Rituals and superstitions

by Louise

I grew in a country with a great deal of superstitions. People had various rituals to ward off the evil eye, observed auspicious days and times and matched birth horoscopes of potential life partners.  I lived for a long time in a city obsessed by The Curse of the Bambino (thankfully broken). Baseball players are known for their rituals.

The only superstition I have is being cautious of sharing certain bits of news. I waited three months to announce my pregnancies and didn’t reveal the name until the baby was born. Even now, I am cautious about sharing routine achievements of my kids.

What are some of your superstitions or (cough) rituals ?

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156 thoughts on “Rituals and superstitions

  1. Louise, your child-related habits sound like a mix of caution re medical changes and the Evil Eye.

    I’m much more willing to share my kid’s successes than his difficulties. I can’t think of any rituals or superstitions either of us has.

  2. I tell the fewest people about job interviews, lest I jinx it. Also, I agree on not telling the baby name. I think it is odd that people have already got names, monagrammed items, etc. at baby showers. I don’t even like knowing the gender, although I can acknowledge that it makes things easier. As one friend put it, there are so few actual surprises in life anymore, why not enjoy that one.

  3. If I find a penny I always pick it up as it’s bad luck to refuse a gift from the gods no matter how small.

  4. Never say anything positive without knocking on wood. I throw salt over my shoulder shoulder. My grandmother was very superstitious. She used to take me with her to her friend who was a fortune teller. It kind of spooked me out.

    I had baby names picked out and throughly vetted them. I wanted to know what people thought!

    Off-topic – is it ok to spray for mosquitoes or am I killing the environment and damaging people too much? I care about the bees. But mosquitoes attack me and I can’t go outside in the summer unless we spray. Please advise.

  5. I only pick up pennies if they are heads up (no idea where I got that from) and I caught myself telling my son last week that he shouldn’t open an umbrella in the house because it’s bad luck. I never had a name picked out before the baby was born – both for superstitious reasons and because I didn’t want opinions.

    Kate – we sprayed last year for mosquitos because I can’t go outside in the summer either but not sure if we’ll do it again. The company says it’s “eco-friendly” but I have not investigated what that really means.

  6. DH is a Cubs fan. He refused to watch a single Cubs game last year until they reached the finals. It seemed that when DS2 was in the room, the Cubs played better (it was really uncanny), so DS2 was forced to watch all of the World Series games with us.

    I haven’t even mentioned the billy goat yet…

  7. As a person whose first child was born to a mother of “advanced maternal age”, the plan was to only let out the news after the amino results were back. But my morning sickness with DD#1, combined with a supervisor who wrote down the exact time you walked in everyday resulted in my having to tell her what was going on or get written up. Being written up was a huge deal as we were going through rounds of layoffs and I didn’t need to give her any ammo! I did tell her we were not announcing it and I expected to be the one that my co-workers heard it from. Nope, she told them! On the second child, it was a bit earlier because at about 9 weeks, my “regular” clothes weren’t fitting!

    Names were the same way…we narrowed it down, got input on a few names, but no one really knew until they were born.

    My oldest was touched A LOT as an infant. We live in an area where if people compliment the baby, they must also touch it or “bad” things will happen. Maybe this is why her immune system was so good?

    I agree about job interviews – I only tell the people I use as references and I usually send them an updated resume and a summary of the job I am applying for. If you get the job, everyone will know soon enough, it you don’t, they don’t need to know. This is not so much about jinx, but about working in a small professional community and having had a prior boss who holds grudges.

  8. Are you using chemicals against adult mosquitoes, larval mosquitoes or ? Do you know what chemical(s)?

  9. Kate – go for it!

    We had baby names picked out, but did not share them with anyone. Then when our first was stillborn we chose a completely different name very quickly.

    We do the salt-over-the-shoulder; DW just last week. First time in a very long time for that. I’ll bet our kids don’t know about it and none of them were around when the spill happened so none learned this time.

  10. WCE – I think they use resmethrin. They also have a “natural” option.

  11. During our paying for college discussion I proposed the idea that the average person figures everything will eventually work out. I’ve had a number of discussion recently where people have told me about something they were doing and later someone would ask what I thought of “Dave and Helen’s” plan and I’d rattle off all the ways it could blow up in their face. Which has me wondering, am I the one with the problem?

  12. Kate, neocotinoids are the main chemical to avoid to prevent killing bees. This article lists the specific neocotinoids that would be listed on the label.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/home/a-common-pesticide-may-be-a-menace-to-pollinators-know-how-to-protect-them/2016/05/10/df8fc016-13aa-11e6-81b4-581a5c4c42df_story.html?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.7cdc27869589 I don’t’ think that Nalad, the chemical S Carolina used last year, falls into that category (but I’m not sure). http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/28195/20160906/devastating-trade-neurotoxins-sprayed-to-kill-harmful-mosquitoes-could-also-exterminate-beneficial-bees.htm

  13. I don’t pick up pennies and I throw out any that happen to accumulate in the house.

    Both DH and I have a ritualistic thing with numbers, for example exercise reps must be in multiples of threes. Taken to the extreme, this is an indication of OCD, so we’ve been told. Since I know someone who suffers from real OCD I hesitate to use the phrase “I’m a little OCD about xyz”, but I AM a little OCD about some things like that.

  14. Rhett, others may be thinking the same thing, but instead of saying it, they just ask someone else what they think of it, to avoid being the “downer” person.

  15. Rhett, do you think people appreciate you pointing out the potential flaws in their plans? Usually I find most people don’t want to hear it. During a recent conversation with a young person about their home buying plans I realized I needed to stop myself from pointing out all the downsides to their plans. I’m sure I came across as negative and unhelpful, so I zipped my lips.

  16. Hey, what happened to “when in doubt throw it out”. An exception for pennies?

  17. Rhett, do you think people appreciate you pointing out the potential flaws in their plans?

    I never tell the actual person with the plan unless they specifically ask for my opinion and they are close enough that I feel comfortable giving it. In the instances mentioned above we were talking about a third party with a plan.

  18. Hey, what happened to “when in doubt throw it out”.

    It doesn’t apply to money!

  19. Rhett – Many times I keep those concerns about things not working out for people to myself unless I think it is an absolutely flawed scheme and must speak up.
    For instance, when you mentioned that you could make it to the airport just in time, I was thinking – that’s cutting it very close but I guess Rhett knows the ins and outs and he will make his flight.

  20. I also did not share baby names until he was born, and I feel uncomfortable when people talk about their unborn baby by the future name. It feels like tempting fate somehow. I don’t think of myself as particularly superstitious, but I have weirdly strong feelings about this.

