Dear Js,

It’s been 4 months since I last wrote. I really fell off the horse this time. And now I’m trying to climb back on. Forgive my sloppiness as I dump stuff on here to catch back up.

The last draft I had in March said… “Ladder desk done! I’m typing this letter at the new desk as we speak.

Got computer glasses. Blocks UV/blue light. I got two — one for work and one for home. They really help. My vision is no longer blurry when I look up from my computer. Before the glasses, I would have trouble focusing at faraway things when I look up from the screen. It felt like my eyes were locked at the focal distance of the screen.”

I’m trying to write again because I have something important to write about. I have sad news.

When we went back to visit mama’s grandmas, I thought it would be the last time we were going to see them. Instead, it was the last time we were to see your titi. Mama’s sister.

I just dropped mama at the airport to go back home to be with her family. Her sister passed away this morning. So for a week or so, it’s just us 3, plus grandma and grandpa. Thank goodness they happened to be here to visit.

It is the 4th of July weekend. It’s a long weekend because 4th of July is on Tuesday and I have Monday off. We went to Lawrence Hall of Science on Saturday and spent all day there. After we got home and had dinner, I passed out on the couch. I didn’t wake up until around midnight; had a shower and then worked on my coding game until about 6. Apparently Abu tried to call my phone and text me around 7am. That night I decided to leave my phone outside of my room. At around 8am mama rushed into the room and handed me her phone. She said her mom wanted to talk to me and that she was almost crying. Abu called my name. I said, “Yes?” Then I heard her break down into tears. Abu never cries in front of other people. She said titi’s M’s name. I repeated her name. I asked her what happened. She said she died. She asked me to tell mama because she couldn’t, and hung up. Mama grabbed me and said, “M what?! M what?! TELL ME M what!” I tried to think of what to say but I had nothing. Mama kept demanding. So I told her that she passed away.

I have never seen your mom more sad than she was that morning. She refused to believe it was true. I could not hug her because her body refused to believe it was true. I tried to calm her so she wouldn’t make you two kids worried but she screamed, “No!” and that she couldn’t help it. Something had stabbed her heart and she was bleeding onto the floor in my arms and I couldn’t do anything about it. She couldn’t believe how she had just bought her plane tickets last night, and how titi was excited to visit this Christmas. She also said, “she was finally getting so much better!”

My thoughts just jump from place to place, thinking about death.

Like my parents. Or what my parents are thinking about our relationship. At their age they must be thinking of death more often.

Or you kids. Mama told them the truth, so now they’re having to deal with how it’s sad that they’ll “never get to play with her again.”

And myself. Death makes things seem more real and surreal at the same time. On one hand you want to treasure the life you have. But on the other hand it makes me wonder if any of this is real. Because someone I know just died, and the Earth keeps spinning. If she didn’t have any friends or family, no one would have even blinked and everyone would have gone along their merry way. But because there are people who love her, to the people she matters to, time has stopped and the Earth has stopped spinning.

And then I wonder if maybe she died and she’s not out of the Matrix. She’s unplugged somewhere and her screen says “Game Over. Try again?”

Not too long ago someone we know died too. She was a business owner and we were doing stuff with her. Then all of a sudden we found out she died. And I had just met with her a few weeks before that. That made me think that death doesn’t just happen at the end of someone’s life. The people you know die all the time each time you say goodbye to them. Because there is no difference. When you say goodbye to someone and in that time before you hear from them again, it’s no difference whether they’re alive or dead to you. When they’re apart from you, they only exist in your thoughts. The only difference between death and goodbyes is that in death, you can never say hi again.

====

Kids are asleep. I got back just in time to put them to bed. They were already in their PJs and brushed their teeth.

J was still sad about you leaving, and he had more questions about dying. He said the worst part is when he thinks that he can’t play with her anymore. j heard that and repeated while almost sobbing, “The worst part is that we can’t play with her anymore.” I tried to explain to them that just because something had to end, doesn’t mean we should forget all the good times. Just like playing somewhere and having lots of fun and being sad that we have to go home. Just because we have to leave doesn’t mean we should let it make us forget about how much fun we had. So they started remembering the good times they had and they got emotional.

My mom said j cried after we left for the airport because she misses you. She said J tried to cheer her up while she curled up in bed and refused everything. But after talking with them and answering all their questions about death, they went to sleep just fine.

====

Subject: update

Hey, I’m sorry if I left the call a little abruptly. It’s been extremely hard since we’re still kind of hanging. The coroner’s office is still delayed. They might release her body tomorrow. They told us today that the kind of autopsy that they are doing will leave a kind of scar that will require a different dress, something with a high neckline which she never wore. We have to go out shopping tomorrow for a dress and doing that is just incredibly hard.

