Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sweet and Scary Emmett

Broken Disk:

Today Emmett managed to break his fourth Wii U disk in about a year.  Tyler got Splatoon for his birthday weeks ago, and Emmett loves playing it.  When no one was around this morning, he moved a chair so he could reach the disk on the shelf (usually it's been in the machine, but someone put Super Smash Brothers in last night).  Then he tried jamming it in until it cracked.  It's startling to me that he will push on it so hard to make it snap in half, even though it's not budging due to the other disk in its way.

When Larisa told me what happened, I raised my voice and scolded him for breaking it.  "Now you can't play Paint Squid, Emmett!"  He watched me but didn't react, still with his permanent smile on his face.  I kept emphasizing it:  "It's broken---you can't play it anymore."

Then Larisa took him to drop the other boys off at soccer camp, and when she returned she said that he had something to talk to me about.  Emmett was already playing 'Mario-cat' (Mario 3D World) and didn't respond to her asking him what he wanted to talk to me about.  So I went over to him and asked what he wanted to talk about.  He turned to look at me, paused for about two seconds, and said, "Be happy Dad."  Then he went back to his game.  Larisa says that in the car he asked "Is Daddy sad?"  Then he said, "I want my friend Dad to be happy."


Fearless:

Yesterday we were at Village Park with the Moffitts.  When it was time to go, I couldn't find Emmett.  He had just been with Max a couple minutes earlier.  After wandering around for a bit, I heard him say "Dad, I'm up here."  He was way up in a tree, probably two stories high.  It's one of those pine trees with smooth, thick branches that are great for climbing.  I went over and stood under him and tried to coax him down.  When I couldn't tell if he was coming down or up, I decided it was too dangerous to wait, so I climbed up.  On the way up I was saying, "hold on tight Emmett, you're too high, it's dangerous."  As I was just about to him, I think he got the idea to get away or something.  He moved to the other side of the tree, just out of reach, and he was hanging from one hand, with both feet dangling and a branch a few inches below his feet.  I quickly moved around and grabbed him and climbed down with him in one arm.  What a nightmare!  I don't think he ever realized he was in any sort of danger.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Fathers and Sons Campout

It was the coldest fathers and sons campout that I remember.  The temperature was only about 50 degrees in the evening and the next day.  And it rained.  We knew it would.  But nothing was going to stop us from this activity.  Tyler had been excited about this campout for at least a month, more than I remember in the past.  And it was Emmett's first time going.  Earlier in the week, Tyler insisted on going shopping with me to prepare.  It ended up being a perfect trip, despite the weather.  We had a great time.  The food and snacks were good, the boomerang was a big hit (first time using it), and the camping was great.



Our kids have a great habit of saying exactly how much fun their having.  It's very common for one of them to declare that "this is the best day ever" when their having a good time.  Sometimes they are that emphatic about a bad time, but not very often.  Well, on this trip, Nyle started saying it was the best day ever about half way through.  Tyler and Nyle have both been talking about how much they loved it.

The kids got an early surprise when Chance and Caleb Bagley showed up to carpool with us.  They weren't planning to come but decided to come for the evening without camping.

We got there early, by about 5pm.  I made sure to have everything pretty much packed by the time the kids came home from school.  Every year in the past we get there at 6:30pm or later, so we're usually rushing to set things up and eat.  This time we were the second group there.  I thought everyone had bailed because of the weather (in fact, we were the only ones there from our ward), but to our surprise, the usual crowd was there by about 7pm.

Since I had been thinking about the trip, starting with shopping with Tyler, I knew exactly what food we had.  We had great food and snacks and built a fire.  We did one hike in the evening and another one the next morning.  Everyone was warm in the double-sipped sleeping bag.  We read books in the tent at night after the fireside and all the playing was done.  We ate cookies and chips in bed---a highlight for the kids.

Emmett did great.  He bossed us around on which paths to take hiking, and he became somewhat hysterical late at night at the campfire, after plenty of sweets.  He's talking well these days too.  When I was carrying him during an uphill part of the hiking, I would alternate between hold my hands behind my back for him to sit on, and just letting him hang on himself.  At some point he said, "Hold my bottom."

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Minimum Wage

I enjoyed dinner with friends the other night, Danielle and Amos.  The conversation led me to think about the minimum wage and why I have never been enthusiastic about those laws.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.50, although a lot of states have higher minimum wages, up to around $10.  The $7.50 wage is $15K per year if full time.  That’s not below the “poverty line” for an individual, but it is if you are supporting someone else as well, which many adults are.

Who works minimum wage jobs:

About 2% of the workforce is at the minimum wage level.  That’s much lower than it was decades ago.  But the inflation adjusted wages have also gone down over the years (hard to say exactly how much), so it’s not really a fair comparison.

Half of those near the minimum wage level (under $10) are under 24-years-old.  This group generally is not living in poverty or supporting anyone else.

Almost 2/3 of those earning near minimum wage are working part time.

About 30% of minimum wage earners are single parents (or at least primary income earners for more than one person in the household), according to this.

I didn’t get a number for those working near the minimum wage who are in families with two working parents.  I would like to know.  Certainly the more dire situation is one working parent with kids, and that must be a worrisome number.

A minimum wage law takes effect across the board, and it seems that will have a larger unintended effect then it will have an effect on families in poverty.  There are alternatives to helping families that struggle, without making a minimum wage law.

Free market:

A number of large and small companies have made news in recent years for raising starting wages.  Costco is an example.  These companies pay starting employees more than the minimum wage.  There are various reasons. Some say they want to be more selective about hiring employees, others say they want to save money on employee turnover.

