Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Wednesday Hodgepodge: The Cream in my Coffee

It's the Wednesday Hodgepodge! Answer the questions on your own blog then hop back to From This Side of the Pond (click the graphic) to share answers with the rest of the world.

From this Side of the Pond
1. When is the last time you experienced nostalgia?

Probably a couple of days ago when we visited an outdoor flea market.

2. September 29th is National Coffee Day. Do we need this? Ha! So are you a coffee drinker? If so how many cups per day, and tell us how you like it. Is there a recipe you enjoy that calls for coffee as one of the ingredients? 

In spite of the fact that I love teapots, I am more of a coffee drinker. Those who believe in nature would say that it seems to run in my family. On the nurture end, I spent my early years living around the corner from a Tim Horton's doughnut shop (when there were less than ten in existence), so maybe that counts for something.

One of my favourite holiday recipes was originally called Coffeeberry Loaf, but it doesn't have any coffee in it. I sometimes use coffee as the liquid in chocolate cupcakes. We made these Cappuccino Thumbprints a few times for special occasions.
If you missed the National Coffee Day, it appears you can still enjoy International Coffee Day on October 1st. Looks like we just can't get enough coffee commemoration.

3. Do you find praise or criticism to be more motivating? Explain. 

Not sure about that. Praise is, obviously, less painful. It would depend on where the criticism comes from and if it's based on something real and/or something I have any control over.

4.  What's a television series you keep coming back to and re-watching? 

When we were at the flea market, I bought a copy of this 1996 tribute to PBS Mystery. We have watched a LOT of those shows over the years, but there are some others in the book that we've never seen. One page of the book shows a list of episodes by season, and Mr. Fixit thinks it would be interesting to start at the beginning (in 1980) and watch through them all in order (to 1996), at least the ones we can find, which would mean starting with She Fell Among Thieves and probably working through a lot of Rumpole of the Bailey before getting back to Inspector Morse and the final Sherlock Holmes episodes.. Last night we watched one from the Partners in Crime miniseries (Agatha Christie's Tommy and Tuppence).
5. As the month of September draws to a close give us three words to describe your mood.

It feels slightly profane, though not untruthful, to make it "Come Lord Jesus."

Something less heavy?

"Stay Sidelined, Snow." Hoping for some good October weather.

Yet another three-dollar thrifting trip, or six if you like sequins, I mean really really like sequins

 Long blue and grey acrylic cardigan from the dollar rack, very fall-2020-cozy-style
Another fall table runner, two dollars. Needs some freshening, but that's okay.

So okay, I did spend another three dollars on the same trip, when I saw a  beaded, sequined silk Oleg Cassini disco-era sweater, discounted from four dollars to three. I don't usually thrift clothes to resell, but for this I made an exception.
I like the nightlife, I like to boogie

Monday, September 28, 2020

This Old Thing (Part One)

"This old thing? Why, I only wear it when I don't care how I look." (It's a Wonderful Life)

Appreciation of our stuff is often a matter of perspective.

One of our kids, at a very tiny age, watched the rest of us wrapping Christmas presents, and wanted to play too. Within the next hour, a number of gift bags appeared under the Christmas tree, filled with everyone's socks and underwear.

I can imagine that there are circumstances where clean socks and underwear would be very welcome! At any rate, we tried to affirm the good intentions of our little "giver." "Socks! Just my size! Thank you!"

So imagine that you have received a wrapped gift with something in it that you already own, maybe something you're on the fence about keeping, or something that's been a bit neglected. Or that you scored it through an online auction, and it has just arrived with all the "It's for me, happy day" dopamine you get when the package truck pulls up. How do you respond?

"A sweater! Look at those nice buttons! And it's my favourite shade of blue."

"I love this teapot! Where would be a good place to display it?"

"This was, like, my favourite book ever. I can't wait to read it again."

Or, in a nod to 2020, "Oh, a whole jar of yeast! How did you know? Rolls for dinner, for sure." 

Whatever it is: hang it in a good spot. Put it on the table. Make something with it.  Mend or glue it, if it needs it. Post its picture on your social media. Show it some love and appreciation.

