

Monday, June 21, 2010

We found feral cats living under my mother's deck. One gray tabby mama and four kittens. I was the first to spot a kitten, and I couldn't fit a non-kitten-shaped thought in my mind from that moment on. Unfortunately, I live an hour away from my mother's deck, and I have various responsibilities in my life -- including a rather noisy two-year-old, Sheltie, and spaniel -- that kept me away.

Nevertheless, I waited nightly for news of the kittens. Sunday: confirmation that I had not conjured up imaginary kitten ghosts from the depths of a kitten-deprived mind. Monday: that the kittens were being trained to eat on my mom's deck. Tuesday: a fourth kitten appeared! By Thursday, I could stand it no longer and designed a homemade kitten trap involving an old sheet and a lot of string. The design was classic... cheesy, even. No one who's seen Return of the Jedi would fall for it. But, I figured, these kittens probably hadn't seen that kind of movie.

I sat on the roof, silent and motionless, for twenty minutes before I saw any feral cats, and then it was only the mama. It had been fifty minutes before the kittens even appeared. More than two hours passed before hunger outweighed caution for all four of them. Four kittens, perched around a plastic bowl, on a sheet, ten feet beneath me. I pulled the strings, and the corners of the parachute shot up. The kittens scattered, and their distributed weights tipped the ballooning cloth. Two escaped. Two were caught.

Over the next two days, we managed to catch the final two kittens and the mama with a traditional live trap. (Once any given cat has seen a parachute trap in action, it will never fall for it again.) But, I don't know that I've ever done anything quite so thrilling before as catch myself a pair of wild kittens in a parachute trap.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Seattle and Eugene both get a lot of rainy weather, but Eugene gets a lot more rainbow weather.

Also, I walked by a garden today that was decorated with small, stone statues of angels. Seen with the eyes of a Doctor Who fan, the angels gave the garden a very neat, creepy vibe. I suspect they weren't meant that way.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The strangest thing happened today. I was taking Quinn for a walk around the neighborhood. He was just commenting on the unusual density of palm trees around Eugene -- saying that it was almost as if Eugene thought it was California -- when I suddenly realized we were actually in California. I don't know how I'd missed it. One minute, we were walking around College Hill, and the next minute, there we were, in Cupertino. Of course, before I could even catch Quinn's eye to see if he'd seen it too, we were right back home.

Neither of us said much for the rest of the walk, and I think he's still a bit too shaken up to talk about it. It's too bad it couldn't have happened later in the week though -- that sure would save a long drive down to Baycon.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Elaine is watching "The Secret of NIMH" on her computer. She loves the main character and calls her "Name-is-Risby." A few moments ago, Elaine proposed an expedition. She said, "Name-is-Risby is in the movie... Let's go get her!" Then, after holding her hands ineffectually toward her monitor for a few moments, "I can't reach her!"

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Elaine heard me use the word "aurora borealis" and became immediately convinced that such a beautiful word must mean something wonderful to eat. She insisted that I give her one. As I tried to explain what they are, Elaine grew impatient and went to the refrigerator to find them for herself. I clearly wasn't being cooperative.

Failing to find any aurora borealises in the refrigerator, Elaine stood in the middle of the kitchen looking thoughtful. After a moment, she brightened and declared, "I want apricots!' So, I gave her a bowl of dried apricots, and, as she accepted them, she delightedly exclaimed, "Aurora borealises!"

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The thing about burned brownies is: they have a strong, pungently chocolate smell; it's fun to excavate out the good, middle layer; and they're done twice as fast. So, basically, you can't lose.

Friday, April 9, 2010

I've been playing a lot of Plants Vs. Zombies lately, so I've been thinking a lot about brains. And how they get eaten. One of the ways that brains commonly get eaten is by the "Terrible Twos." See, there is a class of humanoid demon that is about three feet tall, can mimic human speech, and is not deterred by garden perennials. Worst of all, apparently, every child passes through this phase. Now, I'm a skeptic of so-called "Common Knowledge," so I didn't believe in the Terrible Twos, despite having heard about them. Not until last fall. But, then, the toddler ate my brains.

My theory is that every infant must pass through the "Uncanny Valley" -- and that's the Terrible Twos. The Uncanny Valley is an idea from computer animation. In short, there is a scale from cartoony, Disney-like depictions of human beings through the various levels of CGI, up to absolutely realistic images of humans. And, there is a patch on that scale where the depictions become too realistic, without being real enough. That's the Uncanny Valley, and anything that falls there is, really, downright creepy. Because it's eerie to look at something that's almost perfectly human, and, then, suddenly to see something that's off. Something that gives it away. You feel tricked, cheated, and creeped out.

