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Geek: Game of Champions is now on the iPhone! Whee! Apple surprised me by approving the game in two days, although they'd advised an average delay of two weeks. Very cool.

This was a rather straightforward port. I think touch works well with the original "click (tap) where you want to go" idiom that dates to the 1995 JavaScript version.

The game is free. The iPhone has a glut of great free games, it would be silly to try to charge for this.

Eleanor Grant created the music and sound effects. The better graphics (i.e. the bugs, wall tiles and floor tile) were updated by Kate McDonnell, way back in the day (but not quite as far back as the original 1995 version). The rest is my fault. I redesigned the Geek for this version, and I rather like the typography-based Geek, so I'm thinking about doing a game entirely with typography-driven graphics.

Geek is my second iPhone app. My first, Sync and Speak, is far more practical and does sell a copy every week or so (booyeah! papa needs a brand new... um... gumball?).

A slightly different Java-based web version of Geek is still available, so those without iPhones needn't cry too loudly or often.

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Eleanor reinvented MacPaint today.

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Eleanor made this. it's a Scratch project. (*)

Eleanor wrote the song with Mixcraft, it's made up of loops provided with the software (yes, we registered our copy). The animation started out as a bouncing-ball demo from the Scratch site, and she changed the costumes and tweaked the code... etc.

We live in an era where the remix is the primary form of creativity, and on some level that bugs me. But I need to get over it. Musically speaking, everybody borrowed from everybody even before the world went sample-crazy. Some of my favorite songs are primarily the work of DJs, not pick-up-a-guitar-and-play musicians. And when I was learning to program, I too started with other people's code and experimented with changes. My kid is learning to craft her own self-expression from the available materials, and that's awesome.

(*) Uses Java, takes a minute to load up. (Google and Sun, hurry up and put Java support into Mac Chrome please.)


May. 16th, 2009 10:00 am
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My daughter's PC is infected with "System Security," a fake antivirus program.

The only reliable cure for anything of this sort is to reinstall Windows.

Guess I know how I'm spending the next two hours.

Eleanor is very well educated about PC risks and will ask me before accepting any prompts to install plugins, etc. And she uses Firefox, not IE. But somehow something got through. See, mom? It happens to all of us.

I asked Eleanor if she has any files on her computer that she cares about. She doesn't. Everything she cares about also exists on the web. She's very much a web user, not a PC user. I suppose that's true for most of us now. I'm tempted to just install Ubuntu, if it weren't for the total suck factor of trying to play any of her games on it. Ditto for replacing it with a Mac, even if I had the dosh.
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Eleanor's first web site.

All HTML, CSS, images etc. by Eleanor, age 9 (for a few more weeks).

She did everything with notepad and The Gimp and uploaded the files with FileZilla. Obviously I taught her how, but I did not take over the keyboard. Nor did I override her color and font choices. (:

(Okay, I did convince her not to use pure-blue text for anything but a link. We have a family reputation to uphold.)

Eleanor has further plans for the site...

* * *

I understand the stages of child development and the development of logical faculties and all that shit, and I've always been a reasonably patient teacher. But OH MAN, is it a blast sharing this stuff with a kid who's intellectually ready for things like braces and brackets and opening and closing tags and CSS classes and... yeah, basically ready to blow the doors off the world, not to put too fine a point on it.
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Eleanor has discovered, which seems to have tons and tons of third-party content, including this dress-up game featuring Kiki of Miyazaki's Kiki's Delivery Service. I usually discover something in my eye during that movie. Something to do with the brave, grown-up daughter leaving home, y'know?

Two things occurred to me when I saw this game (well, just barely a game):

1. "That's adorable, considering she spends the whole movie wishing she were allowed to wear something other than her witch's dress."

2. "Why is Totoro hiding in her closet? AAAA HE JUST MOVED"
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The Girl Genius retelling of Cinderella is complete. A++.

I started setting aside Girl Genius comics for Eleanor when she was tiny. She is now a huge fan. I love it when a diabolical plan comes together.
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[ profile] solestria asks, "so what did you do last night?"