And see, you didn't need to spend a dime.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Quote for the Day: "He has also come down"

"But to my mind the real joy of psalm 47 is not so much that he has gone up as that he has also come down. The great revelation here is that, though heaven is, in one sense, still to come, we can nevertheless begin rejoicing now because God has not abandoned us here on earth but has already come down to be our king and kindle our hope." (Malcolm Guite, "He Is The Great King: a response to Psalm 47")

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Wednesday Hodgepodge: The Second Day of Fall

Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back to From This Side of the Pond (click the graphic) to share answers with the universe.  Here we go-

From this Side of the Pond

1. It's fall y'all. What's something you love about this season and also something you don't? 

Love: blue skies, gold trees. Temperatures cool enough to bake muffins.

Don't love: stores trying to do Thanksgiving, Hallowe'en, and Christmas all at once.

2. When you think of the colors of fall, which one is your favorite? Is there somewhere you could easily day trip to see the leaves in all their glory? Will you?

We are in the city, but we live near a natural area so it's easy for us to go on a walk or a short drive and see autumn colours. (Don't have to be Jan Karon "leaf peeper" tourists.)

3. What's one thing you've let 'fall' by the wayside during this season of staying home and staying away?

I'm going to let that one fall.

4. If you're wearing a sweater is it most likely a cardigan, crew neck, v-neck, or zip up hoodie?

Not so much into hoodies.

I still like this pullover (found at a consignment store four years ago).

5. What's your secret to dealing with change? 
"Seas will roll where we stand now, and new lands will rise where seas now roll. For all things on this earth, from the tiniest flower to the tallest mountain, change and change all day long. Every atom of matter moves perpetually; and nothing 'continues in one stay.' The solid-seeming earth on which you stand is but a heaving bubble, bursting ever and anon in this place and in that. Only above all, and through all, and with all, is One who does not move nor change, but is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And on Him, and not on this bubble of an earth, do you and I, and all of us, depend." (Charles Kingsley, Madam How and Lady Why)
6.  Insert your own random thought here.

My husband said yesterday, "You can only make things last so long." He meant that they eventually fall apart, which is true and inevitable; but it made me think that you could focus on "making them last," the part you do have some control over.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

From the archives: How we're losing "I can, I will"

First posted January 2016

I'm fascinated by Annie Kate's review of Smart but Scattered Teens by Guare, Dawson, and Guare. Books like this say a huge amount about our culture, and the healing that parents may need to initiate if their teenage children have become infected with "do it for me" syndrome.

Check out the list of "executive skills" that the authors feel teenagers may be lacking:
"working memory, planning/prioritization, organization, time management, metacognition, response inhibition, emotional control, sustained attention, task initiation, goal-directed persistence, flexibility."
Do you see a connection between those skills? Every single one is something that Charlotte Mason would say we must not do for children who are capable of taking it on for themselves. And yet, so often, we do...just because we do. We try so hard and worry so much, like Aunt Frances, when we should be  letting them take the reins, like Uncle Henry.

The sad thing is that the teenage years may be almost too late to change some of those lifelong habits, although the point of the book is that there's still time. (I haven't read the book, just the review.) If you have younger children in your care, these are the things you should be doing, or rather, not doing. Letting them begin an activity and encouraging them to stick with it for a reasonable amount of time, to get some "goal-directed persistence" (see Charlotte Mason's "Inconstant Kitty"). Teaching them to be prompt and orderly (organization, time management). Using learning methods such as narration (working memory, sustained attention). Dealing with tantrums and other emotional disruptions (emotional control, response inhibition). I would add, seeing a situation from the other person's point of view and deciding to do what benefits another person, or the larger group or community, rather than yourself; developing empathy. As I've discussed here and elsewhere, I'm with those who believe that one of the best ways to gain empathy and flexibility in thinking is to have a very good store of stories.

That is what we can do for our children: give them that store, train them in habits, and allow them to develop their wills. What we can't or shouldn't do: think for them, remember for them, rob them of their initiative.

From the archives: Squiggly Lines and Paper Pages

First posted September 2012

So Michael Reist says that "literature will never die, but if we keep force-feeding it to the kids of cyberspace, its integrity will certainly suffer."
And since he has thirty years of classroom experience, and has written and lectured extensively on the problems of both teenagerhood and education, we assume that he does know what he's talking about.  The tone of the editorial made me think at first that he was actually cheering the demise of English literature; but I think he sees the situation more as sad but true; lamentable, but inevitable.

