Explosions in NY and New Jersey

There are injuries. Mayor Deblasio says it was intentional.

Explosion Rocks Chelsea in NYC
more on the blast
And more (Video)
Explosion originated in dumpster
2nd explosive device found in Manhattan
Charity race in NJ disrupted by bomb, no injuries

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Old Houses Get to Me

empty-buildingThe House With Nobody In It

Whenever I walk to Suffern along the Erie track
I go by a poor old farmhouse with its shingles broken and black.
I suppose I’ve passed it a hundred times, but I always stop for a minute
And look at the house, the tragic house, the house with nobody in it.

I never have seen a haunted house, but I hear there are such things;
That they hold the talk of spirits, their mirth and sorrowings.
I know this house isn’t haunted, and I wish it were, I do;
For it wouldn’t be so lonely if it had a ghost or two.

This house on the road to Suffern needs a dozen panes of glass,
And somebody ought to weed the walk and take a scythe to the grass.
It needs new paint and shingles, and the vines should be trimmed and tied;
But what it needs the most of all is some people living inside.

If I had a lot of money and all my debts were paid
I’d put a gang of men to work with brush and saw and spade.
I’d buy that place and fix it up the way it used to be
And I’d find some people who wanted a home and give it to them free.

Now, a new house standing empty, with staring window and door,
Looks idle, perhaps, and foolish, like a hat on its block in the store.
But there’s nothing mournful about it; it cannot be sad and lone
For the lack of something within it that it has never known.

But a house that has done what a house should do,
a house that has sheltered life,
That has put its loving wooden arms around a man and his wife,
A house that has echoed a baby’s laugh and held up his stumbling feet,
Is the saddest sight, when it’s left alone, that ever your eyes could meet.

So whenever I go to Suffern along the Erie track
I never go by the empty house without stopping and looking back,
Yet it hurts me to look at the crumbling roof and the shutters fallen apart,
For I can’t help thinking the poor old house is a house with a broken heart.

by Joyce Kilmer


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Readings on Building Good Habits

habit-ornamental-roman-fontVolume 1, pages 96-169: http://amblesideonline.org/CM/vol1complete.html#096

Volume 2: “This brings us to a beneficent law of Nature, which underlies the whole subject of early training, and especially so this case of the child whose mother must bring him forth a second time into a life of beauty and harmony. To put it in an old form of words––the words of Thomas à Kempis––what seems to me the fundamental law of education is no more than this: ‘Habit is driven out by habit.’ People have always known that ‘Use is second nature,’ but the reason why, and the scope of the saying, these are discoveries of recent days.

A Malicious Child––A child has an odious custom, so constant, that it is his quality, will be character, if you let him alone; he is spiteful, he is sly, he is sullen. No one is to blame for it; it was born in him. What are you to do with such inveterate habit of nature? Just this; treat it as a bad habit, and set up the opposite good habit.” And the rest of chapter 9

Volume 3, page 99: Two Luminous Principles.––… It is the study of that border-land betwixt mind and matter, the brain, which yields the richest results to the educator. For the brain is the seat of habit: the culture of habit is, to a certain extent, physical culture: the discipline of habit is at least a third part of the great whole which we call education, and here we feel that the physical science of to-day has placed us in advance of the philosopher of fifty years ago. We hold with him entirely as to the importance of great formative ideas in the education of children, but we add to our ideas, habits, and we labour to form habits upon a physical basis. Character is the result not merely of the great ideas which are given to us, but of the habits which we labour to form upon those ideas. We recognise both principles, and the result is a wide range of possibilities in education, practical methods, and a definite aim. We labour to produce a human being at his best physically, mentally, morally, and spiritually, with the enthusiasms of religion, of the good life, of nature, knowledge, art, and manual work; and we do not labour in the dark., and 107 to the end of the chapter.

Volume 4, page 208 and following. Really, all of it is about developing good habits. It’s the volume written for students themselves to read: Servant or Master?––Each of us has in his possession an exceedingly good servant or a very bad master, known as Habit. The heedless, listless person is a servant of habit; the useful, alert person is the master of a valuable habit. The fact is, that the things we do a good many times over leave some sort of impression in the very substance of our brain; and this impression, the more often it is repeated, makes it the easier for us to do the thing the next time. We know this well enough as it applies to skating, hockey, and the like. We say we want practice, or, are out of practice, and must get some practice; but we do not realise that, in all the affairs of our life, the same thing holds good. What we have practice in doing we can do with ease, while we bungle over that in which we have little practice.

