Monthly Archives: June 2017

China

I have never really been to China yet. I have been in a lot of different parts of East Asia, but never in China proper. That includes Taiwan, Japan, Korea (South of course), Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan. I was scheduled to fly to Shanghai and Shenzhen on July 3–imagine that, the Fourth of July in China, but could not manage to get the visa in the short amount of time available. I currently work on a team with distributed workers–two in China, one in Quebec, the boss in Vancouver, BC, and me. It works amazingly well. I am the only one on the team whose first language is English, but that is what we speak. I love this new job so far. There is lots of pressure, but also lots of interesting work. What more could you ask out of a job at my stage in life–interesting work is worth gold. I will be over there in the next few months, God willing. Looking forward to it.

Luis’ and Mine’s paintings

Luis paints us a pictureOur dear friends Luis and Mine who are also Lorena’s brother Rigo’s father and mother-in-law each painted us a painting for our new house when we moved to North Carolina. It was so kind of them to paint these for us and we love them a lot. Now we have found a great home for both of them in our new house.Mine paints us a picture Mine’s painting is perfect for a kitchen setting. We found a tripod for it and keep it on the counter. The colors are just perfect, too.

Luis’ painting is amazing. It is a street scene that is very, very Mexican in style. One of the bathrooms in the house has a patently Mexican motif and the colors match remarkably well. We would have had a hard time finding a painting better than the one Luis painted for us.

We are grateful to them both.

Kitchen remodel: We have water and all the faucets

Pot filler and vegetable sink faucetsThis morning, the plumber and his son showed up at 8:00 AM on the dot to plumb all the faucets and the dishwasher. We were very pleased with the work. Right now it seems like the work is proceeding inch by inch. After the plumber left, the granite guy came back to drill another hole in the granite for the sprayer beside the vegetable sink faucet. He was an hour later than scheduled, but we enjoyed the visit very much. He did a great job. We spoke Spanish the whole time he was here (a Puerto Rican guy who married a Mexican girl from Michoacán).

Every time someone comes to fix something, one or two more things are uncovered. This time it was the attachment of the dishwasher (I will eventually put up a picture of that) to the granite. It requires another piece of metal no one had yet considered, but Mark P. promised he will install. In addition to that, we could install the vegetable sink sprayer, but we could not hook it up to water because the plumbing guys were already gone. Mark P. is going to deal with all of that after he gets back from vacation at Crescent Lake in Oregon after the Fourth of July. I will not get to see it until the week after that though because I am spending the fourth of July in China.

P.S. We have water to the faucets and drains in the sink so we actually have an operational kitchen. It will not be completely operational until we have our hood and the replacement for the second oven door, but we are getting very close now.

The mountain (again) and water in the kitchen

Mount Rainier from Centralia, WA June 22, 2017

I woke up to this view of Mt. Rainier from my home office this morning. I would say I am sorry for putting up so many images, but I have not gotten tired of it yet and I am not yet sorry for putting up so many pictures of the mountain. In other good news, the plumber is scheduled to be here at 8:00 AM tomorrow morning so we should have water in our kitchen. We need to get one more hole drilled for the vegetable sink sprayer and that is not scheduled to happen until 3:00 PM. That means I get to play plumber for a little while to put the (already hooked to the water supply) sprayer. What could go wrong?

A new blog header and some new and old memories

New Mt. Rainier Blog Header

You might have noticed we put up a new blog header. Lorena found my old Canon PowerShot SD 750 pocket camera when she unpacked the house. I immediately went out and took this picture. I am not a great photographer and the camera, while it may not be the best in the world, is small enough to fit comfortable in a shirt pack, still takes good enough pictures that I cannot tell the difference.

This move has really been a joy. We are thankful for it all from our old friends in Texas (Dan, Al, Jill, Gary, Debbie, Sue, the Lee’s, the Drake’s, all of them) to our new friends, starting with Bob and Gena, there is much for which to be thankful. The least of these things for which to be thankful is the “stuff” we are unpacking and even that brings back memories–this is the camera Grandpa Lauro always used while he was with us.