    @Houston – That is funny! One of our aisle-mates brought a W flag to every playoff game last year, but no one was allowed to mention it or touch it until the final out.

  21. that’s cutting it very close

    Worst case, they’ll just put you on the next flight.

  22. I am sort of ridiculously superstitious, even though I know it’s stupid.

  23. Rhett – I think one of several things is going on:
    1. The person asking about Dave and Helen’s plan also think it is flawed and are looking for confirmation that the asker isn’t the only one who sees it.
    2. The person asking wants to “oneupsmanship” confirmation – I can see the flaw they can’t, even Rhett can see it, so therefore I am smarter than Dave and Helen and at least as smart as Rhett.
    3. The person asking is contemplating something very similar to Dave and Helen, but wants input before they do it to keep from looking foolish or to fix the flaw in advance (assuming you could).
    4. The “plan” is just the current “small talk” topic and the person doesn’t know what else to chit-chat about.

    I am assuming you know the asker, so it is likely that their motivation for asking you would be fairly easy for you to discern.

    As far as the flaws in the plan – it may be that they know them and are willing to take the risk because of the real or perceived benefit to them or all other options to them have greater risk. They just don’t want to share that they are willing to take that level of risk.

    I have an acquaintance who always assumes everything will work out. To the point of flying to a city for a women’s conference with no hotel reservation, when the entire area near the conference is booked or way out of her price range. She assumes she can talk someone into sharing a room or someone will have cancelled or something. It does always work out for her, but I would never go without more of the details hammered out.

  24. We told my BIL/SIL not to buy their first house because they had no money to put down and had terrible credit so their loan was at about 10%. Well things did work out for them – their income went up by a lot and then when they didn’t want to live in the house anymore and the bank wouldn’t agree to a short sale, they just walked away and bought a new house in my SIL’s name (former house was in BIL’s name only). Dh’s brother was telling him how great it was when they stopped paying the mortgage because they were saving that money for the next house. And they qualified for an FHA loan on the next house to boot so what do we know?:)

  25. it may be that they know them and are willing to take the risk because of the real or perceived benefit to them or all other options to them have greater risk.

    My concern is that I seem to consider things far riskier than most people. Are they wrong in not considering the risks or am I too risk averse?

  26. Atlanta, same idea.

    An example: you bought a house for $500k at 30 and at 45 it’s almost paid off. Do you just continue to live in it mortgage free or, considering how much higher your income is, do you buy a $2 million place with a 15 year term so that it’s paid off when you’re 60. I’d say the risks would be a recession hits and you get laid off, growing age discrimination making finding a new job difficult, so you end up selling into a down market and loosing almost all of your original $500k in equity.

  27. Ya I’m one of those people for whom nothing really works out. So I plan and prep and that’s just my life. For example, DH and I will just get ahead of something, let’s say savings, and then we’ll have a massive repair which eats our savings, or is more than our savings. I couldn’t go to the conference city with no reservations, I’d be sleeping on a park bench or spending out of my budget. So no, things don’t always work out unless I plan it to work out.

    I pick up pennies when they are heads up. If I find change that’s tails up, I flip it over for the next person so they find heads up change. We toss salt, knock on wood, etc. I don’t know if we truly think that the salt will land in the devil’s eye, but it’s habit so I do it.

    on babies – We revealed the first pregnancy at about 12 weeks to our family and 16 weeks on social media. The second pregnancy was revealed to our families at 12 weeks, and upon birth to social media. We did not reveal sex (because we didn’t know) until the babies were born. We had a list of 2-3 names ready to go for each sex. No one knew the lists because I didn’t want to hear it from anyone. Once the baby was born, we looked at the baby and decided what name fit the best. DS1 was named after he was stable and I could nuzzle him for the first time (I could not hold him until later that day). DS2 was named on his second day of life – we were stuck between 2 names. DH ended up calling me on the way back to visit the hospital (he had gone home for a while) and said “it’s DS2 name. It’s the name I’ve been saying repeatedly.” So I went with it.

  28. We never comment on how well the traffic is moving- sure recipe for it to be stopped just around the corner. And never bring bananas on a boat of you want to catch any fish.

  29. Rhett, the people I know who assume everything will work out tend to be either UMC youngish people who have always had a parental backstop or people who are sufficiently flaky that no one asks them to take on complex/high risk family stuff.

  30. My concern is that I seem to consider things far riskier than most people. Are they wrong in not considering the risks or am I too risk averse?

    That’s impossible to tell objectively. Do you feel worse from not trying or trying and losing?

    In my own life, the payoffs have come from buying property that others viewed as too expensive. Of course, most of the property we have bought, we were able to get because every other buyer thought we were paying too much. (there’s even an economic term, winner’s curse). And I have noticed that opportunities tend to occur when the general consensus is that hard times are coming. There don’t seem to be many opportunities when everyone believes things are going well.

  31. Pseudonym,

    Then how did you sleep at night? I don’t know anything about farming but I assume you have the risk or crop failure, hail, floods, drought, plunging commodity prices, etc.

  32. UMC youngish people who have always had a parental backstop or people

    Something similar in my case in that I come for a very very very unlucky family. I assume if you come from a more stable background and haven’t faced much adversity it’s easier to imagine everything working out.

  33. One couple among our friends always never bothered about the day to day. They hardly bought anything prior to their first child being born. They would not carry or carry a sparsely equipped diaper bag. They now have three kids who doing fine. Their house is always a mess. They would invite you to dinner and still be cooking but because they were cooking and chatting and you offering to help, they actually made good hosts because you were more comfortable in a place where you didn’t have to worry about dirtying anything and time passed quickly because of the comfortable chatter.

  34. Rhett – it depends. I may upgrade but only if I had a ton of money in the bank so that I could still pay the mortgage. But then I really like real estate. But like Pseudonym, we also wouldn’t upgrade until there was a softening in the market.

    Also in the things work out category – my MIL/FIL’s retirement plan was to live off SS and my FIL just never retiring. Well they have rented one side of a duplex in RI for about 15 years and the owner is getting divorced and wanted to sell. They didn’t want to move so they just decided to buy it (a $300K something mortgage and they’re almost 70). It turns out with the rental income from the other side/garage they are now living for free +$1200 per month. So I think there is a happy medium in there and calculated risks are fine.

  35. 11:29 was LfB.

    Rhett, I think you are largely among your people here, at least, as most of us seem to take the approach of not over-extending and minimizing the downside risk.

  36. Then how did you sleep at night? I don’t know anything about farming but I assume you have the risk or crop failure, hail, floods, drought, plunging commodity prices, etc.

