Harrison Farm

for now, the only thing we're growing on this farm is kids - not the goat variety

Snapshot of a Saturday morning

screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-7-41-05-amThe sun will be up soon, and everyone but Rosebud is up and at it.

Sudoku and I are coding. She doesn't have any freelance work this morning, so she's working on some of our family projects, as am I.

Milkmaid is cleaning up around the apartment and washing the produce brought yesterday by "Wonderful Man Jr".

Carman's off work today, as usual on Saturday. He's been working from home most of the time now, but spending lots of time on the phone with his boss. His freelancing is starting to click. He got the "rising talent" status recently on one platform. But no coding for this morning; he's working out the chords for "Downeaster Alexa" on the guitar.

Rosebud just woke up and gave everyone their morning hug. Let's see ... Yup, she got bigger overnight again.

And finally, Doodle is hard at work on the farm, trying to get in his chores before the sun comes up. Yes, we're starting to do some farming, right here in the city. Doodle is doing the physical work for our top-secret pilot project and, later today, Rosebud will be doing the data collection.

And now the room begins to brighten. Here comes the sun.

My Spanish is Really Good!

Today I was in 'San Diego' (that's a neighborhood/street in Santiago) getting bike parts. At one store I bought a set of pedals, and had the following conversation with the 60-something clerk.

Clerk: Where are you from?

Me: Where do you think I'm from?

Clerk: Talk a bit.

Me: I moved to Santiago four years ago with my family. I started...

Clerk: Venezuela?

Me: Nope.

Clerk: Colombia?

Me: United States.

Wow! I pass for a Latin American foreigner!


Max Ventilla on modern education

I would argue that you’ve had one big trick that humans figured out over the last 500 years. Before computers, it was fossil fuels.

But now we’re discovering how to pull free mental work out of the ground. That’s going to be a huge trick over the next 50 years.

The idea that you can pull free physical work out of the ground, that was a really good trick, and it resulted in all of these exponential curves. But now we’re discovering how to pull free mental work out of the ground. [using Artificial Intelligence]

That’s going to be an equivalent, huge trick over the next 50 years. It’s going to create that same kind of inflection point, and it’s going to create even more opportunity and much more displacement.

I have a hard time understanding how the way that we best prepare the next generation for that future, is to have literally all of education policy, all of education decisions determined by folks that don’t really have a foot in that world.

I’m not saying that all of the sudden, “Oh, it’s about software.” The worst use of software in technology is in replacement of humans. This whole, “Oh, I give an iPad to a kid, and I walk away.” That’s craziness. AR and VR, that’s not going to be it, either.

It’s about human beings. It’s about the relationship that kids have with their peers, with adults. That’s what creates the motivation that creates the learning, but it seems odd to me that the purpose of school is to prepare kids for the future, and you don’t have people in the mix thinking about education or education policy, who are very familiar with the future at all.

[In a typical school setting] you say, “OK, well, I can’t grade 20 different demonstrations of knowledge that come back from 20 different kids, so I’m going to standardize, I’m going to say, ‘This is the way I’m going to test you, so that I can grade it quickly,’” you’re essentially training kids to think like computers. There’s an irony ... you’re training humans to do the kind of thinking that computers are getting better and better and better at doing.

You have an education system that was created for a mass production era, and now we’re in a mass customization era. You have a traditional education system that’s all about turning generalist agrarian producers into specialized consumers of goods and information. We’re entering an era where being a producer of knowledge, being a producer of goods, being a producer of jobs is the way to be successful. It is the way to be happy, and it’s possible because you have these unbelievable platforms that have been created that elevate the individual through the combination of digital technology and society.

Taxi battles of Santiago

The taxi battles are in full swing here in Santiago, including mass protests and even violence against some Uber drivers and, in a few cases, riders. What follows is an editorial from La Tercera (from around April 16th) that does a good job of capturing some of the nuances of the situation.


La ciudadania ha sido fuertemente impactada por las imagenes de taxistas agrediendo a conductores de la empresa Uber. Algunos de los casos reportados dan cuenta de altos niveles de violencia y amedrentamiento, que incluso han alcanzado a los propios pasajeros de estos servicios. Se trata de hechos inaceptables, respecto de los cuales se ha extranado una actitud de mayor firmeza por parte de la autoridad, la que se ha limitado a condenar el vandalismo.