Kitchen remodel: Texturing and (still) faucet searching

We bought a ladder so the texturer could textureFor a non-eventful day, today has been pretty eventful. Yesterday, we realized that the ceiling in our house is really high. Mark and his wall and/or his ceiling texturing guy brought an eight foot ladder to texture the ceiling. It turns out he needed a ten foot ladder. It dawned on us that we would need a ten foot ladder to clean the windows, so we went down to our local Ace hardware store and bought ourselves a new ladder. The texturing is done now so the living room and the kitchen are now ready to paint.

In the mean time, we have now ordered our third vegetable sink faucet. The first one was too big, the second one was too long (we would have water on the floor–it is a little sink), and now we hope we have ordered one that is just right. It is the same brand as the main sink and the pot-filler sockets so it should match nicely. Also, it is what is called a “bar” faucet so the length of the spout is only eight and a half inches so it should center itself over the drain in the sink. In addition it has a sprayer. That will require another hole in the faucet, but it will be worth the wait. We ordered it from Amazon and paid for one day shipping so, hopefully, we will have water before the weekend.

The latest and most painful challenge so far for Lorena is to decide what color she wants to paint the walls. I am staying out of it. I am sure it will be fine whatever it is.

Kelly (home for the weekend) and Kiwi

Kelly home for the weekend, takes the train down from SeattleKiwi in timeoutKelly came home for the weekend. She and Lorena have big plans that have to do with shopping. She saw some fashiony thing she just has to have at the Country Cousin restaurant so they are going to head out to find it. Fortunately, I have plenty of work to do on my sickle cell disease project so I cannot go.

The only down side to having Kelly here is that Kiwi has been acting out. We are not sure whether it is because she is so excited to see Kelly or because she sees Kelly diluting the attention she gets when no one is visiting. At any rate, Lorena had to put her in timeout. I have to say, it surely does not seem like that helped much.

Kelly update

Kelly's new glassesFirst, the important stuff: Kelly’s new glasses arrived and I think she looks just stunning with her new librarian hipster look.

On other fronts, there are lots of good things going on. She loves her work, her company, and her fellow employees. She made a great decision to stop for now at a Masters degree and get some experience. I am not sure how she could have found a better first job than the one she is in. Amazingly, she makes use intense of the things she learned during in her Bachelors degree and internship in Statistics to inform her work doing precisely what she learned studying Marketing Strategy during her Masters degree. Write now she is deep into planning and running focus groups. Before that she developed a huge (for her corner of the industry) marketing survey and then evaluated the results with statistical tools the company had never previously used. One recent new innovation she brought to the company was a better way to set pricing more informed by data and analytics than by expert opinion alone.

So, three quarters of a year in, she has started to think a little about what to do next. She will finish her first round trip of the Marketing process in the fall and really needs to get her second round trip in where she does it completely on her own, and then a third round trip to own the process. After that, she needs to decide what to do next. There is a great growth path for her right where she is, but there are other academic and work options.

Kelly’s values are not at all in alignment with the Seattle zeitgeist. There are some particular evils held in high regard that are difficult to abide and they permeate even parts of the society, particularly in places like Portland and Seattle, that historically have been less coarse and held good morals. I think that reality will play heavily in whatever direction she wants to head next.

Still, when you have new stylish glasses like these, life looks pretty good.

Kitchen remodel: The first faucet arrives

Main sink faucet in the boxWe have had a little bit of a struggle getting the faucets here to our remodel to be able to really start using the kitchen. We were really happy today the first set arrived today. It consists of the faucet and sprayer for the main kitchen. We ordered the pot-filler and the vegetable sink faucet, but they are not scheduled to get here for another week or so.

We had a struggle choosing the faucets. We found the main sink and pot-filler faucets that were just perfect, but we could not find a vegetable sink faucet, so we ordered the best the closets we could find. Today, though, Lorena found one that was much better so I ordered it on Amazon. We will have to send the previous one we ordered back, but in the end, we will have faucets that match.

Remembering Grandpa Lauro

Granda Lauro and Grandma Conchita get married, Conchita's mother signs

Lorena’s father, Grandpa Lauro died just three years ago on June 10, 2017. We think of him often. Last Saturday, Lorena’s brother Tio Lauro went to the town and house where Grandma Conchita was born and raised to help some other members of the family clean it up because no one lives there anymore. They found a lot of great old photographs and this is one of them. The picture was taken on November 13, 1965, the day of Grandpa Lauro’s and Grandma Conchita’s wedding. The lady to the left of Grandma Conchita is her mother Leonor. She is signing as witness to the wedding. We just love this picture. We had never seen it before and wanted to save it for posterity.