    You forgot trade wars and environmental restrictions. I don’t know. I found it harder to have my potential compensation in the form of a salary. That seemed to be too subject to the whims of other people, and I couldn’t see any real way to get ahead. And I’m only sufficiently interested to work hard on my own stuff, not someone else’s.

  37. LfB again: forgot to say that the house example was fairly close to us, and our answer has clearly been to stay put — and throw money at the current house. :-)

  38. Rhett – I think it has to do with how “costly” is the risk to you if you lose, how you feel about the “loss”, and how much “buyer’s remorse” affects you. All your experiences shape how you feel about those things.

    I’ll share my current potential vehicle change “delimma”. When I am thinking about trading vehicles, I typically do a lot of research (model, features, recent recalls, etc.) as I know I am going to have to live with this for at least 4 years, but normally 8 or more. So, when I went in without much thought other than lets see what they offer first, they were surprised that I wasn’t ready to do a single test drive and do the deal. I have come home, done more research and sent off a couple of questions this morning. If the answers come back “acceptable”, I will be making the deal later this week, and hopefully picking up the new one early next week. The extra research as reduced my likelihood of buyer’s remorse, it can’t be any worse than how much my current vehicle annoys me, and the out of pocket cost is not pennies, but not a budget breaker either.

    In contrast when I was in college, money was super tight. I had to think twice about whether buying a half gallon of Blue Bell was going to mean an extra 3 days of Ramen Noodles vs real food at the end of the month. A few times, I really regretted the Blue Bell purchase. At that point $5 was a significant “loss”.

  39. I think people are either minimizes of downside risk (most people here) or maximizers of upside (definitely my husband). It is why most of us are engineers and accountants and lawyers and other steady professionals and not tech investors and real estate speculators and startup company CEOs. Just the way we are wired.

  40. Rhett, I’m the same as you. Always sure everything is going to go wrong. I think it is a defense mechanism because then if things go wrong, at least I was right about that! My husband is very optimistic as is my DD. My son is like me. I do kind of think that people who think positively draw positive things to them. Of course my therapist points out that my life is pretty good so this whole Eyore mentality is based on absolutely nothing. I dunno….

  41. I tend toward being a maximizer of upside (or an optimist) and my husband is a minimizer of risk. No matter how much $ we have in a taxable account his first comment will be “That could go to $0 tomorrow”. So I find it’s usually good if you have one of each in a couple – he’s saved us from some mistakes for sure and I have made him take some calculated risks which have worked out. I also find that when we invest together it seems to work well – I may buy a share or two here or there of something like Tesla, whereas he’ll pick up shares in some beaten down name where he can see value and it’s resulted in a pretty balanced portfolio.

  42. I think it is a defense mechanism because then if things go wrong, at least I was right about that!

    In my case, I just think these things are fairly likely to happen.

  43. How many people in high risk/reward occupations have spouses with steady jobs or family money? My statistician friend’s husband enjoys consulting for venture capital investors, but he has the freedom to do that because she has a steady job with good benefits and we live in a moderate cost of living area.

    I try not to worry, but my personality is affected by the bad things that happen to people around me, even people I’m not close to. My cleaning lady texted last night to ask if she could clean on Sundays while we’re at church because her husband was just diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor and she’s trying to free weekday time for his appointments. Umm, yeah.

  44. If you think things are likely to go wrong, why don’t you set up a contingency plan for that occurrence and be done with it. Then you can move on.

  45. Rhett – I do think some of it does come from past experiences. For instance, I have mailed my passport by ordinary mail and the embassy stamped and returned it to me. DH would never do that. He would go to FedEx make sure the envelope was sealed tight. He always expected his passport to get lost.
    It comes from his family background where things just never fell their way, until he grew up.
    At this stage even though they can afford it, my inlaws behave like they have absolutely no money.

  46. “No matter how much $ we have in a taxable account his first comment will be “That could go to $0 tomorrow”.”

    Yeah, that’s DW. “it’s not real unless we sell it”

  47. “How many people in high risk/reward occupations have spouses with steady jobs or family money? ”

    I this is one of the many benefits of a community property state. It is also one of the ways DH and I were able to get to the point where I could quit my day job. I am surprised that many people seem to think that engaging in a riskier endeavor than a steady salary job is a one time event rather than a gradual progression. It took us a many years/ over a decade to get to the point where we were comfortable with just the farm income. Diversification is not just an investment strategy. I’ve noticed over the years that many couples here chose having two working partners as a risk mitigation strategy. Having one partner with a steady/low risk job allows the other to take on more risk.

  48. If you think things are likely to go wrong, why don’t you set up a contingency plan for that occurrence and be done with it

    The contingency plan is to not be in the position to need a contingency plan.

  49. The contingency plan is to not be in the position to need a contingency plan.

    But then you’re trapped doing nothing.

  50. But then you’re trapped doing nothing.

    No, you’re just accumulating cash and highly liquid securities.

  51. No, you’re just accumulating cash and highly liquid securities.

    But then you’re treading water.

  52. No, you’re just accumulating cash and highly liquid securities.

    But then you’re treading water.

    Isn’t that really stressful?

  53. Why can’t you have a $2 million house and continue to accumulate cash and securities?

    Most families I know have SAHMs and the husband is in PE/Consulting/Real Estate/ Law, etc. + family money. We were having drinks with neighbors last week and the husband has a high paying job and family money, but it turned out he also has a few side businesses that he’s started with friends. It was an interesting conversation. DH and I have concluded that because we both come from middle class backgrounds where money was seen as something that wasn’t easy to get, we don’t automatically see investment opportunities the way friends who grew up with money do because money is security to both of us (even though I’m a bit more risk taking with it).

  54. If you think things are likely to go wrong, why don’t you set up a contingency plan for that occurrence and be done with it. Then you can move on.

    For years my contingency plan was “Follow the Grateful Dead around and sell tie-dye tee-shirts”. Then Jerry Garcia went and died in ’95 and I haven’t had a contingency plan since then.

  55. Why can’t you have a $2 million house and continue to accumulate cash and securities?

    Not enough income.

  56. DH and I have concluded that because we both come from middle class backgrounds where money was seen as something that wasn’t easy to get, we don’t automatically see investment opportunities the way friends who grew up with money do because money is security to both of us (even though I’m a bit more risk taking with it).

    I don’t know if it is growing up with money, but more a mindset about buying and selling, but I could be wrong. Earlier this year, I went on the middle school trip to the east coast. We went to Chinatown in New York, and there were all these little shops selling Fidgets (little toys that everyone wanted and that will drive the middle school teachers nuts). Some kids bought one or two for themselves. Other kids bought a dozen with the idea of reselling them at school. The parental reaction varied. One parent did the bargaining for his son, others discouraged the idea of buying and reselling. I was in the middle. I asked my son if he had an idea what he could resell them for.