The Law of Habit.––This is the law of habit, which holds good as much in doing kindnesses as in playing the piano. Both habits come by practice; and that is why it is so important not to miss a chance of doing the thing we mean to do well. We must not amuse ourselves with the notion that we have done something when we have only formed a good resolution. Power comes by doing and not by resolving, and it is habit that serves us, whether it be the habit of Latin verse or of carving. Also, and this is a delightful thing to remember, every time we do a thing helps to form the habit of doing it; and to do a thing a hundred times without missing a chance, makes the rest easy.

Volume 5- this one is also all about the hows and whys of building good habits. In this book Mason presents her ideas on habit largely through various semi-fictional scenarios and conversations among different families beseiged by a child with this or another bad habit. She has a simple piece of advice to follow, saying the way to fix bad habits is by “dislodging the old habit and setting a new one in its place.” But she does recognize this is by no means simple in practice, hence a whole book of various examples and ways of implementing it. It’s better still, of course, to begin with good habits before the bad ones accrue, but again, it’s not that Mason suggests this is easy, only vitally necessary. It is hard work, requiring sustained attention to duty and constant vigilance on the part of the parents, especially the parent at home. The thing I found is, while it’s easier to be relaxed about this hard work of building good habits so that you have a child of 2 who puts his own toys away without complaint (and I’ve seen one of my grandchildren do this pretty well at 1)- you are creating more work for yourself in a hundred other ways and areas by not working in this one area. But that doesn’t matter to me, because it *feels* easier to not bother.

Here’s one sampling, the conversation is between a doctor with some understanding of psychology (which was a fairly new discipline and not yet really separated from the practice of general medicine, especially for family doctors) and parents of a teenaged daughter, Dorothy, who is sometimes very moody. The doctor is speaking first:
“Poor Dorothy is just now the occasional victim of a troop of sullen, resentful thoughts and feelings, which wear her out, shut out the sunshine, and are as a curtain between her and all she loves. Does she want these thoughts? No; she hates and deplores them on her knees, we need not doubt; resolves against them; goes through much spiritual conflict. She is a good girl, and we may be sure of all this. Now we must bring physical science to her aid. How those thoughts began we need not ask, but there they are; they go patter, patter, to and fro, to and fro, in the nervous tissue of the brain until––here is the curious point of contact between the material and the immaterial, we see by results that there is such point of contact, but how or why it is so we have not even a guess to offer––until the nervous tissue is modified under the continued traffic in the same order of thoughts. Now, these thoughts become automatic; they come of themselves, and spread and flow as a river makes and enlarges its bed. Such habit of thought is set up, and must go on indefinitely, in spite of struggles, unless––and here is the word of hope––a contrary habit is set up, diverting the thoughts into some quite new channel. Keep the thoughts running briskly in the new channel, and, behold, the old connections are broken, whilst a new growth of brain substance is perpetually taking place. The old thoughts return, and there is no place for them, and Dorothy has time to make herself think of other things before they can establish again the old links. There is, shortly, the philosophy of ordering our thoughts––the first duty of us all.”

“That is deeply interesting, and should help us. Thank you very much; I had no idea that our thoughts were part and parcel, as it were, of any substance. But I am not sure yet how this is to apply to Dorothy. It seems to me that it will be very difficult for her, poor child, to bring all this to bear on herself. It will be like being put into trigonometry before you are out of subtraction.”

“You are right, Mrs. Elmore, it will be a difficult piece of work, to which she will have to give herself up for two or three months. If I am not mistaken in my estimate of her, by that time we shall have a cure. But if you had done the work in her childhood, a month or two would have effected it, and the child herself would have been unconscious of effort.”

“How sorry I am. Do tell me what I should have done.”

“The tendency was there, we will allow; but you should never have allowed the habit of this sort of feeling to be set up. You should have been on the
watch for the outward signs––the same then as now, some degree of pallor, with general limpness of attitude, and more or less dropping of the lips and eyes. The moment one such sign appeared, you should have been at hand to seize the child out of the cloud she was entering, and to let her bask for an hour or two in love and light, forcing her to meet you eye to eye, and to find love and gaiety in yours. Every sullen attack averted is so much against setting up the habit; and habit, as you know, is a chief factor in character.”

“And can we do nothing for her now?”

“Certainly you can. Ignore the sullen humours let gay life go on as if she was not there, only drawing her into it now and then by an appeal for her opinion, or for her laugh at a joke. Above all, when good manners compel her to look up, let her meet unclouded eyes, full of pleasure in her; for, believe, whatever cause of offence she gives to you, she is far more deeply offensive to herself. And you should do this all the more because, poor girl, the brunt of the battle will fall upon her.”