My mom has had several doctor appointments which I did not allow her to miss. Her neurologist wants to see her again in a few days but the surgeon says that her surgery can wait, which is at least a relief. He suggested August so it’s not clear if her travel plans will be affected.

I continue to clean out her things and some things I find break my heart in many different ways. While I find things that make me so sad for her I find thing which let me know how much she loved me and that’s a different kind of pain altogether.

Today her psychologist (the good one not the psychiatrist) made some time to see me since my mom was worried about me. She is fantastic, knew her so well and loved her so much.

We still need to deal with the flowers, I want to help my mom with a little memories book that the funeral home puts together, finish up with her house, try to catch her cat who returned today, clean my mom’s house and cook her as many meals as possible so that she can freeze them and it still feels like it is not enough.

My poor grandma is also so heartbroken. She keeps telling me how it was her turn because she’s the old one. I’ve never seen her like this. My dad is more unhinged every day but I might have finally talked him into going to see a psychologist to help with grieving.

I miss the kids, I miss you, I miss our home and it feels so selfish to feel that way. I’m not sure how is anyone ever supposed to get over pain like this. Anyway, I’m sorry to bug you with all this. It seems unfair to share it with anyone else here. At least I got to talk a little with he psych who even refuse to charge me for the appointment and gave mom her cell number for our family to contact her whenever we need help.

My love to your parents and I can’t even explain how grateful I am to them for being there to take care of you guys.

I love you, I sure don’t say it enough and from now that will sure change.

====

Subject: This hurts
She doesn’t look like herself. She’s so swollen. She was so beautiful it is so unfair. She feels so cold this is just so painful.

====

Subject: The day is done
And there’s a strange calmness in both mom and me. I hope we can rest today, we’re both so exhausted.
I hope you all had a great day. Let’s try to talk tomorrow?
Love you, the kids and mom and dad too
—-
hugs. If you want to talk just call me.
Today the kids spent their first all-day with grandma/grandpa. They did surprisingly well. When I came back they had all just woken up from a group nap together. All 4 of them. Tomorrow I will try to take the kids to BJJ. I’ll call you after we come back from BJJ (if we manage to go).
Love you, can’t wait to see you again.
—-
Luckily by the time you wrote I was fast asleep. Both mom and I slept well which was a welcomed change. We’re rushing to deal with all pending matters and running errands like crazy. Hopefully that way mom won’t have to do it with dad. If you don’t mind, we’ll have to either fill the vape or open a bottle to talk about that before it makes me go nuclear volcano.
That’s great that they all napped together. Your parents have been amazing through all of this and I’m so grateful. I’m not even sure how to thank them properly for everything they’ve done.
Please do let me know if you make out to BJJ and how it went. If they want and have energy it’d be great to see them tonight.
Have you thought about arriving as a surprise? I’ll go along with whatever you think is best.
Thanks babe, you’ve been so awesome and have kept me calm and centered through it all. Can’t wait to be home.
—-

====

Mom wants me to start planning now. The best flight I see is for Friday from San Juan to San Jose. One stop of just under one hour and just 11 hours total. It is $300 and I complain that it is too much but mom says she’d pay for it. There’s another one on Thusday for the same price, about the same stats but to SFO. Both arrive late at night. What do you think? Sorry to ask for help with trivialities but my mind is just so foggy.

Please give the kids and your parents a huge hug and kiss and tell them that I miss them so much.

I miss and love you so much. Please send me your strength tomorrow. I wrote something for tomorrow and quoted the little prince:

“This is my secret and it could not be more simple: only with the heart can we see well; what’s essential is invisible to the eye”

“What makes your rose important is the time that you’ve devoted to her”

I so wanted to watch that movie with her…
—-
San Francisco is fine. There is no traffic at night and it is fast. I can pick you up on Thursday night. $300 is fine.

That is what I find funny about us humans. We experience so much in our lifetimes, but it’s what we don’t have that always tries to distract us from the treasures that we have and had. And we were lucky to have her in our lives. Some people might say she went too soon. But I like to think that it was neither long nor short. It was just as long as it should be, like a sunrise or a rainbow. Because who are we to say what’s long or short when we are all temporary guests in this universe.

I still find it hard to believe that it happened. Mama said that when she was there she thought, “M, where are you?” Where do we go when we die? She imagined that she was around, somewhere. She would say, “M, I’m coming into your house now. Don’t worry, I’m just trying to protect your privacy.”
====

Life is fragile. Abu is hurting because of all the things she wanted to buy for her, or do with her. They talked about going to Spain together. So Abu said don’t put things off. There might not be a next time.