I picked up Eleanor from her after school activities a little early and brought her to the Rosin Box to purchase her first pair of jazz shoes. Eleanor already has ballet flats for her ballet class, but they are soft-soled, therefore not appropriate for her salsa class. According to the proprietor, the jazz shoes we purchased are Mike Andino's recommended practice shoe for salsa. and they are only $30. I could've purchased heels she'll outgrow in five minutes for $75, but I did not. I could have purchased an extremely handsome pair of English shoes for myself for $120, but I did not.

On the way east from there, we naturally passed Capogiro, and succumbed to the inevitable. O the pain. Half pumpkin, half dark chocolate for me. Eleanor had half chocolate, half vanilla. Total: $10.

We resumed our trek and soon passed Genji Sushi Express at 1720 Sansom Street. I'd already made dinner plans of my own with [ profile] nohx, but it was dinnertime for Eleanor, who promptly inhaled california and avocado rolls. I nibbled on edamame. $15.

We stumbled across an Obama volunteer office and picked up new buttons. Little 50-cent ones for both of us, and a $1 "Woman for Obama" pin for Eleanor.

There was no getting home without passing Borders! Restraint was shown: paperbacks only. Eleanor bought Flyte, the second book in the Septimus Heap series. I picked up Ilium, the first in a newer series by Dan Simmons, author of Hyperion. I recently reread part of the Hyperion series and was sad to finish Rise of Endymion. I... may have had something in my eye at the end. $12, all told. Eleanor also spent $6 of her own money on an Eleanor Roosevelt bookmark.

After dropping off Eleanor at her mother's I met [ profile] nohx for dinner at the Royal Tavern. It is good to have palz in one's own 'hood. I spent $10 (with tip) on the tempeh club sandwich, which is tasty. I avoided the temptation of more expensive fare... but mostly because the advertised pumpkin ale did not exist. Also, I am still a rueda newbie and I'm okay with that, but I don't like to screw up for reasons that are within my control. So drinking before class is not a great plan.

Around nine-thirty I hit rueda class at Estilo, which was even better than usual. The rueda actually flowed as it so rarely does when moves are being taught. $10 (which I forgot to pay... oops... I'll pay Saturday Mike!) I also met, or re-met, Julie of Salsa in the Suburbs, a great latin dance studio in Media, PA (suburban friends take note). This morning I sent her a login for the Salsadelphia back end; she's my guinea pig for Project Let Everybody List Their Own Stuff. I'm excited to see how it plays out.

Afterwards I felt pretty done in, but there's a new salsa night at Glam on 2nd street in Old City and I had to give it a shot, seeing as Joe Figueroa is involved. Also, I had the impression it was free.

So I went. And it was not free, it was $7. There were maybe twelve people in there, a good mix of men and women... all sitting down. That was a little odd, but I recognized some people so I made the decision to shell out a few bucks and head on in and scoop up a girl.

And boom: in this tiny little place, there were exactly enough men and women to go 'round; everyone could dance at least a little, some people could dance a whole lot better than me; everyone was incredibly nice. And we all rocked out until a little after midnight and decided to go home at pretty much the same time. Yes, separately.

A wonderful day. Also: a $96 day. This is why cash is never petty and it is why I don't indulge in "little, affordable" things every time I get the urge. It's also where all my damn money went in the nineties (well, the portion of it that isn't in my house). You gotta make choices. I don't regret indulging yesterday at all— I was overdue— but you can bet this is not how I roll on a daily basis.
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Eleanor is now the biggest Girl Genius fan ever.

I put aside the graphic novels for her a million years ago. And of course now you can read the entire thing from beginning to today online.
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My daughter is upstairs with her guitar plugged in, writing a song.
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So, Eleanor has been talking about math this morning. She misses school and is actually excited about getting back to math, to the point where she's asking questions about square roots.

This reminds me of my inquiry about programming languages for kids last year. We wound up with Scratch, which is great fun... but not very mathematical. And Eleanor is clearly ready for something more big-kiddish. "Real programming," but with the potential to bring about immediate and fun results, as you could in... well, BASIC, back in the day.