His conclusion?  "There are two ways to resolve this tension: Lower the standards in English class so the poor kid can go and make video games, or stop the mandatory study of English at, say, Grade 10. For many kids, the only thing they learn in Grade 11 or 12 English class is to hate it even more."

Those alternatives sound like the equivalent of "you don't get a real dinner tonight, but you can choose between fries, candy, and vitamin-mineral supplements."  Or, more closely, since the diners refuse to eat "real" food, we will no longer bother to cook and serve it.  Let them find their nourishment as best they can.
“But I’m going to be a video game designer!” protests one of my Grade 10 English students. “I don’t need to be able to read novels or write essays.” --Michael Reist
Need to be able to?

Would anyone dispute the idea that human bodies still need to eat? Public school lunches are all about enforced nutrition, these days. So don't human minds still need to think, and to know what has been thought?

Around here, school IS, largely, reading.  If you search this blog for the word "subversive," you will find that every occurrence, with the single exception of a tuna recipe, has been in connection with books and reading.  In our view, the immeasurable value of Real Books has not changed and will not change. 

But in Michael Reist's opinion, the rest of the world has stopped caring, and there's no turning back.  The occasional Matilda is simply an odd exception; the other "students" are shut out.

Prove him wrong.
"All the reading she had done had given her a view of life that they had never seen. If only they would read a little Dickens or Kipling they would soon discover there was more to life than cheating people and watching television."--Roald Dahl, Matilda

Friday, September 18, 2020

From the archives: Uncle Eric and how you decide how you will know...can you?

Book studied:  "Uncle Eric" Talks About Personal, Career, and Financial Security, by Richard J. Maybury

Why a study guide for chapter 8, when I haven't posted any for the previous chapters?  This is where we're at in our term's work, and it's an important chapter.  Plus it shows you both why I both appreciate Uncle Eric (or Richard J. Maybury) and occasionally disagree with him--or at least want to raise a few questions about where he's coming from.  Which just shows that I've read chapter 8.

Dollygirl and I last read chapter 5 of this book, and discussed why the storytelling model is an effective one, especially for children (it's something our minds can more easily grasp than a list of rules).

We will skip chapters 6 and 7 for now--they're important in Uncle Eric's overall plan, but they don't make especially compelling reading at this point, at least for a sixth grader.

Chapter 8 is "A Model for Selecting Models."

"How do we know we have a good model?" Uncle Eric asks.

What are some ways you can make up your mind about which belief (about a given problem) makes more sense?  Flip a coin?  Ask a celebrity (the "prestige" model)?

Ask a specialist?  Uncle Eric points out that this is at least better than asking someone famous who doesn't specialize in that area, but, on the other hand, some specialists may be reluctant to give up their own accepted models, even if new evidence brings what they believe into question.  For example, read about Ignaz Semmelweis (we like the chapter in Exploring the History of Medicine).  Uncle Eric also uses Galileo as an example.

Sidewinding questions:  Does the Bible teach that the earth is the center of all God's creation?  Uncle Eric says that today we honour Galileo and regard his opponents as "closed-minded tyrants."  Are things different for scientists today?  What about Christian scientists?

Back to the main issue:  what is the final problem with the "prestige" model, that Uncle Eric points out at the top of page 52?

A third method of choosing which model is true:  do your own research.  What are the pros and cons of this?

Why does Uncle Eric say that if "everybody" believes something, then, mathematically speaking, there's a good chance that they're wrong?  Do you agree with this?

What is the scientific method?  What is a working hypothesis?  Watch this excellent, if somewhat silly, demonstration of the scientific method at work:

On page 54, Uncle Eric explains his beliefs about certainty/uncertainty.  Why does he feel it is safer to stay "uncertain" about many things?  Is there anything we can be certain of?  See Isaiah 12:2; Isaiah 25:9; Isaiah 33:6; Matthew 27:54; Matthew 28:20; Romans 6:5; Hebrews 6:13.  Does that certainty contradict the point that Uncle Eric is making?

For further thought:  does science also demand an element of faith, or does that contradict the definition of science?  "In science, one must commit oneself to the belief that the world we see and touch is real, that nature is uniform, and that it operates according to the principle of cause-and-effect.  Without these prior 'leaps of faith,' reasonable though they are, one cannot undertake science."----What Does the Bible Say About...The Ultimate A to Z Resource

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Out of touch, out of time

Still here, Hodgepodging on Wednesdays. This week's questions are below. Answer on your own blog, then hop back to From This Side of the Pond to add your link to the party. 

