Texarkana Gazette

Follow Ben’s example of listing pros, cons

- Advice

Dear Readers: New year, new you, but are you struggling to make an important decision? Write it down, with the help of one of America’s Founding Fathers: Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin invented lots of things, of course: the lightning rod, bifocals and even swim fins, to name a few. But he is equally well known for the pros and cons list. In sales, it’s called the Ben Franklin Close.

Start with a blank sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle, and put pros on one side and cons on the other. Looking to maybe move, change jobs or get married? A Ben Franklin pros and cons list can help sort out and clarify muddled thoughts and confusion. Give it a whirl. — Heloise

Powdered Drink Cleaner

Dear Readers: Alternativ­e use time! The citric acid in powdered lemon- or orange-flavored drink mix can safely clean the toilet. Pour a packet in the bowl, swirl it around with a brush, and let sit overnight. In the morning, brush and flush. (Only the citrus flavors work to clean the toilet.)

I’ve always been a fan of cheap alternativ­es to clean up around the house. I’ve compiled my favorite hints in my Homemade Cleaning Solutions pamphlet. Would you like to receive one? It’s easy. Visit Heloise.com to order, or send a long, stamped (70 cents) envelope along with $5 to: Heloise/HCS, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Large boxes of baking soda, another one of my favorite cleaning tools, are now in the laundry aisle for even more savings. — Heloise

Press His Heart

Dear Heloise: In these tough days, my son (age 8) was having anxiety. I drew a tiny heart on the inside of his wrist with ballpoint ink. I tell him to press on the heart whenever he feels worried or upset, and that’s his connection to me.

It washes off over the course of the day, but he knows I’m only ever a heartbeat away. — A Mom in Pennsylvan­ia

The Difference Between …

Dear Readers: We are hearing a lot about bacteria, viruses and germs. What are the difference­s? Let’s take a look:

■ Bacteria are microscopi­c, one-celled organisms. Some can cause sickness and disease, but many bacteria are beneficial, such as the bacteria in our gut that help us digest foods.

■ Viruses are smaller than bacteria, and they need a host to survive, to feed off of. Viruses attach themselves to good, healthy cells and inject their bad material (a tiny piece of DNA), which then reproduces and spreads.

■ Germ is a blanket term, encompassi­ng bacteria and viruses. Like bacteria, some germs are good, but most should be avoided with proper handwashin­g, cleaning and social-distancing. — Heloise

Oil Foil

Dear Heloise: Rather than pouring olive oil over bread or pasta, I fill a dedicated and labeled spray bottle with the stuff and spray away. This distribute­s the oil more evenly. — R.K. in Ohio

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