A free market advocate does not necessarily want the bottom income earners to earn less wage.  They simply want the market or societal forces to be the driving force.  When companies raise wages above the minimum without a law forcing it, that’s fuel for the argument that the system will function well without the law.

What would happen if there wasn’t a minimum wage law?  I don’t suspect that many wages would go down, though some surely would.

Walmart:

There is an argument that Walmart (as an example) profits by paying employees low wages and letting government assistance make up the rest.  This would mean that the system incentivizes companies to take advantage, and even though the problem of helping those in need can be solved by other policies besides minimum wage laws, it might come from the wrong payers---the tax payers rather than the companies who are profiting.

Walmart did have particularly low wages.  On the other hand, they increased in the last year.  This year (2016) they will be up to $10 for starting wages.  So even Walmart wouldn’t be affected by an increase in the federal minimum wage.

In a market, the opportunity for a company to exploit employees with low wages occurs when supply exceeds demand for jobs.  In full employment, people can be selective about the job they take, which drives a company to pay on par with their profitability.  That still doesn’t make every job valuable, or wages high in every case, but at least it removes the possibility of a company taking advantage of the workforce.  Unfortunately, when jobs are not plentiful, the situation can change.

There is debate about how many jobs will be canceled with a mandated wage increase (to $10 nation wide).  One estimate was 500K, while at the same time pushing 800K people over the poverty line (in the right direction).


I disagree with Roosevelt’s statement when he started the minimum wage laws, that every job should provide a decent living.  Some jobs just aren’t careers.  It’s a good thing for people to have some fire under their seat, to move forward to something of more value to society.  On top of that, sometimes it would make sense to pay someone a low wage for certain jobs.  If a bookstore has hours where business is slow, it would make sense to pay someone $3/hour to sit and do schoolwork in between customers.  But that kind of hire is illegal.  Instead, businesses shut down during slow times.  One common complaint by low income earners is that they have to work odd hours, and part of the reason is because businesses can’t employ them at the slow times.  They may prefer to stay on in between at lower wage.  This also suggests that in fact these jobs are at risk if higher wages were mandated, since they are at the boundary of profitability.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Nyle stories

Contacts:

Nyle put contacts in for the first time a month ago.  He then explained to Vivian what contacts were when he saw her two days later.  "Contacts are these soft things, and when you put them on, faces become ginormous and everything far away looks blurry."  Needless to say, his prescription was too strong, and we've since had that changed.  He's used to his glasses doing strange things with magnification, different from one eye to the other, so the contacts looked quite different to him.

I'm very happy with how well he's doing with the contacts.  He insisted that he would not try them, but I kept working on him, and somehow he gave in when we were at the optometrist's.  Ever since he tried them, he's been very patient with us putting them on and taking them off.


Bunny:

A few months ago someone had a bunny in primary and the kids were playing with it after church.  Nyle very seriously asked whether "him" could take Emmett home (pointing to someone else in the room) so we can take the bunny home with us.  He would be happy with that pet exchange.



Saturday, January 10, 2015

Nyle's martial arts face

Today in martial arts, Nyle's face was priceless.  They took turns breaking boards by either kicking or punching.  He chose punching.  After punching through the board he turns to me with a completely serious stare that seemed to "I am so dang tough...did you see that...I don't even have to say a thing."  He continued the stare during his entire strut back to the back of the line.  All of the parents were dying.  He did it both times.  Even his walk was tough.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Nyle's halloween post

On Halloween we goed so far and got so so much candy.  It's like piles of candy on Halloween.

I was Lightning McQueen, I mean I was Mister Elmo. We ate all of our candies today (2 days later).

I put up a little spider web that we tied up with Wade's dad (at preschool). I liked putting up the apples. No they are not real, they are made of paper. We put them up in the middle of the carpet.

I love reading books(at preschool). They have a bookshelf. My favorite book is "Five little pumpkins on the gate".

Let's get more pumpkins to cut out.  So go this way (and he made finger gestures going in different directions, while making "ch" sounds).  This time let's do it round and round.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Nyle is tired

I always know when Nyle is tired. He starts making very unreasonable requests. One time he did not think he had a first turn on the swing (which he really did), so he spent a good portion of the hour screaming for me to fix that. After talking to him for a while, trying to resolve the situation, I realized that he wanted to go back and have a due over. But pretend way of due over was not what he was looking for. How is that for a reasonable request?

Anyway, this time, we were coming home from a gym. As we approached a street we needed to cross to get to our van, Nyle ran right in the middle of it. Luckily, there were no car. I chewed him out and made hime hold my hand across the remainder of the street, which he did not like in the least. As the matter of fact, he wanted to go back and recross the street on his own. He screamed all the way to the car, requesting for us to turn back . I explained that he did something dangerous and that he was not allowed to cross the street without holding my hand this time. But we would try again later, next time, if he showed me that he can be safe. Talking to him did not help. That's when I realized that he was tired. He screamed for 5 minute about recrossing the street. When I did not let him, he whaled about getting in the car. He refused to get in, so I had to pick him up and put him in. Then it took another 5 min to get him in his seat, another 5 min to be buckled, screaming all the way. Nobody could talk on the way home, since Nyle was still too upset. He loudly demanded to turn back, repeating his request over and over again. Finally, we got home and I was looking forward to getting out of the car, when Nyle dropped one of the coloring pages he did in the gym. He demanded for me to pick that up for him, once again being so upset he could hardly hold it together. We talked about asking nicely, which he eventually did and I helped him. Now, I thought for sure this situation was over and I can move on with my day.  It was over. Before he could make it inside the house, Nyle crashed  out in the back seat of the van, finally giving up the fight. Boy, I wish there was a way to keep this boy from getting too tired. It would make my life so much easier.