From this Side of the Pond

1. What's one thing you learned at the ripe old age of whatever age you are now?

I can finally fold fitted sheets, more or less.

2. I read here a list of foods that can help you look younger-

extra virgin olive oil, green tea, fatty fish, dark chocolate, vegetables, flaxseeds, pomegranates, avocados, tomatoes, spices, bone broth

How many of the foods listed have you tried? How many do you eat regularly? Your favorite from the list?

Chocolate, but not quite as dark as Mr. Fixit likes it.

3. Something you miss from the 'good old days'? When were the good old days anyway?

The good old days, if we're feeling cynical, are anything pre-2020.

A lot of people, if you ask them, will describe something relating to technology. Not necessarily those good old days of dial-up...but, let's say, the summers at a campground when the only phone in sight was the one at the store (for emergencies).

Other people will say something about people who used to be there. Those dreaded visits with an elderly relative that, looking back, you wish you could have back (from your more mature perspective of course).

Some people will mention foods, either something somebody cooked, or a product, maybe a drink or a candy bar, that's no longer available. I miss Canadian Smarties when they came in brighter, more toxic colours (and you could blow on the empty box to make it squawk).

4. What are two or three of the most rewarding things to be found in growing older?

Being less worried about growing older, because you're already there.

5. What's your favorite part of your life right now?

The townhouse we moved to a year ago last summer. We may not be here forever, but it works for us right now. There are amazing trails to walk on, and the view of the trees from the back deck makes me think we're at a campground or a cottage, and the only phone in sigiht is the one at the store...

6. Insert your own random thought here.

I did a riff on The Vivienne Files here yesterday: want to read it?

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

A Tripping Breaker Causes a Trip (A Story Inspired by the Vivienne Files)

Janice at The Vivienne Files recently did a story about an imaginary heroine venturing out on a not-too-formal business trip, inspired by the painting The Visit by Marie Laurencin.

I  thought, "I could do something pretty close to that." Maybe a bit more casual.

So here's my story. It's made-up too, in case you wondered.


Her first word, according to her parents, was "plug-in." And she grew up to be an electrician.

While she and her partner haven't completely been staring at four walls this year, they're feeling way overdue for a short change of scenery. But what would even be available right now?

Then the email comes. Their friends' cottage has been having some electrical issues over the summer, and while they won't be up there much this fall themselves, they'd like to get it taken care of before winter. They know her spouse is also quite handy at gardening. Could they be talked into checking out the situation and maybe doing some small repairs and cleanup, in exchange for a week's free rental? Oh, could they...

When she looks at the Vivienne Files wardrobe, she's struck by that blue turtleneck sweater. She has a thrifted cotton sweater dress that she has been intending to shorten into something she can wear with pants, and this is her motivation to get it out, chop off the bottom, and sew a new hem. (She's versatile like that.) And while the sewing machine is out, she might as well make a couple extra of those things she'll need when they go into town to buy coffee or parts. Right.

She pulls together an outfit for the drive up: grey jeans (technically they're black); grey fleece cardigan, pink long-sleeved top, pink earrings, a scarf, a  bag, and her Allbirds Mizzles. Since she doesn't have pink shoes like the Vivienne Files wardrobe, she lets her bag have some colour instead.

What's in her suitcase? Another pair of grey pants, and a grey skirt. A blue short-sleeved t-shirt, her DIY blue turtleneck top, a pink shirt, and a grey long-sleeved pullover. Another scarf. Extra shoes (not shown). 
She forgot to put the pink shirt in the big photograph.
Some fun socks, and a pair of warm tights.
Socks: Dollarama

Three more pairs of earrings, and two necklaces. She is especially fond of jewelry that resembles wires.
She also puts in a warm jacket, a hat, and work gloves, just in case. And her toolbox.

She copies out some of the outfits shown on The Vivienne Files.

