The People That Live in the Walls

Miles’ first close school friend moved away about six months ago. Though they seldom communicate, he’s constructed an elaborate long-distance relationship in his mind. Details change daily, but he consistently refers to “Master Patrick” and to being a member of “Master Patrick’s Army” (which is funny because Patrick is the most peaceful, charming little boy you ever could meet). This morning, Miles gave me a full run-down on how they keep in touch.

I communicate with Master Patrick by electric toilet paper. How does it work? Your voice gets stored in the walls. Patrick has to sit in a electric costume box at his house and the sound comes out of the box. The people in the walls help move the information from the electric toilet paper to Patrick’s costume box.

On the other end it goes into the tube which stores information and when I turn the light on, press inside of it and turn it off, and when I throw up they take out their swords and cut up the germs.

The people who live in the walls are basically … the grownups are from your desk up to here (points to height of an iphone). The children are from your desk up to here (points to the height of a glue stick).

At Christmas they get presents too, from Santa. They like rocks, wood chips, and leaves. There’s a hole in the chimney and some of the presents miss going down the chimney all the way. They go into the hole instead and that’s how the little people get them.

Wherever I go, they go. They jump inside the suitcases when we take a plane.

I’m moving all my Master Patrick stuff from my bedroom to my Clubhouse #1 which only kids can go inside.

Robot Party

Miles Robot Drawing Swallowing my heart at the thought that Miles is six years old now. Remembering the day I raced home from work on my bike in the middle of a webcast (2001) after hearing that Amy was in labor. Cliche’ but true, the years between then and now have slipped by in a flash.

Miles has been planning a robot party for months. Wanted robot music. Robot games. Robot pinata. Robot making station. Robot cake. Robot music. The only thing he “planned” but didn’t get was a robot ice sculpture (where he got the idea for an ice sculpture is anyone’s guess).

Spent a Saturday afternoon building a pinata. Amy worked out the ingredients for the robot-making station (I had wanted to add LEDs with attached hearing aid batteries for them to attach, but turned out too expensive to provide electronics for everyone). Had a great time creating a playlist of music that was either about, or sounded like it was created by or for robots. The three of us collaborated on the robot cake making and frosting – tried to reproduce his original drawing as well as we could, typos and all.

Old friends and classmates had a blast.

Flickr set

Music: Antony & The Johnsons :: Man Is The Baby

YOU Control the Action

Miles has been obsessed with the Legos web site lately. Sits and watches dozens of videos in a row, then watches the same ones again the next day. This just in from Amy:

Miles is flying his Star Wars ship around the house and saying things like, “With the Lego Star Wars Gunship, YOU control the action! Deploy the rockets, put the shields into position and let the air battle begin! All sets sold separately.”

Twae Kwon Do

Hah!  Came home from work today and was greeted by Miles in his new Tae Kwon Do ghee gi. Had his 2nd lesson today and so far he’s doing great. If you see him, be sure to ask him to show you some “rad moves!”

And remember, a bow is a sign of respect.

Spore Creature Creator

I’ve written a few times over the years about Spore, the new life-cycle simulation game by Will Wright (creator of The Sims), with spontaneous/generative music by Brian Eno. The game’s release is now just a couple of months away, and Maxis have released the Spore Creature Creator in advance, so users can get started creating a library of bizarre land, water, and air-borne beings. Luckily for us, the game’s many delays have given Miles just enough time to grow up enough to start appreciating basic concepts of evolution, and to become comfy with a mouse.

Just spent the bulk of a cold grey summer morning playing with the Creature Creator, and my jaw is on the floor. Spore manages so much complexity behind such a simple and intuitive interface. Performance is superb, movement is silky smooth, and the creative possibilities are endless. Working mostly by himself, Miles created HasEverything, Headfeathers, Aquaboogie, and Ezra. This is Ezra:

Yep – in test drive mode, you can build short movies and upload them directly into YouTube, without leaving the game. The resolution here isn’t great, but inside the game, both creatures and settings are stunningly beautiful.

If we’re having this much fun with just the creature editor, I can only imagine what the actual game is going to be like.