I'm starting to sympathize with David Brin here. I'm waxing nostalgic about the TRS-80 Color Computer BASIC books, which really did teach you from the ground up and were awesome for a kid starting to think independently about logic and math and translating those concepts into programs that do cool stuff.

So I'm back to the question: what's the modern equivalent? Last year I established criteria: limited use of fussy punctuation, math that looks like algebra the way you'll learn it in school, no mandatory OOP just to get started, "immediate mode" available, a simple IDE, simple graphics and sound commands (but not, at this stage, limited to turtles; Eleanor is starting to think in abstractions and that's great and I'd like to encourage her to deal with stuff like coordinates without fear).

When last we had this conversation, it was established that Ruby was a pretty good candidate, but there didn't seem to be a simple, friendly, no-fuss IDE out there to play with it in. Things may have improved with Hackety Hack, which I aim to check out soon.
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WHAT: outdoor screening of the rockumentary "GIRLS ROCK! Claim Your Voice," plus live performances by Girls Rock Philly 2008 bands, including Irontree
WHEN: this Thursday, 7pm
WHERE: Liberty Lands Park, 913 N. 3rd St. (3rd and Poplar), Northern Liberties, Philly
COST: free! Just show up. "Picnics, blankets and lawn chairs welcome."
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Eleanor is just now turning out the light and going to sleep after sneakily staying up to write down the song she wrote today.
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Mah weekend:

Friday afternoon: Mary returns mah axe after several months in limbo (aka her house) after the wrap of our 2008 48 hour film. Yes!

Friday night: dinner with [ profile] glaucon and [ profile] arguchik and about 900 friends. Would have liked to spend more time with both of them, but they were only in town for a night, so whaddaya gonna do? Eleanor was an excellent sport and didn't melt, far as I could tell anyway, although she was very much relieved when I asked if she was ready to go home.

We ate at Pagoda in Old City (they used to be, they sold that site to Piercing Pagoda... not unlike Brasils, which sold to a gambling site). I ordered the "baked tofu with coconut milk sauce," which wasn't quite what I expected... it was the core of an entree, without the entree... ordering this dish along with a separate vegetable dish would probably make sense. Not that this prevented me from devouring it entire, mind you.

Saturday: swimwear shopping for Eleanor at the South Philly Target (Mifflin Street just west of Columbus Boulevard). The local Target isn't set up to glorify pedestrian and transit access the way the Gallery Mall on Market Street is— yes, yes, you hate the Gallery Mall but it really is convenient and I refuse to be a snob about something that's actually designed to suit my life. Still, the Target is walkable for us South Philly types. Unfortunately they were out of coverups in Eleanor's size. But we wound up with some back to school clothes and a new backpack for little miss "Pink Is So Last Year."

Then, Eleanor's first salsa and ballet classes. She liked them... a lot.

The extreme awesomeness of sharing dance with my kid? Not lost on me. The extreme convenience of Eleanor taking classes in the same building while I brush up in Mike Andino's basic salsa class and stretch myself in his intermediate class? Not lost on me either. This was a very good day indeed.

3pm: dropped Eleanor off at her ma's. Headed home. Wound up working on a new song for the first time in months instead. Hey, my guitar just came home. Attempted to shoot some video, ran into the fact that my tripods are still in a similar limbo, somewhere. Dammit.

Along the way I discovered that the recording feature of my cheesy little MP3 player is very handy for making sure I don't completely forget how a song goes.

9:30pm: hit Brasils. Danced my ass off. I was a little concerned that everyone with skillz would be at either the Atrium or Shampoo, but nope. Mike's lesson drew a good crowd at the start of the evening, and there were quite a few good partners to spend the rest of the evening with.

12:45am: left Brasils. Came home. Watched tasteless, painfully funny Fur TV episode. Got to sleep way too late.

Sunday, 9:30am: breakfast at Benna's. This was my first Benna's outing in quite a while. I've been cutting back on non-dance-related personal expenses for financial reasons.

10am: George's performance class. Getting to dance with my actual partner for the actual performance for the entirety of class: A++++. Things are coming together nicely, we both definitely needed the time.