Is there a mathematical theory of evolution?

Introduction to Evolutionary InformaticsAn article about a book titled Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics starts out like this:

Five years ago, Gregory Chaitin, a co-founder of the fascinating and mind-bending field of algorithmic information theory, offered a challenge:

The honor of mathematics requires us to come up with a mathematical theory of evolution and either prove that Darwin was wrong or right!

In Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics, co-authored by William A. Dembski, Winston Ewert, and myself, we answer Chaitin’s challenge in the negative: There exists no model successfully describing undirected Darwinian evolution. Period. By “model,” we mean definitive simulations or foundational mathematics required of a hard science.

The article is very interesting in its own right, but I am also looking forward to reading the book. I am sure the whole book is worth a read, but my interest got piqued in particular by a some statements in the article about the measurement of meaning in information:

8. Information theory cannot measure meaning.

Poppycock.

The manner in which information theory can be used to measure meaning is addressed in Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics. We explain, for example, why a picture of Mount Rushmore containing images of four United States presidents has more meaning to you than a picture of Mount Fuji even though both pictures might require the same number of bits when stored on your hard drive. The degree of meaning can be measured using a metric called algorithmic specified complexity.

Rather than summarize algorithmic specified complexity derived and applied in Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics, we refer instead to a quote from a paper from one of the world’s leading experts in algorithmic information theory, Paul Vitányi. The quote is from a paper he wrote over 15 years ago, titled “Meaningful Information.”22

One can divide…[KCS] information into two parts: the information accounting for the useful regularity [meaningful information] present in the object and the information accounting for the remaining accidental [meaningless] information.23

In Introduction to Evolutionary Informatics, we use information theory to measure meaningful information and show there exists no model successfully describing undirected Darwinian evolution.

Homeschool planning sheets

Click on the images or the following links to the single day planning sheets at a larger size:
[Kelly’s 2010 planning sheet] [Christian’s 2007 planning sheet]
Kelly's homeschool planning sheet from 2010Christian's homeschool planning sheet 2007Lorena found most of our homeschool planning and other materials when she unpacked our stuff for the library last week. It was a lot of fun to look at them and remember a little bit about where we were and what we were doing at the time all this took place. I forgot how much effort went into to providing a precise enough plan that the kids would know exactly what was expected of them while I was away at work.

It also made me realized that the kids worked hard to get where they are. Although both kids were able to advance to the point where they did full time college level work by the time they finished eighth grade, they did it more through hard work and day to day advances in each of a plethora of areas than by any special intellectual prowess.

For example, at the time of Christian’s 2007 planning report, just after he turned 12 years old in the sixth grade, Christian was just one year ahead of what would have been the most advanced students when I was in the sixth grade back in 1966. He got there through a ton of hard work, inching through Singapore Math for the previous two and a half years. the same thing was true for Kelly in 2010. She already had about a year of college credit from CLEP tests by the time this planning report was written, all through a lot of painstaking daily work.

It did not seem so onerous at the time. This is just what we did. By keeping at it and doing all the work every day, we inched a little ahead every year to the point where I was able to write this series of post about the culmination of our homeschool efforts on skipping high school.

Kitchen remodel: Quite a bit complete, but quite a bit left to do

The broken bottom ovenI thought I would try to catch up on the kitchen remodel posts today because I unexpectedly found some breathing room from my day job and side gig. The  kitchen is really starting to look like it is going to look in the end with a couple major items some medium size items and a lot of small items. I thought it would be easiest to just show some pictures of where we are and explain what is left to do.

First, I promised a picture of the oven that got broken in or before shipping. We no longer have the shattered door, but we have a picture of the empty space where the door should be. It does not even look so bad that way, but it is worthless for anything other than shelf space the way it is now.