    What would you guys have done if your kid some an arbitrage opportunity?

  57. What would you guys have done if your kid some an arbitrage opportunity?

    That’s fantastic. The question at hand is two fold: How much of their net worth are they willing to tie up in fidgets and are they willing to use leverage to maximize their return?

  58. Hey, what happened to “when in doubt throw it out”.

    It doesn’t apply to money!

    Some years back I read about an experiment a journalist did of sending checks in small amounts to various rich people, and then for those who cashed it, an even smaller check was sent, and so forth. The upshot was that the richer the person, the more likely they were to cash even a mystery check for a few cents. Possibly this was due to richer people being more likely to have staff whose job it was to do this, but still interesting.

    (Haven’t finished the comments — that exchange just reminded me of the experiment.)

  59. I’d encourage arbitrage after talking through whether there is likely to be a market, what the likely price point would be, etc.

    Guy at my old church was a born entrepreneur. In elementary school he’d resell candy that he’d bought in bulk at the dime store. In high school he started painting and maintaining cars in his parents’ garage at night, and kept the neighbors quiet by detailing their cars for free. Eventually someone complained, though. So then, still a teenager (this was back in the late 60s) he knew a guy who was selling his rundown house for cheap. He managed to hustle a bank loan, fixed up the house, sold it, and then went on flipping houses quite profitably for several years. Eventually he started up a housepainting business, had lots of employees, and some pretty big commercial contracts. Lived quite comfortably and provided well for his family, all without a college degree.

    Some people are just born with that gene.

  60. I am not sure it has to do with growing up with money. Some people just have a lot of hustle and are super scrappy. I think these things can be encouraged/nurtured, but people either are or are not comfortable with that sort of risk.

  61. “I am surprised that many people seem to think that engaging in a riskier endeavor than a steady salary job is a one time event rather than a gradual progression. It took us a many years/ over a decade to get to the point where we were comfortable with just the farm income.”

    I think this is true both ways. E.g., I am fairly risk-averse. I chose a profession where I am rewarded for my ability to spot and avoid risks. Ergo, my bias toward risk aversion is confirmed as I am Pavlov’ed for doing it successfully, and so I continue to build my risk-avoidance-and-mitigation muscles and get more attuned to potential problems and potential work-arounds. OTOH, someone with an entrepreneurial spirit is more likely to think my job is a version of hell and so starts out looking for jobs/business opportunities with a higher upside possibility. She starts out with some small steps, generally does ok, and so is Pavlov’ed into taking more risks, and so over time continues to build her deal-spotting muscles and ability to differentiate a good opportunity from a bad one. In both cases, rinse and repeat ad infinitum.

  62. One of my daughter’s friends is a natural entrepreneur. Interestingly, her parents are both scientists so it’s not obvious where she gets it from.

  63. I’m mostly an optimist who is only moderately risk averse, but I’m also a planner. I don’t spend a lot of time/energy worrying about all the things that could go wrong, but I do spend considerable energy building contingency plans. Mostly because I want to be prepared & make sure that the “bad thing” that probably won’t happen won’t cause undue stress if it does.

    The least attractive thing to me about being an entrepreneur/consultant, etc is the selling, not the risk. Also – I like holidays and vacations (leisure if you will) too much to run my own business and definitely to run my own farm.

  64. ” Some people just have a lot of hustle and are super scrappy.”

    I think this is totally true. The one guy that DH & I know like this is successful in I-Banking. He was they guy who saw everything as a business opportunity from ES on. Guarantee he would have bought a bunch of those fidget spinners & resold them. He’s had more winners than losers.

    I’m not sure if that’s the same thing as thinking everything will work out though. From my family of MC origin – the three of us couldn’t be much different. And Sib2 is no entrepreneur, but he makes astoundingly short-sighted decisions from my POV constantly figuring it will work out. And they don’t really work out. I mean, he’s not homeless, but DH & I have already had multiple conversations about how we will under no circumstances give him or SIL money to bail him out of his own stupidity. I have other examples of that in my extended family and DH’s family. Impulsiveness that does NOT work out. This is FAR more common, IMHO, that people who are risk-hungry and scrappy and profit from their optimism.

  65. We only considered names that have the same initial as my husband’s mother. We would only use names from a relative that wasn’t alive because that is the custom. Some Jewish people believe it is bad luck to bring anything baby related into the home before the baby is born. We took a modified approach and didn’t have a baby shower. We did set up furniture and a nursery. I didn’t want to wait until after, but several baby stores around here will hold complete layettes and other stuff until after the birth. It is very rare for a Jewish family to ever have a baby shower.

    I don’t follow a lot of customs/traditions that are supposed to bring doom and gloom. For example, I don’t fast on Yom Kippur. I have many friends and relatives that think this is risky. To me, driving drunk is risky and could be life threatening. Eating on Yom Kippur just doesn’t seem to be the thing that is going to be the end of the world.

  66. Worst case, they’ll just put you on the next flight.

    Not if you’re flying coach, and what if there isn’t a flight until the next day?

    I know, you don’t fly coach.

  67. Which brings us to another question: Do you believe in luck?

    I would say I have a fairly weak belief in it. I assume it’s a bell shaped distribution such that the median person has a fair bit of good luck and fair bit of bad luck. As such, at one end you have folks who have had a lot of good luck and almost no bad luck and at the other end you have people who have had way more bad luck than good luck. If luck were randomly distributed then a person having a history of good luck would be no more likely than chance to have good luck in the future – how true that is I don’t know.

  68. DH has banned those fidget toys from his classroom.

    Like Louise, I grew up in a culture where the evil eye was a big deal. Most people had at least one of those amulets that was supposed to ward it off. To this day, I resist telling people about good things that have happened to me or to my family members because some irrational part of me thinks that if I do, the fates will proceed to give me a smack-down.

    I’m not Muslim, but I also have the Muslim habit of thinking something like “Inshallah” to myself when I tell someone I will be doing something in the future. Like, if I tell someone, “I’ll see you next week”, I will then think to myself “God willing” because, you know, who knows if I’ll even be alive next week.

    Like Laura, I am largely paid by my clients to spot things that might go wrong, however remote the possibility, and then plan for them. I am 100% a downside-minimizer in my personal life, so my profession suits my personality very well.

  69. what if there isn’t a flight until the next day?

    Then head back to the hotel or home. It’s hardly the end of the world.