Robot Party Plans


Miles’ 6th birthday just three months away, today he informed us of his plans for a robot party:

  • Robot ice sculpture
  • Robot cake with frosting decoration of two cops chasing a robot
  • Robot head-making station with lots of craft supplies
  • Robot game (elaborate rules) in which aliens can “trump” both cops and robots
  • Robot piñata
  • Real robot (life-size)

No prob, Miles. We’re on it :)

Music: Sun Ra and His Arkestra :: Mack The Knife

Soapy Sponge

Amy and Miles are on vacation (I’m joining them in a few days), and I’ve been getting regular emails from Miles (he dictates them to Amy). His imagination blows my mind. Here’s a sample:

You know what? Last night when me and Jon were playing soccer, and we were playing a different kind of soccer. When someone, I mean, just someone puts on a disguise, so the person, I mean the other person, thinks you’re like a tree or something, so they try to kick the ball, but then the person jumps out of their disguise, and then, the person kicks the ball. I love you 100 times. HA! YEA! I hope you turn into a duck, so you can swim to Minnesota, and then turn back into a person, so you can be my dad again. Anyway, I hope you think of cuckoo songs and play funny games like smooshing a ball into your ear and then pulling it out the other side. And I hope you climb to the top of the state temple and eat the moon up, so me and my master Patrick can punch a hole in a boat, so the captain will sink, and they will blast out the other side of the state temple. That’s all.

I love you, and I hug you, and I smoosh you, and I beat you up in a really perfect way that might look like I’m cleaning you up with a soapy sponge. I love you. Goodbye, see you next time.

Music: Fujiya & Miyagi :: 04 Conductor 71

I Forgot Their Names

Structure Miles has been building “projects” at home for so long that I’ve become used to coming home and finding a creation like this one almost completely blocking the door. We step over assemblages of Lego, Playmobil, wooden blocks, trains, Star Wars figures, beanbag chairs, and stuffies like they’re part of the furniture. He’ll spend hours hunkered down, working out every detail (this one wasn’t as detailed as many of them are, though plastic animals later decided to have a party in the “house,” each animal getting a party favor and positioned according to its ability).

Goldberg His structures take over the living room, dining room, play area, back yard (the second one pictured was a Rube Goldberg device to get a plastic ball from the top of a ramp into the wire catch-frame at the bottom, apparently inspired by the giant mousetrap he saw at Maker Faire). We adjust our walking patterns to his architectural indulgences. Signs of OCD, but in a good way. As he gets older, his projects become less random, more structured, often with a story behind them (generally indiscernible until interviewed). But at the same time, the story lines are becoming a bit more realistic, less surreal. His description of this one was very matter-of-fact:

It’s a seven-story house and it has doors and windows like all houses do and it has a draw-bridge, a garage and a swimming pool in the middle. And 16 animals live in there. I forgot their names. And it has a ladder to get up to the drawbridge. And it’s not painted.

Someday we’ll put together a compendium of his annotated projects. Coffee table book?

Music: Muhal Richard Abrams :: Plus Equal Minus Balance

Brain in a Vat

Brainvat Miles (5.5) especially quiet as we were getting back in the car after an afternoon riding rides at the zoo. I asked him what he was thinking about. “Oh, nothing.” Then, two minutes later: “Daddy, did you ever feel like everything in the world is just your dreams and the world never really existed?”

A chill went up my spine. At first because it seemed so philosophical, and kind of precocious. But then I realized the chill was one of recognition – I remember having exactly the same thoughts at the same age, and actually becoming kind of obsessed with the idea that I couldn’t prove the reality of my own existence. Took 20 more years to realize that solipsism was actually a whole field of philosophy… the whole brain in a vat thing.

Another minute later: “Yeah, the world is basically a big ball of nothing.” Oh, great, now we’ve bridged into nihilism. Then, at break-neck speed, we snap back into kid territory: “I can’t make my pinky finger wrap around my other finger and I really want it to! … Can we get a dog?”


Music: David Byrne :: (The Gift Of Sound) Where The Sun Never Goes Down

Cal Day 2008

Miles and I had a great time yesterday at Cal Day, UC Berkeley’s campus-wide open house. Miles got to play with a 15 foot python, had cockroaches and stick bugs walking all over him, went fishing for lizards (I remember when my brother and I used to make lizard fishing poles out of car antennas and fishing line), watched his own voice dance on the screen of an oscilloscope, experimented with the Bernoulli principle (a ball floating on a column of air), experienced his first drinking bird, created a miniature earthquake, built an Indian boli, and almost got conked by the physics experiment below – I turned around to get my camera out of its bag and heard a clunk and some gasps – he had been pulling on the steel balls and the whole thing came off the table and wound up around his neck! Fast reactions – he caught the frame with his hands.


Afterwards, went to a musical performance of The Emperor Has No Clothes at the historic Julia Morgan Theater.

Flickr set