Tuesday, January 5, 2016

My Worry List

As my mom tells me frequently, I worry too much. But I feel that it's not exactly worrying, it's more like having things on my mind that need to be addressed. I pretty much worry exclusively about my children. There is no parenting report card (hmmmm....) to let me know what is going well and what is not. As I was reviewing my list of Words of the Year the other night, I thought it might be fun to list my top worries. Then later when I look back at them, I will see how foolish (or not) I'm being.

Raccoon (6 years old)

Finding food when we travel

Maddie (3 this month)

Missing home when we travel

Sleeping!? Sleeping is not on the list for either of my children?! That, in itself, is a miracle. The lack of sleep has been on my worry list for many years. These days, if I am not fully rested it is my fault, late night blogging and all. Who knew this day would come! Hooray!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Word of the Year 2016: LEAN

Three goals summed up into one word

LEAN body

LEAN finances

LEAN on the Lord

Furloughs are tough times with joyous sparks every now and then. Today was one of those days. Church where my dad is pastoring, then an afternoon at the beach. La playa! Not warm like ours, but that smell, the sound of waves, that is the same the world over. I am grateful for today's refreshing beauty. And I am grateful for this extraordinary life we lead.

Raccoon goes back to school today. All I can think about is his time at school ticking down. We leave for the East Coast mid-February. We are about to disrupt our children's lives once again. Our lives. Schedules and food and beds and all the little things that make up an ordinary life. It is enough to overwhelm me at times.



God has this under control.

Maybe my new word should be breathe. :)

I took some time (maybe last year's words did help!) to look back at my previous WOTYs, starting in 2012, listed below. I feel happy that I have chosen a WOTY ever since starting this blog. Yay me! I often am more of a starter than a finisher when it comes to projects. So here they are, in chronological order:






Sunday, January 3, 2016

Book Notes: Superforecasting

The Art and Science of Prediction

by Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner

In reading this book, or trying to, I realized something. My life is not conducive to paper books anymore. On my phone, I've never struggled to finish a book, being able to read during odd moments and in bed when the lights are out. But when limited to a physical copy, it took me 2 months to get 100 pages in. I am still interested in the book, but have accepted that, at this point in my life, I will not finish it. Because I had to look at the physical copy to write my review, it took me another month to get to this post.

Apart from my problems with the format, I thought it a bit slow paced, but I have nothing to compare it to, having not read another "serious book about psychological research" as the author himself describes it. Granted, it is a non-fiction book about a forecasting tournament, but I felt like it kept circling around the same information, like a newspaper article:

My team beat the government experts!

My team beat the government experts by themselves,

My team beat the government experts by themselves, then in teams!

My team beat the government experts by themselves, then in teams, with a bit of training!

And so on.

Relevant to the subject matter, I realized that I will probably never choose to spend an hour or two a day reading the news about geopolitical events in order to be semi- to mostly accurate about what will happen in the future. Not my gig. I'm more likely to have my nose buried in a book about the past. On that note, his remarks about the history of medicine were terribly illuminating. I wonder what else we accept untested.

As a Christian, I did find it fascinating that no matter the training and intelligence, no human is ever completely accurate. This makes God's test of prophets, that what they say about the future be 100% true (Deut 18:22), a sound one.

Favorite Quotes:

Our desire to reach into the future will always exceed our grasp.

"I have been struck by how important measurement is to improving the human condition," Bill Gates wrote, "You can achieve incredible progress if you set a clear goal and find a measure that will drive progress toward that goal... This may seem basic, but it is amazing how often it is not done and how hard it is to get right."

...broadly speaking, superforecasting demands thinking that is open-minded, careful, curious, and--above all--self-critical. It also demands focus. The kind of thinking that produces superior judgment does not come effortlessly. Only the determined can deliver it reasonably consistently, which is why our analyses have consistently found commitment to self-improvement to be the strongest predictor of performance.

Machines may get better at "mimicking human meaning," and thereby better at predicting human behavior, but "there's a difference between mimicking and reflecting meaning and originating meaning," Ferrucci said. That's a space human judgment will always occupy.

In fact, in science, the best evidence that a hypothesis is true is often an experiment designed to prove the hypothesis is false, but which fails to do so.

But then the train of history hit a curve, and as Karl Marx once quipped, when that happens, the intellectuals fall off.

Stepping outside ourselves and really getting a different view of reality is a struggle. But foxes are likelier to give it a try. Whether by virtue of temperament or habit or conscious effort, they tend to engage in the hard work of consulting other perspectives.

"All models are wrong, the statistician George Box remarked, "but some are useful."

I received a free copy from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Foody Friday: Changing Countries

Having a supertasting, resistant eater* can be challenging enough, but changing countries with one is enough to rip my heart out. It has been two months, and my son is just now finding new things to eat. When you change countries, everything tastes different. Everything. familiar foods like ketchup and rice are no longer safe. For the first month, he survived on pizza alone. Throw in his allergies and life feels impossible. We were down to 0 safe foods. He was hungry and miserable most of the time. Having meal after meal rejected, or reacted to, is discouraging for us and for him.

But slowly, sloooooowly, we seem to be turning a corner. Tonight he ate three chicken legs, made with teriyaki sauce. Seeing him devour a meal was enough to make me cry. Raccoon told me that if he'd known the food in the US was going to be so different, he wouldn't have come. My heart agrees with him.

It has been a hard road. Things were better but they are bad again. Please, Lord, help us find things that work. Before we travel East in February. May this new year be a good one for Raccoon.

*What is a resistant eater? It's not just picky. It's not a discipline problem or a lack of food training. It's someone who can taste everything and feel everything in the food. Something that would be unnoticeable to a regular eater is like a spoonful of chili powder to them.