  70. I read Lauren’s comment. In the home country in prior generations a baby shower was not done. The naming ceremony/christening was a huge deal. Now, with the internet and visuals of how baby showers are celebrated it has become a trend in the home country. My cousins had elaborate baby showers whereas growing up, I never heard of one. Same thing with bachelor/bacherlotte parties.

  71. I don’t believe in random luck but I think people make (or don’t make) their own.

  72. If luck were randomly distributed then a person having a history of good luck would be no more likely than chance to have good luck in the future – how true that is I don’t know.

    I think a lot of how we perceive “luck” is based on how people take advantage of opportunities. Say person A sits down on a plane and their seatmate strikes up a conversation. A engages, and it turns out they work in the same field and by the end of the flight, they have laid the groundwork for A to be offered a great job. Now supposed person B is in the same situation, but eschews the chitchat to spend the flight reading a book. A and B were equally lucky, but A took advantage of it and B didn’t.

    And on the other side, bad luck can lead to opportunities that would be missed otherwise. A great example is when my DD got cut from her softball team a few years ago. She ended up getting onto her current team, which is a much better fit for her. It never would have happened if she didn’t have the bad luck. Someone else could have gotten cut and decided to give up on softball.

    Luck certainly affects things, but it’s what you do with it that makes the difference.

  73. NoB, God willing and the creek don’t rise! In the American vernacular.

    Rhett, I think it was Ringworld by Larry Niven that had the concept of luck as an inherited thing. His idea, as I recall (I read it in decades ago) was that when the advanced aliens welcomed mankind into the galactic community, they wanted to lead humans to accentuate their greatest strength, but humans didn’t seem to have any particular area in which they shone relative to other species, except for luck. So since there was also an overpopulation issue on Earth, they arranged for a birth lottery where every couple was allowed say 2 children each, but you could enter the lottery to be allowed additional children, and over generations, the luckiest humans left more descendants.

  74. I think I am middle of the road on the superstitious scale. I don’t walk under ladders and I knock on wood if I’ve said something is going well. I wear a small cross on a necklace, and if I don’t have it on I have the backup little St. Ignatius medal in my purse (I don’t think I am supposed to be equating religious items to superstitions, but my reasons for having them stems from the same origins I imagine).

    I try to think of potential flaws and problems ahead of time, but that is something that has come with age and experience, whether it was for work, volunteer activities or raising children.

    I think DH and I try to put ourselves in positions that allow us to be lucky. New opportunity at work? Yes, I can do that because I’ve identified a successor for my current job. Great investment opportunity? Yes, I can do that because I’ve been ready to move this money around at short notice.

  75. Then head back to the hotel or home. It’s hardly the end of the world.

    Not literally, but it can potentially cause a lot of problems and/or cost you a chunk of change if you don’t get to where you need to be on time.

    For someone who is so concerned about the worst-case scenarios, I find it fascinating that you are so nonchalant about missing a flight.

  76. I’m thinking it’s because most of your travel is for business so it’s you’re not responsible for all the extra costs.

  77. Hijack: Vidya Vox
    I recently heard her for the first time. Her tracks are easy to find on YouTube, but a steady stream of just that is too much. She’s not Bollywood. Any suggestions as to what Pandora channel might have her & similar?

  78. I think Rhett can be non-chalant about missing flights because it’s happened to him often enough for him to see that, for him, it isn’t a big deal. He’s not responsible for the business costs, and I’m going to guess he isn’t on kid care duties as soon as he walks through the door at home, so there’s leeway there too.

  79. For someone who is so concerned about the worst-case scenarios, I find it fascinating that you are so nonchalant about missing a flight.

    Oh, if we’re going on a cruise, wedding, graduation, had some super important meeting, first day at a new job, then I’ll leave a day early. I would never have anything important hinging on the airlines’ ability to get me where I need to go on time. But if I’m just going to work on Monday, then it’s no big deal and no one ever questions flight delays.

  80. We’re only superstitious wrt sports, and even then, it’s mostly just for fun. I don’t tend to step on sidewalk cracks, but I think it’s less that I think I’ll break my mother’s back and more that I spent my childhood saying that rhyme and avoiding cracks, so now stepping on them just feels weird.

    DH read that highly successful entrepreneurs have in common a “grossly exaggerated confidence in their own abilities.” It’s slightly different than feeling everything will work out, I think, but perhaps only shades different. My DS has this, in spades. Time will tell if it’s a trait that makes him highly successful or makes him fall flat on his face over and over.

    I’m like LfB – I don’t tend to sail through life thinking things will work out because I’m paid to think of all the ways things are bound to go wrong. It truly amazes me when the business guys see a deal as a no brainer or a contract as being exhaustive, and then I’ll take 10 minutes and identify 15 things that could go wrong with the deal and 20 holes in the contract that could screw us in a major way. I’m thinking, “How did they not see this?” while they’re surely thinking, “What a downer!”

  81. I’m thinking it’s because most of your travel is for business so it’s you’re not responsible for all the extra costs.

    I wouldn’t typically expense something that was my fault. I think you think of it as a big deal because it’s something you do a few times a year vs. twice a week.

  82. God willing and the creek don’t rise! In the American vernacular.

    “Good Lord willin’ and the crick don’t rise”, if you really want to be vernacular about it.

  83. “How did they not see this?” while they’re surely thinking, “What a downer!”

    With the truth presumably somewhere in between. In my case while I know I’m too risk averse I can’t figure out a way to talk myself out of it.

  84. I think a good part of one’s life trajectory is based on one’s health and/or the health of one’s children, and a lot health is pure luck. Two people I went to high school with post frequently on Facebook, and I follow the goings-on of their young-adult children. One of my classmates has two children, both of whom are gorgeous, radiantly healthy young women who seem to have countless friends and fabulous things going on in their lives; my other classmates has two sons who are profoundly autistic. Or I often think about a former neighbor of ours. We had our sons around the same time. My boy was born healthy, and (knock on wood) is healthy to this day. Her boy has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and has lost his ability to walk, with more horrors yet to come. The health at birth of all these children was, as far as I can tell, nothing but pure luck (or un-luck).

  85. Mr WCE and I are planning a remodeling project and our strengths are different. I read the contract draft and identified 15 changes/additions/clarifications that needed to be made and immediately started thinking about project sequencing and family management challenges since we’ll be in the house. Mr WCE thought about the fact that our electrical panel is almost full but with the removal of the cooktop, there will be an extra 240 V slot, the soffits in the roof may be affected by the proposed adjustment to the roofline (not specified in contract) and put the truss designer’s plan into CAD so I could visualize it and see that I liked the new roofline.

  86. . I’m thinking, “How did they not see this?” while they’re surely thinking, “What a downer!”