Biking with grandpa
I’ve been taking grandpa (yehyeh) out with me for my bike rides. I take him to parks. When we get there, he stretches while I mess around. We’ve gone 3 times now. He likes going over the pedestrian overpass to watch the cars zoom underneath “like rockets”. Today, on our way back, he said, “Want to race?” Right before turning up our street. He was trying hard. I went easy, just to keep our front tires side by side. Then he sprinted even faster toward the end! I pedaled faster but he kept pulling away. When we got back to the driveway, he said, “This old man still got some spunk, right?”

We have a routine now. We go every other night. He wanted me to show him where I usually go. I showed him. Every now and then he asks me to show him a new place. So he’s helped me discover a few new places that I’ll add to my rotation from now on. His favorite is when we cross the pedestrian bridge by the hospital, over the freeway. He stops, gets off his bike and leans it against the fence. Then he stares at the cars. He calls them Shooting Cars. We stop for about 10 minutes. I am not sure what he looks at. But he makes comments like, “That car’s headlight is so bright” or “There are more cars going this way. What day is it?” or “How fast are they going?” He starts at one side of the bridge and then moves on to the other. Then he puts his helmet back on and we continue to the park.

By now, I’ve showed him all the nearby parks. After you kids go to sleep, I peek into his room and give him the “let’s go” head signal. Then we get our bikes out and I ask him “where are we going today?” He knows them well enough to lead most of the way now.

He helped me record my bunny hop progress:

That was the first time I tried hopping that high. I didn’t think I could do it yet but with my dad’s encouragement I felt like trying it. I cleared it 2 days earlier, but this was the first time I caught it on video.
(For reference, this was me on Mar 20, 4 months ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEDGHszUQCo)

That night, as he was remembering the excitement of me overcoming my hurdle, he stopped to think and then asked me, “Maybe you can teach me how to jump too.” I said OK. But I said maybe not quite jumpng yet. But I said I will show him to go up a curb first. So before our next ride, I thought and I thought about what’s the best way to teach him so that he doesn’t hurt his back like I did. What I decided was to start by teaching him how to roll up a low curb, but with unweighting. Roll toward a curb, lean back to unweight the front wheel, bump front wheel up, lean forward to unweight the back wheel, bump back wheel up. He got it in a few tries! He felt proud of himself and his confidence grew little by little. Actually it grew so much that he tried some big curbs that were a little too high and slammed into them. He didn’t go fast enough to go over the bars, but fast enough to get jolted. I said that was Step 1. When he’s ready, I’ll show him Step 2 — the pedal up — to get over higher obstacles.

Older bike story
midlife crisis bike
easy to justify anything if you remind yourself you’re gonna die
just gotta be careful not to paralyze myself fucking around with it

So I was riding my bike at the park earlier tonight, as I usually do. I was practicing something I’ve been practicing for months now — the “manual”. That’s where you lift the front wheel in the air by hanging off the back of the bike.

Then these 2 girls stroll into the park. They are teenagers, not sure how old. BTW this is at 9pm at night. And usually when I’m here no one else is here. They start shouting at me ooo look at that guy on the bike. I ignore them and keep practicing. Then each time I lift the front wheel in the air they go, “WOOOO!” God damnit, I just want to practice in peace. I make it to the end of the park so I have to turn around. This means I have to pass them again. They shout, “WOOO did you come back to show us more of your tricks!!!!” Fuck, I purposely didn’t do anything in front of them. Then after I passed them I go back to practicing and I can hear from the distance “WOOO!!!” each time I pick up my front wheel.

So I decide fuck this. They can have the park, I’m going elsewhere. So I go to my #2 spot, practice there for about 30 minutes, then it’s time to go home. I know I have to go through the park again and I’m dreading that they are still there. But before I get there, as I’m crossing a street, I hear, “WOOO! BIKE GUY!” I ignore them. They shout again, “HEY BIKE GUY!” I give a friendly wave. They shout, “Hey BIKE GUY! COME BACK!” Then I hear footsteps running. I am thinking hell no… NO THANKS! And I pedal away as fast as I can, hop over 3 curbs, make a sharp right turn, hop over another curb, bomb down the hill, slide left at the bottom and jump back through the park and head home.

WTF man. I know on my bike with a t-shirt and shorts and skate helmet they might think I’m 20 instead of 36. But if they are not 18 and I just look at them I might end up on the sex offenders registry.

Bike crashes
went biking again
It was cold but I layered up. It was the week with no rain after relentless rain (and even hail). I just had to.
It felt really good. I had collected more flexibility in my hips and legs so manuals were better. Jumps higher.
I was determined to get good at endos and manuals. And practice figure of eights. I fell doing figure eights. Front tire dug too deep, jammed my arm into my shoulder and I tumbled. No problem, breakfall instincts still worked. Head never touched the floor, rolled to my back to dissipate force. I was more worried about my phone! Phew it didn’t crack.

