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.