    I would be in the “what a downer” camp and try to find ways to get around the downer points. At work – I say “how about we do this”, big no – again I try “do that or this, this, that and various such paths. I am always throwing out ideas. Some stick, some don’t but at least we took a look at solutions.

  87. Speaking of luck I tend to think that the more I need to be someplace the less likely it will be that everything will happen on time. If it doesn’t matter if I’m late then everything runs smoothly. Obviously (I think) it’s all just random chance.

  88. I don’t think travel delay is a matter of random chance. I am disproportionately likely to experience travel delays when I need to be somewhere, because if it didn’t matter when I went, I wouldn’t be traveling at a peak time when I am likely to experience delays.

    Flying to Denver at the beginning of spring break weekend for my grandfather’s funeral and flying to see my Mom over Memorial Day weekend prior to her final decline are cases in point.

  89. Lauren described the customs that I feel squeamish about violating around the birth of babies. When my kids were small, all the old ladies would add “kein ayin hora” = “no evil eye” when oohing and aahing over the baby. Old ladies from some other groups would spit and flick it away to keep the devil away. As a sports fan I MUST sit in my exact seat for important playoff games. (Seems to work frequently here in New England.) A beautiful child or lots of current good fortune are seen by many cultures as targets for envious evil, so the evil must be propitiated, warded off, or distracted.

  90. When DS was born, I was asked discreetly if I wanted a talisman to ward off the evil eye which used to be routinely tied to a baby’s wrist or round their waists. Like Meme mentioned, it was used to ward off envious evil.

  91. “How did they not see this?” while they’re surely thinking, “What a downer!”

    With the truth presumably somewhere in between. In my case while I know I’m too risk averse I can’t figure out a way to talk myself out of it.

    The middle path is to figure out a way to deal with the issues. If we can’t figure a way around the issues, we tend not to do the project. DH is really, REALLY, good at figuring ways around problems, and also at talking to people who may have dealt with a similar issue and picking their brains.

  92. NoBo – I have the same kinds of stories about friends with good/bad luck. This is really one of the reasons that made me begin to question my faith in God. There are too many people in this world who receive waaaayyy more than their fair share of pain and suffering, sometimes a lifetime. And I was like – IF there’s someone in charge of all this, they really don’t have their act together.

  93. Pseudonym, your husband’s approach reminds me of Mr WCE’s rancher uncle’s approach. Agriculture and opportunities change fast. I remember his story of waiting in line for their rural courthouse to open so he could make sure he filed paperwork first on the first possible day.

  94. We are not particularly superstitious. Sometimes I knock on wood, but none of the other things mentioned here. BITD we used to put on rally caps in little league, but it never seemed to work very well. ;) (Our team was not great!)

  95. “he shouldn’t open an umbrella in the house because it’s bad luck.”

    Sure, because the umbrella snapping open might break something.

    Similarly, walking under a ladder is bad luck because the person working on the ladder might drop something as you’re walking under it.

  96. I think a lot of the risk taking is directly tied to your individual and your family’s resilience in conjunction with any carrot/sticks that affect your behavior.

  97. “Diversification is not just an investment strategy. I’ve noticed over the years that many couples here chose having two working partners as a risk mitigation strategy.”

    When DW was first pregnant, we discussed whether she would work after givng birth, and she was quite adamant about continuing, in large part as her insurance against anything negatively affecting the income I brought to the family, e.g., death, disability, job loss.

    Having two incomes also reduces the level of stress on the job.

  98. My husband thinks he has less stress at work since I stopped working full time because he can just focus on work. My “job” is everything in our house. He is very involved, but we no longer have to decide who will stay home when DD is sick, or if a home crisis pops up. He said he never realized that he had no real down time on weekends to recover because weekends were mainly about splitting chores, and taking DD to various activities.

    I always believed that it was prudent to have both of us working, but he has more responsibility at work now vs. five years ago due to the fact that he is able to travel, manage groups overseas, and be available for most last minute client meetings. This wasn’t possible when we had “equal” jobs, and he had to make different choices at work. He was always exhausted too.

    I was uncomfortable with our decision, but knock on wood….it worked out better financially and emotionally for our family.

  99. Like in Lauren’s case, life became less stressful when I stopped working.

    The luck discussion interests me. I always say I’m so lucky, but my “luck” mostly came later in life. OTOH, I think my offspring have lived charmed lives so far. But I’m not sure if they see it yet.

  100. “I assume it’s a bell shaped distribution such that the median person has a fair bit of good luck and fair bit of bad luck. As such, at one end you have folks who have had a lot of good luck and almost no bad luck and at the other end you have people who have had way more bad luck than good luck. If luck were randomly distributed then a person having a history of good luck would be no more likely than chance to have good luck in the future”

    This is exactly my view of luck. But I think that confirmation bias interferes with our ability to see that, so we make the connections that we are predisposed to. I have one Gladstone Gander and one Debbie Downer. My boy thinks the world is a wonderful place, and so that’s what he expects to see; because of that, there is always a pony in there somewhere for him. DD, man, nothing can ever be trusted to go right; she’s the “cloud in every silver lining” kid. And so what she sees is the bad stuff that confirms her innate beliefs. I guarantee you that if both of my kids had Denver Dad’s daughter’s situation, 10 years later DS would be talking about how getting cut was a blessing in disguise, while DD would be talking about how it deprived her of the Best Team Ever (not to mention her awesome teammates, who, in retrospect, she was BFFs with).

    Which then also plays into the “luck is what you make of it” angle. Again, my kids’ different approaches to the world tend to trigger different responses in other people. DS assumes everyone he meets is wonderful, and that infuses itself into how he interacts with them, and so of course they think he is a lovely child and are nice in return, thus providing a real basis for his confirmation bias. And, of course, vice-versa.

  101. I was thinking these past few weeks how fortunate I was that when a medical issue came up in our family, we could afford to pay all the out of pocket costs. We didn’t have to decide between medical care and food. We have the flexibility to take time here and there to deal with these issues.
    This issue though has worn me down and I was seriously thinking I wanted to step away from work because as Coc and Lauren mentioned dealing with things like this puts stress on the family and it may be better if one person stays home.

  102. “I was thinking these past few weeks how fortunate I was that when a medical issue came up in our family, we could afford to pay all the out of pocket costs. We didn’t have to decide between medical care and food.”

    While that was fortunate, it was not all luck. Part of your being able to pay the out of pocket costs was because your family had, totebaggily, made decisions leading up to that situation that facilitated your creating a rainy day fund large enough to absorb those costs.

    As Pseudo might say, you had created and executed a contingency plan that covered this situation. Not everyone as lucky as you would have been as responsible as you in that respect.