Grey pants, grey cardigan, blue turtleneck, earrings, socks, running shoes, a scarf.
The Vivienne Files showed an outfit with grey jeans or the other pair of pants, grey pullover, pink shirt, earrings, necklace,and grey shoes. Because her pullover has a loose cowlneck instead of a crew or V-neck, she brings along a pink tank top to wear under it instead of the shirt.
She also tries out the other pullover-pants outfit from the Vivienne Files.
Grey skirt, grey cardigan, blue t-shirt, scarf, earrings.
The photograph shows pumps, but for this trip she thinks her Arcopedico shoes would be more practical..
Grey skirt, grey pullover, earrings, scarf. Ditto on the pumps.
Grey pants, blue turtleneck, scarf, running shoes, earrings. She adds the backpack in the hopes they could do a bit of not-too-strenuous hiking.
When she looks at the size of the Vivienne Files wardrobe, she realizes that she might need a few extra tops, since they're staying for the whole week. So she picks out some that work with the other clothes.
(Should I have included a cable-knit sweater instead?)

If anyone asks why she likes her job, she quotes George Carlin: "Electricity is really just organized lightning."

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Labouring over this Wednesday Hodgepodge

Here are this week's supply the answers on your own blog then hop back to From This Side of the Pond (click the graphic) to share answers with the universe.

1. Something you've done in recent days or months that might be described as a labor of love?
See the Welcome-Summer Hodgepodge. Still working on the same project. 
2. Last time you 'worked your fingers to the bone'? 
Maybe the last time I had to pack moving boxes? 

3. According to a recent survey people named the following ten jobs as the hardest-nurse, doctor, paramedic, police officer, firefighter, surgeon, healthcare worker, bomb squad, farmer, and prison warden. Of the jobs listed which would you say is the hardest? The one you'd most like to do? Least like to do? What's one job you would add to the list?
Most of these would turn up at the bottom of just about any vocational test I ever took. Not because they're nasty jobs, but because I'd be awful at them. Answer to the last question: pastor. (I was going to say kindergarten teacher.) 

4. A recipe you make that is labor intensive, but worth it? 
Most of my recipes are chosen to avoid labour. 
Chocolate-chip icing used to be fairly labour-intensive, and therefore reserved for great celebrations, but I have found that it can be made decently well in the microwave. 

5. Last job you did or task you completed that required teamwork? 
Getting ourselves to the Big City last weekend to visit our daughter (The Apprentice, for longtime readers). Mr. Fixit drove, I navigated. 

6. Insert your own random thought here. 
Today was our regular thrift store run. Best thing I found: a fall table runner. 
Linked from The Wednesday Hodgepodge at From This Side of the Pond.

Another Three-Dollar Thrifting Trip

Today's thrifted finds:

 Cotton jersey t-shirt from the dollar rack
Two-dollar fall table runner
How does it look?
Happy fall.

Monday, September 07, 2020

From the archives: Pedagogical Passion

First posted August 2013; edited slightly 

I've been reading The Passionate Learner: How Teachers and Parents Can Help Children Reclaim the Joy of Discovery, by Robert L. Fried.  It's one of those recent educational books that homeschoolers, especially CM homeschoolers, would probably read with caution, if not with outright suspicion.  This guy is an associate professor of education.  He works in public schools, with teachers.  Still, he might be sort of on our side, since he wrote a book about passionate learners (and also one about passionate teachers).  My vote:  I like the book.  It's not a homeschooling book and it doesn't match what we do exactly, but I think it speaks to a lot of the questions I raised in Part One of this post, such as, how do I encourage a student to take ownership of her own learning without dumping the curriculum?

Towards the end of Dr. Fried's book, he points out that there are good schools that are very "resource-focused," and there are those that are "responsibility-focused" (where the onus is on the kids to knuckle down and do their homework); and that there are great educators who are "progressive/child centered" and those who are "traditionalist/authoritarian."  (Not to the point of being destructive, either one; he means those that take their educational philosophy and use it to teach in a productive way.)  And, although he puts himself at particular points along both of those lines, he points out that you can really have any combination of those and still be successful, still turn out passionate learners.

We might be inspired to plot Charlotte Mason on Dr. Fried's grid--was she more "child centered" or more "authoritarian?" (What she really said, I mean, not how other homeschoolers have labelled her methods.)  Was she more "resource-focused" or more "responsibility-focused?"  Or did she come out right in the middle?  Something to think about.