{….} This is how it works. When ill thoughts begin to molest you, turn away your mind with a vigorous turn, and think of something else. I don’t mean think good forgiving thoughts, perhaps you are not ready for that yet; but think of something interesting and pleasant; the new dress you must plan, the friend you like best, the book you are reading; best of all, fill heart and mind suddenly with some capital plan for giving pleasure to some poor body whose days are dull. The more exciting the thing you think of, the safer you are. Never mind about fighting the evil thought. This is the one thing you have to do; for this is, perhaps, the sole power the will has. It enables you to change your thoughts; to turn yourself round from gloomy thoughts to cheerful ones. Then you will find that your prayers will be answered, for you will know what to ask for, and will not turn your back on the answer when it comes. There, child, I have told you the best secret I know––given to me by a man I revere––and have put into your hands the key of self-government and a happy life. Now you know how to be better than he that taketh a city.” (proverbs 16:32

Volume VI: 109-204: We have lost sight of the fact that habit is to life what rails are to transport cars. It follows that lines of habit must be laid down towards given ends and after careful survey, or the joltings and delays of life become insupportable. More, habit is inevitable. If we fail to ease life by laying down habits of right thinking and right acting, habits of wrong thinking and wrong acting fix themselves of their own accord. We avoid decision and indecision brings its own delays, “and days are lost lamenting o’er lost days.” Almost every child is brought up by his parents in certain habits of decency and order without which he would be a social outcast. Think from another point of view how the labour of life would be increased if every act of the bath, toilet, table, every lifting of the fork and use of spoon were a matter of consideration and required an effort of decision! No; habit is like fire, a bad master but an indispensable servant; and probably one reason for the nervous scrupulosity, hesitation, indecision of our day, is that life was not duly eased for us in the first place by those whose business it was to lay down lines of habit upon which our behaviour might run easily.

It is unnecessary to enumerate those habits which we should aim at forming, for everyone knows more about these than anyone practises. We admire the easy carriage of the soldier but shrink from the discipline which is able to produce it. We admire the lady who can sit upright through a long dinner, who in her old age prefers a straight chair because she has arrived at due muscular balance and has done so by a course of discipline. There is no other way of forming any good habit, though the discipline is usually that of the internal government which the person exercises upon himself; but a certain strenuousness in the formation of good habits is necessary because every such habit is the result of conflict. The bad habit of the easy life is always pleasant and persuasive and to be resisted with pain and effort, but with hope and certainty of success, because in our very structure is the preparation for forming such habits of muscle and mind as we deliberately propose to ourselves. We entertain the idea which gives birth to the act and the act repeated again and again becomes the habit; ‘Sow an act,’ we are told, ‘reap a habit.’ ‘Sow a habit, reap a character.’ But we must go a step further back, we must sow the idea or notion which makes the act worth while. The lazy boy who hears of the Great Duke’s narrow camp bed, preferred by him because when he wanted to turn over it was time to get up, receives the idea of prompt rising. But his nurse or his mother knows how often and how ingeniously the tale must be brought to his mind before the habit of prompt rising is formed; she knows too how the idea of self-conquest must be made at home in the boy’s mind until it become a chivalric impulse which he cannot resist. It is possible to sow a great idea lightly and casually and perhaps this sort of sowing should be rare and casual because if a child detect a definite purpose in his mentor he is apt to stiffen himself against it. When parent or teacher supposes that a good habit is a matter of obedience to his authority, he relaxes a little. A boy is late who has been making evident efforts to be punctual; the teacher good-naturedly foregoes rebuke or penalty, and the boy says to himself,––”It doesn’t matter,” and begins to form the unpunctual habit. The mistake the teacher makes is to suppose that to be punctual is troublesome to the boy, so he will let him off; whereas the office of the habits of an ordered life is to make such life easy and spontaneous; the effort is confined to the first half dozen or score of occasions for doing the thing.

Consider how laborious life would be were its wheels not greased by habits of cleanliness, neatness, order, courtesy; had we to make the effort of decision about every detail of dressing and eating, coming and going, life would not be worth living. Every cottage mother knows that she must train her child in habits of decency, and a whole code of habits of propriety get themselves formed just because a breach in any such habit causes a shock to others which few children have courage to face. Physical fitness, morals and manners, are very largely the outcome of habit; and not only so, but the habits of the religious life also become fixed and delightful and give us due support in the effort to live a godly, righteous and sober life. We need not be deterred by the fear that religious habits in a child are mechanical, uninformed by the ideas which should give them value.