  103. Louise, if you stayed home that would be what, 45 or 50 hours more per week that you’d be around your live-in in-laws?

  104. I always sort of assume things will work out, and I’m ridiculously optimistic. I consider myself lucky, and people (in my younger days) would comment on my luck. I think it’s either confirmation bias, where I mostly just remember the good things, or that I have always been just generally prepared for life. Maybe a high degree of executive function? My first instinct when something goes wrong is to propose a solution, where my DH’s instinct is to determine who is to blame. It’s easier to just think I’m lucky.

  105. I wouldn’t typically expense something that was my fault. I think you think of it as a big deal because it’s something you do a few times a year vs. twice a week.

    And because I’m travelling for leisure, so if I miss a flight, I’m screwing up my vacation, not my work schedule. Or I’m traveling for a specific event such as a wedding, so if I can’t get there until the next day, I’ll miss the event.

  106. And again, the airlines are much less accommodating of those of us flying coach than those of you in business or first class.

  107. I was thinking these past few weeks how fortunate I was that when a medical issue came up in our family, we could afford to pay all the out of pocket costs. We didn’t have to decide between medical care and food. We have the flexibility to take time here and there to deal with these issues.

    Ditto. I was in a collision yesterday (everyone is fine) and the other driver took off. I was thinking how if they didn’t find them and/or they don’t have insurance, we can cover our deductible without a problem.

    They did find them (I got the license plate) and the owner has insurance, but he wasn’t the driver. So hopefully it will work out. They’ve already opened a claim so it looks like they want to do the right thing.

  108. Tangent: Denver Dad, are you familiar with this protocol demonstrating reversal of cognitive decline for a small sample of patients with early stage Alzheimer’s?

    Those with relatives entering cognitive decline, I would definitely read this paper if I were you. The interventions seem quite safe (diet, markers) even if they are not helpful in particular cases.

    http://www.aging-us.com/article/100981/text
    Research is from the department of neurodegenerative research at UCLA, so reputable though small sample

  109. A good scientific paper provides a recipe on how to replicate the results. There are no “methods” in the case series, therefore you can’t replicate at home.

  110. Ada, thanks for your response. The methods section could definitely have been better, but the idea that treating an individual in a personalized way rather than assuming that intervention X will help a diagnosis as amorphous as Alzheimer’s/cognitive decline definitely appeals to me.

    Chronic headaches and chronic pain are similarly amorphous problems. The challenge of being a patient is that physicians are expert in understanding particular systems but no one can be expert at understanding the systems of a person and so people with ambiguous problems are often left unhelped when they don’t “fit the mold”. Mr WCE is a migraine sufferer and his neurologist basically told him there are lots of prescriptions he could try (and he tried some) but if OTC medications worked just as well with fewer side effects, no one knows how to “solve” the problem of migraines.

  111. A link (or maybe a link from a link) talked about “unproven” results based off genetic testing. When I had my genome sequenced, I submitted it to promethease (full sequence, so $10 instead of $5) which associates one’s genetic profile with research papers published on one’s gene variants. Along with dozens of ambiguous results, I learned that a study of a few dozen (?) pancreatic cancer patients said that one of my gene variants matches that of the 95% of the population for whom gemcitabine is not an effective treatment for pancreatic cancer. Since my mom had just had to make that decision, I think it would be really helpful if a) people with pancreatic cancer facing a decision about whether to try gemcitabine were informed that there is at least a small study for which a gene variant predicted response to gemcitabine- my mom wasn’t and b) when such a gene variant is identified, there are efforts to confirm/deny the association with more people. Genetic sequencing is cheap; passing the FDA safety/reliability standards to offer a statistically valid test to people is expensive and there is no profit in telling people they probably won’t respond to gemcitabine.

  112. HM – I will somehow carry on but just feeling worn down. We couldn’t take our spring break vacation so a long stretch without a break and dealing with the crisis. I will have to demonstrate/feign increased interest in work to make up for flex time.
    Also, limping to the end of the school year.

  113. Pseudonym- yes, I agree the middle ground (finding ways to limit the risk) is the next vital step after identifying the risks. We try not to be the Department of No over here, and instead aim for the Department of Yes, As Long As.

    Louise – I used to find myself at the end of my rope at this time of year, too. Hope you’ll feel less tired once school ends and everyone’s schedule is a bit easier at your place.

    I have found life so much easier since I went PT, and DH has commented several times that the entire family seems happier and our household feels easier. Not sure about causation/correlation – the kids are also just at a way easier age now and DH and I have moved firmly into the Life Is Short/Let the Small Stuff Go camp. But for those thinking of outright quitting but having the Totebag mentality that it’d be too risky, I’d propose PT as a financial compromise, a less risky choice, and a huge emotional/family-balance win.

  114. Louise: You have to heal, too. Just take care of yourself (sometime selfishly). Hopefully things will be better when school ends.

  115. My son was a natural entrepreneur. I sometimes wondered what the outcome would’ve been if I’d have done more to encourage it. He is also very risk averse.

  116. Louise, sending good thoughts your way. Hope this passes quickly.

  117. Teacher appreciation. 5 HS teachers we want to acknowledge. How low can a gift card go without looking like an insult? $15? $12? $10?

  118. $10 to Starbucks seems kind and appropriate and not insulting. But I’m cheap.

  119. I agree with Ada on the giftcard.

    Louise, I hope things get better soon.

  120. Oh – thanks for the gift card reminders. Kid’s teachers were awesome but I am looking at multiple teachers so I am thinking a $25 gift card each.

  121. WCE, I’m not familiar with it. As ADA said, there obviously needs to be further study and evaluation.

  122. Louise, I can completely understand for reasons that I don’t want to detail here because it is too depressing. I just know from my own prior experience, that there is not a perfect solution. It might might sense to take just a few mental health days for yourself (if possible) to get through this time, but totally leaving at this point seems drastic. HM was joking, but she highlights an important point. Your kids will be at college in a few years, and you would be stuck with the inlaws.

    Teachers appreciate any amount of gift card and they really like when it comes with a personal note from the student. The MS and HS do not get as much “stuff” or as many gifts as teachers int he elementary school, so any amount that is at least $10 accompanied by a card seems to be very appreciated around here just because so few people are sending in any gifts.

  123. Hang in there, Louise, and ask for help. Often kids will step up if you sincerely ask them to and they can see that you’re being hurt by the circumstances.

  124. If you want to give a gift card, that means that the teachers were supportive of your kids. I’d do $20 each.

  125. RMS,

    That’s very interesting. IIRC there had been a lot of work on amyloid-β plaques being the causative agent but that really hasn’t worked out very well in terms of drug trials. I hope this insulin theory has legs.