I fixed one thing before going out tonight — my brake levers. I found out that they were too far when I was trying to manual. I couldn’t cover the back brake when my front wheel was up. So I shifted it slightly forward and it made a huge difference! I felt more comfortable lifting my front wheel higher knowing that I could jab the brake to bring it back down instantly. I think that’s the way to calibrate the brake lever position. Just high enough such that you can feather it while you manual.

After practicing manuals I made a new breakthrough. I slowly discovered that when it felt right, it felt like there was no slack in my arms. Before, I would jerk back on my slack arms, then the front wheel would jerk up when my arms locked straight. But because of the slack, there was no force on the front wheel until my arms were fully extended.

But I think I felt the right way of doing it. When I slid back behind my seat first, it picked up all the slack in my arms. So that when I exploded back, it felt like I had direct connection with the front wheel. Each bit of force I applied leaning back felt like a connected lever to the front wheel! It felt great. Felt like one tight unit.

Which makes me think maybe that’s why new bikes have a long top tube. Before I thought the long tube would make it farther to get behind the seat. But now I think it’s perfect because it takes away all the slack from your arms. So direct lever!

biking is a lot about muscle memory, but mostly confidence. I crashed the other day, and that knocked off enough of my confidence that I have trouble doing a bunny hop again. Even my progress manuals have slid backwards. Can’t commit enough, can’t lean back off the bike far enough…
I crashed when I took a new route back and crossed from one sidewalk to another (on the same side of the street). There was an island/divider in between, at the entrance to some townhouses. I saw it from over 20 meters out, but somehow in my head I thought it was a ramp. Even as I was approaching I imagine a ramp, and I prepared to pump into it like a ramp. Only when I was 3 feet away, I noticed it was not a ramp. It was a curb. Not even a high one. One that I could have easily cleared with a half-effort hop. But I saw it too late. I tried to pump to start a hop, but it was too late. My front wheel drove into the curb and I was over the bars. My left palm touched the ground and I started rolling. Next thing I knew, I was on my back, and my bike cartwheeled over me. I picked myself up, put the dropped chain back on and limped home.
Later I noticed that the front of my left shoulder was scratched and bruised. It was in a weird place that I couldn’t have hit while falling (since I ended up on my back.) So I think it was from my bike tomahawking me from behind.
I’m slowly trying to rebuild my confidence again. Tomorrow I think I’m going to move my old green Chester pedals to the new bike. The studs are longer, and I like the green against the dark blue better, than the boring metal grey. Even though the green one is nylon and the grey one is metal.

Mama’s fish
3 fish tanks. mama got the third from selling her plants to a rich guy with a fish hobby who was moving. He just gave her a tank, along with a bunch of other things.

Happy 6th birthday J
Blake came to say happy birthday and Logan ran and hugged him from the back and said happy birthday J!

birthday brave
scared of closet dark
turned on all the lights
monster on bed
two monsters spin o and short with green teeth
okay to be afraid
afraid because smart
smarter you are the more afraid you are
brave doesn’t mean you’re not afraid
humans are more afraid than animals
grown ups more afraid than children
mortgage Kimi flight food
so you better practice being brave because as you get older you’ll have more things to fear

didn’t want to invite a girl for your birthday party
after MLK day she made fun of you for your brown skin

Happy 4th birthday j

J visited Bing on j’s birthday.
most things were the same, but you were excited about how easy certain things have become. “This is so easy now!” “I have learned to pump my legs”

nice to see j in her element, happy, confident

mama did puffy paint in class

I took off after a while to do some work.

then came back to sing the song. You made a crown. And sang the sun and the earth song. A friend was your sun and you were the earth. You went around 4 times and each time you went around you talked about what you did at that age
1: play wtih mom and dad
2: play with mom dad and brother
3: play with mom dad, brother and dog
4. same but tag the dog

for dinner you wanted to make our own pizza. 1 extra cheese, 1 pepperoni. Then mama baked cake and you opened your presents. A straw building set and my little ponies.

New project: coding game

Apr 24
Last weekend, I fixed a roof leak coming from the chimney flashing. The kids had fun climbing onto the roof. Yesterday, I patched a flat on my bike tire (courtesy of the evil goathead thorns).

Since a few weeks back, I have started building an online robot game. For a while, I’ve been trying to find a good way to teach beginners how to code online. I didn’t like the usual way of teaching with “hello world” dummy exercises or lectures or abstract problems. I prefer goal/challenge-oriented learning.

So I have toyed with using microcontrollers as a teaching device, but there is a barrier to that because you need to get the parts and you need some electronics knowledge needed to hook things up. Plus not everyone has a garage door to open/close 🙂 So I had trouble thinking of a microcontroller project with wide appeal.

Anyway while I was in Puerto Rico a few weeks back, I downloaded a bunch of games for my kids and for me to check out. I found a game called Gladiabots that uses a graphical programming interface (like Scratch). You write a program for your robot and submit it to fight against other human players.

