Miranda’s reading rather more comfortably now than she was in the past; at least partly because of this, she’s noticeably expanded the range of her desired sphere of competence.


  • We’re finally letting her play Animal Crossing, because she’s reading well enough that she won’t constantly be nagging us to help her play. And she really loves it. She started on the DS version, but the GameCube version has been drawing her curiosity on the shelf for some time, so she started playing that, too. She prefers the latter, and, watching her play it, I’m surprised how much I agree – some of the gameplay changes are for the better, some are for the worse, but it’s just nice seeing the game on a full screen instead of a tiny one. I’ve even gone back and played a few times myself, if for no other reason than to answer letters that she’s sent me.
  • She likes using computers, and wants to use both of them. So she’s quite frustrated that the mac is in for repairs (and taking longer than Apple had led me to believe) and that I’m still not letting her use the Linux box; my excuse for the latter is that I want to switch to Ubuntu first, and I have some things I need to do before doing that (rearrange filesystems, burn an Ubuntu DVD), and it would be easier to burn a DVD if my Mac were back. If it takes much longer, though, I’ll find another way: I do approve of Miranda using Linux, after all.
  • She mainly uses the computer to draw, and Tux Paint will work fine on the Linux box. She’s also discovered browser games; there, the story isn’t so good, because Flash doesn’t work in 64-bit environments, and I don’t feel like going through the rigamarole of getting a 32 bit browser running there. (Java should work, though.)
  • I let slip the fact that drawing tablets exist, which she’s quite curious about, but I’m going to wait a while before buying her one of those – she actually is fairly serious about her drawing, but I don’t think she’s come very close to exhausting the possibilities of analog methods, and I imagine a good tablet isn’t cheap enough to buy on a whim.
  • She’d also like to have more software available. Which I’d be happy to get for her; I’m just not sure quite what she’d like the most. I just don’t have good info as to quality kids’ software. (Not that I’ve looked very hard.)
  • She also is talking about how she wants to make her own games on the computer. (Her ultimate game is an improved version of Animal Crossing.) I’m happy to support that, and I’m not in a horribly bad position to help. Having said that, it’s not clear to me exactly what to start with – one simple question is, what language should she work in? Given the games she plays now, some obvious possibilities would be Java and Flash; I know nothing about the latter, though. Are its authoring tools free? I should do some research on that, and see if there are intro programming books that focus on game programming. (I would think that such a thing would exist somewhere – it must be one main reason why people become curious about programming.) Admittedly, I doubt that anything will come of this – I suspect that she’s much more interested in the fantasy of having written a game than the reality of programming, but who knows.
  • She’s also getting more consistent about wanting to learn how to play an instrument. Not the piano, which is too bad; sometimes flute is the main possibility, sometimes violin. Her desires haven’t settled down enough for us to do anything about them yet, but I imagine we will at some point over the next year.

Other excellent daughter moment: we told her she could pick a DVD for Christmas (we knew she was already getting several others from relatives). At first, she wanted The Little Mermaid, but after thinking it over for a little while, she decided that she’d rather have the first volume of the anime of Hikaru no Go. She was also quite pleased with the manga of The Cat Returns, and read it through rather quickly.

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