Noon: mambo class. A wonderful thing happened: nobody showed up. Actually, not nobody: Liz, Cheryl and myself. All three of us can dance, but we're not OMG nearly an instructor mega-experts.

So George asked us what we wanted to know. And proceeded to enlighten us. And now the mambo, and its similarity to dancing on one, makes sense to me in a way it didn't before. He taught us a wonderful magic trick for getting back "on two" when you catch yourself falling back into dancing "on one."

I wound up paying for the unlimited classes deal at Estilo this month. It's cost-effective if I continue to dance as much as I have been lately. And having already paid for it should be an additional motivation to do so.

Afternoon: dropped off daughter. Went shopping for the elusive multivitamin she'll actually take, and tea for myself. Ordered the former— Yummi Bears Vegetarian— which is not regularly stocked at Essene. Michele found it by sheer luck. Crossed the street to House of Tea in search of White Peony, aka China White. Discovered that it is no longer available in its high-quality form, and it's $20 an ounce in a lower-quality grade. Whoa. On the advice of counsel, purchased Silver Needle White instead.

Something I love about tea: the ritziest, most expensive loose tea in the world is still cheap. Yeah, I bought two ounces at $10 an ounce. So what? Those are ounces by weight. That's roughly 100 servings. I can swing 20 cents a day.

Went home. Got hit with the sleepy stick. Lost consciousness for a couple hours. ZzzZzzZzz.

Late afternoon: ongoing sleepiness. Watched more Fur TV. But also wrote cool scripts to manipulate photos for Mighty Delhi project. Imminent arrival of [ profile] nohx chased me off the couch to do housework.

Evening: dinner with mah pal [ profile] nohx at the Royal Tavern, in exchange for burly-man moving services (*) to be provided later. [ profile] nohx is moving in just two blocks away and was in the neighborhood to pick up her keys anyway. On the way to dinner, we determined that I might not be available early enough that day to provide said services. Oops.

We split a large bottle of excellent cider. I tried the portabello panini, "spinach, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, roasted peppers and smoked tofu spread on foccacia." It was awesome.

Afterwards we attempted to hook up my laptop to my TV and watch Futuristic Brunch and Fur TV on that, but wound up with the laptop on the couch owing to difficulties convincing Flash-plus-Firefox-plus-Ubuntu to do the full screen dance correctly on a second monitor. In conversation it was determined that she has somehow not seen Dr. Horrible, so we watched that too. And then I chased her out and went to bed. Yay, sleep! That's where I'm a viking.

(*) [ profile] tashadandelion can vouch for my burly-man moving skillz. Hulk have boxes! Where lady want boxes?
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Friday: infiltrated Brasils with agent [ profile] tashadandelion. We cleverly disguised ourselves as salseros. People found our disguises quite convincing. We pretended to have a very good time; I must admit I rather convinced myself. Unfortunately Tasha's secret spy heels proved somewhat problematic for dancing. I think the secret compartment containing the iocane powder was chafing her toe. So her evening at Brasils ended early. Mine, not so much.

Saturday: Amtrak to CT with Agent Eleanor. Forward-deployed bicycle to 11th and Market before departure. Briefly escaped train at Penn Station to score sushi.

Agent John (aka "my brother") and I failed to see Batman due to a misreading of the movie times in the newspaper... undoubtedly the work of Disgusto.

Upon our return, reviewed best security practices with agent Mom until half past midnight.

Sunday: departed solo, having given Agent Eleanor secret orders for the next week.

Boarded Amtrak, allegedly to Philadelphia. Executed covert op: detrained at NYC. Agent [ profile] noisefootprint was unable to break cover but recommended Koreatown for procurement of tasty spy nutrients. Carried out intelligence operation in Koreatown, discovered Hangawi, a gourmet vegetarian restaurant. Naturally I find nothing more unpleasant, but my deep cover persona requires me to pretend to be delighted by lovingly prepared vegan food. The things I do for my country!

Exceeded mission budgetary restrictions, disciplinary action to be considered later.

Swapped oversized American Girl pants (5000 secret agent dad points). I detest this hive of bourgeois liberalism, but it's an essential part of Agent Eleanor's deep cover.