That's what talking to Elaine was like between two and two-and-a-half. She'd babble along quite coherently, and when you'd start talking to her, she'd give completely reasonable responses. Then, suddenly, you'd need to really communicate an idea, and you'd realize she was just spewing random movie quotes. Being the full-time caretaker of a toddler is what having Eliza as a business partner would be like. Highly frustrating.

Fortunately, while zombies don't give your brains back and computer therapist programs don't burst into random sentience, toddlers do get older.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I have a second-hand garden. It came with my house, and I've been watching the spring flowers come up with a mix of anticipation and mild trepidation. Gardening has always been important to me, and I have strong opinions about my plants. So, for instance, I was excited to see so many daffodil leaves, but, I was somewhat disappointed when they bloomed and were almost all white. I mean... Yellow! That's what daffodils are about right? They're bright, bold trumpets and stars. Sure, a few white or orange daffodils add nice variety, but, in any given mix, a good fifty percent of the daffodils should be yellow. Needless to say, I'll be rectifying that situation before next year. (By adding more daffodils, of course. Not by taking any out.)

On the other hand, now that the daffodils have faded away, my garden is filled with a whole array of colorful tulips -- red, pink, yellow, and purple-striped! Now, if I'd been arranging this garden, I probably wouldn't have planted any tulips at all, because, honestly, I don't really like them. Tulips are kind of... pretentious. While being too simple to truly pull it off. And, yet, if I'd followed my instincts -- and planted tons of daffodils, rose bushes, and not much else -- my garden would be empty now.

So, on the whole, despite the sad lack of yellow daffodils, having a second-hand garden seems to be a pretty fantastic thing.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I've been rereading one of the very first chapter books I ever read, "The Cat Who Wished To Be A Man." I must have been six, and I know I checked it out from the public library. I remember being in (what I thought of as) the adult section. The shelves were taller there, and the books thicker. In retrospect, it must have been the YA section. And, the copy of "The Cat Who Wished To Be A Man" that I'm reading now is nothing like thick.

When I reached back through my fading memories and pulled out the title of that book I vaguely remembered with a cat begging his master, a magician, to turn him into a man... I had hoped that actually reading the book would pull the memories closer. I thought I might feel a sense of resonance with my six-year-old self while reading it.

Alas, while the overall story is mildly familiar, it doesn't actually feel like a book I've read before. Sometimes, revisiting a book, or a piece of music, or an actual place can take you back -- for a moment, you feel like you're the same person as when you first visited it. But, six-years-old is too far away. The memories I have of this book (although definitely authentic, as I've never talked about it before) don't feel substantially different from false memories I have of my mom's childhood, created by listening to her stories so many times.

I wonder where the tether broke... If I had the time, I might sample re-reading books from different periods of my life, and find out how far back that sense of resonance can stretch. Of course, the experiment would be complicated by trying to remember enough books from different times in my life that felt significant enough to warrant that kind of resonance... And, like I said, I don't really have the time.

Well, perhaps I'll experiment in the other direction: in another twenty years, I'll read "The Cat Who Wished To Be A Man" again, and find out if the tether stretches farther through adulthood.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

There is something magical about taking a square sandwich and turning it into four, smaller, triangular sandwiches.
One of the best parts of being a writer: being sent the link to a nearly finished anthology that will have one of my stories in it.

Actually, there's been a lot of good bits about being a writer this week. For one, I was asked to write an afterword for the story, "Rekindle the Sun," in this anthology. That was a first. I got to reread "Rekindle the Sun" with an eye towards what it meant to me, and then write a mini-essay about that. Doing so made me particularly curious about what kind of take all the other authors in Belong: Interstellar Immigration Stories had on the theme.

I can't wait to read their stories!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The times have changed.

I have a bunch of Duplo blocks from when I was a kid that I've kept in a box under the coffee table, waiting for Elaine to show interest in them. Mostly, they're standard rectangular bricks, but there are a half dozen or so "door" blocks. And those are the ones that Elaine extracted a few days ago. I didn't question her interest in them... They are more complex blocks than the simple rectangles.

Then, she handed one to me, saying "You want this computer?" For the first time I looked at the block with the eyes of a child who has been being entertained by computers since she was born, instead of the eyes of a twenty-seven-year-old whose first memories of computers are of boring black-screened CRTs, enigmatically stealing the attention of her father.

And, indeed, the door blocks do look like computers.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I have commenced a campaign to hook Elaine on Star Trek. The plan is to begin her on all the TNG episodes that focus on small children. For starters -- "Rascals." Her favorite parts were, of course, joining in when Ro and Guinan were trying to jump higher than each other and, also, saying "Ferengi" over and over again.

Next up -- "Rascals." That's how two-year-olds work.