That rekindled my “teach coding” ideas and I thought this could be a great game to teach programming with. But I didn’t like the graphical programming aspect of Gladiabots. I wanted to teach real programming techniques with a popular language. So now I’m trying to make a web-based game where players can submit their own Javascript “AI”, to compete with other players.

Progress has been slow but steady. I now have a way to execute each player’s code in separate sandboxes. I have a way for player code to call game functions like “moveTo(…)” or “attack(…)”. And I have a crude “GUI” to visualize the game board. I just got bullets to animate on the board a few days back. Had to dust off my trigonometry to get them to fly the right way 🙂

If I get the game in better shape I’d like to give you a proper demo. Especially since you have lots of experience with real robots, robot competitions and young engineers.

Thanks for the info about Blue Stamp Engineering.

Progress update for webbots (I am still trying to find a good name — codebots? webbots? …?):

After I showed my son the state of the game that you saw in the last video, he asked, “How come the bullets fly through everything and don’t stop?” I said it’s because I haven’t told the computer what to do about that yet. So then I explained to him about collision detection, and how calculating a line-rectangle intersection is the same as 4 line-line intersections. He’s 6 so I don’t know if it was interesting to him, but he said, “Cool!” and went off to read one of his books.

I’m still not sure about having the “bullets” concept in the game. Or about how the nature of the game is adversarial and destructive (unlike a game like basketball). But so far it seems to me like the easiest kind of game to code for, and it has clear and simple goals.

Anyway, the game can now detect projectile collisions with enemy objects. I also added “health” and “shield” bars (red and gray, respectively) to visualize damage taken from projectiles. I showed this updated version to my kids and they were visibly more engaged. It seems like having a resource like health/hitpoints increases the stakes, which increases tension and drama.

This time he asked, “Why is orange green?” I said, “I don’t know what you mean. Orange is orange and green is green.” After a minute of a “3 stooges” conversation I figured out what he was asking. I explained that I changed the colors of the player units because I was experimenting with the colors. Then he asked what happens if a unit shoots a teammate and I said nothing happens in this game; I’m still deciding what to do about that.

Next, I plan on implementing the “attack” function. At present the attacks are simulated by some test code. Once I have the “attack” function made, I will launch the attacks from the players’ code, as it would in a real game. I also need to apply some constraints to the attacks so players need to apply some strategy to attacking, instead of just calling “attack” all the time.

after talking about programs in codebot
“If I make a program I would make my robots shoot the closest one”
“and I would make sure they move very fast away from the shots”
if you make a program can you make it so the other person cannot see your program?
because that would be cheating
Me: I’m still trying to decide what to do about that. Because if you race with someone on your feet, you can see exactly how the other person is running.
J: But if the other person can see your program he can copy what you did.
But if you can see the other person’s program you can learn from what they did and make yours better.

Me: what do you think I should call the game
j: jmonster and little people
Me: what about you J
J: little people shooting
j: that’s good too I choose that too

J – giving feedback on my 3D dragon models: “Those look more like ears than horns…” I said yeah those are octahedrons… to make it look more like a horn I really need to pieces. A stem and the spiky tip.
You have also been drawing me more and more concept art for models I should put in the game. I have to explain to you that it take much more time for me to draw the 3d model than it is for you to draw it on paper.

grandma grandpa here
you really wanted me to show them DragonScript Arena game
both of you bugged me and bugged me and made me show them to you

“Dad have you done anything new with your game?”

At first I was annoyed with the constant asking. I was so stupid.
I kept telling you I hadn’t add anything newto the game part, and I thought that was what you were interested in
graphics and gameplay
but you kept asking so one day I just pulled up my commit logs from yesterday
and explains all the misc changes
I kept explaining and you kept listening
that I realized you were interested
in how everything worked

then I shows you the evolution and the very first video I records
2d squares
you laughed and screams when you remembered
you said you thought it was so cool then but it’s so much cooler now
made me beam

I’ve cleaned it up and prepped it for my first round of beta testers. I wrote to my e-penpal J and mama’s fishie friend D. Both seemed interested to help me check out the game. I’m taking a short break while I wait for them to try it.

Work update
My demo ran at the senior leader meeting

Is there free will?
The following things set the stage for this thought: back to the future, 4 dimensions and above, neural networks as model of brain, pseudo-random number generators (same seed = same random number), reality is a simulation.

I don’t think there is free will. Every agent in the universe responds to stimulus. Each agent solves the problem. A locally optimal solution is produced, which triggers an action (or inaction). If every agent behaves deterministically, there is no free will.

Father’s day
Father’s day at home with me and my dad (grandpa). It was a very hot day (over 100F).