Wandered around uptown, noted locations of Helmsley Building and Waldorf-Astoria, laughed appreciatively at Staples' new "Social Networking Cards" which they will sell bajillions of. Surfed metro to southern tip of Glamhattan to catch Agent [ profile] swingchickie's show. Took Agent [ profile] swingchickie by surprise— she clearly needs further intelligence training. Then again, her apparent all-consuming focus on rock 'n' roll may have been an aspect of her deep cover persona. Well done, well done.

Willie Mae Ladies' Rock Camp is a fundraiser for the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, which trains aspiring young secret agents rockstars. Agent [ profile] swingchickie posed, VERY convincingly, as the lead singer of The Hong Kong Kavaliers Cheap Thrills. Their hit single "Augie" is now burning up the charts. Interested female agents should definitely consider enrolling in the August session of ladies' rock camp which still has openings.

After acquiring incriminating evidence (aka photos) and executing a mop-up operation (aka finishing my 312 Wheat Ale), I proceeded in the direction of the 14th Street Pier, where my mission profile required me to once again impersonate a salsero. Along the way, encountered the world's most disgusting bathroom and the world's most delicious tofu, access to both procured for a mere $4.95. Evidence suggests that agents of Disgusto have regularly met clandestinely in this bathroom. Have left certain intelligence records in Philadelphia, will post name and address later for the benefit of the Company.

At 14th Street Pier, succeeded in passing myself off as a salsero thanks to the decision to haul along secret spy dance shoes with me all damn weekend. Lack of mambo experience proved to be a nonissue for all partners encountered. Those I chose to interrogate professed complete ignorance on the question of dancing "on one" versus mambo or "on two."

They may, of course, have been deep cover agents themselves, snickering at my imagined competence. Whatever, they were hot.

At 9:40pm, realized I was running late for the Secret Spy Chinatown bus. Commenced parkour run. Undeniable tactical brilliance yielded only frustration and an intriguing cologne of sweat, humidity and street grime as I discovered that other Agents had reached the 14th Street Downtown F/V platform before me. As evidenced by police tape running the length of the platform. WTF, counterintelligence? Why was this not included in my briefing?

Bounding back up through the station (at, it must be admitted, significantly reduced speed), discovered signs indicating closure of downtown F/V platform. Said signs oriented to prevent viewing by agents actually heading in that direction. Further evidence of Disgusto operations. There may be a mole in our operation.

As there was nothing else for it, I paid for commandeered a taxi. The fare to the bus station slightly exceeded my bus fare to Philadelphia. Granted, that's not saying much.

At the "Chinatown bus station" (we know better, of course), was shuttled from wrong bus to wrong bus. Finally located correct bus... along with far too many other people. There was no queue, and so the bus was filled on the basis of body weight and willingness to kill. Normally I would have no problem with this but I had my cover persona to consider. So I gritted my teeth, smiled like a sap and allowed various mothers and young children to board, then waited for the "extra" bus. Which turned out to be operated by an entirely different intelligence agency, requiring me to pay again. I didn't have to pay very much, of course, but still: it's time for a budget upgrade.

Let it be noted: don't even think about taking the last bus of the night home if Agent Eleanor is part of the mission manifest. Greyhound is a festering hive of Disgusto incompetence, but at least they queue up their customers.

Come to that, isn't it time I had a more relaxing cover persona? Someone who drinks beer and watches football, for cryin' out loud. Someone with more disposable income and a plausible cover story for riding Acela. This Boutell character is gonna be the death of me.

Thanks to extensive experience in all seven branches of the military (*), but more importantly to parenting experience, managed a super spy powernap on the bus. After, of course, configuring all relevant defensive countermeasures. And drinking carrot juice.

1am: recovered bicycle from forward deployment. Pedaled home. Repacked bag to travel on "business" (cough). Slept for for five and a half additional hours. Presented self in professional garb at 8am. Coworkers none the wiser as to my weekend activities.

(*) Don't pretend you don't know.
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I totally leveled up at mac-n-cheese preparation today.