No resulto apropiado que el ministro de Transportes calificara inicialmente de "piratas" a este tipo de vehiculos, porque con ello enlodo injustamente la imagen de estas empresas y dio pie para cuestionamientos que previsiblemente podian derivar en violencia. Es saludable que con posterioridad haya templado sus juicios y se abriera a buscar una regulacion para estos nuevos servicios. Pero frente al vandalismo el gobierno no puede ser indeferente, y cabe dar senales nitidas de que la integridad de la ciudadania no esta en entredicho. En tal sentido, es indispensable preservar el principio de que la protesta legitima no puede confundirse con la violencia.

El gremio de los taxistas debe asumir que este nuevo tipo de servicios basados en aplicaciones de ultima generacion, con un modelo de flotas flexibles y de altos estandares, con tarifas competitivas, no se podra detener, porque responde genuinamente a demandas de la ciudadania que el actual sistema no logra satisfacer. Su actitud amenazante de que estas aplicaiones "deben ser dadas de baja" en tanto no se alcance una solucion que las regule, solo contribuye a su propio desprestigio. La discusion debe orientarse hacia la apertura del parque de taxis y la incorporacion de las nuevas tecnologias que faciliten el servicio de transporte. Cualquier diferencia o reproche debe ser canalizado por las vias institucionales, ya sea ante el Ministerio o ante los tribunales.


My translation:

Aggression Toward Uber Drivers

The citizenry has been heavily impacted by the images of taxi drivers assaulting Uber drivers. Some of the reported cases include high levels of violence and intimidation, and have even been directed toward the passengers of these services themselves. These are unacceptable acts, for which is needed an attitude of greater firmness by the authority, which has been limited to condemning the vandalism.

It was not appropriate that the Minister of Transport would initially qualify as "pirates" these type of drivers, because this unfairly muddies the image of these companies and gave rise to questions that likely could lead to violence. It is healthy that the government subsequently has tempered its judgments and is open to seek a regulation for these new services. But against vandalism government can not be indifferent, and it should give sharp signals that the integrity of citizenship is not in question. In this regard, it is essential to preserve the principle that legitimate protest can not be confused with violence.

The union of taxi drivers must assume that this new type of application-based service, with a model of flexible fleet and high standards, with competitive rates, will not be able to be stopped, because it responds genuinely to citizen demands that the current system fails to satisfy. The union's threatening attitude, that these services "must be written off" as a solution, only contributes to their own discredit. The discussion should be oriented towards the taxi park opening and integration of new technologies that facilitate the transport service. Any difference or blame should be channeled through institutional channels, either to the Ministry or to the courts.

Old Turtle song lyrics

Doodle and Rosebud just love to sing, so I'm trying to work hard to stay ahead of them and feed them new music. This morning I thought of a very singable old song about an old turtle that the older kids really liked when they were that age, but I couldn't find the lyrics anywhere, so here they are:

Make a World to make Old Turtle Smile, by Douglas Wood


A breeze upon the lake helps make the world

A falling snowy flake helps make the world

A butterfly, floating by, helps make the world

A tall and growing tree helps make the world

A golden humming bee helps make the world

and every dream you dream helps make the world.


Every time we care, we make the world

Every time we share, we make the world

With every helping hand, we make the world

When we try to understand, we make the world

If we could only see we make the world

It's up to you and me to make the world

Maybe we can make a world to make old turtle smile


A river flowing clean helps make the world

A meadow growing green helps make the world

a falling star, falling far, helps make the world

a yellow harvest moon helps make the world

a summer afternoon helps make the world

and every laugh you laugh helps make the world


And every time we care we make the world

with every hug we share we make the world

with every helping hand we make the world

when we try to understand we make the world

if we could only see we make the world

it's up to you and me to make the world

Maybe we can make a world to make old turtle smile


But every lie that's lied, every lonely tear that's cried

makes the world more tired and weary, makes the world more sad and dreary

And every war that's started makes the world more brokenhearted

We have a special calling, you and i, to hold the light of love up high


So please remember you help make the world

and everything you do helps make the world

and everything you are helps make the world

Every song you sing helps make the world

It's not an easy thing to make the world, but...

You and I, and the birds that fly

You and I, and the stars up high

You and I, and old turtle, help make the world.

Other Pieces of Music

Here's another piece of music that's a lot longer.  ~4min long.

This one, Growth, has three parts, whereas The Storyx only had two.

Hope you like it!


Here's Face-Scratch:

My Favorite Piece of Music so far

I think this is my favorite piece of music I've written so far. Before, I was writing by hand. It was very slow, and it was hard to do more than one or two notes at a time, because all I had for playing the music was Carman's recorder. I could play arpeggio chords (one note at a time), but it was hard to get something that really sounded good.

That was before I went over to the King padpad. Sorry for the name, but it is the real name. It was a typo. Then, we got the Ensemble Composer app. You can make music on it, as many parts as you like, then you can play it.

