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The more here, the less there

A.N. Onymous once said, "An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less."

But that is why she or he is an expert -- specialization. When you are the declarer at the bridge table, though, the more you know about one defender's hand, the more you can deduce about the other's.

In today's deal, South is pushed into five diamonds. West starts the defense with his two top spades. After ruffing the second on the board, how should South continue?

West's jump to four spades promised a good eight-card suit and some 6-10 high-card points. Now North had an awkward decision. Doubling and taking the money (assuming South passed, which he presumably would have done here) was feasible. That would have netted only 200 from down one. Instead North, liking his offensive potential, competed with five diamonds.

Declarer has to draw trumps without loss. If the opponents had not bid, cashing the ace and the king would be mathematically slightly superior (by about two percent) to cashing the ace and finessing on the second round (nine never). But now the odds have changed. West has only five spaces for the diamond queen, while East has 11. Finessing on round two is now almost twice as good a play.

Even better is to start with dummy's jack. If East plays low smoothly, South puts up his ace. If the queen drops, fine; if not, declarer returns to the board with a club and plays a diamond to his 10. The plus of starting with the jack comes when East erroneously covers while holding all four trumps.


Are shared interests necessary?

Dear Annie: I've been seeing this woman for about a month. She is beautiful and smart and thinks I'm funny, which is a plus. It's been getting more serious. But recently, when we were trying to decide which movie to see, some new info came to light. It turns out she hates superhero movies and comic books. This is a total turnoff to me, to the point that I now think this relationship may be doomed. I just see it as sort of a litmus test for personal compatibility. Should I end things now before I get deeper, or am I being petty? -- Marvel Mega-Fan

Dear Marvel Mega-Fan: Tastes don't make or break a relationship. It can definitely help to have shared hobbies, but shared hobbies alone can't form the bedrock of a serious romantic relationship. Shared values do. And mutual respect. And oh, yes, love. All that is to say yes, it does seem a bit petty to me to break up with her over this, but deal breakers are in the eye of the holder. Plus, this sort of thing is also a self-fulfilling prophecy. This relationship may now be doomed, but only because you've decided it may be, not because she doesn't like Spider-Man.

Dear Annie: What is the proper amount to tip a hairdresser? When I was growing up, 15 or even 10 percent seemed customary. Recently, I saw something in a magazine that said I should be tipping my hairdresser 20 percent and tipping the shampoo girl or boy (if there is one) an additional $5! I get my hair done once a month, so that would really start to add up. But of course, I'd certainly hate to be rude. What is the etiquette? -- Salon-Goer in Shreveport

Dear Salon-Goer: Twenty percent is a fair tip for someone with whom you're entrusting your crowning glory. As for tipping assistants, proffering at least a small tip is usually appropriate, especially if they've been more hands-on.

Dear Annie: I must address the letter from the Vietnam veteran who will not call for help. First, he should not give up. The Veterans Crisis Line is 800-273-8255. In 2016, 58.1 percent of veteran suicides were among veterans 55 or older. Depending on where the veteran lives, his county may have a veterans service office he could visit or contact. He more than likely has a Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans and American Legion organization near him that could provide more resources. These groups serve veterans of all eras, and he could find people with whom he can relate. And bring the buddies! Please offer these options to him. -- Wife of a Vietnam Veteran

Dear Wife of a Vietnam Veteran: Thank you so much for this wealth of information.


Treating a toddler with common cold

Dear Doctor: Our youngest daughter caught a cold over the holidays and was pretty miserable. She had just turned 2, so we didn't want to give her cough or cold medicines, but we did want to help her feel better. What could we have done? Would honey have helped?

Dear Reader: The good news is that for most children and in most cases, the common cold won't cause serious complications. The bad news, as anyone with small children knows, is that colds will absolutely convey a certain level of discomfort and misery. Waking hours can become marathons of crankiness because the young patient is beset by aches and pains, copious mucus and feeling generally crummy. At night, the little one's bouts of coughing mean a sleepless night for parent and child alike.

However, tempting as it may be, don't reach for an over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, OTC cough medicines are not recommended for children younger than 2 years old. Many doctors recommend waiting even longer than that to administer OTC medications, so check with your pediatrician to see what they recommend. And as long as we're on the subject, prescription cough medicines that contain codeine or hydrocodone should never be used in children younger than 18 years old. Always read the labels of OTC cough medicines before dispensing them to children because some may contain codeine.

We've successfully mapped the human genome but as of yet, there is no cure for the common cold. Antibiotics, which target bacteria, aren't effective against colds, which are caused by viruses. And with OTC medications not suitable for young children, we're left with the comfort measures our grandmothers would have approved of.

The main symptoms of the common cold are the result of the immune system fighting off the virus. Whether it's fever, sneezing, coughing or that nonstop output of mucus, each plays a physiological role in getting your child healthy again. The goal isn't to eliminate the symptoms completely, but instead to make them easier to live with. That means keeping your little one hydrated with plenty of fluids, both warm and cold. Using a cold air humidifier can help ease nasal congestion. When nasal mucus becomes thick and gluey, you can use saline drops, available at the pharmacy, to help loosen things up. Tender, inflamed nostrils are a particularly unpleasant side effect of a runny nose. We find that a dab of A&D Ointment rubbed around the perimeter of the nostrils offers instant relief and prevents further chapping.

Honey, as you mentioned, can help soothe a raw and inflamed throat in children older than a year. In fact, several studies have shown that honey actually relieves cough symptoms and can help kids to get a better night's sleep. Please note that honey is not recommended for children younger than a year old.


Facebook video disturbing

DEAR HARRIETTE: Someone sent me a Facebook message that included a disturbing video. Her preface was that it was horrible and that we, the people she had sent it to, should watch it and share it broadly. I rarely follow these kinds of directions, but I was compelled to watch the video. I am so sorry that I did. The video featured an infant being slapped, beaten and ultimately strangled. It was in close-up and not fake. It was the most horrible thing I have ever seen.

I wrote to the woman who sent it, telling her she needed to report it to the police immediately. When I went back to see if she responded, the whole post was gone. Maybe Facebook took it down. I don't know. Is there anything else I should have done?  -- Horror on Social Media

DEAR HORROR ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Some things should never happen, let alone be seen. What you have described is a heinous crime that should never have been posted on Facebook -- or anywhere else. It is likely that Facebook took it down on its own.

What you could have done is to report the video yourself to Facebook by looking for their reporting link. Then you could call the police and point them to what you saw.

According to an article by journalist Kellie Cowan, "Suspicious content should be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The agency has a secure cyber tip line you can call 1-800-843-5678. It will alert the right people while ensuring a tipster stays on the right side of the law and is not unwittingly re-victimizing the child by spreading images of their abuse."

DEAR HARRIETTE: My son turns 18 this year, and I want him to get involved in the political process. He is interested and has been since he was in middle school.

Now that Democratic candidates are throwing their hats in the ring for the 2020 presidential election, there are many people to consider supporting. How can I help to guide my son's choices during this time? -- Son in the Game

DEAR SON IN THE GAME: You should not try to point your son toward a particular candidate. Instead, encourage him to do his own research about each of them so that he can make informed choices as the race builds momentum. 

When he is equipped with details about each candidate's positions on important matters, he will be ready to make an informed decision. That's how you can guide him.

You can also debate the issues with your son and engage him as he learns about the people who are running. The more you know, the better you will be able to demonstrate to him what you believe and how much research you have done.