Oh gack

Jun. 17th, 2008 03:24 pm
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Eleanor's Dad Camp movies so far this week: Pom Poko, Golden Compass, Return of the Jedi.

It's the "improved" Return of the Jedi. I didn't think that would matter since it's, uh, not a great film to begin with. But oh man, that new ending with everyone celebrating in the streets across the whole darn galaxy? I'd rather hear the Ewok song than hear
Jar Jar Binks (or his countryman) yelling "weesa FREE!"

Also, didn't they just screw themselves out of a plot for movies seven, eight and nine if everybody instantly accepts that the emperor is dead and openly celebrates without repercussions? Maybe in all those Star Wars novels I don't have time or inclination to read Jar Jar gets strung up by the authorities five minutes later. We can hope.

Something I'd forgotten about Jedi, though, is that it's not meant to be taken seriously. It's a campy collection of "once more for the memories" moments with a good cast and on that level it works.

Pom Poko is of course wacky enviroprop and pretty fun. Golden Compass is much more faithful to the book than I'd been lead to believe and by and large I enjoyed it, but yes, they blew it when they tried to remove all religious commentary and wound up just disappointing everybody instead of just pissing off Pullman's critics. They also choose a very flat place to end the movie, but you really can't end a Hollywood movie where that book ends. They didn't change it, they just stopped short of it, leaving open the possibility that the sequel would begin with some pretty scary stuff. Of course, it seems unlikely that The Subtle Knife will ever be filmed. And how the hell do you script a watered-down version of Amber Spyglass?
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Having a nice, very low-key one. I'm in the middle of a full week of Eleanor time just now, as her mother is at a law school-related conference this weekend. I brought Eleanor along to a salsa class this morning, where a classmate was the first to wish me a happy Father's Day. Oops... Eleanor was a little embarrassed, as she did know it was coming and forgot. But hey, she's nine. They do that when they're nine.

I miss my Dad, of course.

The best part of my Father's Day weekend was an unexpected speech by [ profile] ms_violet last night after [ profile] jeremym and Laura's "Jeremy wrote two more books, Laura is having a birthday and ohbytheway will you marry me Laura?" party. I'll give you a moment to digest that news, if you know them.

Anyway, late last night as we paused out front to cool off and gather ourselves, Lindsay told Eleanor all about the day my friends descended on this house to help unpack. And unpack they did. Hell, they alphabetized my spicerack. If you know what I mean. (*)

I had moved in a bit of a rush, so a lot of worthless crap came along in the move.

Lindsay sorted through the stuff in Eleanor's room and came across Eleanor's baby clothes. "Tom, I think you want to keep these?"

In response, I held them just so, as if Eleanor were still in them.

Then she came across Eleanor's baby sling. "Tom, what the heck is this?"

In response, I slung it around my shoulder just so, as if my daughter were twelve months old and in need of a mobile nap at Pike Place Market.

If you're going "awww" as you read this now, you can imagine how it seemed to Eleanor and I, particularly considering the late hour and the chocolate cake and the wine (**) and the emotional events of the party immediately preceding it.

(*) I mean, of course, that they alphabetized my spicerack. Hope that clears things up.
(**) Not for Eleanor, silly.
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Eleanor circled Sid Meier's Civilization IV in the school's so-called "book club" flyer. At least half software, those things. But in this case I was all about it. I agreed to pay for it as a birthday present.

She started playing yesterday. She's thoroughly hooked at this point. My bloodthirsty little empress, coming soon to a banana republic near you!

In completely unrelated news, our vegetables have emerged from the ground in edible form. Yeah, I'm a little scared too. We have radishes, which Eleanor loves, and arugula, which I love. Both are super-easy to grow, and radishes mature particularly quickly. We also have a rather impressive hill of zucchini, and the blooms are just beginning to emerge. Fingers crossed for actual zukes.

The edamame soybeans were pretty much devoured by bugs right away, just like the last time I tried to grow them. But a few may survive to maturity this year.
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Eleanor has entered the "Star Wars is awesome" stage of child development.

In her opinion, Leia and R2 are the principal badasses.

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