  126. As the wife of a middle school teacher, I echo what was said about the drop off of of teacher appreciation gifts for middle school teachers (which is also accompanied by the rise in the teenage challenges). Any gift is appreciated, especially notes, it is truly the thought that counts, but, at least in our house, we frequently discard the candy and baked goods. $5/$10 to Target, Starbucks or the like…a great pick me up…the occasional $25/$50, definitely remembered. The gift that stands out last year was a child-composed “poem” (of sorts) about the things the student liked best about being in my husband’s class, which was in a frame and accompanied by a note. For those of you with kids in EC or gifted programs, don’t forget those teachers. I got a note from our EC teacher last year that our contribution to her classroom fund was the first she had ever gotten; from talking to the principal, it seems that the “extra” teachers are often forgotten.

  127. ITA w/ Lauren on the value of mental health days. Take a good book to a coffee shop, get a mani/pedi, etc. (Guessing staying in the house wouldn’t be as relaxing for Louise). A single day like that can help so much.

  128. RMS, I understood the gist of your link and that’s why the diet work seemed plausible (and low risk) to me. It also isn’t clear how a typical large study could differentiate between Alzheimer’s and non-Alzheimer’s cognitive decline modes, assuming your link is correct that Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed only postmortem. (I’ve read that elsewhere.)

    When the twins were born, my doctor suggested fish oil as a supplement because of the evidence that those oils are necessary for optimal myelination and most people don’t get enough. He was careful to note that there is no /minimal evidence that fish oil supplements affect myelination but that worst case is that I would buy and take them to no effect. I decided to take fish oil, with that understanding of risks and benefits, which explains how I approach such questions.

  129. On luck and planning… I’m going to view our impending car situation as lucky (and planned).

    Here’s the planned part – we were going to get DH a new car this fall/winter/next spring. Basically drive DH’s car until it dies, Jack Sparrow-esque in the first Pirate’s movie (he walks off the crow’s nest as the boat dips below the water at the dock). Sell the car to a pick n’ pull place for parts.

    My lucky view – DH’s car failed inspection, and the repair looks like it’s going to cost more than we should be putting into the car. So, we will car share for the next few months (and maybe more). We’ve complained to each other that we don’t get enough alone time – now we’ll get our commute (so about an hour total more a day). Plus we’ll be saving his gas money, and the insurance cost. And my mom still has her car, so we’ll still be a 2 car family. That’s a lot of luck right there. With the savings, we’ll probably have more down payment, and it will give us time to figure out what kind of vehicle he wants, and if we decide to pull the trigger early (great deal on our favorite vehicle), we’ll have the ability to put everything in place quickly.

    I’m trying to be less Debbie Downer to see if that changes my confirmation bias.

  130. The turn of this discussion has made me think of extended product warranties and similar services, like the the Exterior Water Service Line Repair Plan that keeps sending me promotional material.
    http://www.homeserveusa.com/sc/Plans/Why-Buy-a-Plan

    I almost never buy these plans but that’s because I feel I can afford any repairs that may arise. Once in a while I’ll be tempted, and I could probably convince myself that it’s worth it just to not have to deal with decisions and related hassles. Do you ever buy them?

  131. My kids’ schools prohibited individual gifts to teachers. You could contribute to a fund (grade by grade in ES and MS, school wide in HS). Notes were encouraged in ES and MS.

  132. “I could probably convince myself that it’s worth it just to not have to deal with decisions and related hassles. Do you ever buy them?”

    No. Because I am convinced that I would just be replacing the problem of “fix what broke” with the dual problems of “fix what broke” + “argue with warranty company that specific repair is covered and isn’t excluded by the exception in the 6-point font in Section IV.C.6.a(vii).”

  133. Do you ever buy them?

    For phones and laptops, yes. Everything else no.

    Also, don’t ever buy, under any circumstances, a Visio TV.

  134. Haha yes, LFB, I think of that too. It could be MORE hassle having to argue why my repair should be covered. I’m about to replace a big ticket item (with no extended warranty) that has cost us major money to repair but maybe it would have been even more distressing to have those repair costs denied by some technical point in a warranty.

  135. “Yeah, I’m not sure HM was actually joking. ;-)”

    I agree. She was just pointing out a potential downside to implementing the idea. As some attorneys on this board are apparently paid to do.

  136. Well, I guess I am Debbie Downer, but the discussion of prudence combined with financial good fortune makes me want to remind everyone that in the 70s when our child died it was happenstance or good luck, with side dishes of hard work and privilege, that my husband’s employer chose to pick up the costs for her treatment when we hit the coverage maximum (I think it was 75K in those days). However, that is far outweighed by having the completely random bad luck of her having a one in a million cancer which even today has a less than 50% 5 year survival rate, and that with major intellectual disabilities as a consequence of the treatment.

    The idea of Alzheimer’s as type 3 diabetes has attracted attention because if true, it would allow those who are virtuous with respect to diet and exercise to feel that they have some control over the dreaded late life mental decline. It is clear that taking care of one’s body throughout life, when coupled with (the good fortune? privilege? prudence?) of avoiding severely traumatic life episodes such as war or famine or abuse or abandonment, leads to better outcomes with respect to mobility and morbidity and mental acuity. The issues from wider studies, including those that were never issued because they did not confirm the bias of the researchers, is whether any specific medical intervention actually extends life or improves quality of life measurably.

  137. Ha ! I of course am very aware that the kids will go to college but in the midst of the storm it is hard to be reminded that it is now sooner than later. Way different from the baby days.

  138. Rhett, we’ve had two Vizios that have worked great for years. What happened with yours?

  139. This year we’ll repeat a bit from MS. We got little animals with clips on their heads at World Market. He’ll deliver them to the teachers he’s specified with a thank-you note in the clip. Later, the teachers can use them for photos, notes to themselves, “turn in journals here” type notes, whatever. The notes this year are also WM. The word “thanks” pops up like a kid’s book when the card is opened.

  140. We’ve had 3 Vizios. One is still working fine, but is only about 4 years old. The other two died. One died during an electrical storm, and I forget the circumstances of the other.

    Our takeaway is not spend a lot on TVs, and to buy the simplest TVs available. No point in having a smart TV without a working video display.

  141. With DS graduating soon (1 month!!), I’m going to suggest he visit his previous teachers. After AP exams are done, he’ll have a couple weeks of school left with a lot of free time, and going to a K-12 school means he can easily visit his elementary school teachers too.

    Any thoughts on what sort of gifts might be appropriate for those teachers?

    Last year, he visited his MS Latin teacher, and she had him teach the class for a little while.

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