In the morning you J and j went out with grandma and mama to shop for stuff. Grandpa stayed with me to work on a piano bench. We went to home depot the day before to get the wood. I measured it yesterday evening. Today was time to make the cuts with the miter saw our nice neighbor let us borrow.
We were going to go with a simple design at first. But then we decided to get creative. It was nice to see my dad using his brain, solving problems and thinking about design. In the end we decided to concave the sides of the bench. It ended up looking interesting and everyone else voted that they liked that best.

Later in the evening, we all went into the pool. The temperature was perfect. Everyone went into the water today. Even kimi. J today you kept working on your swimming. Yesterday you used a stack of 2 foam boards. No puddle jumper floaties.

Today you kept using 2 boards. Just swimming around the pool with no floaties and just the boards on your chest. Then you grabbed your plane launcher and tried to do something funny with it. Something started slipping and you tried to grab it. The foam boards slipped out from under you and shot out to the side. You looked at me with fear. But you were kicking and your head was above the water. I hesitated. But then I jumped in toward you because I didn’t know how long you could stay afloat.

When I reached you, your head was still above the water. Your hair was dry. I brought you back to the steps and your hands were shaking. You tried to think about what happened. Everyone was clapping and you decided to feel proud at yourself. You were surprised you swam. You tossed the float aside and you jumped back off the steps to try to swim. You complained that you kept sinking. You couldn’t reproduce your water-treading because you feared for your life then but now you’re just practicing.

Grandpa passed one foam board back to you but you tossed it away. You really wanted to swim. Eventually I convinced you to use one foam board instead of two. You swam everywhere. You didn’t want to stop. I didn’t know how you were breathing because you didn’t stop laughing and giggling. You even chased grandpa down, collected water in your mouth and squirted it at him. Your nose was barely above the water but you didn’t want to stop. After 20 minutes your head was sinking a little lower because you were losing steam. I asked you to take a break at the steps but you refused. You kept kicking around the pool to mom, dad, me and grandma with nothing but one foam board, even hovering dangerously over the deep end. It was tense and I watched you closely. But you had fun and you didn’t want to stop.

Finally you jumped out of the pool and said you were hungry and went inside.

Pot delivery
lack of fighting because
tired daily
fighting and not cooperating

pot delivery
two minute online video interview
while I was fixing the leaking chimney
you guys wanted to come up
so I helped
rough tongue
three hits
high tingly
vegg ed out watching miyazaki
not addictive for me
rolled my first joint from YouTube
first one was a failure
tried again with better stem
mama kept laughing at my face
I didn’t feel anythingwrong with my face

weed delivery
to house
rolled a joint got high together
legally
living room

Monsters in the room
He was scared of the monsters in the room so he took extra long getting dressed.

So we ended up talking about being scared and being brave. I said that you feel scared because you are smart. Creatures that are smarter usually feel afraid of more things, because they know more things. I said for example Kimi has is not able to know that we’re going to take her to Puerto Rico on a plane in a few days, and there’s no way we can tell her. All she knows is today and right now she was sleeping on the bed.

Anyway so I tried to explain that you are scared because you are smart, and the older you get, the more things you will be scared of. He said, “Really????” I said yes grown ups are afraid of many more things than you are. “Like what?” Like not being able to pay for the house, or running out of gas, or figuring out what car to use when we get to Puerto Rico, or that it’s getting late and there might be something at work that I’m supposed to be on time for… “OK OK I will hurry up and get dressed.”

Then I tried to explain that being brave doesn’t mean you stop being scared. It means you figure out how to do something even though you are scared. And I said you have to try hard and practice being brave when you’re young, because when you get older you’ll have many more things you’ll be scared of.

Then later I think I found out one of the things he might be scared of. For our walk he asked what stories can you tell and I said Godzilla and he shouted “NO! Any other ones?” I asked him why and he said it made him scared. I was surprised because he didn’t look scared when I dropped him off. He said it made him scared only at night. And I said okay we don’t have to do Godzilla but I explained that I thought he might like Godzilla because it’s kind of like a dinosaur, and the story is imagining what would happen if dinosaurs didn’t go extinct. But instead they evolved to survive deep in the ocean. And I said I thought you like dinosaurs and Godzilla is like T-Rex or Spino. Then he said okay I guess we can do Godzilla story. But I said it’s okay, how about Batman. He said, “BATMAN!” So we continued the Batman story.

Night time storytime
taken over bedtime from mama. back to the future stories

use stories as a way to get you kids to go to sleep early
I say if you take too long I’ll fall asleep and you won’t get your stories
J you get it and you try to get things done so you get your stories
j does not
today I fell asleep in the living room
J I heard you come to me after getting all your nightly stuff done
“Daddy? Daddy… wake up…”
I could hear your voice and I was proud of you for doing all your things and trying to get your sister to do them too. I wanted to wake up but I was already asleep. I could hear the sadness in your voice. Then you said, “j, I guess let’s go to sleep.”
Then I felt sad imagining that’s how it could be if I died one day. You trying to wake me but I won’t wake up.
I just woke up and it’s past midnight. I went to read the ending of Back to the Future 1 so that I could tell it to you tomorrow morning. I feel like I owe it to you for your effort last night.

