Here he is playing the famous Roof Ball he co-invented. I recognize Sean Miller in this photo.
Since he was the baby in the family, seven years younger than his sister Pia, and thirteen years younger than his brother J. Scott, he was babysat by his two siblings, and when either one babysat someone else, Brian would tag along.
He was born when I was 38, a miracle baby for sure. From day one, his sister saw him as her doll, read to him, trained him to wait for Santa and the Easter Bunny until the house/experience was ready for his discovery.
His brother babysat two neighbor boys bigger than Brian. They were all fearless, jumping into the pool in a trashcan to see how long they could last; sliding down the steep hill behind the house on make-shift sliders, tearing up the ivy, tearing up their clothes, but always having a grand old time. The four of them spent time building machines and contraptions like water rockets and other forms of propelled instruments, and shot them in the hills of Shoup Park across the street from us in Woodland Hills.
We could trace Brian's adventure mishaps on his body: a big gash on his leg from dropping on the glass window on the day the house in Covina caught fire and the three of them, Scott, Pia and Brian had to find refuge at the neighbors, and then watch firefighters put out a fire that started up as a dry palm bursting into flames.
A nick on the side of his temple was from jumping and landing too close to the coffee table; another wound from coming too close to a golf club when he was taking golf lessons one summer. At a baseball game, a ball hit his front teeth, and he bit hard and continued the game and told nobody how hard he was hit until the game was over. He had his fair share of emergency runs to the hospital.
The most terrifying stint for the rest of the family was the time, when he was still in diapers, when he began to have convulsions. I put a wooden spoon across his mouth and gathered him on my lap until the convulsions stopped. Then, with everyone in the car, I drove all the way from Covina to Hollywood Kaiser Hospital, to get him checked up. The tests were awful, and we were most fearful for him. The doctors didn't find any problems, but told us to watch him; and to hope he'd outgrow the convulsions. He did and grew strong and wiry and fully of energy.
He was the baby; but he had to learn and do more things than other children his age. He inherited many things from his big brother, including a sense of adventure and a love for making games out of things, using whatever computer hardware and software they could scrounge, take apart and re-purpose.
Brian started a computer set-up and repair business when he was in junior high, He printed business cards and flyers and distributed them at local malls. At that time, computers were not so user-friendly, and one had to get help after purchasing a computer, just getting it home and booted and ready to start. From his brother, he learned a whole lot about programming and gaming and repairing. Brian's business did very well; he was proud of the money he was making; and proud of the respect he was getting from everyone.
(On another note: whenever he used my computer, he would improve it, add stuff, clean stuff, reconfigure it to be friendlier....)
His curiosity was boundless.
I remember a day I didn't have to work. He was in kindergarten, and I surprised him when I picked him up at noon and walked home with him.
The walk was just over a mile. We found all kinds of fascinating things, walnuts and mushrooms and lichen. We talked about co-dependence; how nuts feed squirrels; how hawks feed on mice; how fallen birds get buried and disposed of so fast by some other animal. By the time we got home we had a handful of stuff we collected and talked about. Over the weekend, we had expended our conversation, and went shopping to make a universe in a bottle, a self-sufficient aquarium with snails, fish and kelp.
He kept that universe thriving for ages, while he messed with the ratio -snail-fish-kelp- in different bottles, hoping he'd find a better formula.