Here's my favorite one, The Storyx:

More Drawings

I have forgotten to post my pictures for more than six months! I have a lot more drawings to show off.


Can you guess who this is? It came from a newspaper.



Here is my name written in Chinese, in 3-D with perspective.



This is a drawing of a 3-D sculpture.



This is another 3-D drawing with perspective.



That's all for now!

100 Miles + Haunted Tunnel

Last Sunday I rode my first "century" (100 miles).

It was an out-and-back ride up the Maipo canyon (there were flatter, less scenic routes I could have taken instead).

I made myself take it easy, knowing that that was the only way I could make it back under my own power. The whole ride took nearly ten hours (including about 40 mins of breaks).


I made it to within about 15 miles of Argentina!

At the farthest point of the ride, I was in a "Volcano danger zone". This is roughly where I turned around... this is the kind of scenery that makes it worth riding this far:

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 12.58.11 PM

Now for the "Haunted Tunnel" part you've all been waiting for.

On my way up the canyon I came upon this:

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 1.30.02 PM

See that tunnel going into the mountainside?

I rode my bike up to the mouth and walked in a ways.  It disappeared into complete darkness.

My curiosity sparked, but a little disappointed that I didn't know what was in there or where it went, I rode back down to the pavement and continued up the canyon.

A little further up I found the other side of the tunnel:

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 12.01.25 PM

On my way back home, I stopped at this end of the tunnel.

Knowing that it couldn't be much more than a quarter mile long, I wanted to see if I could walk all the way through.

There was a man sitting next to the mouth of the tunnel. He seemed to be working on some metal device.

Normally, I wouldn't ask permission or approval from a Chilean before doing something dangerous or "unofficial", because they're usually risk-averse and prone to blind obedience.

But in this case, I was doubtful enough that I was willing to do what this man recommended.

He told me that it was safe, and to go ahead.

I pulled off my sunglasses and started to put them on my helmet, but he told me to leave them on until I couldn't see anything, then remove them. It would help my eyes adjust.

I started off riding, but the road was dangerously uneven so I dismounted and walked. It was getting really dark... I took off my sunglasses and got temporary relief. The tunnel got darker and darker until I could barely see anything.

I was about to turn around when I saw the light at the other side. The tunnel has a slight bend in it that keeps you from being able to see one side from the other.

I walked straight towards the light. I was now completely blind to what was around me, because I was facing the primary light source, instead of it being behind me. I almost bumped into one of the tunnel walls at one point.

It was a bit creepy, but I'm glad I did it. I want to go back there and do it again sometime.

I did a bit of research on the tunnel when I got home.

It's called the Tinoco tunnel.

It was built in 1903 as a railroad tunnel and was used up until the 80's.

Since then it's been used by tourists and locals who want to take a shortcut.

It's a little over 600 meters long.

In the 90's a teenager committed suicide in the tunnel, and since then there's been a rumor that his ghost is in the tunnel.

Here's a picture of the inside:

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 1.04.12 PM

A Smoggy City … of Opportunity

7436757736_79a9d7dc49_m{This is for all the 14-30 year-olds out there who are feeling suffocated by a lack of opportunity in their world. (possibly aka "a job with a future")}

The smog in Santiago is a downer.

Smoggy Santioggy.

We don't really know how harmful it is, but we big folks try to work around it with our exercise.

But ... kids gotta play. Every day.

It certainly brings a smile to all faces when someone announces, "It's super clear right now!" That's typically after a rain or a sustained wind -- both of which are rare as hens teeth here.

It's also hard to tell the difference between real "esmog" and the "fog" that often comes over the city.  This is a complex topic that I will discuss later if enough people bother me about it; we have a unique vantage point when it comes to air-quality watching.

But my thoughts about the smog have matured recently as I've watched Carman's life unfold. He is now five months into an opportunity that US minimum wage laws would have denied him, had he been there. He is scrambling and stressing every day, trying to please his superhero-seeming (when it comes to all things digital) Chilean boss.

And that's right where he needs to be.

It is good for a man to bear the yoke when he is young.

So, what does that have to do with the smog?

I am coming to see the smog as an indicator of opportunity. It represents the option of taking a risk. It represents immaturity, wildness, unregulated-ness.

London was a very smoggy, smoky place during the golden age of opportunity there. Likewise New York City.

Opportunity, like smog, can be dangerous.

Opportunity implies the freedom to fail and often comes without a safety net, harness, and airbag.

So, if you're looking for opportunity, consider following the smog: Santiago, Mexico City, Beijing...?

Thanks to Flickr's Bilobicles Bag for the image.

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