Another parent moment
today mama said she was done because she was tired of asking you to do the things you have to do each night
surprisingly you two helped each other
J turned on hot water for j, just the right temperature
waited outside for you to finish, handed you your towel
then went in, tricked j into waiting outside
j handed you the towel when you were done
then both of you got dressed, brushed your teeth
took your clothes to the laundry basket

ant man
you asked me for a bedtime story and I said I’m going to shower. If I come back and you’re ready for bed I’ll help you.
J: “Wait! we forgot to take our towels back to the bathroom”
I came back and you tucked yourself in under the covers and made space for me in the middle.

mama and I were confused about what happened that night.

New developments
3rd stripe BJJ
beaming with pride
trying to hide it
mama said J it’s okay to feel proud about yourself
then you really let it go and smile grew wide
mama said it’s the first time she really see you that proud at yourself

I stopped drinking caffeinated tea. Because I noticed over the Christmas break that I was passing out randomly on the couch at 3-4pm, even when I slept in and woke up late.

“Light Saber Rolls”: tortilla, sour cream, avocado, ketchup, cheese, ham
We gave mama a break this saturday and you asked for it so I taught you two to make it. You made 3 rounds of it you liked it so much. J you split 1 tortilla in half for you and j.

J: Piano – “I’m going to try something harder today”
just decided to play some piano. Started with Star Wars theme song, moved onto Imperial March. Talked about sharps, flats, naturals. All the notes on the same stick are played together. You’re starting to string notes together “I’m getting ready to play all of them together” Line successive notes up with right and left hands.
Introduced thumb to play faraway chords – index/middle fingers only stretch so far.
Played a tonic chord with 2 notes — in imperial march – you paused because it surprised you. But I can tell that you liked it. “I didn’t have to look to find this note.” You’re starting to remember after all your key-hunting.

I talked to you about skin color today.
About dark skin and light skin
And genetics and how humans all started with dark skin.
Then humans separated and some continents had light skin.
But then people invented ships and crossed countries and now genes are mixing again.
And that dark skin is the dominant gene.
Just like right handedness and dark hair and dark eyes.
And by the way our President had mixed parents, and he got dark skin.
And also by the way, the native Americans had dark skin. All the Americans with light skin came from a different country.
And by the way abuelo has fair skin.

imaginary friends drawings
if you can perceive the details then you can improve the details

at night, after told you Jurassic Park story and tucked you in. You popped up in the living room, “Mom, why is it sometimes when a boy is with a girl a boy feels like showing off?” “Male animals do it too when they’re mating.” “Mama, I think sometimes I do that too.”

j: ukulele. I pasted the chords at the top of the body so we can learn the ukulele chords. I put it in your lap and asked you which you wanted to play. You would point and I would press and you would strum. “How come there are two Bs?” I said one has a little m which means it’s a minor chord. No m means it’s a major chord. Major chords are happy and minor chords are sad. “Uh… I don’t want the minor chords because I am happy.” Then I played A minor and said See that is a minor chord. You said, “That sounds happy!”

j: flashing butt at BJJ. Pants too short, at one point you bent over and it popped down, pulled your underwear down with it. Flashed everyone.

J graduated. You’re a first grader now

j you’re the sharpest kid at ballet. You march to the beat of your own drum. Other kids go one way but you don’t worry about following. You are listening to the music and experimenting.

j, before I leave for work you pull me down to your height and stick your tongue out the side of your mouth and make sure my top shirt button is done.

Biggest tax return this year, because of our high property taxes!

First ride around bmx pump track.

My poor baby girl. You’re growing so fast that your knees hurt tonight. We cuddled and after you started to calm down you were laughing. “I think it was my blanket making my knees hurt. Funny blanket! It does things like that some times!”. How I love you j, always keep finding laughter in all situations, especially the hard ones. I love you and I’ll always be there when things are fun or when they hurt, just like tonight.
Sweet dreams my love! May the rest of this growth spurt be a little less painful than it is tonight.
Love always,
Mama

Swimming no floats
first dog paddle
then grandpa taught ‘torpedo’
Now you can swim underwater and lift your head up when you need to breathe.

j really likes pedal bike now. Took you riding to Union one day. Then stayed to watch kids practice baseball. From that day on you kept saying, “I want to go ride around the house.” You mean around the house but outside. 3 more rides later, you were in the garage picking which bike to ride. First you picked your red balance bike. Then you put it aside and said “No, I want to ride my pedal bike.”
You giggle when you can ride fast enough away from me that I have to start running.