Here is all the stuff remaining that we know needs to be completed:

1. Faucets for the main and vegetable sinks and a pot-filler faucet for the stove
2. Exhaust hood for the stove top
3. Glass for the buffet/coffee service cabinets
4. All the drawer and cabinet door pulls
5. Adjustment of the cabinet doors so they are level and even with each other
6. Bottom oven door replacement
7. Paint for the kitchen
8. Moulding for the living room
9. Moulding for the cabinet tops

and finally…

10. Paint for the living room if we can afford it. Otherwise we wait or do it ourselves.

Update: Oops. Thought of a couple more:

11. Light brackets for the ceiling lights
12. Wall plastering
13. Under-cabinet LED lights
14. Electrical fixtures
15. Dishwasher

More pictures to give a sense for the state of the kitchen:

Almost done: Full frontal view of the kitchen

Almost done: The vitrina without glass

Almost done: View from the dining room

Almost done: View of the stove, ovens and backsplash

Not the remodel, just a little progress

Library on the landing, left Library on the landing, rightLorena works hard at getting us unpacked from our recent move. It is easier to see the floor in some of our rooms and more than half of the stuff has been moved out of the garage. The challenge now is that we sold and gave away a ton of stuff when we left North Carolina. Even though our living space is smaller here (we are not counting the daylight basement apartment) that it was in North Carolina, we are short on furniture to make it livable. It should be done to get the stuff, but in the meantime, our visitors are going to frequently be relegated to folding chairs.

The pictures in this post are our second floor landing/library. We hope to change the floor, add some bookshelves and make the railing be something you can see through, but that will come after we finish the kitchen and do a few other upgrades–hopefully including something to help us manage the parts of the property that are not purposely wild.

Lorena found a lot of our old homeschool plans, books and projects when she unpacked thing for the library. I hope I get the time before to long to go through them. I always get asked about how we did our homeschool, not that we think we did such a great job, and it would be kind of nice to be able to tell them something other than that we got good programs, tested, and worked hard. The planning was actually pretty extensive and we have the lesson plans at hand now to really demonstrate that.

Kitchen remodel: Mark, the Electrician and the Tile Guy

Mark and his electrician (Frank Waddell)  The electrician working on the under-cabinet lighting

I thought the picture on the left was a great picture of our contractor Mark and his electrician with the ceramic guy in the background. We arrived on Wednesday night while they were still in the house. What a great team of people. It has just been a joy working with Mark and his people. The picture on the left is of the installation of one of the under-cabinet LED lights above the coffee shelf. The LED’s are great because they do not heat up too much like halogen, are now just as bright (for this application) and last a long, long time.

Getting ready to install the backsplash over the stoveThis pictures gives a sense for the state of the kitchen when we got there on Wednesday night. It is much further along and I plan to post a bunch of new pictures this weekend.  The ceramic tile back splash is completed (we love it). This is the ceramic guy getting ready to do his thing. We really enjoyed having him here working. He placed the tiles on Wednesday, then came back and spent another four hours on Thursday morning to add the grout and (non-silicon) caulking. I think he spent more time cleaning and shining the back splash when he finished installing it than he did on the installation itself. Lorena was super, super happy with how it came out.

Kitchen remodel: Backsplash complete

I just have a few minutes now at lunchtime to put up what happened so far today. I have more pictures from last night when Lorena and I got home which I hope to put up later tonight. The kitchen has come a long way, but there are a ton of details left. The following are of the backsplash before and after grout behind the coffee shelf and the stove top. The first picture of the stove top shows it with the stainless steel knobs. The second one has the classic Thermador blue knobs. We are not sure which ones we like best. Fortunately, they are easy to change whenever we get tired of the ones that are on there.

Coffee shelf with backsplash tile in place, but no groutCoffee shelf with backsplash tile in place and grout

Stove top backsplash, no grout, stainless knobsStove top backsplash, with grout, blue knobs

Kitchen remodel: A pad for the propane tank

The pad for the propane tank to feed the new stove topWell, a ton of stuff got done today on the kitchen and Mark took a BUNCH of pictures for us. The problem is that he texted them to us and we do not have access to our text messaging on our phones until we get back to into (or at least within radio range of) America sometime tomorrow evening. Nevertheless, he got the pavers put down to make a pad for the propane tank which will be installed along with the gas lines tomorrow. That we means we will have a mostly working kitchen when we get home.

We are very excited to see how it all looks, but are not sure we will be able to put up many (or any) photos tomorrow because we are going to try to make it to our Wednesday night bible study if we possibly can. One of the other things they will be doing is hooking up the Kitchen phone line which we will not use for phones, but only for our DSL service. What that also means is that I have about a half day worth of work to set up wireless for all three floors in the house and especially my upstairs office.