Anyway, back to Dr. Fried's book.  How can you not like someone who writes, "In the best of circumstances, teacher, parent, and student will share the vision of the child as a self-initiating seeker of truth and power through knowledge and skills development.  The teacher will, in most cases, take the lead in creating such a vision, but the student and parent must understand and interpret 'excellence' in ways that make sense to them."  "Quality learning requires the parent to be both patient and supportive, holding in check the voices that want to push the child toward short-term, less-authentic rewards, and keeping in one's mind a vision of the child as a lifelong learner."  "Quality learning has a lot to do with taking what's given--an assignment from the teacher--and figuring out how to make it correspond to the child's idea of a quality experience, how to find an angle on the assignment that the child can be enthusiastic about (or at least help the child not feel insulted or overwhelmed by the assignment."  (all on page 229)

Some of Dr. Fried's most interesting ideas come from the university classes he teaches in children's literature and in curriculum.  One workshop exercise he does with teachers is have them draw a pie graph of the major concepts or skills they want students to take away from a particular course--particular big ideas, ways that they relate material to their own lives, and so on.  Then he also has them graph their grading scheme for a course--15% for term tests, 10% for homework and so on.  Their conceptual goals for the course often conflict with the way the students are being marked; the ideas they say are important get less weight than things like attendance and homework.  We may or may not be grading our homeschoolers' work,  but it's still something to think about, maybe in terms of time spent instead of grades given.  If we say, just for example, that a goal in history is to see how God deals with nations and individuals, do we actually spend much time discussing that, or is it all about memorizing dates on a timeline?

What happens in the workshop, then, is that they take the two pie charts, and try to rewrite the grading-scheme chart to better reflect the important ideas of the course.  Maybe there will be a larger, self-designed project on a major person or event in a period of history, something that allows the student to ask and answer his own questions.  (Like a science fair project.)  Maybe there will be no quizzes, but there will be one short-answer test just to make sure they haven't missed the basics.  This is something that we can apply in home schools, no matter what curriculum we're using: we definitely have the freedom to structure or restructure a course to focus on what's most important.  And then--I found this interesting--the teachers are challenged to take the major concepts they used for the first pie graph, and make them super-clear and intelligible, something that they could hand to the students (or the parents) to explain what they're supposed to be learning, and why they're learning it.

Because if you're the teacher and you don't know that yourself, you're going to be stuck with "open your books and read the next chapter," and that's not very passionate.

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Wednesday Hodgepodge: Just a Second

Here are the questions to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back to From This Side of the Pond to share answers with the universe. Here we go-

From this Side of the Pond

1. The Hodgepodge lands on the second day of a brand new month. Tell us one thing you're looking forward to in September. 

The calendar's kind of empty, but that could always change. 

Small things, weather changes, fall sweaters, apples. 

2. Do you enjoy browsing second-hand shops? Last thing you bought or 'inherited' second hand? 

Welcome to my life (and my blog). Both the browsing and the buying can be fun. Visiting one particular antiques market last weekend was almost as good as an art gallery. I often note the names of artists from paintings I like, and try to find out more about them later on. 

Here's one we noticed: Andre Bertounesque, No Blank Walls. (I'm not going to paste the image as I'm pretty sure it's copyrighted to the auction site.) 

The last thing I thrifted? This pair of printed cotton pants, which I bought the second time that I'd seen them. 
 I've been wanting to do a blog post about making outfits with them, but today (rainy weather, terrible lighting) isn't going to be that day. 

3. Something you had second thoughts about after committing to, purchasing, or posting/commenting  online? 

An interesting question, and I could probably say "yes" to that about a lot of things, some little and some very big. But it's often the third thoughts that matter most. 

4. What's a product or service you use that you'd rate as second to none? 

Idaho brand instant mashed potatoes, unflavoured. Tastes like potatoes. 

5. Something you do so often or that comes so naturally to you it's second nature? 

Good habits or bad ones? 

Reading...using a keyboard (although I had to retrain myself not to leave two spaces after periods)...thinking "cooking rice, water's twice" (but I have better luck with "water's one-and-a-half")...praying when stuff happens. 

6. Insert your own random thought here.

For years, it was second nature for us to read the morning paper (local) and to watch the six o'clock news (local)...I think those were habits handed down from our own parents. In recent months, we've stopped watching the newscast, and we also let the paper lapse. They say old habits die hard, but we haven't seemed to miss those particular ones much. (We do listen to the radio and read news online.)