Pedal bike j. You can ride a pedal bike now!

Rainbow guppy survives big tank. Feeding it vinegar eels while mama is away. Nickname is “squirt”. I did not kill it before mama came back. It keeps growing. On day its breeder box tipped over and it was released into the big blue. It kept swimming around happily so mama just let it be.

Birthday party in June

Made the piano bench finally with grandpa.

I cracked a molar on my right side. It split down the middle so endodontist said root canal is not an option. Only exraction. But problem is what to do after. Implant was recommended but mfk it was excessively expensive. So I will probably just go with the old-fashioned bridge technique and deal with it.

We visited the park by our old house for 4th of July fireworks. We drove by the house. Your memories have already begun to fade. I asked you what you remembered of that park near our house (that we went to almost every day). And you said you really liked climbing that concrete structure that looked like a sign. I said it WAS a sign. Of all the things in the park — the play structure, the loop path where you learned to ride your bike, the trees you climbed — you remembered the sign. It’s always funny what unexpected things stand out in your kids’ lives.

grandpa takes over bedtime story
he asks
is today good old days or reading day

then he plays this little piggy toes go to sleep
and take batteries out of back
you giggle and refuse to sleep

I can sort of manual my bike now. I mean I know how it works now, I just have to keep practicing to be able to carry it for longer. This was me 4 months ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXYoOiXcXjc . I haven’t recorded one for my latest progress (July) but I will next time.

Tahoe
We went to tahoe, sledding, snowman, snowball fight, etc. Stayed at friend’s vacation house.

Tahoe snow dreams
ice sled
snow cat
adventure mountain
chains slow
kids pain in the ass to give them fun
too tired at night to enjoy anything we want grown-up time
realize that you have to choose to not let kids win
demand to not let kids ruin your night
I shall have my beer

Puerto Rico visit
10 days in Puerto Rico, visit mama’s grandma.
Could be the last time.
Kimi’s coming because we couldn’t find anyone to deal with her.

My skin lungs muscles hair love this warm weather even after living in usa more than Malaysia.

Mama: we just saw the sun slip behind the horizon.
j, I missed it because you were giving me a kiss. Worth it.

mama carried j out from ocean waves playing
j looked out at ocean
I’m looking at it because I want to remember
because I don’t know when I’ll be back

—-

J standing in horse stance
J remember the game we played in the waves
the waves tried to knock you down but you stood strong to defeat it
you asked for help carry but I told you to look where you are
you made it far enough to swim out by yourself
first time

and we surfed the waves back to shore
stand up when you feel sand and run

—-

J: were the three kings real? (while looking at Raices mural)
Me: no one knows for sure. History was a little suspect back then without cameras and video. People could write anything they wanted.
J: like Santa Claus?
Me: lol yeah
J: some people say they tell kids that just to make them sleep.

—-

Mama: you can move to Puerto Rico and live all your life here
J: I want to live half of my life here!

Curious convos

Me: if you make a time machine don’t forget to visit me in the past okay. We can play for a little bit
J: actually I was thinking of going back farther in time. But don’t worry I’ll pick you up
Me: actually maybe don’t pick me up. You have to be careful of what you do or you might not exist
J: maybe I’ll come pick you up when you are older. And I’ll go back in time before humans. But I have to make sure I don’t go back to the time ofthe deadly sea creatures.

J: sometimes I feel like what’s in the future is already happening
Me: why do you say that
J: I don’t know I just feel it. I can’t see it but I feel like it’s in a different time period. Or a different decade.
Me: that’s what scientists think too
J: does that mean I’m a scientist
Me: yes all kids are scientists too

J: this is a fancy sleepover right
j: with so much comf

who decided that your last name comes all the way from the first person down to J and j Ng?

J: “One last question before we sleep, okay?”
Mama: “Sure”
J: “One half of one fourth is one eighth, right?”
Mama: “Yup!”
J: “Huh. Okay!”

J: I wonder why I can’t remember exactly when I go to sleep each day. It feels like I never went to sleep

J: j! look I’m moving it using the force!
j: J! You’re moving the magnatile using the magnets….

J I want to have children
but if I’m a paleontologist it might be hard because I’d have to be like you
I’d have to work and only be able to see you at the end of the day
I don’t like work
work work work
j I want to have children and teach them to nap
won’t I get to do much with you when I go to school all day
actually when you grow older we can do much more together

J: remember this wagon? The garage has lots of memories right?

Interesting things
Predictions by Futurist Ray Kurzweil

Ladybugs folding their wings: https://i.imgur.com/9TUUzFA.gifv https://i.imgur.com/zHNl6Dw.gifv

This week in pictures

At Puerto Rico, everyone says j looks like mama. So while I’ve been here I have been observing you like a time machine.

Love,

Dad