Harrison Farm

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

Month: April 2019

He thinks I can

By nature, I’m really not a very ambitious person. I’m happy to go along to get along, to do just enough to keep up with what’s average and call it good enough. No need to overdo things, right?

A reverse layup going up…

Then there’s Marathon. He gets kicks from pushing himself. There’s always something new, always something to understand more deeply, some new way of pushing himself.

Marathon also pushes the kids to work hard and go deep…and I get pulled along too, you know, because I don’t want to miss out and get left behind.

But I am getting left behind as they pass me in height, physical, and yes, even mental strength. And that’s okay. It’s wonderful, really.

But I don’t have to get left completely in the dust, especially with Marathon in my corner. Somehow he knows what I’m capable of, and he believes in me more, I think, than I do myself at times.

Case in point: chemistry. We’re started the Khan Academy chemistry course as a household. Ugh. I really thought I would have had to bail out weeks ago, that it would just be too much to tackle with keeping up with the household and with work obligations. But I decided to try to carve out an hour a day and see if I could hang on.

Yesterday we reached the end of a unit, and Marathon went ahead (so like him) and did the unit test. It took him X minutes, and he told me he thought it would take me about double that. Today I took the test. I didn’t rush. It took me exactly the amount of time he had predicted. The test was nine problems — no multiple choice or matching. It wasn’t easy. I got every single one correct! Moles, balanced equations, limiting reagents — this stuff is sticking to me in my mid-40s!

Another case in point of how Marathon seems to know what I can handle — reverse layups. Do you know what that is? It’s a basketball move where a player moves under the basket and as he passes underneath, he reaches up and lays the ball in. It’s backwards from the “normal” layup. All three of our basketball-playing kids love this move.

Well, as you can imagine, as the kids are getting taller, faster, stronger, it’s getting hard for me to keep up on the court. Doodle can shoot threes, Sudoku “moneybags” is dangerous anywhere within 15 feet of the basket if left unattended, and Rosebud’s ball handling can leave even grown men flummoxed. Where is there room for me?

Usually I just help the kids with their basketball quests as needed, stuff like rebounding for someone’s shooting drills. If I’m not needed, I’ll go and hit a tennis ball until someone works up the teams for a game, and then I’ll typically get matched up against Rosebud.

About a month ago, Marathon encouraged me to start working on reverse layups. He thought having that skill would be a way for me to take a greater part in games.

Ugh. Really? Me? Okay, I’ll give it a shot.

So, I’ve been working under the basket on those neck-tiring shots. And, yes, I’ve been getting better and better.

Today was the day I successfully executed a reverse layup in a game. There were cheers all around, from both teams. I think Marathon was more excited than me. It was also special because Carman had come out to play with us this morning, which is quite rare.

Thanks, dear, for believing I can when I’m not so sure.

Thanks to Michael Li for the image.

Notes from Chilean news: marriage, debt, China, Antarctica, guns

According to the recent data released by Chile’s national Institute of vital statistics, we learn the following:

Between 1997 and 2017 the number of women marrying men who are 10 years or more younger than them has increased from 2303 to 2644. This happened in a 20 year period where the annual marriage total declined from 78,077 to 61,320. So the portion of marriages where the women are 10+ years older moved from 2.9% to 4.3% of all marriages.

On the other hand, during that same timeframe, the number of marriages where the man was 10 or more years older declined from 11,611 to 10,662. Compared to the overall decrease in marriage numbers though, this is actually an increase from 14.9% to 17.4%.

My takeaway is that older people are more interested in official marriage while the young are increasingly forming their families without clear intention and therefore without marriage, or much delaying it.

According to Chile’s central bank, household debt as a percentage of disposable income has risen from 62.3% to 73.3% over the four year period from the beginning of 2015 to the beginning of 2019.

Copper is such an important export item for Chile that special statistics are kept of all that is not copper. Thanks to a report by Chile central bank, we learn the following:

Since the free trade agreement between China and Chile in 2006, non-copper exports to China have risen from $1 billion per year to over 6 billion in 2018. During the same period, such exports to Europe remained unchanged and such exports to the US rose about 40%.

The top items are wood, food, wine, and lithium.

According to an article in yesterday’s El Mercurio, the amount of trash being generated in Antarctica has tripled in the last 20 years. 22 different countries relay to Antarctica through Punta Arenas in the south of Chile. Everyone is expected to remove all of their trash off of the continent of Antarctica according to the “Madrid Protocol”, so this means that the government of Chile is able to monitor the total trash production that eventually makes it back to Punta Arenas.

Apparently the protocol negates the use of anything that will result in liquid residue although it is said that Chile hopes to soon switch over to using biodegradable detergent at their outposts, which implies that they aren’t using such now.

Typically the trash comes back around this time of year as night falls on the Antarctic continent. The total was 345 tons of trash this year. But the recent average is running much higher with 632 tons delivered in 2016 and 698 tons in 2017. One reason given for the high numbers in those years was that the Brazilian base burned in February 2012 and then there were works of demolition and reconstruction over the following years.

The trash consists of the usual suspects but also there are oil residues that result from the operation of power generation machinery. These oil residues seem to be transported in large plastic drums.

Apparently the Chilean Navy is doing trips back and forth to Antarctica to serve the needs of the other countries stationed there. They offered the statistic that their ships traveled a total of 34,000 nautical miles and transported a total of 700 persons while performing services during this past season. This duty was performed by three regular ships given that the Chilean Navy recently was forced to retire an icebreaker ship due to its old age.

As of yet, there are no docks in Antarctica, so the Chilean Navy seems to be using ships that are built a lot like barges and include hoists or cranes. So, it seems that the flat bottomed boat is able to get pretty near the shore and then bridge the distance with some sort of swinging arm. They call these ships “skuas” which seems to be a play on the name of an arctic bird.

The article also refers to a fire that took place last year at the “gobernación marítima”. In context it seems to be a reference to some kind of governing authority in Antarctica.

Sebastián PiÅ„era’s administration has announced plans to introduce legislation in the coming week to make ownership of firearms more difficult. It is mostly centered around having a lot more red tape for those wishing to register a firearm. It also seeks to limit people to owning two weapons except by special permission.

Filling a child’s tank

By the time Thursday rolls around I’m having withdrawals. I’m ready to get my weekly toddler fix. For over a year now Sudoku and I have been volunteering weekly at a SANAME orphanage, and we love going. There are some horror SANAME stories that occasionally make the news, but there’s a lot of love to be found at the “lactantes” home where we help. From my point of view, the problems are not with the quality of care, they’re with the system. Children and parents go together. Not children and group homes.

Today one little toddler was unusually fussy. This little girl is a bit moody and can quickly turn from smiles to tears. A couple of weeks ago, I picked her up when she was ornery and was promptly warned by a new worker that the child wanted to be “en brazos” (held) and that she would cry even more when put down.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve heard such warnings. I remember getting comments from well-meaning adults about my own babies. Put them in a sling instead of in the grocery buggy and you hear, “You’ll spoil that child. He’ll never want to be put down.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. Fill a kid up, and they’ll feel secure enough to walk away from you. Did you ever see an 8 year old who wanted to sit on an adult’s lap all day? Of course not! Not even a 4 year old. Not even a tiny toddler, if they know they can get their fill of affection and security when they need it.

So don’t be afraid of spoiling your little ones. If they want to be held, do so with confidence and without feeling guilty. Enjoy that they want to be near you! It won’t last forever…and that’s as it should be.

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