These are all just excerpts and samplings- there are more I could have used from each book.

more ideas here

Habits are good masters, bad servants, and you’re already forming them, whether you work at it or not. Problem is, the habits most likely to be formed by not working on them are the bad ones: http://thecommonroomblog.com/2010/10/habits-bad-masters-good-servants.html

Mason speaks of using inspiring ideas and the imagination to work on good habits and to help bring your children on board with you in their own habit training. Here are some examples of how that might work.

Mason speaks of using inspiring ideas and the imagination to work on good habits and to bring your children on board with you.

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Grappling with Ideas: Stromatolites and early evolution

“The discovery of a toothless animal with a short snout and a long tail that roamed the seas around 247 million years ago, suggests early marine reptiles evolved more rapidly than previously thought after the the most devastating mass extinction event the planet has ever experienced, scientists have revealed.”https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/may/23/new-fossil-find-points-to-rapid-evolution-of-marine-reptiles-after-mass-extinction

“Scientists have discovered the oldest physical evidence for life on the planet in the form of fossils in Greenland rocks that formed 3.7bn years ago.

The researchers believe the structures in the rocks are stromatolites – layered formations, produced by the activity of microbes, that can be found today in extremely saline lagoons in a few locations around the world.”https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/aug/31/oldest-fossils-on-earth-discovered-in-37bn-year-old-greenland-rocks-stromatolites

“The Darwinian mechanism of mutation and natural selection explains everything about life, we’re told—except how it began. “Assume a self-replicating cell containing information in the form of genetic code,” Darwinists are forced to say. Well, fine. But where did that little miracle come from?

A new discovery makes explaining even that first cell tougher still. Fossils unearthed by Australian scientists in Greenland may be the oldest traces of life ever discovered. A team from the University of Wollongong recently published their findings in the journal “Nature,” describing a series of structures called “stromatolites” that emerged from receding ice.” http://cnsnews.com/commentary/eric-metaxas/evolution-just-got-harder-defend

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Movie Night: My All-American

My All-American: My son recommended we watch this one.  It’s a great ‘boy’ movie.  There is a lot of football stuff, which the Boy was pleased to explain to us.  Parts of the story are a little slow.   I was impressed by how clean it was, apart from a few bad words, but if you have something like Vid-Angel, that should take care of it for you.  The same writing team who gave us Hoosiers and Rudy wrote this one, so you know it has a lot of heart.  It’s based on the true story of  Freddie Steinmark, a remarkable young and gifted athlete who played for the University of Texas.  The main character is a devout Catholic and they are respectful about that.  Cool fact, the actor playing James Street, a quarterback who was a good friend of Freddie’s, is Street’s son.  (Unfortunately, Street senior didn’t live to see his son play him).

I loved this movie and I’m very glad we watched it, but I will never watch it again.   Spoilers follow, although really, it’s a true story, so if you’ve heard of Freddie Joe Steinmark, you already know.

Spoilers, spoilers spoilers.


I’m not kidding.

My boy should have brought me a box of kleenex from the beginning.   It is a lovely movie, and I’m glad we watched it, but it will break your heart.  It’s going exactly where you think it’s going as you watch.

So, Freddie keeps playing even though his leg hurts, and the pain gets worse.  He is the deciding factor in a major game which allows his team to go to the Cotton Bowl, but six days after that game (and before the Cotton Bowl), he has his leg amputated because the pain he’s been ignoring is a massive tumor and part of the bone is already eaten away. They don’t even know how he walked, let alone played a grueling, bone crunching, smashface game of football.  It’s bone cancer, and it’s the late 60’s.  He dies 18mos later.

If you don’t mind crying, and then crying some more, and then giving up and crying the last half hour of the movie, you’ll love it.  I’m crying while I’m writing this and it’s been over an hour since we finished the movie.

After you watch the movie, you should read this article comparing fact and fiction (basically, it’s all fact, but it is a good read).

And this is inspiring- people who lived because of Freddie Joe’s very public battle with cancer.

Also at Amazon:

Courage Beyond the Game: The Freddie Steinmark Story
by Jim Dent and Mack Brown

Freddie Steinmark: Faith, Family, Football
by Bower Yousse and Thomas J. Cryan

Remarkably, the author and researchers for one of the books says that they interviewed hundreds of people who knew him, and not one single person could remember anything bad he’d done. Everybody really did like him and respect him.

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